Satan Entered Judas (2 of 2) – Can Demons Possess Christians?

Judas Satan 2

Now the second question. Some feel that Christians can invite an evil spirit into their lives and hand over control of their bodies voluntarily. But note:
Mt 12:29 Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.
• Jn 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.
• Mt 12:43-44 Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order.
• 1 Co 3:16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
• 1 Co 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
• 1 Jn 4:4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

I believe evil spirits cannot possess a genuine Christian because:
• Demons can plunder a man’s house (his body) only if they can bind the man.
• An unsaved person’s house (body) is unoccupied, but genuine Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and have the Father and the Son living in their hearts.
• He who is in us (God) is greater than he who is in the world (Satan).
• Therefore the devil and demons can’t take over a true Christian. They can only attack him from the outside.

Lastly, what about Judas?
Mt 26:24 The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born. (Also Mk 14:21; Lk 22:22)
• Lk 22:3-4 And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve. And he went away and discussed with the chief priests and officers how he might betray Him to them.
• Jn 13:2 During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him,

It would have been better if Judas had not been born. I don’t know why, but he was foreordained to betray Jesus to accomplish God’s plan of salvation. He was never a genuine Christian.

Satan Entered Judas (1 of 2) – Is Judas a true Believer?

Judas Satan 1

Q. Luke 22:3-4 says that Satan entered Judas and that’s when Judas went to the priests and developed a plan to sell out Jesus. If Judas was a follower and believed in Christ, how could Satan have entered? Aren’t believers protected from evil spirits entering them?

A. There are actually two questions – “Is Judas a true believer?” and “Can evil spirits possess a genuine Christian?”

Let’s start with the first.
Jn 6:39 This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.
• Jn 8:29 And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.
• Jn 17:12 While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.
• Jn 6:64 “But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him.

Judas was not a true believer because:
• It’s the Father’s will that Jesus lose none of all that His Father gave Him.
• Jesus always does the things that please the Father i.e. His will.
• Of all the Father gave Jesus, not one perished except the son of perdition i.e. Judas.
• We therefore deduce that Judas was not one of those the Father gave Jesus, otherwise Jesus failed in doing the Father’s will to guard the elect, which is impossible.
• Judas was lost because he did not believe. He followed Jesus for a while but did not have saving faith.

(To be continued)

Sin Offering Discord

Nadab Abihu 2

Q. Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, and were consumed by fire before God. Their brothers Eleazar and Ithamar offered a sin offering but did not eat it. Why was Moses angry with them, then changed his mind?

A. The incident referred to is in Lev 10:

Lev 10:16-20 But Moses searched carefully for the goat of the sin offering, and behold, it had been burned up! So he was angry with Aaron’s surviving sons Eleazar and Ithamar, saying, “Why did you not eat the sin offering at the holy place? For it is most holy, and He gave it to you to bear away the guilt of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the LORD. Behold, since its blood had not been brought inside, into the sanctuary, you should certainly have eaten it in the sanctuary, just as I commanded.” But Aaron spoke to Moses, “Behold, this very day they presented their sin offering and their burnt offering before the LORD. When things like these happened to me, if I had eaten a sin offering today, would it have been good in the sight of the LORD?” When Moses heard that, it seemed good in his sight.

The rules governing the sin offering are given in Lev 6:24-30:

Lev 6:24-26, 29-30 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, ‘This is the law of the sin offering: in the place where the burnt offering is slain the sin offering shall be slain before the LORD; it is most holy. The priest who offers it for sin shall eat it. It shall be eaten in a holy place, in the court of the tent of meeting. … Every male among the priests may eat of it; it is most holy. But no sin offering of which any of the blood is brought into the tent of meeting to make atonement in the holy place shall be eaten; it shall be burned with fire.

There were two types of sin offering:
1. Those whose blood was brought into the sanctuary – the meat should be burned;
2. Those whose blood was not brought into the tabernacle – the meat should be eaten.
In this case the blood had not been brought into the sanctuary, so Eleazar and Ithamar should have eaten the sin offering. Moses was angry because they were clearly in violation of Lev 6:25-26. However, Aaron defended them by saying that they did everything else, but could not eat today i.e. just this time, because they were mourning for their sons/brothers by fasting. They were not deviating from the rule by being lax. Moses accepted his explanation and did not pursue further. Hope this helps.

