Having Joy for Others – Purity 785
Purity 785 7/16/2022 Purity 785 Podcast
Today’s photo of the light of morning shining through fog somewhere near the train station in Adelaide, South Australia comes to us from Dave Baun Photography as our photographer friend had his trusty Olympus, his talented eye, and the presence of mind to capture this morning magic while he enjoyed a brisk and foggy walk on the way to work back on June 25th.
That day was a Saturday, I know that because it was my 50th birthday and like Dave, or maybe unlike Dave, I had to work that day! And today is also Saturday and you may have guessed it, I have to work again!
But guess what, that’s okay. Just because I have another pair of “one day weekends” this week it doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy them, and it doesn’t mean I can’t thank God, that for me, today is “Friday” which are always pretty cool – no work tomorrow! – And just because I have to work today it doesn’t mean that I can’t have some joy simply over the fact that today is Saturday and that most of my friends are awakening today with no work responsibilities and are free to choose what they will do and where they will go today. It is my prayer that all my friends, whether they see or hear this message or not have a great day and a wonderful weekend.
One indicator of our growth as an adult, or of our maturity as a Christian, is our ability to have joy for others and to celebrate with them when they are blessed with good things.
I love to see on social media that my friends are traveling, are getting together with family, going to weddings, having parties, have moved into new homes or new careers, or have gotten automobiles or other new things. Whether they are family, old friends of the past, or just acquaintance “friends”, I can honestly say that I have joy over the good things that my friends on social media are experiencing and sharing.
Their sharing makes me feel good for them and they sometimes inspire me to try some of the things they are doing or to see the places they have gone. Their “views” into their lives opens up a window into their lives and the world at large that I wouldn’t have otherwise, and I am grateful for the extended vision and different perspectives I get from my friends.
The ability to take joy in the experiences or accomplishments of others is a real sign of maturity and empathy but it is also something that the Lord would have us develop as part of our character as well. Having joy in the good things that happen to others could be viewed as part of our obedience to obey the Lord’s commandments and can also be seen as a form of spiritual warfare.
Let me explain.
The last of the Ten Commandments that is often forgotten and may be difficult to understand demonstrates God’s concern for our relationships with others, and it shows he cares not only about how we behave in those relationships but also how we feel.
The Tenth Commandment is:
17 "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's."
The word “covet” is something we don’t hear every day and it’s basic definition – “to yearn to posses or have something” or “to wish for earnestly” may not even seem like there is anything wrong with it. “It okay to want stuff!” And wanting things for ourselves isn’t bad… but even in the most basic definitions of the word “covet” that I found online there was an indication that “covet” was different from wanting or desiring something in general and that the things yearned or wished for in the “covet” scenario belonged to somebody else! The word itself is flavored undoubtedly by it’s use in Tenth Commandment.
The trap the world, the flesh, and the devil sets for us to fall into is that of jealousy, envy, and coveting the things that are not ours.
The tenth commandment indicates that to even have feeling that you want what belongs to someone else is a sin. Your desire for someone else’s thing are wrong.
If we think about the things listed in the tenth commandment, we can see that even the desire to want the things of others can lead to other sins. Coveting the neighbors wife could lead to adultery. Coveting the neighbors things could lead to theft.
But beyond these gross sins of commission, God establishes the tenth commandment to show us that He doesn’t what that desire and its negative mental and emotional effects in our lives.
God doesn’t want us to be jealous, envious, or depressed because of what our neighbors have. If we covet what they have, we might not like our neighbor so much. Our coveting not only messes with our heads and hearts, it also can mess up our relationships with those around us because of it.
Instead Christ commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves and if we endeavored to do that we would have joy for the good things that our neighbor has, because we certainly have joy over the good things that happen to us. If we are going to love our neighbors as ourselves, and we have joy over the good things that happen to us, we should thus have joy over the good things that happen to them.
So God’s tenth shows His great concern for our mental health and happiness, and his concern about our human relationships. But God’s tenth commandment is a support from the first two commandments – to have no other gods before us and that we would have not make idols.
