The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Sway of the Wicked One

“We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.” – 1 John 5:19


1 John 5:19 states, “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.” That is an apt verse for Halloween. This verse contrasts two groups of people; one aware, one unaware of who they are. Christians know they are of God. One of the reasons John wrote his first epistle was so that people could “know” or fully experience God and have an assurance of their saving status with Him. John was inspired to write this first of his epistles so that we could experience fellowship with God and the fullness of joy that comes from that relationship (1 Jon 1:3-4). He said if we walk in the light of God’s word we will have fellowship with God and be cleansed from our sin by the blood of Jesus (1:7; compare Psalm 119:105).


John wrote about evidences of knowing Jesus and being in fellowship with Him. If we obey and keep God’s commandments it is a sign we know the Lord and are in fellowship with Him (2:3-4). The commandments John is speaking about are summed up in the supreme commandment, to love (2:5, 7-11). To love is to live like Jesus (2:6). To love like Jesus means we aren’t attached or in love with the things of this world but love God supremely (2:15-17). It means we are aware of and thankful for the incredible love God has bestowed on us (3:1). Living in this loving relationship with God through Christ enables us to have victory over sinful ways of life (3:6-9). Love in the believer is evidence of spiritual life and knowing God (4:7-12, 16-21).


Another evidence of knowing God is an anointing whereby we are able to discern truth from falsehood (2:20-21, 26-27; 4:1). We are able to discern those things which are against or superficial substitutes for the way of Christ (2:18-19). And what we discern is that Jesus came to “destroy the works of the devil” (3:8b). And if Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil it’s inappropriate for children of God to be associated with them in any way (3:10-21). The devil attempts to instill deceit, sin and hate. Jesus instills truth, holiness and love. Children of God are able to discern these things.


This discernment is not something that comes from us. Discernment and the love of God working in and through us come from the work of the Spirit in and through us (3:24; Rom. 5:5). It is the inward assuring presence of the Holy Spirit that helps us know that we have an abiding relationship with God (4:13). We are a product of the work of the Holy Spirit in and through us.


This knowing experience of God manifested in discernment, love and Christlikeness is implemented in us through faith. John was inspired to write, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith” (5:4). Faith and trust in God enables us to lovingly obey God in a way that is not heavy or burdensome to us (5:3). When you love God, to obey Him is a joyful blessed experience. That’s because we understand how great God’s love is for us and can’t wait to show Him how much we love and appreciate Him. We look at the profundity of the cross and Jesus, its grace and expression of Divine love, and we are reduced to a hushed amazed, a loving, “Thank You Lord.” “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (5:11; see 5:12). Praise the Lord!


When we realize all that God has done for us it has a stabilizing and assuring affect on us. We trust God and come to Him in prayer asking Him for things according to His will. A Father who has loved us so much hears us and if He hears us we can be confident this loving heavenly Father will answer us (5:14-15). This confidence opens the door to a wealth of blessing and strength to get us through life. Prayer is a powerful tool for life.


Having experienced God so richly and having understood how much love has been lavished on us in eternal life (3:1; 5:13), it should move us to seek the salvation of the lost. We pray for those caught in sin but who still have a chance to repent and be saved. There are those “under the sway of the wicked one” that love it so and have no desire to leave their wicked ways. There is a move in our day that is away from God and toward the occult and even Satanism. In situations where there is rock hard rejection of God and His truth, we turn away and move on to the next divine appointment to save a soul. There are some “under the sway of the wicked one” who have so hardened their hearts that they can’t believe (see John 12:39). At what point a person reaches this hopeless condition only God knows. And so we are to follow the leading of the Spirit in such cases to seek and save the lost. Paul was pretty adamantly opposed to Jesus before he was knocked down off his high horse (cf. Acts 9). But there are some who throw themselves so deeply into sin, that based on the testimony of scripture, they get to a point hopeless state of reprobation (see Romans 1:18-32).


What might those under the sway of the wicked one look like? How might they behave? Based on 1 John they: deny their sinfulness (1:8, 10); are hateful (2:11; 3:17; 4:20); they love the world and the things of the world (2:13; 4:5); they oppose Christ and propose alternatives to Him as Savior, and deny He is God in the flesh (2:18; 4:2-3); they are liars and deny Jesus and the Father (2:22-23); they live lifestyles of sin (3:10-13); they may have come out of the church but were never truly a part of the children of God (2:19);  they are false prophets (4:1). These are the characteristics of those under the sway of the wicked one.