Homosexual Sin

Lev 20 13 a

Q. What if there were two homosexuals who love each other live together, but out of obedience to God never act on their desire or have any type of sexual activity with each other. Is that still a sin? Where is the line between what is acceptable and not ?

A. First, let’s review what the Bible says about homosexuality:

Lev 20:13 If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their blood guiltiness is upon them.
• Rom 1:26-27 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
• 1 Co 6:9-10 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
• 1 Tim 1:9-10 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching,

Notice that:
• The homosexual act is detestable to God, who considers it degrading, unnatural, and indecent, punishable by death.
• Homosexuality is just as guilty as other sins, including fornication, idolatry, adultery, theft, covetousness, alcoholism, verbal abuse, swindling, patricide, matricide, murder, immorality, kidnapping, lying, perjury. There is no need to single it out as the worst of sins.
• All of the above sins, including homosexuality, would disqualify the sinner from the kingdom of God.

Now, back to the question. If two gays or lesbians never act on their desire, technically they have not committed any homosexual act. But why live together and put themselves under temptation all the time? Being tempted is not a sin, but the flesh is weak and sooner or later the individual might fall for the temptation. It is a bad idea for an unmarried heterosexual man and woman to live together. And just as you don’t put a pedophile near children, it is setting a trap for yourself when homosexuals live together.

The Bible teaches us to watch and pray so that we do not enter temptation. The proper course of action is to flee immorality, which homosexuality is. So if they are obedient to God they should live apart to avoid the temptation:

Mt 6:13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (Also Lk 11:4)
• Mt 26:41 Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Also Mk 14:38)
• Lk 22:40 Pray that you may not enter into temptation. (Also Lk 22:46)
• 1 Co 6:18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.

Jesus’ Sacrifice Trivial? (2 of 2)

crucifixion 3

(Continued from yesterday)

Now let me give a little theology before I respond to skeptics. When man sinned, the result is spiritual death or eternal separation from God:
Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death,

However, God loved us and did not want us to be forever separated from Him, so He offered to take our place:
Rom 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

But there is a problem. God is eternal and cannot die:
1 Tim 1:17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
In order for God to die on man’s behalf, He had to become a man:
Jn 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
This is called the incarnation. Thus Jesus has two natures – His original divine nature as God the Son, to which was added His human nature when He became man.

What some people do not realize is that Jesus did not take on a human nature for only the 33 years while He was on earth, but even after His resurrection and ascension:
Lk 24:39 See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.
• Jn 20:27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.”
• Acts 1:11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

So contrary to what cults and some people believe, the divine Christ did not descend on the human Jesus for only 33 years and then leave. God the Son actually became man for all eternity after the incarnation.

Let’s get back to the skeptics. The trouble with them is that in their minds, their view of man (themselves) is too high, while their view of God is too low. From God’s perspective, the significance of Christ’s sacrifice is that the sinless Son of God offered Himself to substitute for man. The emphasis is on His deity. Since God is infinite, Jesus’ death is sufficient to atone for the sins of all men throughout human history. That would be a large number, but finite. The suffering is not just on the physical scourging and crucifixion, even though that’s one of the most cruel and painful tortures invented by men. The anguish is more on the spiritual and emotional, with Jesus carrying all the sins of all humanity on Himself:
2 Co 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

The skeptics, however, see Jesus as little more than a man, may be even less, as some people have suffered longer or more intensely than He. They do not see the condescension of the Creator of the universe becoming a creature in the incarnation, nor what’s involved in atoning for sin. The incarnation gap, by the way, is infinitely more than say man becoming an ant, as both man and ant are creatures, and man does not have power to create even an ant. So skeptics dwell only on the physical, human level, thinking how short is 3 days compared to eternity. That’s not even the right perspective. No wonder they got it all wrong! Jesus took on human nature for all eternity future. He rose after three days to show that God is pleased with the atoning sacrifice, otherwise it would have to be repeated as in OT sacrifices. Foreknowledge of the resurrection does not lessen the mental anguish and pain of all the sins of all mankind bearing on Him, something the skeptics could not even begin to imagine. His sacrifice is acceptable to the Father, but not the skeptics. What arrogance! What ingratitude!

