Bible Study

This is a copy of the Sunday School Lessons presented to an adult class each Sunday.

Location: Spartanburg, South Carolina, United States

Retired, Lobbyist in Washington,DC - Management - BS Chemistry and various continuing education courses

Friday, September 22, 2017

Bible Study - Dark Side (4) - Fear Not - 1 John 4:1-6 - September 24, 2017

Bible Study – Dark Side (4) – Fear Not – September 24, 2017

This is lesson four (4) in our series entitled “The Dark Side.”

Our focus scripture is 1 John 4:1-6:

We don’t need to fear evil forces when we’re in CHRIST.

The Devil, Satan, evil spirits, demons and their like were defeated when JESUS gave HIS perfect, sinless life upon the cross. JESUS shed HIS blood for the atonement of sin, which paid the penalty for sin and its consequence eternal death, for all who will place their faith in JESUS.

JESUS won the victory and because HE won the victory so has everyone who places their faith in HIM.

Let’s read Ephesians 4:7-8:

7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.
8 Therefore He says: "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men."

The passion of JESUS extended GOD’S Grace to every person. GOD’S Grace to all mankind is that all have access to HIM through faith in JESUS. But to accept GOD’S Grace every person must accept JESUS as GOD’S Son Who chose to come to earth to live as 100% human. HE willingly gave HIS life for the redemption of mankind by the shedding of HIS blood. HE died and was buried as a human. But HE trusted GOD to raise HIM from the physically dead as proof that HE conquered both sin and its consequence eternal death. This is proof of eternal life for all who place their faith in HIM.

Christians are washed clean of their sin, covered and protected by the shed blood of JESUS. Christians are victorious over the Devil, Satan, and the spirit world because JESUS, The CHRIST has won the victory. The Apostle John wanted all Christians to know that fact and live victorious lives.

Christians must keep in mind that the indwelling Holy Spirit guarantees that victory has been won because every Christian is the temple where GOD resides. This earth is no longer the home of Christians but GOD has chosen for us to remain upon earth as HIS ambassadors.

Christians are to live in victory under the authority of GOD.

The flag of victory flies over GOD’S Embassy for all who come to eternal salvation and security through faith in JESUS. JESUS told us that life upon earth would not be easy but it will be rewarding as Christians walk in obedience to GOD’S leadership through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

We read in 1 Corinthians 3:16:
16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

So how do we live in victory? Let’s explore!

Christians, although born into GOD’S Family, live in a world that still contains the Devil, Satan and evil that is fighting for the souls of mankind. As Christians, we have become the enemy of this evil world we live in. Christians are GOD’S soldiers who are to suit up each day for battle. The Good News is that GOD has our backs and we have direct access to GOD!

Let’s read 1 John 4:1-3:
The Spirit of Truth and the Spirit of Error

1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

First, let’s consider spirit. We often speak of “school spirit” or “team spirit” or “the spirit of an event” or “the spirit we may sense when we worship.” The Apostle John was drawing the attention of Christians to those who appeal to our belief system.

Many of us observe a spirit or nature in others that can either draw us to that person and their position on spiritual matters or repel us. Such reactions are the result of discernment based upon what we have experienced or, as in the case of the spiritual realm, GOD equipping us with the gift of the Holy Spirit to discern truth from error.

There are two sources of discernment: (1) based upon human knowledge or (2) the gift of the Holy Spirit. Human discernment can be faulty, whereas, discernment gifted from GOD is 100 percent accurate. Often, the problem arises when Christians ignore the warnings of GOD and choose not to take action. When that happens it is a learning experience and it is one that we keep in our minds.

Discernment is a vital part for determining the truth or error of the things we encounter. Discernment is a gift of the Holy Spirit. A Christian may or may not have the gift of discernment but every Christian can test the source of what they encounter regarding spiritual matters.

In Matthew 7:15, JESUS stated - 15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

That is what our lesson is all about. Let’s explore how we can test the spirits as we read our next verse ---

2 This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.

3 But every spirit who does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist; you have heard that he is coming, and he is already in the world now.

The Spirit of GOD is the Holy Spirit and presents truth which is confirmed in the Bible. Those who preach or teach truth do so from the Spiritual foundation that JESUS came to earth and was born 100% human. HE left HIS Glory in Heaven and depended completely upon GOD to supply all of HIS needs. HE was 100% human and yet 100% Divine.

JESUS was the example for all who will place their faith in HIM. No person comes to GOD, The Father, except through JESUS.

