Let Us Reason

To read between the lines is to look carefully at what is written in order to infer truths which are not explicitly stated. We call this reasoning, and God invites to use it as we seek Him (Is 1:18), employing logic to expand from what is explicitly revealed to see what some might consider hidden, yet if one is paying attention and thinking deeply it becomes obvious.

To illustrate, the arrow in the FedEx logo may not be apparent until someone points it out; but once you see it you can’t stop seeing it. The arrow isn’t exactly hidden, but it isn’t exactly there either.

To see it you must look between the E and x at the resulting white space connecting them, which is really nothing by itself: the mere juxtaposition of the letters reveals a shape implied by what surrounds it, and this insight enhances the logo, making an impression which creates additional value.

There are many truths like this in Scripture; what is explicitly stated in the text often implies priceless truths which remain unwritten. We may consider what is unspoken, which we might think ought to have been spoken, or which is certainly implied by what is stated, to learn more about God and His ways.

For example, when Paul is meditating in De 25:4, “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn“, he infers a principle for supporting Christian workers. (1Co 9:9-10) Paul reasons from the general context of scripture that God isn’t particularly concerned about the feelings of an ox, so He must be providing a general instruction in how we’re to treat those called serve in ways which make it difficult for them to earn a living in the traditional sense.

We often see this kind of reasoning explicitly stated in Scripture with the phrase how much more; when God shows us how to address the relatively unimportant, He expects us to reason similarly about more important yet related concerns. For example, if the saints shall judge angels, how much more are they qualified to judge temporal matters? (1Co 6:3) If we expect earthly parents to care for their children, how much more should we expect God to care for us? (Mt 7:11) If animal sacrifices sanctify the physical man, how much more shall the blood of Christ sanctify the spiritual man? (He 9:13-14)

We should certainly be careful when looking at the white spaces in scripture, but they’re indeed present and we should be on the lookout for them, meditating both on what’s explicitly written and prayerfully considering what’s implied.

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All Such Rejoicing

James, the Lord’s brother (Ga 1:19), identifies a certain kind of rejoicing as evil (Ja 1:16): boasting in our own plans as though they’re God’s is missing the mark. Yet God isn’t making up a new standard here: He’s not embellishing or extending His moral Law; it’s always been this way.

Since all sin is a violation of Torah, and any violation of Torah is sin (1Jn 3:4), this evil rejoicing must be rooted in some deviation from Torah. What law of Torah is violated by evil rejoicing?

Such rejoicing might be rooted in pride, in thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought (Ro 12:3), but then we must find some law forbidding pride, which is yet another challenge.

Perhaps loving our neighbors as ourselves (Le 19:18b) precludes pride, but even if we’re able to do so, could we not still rejoice in our boastings?

The evil in this boasting noted by James isn’t necessarily related to confidence in one’s abilities (1Co 7:7), but in failing to acknowledge our ultimate dependence on God. (Ja 4:15) How can we presume the power to succeed in our schemes if we can’t even keep our hearts beating or our brains from shutting down? (Lk 12:16-20) It’s like making a promise or a vow we can’t necessarily keep; there are limits to our personal capability and power, and we should always make promises with these limitations in mind.

It is a violation of Torah to make a vow to Jehovah and then not keep it. (De 23:21-23). When making promises or vows to God (or others) we should conform our speech to reality, acknowledging both our internal inclinations, weaknesses and disposition as well as our external limitations and dependencies.

This being true, it naturally follows we ought to employ the same humility and caution both in the context of planning and also in evaluating the likelihood of our success. (Pr 27:1)

Further, this implies God will not generally reveal how our plans are going to turn out (1Ti 3:14-15); He does do this at times (1Sa 30:8), but it is the exception rather than the rule. (Pr 16:9)

Torah doesn’t forbid appropriate confidence in our abilities, given us by God (2Co 11:6); it does encourage us to glory only in Him (Ps 62:7) and what He’s done for us. (Ga 6:14)

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Let the Dead

One of the more surprising, and perhaps more easily misunderstood sayings of Jesus comes as He calls one to follow Him, who then asks for permission to first go and bury his father. Yeshua responds, “Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.” (Lk 9:59-60) Unlike other encounters in the immediate context, this does at first appear to be a direct command to abandon what is generally considered a legitimate family duty.

