Monthly Archives: September 2014
8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
When Jesus was born, the angels told Mary that God would give Him the kingdom of His father David. Jesus came to do the will of His Father in Heaven and He knew that this will would lead Him to the cross. Only by suffering the death of the cross would He inherit the kingdom through the resurrection from the dead.
The kingdoms of the world had been given into the hand of Satan as a just punishment for sin. When Adam fell, mankind became slaves of sin and misery and under the bondage of the devil.
If Jesus was to “plunder the kingdom of Satan”, Satan must first be bound (Matt. 12:29-30). In order for Satan’s kingdom to be plundered, Jesus must deal with sin. The only way to deal with sin was to go to the cross and suffer the pangs and torments of hell in the place of His people.
But when Jesus was in the wilderness, Satan offered Him another way. “I will concede every kingdom to you. You can usher in peace, prosperity, long life and endless joy – just fall down and worship me, and all this will be yours. No cross. No wrathful God to deal with. Just me.”
And so it always is. He offered the same thing to Adam. He offers the same thing to every believer. “Just fall down, serve me, and I will give you your heart’s desire.”
“Are you lonely? Just one night with that girl in the bar”.
“That man that you have your eyes on can make all of your dreams come true. God is not good. He won’t bless you. Reach out. Serve me. Everything will be better.”
“Perhaps if you just work a bit harder; submit a bit more; make sure dinner is on time – then you can have the home of your dreams. Your husband is angry and stressed. Make things easier on him and you can have all you want. Serve a little harder. Try a little more. Work a little longer.”
And how often do we forget that God alone is the fountain of all good.
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (Jam 1:17 KJV)
We reach out to people or to things or to ideas in order to ease the pain of a cursed world, and forget that Jesus already paid it all. He alone can salve this broken and contrite heart. He alone can take away the curse.
But the devil and his children will always offer another way. “Just serve me a bit better, a bit more; just work harder, and you can have whatever you dream of.”
But whatever you do, and whatever you say, and however hard you work, you will never attain it. It’s a lie. It’s a lie because the devil is a murderer and a liar and his children follow in his footsteps.
They can’t give you eternal life. They can’t give you peace. They can’t even give you food and drink. They can never ease the loneliness and the heartache of living in a sinful world. But they can enslave you to a life of “work harder; do better; submit more; don’t make me mad – you know how my temper is!”
If this sounds like your life, please remember what Jesus said to the tempter. “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”
Wow. Astounding words! He will do good to all men. He will willingly wash feet. He will take the lowest form and die the death of a criminal. He will do good deeds of love and mercy and truth. He will become servant to all and call us to do the same thing.
But He will never, ever worship anything or anyone other than the One True God who has revealed Himself in His word.
As redeemed men and women, we have the glorious calling of reflecting Christ’s glory – of being transformed into His glorious image. We have the Holy Spirit. God calls us the apple of His eye!
When the devil and his children give this promise, “I will give you what you want if you will only serve me,” remember where it comes from. That which comes from God is pure and peaceable, brings joy and reconciliation, and gladdens the heart. the promise of the devil brings shame and guilt and bondage. There are always strings attached to every promise of an evil man.
You shall worship the Lord Your God, and Him alone shall you serve.
But there’s more. Jesus commanded Satan to depart. Satan and his children will never settle for anything less than worship. They will continue to hound, berate, revile and reproach you until you are finally grovelling at their feet – but even then, they will not be satisfied.
There is only one thing to do with this: Cast him out. Get out! I will worship God alone.
I will serve God in my marriage by seeking my spouse’s good; by taking the lower place and joyfully doing what God has called me to. I will joyfully give up my rights and even my life if that is what God calls me to. But I will never, ever, worship and serve the creature. I will worship and serve God alone and expect good only from His hand. If my marriage has been irretrievably broken by the wicked actions of my spouse, I will pursue divorce; but I will no longer submit to the demands of the wicked one to bow and serve and worship the creature rather than the Creator.
I will not grovel at the feet of a scoffer and reviler hoping for some crumbs of peace to fall.
I will not serve a son of Belial in the desperate hope for a smile from the sneering face.
I will not seek from the creature what only the Creator can give. I will seek reconciliation; I will seek forgiveness; I will seek peace, but if they are for war, I will withdraw and plead my case to the Almighty. But I will never worship the creature.
Only the Creator can give me peace. It will never come from the lies of the devil. Jesus has freed me from the bondage of sin and misery. He has made me an heir to eternal life!
I can’t earn it. I can’t work harder and get it. It’s the devil that tells me to work more, be better, grovel more, abuse my body more. Jesus’ love is sanctifying, cleansing, unearned, complete and infinite.
Husbands, if you are withholding love and tenderness and honor from your wife until she works harder, submits more and learns her place, ask yourself who you most resemble. Is this the picture of Christ, who loved the church and gave Himself for her? Or is it the picture of Satan who said, “All this I will give you, if you only fall down and worship me.”
Perhaps this is why Paul said that a reviler (one who uses abusive and vicious speech to belittle and intimidate others) will never inherit the kingdom of heaven (I Cor. 6:9). Nothing can be further from the beauty and love of Jesus than a reviler. A reviler says, “Worship me, and I will give you rest.” But the reviler is the one causing the unrest! So not only is he a reviler, he is also an extortioner. How can he inherit the kingdom of heaven unless he repents and becomes something else?
But Jesus actually gives rest. He takes away sin and shame, doesn’t use it to control and manipulate. He covers our ugliness and bitterness with His perfect righteousness. He gives us a new heart and a new spirit so that we can become more and more like him.