JESUS was tempted in all ways as humans are tempted, yet HE did not sin. If HE hurt Himself as HE worked in HIS earthly dad’s carpenter business he said “ouch” or bled. HE completed HIS passion upon earth by being crucified on a cross and HE died a physical death. HE was buried as 100% human. As proof that HE accomplished all that GOD intended for HIM and for all who will place their faith in HIM, GOD raised JESUS from the physically dead to live eternally with GOD. At any point along HIS earthly life’s journey HE could have called 10,000 angels to come to HIS rescue but HE trusted GOD. Just as all Christians must trust JESUS and GOD as they walk with them.

The Apostle John was writing to Christians who had been ravaged by false teaching by some who were former Christians.

There was a group of false teachers who had been in the Christian church but had left the Christian church to preach and teach that JESUS did not come in the flesh. They taught that JESUS was a spirit.

The Apostle John was making it clear that JESUS was a real flesh and blood human. HE came to earth and was born as a baby. HE grew into manhood. HE was tempted but HE lived a perfect life. HE gave HIS sinless, perfect life to pay, in full, the penalty for sin. The Apostle John had witnessed JESUS as a human and he had witnessed JESUS as the Divine Son of GOD and HE was his Savior.

The Apostle was educating the Christians then and now how they could discern between those who were preaching or teaching truth or error. His message and instructions were straight forward as we read in verses 2 and 3:

2 This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.
3 But every spirit who does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist; you have heard that he is coming, and he is already in the world now.

All Christians who listen to preachers, teachers, Bible study writers, leaders or read their material are to discern whether or not that person is presenting truth. Those whose message, either directly or indirectly, leads you to believe that JESUS did not come in the flesh are not teaching truth. Those with the gift of discernment will pick up on it quickly but others may not.

A person must be careful not to sit under false preaching or teaching because first it is false and second, they will find themselves becoming marginalized in their walk with CHRIST. In the later days, JESUS tells us in Matthew 24:11 and 24:

11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.

24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

Christians are the elect but the elect must know the Bible and the truth of its contents as experienced by building an intimate, loving, personal relationship with GOD through their walk with CHRIST.

As mentioned in last week’s study, the Devil, Satan, evil spirits, demons and their ilk do not want you to believe that JESUS is the true Son of GOD Who came to earth in the flesh. Why? It is because by JESUS being sinless flesh HE was the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all who will place their faith in HIM. There is nothing else to be done for a person to receive salvation. This thwarts those who represent various religions and those who attempt to make Christianity a religion. As you know, true Christianity is CHRIST in you and not what religious denomination you attend.

GOD raised JESUS from the physically dead as proof that JESUS paid the price, in full, for sin and that HE conquered not only sin but its consequence, eternal death.

We are to test the spirits to determine whether or not they are from GOD. 

When we discern the truth, we are to take appropriate action. If you discover that you are under false teaching, regardless of the number of credentials he or she may have, get out from under the teaching of that person and pray that he or she will see the truth and be delivered from heresy.

Keep in mind that false teaching may not be blatant but very subtle. The accuracy of the preaching, teaching and Bible studies must be 100% accurate according to scripture.

The Apostle stated verse 3 But every spirit who does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist; you have heard that he is coming, and he is already in the world now.

Anti is against and if JESUS is not lifted up as the true Son of GOD and came in the flesh then what you are hearing is from the antichrist, who was in the world at this writing of John, and for sure is in the world today. Christians beware!

Keep in mind that “the elect” must stay vigilant or else they can be duped. So what can keep Christians on target? Let’s read on----

Let’s read 1 John 4:4-6:

4 You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

This is a tender moment. The Apostle John referred to those who know the truth and embrace the truth as precious “little children” on their way to Spiritual maturity.

The Apostle John made reference to the world. The world offers the things that appeal to the physical/the flesh. Once a person receives JESUS as his or her Savior, he or she focuses upon the things of the Spirit and the things that have eternal value. This is the result of being born into GOD’S Family through faith in JESUS and the renewing of our minds by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Yes, even Christians are enticed and lured by the things the world has to offer. Many of us fail and the Devil wants us to remain defeated but GOD tells us to confess our sins, repent and keep on obediently serving HIM.

No Christian is perfect. We are all sinners saved by GOD’S Grace. Embrace GOD’S Grace and keep on keeping on!

5 They are from the world. Therefore what they say is from the world, and the world listens to them.

There are those who are motivated and enticed by the power and wisdom the world offers. The world knows how to present the things that those with their minds focused upon earthly things love to hear, do and follow. But beware because if you have received JESUS as your Savior, you have a different mindset. The Holy Spirit indwells the Christian and creates in each Christian a new mind that is shaped by the wisdom of GOD.

