Someone is causing a problem. But you don’t know who it is. At first, you actually don’t even know what it is.
God created a perfect world. Much of His original Creation still exists to a great degree, continues uncorrupted, and remains extremely beneficial. One thinks of the great outdoors, fresh fields, an isolated seacoast, clean air, and soft breezes. In such places one is much closer to the heart of the Creator because there is so little interference. In such a setting, one can quickly be saturated with good—with natural and spiritual benefits effectively raining down upon one’s presence—with no personal effort whatsoever.
Someone once said the best things in life are free. While this is a seemingly noble sentiment, though not actually true, the point is that much of what we require for good health in every respect truly is free, such as our aforementioned pure natural settings and the natural gifts thereof God has bestowed.
AND THEN CAME EVIL
Evil arises in many forms from apparently unknown invisible origins. It has a decided presence on the planet. It reaches out from a ubiquitous unperceived darkness not so far away from each of us. Some locales are darker than others. Its desire is to corrupt, infect, and distort. It hates purity and innocence.
Where does it come from? Rather than get into a far-flung exegesis, relegating the subject to the unexplainable, or addressing the philosophical problem of evil as it were, God goes right to the heart of the matter and makes it all very simple. He clearly identifies evil. He reveals its exact starting point. He shows us how it operates. He identifies a single source.
This source is extremely beguiling. It has its best results by operating through humanity. God tells us how this first occurred. It has been occurring that way ever since.
But how so? How does the source of evil cause people to listen to it and then convince people to obey it? Again, God makes it very simple for us by revealing the only three avenues the source of evil uses to tempt people to do its bidding. These three methods of temptation were revealed in the very beginning when the source of evil convinced the very first person in history to go over to the dark side. Before then humanity was absolutely good and pure. Afterwards every human being became familiar with evil and subject to the dark side. An iniquitous force had entered into the realm of humanity that it could not throw off. It could not purge itself of this evil. No matter what humanity attempted to do in ridding itself of immoral inclinations toward shameful behavior and undesired aftereffects that many members wanted no part of, it could not find a cure.
THE THREE TEMPTATIONS
Though it may appear that evil uses a wide array of schemes and procedures, and though this is true on an elementary level in which one is initially unaware of evil’s presence, objectives, and essential means of operation, its technique actually breaks down to only three principle methods. There is Door #1, Door #2, and Door #3. Sound familiar? All sin originates from behind these three doors. These are the three connecting points the source of evil uses to corrupt humanity. Each is one of the only three foundational means of temptation. These doors are presented as ways for evil to enter into a person.
Of course, an otherwise innocent naïve person does not comprehend that the entity attempting to cause one to enter such doors is the source of all evil, is pure evil, desires to spread its evil, and make yet another disciple of evil. Nevertheless, the person being tempted has a predisposed inherent interest in answering said door due to long held resident tendencies passed on by hundreds of generations in part because he or she never fully understands how malevolent, malicious, and wicked evil actually is or what will become of him or her as evil takes effect.
This makes one essentially defenseless. For the most part, a human being is no match for the great deceptive powers of the source of all evil. The devil is a superior actor. He pretends to be the opposite of what he is. This is how he takes advantage of simple-minded humans. He presents himself as innocent and good, a being no one should fear:
Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. [2Corinthians 11:14]
Therefore, one must first be aware of fakes. Almost everyone knows to fear obvious evil, but many do not protect themselves against those who merely pretend to be good, who wrap themselves in faux innocence, who adorn themselves with fake righteousness, who know how to put forth fake smiles, fake attitudes, and fake presentations. This is the devil’s game. It is the devil at his best. And since this is the ultimate manner of disguising himself in order to fool even the best and brightest among us, one should pay much more attention to getting up to speed in this area. One should study hard to gain the proper education in differentiating between the real and the fake so as not to be overcome by smiling shysters and glowing fraudsters wrapped up in faux decorum attempting to take advantage of you, gain authority over you, rip you off, and steal your soul.