The command presumes of some capable members of the man’s family a spiritual deadness: they are unregenerate, dead to spiritual things, the way we all start out. (Ep 2:1) Yeshua is evidently saying worldly concerns are best relegated to the worldlings who care about them.

The key word is evidently Let, from the Greek Ἄφες (Aphes), to allow, permit, leave alone or forgive. The idea isn’t that we’re neglecting personal responsibility, such as a true parental obligation (De 27:16), but rather that we prefer to defer temporal affairs into the care of those who are capable and have a vested interest when this is appropriate. In worldly matters, we manage our affairs so as to let others spend their time and energy managing the detail as they like, giving ourselves more resources to focus on heavenly things.

It seems very likely, in the case of this particular disciple, that he wants to manage the arrangements of his father’s funeral because he cares too much about them; his priorities are misaligned so he is unwilling to defer to others. He has a calling on his life that is suffering because of this inordinate concern, and Christ is evidently telling him to let go; all his fussing isn’t actually going to benefit his father, his family prefers to handle it themselves and can do so adequately enough.

Another key to this context is the idea of first: setting proper priorities and boundaries in our lives. This gifted disciple wants to temporarily delay a kingdom duty to manage a temporal concern. (Lk 9:59) Yet how easy it is for days to turn into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years. It ought not to be so in kingdom matters.

It is a mistake to suppose a delay is necessary, and therefore excusable, when it is a true duty. This is often simply an excuse to neglect our spiritual responsibility because we aren’t fully committed to it, and in that case one delay invariably leads to another. If we know we ought to be doing something and we have a kingdom-first mindset (Mt 6:33), there’s a way to get it done, if we’re simply willing to do it. If there isn’t, we ought not be doing it.

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Fit for the Kingdom

Yeshua says many things which may seem harsh, often in an arbitrary way. It’s difficult to understand Him in these contexts, so He is often misunderstood.

For example, when an enthusiastic young man decides to follow Christ, yet first wants to go home and say goodbye to his family (Lk 9:61), Christ replies, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.(62) Is Jesus telling him he can’t even tell his family about his life-changing decision, and bid them farewell as he starts off on his journey?

Looking carefully at His reply, Yeshua isn’t actually forbidding the disciple this last kindness to his family: He’s warning him about indecisiveness; his relatives will likely protest and discourage him, challenging the conventional wisdom of his decision and reminding him of his responsibilities to themselves and the larger community. “What?!! You’re going to abandon your family, leaving your little brother to handle everything all by himself? to follow who? Some rogue preacher you just met? And to do what? Where? You’re being impulsive, romanticizing about a revolution, but you’re going to get yourself killed! And maybe the rest of us too!” Family doesn’t generally take kindly to these sorts of decisions. (Mt 10:35-37)

Yeshua is indirectly prompting this dear man to look carefully into his own heart and count the cost; is this really what he wants? Is he willing to pay the price? to do what it takes to follow Messiah? Has he committed and focused his own spirit to take on the rigors demanded of the spiritual life? This isn’t a cake-walk; we’re called to take up our execution stake every single day. (Lk 9:23) Second-guessing will defeat us.

Those who start off in shallow passion and excitement after Messiah without doing this honest self-examination, this sobering kind of soul-searching evaluation, reflection and preparation (Lk 14:28), who have some ulterior motive, looking to advantage themselves — when the going gets tough, like the seed sprouting on stony ground, they’ll cool off, wither and fall away. (Mk 4:16-17) These are not fit for the kingdom of God.

