Fight for Joy! Blog
Where Jesus Changes Everything
"For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved" (2 Thessalonians 2:7-11). Are Satan, fallen angels, and demons real and active in the world today? A 2015 Barna study suggested more than half of self-described Christians in America do not believe that Satan, fallen angels, and demons are real, personal beings. This brand of Christianity might be better described as Western Christianity which has been heavily influenced by a Western or Naturalistic Worldview which tends to deny much when it comes to the reality of the supernatural world. Such a belief is entirely contrary to the biblical revelation and worldview. In both the Old and New Testaments, the clear teaching of scripture is these evil, malevolent beings exist and spiritual warfare is real and sometimes dangerous. Furthermore, I believe the Bible predicts what can only be described as an increase in demonic activity and deception in the last days leading up to and including the final seven years of human history prior to the Return of Jesus and the establishment of His Millennial Kingdom.
A biblical worldview teaches there is a material and immaterial world. To put it another way, there is a seen and an unseen realm--a physical and non physical reality. Although the Bible tells us some things about the unseen realm much of its reality is a mystery to us. Although we are introduced to spiritual or unseen realities in the Old Testament much of what we know today comes straight out of the New Testament--Satan and other fallen angels, as well as, demons are real, personal beings. Demons, also known as unclean spirits, harass, oppress, infest, and sometimes possess people (please note, I do not believe demons can possess true Christian). Furthermore, these malevolent spirits are, along with the good angels and even believers, involved in a cosmic spiritual battle most of which occurs in the unseen realm but often spills over into our physical reality. Consider, for example, Daniel 10:12-13, "Then he said to me, 'Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the king of Persia." The Prophet Daniel prayed for understanding but the answer did not come for twenty-one days. This three week delay was due to a fallen angel who opposed the messenger Gabriel--a good angel who stands in the presence of God--in spiritual warfare. This account tells us Satan engages in spiritual warfare in an attempt to thwart the will of God and to influence people and nations against God and His people. The New Testament affirms this reality. Paul writes, "Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against he rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:11-12). Peter writes, "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).
The Bible further predicts an increase in demonic activity in the last days. Much of the focus is on the deceptive nature of this activity. Jesus warned several times in Matthew 24 alone to be careful so as not to be deceived. "And Jesus answered and said to them, 'See to it that no one misleads you'" (Matt. 24:4). "Then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ,' or 'There He is,' do not believe him. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect" (Matt. 24:23-24). Even the Apostle Paul predicted the coming of the Antichrist would be, "in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders" (2 Thess. 2:9). Finally, John seems to predict the return of those fallen angels who sinned in Genesis 6 by going after strange flesh with ultimately produced the Nephilim--that race of giants which ultimately led God to bring a flood upon the earth to destroy all flesh save for eight souls carried safely on the ark which Noah and his sons built. John writes, "Then the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth; and the key to the bottomless pit was given to him. He opened the bottomless pit, and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened from the smoke of the pit. Then out of the smoke came locusts upon the earth, and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power... And they were not permitted to kill anyone, but to torment for five months; and their torment was like the torment to f a scorpion when it stings a man. And in those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, and death flees from them... They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon" (Revelation 9:1-6, 11).
A biblical worldview, then, calls for a sound theology of and understanding about the existence of Satan, fallen angels, and demons. It further calls for the same in relation to the reality of spiritual warfare. We do not fight this battle like the armies of the world would fight. "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). The weapons of our warfare are further described for us in detail in Ephesians 6:10-20. Paul calls these weapons, "the full armor of God." This armor includes (1) the belt or girdle of truth, (2) the breastplate of righteousness, (3) the gospel sandals of peace, (4) the shield of faith, (5) the helmet of salvation, (6) the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God, and (7) a consistent lifestyle of prayer and petition. The idea of putting on this armor, according to John MacArthur, "Conveys the idea of permanence, indicating that armor should be the Christian's sustained, life-long attire." Three different times in this passage we are admonished to stand firm. Again, MacArthur notes, "Christians [are] to take a firm position in the spiritual battle against Satan and his minions. Whether confronting Satan's efforts to distrust God, forsaking obedience, producing doctrinal confusion and falsehood, hindering service go God, bringing division, serving God in the flesh, living hypocritically, being worldly, or in any other way rejecting biblical obedience, this armor is our defense."
Spiritual warfare is real. Satan, fallen angels, and demons are real. I believe the Bible is clear we will witness an increase in demonic activity leading up to the start of Daniel's 70th Week and continuing throughout that time. We may even begin to witness visible spillover from the unseen realm as this last days spiritual warfare heats up. I would include so called UFO and alien activity in this vein, as well as, outright demonic attacks upon the church in general and individual Christians (and families) in particular. I am already experiencing such attacks in my own life and family. I know other watchmen who are also experiencing increasingly difficult spiritual attacks. We must pray for one another. We must clothe ourselves with the full armor of God and pray earnestly for one another. Pray that God would protect all of us--especially our children--from all spiritual dangers. Pray that the church would wake up to the reality of the unseen realm and the spiritual battles raging around and among us. It's time to get serious about these things. Jesus is coming soon for His church. I believe Satan and his minions are fully aware of this and realize their time is short, so they are pulling out all the stops. They are doing everything possible in order to thwart the will of God and take as many as they can to hell with them. The answer to that is simple, yet profound--pray for protection and proclaim the gospel! Oh, and make sure the demons know you by name (see Acts 19:11-20).
“Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). No one can possibly fail to see the lawlessness that pervades our society today. On Tuesday, the nation watched as FBI Director James Comey laid out the case against Hillary Clinton for her total disregard for Federal Law and common sense over her handling of classified information. I don’t know about you but I sat in stunned disbelief as he announced there would be no recommendation for an indictment. As one who holds a TOP SECRET National Security Clearance, I am sure I would already be in jail had I been found to have mishandled only a fraction of the classified information Mrs. Clinton and her staff mishandled. One thing is for sure, there is no longer such a thing as the rule of law. Lawlessness is now firmly entrenched in our society and world.
Jesus foretold this lawlessness in Matthew as one of the signs leading up to His return to this world. I do not believe He is referring to lawlessness in a purely civil sense. I am sure He has in mind lawlessness as it relates to God’s law, as well. Consider how far we have come as a society in just a few short years. That which the Bible clearly calls evil society now calls good. Religious freedom, something not necessarily promised to us in Scripture, is now a thing of the past. Anyone who disagrees or takes a stand on purely religious conviction is shunned, ostracized, and destroyed. To me, it is like a giant whirlpool sucking everything and everyone towards the center of the vortex. I witnessed one such whirlpool as I sailed from Alaska to Washington a few years ago. As the outgoing tide increased in velocity it caused the waters of the intercostal waterway to begin to rotate until it looked something like the picture above. I am thankful the ferryboat captain chose to steer clear of this whirling vortex rather than sail through it. Such a picture is an excellent illustration of how lawlessness works. Society moves further and further away from God and morality at a faster and ever tightening pace.
Lawlessness, according to Scripture, will abound in the last days. Lawlessness, properly understood, is a life of disobedience to the law of God—a deliberate trampling upon His law. It is mankind’s contempt for God and his decision to do as he pleases. The Psalmist writes, “The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying ‘Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!’” (Psalm 2:2-3). Such is the irony of man’s rebellion—devising, conspiring, and scheming against God and His ways. The Bible, however, reveals God’s response to such foolishness. “He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, “But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain” (Psalm 2:4-6).
I can almost hear the Lord saying, “Scorn My law all you want to but there is a payday coming and it is coming very soon for My Son will soon return and establish His Kingdom which He will rule with a rod of iron and destroy all those who do evil.” Perhaps this is why the Psalmist writes a few verses later, “Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psalm 2:12) I do not know about you but as the tide of lawlessness rolls over the world and the rotating vortex of destruction sucks in anything and everything it can, I am taking refuge in Jesus. I would encourage you to do the same. The world is on a collision course to meet the God of the universe face-to-face. It will not be pretty. John writes, “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds… And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-15). How will you fare when you meet God face-to-face? Will you perish in the way, as the Psalmist writes, or will you join Christ upon Zion—His holy mountain?
“But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling. My steps had almost slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked. When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight. Until I came into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end” (Psalm 73:2-3, 16-17).
Why does God allow evil and suffering in the world? This is a question we are confronted with everyday. We turn on the news and see images of passenger jets slamming into buildings. We listen to the radio only to learn a sniper has taken yet another innocent life in and around our nation’s capital. We pick up the newspaper and learn of abuse allegations within the Church. We answer the telephone and receive news a loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. We read and hear about the fact that in many parts of the world there are wars, famines, natural catastrophes, and epidemic diseases. It seems that everywhere we look, people are suffering. Furthermore, evil abounds and the evildoers seem to be getting away with the evil they perpetrate. It is no surprise that such evil and suffering and the supposed prosperity of the evildoer causes many to question how a good God can allow such evil and suffering. Such was the case with Asaph, the author of Psalm 73. He begins by saying, “But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling.” Why? Because he was “envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” Like many believers today, Asaph almost lost his confidence in the Lord because he was envious of the prosperity of the wicked. Like most believers, Asaph struggled with why? Why does God seemingly allow the evildoer to prosper while the believer, who seeks to live righteously, suffers? To understand the answer to this question, we must look to eternity.
Our problem is that too often we view the purpose and promises of God in terms of our present personal happiness. However, we fail to realize that the purpose and promises of God are more about the coming of Christ’s kingdom than our individual enjoyment here and now. God’s focus is eternal. Therefore, as believers, we must focus on eternity. For us, life is more about eternity than it is about the here and now. For Asaph, the turning point for him came when he “came into the sanctuary of God.” It was there that his focus began to shift from now to eternity. He came to recognize that God would reward the righteous in eternity and destroy evil and the evildoer. Clearly, eternity makes all the difference. Paul says, “For momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:17-18). This is the Word of the Lord!
I do not know what you are struggling with today. I do not know what losses you have experienced in life. I have no idea what evil you might have experienced. I can only testify to my own experiences. But this I do know, our citizenship is in heaven (1 Peter 1:1), and as believers, our questions will one day be answered. When? When we all get to heaven. Paul put it this way: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12). I do not understand fully now. However, in eternity I will know fully.
You are welcome to leave comments and you don't have to necessarily agree with me. However, I expect a civil tone and charitable spirit. We can disagree with one another without being disagreeable. "Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt." (Colossians 4:6)
Striving to glorify God by becoming more like Jesus.
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