Are There Limits on Satan

Arlington church of Christ, Cincinnati, OhioSomeone asked the question: Why does God allow Satan to still attack us, while 2Pet 2:4 tells us that angels that sinned were put into dungeons to be held until judgment? Why doesn’t God lock Satan away too?

The bible scriptures tell us in 1Pet 5:8 “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Satan is still roaming the earth, unlike the sinning angels. Peter warns us to be on guard against him. But just because he is roaming around doesn’t mean that God has no control over him. Remember what God told Satan in the book of Job – twice, God allowed Satan to do certain things to Job as tests, but God always set limits on Satan. Job 1:12 “The Lord said to Satan,’Very well then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.’” And again in Job 2:6 “The Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.’” While Satan was given leeway to do certain things, he did not have the power to go beyond the limits set by God.

Even now, God has put limits on the temptations that Satan can afflict us with. 1Cor 10:13 tells us that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. Satan is allowed to tempt us, and some of the temptations may be very hard to overcome, but God has put His limits in place so that we will be able to resist the temptation if we look for the way out that God provides. James 4:7 “Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” So Satan too is limited, although currently not in the same way those sinning angels are.

So why is Satan still allowed to tempt us at all? For the same reason that he was allowed to tempt Eve in the garden – God always allows us to choose our course of action. We were created with free will, the ability to choose what we will do. If we choose to follow God, then He is honored and receives glory. If we choose to disobey and sin, then God is offended and separated from us by our sin. Isa 59:1-2 We are part of a great battle between the forces of God and those who have rejected God’s authority and chosen to follow Satan. Those on each side are watching the conflict and observing how we respond to the challenges laid before us.

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A Time to Think

Bible Lessons (2)Right now is a great time to think about your soul. Just a little while ago, we celebrated Thanksgiving, thanking the Lord for his blessings and care. And now Christmas has just passed, when people think on the birth of Jesus even if the Bible doesn’t say what day he was born or give us any instructions to celebrate that day, whenever it was. In just a few more days, we will celebrate New Year’s Day, and think about a time of new beginnings. All of these could lead us to God and His Son , if we would only think about them in a spiritual way.

If any of this encourages people to think about their souls, then the chances to reach them with the gospel increases. When a person is thinking about God, spiritual things, and their souls, then they are much more likely to apply what they hear or read to their lives. And when we obey Jesus and find forgiveness of sins, salvation, and the promise of heaven, then their life can literally change.

Now is a great time to think about your soul – right now! Paul wrote in 2 Cor 6:2 ….. I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. Right now, is the time to think about your soul. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, what day or month it is, or what time of the day – Right now is the time to think about the salvation of your soul!

You see, right now is the only time that we have for sure. Yesterday, or even a minute ago is already gone and cannot be retrieved. Tomorrow, or even an hour from now is not guaranteed – and is uncertain. It may come and it may not, but Now is here and available. You can do something now, but before you know it the opportunity will be gone. Some live their lives expecting to have another chance, and then another one in an endless string. But it is a fact that somewhere along the way your string of ‘now’ moments will come to an end. Then there will be no more opportunities to change things and save your eternal soul. We do not know when that last chance may be – perhaps even today, maybe even as you finish reading this. Don’t let the opportunity pass you by – think about your soul, and obey the Lord. Right now is the time to make things right with God.

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A Name or a Number

Bible Scripture TruthThe story is told about a census taker who was making his rounds when he came upon a woman hanging clothes on an outside clothesline. ‘Madam’, he said, ‘I am taking the census and I need to know how many people live here.’ She replied, “Well, my name is Mary, and then there is Marcia, Patrick, Duggie, Amy, and …” The worker broke in – ‘Just give me a number, I don’t want the names’. To which the woman replied, ‘I’ll have you know, Sir, that we ain’t into numbering yet, we still haven’t run out of names.’

Our world is filled with so many people that we can easily feel insignificant. No one wants to know our name. They just want our number – social security, Medicare, I.D., or another string of numbers. It is a very impersonal world and we are just one of the masses. We end up feeling very lonely even when we are surrounded by large crowds. We can be tempted to listen to Satan’s whisper that we really don’t matter to God – that He is too busy taking care of the ‘world’ to deal with one person and their problems.

But in the eyes of our God, each of us is known personally, even before we were born – Psalm 139:13 “ For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” And in Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart, I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

We are also told that even our lifespan is known by the Lord – Psalm 139:16 “ Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” And not only does our Lord know each of us individually, but He is concerned about the daily needs of our life – Matthew 6:25-26 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” And we are told that the Lord knows even the smallest details of our lives – Matthew 10:30 “ And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” And Hebrews 4:13 – “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account”.