God is not too small, and Christ’s sacrifice is not too puny; the depraved mind and the darkened heart of the skeptics is. God offered them His best, but they just couldn’t see it, treating it as dirt with disdain. Reminds me of Mt 7:6:
• Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

But our task is not to judge but to proclaim the gospel. So we try to be gentle and patient as the Lord leads us. Hope this helps.

Jesus’ Sacrifice Trivial? (1 of 2)

passover lamb 2

Q. Can’t it be argued that Jesus didn’t really sacrifice Himself? Yes He endured the physical pain, but not the mental anguish that comes from not knowing what would happen to Him after He died. Since He knew He would rise again and get His life back in 3 days, doesn’t that nullify His life as a “sacrifice” and render it a temporary loss instead?
If you knew for example that you had to have your hand chopped off as a punishment, but that it would grow back in 3 days, it would be much easier to accept knowing it would be a temporary pain and to just “get it over with”

A. Before we listen to the words of men, let’s see what God had to say about Jesus’ sacrifice:

1 Co 5:7 … For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.
• Eph 5:2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
• Heb 7:27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.
• Heb 9:26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
• Heb 10:8-12 After saying above, “SACRIFICES AND OFFERINGS AND WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, NOR HAVE YOU TAKEN PLEASURE in them” (which are offered according to the Law), then He said, “BEHOLD, I HAVE COME TO DO YOUR WILL.” He takes away the first in order to establish the second. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD,
• Heb 10:14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.

Notice the following:
• Christ is the Passover lamb. The lamb was sacrificed so that when the LORD saw its blood on the doorposts and the lintel, He passed over that house to spare the firstborn of the Israelites (Ex 12:7, 12-13). In the same way, He was sacrificed so that those who trust in Him are spared.
• Christ gave Himself up for us i.e. voluntarily, out of love. No one compelled Him. Jn 10:17-18 because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative.
• Unlike OT sacrifices which had to be repeated daily because they can never take away sins, He did it once for all, for all time, because that was sufficient.
• The effect was to put away sin and perfect forever those who are sanctified (set apart).
• After the sacrifice Jesus sat down at the right hand of God, meaning that God accepted and was satisfied with His offering, seating Him at the place of honor.

The emphasis was on the sufficiency and efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice, not on its duration. Why? Because of who Christ is, the Son of God, and no mere man. The significance was not on the “three days”, even though that had been prophesied repeatedly.

(To be continued)

Church Mess (2 of 2)

church fights 2

(Continued from yesterday)

There are 4 parties in the story, each with actions that are not handled properly:
1. Pastor A who accused his associate in public.
2. Pastor B who was accused, which accusations may be true or false.
3. Church members who reacted negatively to A at the members’ meeting and wrote a joint letter to the board demanding that A be disciplined.
4. The board who took no action when the accusations first erupted and wrote a letter to all members requiring them to cease all forms of communication, private or public.

Taking things at face value, i.e. everything is accurately reported, my principles and gut reaction are:

• Deal with public matters publicly, private matters privately. I don’t know whether they had private discussions prior to the public outburst, and whether they are at the same job level or not, but A should have approached B in private to resolve the grievances first. If there is no resolution, then bring it to B’s supervisor or the board. Only when there is still no satisfactory resolution then it’s up to the board to take the matter to a members’ meeting, not A. This is standard Mt 18 procedure regarding conflicts between members or staff.

• A is handling things immaturely. In general we can tolerate a pastor’s poor performance due to inexperience, bad behavior (up to a point) due to immaturity, but usually sever employment when his integrity is compromised, whether it is morals (infidelity), money (embezzlement), or when he drifts into heresy. Here A has not gone so far to warrant dismissal, but needs disciplinary action so that he can repent and be restored, and the congregation to learn grace rather than legalism.

• The board does not have the authority by virtue of their position to require members to cease private communication. They can appeal, but cannot demand. They have also lost their moral authority when they stalled and did not deal with the issue as it happened. A healthy board should be aware of the dynamics between its staff, and keep their eyes/ears open as to what’s happening among the members. This board seems very reactive and dysfunctional.

