By Jesus’ deliverance from sin, Satan, and my afflictions
Just what is deliverance? The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary tells us that one of the definitions of the word means "the act of delivering someone or something; the state of being delivered; liberation, rescue." The greatest miracle that Jesus did for us was to give His own life so that we could not only have ours, but so that we could be forgiven by God. Jesus' death, taking on all of our sins upon Himself forever, and His resurrection, taking the sting out of death, allows us to reconnect with our very loving God, and to have an intimate relationship with Him forever.
Therefore, we who put our lives and trust in Jesus' hands have been delivered from our sins and from Satan. Because of this deliverance from Satan, we have peace knowing that we will be with Jesus forever in Heaven. We have been rescued by the only One who could do the rescuing. We have been liberated from Satan to where he can no longer defeat us in anything. He can tempt us to sin, yes, but he can never control you the way he once did before Jesus entered your life. Satan is a defeated foe and he knows it. Jesus said: "And the Helper (the Holy Spirit) will prove to them that judgment happened when the ruler of this world (Satan) was judged" (NCV/Emphasis mine).
Also, we have been delivered from our afflictions, our bad habits, our negativity, and our sinful natures, just to name a few. Jesus has delivered us from anything that would hinder our walk with Him. We have been delivered, but that does not always mean that we can't fall back into the above habits and negative attitudes, if we allow ourselves to lean on our own understanding instead of Jesus' commands. As it says in Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for GOD’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track" (MSG).
When we forget to include God in our daily lives and activities, whether we mean to or not, we can fall back into our old ways and have to start the climb back up to where we were spiritually before we fell. Don't let me sound as if I have conquered every bad habit I've had before Jesus came into my life, because I haven't. Like all of us, I find it hard to overcome certain aspects of my past. But that is not Jesus' fault – the blame rests squarely on my own shoulders, because I sometimes fail to give Him every part of my life. That's the problem with having free will and being a sinner. Having Jesus in my life doesn't stop me from sinning. If it did then I wouldn't have a continual need for a Savior.
But Jesus knew whom He was getting when He called me into the family of God. He knew that I would never be perfect as long as I am in the wearing this flesh. And He knows whom He is getting when He calls you into the family, too. That is where His deliverance has the most impact. When God looks at those of us who have placed their faith and trust in His Son, Jesus, all He sees is Jesus' righteousness and the work that He did on the cross. Isn't that something to shout hallelujah about! I will still sin, but because I gave Jesus my life, I have God's forgiveness. Every time I sin, and confess it to Him, He frees me from the stain the sin could have left on my heart, and restores me once again to a close relationship with Him. If you don't have Jesus in your life, then you are not forgiven for anything, and can't be forgiven until you accept Jesus as the only One who can deliver you from your sins for all time. Remember, only He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Another definition from the same dictionary is: "something delivered; an opinion or decision (as the verdict of a jury) expressed publicly". We could look at the "something delivered" as us, after we accept the Lordship of Jesus over our lives. But the second part gives us a different way of looking at what was delivered when added with the first part of this definition.
"An opinion or decision (as the verdict of a jury) expressed publicly." Who's on trial here? And who delivered the opinion, or judgment, of the court in a public setting? Think about the whole universe being on trial. Someone, at sometime, declared the world guilty. We, humanity, and the whole of creation, are the ones who have been convicted of the great crime of sin by a Holy God. John 16:8-11 says of the Holy Sprit: "He will come to convict the world of sin, to show the world what has God’s approval, and to convince the world that God judges it. He will convict the world of sin, because people don’t believe in me. He will show the world what has God’s approval, because I’m going to the Father and you won’t see me anymore. He will convince the world that God judges it, because the ruler of this world has been judged" (GW). God Himself declares us guilty when He compares us to His perfect, sinless nature. Throughout human history, God, through His prophets, His children, and especially His Son, Jesus Christ, has been handing down the guilty verdict to an uncaring, blind, hard-hearted, unhearing mankind that He created.
Through Scripture, God has not only been telling us that we are sinful, evil, and worthy of death, He has also been telling us that there is a Way to avoid the evil in ourselves, the pain of death, and an eternity without Him. His Word, the Bible, also tells us how to live our lives in such a way that suffering can be minimized, avoided, and totally wiped out. Every book of the Bible tells you how to live, as God wants us to live. Jesus, Himself, in the Sermon on the Mount, gave us the greatest sermon on living as a child of God that God will bless.