This is where to start:
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. [1John 2:15-17]
These are the three temptations:
- The lust of the flesh
- The lust of the eyes
- The boastful pride of life
This is how the devil got Eve:
When the woman saw that the tree was good for food (the lust of the flesh), and that it was a delight to the eyes (the lust of the eyes), and that the tree was desirable to make one wise (the boastful pride of life), she took from its fruit and ate… [Genesis 3:6]
This is how the devil tried to get the Lord:
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry. And the devil said to Him,
“If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE.’”
And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’”
And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; for it is written, ‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU TO GUARD YOU,’ and, ‘ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’” And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’”
When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time. [Luke 4:1-13]
NO REPRESENTATION WITHOUT TEMPTATION
Whoever chooses to follow the Lord Jesus will be tempted by the devil in the same way. Whoever chooses to become a mature disciple of the Lord Jesus will be tempted by the devil in the same way. Whoever chooses to serve and work for the Lord Jesus will be tempted by the devil in the same way. Our spiritual success comes in part by successfully resisting temptation. This is obviously not an all or nothing proposition, however. There will be times of failure. Failure is when we disobey the Lord and obey the devil. There will be times of success. Success is when we obey the Lord and disobey the devil. The more we obey the Lord the greater the chances of spiritual success. The more we succeed the more spiritually mature we become. The more mature we become the better we are able to resist temptation.
The proper representation of the Lord on our part then, as disciples of His, depends on staying victorious in the temptation war. Whatever may cause us to be defeated must be defeated. We must live in spiritual victory and this demands overcoming the devil’s temptation and thus defeating him in spiritual battle. In order to insure victory, the Lord has made available the gift of His Holy Spirit.
A TALE OF TWO CITIES
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete. [2Corinthians 10:3-6]
The devil has constructed strong military forts and fortifications with thick walls and armaments. He has many weapons at the ready trained and focused upon his enemies. Paul speaks here of the necessary spiritual attack upon the devil’s fortresses and strongholds. He tells us the Lord Jesus has supplied powerful spiritual weapons for His people that are very effective in blasting holes in the devil’s walls and even leveling the devil’s military forts. The Community of the Lord Jesus even has the power to blow the devil’s fortifications off the map.
Those who are actually doing this are the real Christians. They are those who have overcome temptation. They do not submit to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life. They are not lovers of money. Christian Pharisees, however, are indeed lovers of money. They must have it in very large amounts. They cannot live without it. It helps them gain whatever they need to fulfill their lust of the flesh, their lust of the eyes, and their boastful pride of life. Rather than resist temptation, they serve the devil in order to receive all he can give them. How then is it possible for Unreal Christianity to fight a successful spiritual war? Those who not only fail repeatedly in the temptation wars to the point of surrender but also assist the devil in building and maintaining his military fortifications are the antithesis of the real Christian. However, things have become so clouded and deceptive within overall Christianity in general only a comparative few can see through the deception.
The original church community at Corinth was composed not only of the usual immature believers but also some who were still being heavily influenced by the particular evils of that city. The apostle Paul was working to help the congregation gain the necessary spiritual maturity all believers need but it was initially a tough fight. We may think of a similar circumstance regarding the nation of Israel after the Exodus. It was very tough for God to get the Egypt out of them. It was somewhat the same for Paul and his mature spiritual associates in getting Corinth out of the Corinthian believers. They were tempted with “speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God.” As residents of a powerfully sinful city, these believers previously had a big problem with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. It was difficult for them to overcome spiritually but they did. The gift of salvation, God’s grace, and the infilling of the Spirit of God made all the difference. The devil could not compete with the Corinthian Pentecost.
When the congregation became mature, “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” Paul was then ready to punish all disobedience. The remaining vestiges of demonic and fleshly control were singled out for defeat. The Christian Community at Corinth and other Gentile cities thus became powerful and strong toward defeating the devil’s authority in their respective locations. They may not have had complete success but each had various levels of success where none existed previously.