This seems consistent with the rest of the immediate context; Christ responds to another enthusiast, willing to follow Him to the ends of the earth, that He Himself is homeless, having no place of His own to lie down at night. (Lk 9:57-58) Following Him means sleeping outside on the ground at times, in the rain and cold, going without food for days. (Mk 8:2-3) He’s suffering and calls us to endure hardness with Him (2Ti 2:3); are we in for that? (1Pe 4:1-2)

Those who aren’t willing to give up all to follow Christ (Lk 5:27-28), to forsake themselves for Him (Lk 14:25), to put Him first in every area of their lives, aren’t yet believing on Him, don’t yet know Him, and aren’t yet suited for the kingdom of God. (Lk 14:33)

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Neither Mar the Corners

In showing us how to live, God provides guidelines for our personal outward appearance: Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard. (Le 19:27)

The Hebrew for round the corners seems to mean to shave the sides, and mar the corners seems to mean to disfigure the edges. Initial applications may have been related to hairstyles intended to honor pagan deities, or ways to express deep anguish or grief, as when mourning the deceased. (Le 21:1-5)

Similarly, in the same context God tells us: Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord. (Le 19:28)

The general principle suggests any voluntary self-mutilation or disfigurement of ourselves is a desecration of God’s workmanship (Ps 119:73), disrespectful to Him making us in His image. (Ge 9:6) As children of JEHOVAH (De 14:1), we should treat ourselves and each other with honor and respect (1Pe 2:17a), in both our appearance and conduct.

Further, our outside should reflect our inside: our physical appearance is how we first communicate and reveal ourselves and we shouldn’t send mixed messages; the initial impression we present to others should be consistent with who we are and what we represent. (2Co 5:20) We are the light of the world (Mt 5:14), and our physical appearance should align with this identity. (15-16)

So, to reflect who we are in God, we’re to maintain a clean (Ep 5:3), orderly (2Th 3:7), moderate (Php 4:5), sober (1Th 5:8) outward appearance; we ought not needlessly offend (2Co 6:3), distract (Co 3:17) or align ourselves with any unwholesomenesss or darkness. (Ep 5:11)

Further, we must also carefully avoid applying these principles governing outward appearance in a superficial manner, looking for arbitrary, extra-biblical ways to separate ourselves from the world. In the same way God doesn’t call us to believe differently from the world just for the sake of being different, He doesn’t call us to appear visibly different from the world as an end in itself: this would be divisive, a spirit of variance, unloving and therefore sinful. (Ga 5:20)

To the extent cultural norms are compatible with godliness, conforming helps us relate with others in community and set them at ease, which is consistent with loving our neighbors as ourselves. Yet when we’re tempted to emulate the world in ways which are inconsistent with holiness we should resist. (Ja 4:4)

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The Vanity

Most people appear (to me) to be walking around in vanity, foolishness, emptiness, consumed with frivolous, temporal concerns. (Ep 4:17-18) What occupies the hearts and minds of almost everyone around us will vanish like vapor in the wind. (Ja 4:14b) It will all come to nothing. (Ga 6:7-8)

This may seem harsh, but think about it: what’s left of the earthly concerns of those nameless, faceless masses of humanity who’ve been dead for 1000 years? whose careers, family and friends are all long forgotten? Except for those rare exceptions recorded for us in history, art and stories, every detail of their entire existence has completely vanished from this world. You and I will be no exception. (Ec 1:2)

We may find this troublesome, distasteful and unpleasant, to think our entire existence is pointless, and rightly so. We experience an intrinsic desire to be meaningful, to fulfill a special purpose or destiny, to be significant, to be remembered. (Ge 11:4)

But vanity carries the idea of waste, purposelessness, of being empty, void, without substance or weight. It implies a problem, that purpose or meaning has been missed or lost; an open opportunity to become significant forfeited forever. (Mt 7:23)

This instinct for meaning implies our behavior is being monitored, measured and evaluated according to an eternal, moral standard (2Co 5:10); there is divine expectation in all we do (Ec 12:14), and in that sense meaning is timeless: God will treasure His elect uniquely for all eternity (Re 2:17); He will never forget us and what we have done for Him. (He 6:10)