6 We are from God. Anyone who knows God listens to us; anyone who is not from God does not listen to us. From this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deception.

As a Christian, you have the indwelling Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit Who enlightens, warns, teaches, reveals, comforts and guarantees your eternal security. The Apostle John told Christians how to test the spirits to verify truth from error. It is up to us to put into practice what the Holy Spirit teaches and reveals.

If you feel foolish testing the spirits, guess who wants you to feel foolish? Don’t be fooled, test the spirits and beware of diversions designed to lead you away from probing for truth.

Some may say that JESUS was a prophet, a good man, or a great preacher. The question is, “Did JESUS come to earth in the flesh as 100% man?”

As stated earlier, JESUS left HIS Glory in Heaven as recorded in John 15:5:

5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

JESUS left HIS Glory in Heaven. JESUS came to earth as 100% human, yet 100% Divine. When HIS Glory was restored HIS Divinity was restored. Thus GOD placed all judgment into HIS hands. Why? Because Christians have a Savior Who knows what it means to live as a human and to be tempted in all ways as we are tempted, yet HE was without sin.
JESUS intercedes for all Christians today and has to remind our accuser, Satan, that we have been redeemed by HIS shed blood and we are GOD’S Sons or Daughters. Christians live under GOD’S Grace. Fear Not!

Do you know GOD’S Grace through faith in JESUS? If not, now is the moment when you can ask JESUS to forgive you for your sins and ask HIM to come into your heart believing that HE gave HIS life for you to have eternal life.   Blessings!!!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Bible Study - Dark Side (3) - The Paranormal - Deuteronomy 18:9-18 - September 17, 2017

Bible Study – Dark Side (3) – The Paranormal – September 17, 2017

This is lesson three (3) in our series entitled “The Dark Side.”

Our focus scripture is Deuteronomy 18:9-18.

Dabbling with evil is destructive; seeking direction from GOD brings life.

[Additional thoughts: In 1 John 4:1-3 we read how spirits can be tested:

1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,
3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 
The evil spirit world acknowledges JESUS but as a prophet, a good person and NOT as the Son of GOD Who came to earth in the flesh and gave HIS life by the shedding of HIS blood to redeem all who place their faith in JESUS. This is the scripture the young man used to carefully phrase his question to the spirit. 
If you encounter a situation where you think you have encountered an evil spirit, as a Christian, OUT LOUD CLAIM THE BLOOD OF JESUS AND REBUKE THE SPIRIT IN THE NAME OF JESUS.] . 

We began our series of study considering Satan. Our last week’s study focused on demons. This week we consider the paranormal which is under the control of the Devil/Satan and the evil spirit world.

The definition of paranormal is “events beyond scientific understanding.” GOD understands what such events are meant to do. They provide the opportunity for the evil spirit world to take root. GOD tells us not to dabble in such because they are destructive and will alienate a person from GOD.  

Again, I pray for all who will read/study this lesson for our protection and any negative influence or enticing that the Devil/Satan or the evil spirit world may try to use to ensnare us.

The spirit world is real and all of us need to stay away from the things it offers. 

As Christians, we are not to fear this evil world but to know about it and stay away from it unless called by GOD to stand against it.

The evil spirit world is full of things that entice humans and especially Christians e.g. astrology, horoscopes, séances, familiar spirits, fortune tellers, Devil or Satan worship, occult, extrasensory perception, witchcraft, sorcery, tarot card, Ouija boards  and the list goes on.

People are curious and are inclined to explore the unknown. I know because I was curious and know that such innocent exploring is very dangerous and can be enslaving.

Many Christians read their horoscope every day. As Christians, GOD directs our future when our desire is to obediently serve HIM. Reading your horoscope or dabbling in practices GOD forbids opens a person up to evil moving into his or her life. DO NOT DO IT.

GOD and JESUS determine the future of the world. History is not by happenstance but by design. GOD allows or prevents.

GOD and JESUS guide every Christian by the indwelling Holy Spirit to the degree Christians allow. GOD is jealous and HE does not share. GOD does not guide through the Devil, Satan, mysticism, occult or anything from the evil spirit world that surrounds all of us.

Christians must keep in mind that “Greater is HE that is in us than he (the Devil/Satan) who is in the world.” JESUS has already won the victory and all who place their faith in JESUS are secure in HIM.

