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Providing verse by verse analysis of Scripture and discussions about Christian theology. Continue Reading >>
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Tares Among the Wheat - Part 12 - Where Satan is Attacking in America God’s Word reveals there’s a divine drama unfolding, and the actors consist of angels and people, both good and bad, who operate in interlocking realms that are invisible and visible, both affecting the other. Failure to grasp this biblical truth limits our ability to understand what is transpiring in the world and what role we play. God desires that we live in reality, and His revelation is the blessing that provides insights we could never know except that He has spoken. What we do with that revelation determines whether we’re a force for good or evil. When believers know and live in God’s Word, it affords them the opportunity to make good choices that can bring blessing to those near them. But the opposite is true, that believers living outside of God’s will can bring suffering to those in their periphery. To read in full, see Dr. Cook’s book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09WXT7NL3
Other recommended sources referenced in this lesson:
Norman Geisler - I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist: https://smile.amazon.com/Enough-Faith-Atheist-Foreword-Limbaugh-ebook/dp/B0029RJ7D8
Steve’s Blog: https://thinkingonscripture.com/
Steve’s Books: https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/entity/author/B005FSY6XO
Steve’s Audio Lessons: https://thinkingonscripture.com/audio-video/
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Tares Among the Wheat - Part 12 - Where Satan is Attacking in America God’s Word reveals there’s a divine drama unfolding, and the actors consist of angels and people, both good and bad, who operate in interlocking realms that are invisible and visible, both affecting the other. Failure to grasp this biblical truth limits our ability to understand what is transpiring in the world and what role we play. God desires that we live in reality, and His revelation is the blessing that provides insights we could never know except that He has spoken. What we do with that revelation determines whether we’re a force for good or evil. When believers know and live in God’s Word, it affords them the opportunity to make good choices that can bring blessing to those near them. But the opposite is true, that believers living outside of God’s will can bring suffering to those in their periphery. To read in full, see Dr. Cook’s book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09WXT7NL3
Other recommended sources referenced in this lesson:
Norman Geisler - I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist: https://smile.amazon.com/Enough-Faith-Atheist-Foreword-Limbaugh-ebook/dp/B0029RJ7D8
Steve’s Blog: https://thinkingonscripture.com/
Steve’s Books: https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/entity/author/B005FSY6XO
Steve’s Audio Lessons: https://thinkingonscripture.com/audio-video/
Tares Among the Wheat - Part 11 - Satan’s Strategies to Defeat God’s People Satan desires that we turn from God and His Word and live independently of Him. He promotes sinful pride, twists God’s Word, uses suffering to pressure God’s people, masquerades as a messenger of light, accuses us before God, and empowers false teachers to perform miracles in order to deceive. Knowledge of God’s Word informs us about Satan’s strategies, and the humble believer who lives by faith will be able to stand when he attacks. To read in full, see Dr. Cook’s book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09WXT7NL3
 
Other recommended sources referenced in this lesson:
The Strategies of Satan by Warren Wiersbe: https://smile.amazon.com/Strategy-Satan-Warren-Wiersbe-ebook/dp/B0066E8WR2
Satan: His Motives and Methods by Lewis S. Chafer: https://smile.amazon.com/Satan-Methods-Lewis-Sperry-Chafer/dp/1548051098
Steve’s Blog: https://thinkingonscripture.com/
Steve’s Books: https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/entity/author/B005FSY6XO
Steve’s Audio Lessons: https://thinkingonscripture.com/audio-video/
Tares Among the Wheat - Part 9 - Satan as The Ruler of This World Satan as the Ruler of this World
     Many think of Satan as the counterpart of God; but this is wrong. God is the Creator, whereas Satan is merely a creature. God is infinitely and eternally good, whereas Satan was created good, but then turned away in rebellion, leading others to follow, both angels and people. Satan is not the counterpart of God; rather, he is the counterpart of those angels who maintained their allegiance to God. To understand this is to contrast Satan with good angels where, as a creature, he properly belongs.
     The Bible reveals Satan was originally created a holy angel of the class of cherubim; however, because of pride (Ezek 28:11-18), he rebelled against God (Isa 14:12-14), and convinced many angels to follow him (Rev 12:4, 7). The name Satan is derived from the Hebrew שָׂטָן Satan which means “adversary, opponent, accuser, opposing party…[or] the one who hinders a purpose”[1] The Greek Σατανᾶς Satanas carries the same meaning and is used “in a very special sense of the enemy of God and all of those who belong to God.”[2] Other names for Satan include the shining one, or Lucifer (Isa 14:12), the evil one (1 John 5:19), the tempter (1 Th 3:5), the devil (Matt 4:1), the god of this world (2 Cor 4:4), the accuser of the brethren (Rev 12:10), the prince of the power of the air (Eph 2:2), the serpent (Rev 12:9), and the great red dragon (Rev 12:3). Further, Satan is a murderer and liar (John 8:44), is compared to a lion that prowls about, looking for someone to devour (1 Pet 5:8), and one who disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14).