To find true significance then is to find it forever. (Ro 2:6-7) Our longing for purpose is only fulfilled in being remembered and acknowledged by God throughout eternity (Re 3:12): we can only have real significance in Him. (Da 12:3)

The alternative is to squander one’s life in temporal concerns (Php 3:18-19) and perpetually bear the shame of having frittered away our own eternal significance. (Da 12:2)

What we’re observing is that only the God-centered life is truly meaningful (Mt 7:24-25); only God-honoring thoughts and actions pass the test. (26-27)

Those who don’t love Jesus Christ (1Co 16:22), who err, who deviate from God’s Law as a manner of life, are trodden down by God Himself as waste, pointless and vain (Ps 119:118); in the Day of His wrath He will trample them all in His fury. (Is 63:3) There is no purpose or meaning left when we alienate ourselves from Him. (Ps 73:27)

Moment by moment, what kind of treasure are we laying up in Heaven? (Mt 6:19-21) Are we storing up gold, silver and precious stones, metaphors for godly motives and actions in this life? or is it mostly wood, hay and stubble? (1Co 3:12) What tiny little fragments, what puny remnants of our earthly existence will survive the fiery evaluation of God? (13)

Our labor in God is not in vain (1Co 15:58), but absolutely everything else is. Let’s lay up for ourselves a good foundation against the time to come, laying hold of eternal life (1Ti 6:18-19), such that we’ll be remembered as eternally significant for the glory of God. (1Pe 1:7)

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Give None Offence

During any holiday season it’s appropriate to understand the origins of the holiday and its meaning, to know why people celebrate it and discern whether it’s pleasing to God to participate. For God’s feasts, those specifically commanded in Scripture, there should be no concern; the challenge relates to culturally accepted traditions which might be considered sinful.

For example, is it OK to dress up in costumes on Halloween, or have an Easter egg hunt for the kids, or put up a Christmas tree and exchange presents? None of these traditions have any precedent in Scripture; they’re all rooted in pagan festivals “Christianized” by the Roman Catholic Church and adopted into its annual calendar.

In looking into this, many well-meaning Christians find these traditions repulsive and ungodly and refuse to participate, claiming we’re not to worship like the heathen or learn their ways. (De 20:18) They may even become inordinately passionate about not observing these holidays, walking in the misguided passion of the iconoclast, who simply enjoys pointing out and destroying other people’s beliefs as an end in itself.

In exposing the ignorance of those who’ve never really studied the history of these traditions for themselves, we can easily come across as “holier than thou”, judgmental, condescending and arrogant. This can become offensive to those who’ve grown up observing them, being encouraged and blessed in spite of their ignorance, and we should avoid all unnecessary offenses. (1Co 10:32) After all, there are much bigger issues to focus on, sins we’ve yet to articulate well and overcome, consequently running rampant in our families and churches. Majoring on the minor can easily become a distraction from our primary focus and calling in Christ, a kind of shallow virtue signaling.

Yet even if we have full understanding of these matters and see no particular benefit in observing these holidays ourselves, we are often in close community with family, friends, neighbors and work associates who still love to celebrate them, and often do so relatively innocently, even being spiritually, encouraged in them. We feel the need to find a way to live in peace in our communities and love our neighbors as ourselves, without offending our God or needlessly offending others.

In regard to observing any man-made custom or tradition, two simple principles guide godly behavior. Firstly, never willfully violate an explicit command of God (1Jn 2:1a); if a holiday tradition is forbidden in Torah, then abstain. Secondly, avoid behavior likely to cause others to stumble and sin (1Co 8:9-12), for this violates the law of Love. (1Co 16:14)

In applying these principles, I am unaware of any specific tradition or custom typically celebrated in Christian holidays which explicitly violates Torah. Putting up a Christmas tree, hunting for Easter eggs and even wearing masks or costumes are evidently all harmless in themselves. While some of these traditions may have at one time been associated with ungodly beliefs, the acts themselves are not forbidden in Torah and any direct association with pagan beliefs has long vanished, so practicing them does not encourage anyone today to adopt any related ancient, pagan mindset.

