Tag Archives: victory

We can’t fix it

We really want to. We want to fix everything. We even sometimes wonder why God isn’t fixing it.

Ministers molesting children. Men and women breaking up their homes through adultery, violence, abandonment, hatred, reviling. Drunkards in the pulpits. Injustice everywhere.

Sometimes it is overwhelming. And sometimes I hurt all over hearing the stories – YOUR stories. I hear you and my heart grieves. And I can’t fix it.

I can’t talk your abusive minister and elders into removing your excommunication for divorcing your criminally abusive husband. I can’t convince your grown children to become Christians. I can’t take away injustice. I can’t humble a proud man or convince a hater to put on love.

I would love to fix things, but then I remember that I am dust.

Stalin just tried to fix things. Marx just tried to fix things. Hitler tried to fix things. Pol Pot, Mao, Kim jong Il…

The world is littered with the corpses of the powerful men who tried to fix things.

The problem is sin. And the older I get the more I understand how powerful, complicated, tangled, horrible, fracturing and evil sin is.

The spot of paint inside the painting can’t see the painting. How can I even see what the problem is? How can I fix anything when I can’t even fully understand the tangled web of my own heart? I am simply a small fragment of the whole tapestry that only the Great Artist can see. I can’t see the creation from the perspective of the creator, for I am not the creator.

But here is what I know: Jesus hates injustice far more than we do. Jesus hates violence and murder far more than we do. Jesus hates adultery, cruelty and reviling far more than we can possibly imagine.

So why does it seem as if he is doing nothing about it?

He did do something about it.

4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isa. 53:4-5 KJV)

All of the violence, hatred, grief, sorrow, murder, hatred and reviling came upon him. He became sin for us.

The fact is this: If he cleansed the earth of all wickedness, there would be no one left. That includes you and me. The wrath of God against sin doesn’t excuse me, because it doesn’t play favorites. When I cry out for justice, I also cry out for mercy, for without mercy I cannot stand a moment. God sees the heart. And that means that I am in trouble.

So before Jesus purges the earth of wickedness, he redeems a people for himself. For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son.

Those nails were meant for me. That crown of thorns belonged to me. The abandonment and shame were mine.

And all of the injustice and hatred and cruelty that is in the world he bore in his body on the cross. He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.

But now that he has died and risen again, now that he has provided salvation, why doesn’t he come in judgment? Why is he allowing such evil cruelty to exist in his church?

Jesus does not delight in the death of the wicked. He is giving every opportunity for the wicked to repent. He does not follow the timetable of men, for he sees far more than we do. When he finally comes in judgment, it will not be the bloodbath of the kings of the earth, it will be no holocaust, no great purge of Mao or Stalin.

He will judge the earth in goodness and righteousness and equity. He will be merciful to those who confess his name, and he will come in judgment for all the cruel, the murderers, the liars, the hypocrites, the adulterers, the revilers – no matter what outer form they take. He knows the difference between the sheep and the goats.

The one who took our sorrows will also vindicate his own. He will come to pour out his wrath against sin.

And there is comfort in that. He will wipe away every tear.

In the meantime, I will do what I can do as a creature of dust. I will seek to find the right words to comfort and rebuke as necessary. I can listen. And above all I can point to the One who died for me and invite you to meet him, the lion who is a lamb. I can only do that with the Bible. I don’t have answers on my own. I don’t have the solutions on my own.

All I have is the word of God, the record of the apostles and prophets. But that is enough – sufficient to equip us for all that we need. It points us to Christ, who died for us and rose again the third day – according to the scriptures.

Hold to that. When all around my soul gives way, he then is all my hope and stay.

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On Suffering and Bruised Heels

I recently read again God’s curse upon the serpent in the Garden of Eden:

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel (Genesis 3:15).

This verse is known in theology as the “protoevangelium” – the first proclamation of the gospel. In the context, the serpent has beguiled Eve and she gave the fruit of the forbidden tree to Adam, and he ate of it contrary to God’s word. In separating himself from God, mankind made a covenant with death. He chose fellowship with the devil rather than fellowship with God.

