Instant Liberation in Two Words: “I Quit!” - Purity 824
Purity 824 08/31/2022 Purity 824 Podcast
Today’s photo a of a the “hump” of a “rainbow in the hollers” comes from a friend who called West Liberty Kentucky home for a spell and shared this photo back on June 3, 2021. But moss doesn’t grow on a rolling stone and the holler’s appeal didn’t last long and instead of staying put, our friend jettisoned his home in the holler and took to beaches of Florida for a spell and now has set his stakes in a new home in southwest North Carolina! But that doesn’t mean he is done traveling because I just saw him share scenes from somewhere in Georgia just the other day that may be featured in a future post.
Well, It’s hump day again, and as we seek to surmount the midpoint of another work week to move on into Labor Day weekend, I think we should all rejoice over the freedom that the Lord gives us to change our situations and the fact that He gives us our self-worth that is not dependent on where we are or what we are doing. Our changing circumstances don’t change who we are in Christ.
In life we make our best decisions with the information we have at the time. We may think a home in the hollers, a beach in Florida, or a place somewhere else may satisfy us at the time, only to discover that we want to try something else. Moving can be an ordeal but I for one can attest to the sheer joy that comes from leaving your past behind and finding peace in a new home.
Likewise professionally, we can decide to step out and try something new with the hopes of forging a prosperous future only to discover that the deal that seemed too good to be true was too good to be true and that the offers and promises that were made before we committed ourselves quickly changed almost as soon as we did.
In a teaching on Jesus vs The Culture, Dr. Frank Turek asked if it was ethical for a business to change the conditions of someone’s employment after they were hired after they had committed themselves and turned down other offers. The people gathered for his class unanimously agreed that it was unethical to do that.
But Turek’s question shows that things like this happen in the world of business, to lure people into filling a job unscrupulous employers will make promises that they have no intention of keeping and will eventually change the rules of the game after they hire someone and figure they now “own them”.
Unfortunately, many people face this type of treatment and feel that they have no recourse but to stay because they need the money or the benefits or are told that the negative circumstances are only temporary.
However, the Lord has given us free will and if we walk with Him we can be assured that He will be with us whether we decide to endure in our “raw deal” or if we choose to utter the two word phrase that leads to instant liberation: I quit!
I think we all know people who have suffered in negative work circumstances at some point in their work histories and we listen to their complaints and laments with compassion but are puzzled at why they continue to stay. Don’t they know they can quit?
There is no shame in quitting, regardless of reasons, but if we were lied to or if we are being abused or micromanaged, we have the right to set ourselves free.
Unfortunately, this issue is close to home for me because my wife TammyLyn recently took a chance at a new career only to discover that her employers were dishonest about their expectations of her work hours and the level of authority she would have as the general manager of their restaurant.
They expected her to turn Hell’s kitchen into heaven but didn’t give her the power to do it as they almost immediately undermined her authority, arbitrarily changed policies, gave preferential treatment to certain employees, allowed a hostile work environment to fester, made insulting abusive personal comments to employees, allowed rank insubordination to go without consequence, and tried to make her personally responsible for each and every aspect of the business, even when she wasn’t there!
My wife was the general manager for less than a month and last night I fully supported her decision to resign immediately.
I, of course, sought to support my wife in her new venture by becoming a delivery driver for the restaurant. I figured if she was there that was where I wanted to be. But she isn’t there anymore, so I quit too!
No matter how bad things get in life we have the option of quitting. He have the option of leaving. If we have been lied to, or abused, or disrespected and hurt, the Lord doesn’t necessarily want us to stay in that.
Christ came to give us life and life more abundantly and if people are making our lives hell on earth we can shake the dust off our feet and leave.
Frank Turek’s point in asking that question about a business changing the terms of a contract after someone was hired was to ask about the changes in personal relationships: in marriages. That if someone promises to love, honor and obey someone for life and abuses the promises of the relationship, and the abuse continues or the commitment is betrayed, we can try to work on the problems with counseling but if the other party refuses to repent, we can leave. Ask me how I know.
When we decide to follow the Lord with our lives, we make the decision to live in righteousness and the world may not always like that. People will hate us for it or they may see our Christian character as something they can use for their own purposes.
While we are to love our enemies and to endure through suffering at times, we are not expected to propagate or allow someone else’s sin to continue unchecked or without consequence. If you lie to me or are sinning against me, I can forgive you, but it doesn’t mean I have to stay in relationship with you.
So if that’s you, quit. Walk away. Forgive them for they know not what they do, but shake the dust off your feet and surrender them to the Lord, as He says you are worthy of love, dignity, and respect, and no matter what the Lord will be with you where ever you go.
So keep walking and talking with God. When we trust the wrong people or suffer abuse, He will help us to recover and to find a new place where we will be provided for and where we can find our purpose in Him.
