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Must We Give Thanks for the Works of satan?
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Must We Give Thanks for the Works of satan?
By Patricia Backora, author of the book
Tough Love in Christ's Millennium
Which you can order online from: http://www.publishamerica.com
Today a hard-to-swallow doctrine is going around, supposedly drawn from Ephesians 5:20: Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. At first glance, it seems you must interpret that verse to mean you must give thanks for everything that exists in this universe. Even if an unsaved workmate mails a Christian man a stack of porn magazines for his birthday to wind him up, thanks must be given unto God for them. Okay, there might be a loophole here. Maybe the Christian man is freezing to death and needs fuel for his fireplace. Then he could go back to work the next day and thank his workmate for how those magazines warmed up his life. But what if the Christian opened his Bible for guidance to find out what his attitude should be toward the magazines, and opened up to Luke 10:8? In that verse Jesus tells His disciples to eat such things as are set before them. So how does the man apply that verse to this particular thing that has entered his life? If he truly thinks that all things are sent to him by the Lord and he has no right to reject anything, then no problem. So the man's reasoning goes like this: Reading is mental eating, and God did not prevent the magazines from coming to him, so why not thank God for them and enjoy them? So the man says grace over the magazines and feasts his eyes on the centerfold.
Preposterous, isn't it? But that's one example of how you must be discerning in the interpretation and application of Scripture. What decent Christian man would say grace over satan's centerfold and devour it? To apply such a twisted interpretation of "eat such things as are set before you" would mean you have to violate another Scripture: I will set no evil thing before mine eyes. I hate the work of them that turn aside (err from the truth). It shall not cleave unto me (Psalms 101:3). To give thanks for something is to accept it. If you refuse to let some evil thing cleave unto you, then you also refuse to accept it.
On a far more serious note, say some prowler breaks into that believer's house and assaults his wife in front of him. Embrace All Evil Theology expects the husband to stand idly by and not to resist the evil going on, even if his wife gets killed in the attack. Instead, the man ought to give thanks for the trial his wife is going through, because some good might possibly spring from it. Instead of fighting off her attacker and crying out for her husband's help, the woman ought to embrace the rapist as a blessing sent by God as a teacher to help her learn patience, longsuffering and unconditional forgiveness. According to Embrace All Evil Theology, her husband would be stunting his wife's spiritual growth by rescuing her and chasing the assailant away. And worse yet, he would be robbing the rapist of the chance to see unconditional Christian love, longsuffering, and forgiveness in action. Nonsense! What decent man would stand idly by with folded hands while his wife is screaming for help?
Did God send the rapist who attacked the hypothetical victim? No, satan did! Did God inspire the Christian man's workmate to send the porn magazines to teach the Christian something? No, satan did! So who is due thanksgiving if the Christian insists on thanking someone? The devil! It is his ministry to steal, kill, and destroy, and I don't know how on earth anybody can thank God for the ministry of satan which caused the ruination of the human race through the Fall of Adam, and resulted in Christ having to suffer all the horrible things He did to remedy that ruination. Embrace All Evil is one of satan's most insidious religious lies going around in Christian circles today, and it is all the more dangerous because it sounds oh, so self-sacrificing and religiously spiritual. But it is really a modern version of the hairshirt and flagellation penance of the Dark Ages. The form might be different but the essence is the same.
There is another verse in the Old Testament which reminds us to be thankful for "all things" with rejoicing. It is set in the middle of a whole chapter full of terrible consequences (curses) which can befall you if you don't have a thankful attitude toward all the many ways God has blessed you. Emotional and physical sicknesses, tragedies, lack of basic necessities and defeats of all kinds are visited upon the disobedient and unthankful as punishment. Verse 47 gives the reason for all the heartbreaking hurts listed there: Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things.
