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Choose For Yourselves This Day Whom You Will Serve

         The invisible war rages. There are two competing kingdoms. Real Christians know the real fight is between the Lord Jesus and Satan. These two are the only leaders of the only two kingdoms that exist on the planet.

         Thus, the fight is not between this country and that. It is not a fight between Christians and Muslims. It is not a fight between Republicans and Democrats. And it is not a fight between Catholics and Protestants.

         The devil has authority over the entire world of unregenerate sinful mankind:

         And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. [2 Corinthians 4:3-4]   

         The Lord Jesus is the King of His kingdom:

         I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen. [1 Timothy 6:13-16]  

         The devil offered the Lord all the kingdoms of the world as his second in command, which means the devil controls all the kingdoms, nations, and countries of the world, or he could not have made the offer. This means he even controlled and sat atop the powerful Roman Empire.

         If one purports to honor and believe the Word of God, one must believe this. Therefore, if a person wants life and real freedom, he must at some point leave the devil’s kingdom and join the Lord’s. Otherwise, do nothing. The Lord Jesus is only in authority over those who have confessed His Name and bowed before Him. He is the Father of those who have accepted His sacrifice on their behalf and have been released from their bondage to sin.

         According to His teachings, everyone else is under the authority of Satan.

         Thus, the devil creates sub-battles within his kingdom to deceive the lost and even Christian believers about the real battle. He divides us through political parties, culture, race, denominations, and a myriad of other subsets in order to take our focus off of him.

         This is why the only real change takes place when the Lord Jesus is able to rule in an area where the devil had previously ruled.

         In the present battle, Jesus gains authority through the submission of a human being to Him. It is the only way He gains authority. And it must be through a person’s free will and love for Him, and not by coercion. He has only ONE kingdom. He has only ONE community of believers. And He is the ONE leader of His community. Everyone else within it is on equal footing with one another. He created no hierarchies or clergy-laity divisions. He created no men ruling other men within His kingdom. He is the only Ruler.

         It is the same in Satan’s kingdom. Though it appears on the surface to be ruled by many different and disconnected leaders, rulers, presidents, dictators, financial kingpins, and religious quacks around the world, all of these are under his command whether they know it or not. If one has not submitted to the Lord Jesus, then one does not belong to Him and one does not have salvation. Such a one remains in His sins regardless of his station in life and receives his or her motivational feed from the original Beastie Boy.

         If sin rules a person’s life (and it will unless the Lord is allowed to remove it and its power), then one is prone to powerful deception. Sin is blinding, and those who live in sin are subject to it, controlled by it, and are easily deceived by the devil into believing any number of lies.

         And the devil is a master liar.

         When one submits to the authority of the Lord Jesus and accepts His only payment for sin, then one is released from the power of sin and the blinders come off. This is a very, very powerful event, and one becomes an entirely new creation. Old desires pass away and new desires come forth to serve God and live a holy life. This is why the Lord referred to a true conversion experience as being “born again.”

         This does not happen by merely converting to some branch of “Christianity.” It does not happen by merely joining a church or submitting to it and its particular doctrines. It happens only by submitting oneself to the Lord Jesus with one’s whole heart. He is the only One who can set a person free from the disease of sin, and give a person power over sin.

         In fact, His Name means that very thing: YHWH-Salvation, or YeHoshua. The real meaning of salvation is being set free. It is the granting of freedom. Everyone wants to be free, but sin is the one thing endemic to mankind that one will never be set free of without the Lord. He lived a perfect sinless life and thus gained power over sin, and shares that power with whoever will join Him. There is no salvation without Jesus. He is the only One who can bestow spiritual life.

         Yet, the devil has a field day dividing up Christians. It was not the Lord who created a million different Christian denominations. It is not the Lord who advocates hating one president and loving another, or siding with one political party and hating the other, or fighting for one Christian denomination and hating all others. The Lord’s community is in perfect unity, and is composed of all those who have bowed the knee to Him and no other.

         If the Lord Jesus could be president, then real Christians would vote for Him. Otherwise we should vote for a real Christian. If neither candidate is a real Christian then it doesn’t matter which one is elected, since both belong to the kingdom of the other guy and nothing significant will change.

         When the Lord Jesus is in charge there is liberty and blessing. When He is not in charge there is very little liberty and blessing. It should be obvious to Christians, since they supposedly know God’s written Word, that when the Lord is honored, the land of the people who honor Him is blessed. When the land is otherwise cursed, then…

         Ask yourself if America is presently in good shape. Does it look like the Lord Jesus has been given governing control of Washington D.C.? Does it appear that He has been given governing control of the fifty states?

