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Showing posts with the label #Warfare

Satan’s excuses precede lawless Christians.

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1 John 3.7-12.Many of the verses from today’s passage tend to be yanked out of context.“Let no one deceive you” 1Jn 3.7 —used to refer to anything which might trick or mislead Christians, from heresy to the latest internet conspiracy theories.“The Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil” 1Jn 3.8 —treated as though it’s the only reason Jesus came to earth, so certain dark Christians use it to justify their fixation on demonology instead of good news.“Everyone borne of God doesn’t sin” 1Jn 3.9 —used to condemn Christians who do sin, instead of encouraging them (really, all of us) to go back into the light.And of course those folks who wanna interpret the Cain and Abel story to make Cain an irredeemably evil person… instead of recognizing the LORD and Cain had a conversational relationship, Ge 4.9-15 and God obviously wanted to redeem Cain, not destroy him. (Otherwise he’d have destroyed him!)All right, best I jump into the text before unpacking it.1 John 3.7-12 KWL7 Children, …

Sins which send you to hell?

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Quoting from John’s first letter:1 John 5.15-17 KJV15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. 16 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. 17 All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.This passage has managed to confuse an awful lot of Christians. What’s John mean by ἁμαρτάνουσινπρὸςθάνατον / amartánusin pros thánaton, “sinning unto death”? Or sinning not unto death?Both Paul and James wrote that sin causes death. “The wages of sin is death” Ro 6.23 and “sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” Jm 1.15 and all that. They weren’t just speaking of sins which obviously cause death, like murder and suicide and abortion; or sins which indirectly but still kinda obviously cause death, like gluttony or addictions or other lapses of self-c…

Christians who don’t want you to fast.

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As I said, if fasting weren’t in the bible, it’d nonetheless be a fad. One Christians might even use as a spiritual exercise, because it does strengthen our self-control. When seeking God in prayer takes priority over sustaining our very lives, that’s the kind of hardcore behavior which makes us less likely to give in to the many temptations which comfort offers us.So what keeps Christians from fasting? Usually it’s those very same comforts.Years ago I was in a prayer meeting where the leader challenged us to fast for a week. Really, diet. He wasn’t telling us to utterly go without food. Just go vegan for a week, and set aside sweets and coffee. Set aside a few comforts so we can focus better on God. And my knee-jerk reaction was, “I just went to the grocery store yesterday and bought a bunch of yogurt. I don’t want it to go bad…” as if we were gonna be dieting that long. Wasn’t really about the expiration date either. It’s ’cause I love yogurt.So as we were praying, the Holy Spirit g…

Instead of spiritual warfare… a culture war.

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Spiritual warfare is about resisting temptation. It’s about fighting our own self-centeredness, our tendency to produce works of the flesh, and anything which tempts us to choose ungodly, evil behavior. Tempters might be evil spirits, but more often it’s just our own corrupt nature. Regardless, we gotta fight it and follow Jesus.But to many Christians, spiritual warfare doesn’t look like this at all. It’s about being a “prayer warrior” and praying really hard for things. Because our prayers somehow provide energy to the angels fighting the demons in the clouds above. Or so the Frank Peretti novels tell us.And to Christianists, spiritual warfare has nothing to do with praying away the demons, nor self-control. Spiritual warfare is solely about fighting Satan and its evil plan.What’s its evil plan? To take over the world. Didn’t Satan tell Jesus it already ruled the world?Luke 4.5-8 KWL5 Taking Jesus up, Satan showed him every kingdom in civilization in a moment’s time.6 The devil told

The seven deadly sins.

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The “seven deadly sins” confuse a lot of people.Back in 2008, a rumor spread that the Vatican declared more deadly sins. It came from an interview with Gianfranco Girotti, the head bishop of the Vatican’s Apostolic Penitentiary. (I know; this sounds like the Vatican prison. It’s actually the theologians who handle questions about sin, repentance, and forgiveness.) Anyway, in Girotti’s interview with L’Osservatore Romano on 7 March 2008, he listed certain present-day practices which he believed have a harmful global impact: Pollution, drug trafficking, embryo-destroying research, other unethical human experiments, abortion, pedophilia, and economic injustice.Somehow the press converted this into “The Vatican announced there are new sins!” And since your average reporter (lapsed Catholics included) know bupkis about the seven deadly sins, they just assumed there are now 14 deadly sins. Now littering is gonna send you to hell.Like I said, they confuse people.Most people figure they’re a …

Start listening to God.

