The Old Testament Law was very specific when it came to personal injuries. Exodus 21:23-24 says, “But if there’s serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” And Leviticus 24:19-20 went on to direct, “If anyone injures his neighbor, whatever he has done must be done to him: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. As he has injured the other, so he is to be injured.” So when Jesus spoke these words of passive resistance and tolerance rather than retaliation and revenge…it turned these Old Testament Laws on their heads. Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, came to earth declaring a message of love and harmony with our fellow man…and not of repaying evil for evil. (Romans 12:17 & I Peter 3:9)
It’s vital to know the enemy and his mode of operation…ask anyone who has served in the armed forces. The Scripture here is a lament or an oracle against Satan. It speaks of him being created blameless but then allowing wickedness and willful rebellious pride to enter him. Our enemy, Satan, also has many alias or aka – Lucifer, prince of this world, father of lies, the evil one, the devil, our adversary, a deceptive angel of light. His mode of operation is simple and yet very effective…it’s destruction, deception, and death. But it’s also essential to know the enemy’s limitations. It tells us in the Bible that if we resist the devil he must flee.(James 4:7) And when we are equipped with the armor of God, we are able stand against him victoriously. (Ephesians 6:11) Finally and most importantly…the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (I John 4:4)
Godlessness can be very subtle, clever, and hardly noticeable to others. That’s because deception can be just as sly in twisting a truth ever so slightly…or planting a seed of doubt in an otherwise confident mind. For anytime we put our trust in ourselves…in our own way, we’re not putting our faith in God. We may think we’ve got this and don’t need God’s help, but Psalm 33:6 tells us that, “No king is saved by the size of his army, no warrior escapes by his great strength.” God is very direct in this verse in Hosea…if you purse godlessness, you will be destroyed. For anytime we put our hope in our own actions rather than God, we can but only reap trouble. (Job 4:8)
Whenever God is the agent of trials (temptations)…it’s for the purpose of testing, never for the purpose of causing us to fall. For God can’t be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone. (James 1:13) And with each test, He will not only never tempt you beyond what you can bear, but He will also provide a way out. (I Corinthians 10:13) But we know our biggest adversary when it comes to temptation is the devil…the evil one. In this verse of the Lord’s Prayer, we are asking to be rescued from evil or the evil one. This statement is echoed in the Prayer of Jabez which says, “..Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me far from evil, that I may not cause pain.” ( I Chronicles 4:10) NKJV So anytime we ask God to keep us from the evil one…the devil must flee.
Even within my lifetime I’ve seen this huge shift of what we consider right and wrong. And with the advent of mass media, the Internet, Snap-Chat, YouTube, and Hollywood…we see our societal mores slowly morphing into something our Great-grandparents would be appalled at. But this blurring of ethical principles and practices didn’t happen overnight…for it relied on man’s pride, rebellion and apathy to flourish. So now we sit, so desensitized, we don’t even react anymore to what we know is wrong…but if we do, we’ll likely find ourselves being chastised for being intolerant and narrow-minded. Job 24:13 warns of this Spiritual blindness…of evildoers who rebel against the light, who don’t know its ways or stay in its path. I ask Heavenly Father, that we would be enlightened by Your Word, and that You would illuminate our minds with Your truth, that we may be able to discern right and wrong correctly. Amen.
For the next few days I’m going to writing on the familiar verses in the 13th Chapter of I Corinthians, also known as the Love Chapter. These verses tell us what Christian love should look like. But even more importantly, they tell us what selfish self-centered love looks like. The love Jesus taught of was an unconditional agape love…love that is compassionate, and understanding…refusing to retaliate or repay evil with evil. But the love the world teaches of is egotistical, self-absorbed, and arrogant….refusing to put others first. These verses will look at both types of love…selfish and unselfish, and their impact on the world.
I love nightlights! I’ll admit I have at least 8 spread throughout the house, casting their subtle radiance so I won’t trip and fall in the dark. God’s truth is like a nightlight into our darkness…showing us His way so we won’t stumble. But when we choose to not live by the light of His truth, we are easily deceived and blinded by lies that only foster hatred and distrust against our fellow-man. When we love one another, the light of God’s truth illuminates situations, obstacles, and personalities for what they really are…exposing hurting hearts and revealing with honesty how we’re more alike than different.
To move towards loving one another…we must move away from hate, anger, and bitterness. Here in Ephesians we are told to get rid of these negative traits and emotions. Interestingly enough, the Greek word for “get rid of” in this verse actually means to put away vices. Vices, a word you don’t hear often…a word that according to the Dictionary means habitual faults or undesirable behavior patterns. Sadly, too many children take into adulthood bad behaviors that were first modeled for them by their parents. They watch as their family inappropriately handles conflict and confrontation, and listen as others are slandered and vilified around the dining-room table. We learn what we see and hear, but that doesn’t mean we can’t put off our old fleshly nature and move away from adverse behaviors that are causing us pain and resentment.
Romans 12:17 tells us to, “not repay anyone evil for evil”…and I Corinthians 13:6 reminds us that, “Love doesn’t delight in evil.” The war of words is waged on a bloody battlefield… with many casualties and walking wounded that never recover from the pain inflicted by unkind and caustic words. When we simply take a moment and answer a mean verbal attack with kindness instead…it defuses the situation immediately…for we deprive the enemy of ammunition.