But perhaps the greatest blessing from our God is that of His concern and care for our eternal souls. He knew us, He loved us, and supplied the way of forgiveness while we were still rejecting Him – Romans 5:6-8. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Won’t you recognize that love and respond to it today – God loves you, Christ died for you to show that love, and He knows what is happening in your life minute by minute. He cares for you, individually!

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A Little Compromise

Church of Christ ScripturesOne key difference between the Church of Christ and the Christian church is the use of instrumental music in the worship. The following are two true stories from J.W. McGarvey about his experiences in this matter.

In the 1870’s, J.W. McGarvey was one of the elders of the Lexington Church, and he with the other elders approved a small instrument to be placed in the church building basement for the young people to use to help improve their singing. No one, especially McGarvey, would ever have thought of moving it upstairs to be used in the worship service. They had used only acapella singing as the Bible instructed and had no intention of violating the scriptures.

Years went by and the youngsters grew up and took their places in the worship upstairs. Then in November 1902, a move was made to introduce instrumental music into the worship service. A vote was taken and the result was 370 for, 202 against. What was unthinkable a few years before was now voted in by men, and McGarvey’s conscience would not allow him to remain with that church and he went elsewhere.

While one may admire McGarvey’s stand on principle in 1902, the elders small compromise in allowing that small instrument to be put in the basement in the first place led to the introduction of the organ into the worship service by those who were likely trained by its use in that basement.

In January 1903, at the Pearl and Bryan Street Church of Christ in Dallas, Texas, brother McGarvey was asked to speak and was sitting on the front row next to brother Jesse P. Sewell. He leaned over and said to brother Sewell, “You are on the right road, and whatever you do, do not let anyone persuade you that you can successfully combat error by fellowshipping it and going along with it.

I have tried, I believed at the start that was the only way to do it. I have never held membership in a congregation that used instrumental music. I have, however, accepted the invitation to preach without distinction between churches that use it and those that do not. I have gone along with their papers and magazines and things of the sort. During those years, I taught the truth as the New Testament teaches it to every young preacher who has passed through the College of the Bible. Yet I do not know of more than six of those men who are preaching the truth today. Compromise, even a little, will not work.”

You see, what may seem to be a harmless compromise can lead to things that we never envisioned would occur. We must remain true to the word of God and never compromise in large or small ways. Our actions as Christians will influence others toward the truth or put things in their way that will make likely to stray from the word of God. May we make up our minds never to compromise.

Arlington church of Christ in Cincinnati, Ohio

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Judging Fairly Matthew Chapter 7 1-5

Judging Fairly
Judging Fairly
Matt 7:1-5 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you too will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye. How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’ ,when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye
.”
Jesus is appealing to the highest ideals of the rabbis. The Jewish rabbis taught that there were six great ‘works’ in this life: studying the scriptures, visiting the sick, showing hospitality, prayer, educating children in the law, and thinking the best of others. Think of how often you have misjudged others or been misjudged by them. Our judgment of others is faulty because we do not know all the situations, background, and especially their motives -1Cor 2:11. We know what they did, but not WHY they did it. We may not know the facts they faced, or the strength of a particular temptation.

It is impossible for us to be completely impartial in our judgments. We are swayed by attraction or repulsion by certain people. The Greeks would sometimes hold difficult trials in total darkness, so the defendant could not be seen or recognized, and only the facts considered. Only one who is totally impartial has the right to judge, and since none but God is impartial, only He can make right judgments.

Jesus is teaching that no one has the right to judge or criticize another unless he is prepared to do better in the same situation. Please note that Jesus is not condemning all evaluations of whether an action is right or wrong. What He is condemning is the hypocritical evaluation of others. We are told to discipline the erring brother – 1Cor 5. That requires that an evaluation be made of actions, but it is not being made on the basis of our own thoughts, but on the comparison to God’s standard of conduct for us in His word. If we use His word, then He is judging – not us – and His judgment is just. We cannot condemn others, but we can condemn their actions when they violate the word of God. That is the duty of Christians – to apply the words of the Bible to the things we see happening around us and speak out in defense of God and His standards. We can ‘judge’ properly if we use His judgments, not our own or those of society. We are to try to help others live in harmony with God’s will by pointing out what He expects. But we must also apply those same principles and laws to our own lives. Let us examine our own lives first in the mirror of God’s word. James 1:23-25.

Gospel Lesson by the Arlington Church of Christ Located in Cincinnati, Ohio

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