And We’re Up! - Independence and Experiencing Freedom - Purity 774
Purity 774 7/4/2022 Purity 774 Podcast
Today’s photo of a woman paddle boarding underneath an ethereal sky towards the blazing sun comes to us from a friend who shared this photo from their maiden voyage and initial attempts at this sport back on June 20th. With effort they succeed and happily announced, “And we’re up!” to celebrate their victory and freedom to explore the nearby waterways in a brand new way.
Today in America, we celebrate our nation’s Independence Day and it is my prayer that my friends celebrate their freedom today in a way that will give them peace and joy! It is also my prayer that we all express our thanks to our country’s forefathers and ancestors who fought for and created our country and the God that blessed their endeavors to establish a country in which we can freely live and worship the Lord.
On July 4th, 1776, in our nation’s Declaration of Independence, the forefathers of our country appealed to claim the “unalienable rights” of “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” that we are endowed with by our Creator, God. In the Declaration they listed the offenses of the tyrannical rule of the King of England, declared their intentions to “throw off” the bonds of “Despotism” and “alter their former Systems of Government”. At summation of the declaration, the forefathers appealed to the “Supreme Judge of the world”, again that’s God, to rectify their intentions to govern themselves, “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence”. (https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript)
With our declaration, the forefathers stood on the truths regarding freedom that were self-evident, that God created, and made an appeal to the Lord to provide the freedom that they sought, relying on His protection. History tells the story of how their efforts were blessed with success.
However, although the forefathers invoked the truth of the
order that God created and made an appeal to receive His divine providence on July
4th 1776, the seeds of discord detailed in the declaration had
happened years before its signing, and the fighting of what became known as the
American Revolutionary War had already begun with the Battle of Lexington in April
of 1775 and wouldn’t conclude completely until 1783 when Britain accepted
American independence with the Treaty of Paris. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Revolutionary_War)
God’s providential hand can be seen throughout this period of American history but America wasn’t instantly blessed with freedom. Freedom isn’t free. Men and women had to suffer, fight, and die in the process. Men had to resist the injustices and take action. So today we should be very grateful for our nation’s founding forefathers and citizenry who paid the cost in order that we can be free.
And, of course, as Christians we should always be thankful for God for establishing His created order in which it is very evident that all men were created equal, in His image as the word says, and that His word supports the fact of our unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness . I’m sharing a link an article by Desiring God.org’s John Bloom on that topic today (https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/life-liberty-and-the-pursuit-of-happiness).
Of course, as American’s we are free, but unless we are able to exercise our freedom we wouldn’t really be free. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution, for instance, gives us the freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly, and the right to petition the government. (https://www.mtsu.edu/first-amendment/page/things-you-need). If the government stopped me from sharing my blog or podcast and silenced my voice that wishes to encourage faith in Jesus Christ and living free in Him, I would be able to say that my American freedom was in “name only”, meaning I was free in theory but not in practice.
Likewise, I challenge Christians to make sure that they are exercising their rights to life everlasting, liberty in Christ, and the pursuit of joy, the happiness that is not based on circumstances and goes beyond all understanding. If you don’t have joy and peace which could be said to be freedom from fear, anxiety and depression, or if you don’t have freedom from the sins of the flesh, I would say that your claim to life in Christ and Christian freedom is in “name only”, you are not experiencing or exercising your freedom in Christ.
So Today of all days, I would encourage my friends to make a declaration to throw off the oppressive government’s of the world, the flesh, and the devil and declare yourself to be independent of them by paradoxically declaring your freedom by declaring your dependence on God.
That’s okay, the forefathers did the same thing in our nation’s declaration of independence, they recognized His truth and relied on His divine providence for their success in experiencing their freedom.
And like a revolutionary war hero, we can follow their example by declaring the injustices of a life of selfishness and sin and the tyrannical rule that we have allowed ourselves to live under by appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World to help us.
But just like a Minute Man, who risked everything to experience freedom, we too as Christians must be willing to do more than just declare ourselves “independent” from our problems that steal our freedom, we must wage war on them and with the Lord’s help defeat them.