Christians must keep in mind that they can come from under HIS protective banner when they dabble in the things GOD has told us to stay away from. But there is a way back, if we stray. Christians are to confess, repent and ask GOD to forgive them. HE forgives, cleanses and restores.

The Devil and all under his control desire to entice Christians and non-Christians to enslave them and to destroy them.

The Apostle Paul knew the spirit world as recorded in Ephesians 6:12-13:

12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.

These spiritual forces are fallen angels led by the Devil/Satan. GOD made the angels with the freedom of choice just as GOD made all humans with the freedom of choice. Christians, choose wisely what you dabble in because Satan is like a hungry lion seeking who he can devour. DO NOT BE A VICTIM! BUT BE AN OVER COMER BY THE POWER OF THE INDWELLING HOLY SPIRIT!

13 This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.

Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible which are referred to as the Pentateuch. He wrote Deuteronomy prior to the Israelites entering the Promised Land and much of it before his death. It is believed that the final summary written in Deuteronomy was written by Joshua the new leader of the Israelites. The old generation had died off with the exception of Caleb and Joshua.

Moses knew that GOD was not going to permit him to enter the Promised Land because of his disobedience in the wilderness. Moses knew he would die soon and he needed to prepare this new generation of Israelites for what they would likely experience in the Promised Land. They needed to remember the experience their forefathers had with GOD when HE delivered them from Egypt, their journey to Mount Sinai, GOD choosing them as HIS people, their agreement that they would be HIS chosen and do what GOD required of them as HIS chosen.

GOD knew that HE would be with them as they entered the Promised Land but they needed to keep their focus upon HIM because there would be things that would entice them and could become a barrier to them having an intimate, loving relationship.

This is true for GOD’S children today. The Devil/Satan and his followers are relentless in trying to entice all people to put their faith in something other than JESUS. The Devil/Satan will fight extremely hard to prevent anyone from coming to salvation through faith in JESUS.

Once a person receives salvation, the Devil/Satan will do all to discourage/prevent him or her from obediently serving GOD/JESUS. What better way than get them involved with the things that the evil spirit world controls.

Folks, we all live in a spiritual battleground. The prize is the souls of mankind. JESUS has won the victory for each person to freely accept JESUS as his or her Savior. The decision is yours to make either to accept JESUS as your Savior or to reject HIM.

Deuteronomy means “second law.” It is not a second law but it is an overview of the law GOD had given to Moses soon after the Israelites were delivered from Egypt and led to Mount Sinai, as recorded in Exodus.

When the Israelites arrived to Mount Sinai as GOD promised Moses, GOD told Moses that HE had chosen the Israelites to be HIS people, if they accepted. The question was, “Did they choose HIM to be their GOD?” Moses asked the Israelites.

The Israelites agreed to be HIS chosen people. GOD gave them the criteria for living as HIS chosen people and having the right relationship with HIM.

Deuteronomy was written to remind this new generation of Israelites what their forefathers had experienced personally and collectively as GOD revealed Himself to them along their journey. And why they had not entered the land GOD had promised them some 40 years earlier.

Moses had sent 12 spies into the Promised Land to scout the land. Twelve (12) spies came back with a report that indeed it was a land flowing with milk and honey but there were giants in that land with well fortified, walled cities. Caleb and Joshua were the only 2 spies out of the 12 that trusted GOD to give them success and voted for them to enter the Promised Land.

The Israelites believed the 10 spies and they chose not to enter the land GOD had promised them. GOD punished them for their disobedience and lack of faith and trust in HIM. This did not please GOD and HE punished their disobedience by sentencing the Israelites 20 years and older to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. All men 20 years old and older would not enter the Promised Land, with the exception of Caleb and Joshua. During those 40 years, GOD took care of the needs of HIS people, now the 40 years had passed and it was time for them to enter the Promised Land.

Moses was preparing this new generation, led by Joshua and Caleb, to enter the Promised Land, thus Deuteronomy was written.

GOD knew what HIS chosen people would encounter when they entered the land of promise. The inhabitants of the Promised Land served other gods and observed practices that were abhorrent to GOD. GOD wanted HIS chosen to be aware of the things that could compromise their relationship with HIM if they embraced them. This is still true today.

Most of us have the desire to experience entering and living in the Promised Land upon earth. But there is nothing more important than building and maintaining our relationship with HIM through our faith in JESUS.

Let’s explore!

Let’s read Deuteronomy 18:9-11:
Occult Practices versus Prophetic Revelation

9 "When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not imitate the detestable customs of those nations.

