Most of you have read much, if not all, of our literature, and some have completed the Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course. You know much about the teachings of the Word of God. But can you turn to the pages of the Bible and readily find the scriptures that form the, basis for the beliefs and practices of God's Church?
Beginning with this issue, The Good News, in conjunction with the Correspondence Course Department, presents brief monthly excursions into the study of the Bible, delving into topics relevant to the development and increased understanding of future members of the God Family. Bible study is one means by which the Christian is renewed daily (II Corinthians 4:16), so let's begin to refresh ourselves with some of the precious truths of God's Word!
Instructions: The format of these ministudies is similar to that of the Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, Look up and read in your Bible the scripture references given in answer to the questions. Comments following the questions will elaborate on the scriptures just read. That's all there is to it! (These studies are based on the King James Version of the Bible.)
The Word of God tells us that all who will follow the Christian way of life will have to face three deadly enemies. These enemies tend to discourage us from overcoming sin and developing the character of Christ. They put wedges into our minds that will grow, gradually separating us from the guidance and power of God's Holy Spirit — IF we allow them to. God says these deadly enemies must be defeated, and He tells us how to do it!
1. Does Paul show there is effort involved in living the Christian life — that eternal life is worth fighting for? I Timothy 6:12; I Timothy 1:18-19. Whose "soldier" was Timothy? II Timothy 2:3-4.
2. Did Paul steadfastly follow God's way of life — did he know, shortly before his death, that he had won the Christian fight? II Timothy 4:6-8.
3. Is the Christian's warfare against physical armies? Or is it a spiritual warfare? II Corinthians 10:3-4. Just what is it that a Christian is to fight against? Verse 5.
The first enemy in the Christian's daily warfare is his own nature with its inordinate lusts (Galatians 5:19-21). This nature in us rationalizes cleverly, sometimes producing deceitful and degrading impulses — vanity, lust, 9.reed. We are enticed to sin, to break God's spiritual law, thus cutting us off from Him. Our nature can destroy us spiritually, unless we resist its wrong impulses.
4. What is the second deadly enemy of all Christians? Galatians 1:4. What should a Christian's attitude be toward the world's social order with its glitter, glamour and status-seeking appeal? I John 2:15-17.
John is speaking about this worldly system around us — this "cosmos." It is from the original Greek word kosmos, translated "world" in I John 2:15, that English words such as cosmopolitan, cosmography and cosmopolite are derived.
John was referring to the societies of this world, many of which are literally built on and motivated by the vanity, lusts and greed of man's nature. Because most people have been deceived (Revelation 12:9), they don't understand how so many of the world's ways could be wrong in God's sight. This world's ways bombard Christians continually with temptations that can seduce them from following Christ!
5. Should Christians strive to avoid the evil that is in the world? II Corinthians 6:14-18; Revelation 18:4. Does this mean that any who would love God and seek to live the Christian way of life should therefore move away from populated areas? John 17:15-18. Notice especially the first part of verse 15.
Christ's prayer in the 17th chapter of the gospel of John shows that God does not expect Christians to move to the mountains and deserts to escape the world's distractions. Rather, they should strive to be separate spiritually and abstain from its ways that are defined as sin in the Bible.
6. What or who is the third great enemy of every Christian? I Peter 5:8-9; James 4:7. Isn't Satan the devil ultimately responsible for inspiring the inordinate characteristics of human nature and for all the evil in this world? II Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2. Hasn't he indeed deceived the whole world? Revelation 12:9.
Satan, formerly the great archangel Lucifer, who was originally created perfect in his ways (Ezekiel 28:15), acquired his satanic nature by his own reasoning and choice. Humans, in turn, acquire Satan's nature, which we call "human nature." Notice how Paul described this natural frame of mind: "... the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Romans 8:7).
But once the Holy Spirit of God is added to a person's mind, he has the power to resist the attitudes of self-centeredness, lust, greed, vanity, jealousy, envy, resentment, bitterness and hate, which are " broadcast" to the mind by Satan.
No person is compelled to respond to and obey these impulses from Satan. The devil has no power to force anyone to think or do wrong! But the unsuspecting automatically do so without realizing what is taking place in their minds. Most people just drift along, responding to emotions and impulses, which often find expression in their fleshly drives and vain pursuits.
7. After your begettal by God's Holy Spirit, which makes you a Christian (Romans 8:9), will the devil continue to try to beguile you — to deceive your mind — and lead you away from Christ and His ways? II Corinthians 11:2-4. Did some Christians in Paul's day begin to fall victim to the devil's promptings once again? Verses 13-15; Galatians 1:6-8; 3:1.
Conversion does not disconnect Satan's "wavelength." He continues to broadcast the attitudes of his nature and work through others to subvert our life in Christ. When Jesus spoke of overcoming, He referred to overcoming the ways of Satan, which are contrary to God's way. Those who have turned from Satan's way are to be on guard against him and fight to overcome his subtle urgings and remain true to God's way.
Before Jesus Christ could qualify to restore the government of God and rule all nations, He had to withstand Satan's most severe temptations. That supreme struggle is recorded in. the fourth chapter of Matthew. Notice how the devil attempted to deceive and influence Jesus Christ to sin against God.
8. After Jesus had fasted 40 days in the wilderness, how did the devil appeal both to human vanity and severe physical hunger? Matthew 4:1-4. And to the human desire for prestige, glory and power? Verses 5-9. What were Jesus' immediate responses? Verses 4, 7, 10. What was the outcome of this titanic spiritual battle? Verse 11.
Christ overcame the devil. When Jesus gave the devil an order, he had to obey. He slunk away, knowing he was defeated in this supreme spiritual encounter of all time.
Christ overcame the devil's wiles by the Word of God. He knew God's will. Therefore, the devil could not deceive Him! He responded to the devil's temptations by citing the appropriate scripture that applied in each situation. He knew the Word of God thoroughly.
9. Are Christians today also to resist the devil with the truth God has revealed to them? I Peter 5:9. What must the devil do if resisted steadfastly? James 4:7.
10. What instructions on fighting against the impulses and attitudes of the devil does God give through Paul? Ephesians 6:10-12. What are Christians to put on in order to fight this spiritual battle? Verses 11, 13. Of what does God's spiritual armor consist? Verses 14-20.
"Truth" refers to the inspired Word of God (John 17:17), the first piece in the Christian's spiritual armor. The "breastplate of righteousness" is obedience to God's commandments (Psalm 119:172); the "gospel" is the message of the coming Kingdom of God when Christ will rule this earth and bring it peace.
The "shield of faith" refers to the faith of Jesus Christ, which can be within us (Galatians 2:20; Philippians 3:9) — not just to our own human, physical faith. This faith is God's gift imparted by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). And it is this faith — Christ's faith put within us — that will enable us to conquer and overcome sin!
The "helmet of salvation" is the knowledge of what salvation is, what it involves, what it's all about — the purpose of life, the true goal and potential destiny of mankind — becoming divine members of the Family of God!
The "sword of the Spirit" refers to the written Word of God (Hebrews 4:12) — it is the Christian's only offensive weapon in fighting the devil and his wiles.
The final thing Paul mentions in fighting Satan and his wiles is "prayer." Christians are to draw. close to God in persevering prayer (I Thessalonians 5:17), praying for all of God's people, the ministry of God's Church and themselves.
This is the way to overcome Satan and force him to flee! This is the perfect strategy for defeating human nature and this world, since they are both inspired and motivated by the devil. If you will diligently follow this formula, your success in overcoming all three deadly foes will be guaranteed.