Through Jesus Christ, God has given us the victory. Through Christ, God has given us freedom. But to be truly free we have to experience it. And to experience it, we must fight the battles of spiritual warfare and strive to live under the government of God’s kingdom rather than the tyrannical rule of the world, the flesh, and the devil.
So fight the good fight of faith and keep walking and talking with God, and one day – maybe today – you can. Like my friend on her paddle board, announce “And we’re up!” when you experience rising above the things that kept you from living free in Christ!
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
Joel 2:13 (NLT2)
13 Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.
Today’s Bible verse speaks of the heart work that is inherent in turning from the things that grieve us and is required for knowing the Lord’s compassion and mercy.
Not, for nothing, but choosing to accept Jesus as Lord and choosing to return to the Lord with our initial salvation or after a fall into sin can be some heartbreaking work! The real hurt in this heartbreaking work of repentance though is to our pride mostly but it also can be pain born from the fact that we may have known better but still chose to rebel against the Lord and to go our own way.
Coming to the realization that our sin is something that is wicked serious, also seriously wicked, and is something that we simply can not pay back is a heart breaking loss of our belief of our self sufficiency or relative goodness. When we learn sin is sin and we are as lost as the most despicable rebellious criminal, our pride is destroyed as we realize that there is nothing we can do to save ourself. The fact of our cosmic treason against the Lord is deserving of punishment and is irredeemable can cause us to lose hope and grieve.
But the Lord calls us to repentance, forgiveness, and life everlasting through Jesus Christ. Today’s verse assures us of God’s unfailing love and that the Lord is not out to punish us but we must receive His mercy and compassion through faith in Christ alone.
When we realize God’s love by accepting Jesus as Lord, our grief turns into joy.
But today’s verse can also apply to those of us who should know better, who have Jesus as Lord, but have unwittingly or very determinably fallen into sin again!
Here the Lord is telling us not to beat ourselves up, but to tear our hearts, change our minds, to put our hearts into following Him.
God’s mercy, compassion, and love are infinite. So if we stumble, we just need to return to the Lord and we will receive it again but to stop the sin-confess merry go round of shame, we need to tear our hearts and return to the Lord with all of our heart, all of our minds, and all of our strength to experience the freedom that comes from following Him.
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.
Jesus on the Attack—Exorcism
Jesus’ activity in casting out evil spirits was one of the most remarkable things about him to the people of his day. The Gospel writers devoted substantial portions of their narrative, recounting Jesus’ engagement with these spirits. It is thus important to draw out the meaning of this significant activity of Jesus.
As Jesus began his ministry, he described himself as fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1–2:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Lk 4:18–19, italics mine)
The Father sent Jesus to proclaim a message of liberation—liberation for people enslaved to sin and trapped in the bondage and oppression of Satan’s kingdom. Jesus interpreted Isaiah’s “prisoners” not as literal criminals in chains serving their just sentence for a crime (as, for example, imprisoned debtors). Jesus came to set free all those imprisoned by sin—prisoners of Satan.
While Luke used the Isaiah passage to set the stage for his entire Gospel, Jesus’ conflict with Satan and his evil powers has a major part in all of the Gospels. Many commentators have remarked on the overtones of Jesus’ message of liberation for the forgiveness of sins, but surprisingly few have brought out the spiritual dimension of this liberation—freedom from captivity to Satan’s kingdom.
Significantly, in Luke’s Gospel, immediately after Jesus preached in the synagogue at Nazareth, he released a man from control of a demon in the synagogue of Capernaum (Lk 4:31–37; Mk 1:23–28). This incident is the first time we see Jesus on the attack. He exerted his divine power to free the man from the tyrannizing influence of the evil spirit.
In stark contrast to the elaborate methods of the exorcists of his time, Jesus merely uttered a simple command: “Be quiet and come out of him.” Typically, Jewish and Hellenistic exorcistic formulas consisted of invoking numerous deities, using magical names (unintelligible combinations of letters), the use of some kind of magical material (such as a gem or a piece of lead) and often the performance of some rite. Jesus, however, is able to cast out the spirits by his own authority, much to the surprise of the leaders of the Capernaum synagogue and the crowds.