GOD blesses HIS children with many good things but Christians must be careful that HIS blessings do not open areas that we must not enter.

10 No one among you is to make his son or daughter pass through the fire, practice divination, tell fortunes, interpret omens, and practice sorcery,

11 cast spells, consult a medium or a familiar spirit, or inquire of the dead.

GOD was warning HIS people NOT to embrace the evil, pagan practices of the people living in the lands they would occupy. Here, we see the list of evil practices that some of the people living in the land of promise practiced. GOD was very clear, DO NOT DO WHAT THE INHABITANTS OF THE PROMISED LAND ARE DOING.

GOD was telling them to keep in mind that they were HIS representatives to those who do not know HIM. JESUS tells Christians that they are the light of the world, the salt of the earth and Ambassadors.

Evil destroys but GOD offers hope, eternal life, forgiveness, salvation and restoration through faith in HIS only Son, JESUS.

It is amazing the number of people living in our area today who embrace witchcraft, sorcery, casting spells, the occult and the list goes on.  

Notice the reference to familiar spirits. I read a book written by a pastor whose family got involved in contacting the dead when he was a young boy. He wrote about “familiar spirits.” He wrote that it was the spirit a medium contacted. His understanding of a “familiar spirit” was, at birth; Satan assigns a “familiar spirit” to every person. That “familiar spirit” shadows that person for their entire life. Doing so allows the “familiar spirit” to know intimate secrets about that person, thus when contacted, it would reveal intimate information that may have only been known by that person and another person. This is an effort to legitimize that the spirit of the deceased person has been contacted, which is false and is of the Devil/Satan. Satan is a deceiver and always will be. Do not be duped.

This young man tested the spirits according to GOD’S word and he saw immediately and without a doubt that the spirit they had contacted was an evil spirit. The young man ran home and asked JESUS to forgive him and for JESUS to come into his heart. Years later, this young man was called into ministry. As I recall, he became a Presbyterian minister. I loaned my book to someone and it was not returned. It is no longer in print. If anyone knows where I can obtain a copy please let me know,

What does GOD think about such practices? Let’s read on ---

Let’s read Deuteronomy 18:12-14:

12 Everyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and the Lord your God is driving out the nations before you because of these detestable things.

GOD drives such evil out but we can bring them back. Dabbling in these areas is detestable to GOD. Do you want to be detestable to GOD? Then dabble in the things GOD forbids.  

What does GOD desire for us? Let’s read on ----

13 You must be blameless before the Lord your God.

GOD communicated that HIS expectation for HIS chosen was for them to be blameless before HIM. They were to set the example and not to conform to the practices of the people where they were moving into. Striving to be blameless keeps our eyes and minds focused upon GOD. Is the community in which we live different because we live there or do we blend in?

Deuteronomy 18:14:

14 Though these nations you are about to drive out listen to fortune-tellers and diviners, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do this.

Often, we look at those who live wicked lives. They seem to prosper materially and socially. It could lead us to think that they must be doing something that GOD favors. DO NOT be fooled. Consider what we just read “Though these nations you are about to drive out are living in the land of promise,” they are about to be evicted. GOD’S people will prevail over those who practice evil. GOD gives victory to those who obediently follow HIM. GOD is in charge.
Just because those who do not follow GOD seem to prosper, don’t be duped into following their ways. There will be payday some day.

Let’s read Deuteronomy 18:15-18:

15 "The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him.

Moses made it clear that GOD would raise up other prophets to whom HE will speak to directly. Such language does point to JESUS Who is GOD in human form. Up until the coming of JESUS, GOD will reveal information, through HIS prophets, that will reveal how the Messiah can be identified when HE comes upon earth.

Moses was the intermediary between GOD and the Israelites. GOD promised there would always be an intermediary between GOD and HIS chosen. GOD would speak to HIS prophets and they would, in turn, speak to the people. This prevailed until JESUS completed HIS work upon earth. After the passion of JESUS, HE became the High Priest through Whom all people would go.

Today, GOD speaks through our pastors, teachers and HIS children that HE gifts.  

16 This is what you requested from the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, 'Let us not continue to hear the voice of the Lord our God or see this great fire any longer, so that we will not die!'

Moses reminded them that their forefathers did not want to hear GOD speak to them but they wanted GOD to speak to Moses and Moses to, in turn, speak to them.

Let’s read this account as recorded in Exodus 19:5-9: (This refers to the older generation of Israelites.)