Once again, you encounter the phrase "all things". Just what "all things" does God mean? Is He rebuking the children of Israel because they didn't thank Him for a locust plague, leprosy or battle casualties? No, God is reproving them for failing to thank Him for good things like food and the good land He'd given them. And it matters not that that passage happens to be in the Old Testament. I Corinthians 10:1-10 also speaks of the terrible fate of the children of Israel who complained against God. They were bitten by serpents and died. The serpent symbolizes satan. Verse 11 says those things were written as an example for us, that is, those of us who live in the Church Age. It is just as undesirable for us to be bitten by serpents now as it was for Old Testament believers to be bitten by serpents.
Here is what Jesus had to say about serpents wrapped up as gifts, and how they differ from the kind of gifts God gives to His children: Or, what man is there of you, if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give GOOD GIFTS unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give GOOD THINGS to them that ask him? (Matt.7:9-10). If you are given a serpent, then you should pray and find out whether satan gave you that serpent. You can still thank God in the situation, because He has the power to send that serpent back to its rightful owner, satan.
In I Timothy 6:17 Paul writes: Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, Who giveth us richly all things to enjoy. Which "all things" does Paul mean here? Does God send us heartbreak or hunger to enjoy? Those two things would be part of the universal collection of all things that exist, but common sense tells you that you cannot enjoy all things now in existence in a sin-tainted universe which has not yet been renovated by God. Although you are forced to endure many things in this life, and must seek God's grace to get the victory over them.
Paul speaks in another place of this idea of God giving us all things to enjoy in Acts 14:17: Nevertheless he (God) left not Himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. Paul did not tell his listeners that the goodness of God is displayed to mankind in disease plagues and other forms of satanic oppression.
A similar passage is found in the first section of Deuteronomy 28, before you get into all those terrible curses for disobedience. This particular section of the chapter details the blessings for obedience, as distinguished from the curses. I'll cite just verse 12: The Lord shall open unto thee His good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and shalt not borrow. Notice, this verse is similar to what Paul said about rain from heaven and fruitful seasons. That is what God means by blessing His people. Good means good and bad means bad. If God has changed His mind about what is a blessing and what isn't, Paul would not have preached to the heathen about abundance of food and refreshing rain being sent by God to demonstrate His goodness toward men.
Has God changed His definition of good things and bad things? I don't think so. A certain politician got caught in a lie and tried to wiggle out of it. He was asked something like: "Is the allegation true?" His unforgettable reply: "It all depends on what your definition of 'is' is. God doesn't talk out of both sides of His mouth like a politician does. His definition of what 'is' is hasn't changed with the changing of Biblical dispensations, and neither has His definition of 'good' changed!
Every good gift and and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of Lights, with whom is no variableness (change), neither shadow of turning (James 1:17). So who do you think evil gifts come from?
Now I'll bring up one verse which theologians of opposite persuasions have wrangled over because it's been sensationalized too much by money-obsessed Faith Theology preachers. But you can't throw the baby out with the bath water, and it means just what it says. 3 John 2: Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
I believe strongly that the "Jesus-died-to-make-you-a-millionaire" Theology is a Scripture-twisting heresy, so I was tempted to agree with those who said that verse was only a nice salutation, and that was all it meant. But this epistle was written by John, one of Jesus' disciples. John was not one to go around buttering up men in high places with empty, idle words. Jesus warned that every idle word we speak we would have to give account of in the day of Judgment. So I doubt very much John would have penned that verse lightly, saying that he wished ABOVE ALL THINGS (there we have the phrase 'all things' again!) that Gaius would prosper and be in health, as his soul prospers.
If John intended that blessing he wrote to Gaius as only a social nicety, it was just an idle (non-productive) word. But the fact that unscrupulous Faith teachers have preached on that verse and misused it does not mean that verse is not a real part of the Word of God. John could have written instead: "Brother, I wish above all things that your fiery trials would get worse. I wish all manner of sickness and mishaps would come into your life so you would have more opportunities to grow in grace." With a friendly salutation like that, Gaius would have said: "With friends like that, who needs enemies!"