         Some states are certainly in better shape than others, but most have very serious problems. People have been warning for decades that America is going in the tank, that the nation is filled with sin and murder, and that things are regressing ever faster. Yet, what do we do? We think a particular non-real Christian candidate is better than another? We think sinful human beings will somehow make the necessary gargantuan changes that are required?

         We need to look at the big picture. Look back at the last 100 years and one will see a steady downhill slide that keeps accelerating. Yet we do nothing to actually change it. We engage in a bunch of cosmetic garbage that has no effect. The Word of God even predicts that things will continue to grow darker:

         Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. [2 Timothy 3:12-13]

         But there is a reason for this. It is not set in stone. It is because most people refuse to give themselves wholeheartedly to the Lord. We as a nation refuse to repent and submit to His authority so He can fix things.

         And why is this surprising? The majority of churches don’t want Jesus in charge!

         Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. [Psalm 127:1] [1]  

         So, with all the constant drivel on the airwaves and the ongoing political process, Americans are fools if they think anything other than our submission to the Lord Jesus will change things substantially for the better.

         Until then, the devil is in control of all those who refuse to bow the knee to the Lord, and if such people are in high office, the devil has that much more control.

         At the end of the day, whether we like it or not or understand it or not, each of us will either serve the devil or serve the Lord Jesus. There is no in-between. There is no third party.

         It may be the devil

         Or it may be the Lord

         But you’re gonna have to serve somebody [2]

         © 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

        

         WATCH VIDEO: Gotta Serve Somebody [Won Grammy Award in 1980]


[1] 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.

[2] Bob Dylan, Gotta Serve Somebody, from the album Slow Train Coming 1979.

Cruel To Be Kind: Destroy Your Life to Save It

         God is not so interested in how a sinful world perceives His children. It seems as though He is not so interested in our credibility. He will probably not bless our attempt to become a successful and respectable member of society. If one is already a solid secular citizen within one’s chosen social and business circle, as opposed to being a member in good standing within His kingdom, it was most likely achieved without His help.

         And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” [Mark 8:34-38]

         The word “lose” in the above passage is from a Greek word that means to utterly destroy. In other words, to save one’s life one must destroy one’s life. One must destroy the old before the new can come forth. Demolition precedes construction. Winter precedes spring. Night precedes the dawn. One must die before one can be born again. Real repentance is as death. The second birth is a resurrection. Without a new birth, one will die in their sins and both body and soul will be destroyed in hell. [1]  

         The glorification of sinful flesh is not one of the Lord’s priorities. There are people who become very successful in this life without any of God’s help. They strive and achieve only to leave it all behind at death. Imagine the people who lost their homes and livelihoods recently in the northeastern floods and Texas fires. These are terrible tragedies. But death is often like that, in that everything a person has ever built, accumulated, and worked for remains behind within the tiny closed parameters of this physical world.

         You cannot take it with you. Wealthy people don’t have a Brink’s truck following their hearse to their gravesite. And while we are in this material realm, anything we may possess is subject to loss.

         The best way to protect your stuff is to give it to God. Let Him have control. Subject it to His authority. He may tell you to get rid of some stuff. He may tell you to keep this and that. He may instruct you to give stuff away. But one thing is certain: Whatever He may want you to keep, you will keep; at least until it is time to let it go.

         Isn’t this a better way to live? Isn’t this exactly how the Lord Jesus taught us we must live? If we can’t take it with us, why do we insist on clutching onto all our stuff and our own authority in the present?

         It is the same with our reputations. We often spend years building up reputations that later come apart in an instant, sometimes through no fault of our own. If our reputation is based on being an honest person, not much of it will be lost. But honest people tell the truth, and that means they even tell the truth about themselves. They don’t hide their faults and shortcomings. They are humble. They know they often come up short against standing societal mores and spiritual directives, but are more interested in being honest and trying to get better than securing a fake resume inflated like a hot air balloon.

         It is such false biographies and fake reputations that eventually blow up and come crashing down. All things phony bite the dust. Only the real survives. And only the real, based on God’s definition of the term, makes a successful trip into eternity. As our foundational example, consider the life of the greatest Man who ever lived:

         Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

         Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. [Philippians 2:1-8] [2]

         For the real Christian, he or she belongs to God. And that includes all our stuff. It also includes our credibility. It includes anything we may be and anything He wants us to be. In this light, it makes little spiritual sense to hoard up a bunch of stuff, whether material or not, that might in all probability be weighing us down and grounding us to this world.