On the flip side, Jerusalem was a city where the devil’s authority was never defeated spiritually. Evil maintained its presence there to the point that the only remaining option was physical destruction. This is what awaits every collection of human beings large or small. Each will either change its ways and submit to the Lord Jesus or will face certain destruction. It is only a matter of time. And if you may be wondering, the Lord really doesn’t even have to be materially involved. They usually do it to themselves. This is what happened in Jerusalem in 70AD. Having rejected their Messiah who would have brought peace and victory, they chose leaders who ended up fighting one another and the vastly superior Roman forces who never wanted such a fight. This was a repeat performance of Israel’s ancient enemies who used to be subjected to the same, such as Midian during the time of Gideon when the Midianites turned against one another and destroyed themselves.
ON THE EVE OF DESTRUCTION
Whoever opposes the Lord Jesus is allied with the antichrist spirit. This can be a single individual or a vast metropolis. Destruction will always come to such people. It is inevitable. It may come through a series of destructive actions on the part of those in control, intentional or not. Whoever rejects the Lord Jesus will face destruction because He is the only cure against it. He is God. He is the Creator. It should be obvious that whoever opposes the Creator will also oppose anything and everything associated with His goodness. That leaves only one remaining choice and that choice has a time stamp. Why? Because God will not allow evil to exist except on a temporary basis. The same holds true for anything built that does not have His direct involvement or sanction.
Have you noticed that ancient builders were sometimes so good at their work that portions of it still stand? Other than the obvious massive structures that still remain, such as the Egyptian pyramids, we still have a few remaining structures from ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. The Romans were especially proficient at architectural design and developed a great understanding of natural forces and the requisite engineering to overcome them. To this day we have massive multilevel valley-spanning aqueducts, for example, that have withstood all natural earth movements and weather forces since first constructed. Imagine having that on your resume. And though earthquakes have destroyed many structures and even cities of the ancient world into the present, such aqueducts and other structures were built so well they remain victorious, though in ruined form, against the forces that would destroy them.
At the top of the list of destructive forces however, are entities of the non-natural and effective non-temporary form. These entities predate humanity. They were here before us. They are masters at their craft. They oppose God and always have. Most human beings are aligned with them whether they know it or not. Such people have been overcome by deception—“speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God.” They exist for a while, as do their cities and structures, maybe a long while, but all is temporary. Every world empire was seemingly invincible in its time. This was especially true of Rome. It was without question the greatest empire the world had ever seen, but was eventually overrun and completely destroyed. Other lesser forms of it arose but no other empire existed at the same level until the present, which too will cease to exist at some point in the future. One must understand, therefore, that those whose mission is destruction sow the seeds of their own destruction.
Whoever engages in the opposite of what the Lord taught us will thus receive the opposite of what He died to give us.
In the meantime, other forces are at work to give the destroyers a run for their money. We live on a planet with a moving, shifting surface that often shifts greatly and violently. Sometimes powerful explosive volcanoes burst forth. Massive floods happen. Disastrous hurricanes and tornadoes spin forth. Whatever lies in the vicinity of these purely natural destructive wonders is leveled. But earthquakes are perhaps the most deadly, largely because they happen with no immediate warning whatsoever. This is especially true even in areas of previous earthquake activity along moving, shifting tectonic plates and those containing known fault lines. Experts in the field are good at identifying where but not so much at when. They speak in terms of decades or perhaps centuries. Since many of these areas are monitored they only know when the big one hits right before it hits or as it hits, meaning actual warnings remain ineffective.
Regarding America, two locations of particular notice are the San Andreas Fault along the west coast running through California and the New Madrid seismic zone in the eastern Midwest located at the junction of Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee stretching into Arkansas. The experts say both areas are not only due but overdue. I recently read a book about the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906. It was published in 1971. The authors not only went into great detail of what happened in that event but also strongly warned against the next one which would surely come. According to expert predictions of that time an even greater earthquake should have already happened by now and is actually long overdue. I remember very well the San Francisco-Oakland earthquake of 1989. I also remember the Northridge, California quake of 1994. These were actually relatively minor, 6.9 and 6.7 on the Richter scale, while the quake of 1906 was a much larger and much more destructive 7.9. The later two may be seen as mere wake-up calls but it appears most people have gone back to sleep.