What is sad is that those who don’t know Jesus as their Savior are living in deception, they fall under the lying, deceiving sway of the wicked one. If you go up to an unbeliever and ask them if they are under the influence of the devil, more likely than not they will deny it. The Bible states Satan, “the god of this world,” has blinded the minds of people (2 Cor. 4:4). Satan is a liar, a deceiver. Satan is a liar and deceiver by nature (John 8:44). He is wicked and seeks to murder people not only physically but eternally by stealing their souls. He uses deception to do this.


The word “wicked” is translated from the Greek term poneros. This is a word that means, vicious, evil, hurtful, calamitous, malicious, morally corrupt, and lewd. Poneros is connected to the word ponos which means “labor” and so the idea of poneros carries the idea of laboring to do evil. We get the English word pornography from this word. All the filth and falsehood permeating and pouring out into the world today can be traced to the work of the wicked one. And sinful industries like the Pornography industry make labor and hard work out of something God intended to be a holy binding and pleasurable experience. There’s something about sexual sin that saps the soul. The Bible says, “Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For ‘the two’ He says, ‘shall become one flesh.’ . . . Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:16 and 18). Sexual interactions outside of marriage pervert connections and binding to another that is only meant for marriage where a life commitment or covenant has been entered into in the sight of God. There are “passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25). But those pleasures pass by pretty quick. They you have a lifetime of unholy memories and emotional scars to deal with. And such scars of sin are bound to influence and complicate your eventual marital relationship. Satan doesn’t divulge any of these realities. He hides them under the bed. Then once you’ve indulged, he brings them out to compound his evil influence with thoughts of guilt and regret. The sway of the devil keeps you off balance. There is no stability with him, only shifting sand.  Sexual sin is a downward spiral.


Look around you. See all the darkness and immorality, the muck and mire of sin. See people not only dabbling in it, but living in it, enjoying it, promoting it, intoxicated with it. It’s all part of the sway of the devil. Like a tasty morsel temptingly placed in the center of a web, sinful practices are placed with the promise of pleasure. But any pleasure sin promises passes and only leads to death. A bug about to be caught in the spider’s web ventures out onto it not knowing it is a web until it is too late. The bug is lured in by the tempting bait. It may even take a few bites of the bait. Maybe the bug thinks, “Hmmm, yummy. That tastes good. What a find!” But then the immobility of being stuck on the sticky web sets in and it’s too late, it’s caught. Don’t get caught in the web of the wicked one!


Halloween is becoming more and more sexually provocative. (It seems everything in society nowadays leads to some kind of sexual perversion.) The “holi” in “holiday” is taken from the word “holy.” “Holy” means separate, distinctive. In relation to God that which is “holy” is separated from the common and to God. Halloween is a “holiday” in that it is a day separated to the things of darkness. When you look at the origins of the dark things linked to Halloween it isn’t farfetched to think there’s a link to “the wicked one.” Halloween is in reality, a celebration of wickedness.  And that wickedness can be very dark. Halloween can be a time for sexual predators and pedophiles to lure unsuspecting child victims into their web. The scary stuff more and more frequently leads to sexually perverse stuff. Beware the sway of the wicked one, it can take you and loved ones to places you never thought you’d go.


This Halloween use spiritual discernment and ask yourself, is what I am or my children, friends and others involved in really so harmless? Are those dark images and scary practices harmless, or are they a lure, the first step in a downward spiral into a web of sin? There’s pleasure in sin for a season. The first nibble of the cheese in the mousetrap tastes good. But then comes the “WHACK!” and it’s all over. Rat poison is 99.99% nourishing to the rat; it’s the .01% of the poison that’s a killer. Halloween is a dangerous time of deception because it subtly lowers our sensitivity to discerning darkness and light. It blurs truth from error. It contends, See, there’s nothing wrong with this.  It all seems to be no big deal, until over time, all those slight deviations from the word of God start to add up and WHACK! The trap closes, the spider spins you in his web and you’re caught in the sway of the wicked one. That which is presented as harmless isn’t always as harmless as it seems. That is the nature of deception. And that is the sway of the wicked one to bring you under his influence. Know who you are; you are of God! Live it and stay away from the sway of the wicked one!

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