Having said this, we must be especially careful in addressing Halloween, which is perhaps the most problematic Roman Catholic tradition adopted in the West, where we often find a uniquely unhealthy, morbid focus on spiritual darkness, death, horror, etc.

Clearly, glorying in, celebrating or imitating sorcery, witchcraft, necromancy or divination is contrary to Torah; all who practice such things are an abomination to God. (De 18:10-12) Further, we’re encouraged to focus on wholesome, good and godly things (Php 4:8), which the very spirit of Halloween seems to violate.

Yet Halloween itself, historically, did not originate as a celebration of witchcraft or any kind of evil; it was instituted as an evening of preparation for All Saints Day on Nov 1, a time to be on guard against the forces of evil, to honor deceased loved ones and remember Christian martyrs. On the surface, this type of tradition does not seem evil; it might even be a good thing, all else being equal.

Rome was trying to “Christianize” Samhain, a Celtic celebration of the harvest, when it was believed the barrier between the dead and living was blurred such that spirits of the deceased might return to interact with the living. Wearing masks and lighting bonfires, traditions incorporated into Halloween itself, were thought to confuse and ward off evil spirits; there was no intent to celebrate them.

One might argue that it was inappropriate for Roman Catholicism to try to paganize this Celtic holiday, but even if it was, this doesn’t mean Halloween itself is explicitly evil; it was evidently not intended as a celebration of evil and no rituals or traditions officially included in this holiday violate Torah.

Even today, when those celebrating Halloween appear to be highlighting evil and celebrating it, in my experience they’re most often doing so ignorantly, not even believing in witchcraft or divination, certainly not approving it or wishing to promote or imitate it. Even so, the natural man’s fascination with evil (Jn 3:19) is often on display most vividly during this season, and often does lead to inappropriate behavior, even when done ignorantly or thoughtlessly.

One must be very careful, alert, observant and intentional about not encouraging or approving unhealthy activity or focus. (Ep 5:11) We are children of light and of the day, we are not of the night nor of darkness (1Th 5:5); we should always let our light shine. (Mt 5:14-16) Yet doing so humbly, without being self-righteous, overly critical, dismissive or uncharitable is indeed quite challenging.

Certainly, there likely are Halloween celebrations today which openly celebrate evil, where participating would damage a godly witness among unbelievers and encourage believers in unwholesome activities. When invited to any festivity, the thoughtful saint must use discretion (Ps 112:5), and carefully abstain from all appearance of evil. (1Th 5:22)

When considering whether to participate, let’s remember Christ lives in us, Who always does what He sees the Father do, and ask, “What is Jesus in me doing?” And let us be gentle with our brothers and sisters who don’t call it the same way we do: before their own Master they stand or fall (Ro 14:4); unless they’re plainly violating Torah, we ought not judge them. (13)

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Thy Name In Vain

Taking God’s name in vain is a serious offense: Jehovah will not hold anyone guiltless who takes His name in vain. (Ex 20:7) He introduces this concept in the Decalogue as the last command of three relating how we’re to treat God Himself. What does it mean, to take God’s name in vain?

Traditionally, it appears to have been understood to mean we’re not to speak or write God’s name inappropriately, which is certainly dishonoring to God. (Ps 139:20) Yet a careful look at the text itself indicates this is not the whole of the matter; it is perhaps only periphery.

The command does not refer to speaking or writing God’s name, but to taking His name, taking it up, bearing it, carrying it along. The Hebrew is נָשָׂא, nasah, to bear. Cain chooses this word in his complaint, “My punishment is greater than I can bear.” (Ge 4:13), and God uses it to describe how the high priest continually bears the names of Israel upon his heart in the breastplate (Ex 28:29), and also how he bears their judgment before Jehovah. (30) So, taking Jehovah’s name seems to be more about taking it upon one’s self, associating and personally identifying with it … with Him.