Like little children, we have decided to go our own way without God and Jesus, much to our dismay and pain. We don't want to follow the rules that can keep us from harm. God says don't steal, but if you steal and get caught, there is a penalty to pay for your incorrect judgment. Do you think He made these rules just to keep you from having fun your way? If we all took a tiny second to look at all the rules we have laid down in our society, we would find that most of them are there for our protection. I don't know about you, but I want to live as a free man unburdened from any guilt over actions that I did that could have been avoided if I had just listened to the rules.
Jesus came down the to earth and, in many public settings, proclaimed to us how God, our Father, wants us to live so that we can all live together in harmony and peace, something that today's world is sorely missing. Jesus didn't say these things to limit us as human beings. He said them so that we can be free as human beings to do the right things that we know our hearts truly want to do. The more we follow God's ways, the less suffering we will cause ourselves, and others, thereby allowing all of us to live together as God created us to live, and that is as forgiven and free-from-sin's-guilt-and-condemnation children of God.
Nothing is beyond Jesus. There is no suffering that escapes His notice. There is no hurt or pain that He doesn't feel with you. Just remember that suffering is not always a bad thing, and should be approached with an attitude of "What do you want me to learn from this, God?" If you ask, He will show you. All suffering should point us to Jesus; for it is only through Him that we will find peace and comfort. When you do suffer, remember to tell yourself that nothing is beyond Jesus -- nothing at all.
Now that we have defined the meaning of deliverance as it pertains to Jesus, let's see what it means for us as children of God.
Jesus’ continued deliverance brings me hope.
Someday, I will be delivered from all my afflictions, bad habits, and addictions. "Someday!" you ask? "I thought that Jesus will deliver me from all of those things when I give my life to Him. You mean I may be stuck with this addiction to alcohol once I'm saved?" That depends on whether you want Jesus to heal you of these afflictions. We humans have a great way of saying we are sorry for something we've done to someone, but go right back and do it again to the same person. How many times have you hit your wife only to apologize, but hit her again later when she "makes" you angry again? How many times have we asked Jesus to take and heal us of our addictions only to turn around and take then back by repeating the act over and over again?
You see, Jesus will not take things from you that you don't want Him to take. That would make Jesus out to be a thief. Jesus is much kinder than that. He will only take from you what you are willing to surrender to Him. If you want Him to heal your whole life (mind, body, and soul), you have to give Him your whole life, and everything in it. But how many of us can't, or are unwilling, to give it all? The answer is "All of Us!" Even with Jesus in our lives, there are just some things we will not, or cannot, give up doing or saying. Jesus isn't some grand magician in the sky who zaps all of your fears and troubles away. But what He will do for you is give you the strength to change those things about yourself that you, and especially He, want to see changed.
This is where our hope in Jesus' continued deliverance of us comes from. 2 Corinthians 10:13 put it nicely: "He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us…” We will continually be fighting against our flesh and the powers and principalities of Satan for the rest of our lives. Satan wants us to keep sinning because he believes that God can't love us if we keep on falling into sin.
Believe it or not, Satan knows the Word of God all too well, but somehow has seemed to miss the Apostle Paul's admonition to and about himself when he said, "So I’ve discovered this truth: Evil is present with me even when I want to do what God’s standards say is good. I take pleasure in God’s standards in my inner being. However, I see a different standard at work throughout my body. It is at war with the standards my mind sets and tries to take me captive to sin’s standards which still exist throughout my body. What a miserable person I am! Who will rescue me from my dying body? I thank God that our Lord Jesus Christ rescues me! So I am obedient to God’s standards with my mind, but I am obedient to sin’s standards with my corrupt nature" (Romans 7:21-25/GW). If anyone questions you about how you, as a Christian, can still sin, let him or her know of this Scripture. It may just open their eyes to the reality of your life, and theirs, as a member of a fallen human race.
God always promises me a way out of every temptation.
Our desire to sin (yes, it is a desire. Try stopping yourself on your own power and see if your flesh doesn't cry out in pain until you give in) will always be with us, Christian or not. But there is a big difference between a Christian's sin and the sins of an unbeliever: When you have given control of your life over to Jesus, you now have His strength to avoid giving into sin. If you have not given control of your live over to Jesus, you have only your own, inadequate strength to stop yourself from giving into the desire to sin. Don't get me wrong, I, as a Christian, can still sin, and often do, but, as a Christian, God can forgive my sins because I know His Son, Jesus. Also, God promises me a way out of every temptation Satan throws at me. God knows me very well, and knows that I am going to sin occasionally, but because I know His Son, He will forgive me of my sin every time I ask Him to. Because of my acceptance and love for His Son, Jesus, God will always forgive me. He may not always like what I do, but because of the work of Jesus in my life, God loves with an unfailing, agape love that I can always count on.