Israel at Mount Sinai
5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine;
6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel."
7 So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the LORD had commanded him.
8 All the people answered together and said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do." And Moses reported the words of the people to the LORD.
9 And the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you forever."When Moses told the words of the people to the LORD,

GOD wanted the Israelites to hear HIM when HE spoke to Moses. GOD desired to be intimate and personal with HIS chosen people.

Let’s read Exodus 20:18-21:
18 Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off
19 and said to Moses, "You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die."
20 Moses said to the people, "Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin."
21 The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.

GOD’S desire was for HIS chosen then and for us today to have a personal relationship with HIM. The Israelites were afraid to come into the presence of GOD because of the possibility that they were unclean and they could die. 

GOD’S desire was for HIS chosen to stay ready to come into HIS presence because doing so would keep them from sinning. But they opted for a mediator, thus a priest. The priest was the mediator between GOD and mankind until the passion of JESUS as recorded in Romans 8:15 and Hebrews 14:6:

15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father!"

Those who have received JESUS as their Savior and born into the family of GOD can call HIM “Daddy.” As HIS children we can come into HIS presence as we read on ---

Hebrews 14:6:
16 Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.

GOD does not want HIS children to fear HIM but to respect HIM, honor and love HIM with their obedience and trust.

Back to our focus scripture - Deuteronomy 18:17-18:

17 Then the Lord said to me, 'They have spoken well.

18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. I will put My words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.

GOD was referring to the function of HIS prophets until JESUS was born and fulfilled HIS passion.

As you recall, Elijah, who represented the prophets, was on the mount of transfiguration with JESUS to verify that all prophesy had been fulfilled by JESUS because HIS passion was fast approaching.

All people, especially Christians, are to stay away from the paranormal. 

Dabbling in such will enslave and lead a person to destruction. Plus it is something GOD detests. As for me, I do not want to do something that GOD detests. My desire is to build an intimate, loving, personal relationship with HIM. What is your desire?

Friday, September 08, 2017

Bible Study - Dark Side (2) - Demons - Mark 9:17-29 - September 10, 2017

Bible Study – Dark Side (2) – Demons – September 10, 2017

This is lesson two (2) in our series entitled “The Dark Side.”

Our focus scripture is Mark 9:17-29.

Demonic forces are real, but CHRIST is greater. 

[ Additional thoughts: (1) JESUS directed questions, regarding the history of boy's condition to the boy's father. This was for our benefit. There are medical conditions and conditions which are the result of demon position or oppression. JESUS knew but this was instructional both for HIS disciples then and for us today. Notice as you read, the demon's goal was to destroy the boy. The demon would cause the boy to attempt to burn or drown himself. The symptoms the boy was displaying were those of a person with epilepsy but the difference is the destructive nature of the demon. Demons and evil spirits seek to destroy.
(2) Could the lack of power of the 9 disciples of JESUS waiting for JESUS to come down from the mountain have been due to them being left in the valley while Peter, James and John went up the mountain with JESUS? Had they neglected their prayer life while JESUS was on the mountain? We do not know but our attitude toward JESUS is vital when we serve HIM. The key is for Christians not to neglect their prayer life and to maintain the right relationship with JESUS. Christians are in spiritual warfare every day and we must not neglect our prayer life or allow jealousies or other compromising issues into our lives. When we see these flesh issues come into our thought lives, cast them out and command them never to enter again. Cast such thoughts out and slam the door shut. We must turn our thoughts to JESUS and HIS power because JESUS has won the battle for all Christians by the shedding of HIS blood and HIS resurrection. JESUS conquered sin and its consequence, eternal death, for all who place their faith in HIM.]

I pray for all who read this study that all will be covered by the shed blood of JESUS. When we study about Satan and the spirit world, Satan tries to divert our attention to the spirit world. Often, his strategy is to get us to look at various things happening in our lives as demonic. That results in us, especially Christians, turning our eyes and thoughts from JESUS to the spirit world. When such matters come to our attention, immediately change your thought life to “greater is HE (JESUS) that is in me than he (Satan or his evil forces) who is in the world. JESUS has already conquered Satan and the spirit world for Christians to live in victory. This does not mean Christians will not experience the onslaughts of the spirit world.

Soon after choosing HIS disciples, JESUS gave HIS disciples authority over the forces of evil, as recorded in Mark 6:7 and 13:

7 He summoned the Twelve and began to send them out in pairs and gave them authority over unclean spirits.

It is always good to go out in pairs. One can witness and the other can be praying, particularly, when you encounter the demon world. In fact, you need prayer warriors praying for you when you go out to witness or serving The LORD.