So, what then does it mean to take up Jehovah’s name, or to associate ourselves with it, in vain? Vain is the Hebrew שָׁוְא, shav, meaning empty, false, deceitful. It is used in the command to not raise a false report, to mislead and give the wrong impression. (Ex 23:1)

Thus, taking God’s name in vain is to falsely identify and associate ourselves with God by appealing to His name and character when we aren’t submitted to Him, not loyal to Him, not faithful to Him. It would include speaking on His behalf when He hasn’t called us to do so and told us what to say. (De 18:20) It also would describe identifying ourselves as God’s servants or representatives under false pretenses or ulterior motives, to gain the respect of and/or otherwise influence, manipulate or control others, using God to benefit ourselves; this is the heart of all false religion.

When the disobedient become impostors, infiltrating the Faith, presenting themselves as Christ’s disciples and servants (2Co 11:15), they evidently do more harm to the name and reputation of God (Tit 2:5) than those who merely speak or write His name in appropriately. When we falsely represent Him to others, who then associate God Himself with our sins and indiscretions and blaspheme Him because of us. (Ro 2:24), God will not overlook this; He will hold each of us accountable for how we leverage and exploit our relationship with Him.

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Anathema Maranatha

Eternal hellfire and brimstone is seldom mentioned anymore, and the little we do hear about it is often tearless (Ph 3:18), yet Christ warns us all to avoid Hell at any cost. (Mt 5:29-30) Who among us still races headlong into this dreadful end? (Is 33:14)

How many souls are actually going to make it to Heaven? One in a thousand? (Ec 7:28) One in ten thousand? If the antediluvian proportion of His elect is any indication (one in a billion1Pe 3:20) it’s only a remnant (Ro 11:5); very, very few. (Mt 7:14)

The reality is all who don’t love Jesus Christ will be anathema maranatha: cursed when Christ returns (1Co 16:22); this is very nearly everyone. (Mt 7:13)

By inference, all who aren’t keeping and obeying the words of Christ are headed to Hell. (Jn 14:23) Those who don’t obey Him don’t love Him. (24a)

Similarly, all who mind earthly things, who focus more on temporal concerns than on God’s kingdom, these folk are also headed to Hell. (Php 3:19) The cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches distract them (Mt 13:22), because these also do not love Him.

Who’s living as if they’re elect? Who is obeying Jesus Christ today (Mt 7:21), cherishing His Words (Col 3:16), the words of Torah (Ro 7:22), hiding them in their hearts and meditating on them day and night as a manner of life? dedicated to Him and to His glory? Almost no one. It shouldn’t surprise us, but it’s sobering.

The fact people aren’t aware of their dreadful, eternal fate is irrelevant; science and/or religion may give peace for the moment, but confidence without holiness is an illusion, deception. (He 12:14) They’re stumbling heedless over the fathomless depths of Hell itself every moment of their lives, and will fall into it suddenly, utterly consumed with terrors. (Ps 73:18-19)

How are we supposed to live in light of this? First, we diligently make our own election sure (2Pe 1:10), working out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Php 2:12), examining ourselves in light of God’s revelation whether we truly are in the faith, and prove it out for ourselves. (2Co 13:5) Are the characteristics which accompany salvation evident in our own lives? (He 6:9)

Then we do what we can to encourage others to diligently seek God (He 11:6) and strive to enter the kingdom (Lk 13:24), bearing patiently with them (2Ti 2:24-25), knowing we ourselves also were lost (Ti 3:3), teaching and warning those who will listen (2Co 5:11) with all wisdom (Co 1:28), helping them as much as we can along the way. (He 12:24-25)

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It Is Written

Temptation is warfare; the enemy’s always looking for a way to distract, preoccupy and devour. (1Pe 5:8) We need to be on guard 24 x 7; we can’t afford to give him any more ground (Ep 4:27) to steal our joy, kill our witness and destroy our fellowship with God. (Jn 10:10)