When we covet, our earnest desires to obtain the things others have can be seen as a failure to honor God, that we are in effect saying that God can’t comfort us or make us happy, but if we only had the things our neighbor has we could be fulfilled. The objects of our desires become idols as we focus on them rather than our relationship with God and all that He provides us with.
Our coveting also reveals our belief that we believe that we in effect don’t need God because we can make our own happiness by our own efforts by getting the things we covet!
So obviously, we have to keep a spiritual eye on the things that we want and ask ourselves:
· How does this “want” or desire make me feel about myself?
· How do my desires make me feel about others?
· Is this desire good and pure?
· What does the word of God indicate about the things I want and how they make me feel?
· What if I did get those things? Would they really satisfy me?
· Have I wanted similar things like these desires in the past? What were the outcomes when I failed to get them or when I received them?
· Am I so focused on the things I desire in this world that I have forgotten about who I am in Christ and about my relationship with God and all that He provides me with.
When we suffer in life, generally we can trace the pain back to choices and decision that we made that were selfish or violated the principles that God establishes for us in His word that He would have us live by.
In the examination of this one commandment, we can see God’s great concern for us, for our neighbors, and for our relationship with Him.
Through scripture God indicates that when we follow His ways we will be blessed.
As we walk toward the Father, the truth is revealed and it can show us that we have been deceived into believing that the things of others or from the world would satisfy us. The truth is that our peace and fulfillment come from knowing the One who made us and who calls us to Him.
So keep walking and talking with God. Think about what you are thinking about. Examine your emotions and take a look at what you want out of life and why you want it. Through His word God directs us to put faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior and to follow in His ways to discover the pathway to peace.
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
Today’s Bible meditation verses are:
19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.
20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.
21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
In today’s verse, Jesus teaches us about the importance of having an eternal perspective and to value the things that time can not take away.
Here Christs points to our earthly impermanence and the fact that although we could build quite a fortune throughout our lives, we can’t make it last forever and we can’t take it with us.
So Christ subtly encourages us to invest in the things of God and the one thing that can’t be taken away from us our relationship with Him and to focus on accumulating the treasures that will be honored in heaven, like the good works we do in His name and the Christian character that we develop and take with us into eternity.
We have to think about the things we treasure and ask if they will last and come with us into God’s kingdom.
And here again, the Son points to the fact that we are to value our relationship with God above anything we see on earth. God treasures us and showed it by sending Jesus to die for us and here His messenger and our Savior encourages us to treasure the Lord above all else.
God has such love for us that He doesn’t want us to waste any of our time on things that will fall apart or fade away. He wants us grounded in the things that are valuable and that will last forever. So follow His advice and focus on Him and the things that will be of great value in eternity.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue sharing from Clinton E. Arnold’s “Powers of Darkness”
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Clinton Arnold’s books for your own private study and to support his work. This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.
8 A New Kingdom and Identity for Believers
A few years ago while driving on a freeway, i saw a bumper sticker on the car ahead of me that caught my attention. It read: “Christians Aren’t Perfect, Just Forgiven.” For a few years this epigram became rather popular among Christians. It seemed to provide an answer to the accusations of hypocrisy assailing the church from those outside (and perhaps soothing the conscience of the Christian breaking the speed limit!) while conveying a foundational doctrinal truth, the forgiveness of sins.
I do not object to the message conveyed by the bumper sticker. I do disapprove of the simplistic attitude toward conversion that such a statement could engender. Christians truly are people who have been forgiven. But there is so much more that happens behind the scenes at conversion. One who becomes a Christian genuinely becomes a brand-new person and a member of a new kingdom with an all-powerful and all-loving Lord. The new believer is divinely rescued from slavery in a kingdom controlled by evil supernatural forces. And so much more. Far more than just a decision for Christ, becoming a Christian is a divinely powerful redemptive work of God.
