Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Devil Doesn’t Touch Christians?

Happy Sabbath to y'all. I am battling rattling lungs and a cough and sniffly sinuses, but I think I am on the upswing for better health. Here's to a nice warm, sticky weekend!

I have recently thought about the promise of God that the Elect are free. Free from the chains of having to sin. Free from having our thought-life consumed by thinking about sinful actions. And free from a life that is characterized by sin. Praise Jesus Who for freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1). Now I am also wrestling with one of those tough verses 1 John 5:18 which I think has application to the topic of freedom in Christ. Here is 1 John 5:18:

We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. (ESV)

So did we read this right? The Devil does not touch anyone who is born of God? Let's place this in context with another section of the Bible, the wonderful Book of Job. In this we see the righteous servant of God Job. And the Devil accuses Job before God on the grounds that God has blessed Job so much that if everything was taken away, then Job would "curse" God (Job 1:11). And so God lifts His protection from Job and allows Satan to attack him with all of the worst tragedies a person can face in this life: Job's 10 children were killed (Job 1:19), all of his property and wealth were stolen by thieves (Job 1:15-17), and Job's good health was taken by horribly painful sores all over his body (Job 2:7). And through all of this, Job did not sin with his lips and did not curse the Lord (Job 2:10).

So how does the story of Job help in explaining 1 John 5:18's teaching that Satan does not touch the Elect? I think that if we look at the main objective of Satan against Job (to cause Job to sin, to curse God – Job 1:11), we see the close connection between Satan and our own sinful nature. This means that Satan wants us to become slaves to sin, and to thereby have our lives filled with sin (whatever consumes a person to that he is enslaved – 2 Peter 2:19). And so, there is an intertwining of our sinful lives and Satan. We want to sin, and Satan helps us to do it.

We see this drawn out in 1 John 5:18, where the verse starts out by saying that those born of God do not keep on sinning. Does this mean that long-time Christians will live perfect lives? No, I don't think so. Even the Apostle Paul considered himself a "wretched man", and that there was a war taking place in his mind - I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! (Romans 7:23-24) And so, Christians are in a battle against their own sinful lusts and desires, and a powerful enemy is attacking us to have us go back to our previous sinful life.

So what is Paul's shout of joy in facing this battle that we are involved in?His shout is this Who will rescue me? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:25)
Our Rescuer is the righteous life lived by Jesus the Messiah, and His perfect sacrifice offered on our behalf that saves us from our sins. Through Jesus' death, and our faith making Jesus our Lord and Savior, we are now "dead" to sins (Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? - Romans 6:1-2). And so we see the reason for Paul's joyful praise in Romans 7:25, the Elect are rescued by Jesus, and by His death we are now dead to sins. How much can a dead person be tempted to sin? It's hard to sin when your eyes can't see, your tongue can't speak, and there are no feelings in your members, right? And so our death to sin provided by Jesus is the source of the freedom that is provided to us all who call Jesus Lord (Galatians 5:1). We are free to no longer sin! Yeah!

Thus, though Satan can "touch" us by harming our possessions, our health, even by harming our loved ones as he did with Job (if God so permits), he cannot touch us by making us sin. To that, we are protected.

My take away application is this - Do you feel free? Do you feel as though you are dead to all of the sins that have plagued you in your past life? Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. (1 Peter 2:16). Thanks be to God for His Grace and for sending His Son. Amen.

1 comment:

Edward Oleander said...

Hi Tom,

Finally getting around to catching up here... and I'll start by being totally confused by your line of reasoning... Are you saying that no Born Again Christian has ever fallen prey to the Devil?

"Thus, though Satan can "touch" us by harming our possessions, our health, even by harming our loved ones as he did with Job (if God so permits), he cannot touch us by making us sin. To that, we are protected."

What then is the source of Evil for those who were once Born Again but have fallen back into evil thought and behavior? There seems to be a logical disconnect, or perhaps circular logic powered by definitional sophistry at work...