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Sunday, January 24, 2010

XLVIII. Three Nails, Not Two

One of the greatest beliefs in Christianity is that Jesus Christ died on a cross, to shed His own blood so that people would and could have hope. For more on the sacrifice of Jesus read the following: http://ideasoftimbible.blogspot.com/2009/07/22-tabernacle-part-1-exodus-25-31.html.

The cross is a symbol of freedom from sin. It stands for a whole belief system that God Himself loved us so much that He would do such a thing. But there is more to the cross than just the beams of wood. With running the risk of taking away the sentimentality, we have placed too much emphasis on the cross as a whole, for the cross was just the vessel of His actions. We wear it around our necks and hang one in our houses to show we are Christians and that we believe He died on a cross for our sins. But in reality the cross should not be used as a symbol of the death that Jesus had but as a symbol of the freedom of man that Jesus gave to us. The cross today is empty just as the tomb is. Is there something else about the crucifixion that we need to look at and understand? Perhaps.

Some artists works show the crucifixion with all three "criminals" being tied to the cross. But those would not be accurate. The Roman way of crucifying would not have been that forgiving as just being tied up would be. Tying someone to a piece of wood with rope may have taken a long time to die but would not have been as painful. Rope can be cut too easily and so forth. Rope may burn but if you could stay in the same place you wouldn't feel it that much. Rope would keep you in place, thereby giving you time to relax. No, it took nails to put someone on a cross. Nails that were as a thick as tent pegs going through nerves in your hands and feet that were more painful than going through any other part of your body. The actual placement of the nails in the hands would not be in the palms. The weight of your own body would tear the hands away from the nails. The nails would have gone through the wrists where your hands meet your forearms. The nerve ending there would be so sensitive causing more pain than you can imagine. People who suffer from carpal tunnel don't even know the half of it but can at least start to appreciate the pain. The point is being crucified was not something that people could live through or want to live through. It is painful. To have one nail go through your nerves would be too much for someone to think that they could get through it. But yet one nail is not strong enough to keep the body on the cross. Jesus was not crucified with only one nail. He wasn't crucified with two nails. He had three.

But what does it mean when Jesus told us, His followers, to take up our cross? Consider Matthew 16:24-25:
  • Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
  • For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

Most people think it means that we have to take on burdens of this life. We have to be good witnesses. If persecuted, we laugh in glory. If hurt, we turn the other cheek and pray for those who hurt us. When called on to give testimony we are supposed to be ready for answers. But there is more to it than just these things.

When you follow Christ you have to be willing to lose your own life. That just doesn't mean dying physically. Losing your life is about placing others before yourself, making a sacrifice that may not be easy (hence that is what a sacrifice is). It means to become totally crucified and not tod things half way.

Sometimes people when they follow Christ only get crucified with one nail. And when that one nail gets too painful they pull the nail out themselves and they fall away from the cross. WHen they remember their walk with Christ all they can remember is the pain. Some even go as far as getting the second nail but waste away on the cross without much produce. They just hang there taking the pain and never fully understand that it takes a little more. They feel that they have done what they were supposed to do and wonder why they feel the pain without any healing. But to fully follow Christ we need to have all three nails. We need to go through whatever we need to go through to see the glory of God. To be resurrected with Him we need to go through death. One nail hurts. Two nails makes us waste away. Three nails kill us. But thanks be to God above with the blood of Christ we are resurrected and death can not touch us.