13 And they were driving out many demons, anointing many sick people with oil, and healing.

JESUS’ disciples had experienced success before this event in our lesson today. At this time in our lesson, JESUS was nearing the moment for which HE came to earth – HIS crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, remaining upon earth for 40 days, ascension into Heaven, sitting at the right hand of GOD and sending the Holy Spirit to indwell all who place their faith in JESUS.

Let’s read some of the background leading up to our focal scripture: JESUS’ disciples, Peter, James and John, went up the mountain referred to as the mountain of transfiguration with JESUS. As recorded in Mark 9:2-10:

2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up on a high mountain by themselves to be alone. He was transformed in front of them,
3 and His clothes became dazzling-extremely white as no launderer on earth could whiten them.
4 Elijah (representing Prophecy) appeared to them with Moses (representing Law), and they were talking with Jesus.

Since JESUS was nearing HIS appointed time, had all been fulfilled in the scriptures and had JESUS fulfilled the Spirit of the Law? We know the answer when we read verse 7.

5 Then Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here! Let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah"-
6 because he did not know what he should say, since they were terrified.

Peter was overwhelmed with what he was observing. Often, Christians get overwhelmed when they experience Spiritual matters but we are to keep our focus on truth and not go beyond. We are to learn from what GOD allows to come into our lives and to use that witness when HE permits.

7 A cloud appeared, overshadowing them, and a voice came from the cloud: This is My beloved Son; listen to Him!
8 Then suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus alone.
9 As they were coming down from the mountain, He ordered them to tell no one what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
10 They kept this word to themselves, discussing what "rising from the dead" meant.

The disciples witnessed a special event but JESUS asked them to hold their witness until the right moment.

Let’s read Mark 9:14-16:
The Power of Faith over a Demon

14 When they came to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and scribes disputing with them.

There were nine (9) disciples waiting for Peter, James, John and JESUS to come back from the mountain.

15 All of a sudden, when the whole crowd saw Him, they were amazed and ran to greet Him.

16 Then He asked them, "What are you arguing with them about?"

JESUS wanted all to know the issue of concern. Peter, James and John needed to be briefed. They had witnessed GOD confirming JESUS as HIS SON and HIS mission for the salvation of all who will place their faith in JESUS.

Let’s continue reading our focal scripture Mark 9:17-22a:

17 Out of the crowd, one man answered Him, "Teacher, I brought my son to You. He has a spirit that makes him unable to speak.

18 Wherever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I asked Your disciples to drive it out, but they couldn't."

19 He replied to them, "You unbelieving generation! How long will I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him to Me."

Was JESUS speaking to the father of the boy, HIS disciples, those gathered or all who had gathered? Nine of JESUS’ disciples had tried to exorcise the demon but failed. Had the father prayed to GOD for his son’s healing or carried him to others who had tried but failed? Had some of the religious leaders, in the crowd, prayed over the boy or tried to exorcise the demon and failed? This was a teaching situation for JESUS.

20 So they brought him to Him. When the spirit saw Him, it immediately convulsed the boy. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.

In James 2:19:
19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble!

This demon recognized JESUS and demonstrated its power over the boy. JESUS demonstrated HIS power and authority over the demon. JESUS had not spoken a word but the demon recognized JESUS and knew who HE was and the authority JESUS had over it.

21 "How long has this been happening to him?" Jesus asked his father. "From childhood," he said.

This demon had been in this boy’s life since childhood.

Why do you think JESUS asked that question? Had the demon been handed down through their ancestral line or some practice in which the family had been involved? This gave the father and those listening to JESUS a clue about the demonic world and how long demons can dwell in a person’s life; even an innocent child.

Let’s read Mark 9:22b-27:

22b “But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us."

This response of the father suggests to me that he had tried everything to try to help his son. In essence, it suggests, “I have done all I know to do without success. YOU are my last resort. Are YOU able to help us? Please, I beg YOU, have compassion on us and help us!

Often, it is when we exhaust our efforts that we turn to JESUS. When we do, we know HE alone is the source of the results which can be supernatural or natural. Our part is to be obedient.

23 Then Jesus said to him, "'If You can?' Everything is possible to the one who believes."

Keep in mind JESUS had an audience which included HIS disciples. In essence, JESUS reacted to the boy’s father’s statement “If YOU can?” You do not know ME or MY Father or the authority MY Father has given ME. Pay attention and witness what will happen when your faith is firmly established in GOD. All things are possible when a person places his or her faith in JESUS. JESUS connected the boy’s father’s statement “If YOU can?” to JESUS’ relationship to GOD and the authority GOD had given to HIM as HIS Only SON.