If "all things" is to be applied to a prayer of thanksgiving in a universal sense, then God should have accepted the prayer of the self-righteous Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14: God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
The Pharisee made a show of giving God thanks for his own goodness. Even the Pharisee's hypocrisy would be part of the universal collection of "all things" in existence, bad as it is. If Universal Thanksgiving is a valid doctrine, God should have been as pleased as punch to get that prayer. That good olí boy Pharisee had a whole list of religious things he'd done to outshine others and the Pharisee thanked God for those things. But did God approve of that particular act of thanksgiving? Apparently not. It was the sinful tax collector who went to his house justifed, rather than the thanks-giving Pharisee. The Pharisee should have prayed a prayer of repentance on that occasion, rather than thanking God for the religious things he'd done. If Universal Thanksgiving were a valid doctrine, the sinful tax collector might have given thanks for his own imperfect deeds like the Pharisee. His sins were bad things, but they were things nonetheless. Universal Thanksgiving would even permit the thieving tax collector to give God thanks for the money he filched out of some poor widow!
If I were to go eat a meal with someone and we were about to say grace over our plates, I could concentrate either on thanking God for what's on my own plate or silently offer thankfulness for the food that's on everone else's plates too. I could even give thanks for the food left in the kitchen. I could, in my heart, offer up thanks for every item that is in the room or all things which exist in the universe. I remember one little girl who volunteered to say grace over a meal. As her parents fidgeted while the food got colder, she thanked God for the pictures on the walls, the flowers, the blue sky, and everything she could think of in her little girl world. It brings a smile to my face to ponder the sincere thankfulness of a tiny child. But it never occurred to that child to thank God for the last time she had a cold, or for the last bad dream she had.
Supppose you are a missionary in Africa who is eating with some natives round a camp fire. You are about to say grace over your plate. But you see a cockroach on the edge of the plate. You wish you could just order a fresh plate of food, but you don't want to offend your hosts who must live daily in unsanitary conditions. So you just brush the roach off your plate. Then you thank God for "all things" on your plate, trusting that the food is sanctified and fit to eat, and won't kill you. You did not thank God for the roach, but you did thank God for everything that remained on your plate and ate it after God blessed it unto its intended use, as I've often heard country church folks say.
We do not have to give thanks for the evil things satan puts on our plate. Unless God shows us to leave the roach on our plate we have every right to fight to brush it off our plate, to prevent the devil from destroying any part of our lives. The curses of Deuteronomy 28 were many and varied, but they all had one thing in common: whoever suffered those afflictions saw some part of their life destroyed. If satan can't put all of you in your grave, he will at least try to destroy part of your life. The devil is a thief as well as a liar. If he cannot kill your body entirely, he will struggle to steal your finances, your reputation, your marriage, your health, the list goes on and on. By faith we must claim our rights as sons and daughters of God, as being redeemed from the curse of broken law by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (I John 3:8), not to put a benediction on them. We must resist the devil so he will flee from us (James 4:7). God has promised to bruise satan under our feet (Rom.16:20). In that passage the Lord is called "the God of Peace", as He is referred to in many other New Testament passages. We are sons and daughters of the God of Peace, not satan, the god of turmoil and confusion. On the Cross of Calvary, Jesus redeemed us from the dominion of darkness. He paid a terrible price on the Cross to get us out from beneath satanís feet. But all too many believers think it is selfish to want to break free of satanís oppressions. They think they are suffering in the will of God by being the devilís doormat. Tragic.
Donít buy everything you encounter at the religous meat market. Youíve got the right to prove all things and to hold fast to that which is good (I Thes.5:21). By clear inference, that would include the right to reject that which is bad instead of giving thanks for it. Now, if good and bad things alike must both be accepted (and given thanks for) on an equal basis, why would you bother to examine whether something is good or bad before holding fast to it? Even the fishermen of Jesus' day had enough sense to inspect the catch in their nets and throw the bad fish away before taking their catch to the market place. In Matthew 13:47-50 Jesus tells the Parable of the Net, where fishermen sort their fish. The good is kept and the bad thrown away. Jesus does not rebuke the fishermen for not saying grace over the bad fish.