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
Jeremiah 29:12-13 (NKJV)
12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
Today’s verses encourage us to call upon the Lord, to pray, and to seek the Lord with the assurance that He will hear us and we will find Him.
In life we can learn from our mistakes. When things go south we can really beat ourselves up for the mistakes we make. But the Lord is with us and the book of Jerimiah is a rough portion of scripture in which the prophet delivers searing messages to the nation of Israel about impending judgement that will come because of their disobedience. But even in this book of the Bible where there is so much “bad news” , the Lord reminds the faithful that even in their struggles that He is still with them and that His strength and guidance can still be found when they call upon Him, pray to Him and seek Him.
So maybe things have gone wrong. Things didn’t work out the way we hoped.
So what do we do now that our dreams have gone up in smoke?
We do what we always to as followers of Christ. Just like Jesus, we go to the Father, We pray and we gather strength and wisdom from Him, knowing that He is the one who defines us and He is the one who determines our worth. No matter what we do or how we may fail or suffer, God has accepted us as His children because of our faith in Jesus and He is with us.
So call on the Lord, pray to Him, and seek your will for your life. He hears you and He will help you to find Him when you search for Him with all your heart.
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.
Reasserting the Pauline Emphasis
I am thus hesitant to use the Pauline references to the “principalities and powers” as the fundamental basis for developing a theology of society. On the one hand, a different foundation to social ethics is needed than that which is provided by those who take a structural interpretation of the powers. On the other hand, I believe it is essential to take the principalities and powers into careful consideration when discussing social evil. Robert Webber is correct when he notes, “A theology of society needs to deal with the problem of the demonic.”
There is no doubt Paul envisioned the work of evil spirits to extend beyond their hostile influence on individuals and the church. In Paul’s letters, however, the emphasis is clearly on their malevolent activity in preventing people from becoming Christians and hindering their growth in Christian virtue. The major issue of concern for Paul, therefore, is not so much the relevance of the powers with regard to social justice, but their implications on salvation history and Christian behavior.
In Paul’s eyes the powers unleash their greatest hostility when they hinder the proclamation of the gospel. They use the flesh and, indeed, the structures of the world to blind people from discovering the truth about God’s redemptive work in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul’s concept of ministry included no injunction for Christians to work toward reforming the social or political order. As E. Earle Ellis explains it, “As a reality of the resurrection age Christian ministry has for Paul an evangelical, Christ-imparting relationship to the community of the dying.” The proclamation of the gospel takes on decisive importance because it has other-worldly, eternal implications. Those who affirm faith in Christ are rescued from the deadly clutches of Satan’s kingdom and delivered from the community of Adam, which is moving toward its death.
This consideration does not mean that Christians are released from any obligation to society at large. Second to Jesus’ command to love God with full devotion is his command to love our neighbors. Paul reiterated this command when he called Christians to love their neighbors (Rom 13:8–10) and to do good to all people (Gal 6:10).
The Influence of the Powers on the World
The question we now ask is specifically how do the powers influence the world system with its manifold structures? I suggest two ways of describing the evil work of the powers on the social order.
First, it is essential to return to Paul’s emphasis on the direct work of the powers in the lives of individuals. According to Paul, spiritual warfare involves direct demonic enticement to individuals to violate God’s standards of holiness and act in ways contrary to his revealed will. Extrapolating from this explicit principle of operation to a larger scale, we must remember that people control governments, corporations, media and various other structures of our existence. If the powers of darkness can gain significant influence over the lives of key people, through them they can create oppressive dictatorships, evil drug rings, exploitative multinational corporations and all kinds of horrific, destructive mechanisms bent on destruction and terror.
The powers are not merely “up there” in the heavens waging war among themselves. They are here, very close to us, trying to influence our affections and our decisions.
Paul’s Jewish predecessors and contemporaries thought in these terms. For example, the first-century A.D. section of a Jewish document, entitled Ascension of Isaiah, reflects on why one of the kings of Judah was able to lead the whole city into apostasy:
And Manasseh abandoned the service of the Lord of his father [Hezekiah], and he served Satan and his angels, and his powers.… And he rejoiced over Jerusalem because of Manasseh, and he strengthened him in causing apostasy, and in the iniquity which was disseminated in Jerusalem. And sorcery and magic, augury and divination, fornication and adultery, and the persecution of the righteous increased through Manasseh. (Ascension of Isaiah 2:2–5)
In this text it is clear that the powers of darkness are viewed as independent agents who worked directly on the leader of a country to create a regime of terror and evil. Many similar references could be cited, but this is adequate to illustrate the simple concept of an evil spirit working through an individual who wields significant civil authority. The same principle could be applied to many different spheres and social/political structures.