Satan would like nothing more for me to so completely fall back into a sinful life that he will stop at nothing to achieve his plans. If he can accomplish this giant feat, and wrestle me away from the commands of God, then he will have ruined my witness for Jesus, and anything I write would be met with scorn and mistrust from those who knew that I wasn't living up to what I preach. We all know that Satan has done just that to some whom we have looked up to and trusted as preachers of God's Word. The most recent being Bishop Eddie Long's alleged dealings with young teenage men. About twenty-five years ago, Jim Baker and his wife, Tammy, took money from their ministry and used it for personal gain. He is still trying to reclaim his good name even today, after all this time. I personally know of an ex-priest who embezzled a half a million dollars from his congregation and is looking at seventeen months in jail. Each one of these men's witness for Jesus Christ have been completely trashed. Satan will try to destroy you any way he can. If you don't know Jesus, then Satan already has you wrapped around his little finger. Stop giving him the time of day and turn to Jesus to save you from Satan's wrath and power.
How do we fight against Satan when he is tempting us? We find the answer in 1 Corinthians 10:13: "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." You see, God always gives you a way out of every temptation. The power of God is stronger than any temptation Satan brings to bear on your flesh and mind. First, God will not let you be tempted any more than you can bear. What does that mean? It means that God knows your weaknesses and strengths, and will never let Satan tempt you in an area where He knows you will definitely fall.
For example, during my first marriage, before I came to know Jesus, I was addicted to pornography, and all that goes with it, because of the sexual abuse I went through as a small child, except that I did not fall into an adulterous relationship. For all I was doing with pornography and with a great desire for sex, I did not physically stray from my marriage because I was not the kind of man to do that to my wife. I believe God knew in my heart that was something I just couldn't do, and He never let me be tempted in that way. God knew my strength in that area and knew that, if I had fallen into that kind of relationship, the guilt and shame I would have felt would have crushed me to the point of taking my own life. But that is not what He wanted for me.
God also knows my weaknesses and how easily it is for me to fall into certain temptations that would cause me pain and suffering. At the same time, He is working me like clay into a conformance of the likeness of Jesus. When the temptation to sin in those areas come up, I don't always fall into them, for when I call on God to strengthen me, He gives me His strength to overcome the temptation. Apart from His strength, there are a lot of ways to tell Satan to take a hike and leave us alone. It would take many articles to describe them all, but here is a short list, and I ask you to consult your Bible to find out the full meaning of each one in combating Satan and his fiery darts. They include prayer, putting on the Armor of God, worship, memorizing Scripture, knowing the meaning of the Scriptures that talk about how Satan tempts us, and many more. But you must decide to access the power of God, for God will not give you what you do not want. You must ask Him to help you in your time of struggle. Even though God knows what you need, He waits for you to realize that you can do nothing without His help and waits for you to humble yourself to ask Him. God has never forced Himself on any body.
Jesus was tempted the same as I am so He could understand and help me in my own suffering
Hebrews 2:18 tells us, "Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." Jesus was tempted in every way that are today. Jesus did not escape from any of Satan's wiles without a way out. Jesus counted on the Word of God to beat Satan into submission. God's Word (Jesus and the Bible) is the strongest weapon we have against Satan's temptations. The more Scripture you know, the easier it will be to get Satan off your back and out of your mind. Satan gets us to suffer by tempting us in areas he knows we are weak. He knows that going against your strengths won't get him anywhere. But if he can get you at your weakest point, he can keep a toehold in your life, and get you to do things you normally wouldn't do. If he can get you to change your mind about something you know to be a sin, and get you to believe that it's okay just this one time, then he's got you in his snare and won't let go until you tell him to by using the Word of God as your sword.
Let's take a look at the time Jesus went into the desert to be tested and tempted by Satan to see if He would fall to Satan and worship him, or if He would continue to trust God for the strength to survive the ordeal. Let's take it one temptation at a time to see just when the temptation was and how Jesus overcame it. Matthew 4:1-4 reads -- Next Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was ready to give it. Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights. That left him, of course, in a state of extreme hunger, which the Devil took advantage of in the first test: “Since you are God’s Son, speak the word that will turn these stones into loaves of bread.” Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth” (MSG).