So we can say with confidence, “I will do good to all whom God has placed in my path. But I will worship and serve God alone.”
An excellent analysis
We occasionally get emails and comments from abusers who try to convince us to advocate for them and get them back in power. Here’s a comment Mike Allen tried to leave. He’s attempted to make us his allies in his abuse so many times that we’ve nicknamed him “Badger.” We decided to publish this comment as a post and let you see it the way we see it. So many of these emails and comments from the badgers are very similar. I have to wonder if there’s a form letter for gaining allies out there on the web…
I’ll comment in red. This post is intended to expose manipulating speech. My abuser sent me and the pastors and professionals we worked with emails and texts very similar to this one. About the only thing missing here is a subtle or outright claim that the abuser’s target is mentally ill or menopausal (that’s right…
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It was an exhausting day. It wasn’t a bad day. Just exhausting.
I washed the dust, sweat and grime of the day down the shower drain, put on pajamas and sat back in my lazy boy recliner. I opened Biblical Theology and read until I could not keep my eyes open any longer. Contentedly, I headed off to bed.
I climbed into my Sleep-number adjustable bed and settled down for the night. That’s when the trouble started.
First, I sighed a deep relaxing sigh. “I am as comfortable as I could be,” I said, relaxing into a light doze.
Then I said, “Maybe not quite. There might be a small wrinkle right around where my knee is.” No big deal. I could ignore it.
No. It grew larger and larger in my mind. I knew that I would not be able to go to sleep on top of that huge mess that is wreaking havoc on my leg. So I leaned forward and adjusted the wrinkle. “Ahhhhh.”
Now my covers were messed up. I had to arrange them again. They were pressing down too hard on my foot. That might cause me some pain in the morning. So I kicked, trying to make a pocket for my feet.
Is that a crumb? I think that there is a crumb in my bed. How can I sleep with a crumb in my bed. Where is it? Where did it go?
Why is my pillow flat now? I removed the crumb. I fluffed the pillow. I settled back down.
Now I’m hot and starting to sweat again. I throw the covers off.
Now I’m cold. Why can’t the temperature be perfect? Why is the crumb back?
I remove the imaginary crumb, fluff again. Pull the covers back up.
Now there’s a wrinkle under my leg.
I never have this problem when I am camping. I know that there is no way I am actually going to get comfortable, so I just go to sleep.
Eventually, I fluff and worry and toss and turn and fuss myself to sleep. Other nights, I give up and get up before I wake my wife.
But the other night something came to me:
Isn’t this the heart of covetousness?
No matter what good gifts God gives us, no matter what we have, we always say to ourselves, “Do you know what I need? Just a little more. Then I will be content.”
If only I had a bigger truck, a bigger car, a better house. Look at my neighbor’s house. He sure is lucky. If I had that house, then I would be happy.
Look at his wife. Man, how’d he score a woman like that. If I had his wife, then I’d be happy. I wish my kids were like that guys kids.
This food doesn’t taste quite as good as it should. This chair isn’t quite as comfortable as it could be. If I had one more gadget, a little more money, a little better friends.
If my preacher was a little more interesting, if my church was a little bit more attentive to my needs.
Then for sure I would be content.
This is the first thing Satan said to man,”Yea, hath God said you shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”
Is there really something that God didn’t let you have?? The nerve!
And so our sinful hearts are again revealed. Covetous is the plaguing thought that you are not really getting everything that you are owed, that something is being held from you – something that you deserve. God owes you. He really isn’t good. He’s stingy and holding out on you. Look at your neighbor; what’s he got that I don’t got?
Then we read what Paul writes.
11Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am,therewith to be content. 12I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Phil. 4:11-13).
It would help us to remember that Paul was in prison in Rome when he wrote this. He learned to be content in every situation. He understood that the problem was not in the goodness of God. God’s goodness is infinite. He is our almighty Father, able to give us all things necessary for body and soul, and willing also, being a faithful Father.
The problem is our sinful heart. Covetousness makes us restless. Discontent drives our grumbling and murmuring. And the heart of it is idolatry. We worship and serve the creature, rather than the creator. We look to things for our comfort, placing our trust in money, gadgets, friends, things, and wrinkle free sheets.
Notice also that Paul says he has learned contentment with nothing as well as contentment with abundance. Contentment with abundance is frequently the harder of the two. When you have nothing, you have very low expectations from your possessions. But when you abound, it is very simple to turn those possessions into idols, and seek from them that which they can never provide.
Augustine prayed, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.”
My wife says, “Why don’t you just go to sleep, you weirdo.”
And I am again reminded that this earth is not our home. We are commanded to set our affections on things above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
As long as our minds are on this earth, there is always one more wrinkle, one more crumb, one more aching joint. We can really get ourselves into a dither over nothing.
I know that there are many with problems far greater than a wrinkled sheet. I have my own things over which I could fret, some huge, some smaller. When it comes to the great big things: betrayal, slander, abuse, chronic illness, death, and so on, we immediately look to Jesus, saying to us, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
But we often don’t think of that when we get ourselves into a dither over wrinkled sheets. But the wrinkled sheets expose our restless hearts every bit as much as the big things. The things of the earth can never be your only comfort in life and in death. They will never be a solid ground on which to place your trust. But they can make you exhausted and restless, until you finally cry out to the Lord to cleanse you from your covetousness and teach you contentment. This is what Paul means when he says that he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him.