When Satan tempts us, we’re drawn away by our own lusts and enticed. (Ja 1:14) When we yield to our desires and pursue them we sin, which alienates us from God and brings us into spiritual bondage (Jn 8:34): it’s a kind of death. (15) This is how Satan defeats us, and he’s a master of war. How do we resist and overcome him? (Ja 4:7)

When Jesus Christ was tempted of the Devil (Mt 4:1), what did Jesus do? He quoted scripture, verses He memorized from the Bible, but not random verses — He selected them surgically, tactically, the perfect text to counteract each dimension of Satan’s attack. (4, 7, 10) Jesus was defending Himself with the sword of the Spirit: the living Word of God. (He 4:12)

The attack on Christ itself was deliberate, thoughtful, calculated, probing, searching out any area of potential weakness Satan suspected might be present within the Son of God. Jesus was in a veritable sword fight with Satan; He could have engaged Satan in any way He liked and been victorious, but He skillfully wielded the Word of God as an example for us to follow. We do well to study and learn from Him. (1Pe 2:21)

It takes practice, lots of practice to become a master swordsman, and it can be a life-and-death matter: in real sword fighting we only lose once … then game over. If we must fight, and our only weapon is the sword, it’s wise to master it, to be as skilled as we can be. Yet we we’ll never be a match for Satan, so what do we do?

First, we should acknowledge that Scripture is the sword of the Spirit (Ep 6:17): the Holy Spirit owns this sword: it belongs to Him and He knows best how to use it. Yet we must also realize that we are supposed to take up this holy sword: the Holy Spirit doesn’t fight with it all on His own, He expects us to pick it up and defend ourselves; there’s a synergistic dimension to this warfare.

Bottom line is we must become deeply familiar with His Word (Co 3:16), listen as God teaches us how to defend ourselves with it (Ps 119:19), and continually abide in Him as we’re doing battle. The scripture must become an extension of our minds and hearts, engrafted into our very being, much like the Holy Spirit. (Ja 1:21) We fight along with God, Who fights within and through us (Php 2:13), so we engage the enemy as a single, triune being: soul, Spirit and Sword. (2Co 10:4)

We should be consuming the Word constantly (Ps 1:2), in a consistent pattern of prayerful memorization and meditation, throughout the day, every day. (Ps 119:97) We should be exploring it both on our own and in community, challenging ourselves and others with the goal of learning how to better defend ourselves from lies, to firmly ground and strengthen ourselves in the truth, so we understand the divine way. (Ep 3:16-18)

It’s a discipline of building patterns of instinctive self-defense into ourselves with the Word, developing spiritual muscle-memory, learning how to wield His Sword in conflict. The more scripture we ingest, the more of it we internalize, so it becomes more a part of us, and the more the Spirit has to work with in defending us.

Then, we should be observant, alert, sober, vigilant (1Pe 5:8-9); as Satan is tempting us, we should notice what he is leveraging within us: what lies are we still holding on to, that he is able to exploit within us to lure us into pursuing an ungodly path? (2Co 2:11) We ask the Spirit to reveal this body of lies to us, and then guide us into those passages of scripture perfectly suited to shed light on our particular darkness. (Jn 8:31-32) Then we memorize these texts and meditate on them, asking Him to give us repentance, a deep change in our thinking so we believe Him and His Word, transforming and renewing us way down into our subconscious minds. (Ro 12:2)

Then, the next time Satan comes at us, we look for the lies (Jn 8:44) and quote the relevant scriptures like Yeshua did, reminding ourselves and reinforcing the truth within our spirits so the lies won’t be available for Satan to exploit. This is how we resist him, how we deliver ourselves from bondage and overcome the world. (2Ti 2:25-26)

And when we fail, as we all do, when we get ourselves into a spiritual rut, unable to deliver ourselves, we confess our faults, our patterns of iniquity and defeat, to those in spiritual community we trust, so they can pray for us and with us, shedding light on our darkness with the Word (Ac 26:17-18), that we may be healed. (Ja 5:16)

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