Monday, November 20, 2017

1 John Pt. 7 -- Greater

The world God created is both physical and spiritual. He governs both by Laws. There are physical laws as well as spiritual laws. Throughout the years, brilliant and inspired men have discovered many of those laws and designed theories and principles that explain how those laws operate.

Sir Isaac Newton realized there was a force that caused apples to accelerate when they fell to the ground. That force he called gravity – the heaviness. No one ever questioned why apples fell down instead of fly upwards. It was just the way it was. And until Newton, no one ever calculated the speed at which apples fall to determine the amount of force gravity is exerting.

This force pulls things down. It’s the reason we when we jump up we come back down instead of fly off the planet. So the expression was coined: what goes up will come down.

But what about birds? Don’t they know the law? Why does it seem they aren’t affected by it? Or an airplane that by weight isn’t going anywhere but, can, by another law, not only get off the ground but fly all over the world. Neither bird nor plane has cancelled the law of gravity. But they have overcome it, by countering it with another law – the Law of Aerodynamics. Through speed and wing shape, thrust and lift they overcome gravity.

At the same time, there are laws that govern the spiritual life on this world.

Go back to the beginning: When God made the world He made a specific declaration over what He had made. He said: It is good. But to demonstrate this good He included the opportunity for contrast. How do we know it’s good unless we have something to compare it to?

Within that good of creation was fellowship with God, the privilege of walking with Him in the cool of the day in the Garden. But wanting that privilege to be something desired rather than just expected, He added the opportunity for temptation. The apple was an invitation to remain in fellowship or to choose to walk away. Into the good world God gave mankind free will.

Free will now produce a spiritual tension pulling us in two directions—between God’s good and man’s choice. This was God’s idea. It didn’t just happen, nor was it an accident. It was anticipated and prepared for.

Back up a bit more: Satan was created as an Arch Angel. He did not exist before God spoke him and all those like him into existence. He was created to serve the purposes of God. But he also was given the ability to rebel. So when he found the apple of desire, he bit.

How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north.  'I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.' "Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit. Those who see you will gaze at you, They will ponder over you, saying, 'Is this the man who made the earth tremble, Who shook kingdoms, Who made the world like a wilderness And overthrew its cities? (Isa 14:12-16)

Satan rose up against God, challenging God’s authority to rule, lost his heavenly position and became the devil. And from his very name devil or the evil one, Evil spread from him to possess the world.

Adam and Eve bit second: Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" The woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'" The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. (Gen 3:1-7)

Adam and Eve gave in to Satan’s temptation, which included challenging God’s right to rule their lives and therefore lost the Garden.

God’s good creation was now a fallen world populated by fallen mankind. Evil had introduced sin, built a stronghold in the hearts of men and would now expand its tactics to steal, kill and destroy all people by distracting them from God’s best.

John said: Jn 2:13  I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.
1Jn 2:14  I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
1Jn 2:15  Do not love the world nor the things in the world. [what world is he talking about? God’s perfect world or the fallen world Satan has damaged] If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
1Jn 2:16  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.

John is talking about deciding. By showing the fallen world in contrast with God’s intended world, He asks: Which world do you wish to live in? The perfect world as God designed that includes fellowship with Him, or the fallen world Satan has counterfeited? Two worlds but which will be our home?
When Jesus prayed for His followers, including those who would become followers—us, He said: I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.  (John 17:15-17)

In simple terms, we are in the world but not of the world. He explains this in terms of growth:

·         Children – new believers, newly born again ones. Learning the ABC’s of forgiveness and relationship.
·         Young men – maturing believers who have entered into the struggle for the quality of spiritual life. (It is the young men who go to war.) They are engaged in the battle to defeat Satan’s influence on their lives.
·         Fathers – Older believers, who’ve been through the war and now live in the peace which comes from having defeated the enemy.

The children are learning the promises.
The young men are testing the promises.
The old men are living by the results of the promises.
·         Each is progressing in their faith, growing in their understanding of their privileges as Believers.
·         Growing toward God and away from the Evil.
·         The recognize it, respond to it, resist it. They overcome.

Paul discovered the spiritual Laws governing this life. For though I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. (Rom 7:22-25)

My physical body seeks to be governed by the influence of the fallen world. But my spirit wants fellowship with the Father.

White dog/black dog – which do I want to win? It comes down to which choice holds the higher value for me.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;

Storing up means collecting that which I consider important.
·         My Mom was a hoarder, yet in that hoarding she had collected some things of greater value that she considered her treasures.
What’s important to me holds my attention—whatever I treasure holds my focus.

Where’s our focus? Is it wrapped up in what I gain from the physical world? From which do I seek my answers? Do I look up or down? Why does that matter?

…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt 6:10-21) Which holds the greater value, attraction, influence, desire?

John gives us the answer as a truth: 1Jn 4:4  Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

Greater in:
·         Power – Satan doesn’t have God’s power
·         Knowledge – Satan doesn’t have God’s insight
·         Wisdom – Satan doesn’t care what’s best
·         Presence – Satan isn’t everywhere at all times
·         Goodness – Satan is evil and bent on stealing, killing and destroying
·         Acceptance – Satan is the one who condemns

A truth is a true statement whether we accept it or not. A principle is a truth that we make a building block of our lives, a fact added into the structure of who we are. We take a truth and apply it to our lives. So how do we take a truth and make a principle out of it?

We frame it into an if/then. If this is true, then this is true, or if this is true, this cannot be true.

If God is greater than Satan, then how shall I live?
·         I will demonstrate confidence in God’s abilities.
·         I will exert faith to trust Him in all areas of my life.
·         I will make my decisions on what He says is right or wrong.
·         I will measure my effectiveness as a man, woman, parent, grandparent by the standard He sets.
·         HI will I conduct myself during my stay upon this earth looking to Him for my answers.
·         I will refuse to submit to Satan’s attempts to minimize God’s importance in my life.
·         I will reject his counterfeit life.
·         I will resist the urges to choose evil over good.
·         I will choose God as ruler of my life.

Then ask myself: God is greater than what?
·         Our enemy
·         Our fears
·         Our failures
·         Our faithlessness
·         Our disappointments
·         Our struggles
·         Our addiction
·         Our afflictions
·         Our illnesses
·         Our loses
·         Our death
·         Our heartbreaks
·         Our defeats

We live in a fallen world, governed by the law of evil leading to sin and death. But we are not of that world. We live in the Kingdom of the One greater than the one who is in the world. Though affected by the laws of the evil one, we overcome by the power of the Laws of our God. One law pulling us down, the other lifting us up to soar on wings like eagles,

1.       Free will indicates God wants fellowship with us by desire not obligation.
2.      By giving us free will, God never leaves us without a choice.
3.      Within that freedom to choose are good choices and bad choices.
4.      God has designed us to seek the good choices even while Satan tempts us with counterfeits.

5.      Until we resolve that God’s choices are best, we will be suspended in the space between whether we will live in the world or of the world.

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