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When we pray, we’re not just meant to talk at God. We’re supposed to listen to him as well.Which some of us are pretty good at. Others, not so much. We’ll do all the talking, then patiently listen for God to say something… and detect nothing. He mighta said something, but we’re not sure. Can’t tell. Why not? Simple: We got used to not listening to him.Y’see, when we heard him in the past, it was usually because he was poking us in the conscience. We were sinning. Or about to sin. Or otherwise not resisting temptation. We figured sin would be way more fun, more satisfactory, more appropriate—everybody else is doing it—so we stifled our consciences. In so doing, we stifled the Holy Spirit who speaks to us through our consciences, and tells us, “Hey, quit it!” We blocked him out.We’re so used to blocking him out, it’s hard to go back to not blocking him out. In fact the behavior you’ll see among many a Christian is to try to hear God when it’s convenient, and try to not hear him when it’…

The “prayer warrior.”

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PRAYER WARRIOR'prɛr wɔr.i.ərnoun. A prayer intercessor who believes this form of prayer is spiritual warfare.[Prayer warfare 'prɛr wɔr.fɛrnoun.]As I’ve written before, spiritual warfare is resisting temptation. It’s not just that our own urges and habits get in the way of a growing relationship with God: Devils use these things to trip us up. So we resist temptation, resist our selfish nature, and in so doing, resist the devil. Jm 4.7 It’s not a complicated idea. It’s just not easy to do. We enjoy the things which tempt us; they wouldn’t tempt us otherwise! But we gotta resist.But because actual spiritual warfare isn’t easy, it’s way easier to pick something else—something we like to do, something way easier to do—and claim that’s spiritual warfare. And one of the more common claims you’ll find among Christians across the board—it’s not just a Evangelical thing—is prayer is spiritual warfare. Prayer, intercession in particular, is how we resist the devil. Not obedience, not se…

God doesn’t believe in no-win scenarios.

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Back in seminary my theology professor introduced us to the concept of the tragic moral choice. Ancient Greek playwrights invented it for their tragedies: One god ordered the hero to do one thing, and another god ordered him to do the opposite. Obeying one god meant sinning against the other god. And like us, the ancient Greeks recognized sin has dire consequences… and wanna bet their plays would show the consequences?Now, we Christians don’t have multiple gods with conflicting wills. We only have the One God. Yes he’s in three persons, but all three one the same thing, so God’s not the problem. We are. We sin, and we live in a sin-plagued world.So in the Christian version of the tragic moral choice, we’re thrust into a scenario where all the possible outcomes are gonna be bad. The only choices we make are gonna be sinful ones. We can’t win. That’s just the world we live in.Fr’instance. Say it’s World War 2 and you’re hiding Jews from the Nazis. Suddenly the Nazis come knocking. What …

Spiritual warfare: Resist temptation!

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SPIRITUAL WARFARE'spɪr.ɪtʃ.(əw.)əl 'wɔr.fɛ(.ə)rnoun. Actively opposing the activity of evil spirits by resisting temptation, exposing their hidden involvement, and exorcism.2. Popularly (but inaccurately), vigorous prayer, singing, or other acts of worship.[Spiritual warrior 'spɪr.ɪtʃ.(əw.)əl 'wɔr(.ri).ərnoun.]Spiritual warfare is fighting evil. Plain and simple.Every human, Jesus obviously included, gets tempted to do the self-serving, self-satisfying thing, regardless of whether it’s wise or right or good. And usually if someone else is urging us to do it, it’s for their own self-serving, self-satisfying reasons. In the case of evil spirits, it’s so they can spread evil, chaos, and corruption—and of course ruin us. So when we realize there are evil motives mixed up in our decision-making process, we gotta fight those temptations, expose the evil, and maybe even exorcise the evil spirits.It’s hardly a complicated idea. But you know humans. We complicate everything.Usu…

The armor of God.

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Ephesians 6.10-17.Christians are fascinated by the armor-of-God metaphor which Paul used in Ephesians 6. Sometimes a little too fascinated.Jesus teaches us to foster and encourage peace. Mt 5.9 Of course, our sinful human nature would much rather fight, and kick ass for Jesus if we can. So the idea we get to wear armor and play soldier really fires up certain Christians, who’d love to engage in a little testosterone-fueled warfare, and find this passage an excuse to indulge their blood-soaked he-man fantasies a little. If only metaphorically.For such people, God’s armor is never for defense, Ep 6.11 only offense. Those who fancy themselves prayer warriors love to talk about how to attack with the armor. Christians even make plastic armor for children to play with—including a sword of the Spirit, Ep 6.17 which kids can use to smite one another. In so doing they learn—wrongly—the word of God is about hurting people.But just because God’s word is sharper than a sword He 4.12 doesn’t mean…