In the twentieth century we have witnessed the extensive repression and exploitation that corrupt rulers can wield over millions of people. Mention the names of Adolf Hitler, Nicolae Ceausescu, Idi Amin, Manuel Noriega and Saddam Hussein, and one easily sees images of untold atrocities. Certainly, Satan and his forces make people of such power the objects of particular attack because of their political authority. Could it be more than coincidental that reports of these leaders’ involvement in the occult so often surface after they have fallen from power? Certainly, Satan has only to exploit the desires of their depraved natures to bring about his destructive aims. More direct Satanic influence, however, can sometimes be observed.
Second, I suggest that Paul’s concepts of “world” (kosmos) and “this age” (aiōn) correspond most closely with what many modern interpreters describe as structural evil. Paul described unredeemed humanity as trapped in a pattern of transgression and sin against God because “the age (aiōn) of this world (kosmos)” so heavily influences them (Eph 2:2). Becoming a Christian involves being crucified to the world (Gal 6:14) and being rescued from the present evil age (Gal 1:4). When Paul spoke of “the world” in a moral sense, he was thinking of the totality of people, social systems, values and traditions in terms of its opposition to God and his redemptive purposes. The structures of our existence, to a large extent, represent the composite result of human ideas, affections and activity. Both people and their ideas can have an evil bent. Yet they are also capable of redemption and purification. In his insightful book on social ethics Stephen Mott draws the correct distinction between the powers and the world. He notes, “The kosmos, a more pervasive theme in the New Testament than the powers, represents the social structuring of evil without necessitating recourse to the symbolism of supernatural personages.”28 He draws attention to the fact that the principle of sin has a serious impact on our social order: “If sin is as pervasive as we say that it is, … then it will affect not only our personal motivations, decisions, and acts, but also our social life. It will powerfully influence our customs, traditions, thinking, and institutions. It will pervert our kosmos.”
Not only does sin have a degenerative effect on the social order, but so also do the powers of darkness. The powers exert their influence to corrupt the various social orders of the world as a further means of drawing humanity away from God. Working through people, the powers can pollute a society’s traditions and values. They can influence authors, television producers, political thinkers and analysts, pastors, university professors, composers, artists, screenplay writers, economic policy makers, architects of defense strategies and journalists. Through a unified networking influence, it is not difficult to imagine how the powers can influence the direction of an entire culture. In one decade something may be considered morally outrageous and in the next morally acceptable through a changed public opinion.
The powers themselves, however, are not the structures. Although the powers do their best to influence the structures, evil still resides in the structures only insofar as the people involved are evil. Just as a glove has no ability on its own to carry out a task, ideologies, economic systems and the like have no power apart from the people who subscribe to them and enforce them. A tradition ceases to be a tradition when people no longer pass it on.
It is with good reason that Paul calls Satan “the god of this age (aiōn)” who “has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel” (2 Cor 4:4). We could legitimately say “Satan is the god of many of the structures that order our existence.” Through coordinating the activity of his innumerable powers of darkness, Satan attempts to permeate every aspect of life in his indefatigable attempts to oppose God and his kingdom. The work of the evil one moves far beyond the simple notion of tempting an individual to sin. Satan appears to have a well-organized strategy. He aims strongly at the people with power and influence. The moral lapse of one pastor can send one church reeling. Inciting the moral lapse of numerous prominent ministers devastates Christians all over the country and makes society perceive the fragrant aroma of the gospel as a stench to be avoided.
The powers do indeed influence society and its institutions. We must be careful not to assume, however, that the demonic has polluted all institutions, social structures, traditions and philosophies. As Stephen Mott points out, there is a battle for the control of God’s creation. Institutions are integral to human life. “Institutions function both to enslave and to liberate human existence. The powers are always present along with enslavement and death in small or large degree; but their real existence is behind the scenes in a system of hostile values vying for control of the life of the world.”
According to Paul, God calls Christians to be rescuing agents. The evil-infected institutions of this present age have trapped people, who are blinded from seeing Christ’s redeeming love. Since the institutions of this world (kosmos) and the structures of the present age (aiōn) are destined to perish, our highest priority is to help people find ultimate freedom from the deadly constraints and terror of the present age and experience the untold blessings of the age to come, and to be liberated from the world and its hellish prince and be inundated with the love, joy and peace of God’s kingdom.
By no means is this an encouragement for Christians to escape completely from the present world and withdraw from involvement in the social order and the structures of our existence. Jesus called us to be salt and light, to show the same loving compassion for our neighbors that led him to lay down his life for the lost. God demands that Christians engage in social action based on their love for humanity, their call to be salt and light, and their responsibility to be careful stewards of the creation.
Christians still live in the present evil age—in fact, they live in two ages. The kingdom of God and the blessings of the age to come have broken into the present age in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Spirit and the gifts, the grace of God and the power of the age to come are bestowed on us through relationship with the Lord Jesus. We are called to carry on the redemptive mission that Christ called us to and that Paul modelled for us by his own life and ministry. We are called to demonstrate Christ’s love.
Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!
at https://mt4christ247.podbean.com, You can also find it on Apple podcasts
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Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.
My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)
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), 201–205.