         The Bible clearly states that real Christians are not of this world. The Lord Jesus is not of this world. We are supposed to be born again OUT of this world and INTO His kingdom. So who cares what anybody else may think? The Lord certainly didn’t care what others thought about Him. He was on a mission, He would not be stopped, and the world was only doing what came naturally when trying to destroy Him in any way it could. He caught it from everyone, including His own nation, friends, and family. Rather than recognizing Him as God, this is how almost everyone actually perceived Him:

         Because He drank wine, He was thought to be a common drunk. [Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:34]

         Because He ate the same food as everyone else, He was thought to be a glutton. [Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:34]

         Because He reached out to the lost, He was thought to be an associate of sinners. [Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:34]

         Because there were serious questions about His birth, He was thought to be illegitimate. [John 8:41]

          Because everyone else was stupid and dense, He was thought to be insane. [Mark 3:21]

         Because He had spiritual abilities no one else had, He was thought to be demon-possessed. [Mark 3:22, 30]

         Because He humbly downplayed who He really was, He was thought to be a nobody. [Matthew 13:54-56]

         Clearly, the Lord Jesus did not care about a worldly reputation. His focus was on doing the will of the Father and accomplishing His purpose. This should be our focus as well. When we drift from this, should we wonder why the Lord does not seem to care about the things we hold most dear? If one decides to live for God, one will be persecuted. People will think you’ve gone off the deep end. They will hate you, think you’re crazy, call you every name in the book, and run your name into the ground.

         If you consider yourself to be a real Christian and these things are not happening in your life, you better check your oil. The more a believer attacks the gates of hell to rescue the lost and reveal truth, the more the enemy will fight. If one is not in the fight, one is not with the Lord and the Lord is not with him. If one is more concerned with one’s worldly reputation or comfort level than serving the Lord, one has little spiritual reputation and is no threat to the devil.

         And though the unbelieving world hates real Christians, the adversary is well aware of his enemies. They are known in hell: The evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” [3]

         © 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Matthew 10:28

[2] 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.

[3] Acts 19:15 NKJV

Victory!

         The New Testament teaches that there will be times of weariness for the believer. We are often pulled in many different directions and subjected to what can only be termed spiritual onslaughts. Christians have often failed to acknowledge the fact that a spiritual war goes on all around us. For those uninvolved, there is little fight. But for those openly attacking the forces of evil through their moral standard of living, their strong faith and obedience to the Lord, and even in direct spiritual confrontation, they are often subjected to a very tough fight.

         Because the devil doesn’t fight fair, real Christians sometimes get shot in the back. I remember when I was a kid watching westerns on television, I learned early on that one of the worst things a man could ever do is shoot another man in the back when he was unable to defend himself. No real man ever does it. Well, the devil does this routinely. It is one of his major methods of warfare—shoot ‘em in the back when they’re not watching. Veteran believers have been attacked this way many times.

         Yet, despite the enemy’s underhanded tactics, there is victory for the one who fights alongside the Lord: He or she recovers to fight another day and is much stronger and aware as a result. Victorious spiritual battle results in greater maturity and power for the believer. He or she also becomes wiser. How else did the apostle Paul withstand all the underhanded attacks against him, and still live to collect his social security check? He was a force. But it wasn’t actually him. It was the Lord in him.

         The Lord Jesus is the greatest Man who ever lived. He withstood everything. He won every battle. The enemy threw everything he had at Him and failed. So it is for the real Christian. We must never back down. Even though some attacks are vicious and vile, if we stand our ground and stand with the Lord, we will win. How demoralizing it must be for the devil to know he has used every wicked weapon in his arsenal, and has not only failed miserably, but actually helped foster great awakenings and strengthened spiritual giants? Godly wisdom regarding the battle at hand is often counterintuitive, and completely escapes the natural mind. 

         Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written, “THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.” [1Corinthians 2:6-9]

         May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob set you securely on high! May He send you help from the sanctuary and support you from Zion! May He remember all your meal offerings and find your burnt offering acceptable! Selah. May He grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your counsel! We will sing for joy over your victory, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners. May the LORD fulfill all your petitions. Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand. Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God. They have bowed down and fallen, but we have risen and stood upright. Save, O LORD; May the King answer us in the day we call. [Psalm 20:1-9] [1] 

         The Lord Jesus became the biggest loser in order to become the greatest winner. Savvy?

         © 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] 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.