• Since events have already degenerated, the board should:
o investigate the allegations and discipline A for his outbursts and immaturity,
o discipline B if the allegations were true,
o call a members’ meeting to inform the congregation the facts as appropriate; educate them what is the biblical way to handle such matters, and exhort to deal with grace rather than law.
o come up with a plan to prevent similar grievances from recurring, and recast the vision what the mission of the church is, to refocus everyone’s attention to God’s purpose for the church, not on the disunity that obstructs the church’s progress

Depending on whether there are particular church members or board members who are stirring up trouble instead of solving the problem, they may need a private admonition apart from the public address. Persistent antagonists should step down from leadership if they are causing the church to regress instead of progress. Public apologies from A, B, member ringleaders, the board may be needed as appropriate to move the church forward.

There are other issues e.g. salary disparity, but we just don’t have enough details as to the scope of each pastor’s responsibility, years of experience etc. to determine whether the difference is justified.

That’s my humble opinion without deeper probing. Hope that helps.

Church Mess (1 of 2)

church fights 1

My brother sent me an article for my comments. It goes like this:

Recently, a problem arose in a Chinese church in Southern California that needs deep reflection and careful handling. A pastor accused a fellow pastor in Sunday School and even in a business meeting of members of coming to work late and leaving early, and improper use of funds. He also said he knew his salary is lower, which is grossly unfair. Some members reacted immediately by questioning the propriety of his accusations, leading to chaos.

Afterwards some members wrote a joint letter to the Board, demanding that they discipline the accusing pastor. The Board did not know what to do, so did nothing. After a few weeks, the attendance kept declining. The majority of those who remained felt they should tolerate the pastor, but others believed if that pastor stays, it will hinder the church’s progress and long-term development.

One thing led to another. The Board sent a letter to all church members, stating “The Church Board requires the constituents to immediately cease all forms of communications, private or public”. Some members find this letter offensive. (Two thousand years ago, Emperor Qin forbid criticizing state policies, with offenders to be beheaded.)

The incident is still developing. They hope to hear from readers suggested solutions, which could also be a reference for other churches in the future:

1. When should a pastor be tolerated? When should he be dismissed?
2. Does the Board have the authority to forbid members from expressing their opinion in private?
3. Under present circumstances, what can each party do to:
a. pacify the situation,
b. resolve division,
c. allow people to feel at ease to stay in church,
d. cooperate and develop the future?

(To be continued)

Answer a Fool?

Proverbs 26 4-5 b

Q. Prov 26:4 tells us do not answer a fool. V 5 then tells us to answer a fool. Isn’t this a contradiction? You can’t speak from both sides of your mouth!

A. No, it is not a contradiction, but a paradox. This passage tells us to be wise by responding as the situation dictates.

* Prov 26:4-5 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Or you will also be like him. Answer a fool as his folly deserves, That he not be wise in his own eyes.

In general, don’t waste time arguing with a fool, or you’ll descend to his level arguing back and forth in a silly squabble. Ignore him.

However, if it becomes necessary that you do have to answer him, use his own arguments back on him. Let him have a taste of his own medicine, so he’ll know how stupid he really is. Otherwise he’ll think he’s so smart.

Proverbs 26 4-5 c

So it depends on the situation, not a hard-and-fast black-and-white.

God Unjust?

elect 2

Q. Isn’t God unjust to send the non-elect, those who never heard the gospel, to hell? They did not have a chance to believe, so it’s not fair to punish them for all eternity.

A. No, God is not unjust:

Rom 1:18-20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

The non-elect are sent to eternal punishment NOT because God is not fair and never gave them a chance to hear the gospel. They are sent to hell because of their sin – ungodliness and unrighteousness. God gave ALL men, including the non-elect, general revelation to know Him through nature, His creation. The elect, those predestined to adoption as sons, received the general revelation and responded to God’s calling. The non-elect received the same revelation but suppressed the truth.

elect 1

Let me use an example to illustrate. A group of people have swallowed poison (sin) and are dying. A doctor has the antidote and tries to reach everyone to save them. He reached some who took the antidote and were saved (the elect). However, some never heard of him and perished (the non-elect). Now, what is the cause of the non-elect’s death? Is it because they never heard of the good doctor? No, it is the poison that killed them. Was the doctor unjust in saving some but not others? No, all who had swallowed poison would have died. He was gracious in saving as many as he could. That’s a crude analogy but we need to see clearly what’s the cause (sin) and what’s the effect (eternal punishment). God gave grace to the elect, but the non-elect died from their own sin.