Friday, January 8, 2010

XLVII. Demons

What are demons? When asked this question the ordinary person will say that it is a small red spirit with a pitch fork sitting on your shoulder causing you to do the wrong things, like your evil side of your conscience. Others might take it to another fantasy extreme and say that they are dark creatures that can cause destruction wherever they go. Still others may even say that they are beings who can take on human form and travel through space and dimensions and can be defeated by some spell or magical act. But that is only in fantasy land, which unfortunately many people choose to live in. But this is not what demons are in the real world (reality). In reality demons are spiritual beings who have been cast down from heaven such as satan. They are not "satan helpers". That term implies that satan has power on his own and that they take orders from him like he is a god. Angels are messengers of God. Demons are not messengers of satan. They are his fellowship, if you will. They are of one accord, trying to get God's people against Him. They will suffer the same fate as satan. Satan is technically bound and at the mercy of God. http://ideasoftimreligion.blogspot.com/search/label/Satan. There are two parts to that thought so read both to get an understanding of who he is. Once you know what a demon is then you can start to understand what a demon can do. Here are the results from last month's poll: What can demons do today?
  • 72% said that people can be possessed by demons. What is possession? Possession is when one object owns or occupies another object. Can a demon though possess someone? Biblically speaking, yes. It happened throughout the Bible. Most Christians would be able to cite the story of a man who became possessed by many demons at once who called themselves Legion in the book of Luke chapter 8. From the stories recorded in the Bible it seems like the person who has become possessed has no control over their own actions. Possessed people will not be themselves either in action or thought. In other words it should be quite easy to see if someone has been possessed or not. Can you say, Charles Manson? Who can be possessed? Many will say that anyone who has accepted Jesus Christ can not be possessed since those who have accepted Christ have also been given the Holy Spirit and if the Spirit is in you then an evil spirit can not be there as well. However, being filled with the Holy Spirit and having the Holy Spirit unfortunately is not the same thing. And if we do not put on the full armor of God as Ephesians 6 tells us then our defenses are down. When evil comes we need to protect ourselves. That can mean that if we allow evil into our lives then a door has been open, whether symbolically or literally, we need to be on the defense.
  • 70% say that people can be oppressed by demons. Oppression is when someone can control another by outside influences. For example if you have an addiction to something, you would be constantly bombarded with images or suggestions that would lead you down the path to satisfying your addiction. If we feed the thought of a sinful act it will breed and produce actions. Satan and demons are aware of this. But they would not know it if we did not show what our weaknesses are. Once we show these things demons are on the move. They will provide any distraction and place as many obstacles in our way as much as possible. If we do not take thoughts into captivity and train those thoughts then we become slaves to sin, hence oppressed. This is why it is so hard for addicts to get rid of their addiction. They are constantly bombarded with images and feelings that cause them to return to their own vomit, biblically speaking (Proverbs 26:11). Any one can be oppressed. Christians though when they get oppressed by evil thoughts and demonic forces appear to be hypocrites. They know what to do. They know how to make things better but they are bombarded by worldly desires and they fall. And most of the time it is a harder fall because the world is watching them. Another reason why you need to be on the defense.
  • 82% say that demons can harass people. Harassment is when someone is constantly bugging you about things you don't want to be bothered with. This type of activity plays more with your emotions than any physical aspect. This was perhaps the story of King Saul. An evil spirit would come and make Saul depressed and even angry. Only the playing of David and his harp would sooth his spirit. Guilt would probably be the biggest harassment that all face. But most keep this guilt inside and let it fester into something worse. Harassment can easily become oppression if you do not take care of it by getting help, spiritual help.
  • 55% said that demons can physically hurt people. Self-defined, physical pain being caused by something. The only evidence of this happening is by complete possession. There is no Biblical story that says a demon can just start hitting you and scarring you for life. However, it does say that a young boy was possessed by a demon and threw himself down many times. This may of course cause physical problems. But to actually able to touch and hurt someone like they would on shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Charmed or even Ghost Whisperer is completely false and all Hollywood. You will not be able to choose the demon to fight and destroy it. People probably believe this because we are living in the time of Hollywood.
  • 7% say that demons are powerless today. In a way this is correct. The only way that demons have any power is if we let them into our world.
  • 7% say that demons aren't real. With all the pains of society, hatred of mankind, sickness of humanity, and all the like, this can't possibly be a choice.
  • 27% say that demons can and/or will do other things. Please explain to the rest what other things they may do if you answered this way.

There may be a fine line between natural causes of sickness and demonic forces. However, some sicknesses that are brought on by our own thoughts and actions can be considered demonic in nature. And most people who need psychiatric help are not sick in the head but sick in the spirit. This is why many sicknesses of the mind can not be healed because they are treating the wrong symptom. You wouldn't give a person suffering from asthma some lamisil. Too many times people try to get help with their minds when they do not understand that it is a problem with their spirirt. Maybe they are oppressed or at least harrassed and they turn to help but in the wrong direction. They may treat a symptom but not the disease.

Are sicknesses demonic? That is hard to say. However, sickness was introduced into this world by sin. Man now has to die a physical death. So you can make a correlation between them. God gave us medicine to heal our bodies but there is no greater doctor than Christ Himself.

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