In this first proclamation of the gospel, one thing sticks out at you. The gospel was first spoken as a curse upon the serpent. Men and women were not created originals. they were created to be image bearers of God. When they disobeyed God, they made a league with the devil and became enslaved to the kingdom of the devil and all the sin, misery and death that are operative in this kingdom. Being in bondage, man cannot free himself. In order for there to be good news for man, the power of the devil must be broken. God promises the serpent that his kingdom will not last; his head will be bruised; there will always be a remnant – a “seed” – who will be at war with the serpent’s seed.

We know, having the complete revelation of God, that this defeat of Satan came at the hands of the True Seed of the Woman, our Lord Jesus. But how was this victory achieved? Jesus defeated the devil, not with armies and weapons, but by suffering the death of the cross. The covenant with death must be broken, and it could only be broken when it was carried out. So the Son of God tasted death for man that the power of death might be broken.

14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (Hebrews 2:14-15).

The crushing of the head of the devil bruises the heel of the Warrior. Notice what Hebrews says. Through suffering the death of the cross – seemingly the defeat of the Seed – the warrior destroyed the devil (him who had the power of death).

This is central to our faith. We do not pity the One on the Cross, we marvel at His love for us! We wonder at the power of the one who entered into battle with death and conquered it! Jesus was not a passive victim on the cross, carried away by circumstances out of His control. Rather He was a conquering hero, waging war against the kingdom of the devil, casting out the Strong Man, and ushering in the kingdom of Heaven. And He will reign until He has put all enemies under His feet!

This is also the same Lord who says to each one of us, “Take up your cross and follow me.”

Being united to Christ, we also do battle with the kingdom of the devil. Being united to Christ, we are assured victory. And being united to Christ, the war will also bruise our heels.

This changes how we should view suffering. We too often ask the wrong questions and miss the point. We ask, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” “If God loves me, why are there so many difficulties in life?” “Does God have a purpose in suffering? What is that purpose?”

When we suffer – chronic, unrelenting pain; reproach and insults; doubts; illness; battles with our sinful nature; persecution – it is natural to wonder why.

Why do Christians suffer so much in this world?

Because they are doing battle with the devil. Because they belong to Jesus Christ. Because they are conquering heroes in Christ. Because the devil never lets go of his kingdom without bruising the heel. When the heel is bruised, Satan’s head is crushed.

What a wonderful thought! Our suffering is not simply meaningless. It isn’t because God is angry with us. It isn’t because God won’t interfere with man’s free will (what hogwash!). It is because we are doing battle with the devil and we are winning.

The devil was in his greatest danger when Jesus was in his greatest pain. When Jesus gave up the ghost, the devil’s power was destroyed. It is one of the greatest paradoxes of our faith. Jesus defeated the greatest created power by becoming weak, hungry, tired, despised. He crushed Satan’s head by obedience to the death of the cross as a common criminal.

He calls us, as Christians, to take up that cross and follow. As the hymn says, “We are soldiers of the cross.” As “little Christs” (Christians) we follow our Lord. The path to resurrection and victory is through suffering and death, for from the very beginning, God purposed to destroy the kingdom of Satan by bruising the heel of the Seed of the Woman, and we are all partakers with Christ in His death as well as His victory.

For this reason, God promises the church in Rome that He will bruise Satan under their feet (Romans 16:20). The church was suffering, as it always had. But God promised them that something far greater was going on. Satan was being put under their feet!

Why did their feet hurt? Because they were crushing Satan’s head.

Why do we suffer on this earth? Because in our suffering we are destroying the power of the devil.

Don’t view your hard times as signs of God’s displeasure. Instead view them as opportunities to crush Satan’s head. You are doing battle with an ancient enemy and you WILL prevail by the power of Jesus, who has already assured the victory.

But it will bruise your heel. You will walk with an uplifted head, a song in your heart, a glitter in the eye, and a limp in the feet.

And the God of Peace will bruise Satan’s head under that bruised heel. It’s a promise.

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Filed under Gospel, Hope, Warfare