Notice the second line of Scripture, “The Devil was ready to give it.” Picture Satan, if you will, as a rabid dog, angry, ferocious, and with foam pouring out of His mouth -- He couldn’t wait to get at Jesus. He knew who the Son of God was, and knew that, if he could get Jesus to fall quickly, and be disobedient to God thereby ruining Jesus’ witness for God, then he, Satan, could get control of the earth a lot sooner than he had ever imagined. The only Person that stood in his way was Jesus. Satan’s prize was in his grasp. He knew that Jesus was here from God, but he didn’t know the full extent of Jesus’ ministry and just how powerful Jesus’ Gospel was going to be. But he knows it now and will stop at nothing to keep it from being spread to all of humanity. But he truly underestimated the power of God in the life of His children.
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then you are the Devil’s enemy. You are hated more than you realize by an enemy that you can’t even see. If you are constantly being tempted to sin as a Christian, then I want you to rejoice! Satan hated Jesus first, and he hates you even more because you want the same thing Jesus wants – the entire deliverance of the whole human race from Satan’s evil ways. In what ways are you being tempted? How are you defeating Satan when he does tempt you? Jesus used the Word of God. As Hebrews 4:12 tells us, "God’s word is alive and working and is sharper than a double-edged sword" (NCV). The Word of God has power and will cut through any lie of Satan with the truth of God. Are you being tempted with a material desire, an illicit relationship, money, power, fame, or food? Satan simply tempted Jesus with bread, just as he tempted Eve with fruit. Are you falling into the sin more than you’d like to?
Matthew 4:5-7 continues --For the second test the Devil took him to the Holy City. He sat him on top of the Temple and said, “Since you are God’s Son, jump.” The Devil goaded him by quoting Psalm 91: “He has placed you in the care of angels. They will catch you so that you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone.” Jesus countered with another citation from Deuteronomy: “Don’t you dare test the Lord your God” (MSG). In these verses, we find Satan tempting Jesus with power that Jesus already had. Are you a bigwig in your job who is stepping on everyone around you, as you climb to get up as high in the business as you can? Is the temptation to lord yourself over your employees until you are hated by all who work for you? Are you doing all of this in ways that are unethical or against the law? If any of this seems too familiar to you then you must be told that Satan is the boss of your life right now. If God has a promotion in store for you in the future, then you must not test Him by trying to force His hand in the matter. He may still give you what you want, but it may not have the joyful outcome you expected. He may still promote you, but you may have lost friends and family on the way to the top, and where is the joy in that? Do not test the Lord you God.
Matthew 4:8-11 tells the rest -- For the third test, the Devil took him on the peak of a huge mountain. He gestured expansively, pointing out all the earth’s kingdoms, how glorious they all were. Then he said, “They’re yours—lock, stock, and barrel. Just go down on your knees and worship me, and they’re yours.” Jesus’ refusal was curt: “Beat it, Satan!” He backed his rebuke with a third quotation from Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God, and only him. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness. ”The Test was over. The Devil left. And in his place, angels! Angels came and took care of Jesus’ needs (MSG). Again, Satan offered something that Jesus already had. The Devil wanted Jesus to gain the kingdoms of the world just a little bit sooner than God had planned.
Is this economy affecting you badly? Do you have to resort to underhanded ways to put food on the table for your children? Have you had to steal food from a store, risking everything to stay alive? Have you had to steal money from the cash register at your job to put gas in the car just so you could get to work? Unfortunately, many are doing just that, and many are getting caught and are being thrown in jail for their crimes. Satan will continually tempt you to obtain good things while at the same time telling you that you won’t get caught.
Where am I leading in all of this? It’s simple: I am leading you to the One who is your All-in-all, and who is your Provider for everything you need in this life to live free. In your suffering, in the good and bad times, God is always there to give you everything you need for life. God is an abundant giver; He owns it all, and gives it freely to those who ask in Jesus’ Name. If you worship the Lord your God, through Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, then you will be teaming up with the right side. Satan doesn’t want you to live at all. He wants to make your life here on this earth a living hell, and he won’t stop until he has you -- unless you know the right Person. Jesus will deliver you from everything that He doesn’t want in your life. Again, He may take a little time to do it, but He will do it. He promised. Take the time to tell Satan to go and take a flying leap off of his own temple, read the Word of God, and take Jesus up on His promises to deliver you. He stands at the door and is knocking. Will you answer?