Christians are given a new identity. Their new status becomes the basis for renewing their manner of life on earth. A prominent New Testament scholar once said that living the Christian life consists of “becoming what you are.” In one sense Christians truly are not perfect, but they are in progress. In another sense, in the presence of our justifying God, Christians are perfect.
As believers we need to know who we are now; that is, we need to know our new identity in relationship to Christ. Knowing this is the basis for our behavior and for resisting the supernatural powers of darkness.
Rescued from the Kingdom of Darkness
Just as God delivered Israel from their bondage in Egypt, Christ has rescued believers from Satan and his powers of evil. To the Colossians, Paul says, “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col 1:13). Behind this statement lies the exodus event as the informing pattern of deliverance. Paul used the same word for “rescue/deliver” that occurs repeatedly throughout the Greek Old Testament to describe Israel’s rescue from their bondage in Egypt (see, for example, Ex 6:6; 14:30).
Deliverance from slavery in Satan’s kingdom is also at the heart of Paul’s concept of “redemption.” Again Paul used the same terminology found in the Exodus account to describe Israel’s redemption. Exodus 6:6 says, “I will free you from being slaves to them and will redeem you with an outstretched arm” (italics mine). Here the concept of redemption appears to bridge the gap between two results of Christ’s work on the cross—deliverance from Satan’s kingdom and forgiveness of sin. Paul’s concept of redemption, important to his understanding of Jesus’ death (see, for example, Rom 3:24 and 1 Tim 2:6), is broad enough to cover both concepts. Some segments of Judaism longed for the Messiah to bring redemption from the devil’s kingdom. For instance, a second-century B.C. Jewish document states: “He will liberate [or ‘redeem’] every captive of the sons of men from Beliar, and every spirit of error will be trampled down” (Testament of Zebulun 9:8). Christ is “our redemption” (1 Cor 1:30) by virtue of his work on the cross, where he not only paid the ransom for sin but also destroyed the power of the influence of the evil dominion (Col 2:14–15).
In this Colossians passage Satan is the one described as “the authority of darkness.” This expression highlights his rulership over a domain. The domain includes the various powers of darkness mentioned throughout the rest of Paul’s letter to the Colossians—powers, authorities, elemental spirits, thrones and so on. It also includes his captives—every person who is not a member of Christ’s kingdom.
Darkness and light are the contrasting metaphors Paul chose to describe the nature of the two opposing kingdoms. Paul used this imagery elsewhere to describe the two conflicting kingdoms. In 2 Corinthians, he says, “What fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?” (2 Cor 6:14–15). Here the respective leaders of each dominion are distinguished.
Believers have been uprooted from one domain and transplanted into another. When Paul says God “brought us into” the kingdom of the Son he loves, he used terminology that may have reminded his Jewish readers of political deportation and colonization. According to the Jewish historian Josephus, Antiochus “transferred” several thousand Jews to Asia Minor in the second century B.C.
Followers of Christ truly have a new citizenship. We have been rescued from the clutches of the powers of darkness. This “behind the scenes” action happens at conversion and is symbolized by the rite of baptism. Turning to Christ involves a powerful work of God on our behalf. Conversion for some may only “feel” like a personal decision, but an invisible rescue occurs in the unseen world.
We should not be tempted to think only those people who are involved in occultic activity and Satan worship are slaves to “the dominiion of darkness.” Paul made it clear that all who are not believers (that is, not in the kingdom of Christ) are in bondage to the hostile powers. This concept is especially difficult for Westerners to grasp, but nevertheless it is true. Even those who are moral, who obey the laws of the land and appear to be productive members of society, are captive in Satan’s domain if they are not believers.
In a number of ways Paul explained the new identity of people who have been made members of Christ’s kingdom. An understanding of this new status is essential for resisting the ongoing hostile influence of the powers of the old dominion and living according to the new ethical standards of God’s kingdom. We will look at a few of Paul’s concepts of the meaning of new life in Christ that are especially relevant for gaining the right perspective on the Christian life in light of the opposition we face from the powers of darkness.
Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship
 Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 110–112.