Satan As A Worthy Opponent – Part III

And when He came out onto the land, He was met by a man from the city who was possessed with demons; and who had not put on any clothing for a long time, and was not living in a house, but in the tombs.  Seeing Jesus, he cried out and fell before Him, and said in a loud voice, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me.”  For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had seized him many times; and he was bound with chains and shackles and kept under guard, and yet he would break his bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.  And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him.  They were imploring Him not to command them to go away into the abyss.  (Lk. 8:27-31 NASB)

I captured a few more verses of this passage because I wanted to make something clearer I mentioned in the first entry on this topic.  This “legion” of demons was strong enough to negotiate with God the Son.  In other passages where Jesus is casting out demons, there’s no discussion, no debate, no delay, they simply fly out of people when Jesus says to, and shut up when He says to.  He says it, they do it.  These guys resist, and resist successfully.

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Satan As A Worthy Opponent – Part 2

Seeing Jesus, he cried out and fell before Him, and said in a loud voice, “ What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me.” For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had seized him many times; and he was bound with chains and shackles and kept under guard, and yet he would break his bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert. And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. They were imploring Him not to command them to go away into the abyss. (Luke 8:28-31 NASB)

Previously I pointed out that this passage illustrates that there are spiritual forces which can resist even Jesus. In that entry I suggested some defensive measures to take to help protect ourselves against spiritual attack from the spiritual forces at war with us.  But I believe Ephesians 6 can be understood to mean that Paul tells us the battle is also offensive in nature.  So now I want to explore a protracted offense.

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Satan As A Worthy Opponent – Part I

Seeing Jesus, he cried out and fell before Him, and said in a loud voice, “ What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me.” For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had seized him many times; and he was bound with chains and shackles and kept under guard, and yet he would break his bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert. And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. They were imploring Him not to command them to go away into the abyss. (Luke 8:28-31 NASB)

At times I am tempted to view spiritual warfare as easy. I think of this warfare as easy, not in the sense that I’m all that, but in the sense that my enemy is a wimpy defeated foe who runs at the first sight of resistance. This is probably one of the dumbest approaches to spiritual warfare I can have.  Yes, if we resist the devil, he will flee, but how long and how much must I endure through my resistance?  I doubt very seriously if modern American Christians are ready for siege warfare against the devil or from the devil. But permit me to point out one of the frightening aspects from the verses above that should give us reason to consider stiffer spiritual defenses and more aggressive spiritual offenses.

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Jesus’ Family Portrait

And His mother and brothers came to Him, and they were unable to get to Him because of the crowd.  And it was reported to Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, wishing to see You.”  But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.” (Lk. 8:19-21 NASB)

This statement of Jesus has always confused me, so I’ve spent more time than I probably should thinking it through.  I’m going to provide both the surface thought, which is probably more important, and a “subsurface” thought which can be easily disposed of if you disagree.

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Parables As Divine Obfuscation

 And He said, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that SEEING THEY MAY NOT SEE, AND HEARING THEY MAY NOT UNDERSTAND. (Lk. 8:10 NASB)

One of my pet peeves is when I’m not being understood, or more accurately, when I think I’m not being understood.  Honestly, it’s usually more accurate that I’m not being taken seriously which is not the same thing at all.  In fact, I confess, it’s probably a sign I’m being understood very well when people don’t take me seriously.  But I want to be understood, I want to be liked, I want others to weigh my words and find them powerful and effective, meaningful.  I want to “play the Great Man” as they say in 12-step programs (The Big Blue Book specifically).  Once again, it’s silly and selfish.

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Getting Dirty

When a large crowd was coming together, and those from the various cities were journeying to Him, He spoke by way of a parable: “The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out. Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.” As He said these things, He would call out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Lk. 8:4 NASB)

I won’t presume to unpack all that Jesus stuffed into this parable; not even in my lifetime.  But I really like that my Master chose to use dirt, probably because I’m still a kid at heart and like to play in the dirt, and also because it adds a fun element.  So, let’s get dirty and check it out.

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Ministers, Women

Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means.
(Lk. 8:1-3 NASB)

From the very beginning of my religious education, I opted to focus on Biblical languages. My intent was to understand the problems and arguments of thorny issues within my denomination and Christianity as a whole.  I never thought I’d resolve the issues, but I figured I’d at least be able to come to some sort of answer for myself.  As opinionated as I am, I found I was right, I did come to conclusions.  I also found that, each time I approached a Scripture, I felt compelled to change my conclusions.

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How Much Do You Love Me?

And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.” “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?”  Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” (Lk. 7:40-43 NASB)

Gary Chapman wrote a definitive book on the languages of love The Five Love Languages, and in it he uses 5 different “languages” to explain how we show and receive love.  One of the five is “Acts of Service.” This language is where someone does things for loved ones, helps them, holds the door for them, does chores around the house, or even small tasks.  In this parable, Jesus seems to equate the “acts” of the city-sinner woman with the depth of her love.  He then equates the lack of any acts on His behalf by the host as the thin love he has for Jesus.

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Honest Change

Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.” (Lk. 7:39 NASB)

Luke provides the “interior” speech of the Pharisee.  We skip right over that because we’re so used to it in books and works of fiction.  But it really should arrest our attention here.  How would Luke know what the Pharisee was thinking at this event?  For that detail to become part of the story of Jesus, Jesus would have had to tell the disciples.  That would have happened had they asked perhaps, but they wouldn’t know to ask until after the resurrection.  And after the resurrection, wouldn’t there be bigger questions to ask?

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