ETERNAL LIFE MATTERS
I find it extremely interesting that people so easily lose sight of these coming hugely destructive events. It reminds me of Noah. He warned everybody what was going to happen. He preached and built the Ark over a 120 year period. The more he preached the more they laughed. The more he warned the more they scoffed. The closer the time came for the great Flood to begin, the more the people collectively disbelieved and/or refused to pay attention. Noah eventually became a complete laughingstock, a madman. All the newspapers and social media of the time constantly portrayed him as an absolute moron. The peer pressure was so intense that anyone who may have otherwise heeded Noah’s warning chose instead to surrender to the will of the cultural narrative setters and religion hustlers as a false form of survival. To do otherwise would cause the complete destruction of their livelihoods and social standing. They knew they would suffer the same persecution as Noah but also knew they would never be able to handle it. The doomed were thus much more concerned about their reputations and current comfort level than righteousness and eternal life.
They did not want to be put out of the synagogue. They did not want to be perceived as crazy by their church friends. Still, one would think there would have been at least a few individuals who didn’t care what the great unthinking majority thought and joined Noah anyway. But no. They all went to their deaths believing the lie and rejecting a providential place of safety and survival.
Only Noah’s immediate family believed him.
Maybe that was the miracle.
© 2021 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. [Matthew 1:18] 
From the very beginning, the Lord demanded that His followers believe in and be a part of miraculous works. His very birth was a miracle!
But His mother Mary had to carry with her for the next thirty years the powerful and painful fact that pretty much everybody but Joseph believed she was an impure woman trying to present herself as pure.
It did not matter how much she protested all the disgusting innuendo that followed her constantly. No one other than her husband believed her, and possibly a few others. But these few, if they actually existed, had very little impact on lessening the pain that unbelief caused her. And the only reason Joseph believed was because an angel kept appearing to him giving him spiritual facts he could otherwise not see.
Imagine your entire town, your relatives, your “friends,” the people you attended synagogue with, and effectively the entire nation of Israel not believing a single word you say in defense of yourself. You know God asked you to do a very difficult thing and you showed zero hesitation in accepting the assignment and the great challenge it represented. You learned quickly that when God said a nation was blind He meant exactly that: ISRAEL WAS BLIND.
Mary knew in her heart based on her own very hurtful experience that the same thing would happen to her Son—He would be rejected as she was rejected. Most of His own countrymen would never believe Him. His own family would reject Him! None of His brothers and sisters were at the foot of the cross. Only one of His twelve disciples was there, and one wonders if John was at the cross in part because he was given the mantle of taking care of Mary.
But long before then, while the Lord was growing up, Mary still had to find a way to live with unbelief all around her and everyone whispering and shaming her everywhere she went. It was obvious to all in their spiritually blind and willingly sinful state that the Lord Jesus was certainly illegitimate, and because he did not favor Joseph someone else must be the real father. And everyone probably had their suspects.
But Mary, the wonderful, pure, and blessed mother of our Lord, soldiered on. She was presented with an extremely difficult lifelong task and was determined to fulfill it. She honored God. She gave her word. She considered herself greatly blessed. And most of all, God needed her!
In this wonderful time when we celebrate the birth of our Savior, our Immanuel—GOD WITH US—let us remember the great accomplishment of Mary—Miryam. Let us remember how she remained faithful to God for the duration no matter the pain and rejection she suffered. She did an excellent job as a wife and mother. Is it possible, though, that anyone ever cried more tears? She was holy and obedient and showed great resolve regardless of all the ubiquitous malicious gossip and unbelief.
And when at last her loving Son did that first miracle at the Cana wedding she could finally feel some relief. She could proudly say in clearing her name, “I told you so! Now will you believe me?”
Some did. Most did not. Even miraculous works did not change their dark sinful minds.
But Mary knew. She always knew.
© 2014 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.