24 Immediately the father of the boy cried out, "I do believe! Help my unbelief."

The boy’s father exclaimed that he had faith and had asked that GOD deliver his son from that which tormented his son. But obviously, his faith had come up short because his son still had a problem.

Now, here we need to be cautious. Not every condition is the result of a demon or evil spirits. There are diseases which need to be treated medically and there are conditions that need to be treated Spiritually. How can we know the difference? Christians need the gift of discernment.  JESUS reveals what Christians need to do and that is to pray. Get fellow Christians to pray with you. If an issue is from the evil world, the person will be delivered! But the 
delivered person must not be left void as we read on ---

25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly coming together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "You mute and deaf spirit, I command you: come out of him and never enter him again!"

JESUS identified the demon and commanded it to come out. NOTICE: “come out of him and never enter him again!" It is vital that the person delivered from a demon, evil spirit or anything from the spirit world be filled with the Holy Spirit. We know that a person delivered from an unholy spirit has a void. Christians can be oppressed but not possessed. When the evil spirit moves from oppressing the life of a Christian, the Holy Spirit must be allowed to reign supreme in that person’s life. When a Christian is delivered we should also command that evil spirit not to enter that person’s life again. When the non-Christian is delivered he or she does not have the Holy Spirit to fill the void. Christians are to command the evil spirit not to enter that person’s life again. That allows for the possibility for that person to become a Christian and to be filled with the Holy Spirit at a later time, unless he or she opens up to another evil spirit. But woe to that person who delays asking JESUS into his or her heart, because he or she is subject to evil coming back into his or her life and taking over that person.

I hope no one thinks this is nonsense. If so, I pray that your Spiritual eyes will be opened to truth through faith in JESUS.

When those with authority over demons cast out a demon or demons, they should command it or them to “never enter that person again!”

26 Then it came out, shrieking and convulsing him violently. The boy became like a corpse, so that many said, "He's dead."

The demon had no choice but to obey the command of JESUS. JESUS wanted all who were listening and watching to know that HE had authority over the 
evil spirit/demon world. The demon immediately came out “shrieking and convulsing” the boy. It was physical evidence of divine authority.

The onlookers thought the boy was dead. Some Bible scholars believe the boy was dead but JESUS restored him back to life, which would have revealed JESUS authority not only over the spirit world but also over physical death. 

This was a teaching moment for the onlookers, the boy’s father and JESUS’ disciples. Look back at Mark 9:9 and 10. JESUS’ inner circle of disciples had been pondering what JESUS meant by:

9 As they were coming down from the mountain, He ordered them to tell no one what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
10 They kept this word to themselves, discussing what "rising from the dead" meant.

Did JESUS’ disciples need to witness what it meant for a person to “rise from the dead?”  

27 But Jesus, taking him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up.

If the boy was physically dead, JESUS brought him back to life. Again, this was to demonstrate HIS authority over the spirit world and the physical world. JESUS was truly the promised Messiah.

Let’s read Mark 9:28-29:

28 After He went into a house, His disciples asked Him privately, "Why couldn't we drive it out?"

JESUS’ disciples had been successful in casting out demons before, as we read in Mark 6:13, so they wanted to know why they could not cast this demon out. JESUS gave them the answer as we read on ---

29 And He told them, "This kind can come out by nothing but prayer [and fasting]."

The bracketed language is not found in earlier copies of Mark’s account. Bible scholars focus our attention on the need for Christians to “pray.” Of course, fasting helps us to focus our attention on JESUS Who is the power over the demonic world. That is why Christians must stay prayed up and to continue to build and maintain their relationship with GOD through JESUS.

The spirit world is real. It is not to be feared or tested. Christians must keep in mind, “Greater is JESUS Who is in us, than Satan and the evil spirit world that we live in.” (1 John 4:4)

Again, I pray for all who read and study this lesson that the spirit world will have no influence over you and that the Holy Spirit will indwell you, teach, enlighten and protect you.

If any do not know JESUS as your Savior, my prayer is that you ask JESUS to forgive you for your sins and for HIM to come into your life now.

If you prayed this prayer, then thank HIM for coming into your life and for HIM saving you from sin and its consequence, eternal death.

Welcome to the family of GOD through faith in JESUS, eternal life, the miracle of rebirth in your spirit/Spirit, a brother or sister in CHRIST and being a citizen of Heaven. Blessings!!!