This manifestation of his power often resulted in a popular notoriety that Jesus was quick to suppress. Nevertheless, Jesus healed many from their direct demonic affliction. In addition to the specific accounts of exorcism in the Gospels are a number of summary statements recounting Jesus’ frontal assault on Satan’s kingdom. Mark, for instance, tells us that at Capernaum, “the whole city had gathered at the door. And he healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons” (Mk 1:33–34 NASB). Exorcism was an ongoing part of Jesus’ earthly ministry.
Jesus gives a parabolic explanation of the meaning of his exorcisms in all three synoptic Gospels (Mk 3:20–30; Mt 12:22–30; Lk 11:14–23). His statement came in response to an incisive accusation from Jewish authorities from Jerusalem. They accused Jesus of being possessed by Beelzebub (an alias of Satan) and of performing his many exorcisms by the ruler of the demons.
In response Jesus contends, first of all, that it is foolish to think Satan would work against his own purposes by fighting against his own forces. If he does, he is finished! Second, Jesus relates the following parable:
No one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house. (Mk 3:27; see also Mt 12:29; Lk 11:21–22.)
From the context of Jesus’ words it is clear “the strong man” is a reference to Satan, and his “house” corresponds to his kingdom. “Possessions” are Satan’s greatest value and are not things, but people. Satan holds unbelieving humanity in bondage. Christ has come to engage this “strong man” and plunder his house; that is, to release the captives in Satan’s kingdom.
This passage thus becomes a very important testimony to Jesus’ mission. It provides additional clarification to the nature of the atonement. Jesus came not only to deal with the problem of sin in the world, but also to deal with God’s prime supernatural opponent—Satan himself!
Jesus’ many exorcisms clearly demonstrate his power over the evil one. They also provide numerous examples of Jesus’ ability to “bind” Satan and “rob his house.” In Mark’s account of the Gerasene demoniac, a man plagued with perhaps thousands of demons, it is highly significant to note that “no one could bind him” (Mk 5:1–20, esp. v. 3). With only the concise command, “come out of the man, you unclean spirit,” Jesus freed this man from horrific demonic influence.
The exorcisms, however, were not adequate by themselves to deal in any decisive way with the devil and his powers; that is, to “tie him up.” They can only foreshadow an event of much greater importance. Early Christian tradition uniformly looks to the cross/resurrection event as the point of fundamental significance in Christ’s conflict with the powers (Jn 12:31–33; Acts 2:34–35; Eph 1:20–22; Col 2:15; Phil 2:9–11; Heb 2:14; 1 Jn 3:8). It was through this event that Satan and his hosts were dealt the fatal blow that spelled their final doom. The “strong man” was defeated.
Having defeated Satan, Christ is able to plunder his kingdom through the church’s evangelistic outreach. The parable of the binding of the strong man probably provided great encouragement to the evangelistic efforts of the early church. Since Satan was in some sense “tied up” at the cross, the church (as Christ’s agents) could now “carry off his possessions.”
The demons themselves seemed to be aware of the significance of Christ’s mission when they said to him, “Have you come to destroy us?” (Mk 1:24). This statement looks beyond their defeat at the cross to forebode their ultimate eschatological destruction at Christ’s Second Coming. The strong man was indeed vanquished at the cross, but he is still active and still powerful. He has no authority over Christ and the kingdom of God—this was settled at the cross. Until the kingdom of God comes in its fullness, however, Satan will continue opposing God’s people in an attempt to extend his own kingdom. The church needs to watch, pray and proclaim the gospel.
Matthew and Luke make it clear that the exorcisms are in some way a sign of the presence of God’s kingdom. Jesus once told his accusers, “But if I drive out demons by the Spirit [finger in Luke] of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Mt 12:28; Lk 11:20). Ethelbert Stauffer explains the meaning in this way, “The Kingdom of God is present where the dominion of the adversary has been overthrown.” His explanation certainly does not exhaust the full meaning of God’s kingdom, but it does place an appropriate emphasis on the meaning of the kingdom in relationship to the work of Satan. Susan Garrett remarks, “As the Kingdom of Satan diminishes, the Kingdom of God grows proportionately.… Every healing, exorcism, or raising from the dead is a loss for Satan and a gain for God.”7
Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!
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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), 77–80.