Luke 14:34-35: Salt is good; but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill: but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. Jesus did not tell those men to give thanks for the bad salt that was good for nothing except to be thrown out.
God does not expect a higher standard of conduct of us than He does of Himself, and that would be impossible to achieve anyway. Does God Himself give thanks for all things that exist in a fallen universe?
God rejected Cain's offering. He never did thank Cain for it (Gen.4:5).
God rejected strange fire offered on His altar (Num.3:4).
In Old Testament times God would not allow His people to eat (or say grace over) unclean beasts (see Leviticus Chapter 11).
God would sometimes reject offerings made on His altar by priests (Mal.2:13).
God loved Jacob and hated Esau (Malachi 1:2-3; Romans 9:13).
Does Jesus embrace all things in existence, even things unholy and abominable? I very much doubt it. Satan, as well as evil men and evil things, will be shut out of heaven. Butter and honey shall He (Jesus) eat, that He may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good (Isaiah 7:15).
Imagine a church holding a Thanksgiving Day service right before they partake of a turkey dinner. The church members sit around in a circle and take their turn offering God thanks for the various blessings in their lives. "Joe" decides to apply some new teaching he picked up from some vague source. The lady sitting next to him has just finished thanking the Lord for her happy home, for her job promotion and for her salvation in Christ. Now it's Joe's turn. He is so determined to thank God "for all things" that he thanks God for satan and for the wonderful way satan has made him grow as a Christian through trying him. The last example Joe cites is this: "And Lord, dope dealers have moved into my home and taken it over and I thank You for sending them, even if they wonít listen when I try to witness to them. satan has used those derelicts to teach me such wonderful lessons in patience, bless his holy name." Naturally the pastor is shocked and wants to know where Joe picked up that gem of wisdom.
Some absurd extremes can be reached if "all things" which exist in this universe are to be given thanks for. What if some Tribulation saint fell for that lie and gave thanks even for the Antichrist, or the Mark of the Beast? They are things, too. What if that Tribulation believer embraced the Mark of the Beast and submitted to it gladly, because he believed in embracing all evil? But if you submit to the Mark of the Beast God won't thank you for it. You'll lose your soul and your chance at salvation (Rev.14:9-11).
God is sovereign. You cannot put Him in a box. If fleas invaded your home, He would normally expect you to get rid of them in a sensible way. Corrie and Betsy Ten Boom were two devout Dutch ladies, whose habit was to keep an orderly, tidy home. But after they were arrested by Hitler's Gestapo and put in a concentration camp for their faith, they had no control over their physical environment. They were in a situation where they had to suffer persecution for Christ's sake.
Corrie and Betsy made the best of a very bad situation. Somehow they managed to sneak a Bible into their prison barracks, and at every opportunity they would read to their unhappy fellow-prisoners to try to encourage them. One day they noticed the whole barracks was overrun by fleas. But instead of grumbling, Betsy and Corrie felt led to thank God for the fleas. That is a good illustration of giving God room to work all things out for good in His sovereign will (Rom.8:28). Because of that flea infestation the guards refused to enter the barracks to check on the inmates. So there was much more freedom for Corrie and Betsy to minister to the others. Those cruel guards would have been an even worse torment to them than flea bites. That was a time of terrible suffering those two ladies endured for their faith in Christ. But in a time of non-persecution Corrie and Betsy would not have seen the fleas as a blessing and would have attacked them with a vengeance instead of patiently bearing them and thanking God for them.
I'm sure, as they gave thanks "for all things", Corrie and Betsy did not give God thanks for the terrible gas chambers which destroyed so many of the children of Israel. Gas chambers are part of "all things" that exist in the universe, sadly.
