The Reality of Spiritual Warfare – Orthodoxy vs. Heresy (Mark 1:21-28)

Spiritsword[I preached on Mark 1:21-28 yesterday. If you're interested, you can download or stream the sermon here. The following is an excerpt from the sermon. Soli Deo Gloria :)]

Charismatics often look to passages such as this in order to justify elaborate theories, really speculations, about how a Christian minister ought to cast out a demon. Yet if we see only the erratic and violent behavior of the unclean spirit, we miss the greater point at issue: The battle fought here is between Christ the Word and the unclean spirit who tries to command and control Christ through spoken words.

As one bible commentator notes, “possibly the naming of Jesus is an attempt to gain the advantage by uttering his true name in the midst of the approaching supernatural confrontation.” There is a real confrontation between the Word incarnate and this unclean spirit: Christ has come to preach the Gospel, and the demon is trying to oppose and suppress the preaching of the Gospel.

Paul says as much about spiritual warfare to Timothy when he says that “in the later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.” (1st Tim 4:1) That is to say, the conflict is between Truth and error. The Truth saves and sanctifies those who are saved. Hence, the Scriptures tell us that the truth will set you free. And our Lord prays “Sanctify them in the Truth.” Sound doctrine sets a man free from idolatrous notions of who God is, from false thoughts about himself and the remainder of God’s creation, and from slavery to sin, death, and the devil. Inversely, false doctrines, the doctrines of demons, as Paul tells Timothy, have ethical/moral effects in the life of the person who believes them. Those who follow false doctrines, for instance, have abandoned the faith, the Lord in whom they once professed to believe. And this following of false doctrines works itself out in things as practical and common as whether or not one gets married or eats certain kinds of food.

Let us not look for the spectacle of exorcisms made popular by movies and the charismatic movement. It is the Truth who is attacked by the unclean spirit in this passage. And it is the Truth who overcomes and destroys the unclean spirit.

-h.

Of the Nature of Christ’s Mediation – John Flavel

jflfavelaHere’s another gem from John Flavel’s The Fountain of Life (you can download the entire book in pdf format here):

It implies, a necessity of satisfaction and reparation to the justice of God. For the very design and end of this mediation was to make peace, by giving full satisfaction to the party that was wronged. The Photinians, and some others, have dreamed of a reconciliation with God, founded not upon satisfaction, but upon the absolute mercy, goodness, and free-will of God.

“But concerning that absolute goodness and mercy of God, reconciling sinners to himself, there is a deep silence throughout the scriptures:” and whatever is spoken of it,upon that account, is as it works to us through Christ, Eph. 1: 3, 4, 5.Acts 4: 12. John 6: 40. And we cannot imagine, either how God could exercise mercy to the prejudice of his justice,which must be, if we must be reconciled without full satisfaction; or how such a full satisfaction should be made by any other than Christ. Mercy, indeed moved in the heart of God to poor man; but from his heart it found no way to vent itself for us, but through the heart blood of Jesus Christ: and in him the justice of God was fully satisfied, and the misery of the creature fully cured.

And so, as Augustine speaks, “God neither lost the severity of his justice in the goodness of mercy, nor the goodness of his mercy in the exactness of his severity.” But if it had been possible God could have found out a way to reconcile us without satisfaction, yet it is past doubt now, that he has pitched and fixed on this way. And for any now to imagine to reconcile themselves to God by any thing but faith in the blood of this mediator, is not only most vain in itself, and destructive to the soul, but most insolently derogatory to the wisdom and grace of God.

And to such I would say, as Tertullian to Marcion, whom he calls the murderer of truth,“spare the only hope of the whole world, O thou who destroyest the most necessary glory of our faith!” All that we hope for is but a fantasy without this.

Peace of conscience can be rationally settled on no other foundation but this; for God having made a law to govern man, and this law violated by man; either the penalty must be levied on the delinquent, or satisfaction made by his surety. As good no law, as no penalty for disobedience; and as good no penalty, as no execution.

He therefore that will be made a mediator of reconciliation betwixt God and man, must bring God a price in His hand, and that adequate to the offence and wrongs done him, else he will not treat about peace; and so did our Mediator.

-The Fountain of Life, PDF version p.81.

The Lamb is All the Glory

Our church has been working through Romans 5 and it has reminded me of just how merciful God has been to me. My hope has been strengthened. My soul has been encouraged. And I have grown a new affection for an old hymn titled “The Sands of Time are Sinking.” Here are my favorite portions of it.

That’s all :)

-h.

The sands of time are sinking, the dawn of Heaven breaks;
The summer morn I’ve sighed for—the fair, sweet morn awakes:
Dark, dark hath been the midnight, but dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

O Christ, He is the fountain, the deep, sweet well of love!
The streams of earth I’ve tasted more deep I’ll drink above:
There to an ocean fullness His mercy doth expand,
And glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

The King there in His beauty, without a veil is seen:
It were a well spent journey, though seven deaths lay between:
The Lamb with His fair army, doth on Mount Zion stand,
And glory—glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

The Bride eyes not her garment, but her dear Bridegroom’s face;

I will not gaze at glory but on my King of grace.

Not at the crown He giveth but on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory of Immanuel’s land.