In I Corinthians Chapter 5 Paul mentions a sordid case of immorality in the Corinthian church where a man slept with his own stepmother. Paul definitely did not give thanks for that ugly situation. Nor did he command the church to give God thanks for it. Instead, he rebuked the church for tolerating such perverted behavior and allowing it to continue for some time. About the only good to come out of that situation is later, when after the other church members have shunned the man out of their fellowship, the man repented and they were able to confirm their love toward him as a restored brother in Christ (II Cor.2:5-8). Through this sad thing, the others learned how to love and forgive.
God has the power to salvage good out of bad things. But the devil wasn't trying to help that backsliding Corinthian Christian grow spiritually. He was out to destroy that man, and when he attacks you, he is trying to destroy you too! Old sluefoot knows we have but a short life span in this world and if he can't get us to turn back to the ways of darkness, he will at least try to hamstring our ministries as Christians by causing setbacks and hurting us in any way he can. If he can keep you sick or preoccupied with fixing things he damages in your life, there will be much less time and energy to devote to others.
Universal Thanksgiving is a kissing cousin to the pagan philosophy that evil is only in the eye of the beholder. Here is a little story to illustrate the absurdity of that thinking:
A certain man has gotten thrown into a pot of boiling water by the devil. The unfortunate man feels the pain of the hot water and keeps trying to hop out before he turns to soup stock.
Along comes a vary religious man to give him advice: "Trust me. Iíve walked with the Lord for X-number of years, and Iím a very wise Christian. The problem, my friend, is not with the hot water, itís your attitude toward the water."
"But it hurts!" the poor man wails, resisting his buddyís efforts to plunge him deeper into the boiling pot.
"Letís take it one step at a time, then. Can you at least give God thanks in the hot water, if you canít give Him thanks for the hot water youíre in?"
"O Lord," the unfortunate man prays, "I give You thanks that youíre able to get me out of this predicament."
Cool as a cucumber, his buddy rebukes him: "What a self-centered prayer, prayed out of a heart full of fear, not faith! If you were any kind of a decent believer at all, youíd not only thank God for being in the hot water, youíd even be willing to stay in it forever, and youíd offer up thanks for the hot water as well."
"I canít do that!" the man groaned, still struggling to get out.
"The reason you canít give thanks for the hot water, friend, is your lack of vision," says his self-righteous critic. "All you see is youíre being boiled alive. You ought to give God thanks for all things, even this soothing bath the devil has drawn for you."
There is a time for all things. A time to give thanks and a time to fight the enemy. As Paul taught his converts, give thanks unto the Giver of every good and perfect gift. God does not instruct us to give thanks for abominations the Lord Jesus died to set us free from.
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Reader Count & Comments
22 Mar 2006
The giving of thanks for all things is 100 percent
acceptable! It is our perception of how we see things in which we give the thanks for! All things happen for a reason! We MUST, stop
looking at things from a "me"
only perspective. The saint who recieved the porno, would give thanks to God, for showing him that there was a NEED! That need being brought to his attention was that God
would have him PRAY, for the one who sent it to him to deliver HIM. We can give Him
praise and thanks for ALL
THINGS, because we know that
it is his way of testing our
faithfulness to LET HIM direct
us into making the right choices! Every EVIL we see,
we should see it as an opportunity to do what is right in His sight! This is the test! Do you curse those
who despitefully use you?
Or do you do what the word says, and pray for them?
When you do the word, being a
faithful witness and servant first, INDEED, we can give thanks for all things, because
we know that the greater
purpose of that thing is to
awaken us to righteous
judgment! We thank Him for this, because only HE knows
what is best, and when we ask Him first about all things,
He shows us how by His spirit
an opportunity to DO GOOD!
We partake not of any evil,
(resist NOT evil) but we see
it as opportunity to do his
work, and for this WE CAN GIVE
THANKS. In Christs love
condemn not, sayest the LORD!
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