     Lucifer became Satan at the time of his rebellion when he declared, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”  (Isa 14:13-14). J. Dwight Pentecost states, “The desire of Satan was to move in and occupy the throne of God, exercise absolute independent authority over the angelic creation, bring the earth and all the universe under his authority, cover himself with the glory that belongs to God alone, and then be responsible to no one but himself.”[3] Satan seeks to operate independently of God’s plan for him, and he leads others, both saved and unsaved, to do the same. Lucifer introduced sin and death to the first humans when he convinced them to turn from God and eat the forbidden fruit (Gen 2:16-17; 3:1-7). At the time of the fall, Adam handed his kingdom over to Satan, who has been ruling this world since (Luke 4:5-6; Rev 11:15).
     Satan is permitted, for a time, to rule over the majority in this world. When Jesus began His public ministry, He faced a series of tests from Satan, one of which was an offer to receive the kingdoms of the world without going to the cross. Satan told Jesus, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish” (Luke 4:6). Satan took possession of “this domain and its glory” by God’s permission and man’s sin, presumably, when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and follow Satan (Gen 3:1-8). Satan said to Jesus, “Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours” (Luke 4:7). Satan’s offer had to be true in order for the temptation to be real. At some time in the future, Satan will share his authority with the Antichrist, because he advances his agenda (Rev 13:1-2). Three times Jesus referred to Satan as “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). Other passages of Scripture call Satan “the god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4), and “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2), informing us “that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). Satan rules as a tyrant who has “weakened the nations” (Isa 14:12), and currently “deceives the whole world” (Rev 12:9). He personally attacked Adam and Eve (Gen 3:1-7), Job (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-13), David, (1 Chr 21:1), Joshua the high priest (Zec 3:1-2), Jesus (Matt 4:1-11), Judas (John 13:27), and Peter (Luke 22:31-32). He continues to attack God’s people today (1 Pet 5:8), practices deception (2 Cor 11:13-15), and has well developed strategies of warfare (Eph 6:10-12). Furthermore, humanity is living in an “evil age” (Gal 1:4), under “the dominion of Satan” (Acts 26:18), whose sphere of influence is called “the domain of darkness” (Col 1:13).
     As Christians, we have victory in Christ. At the moment we trusted Christ as Savior, God “rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col 1:13-14). As Christians, we have been gift
Tares Among the Wheat - Part 10 - Satan’s World System Satan’s World System
     As we discussed previously, Satan is permitted, for a time, to rule over the majority in this world. Three times Jesus referred to Satan as “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). Other passages of Scripture call Satan “the god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4), and “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2), informing us “that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). Satan rules as a tyrant who has “weakened the nations” (Isa 14:12), and currently “deceives the whole world” (Rev 12:9). He personally attacked Adam and Eve (Gen 3:1-7), Job (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-13), David, (1 Chr 21:1), Joshua the high priest (Zec 3:1-2), Jesus (Matt 4:1-11), Judas (John 13:27), and Peter (Luke 22:31-32). He continues to attack God’s people today (1 Pet 5:8), practices deception (2 Cor 11:13-15), and has well developed strategies of warfare (Eph 6:10-12). Furthermore, humanity is living in an “evil age” (Gal 1:4), under “the dominion of Satan” (Acts 26:18), whose sphere of influence is called “the domain of darkness” (Col 1:13). Though Satan has attacked some people directly, he mainly operates as commander of an unseen realm of demons, through a worldwide system of philosophies and values he’s created, through unbelievers whom he energizes to do his will, and through the sinful inclinations of our fallen nature. These all help advance his agenda in which he attacks God and His people. Paul, when writing to Christians in Ephesus, discusses the reality of these things. Paul said:
"And you [Gentile Christians, before salvation; see Eph 2:4-9] were dead [νεκρός nekros – dead, corpse; i.e., separated from God] in your trespasses and sins [i.e., acts of disobedience against God], 2 in which you formerly walked [περιπατέω peripateo – to walk, conduct oneself, behave] according to the course of this world [κόσμος kosmos - world, system], according to the prince of the power of the air [Satan – the commander of an unseen realm], of the spirit that is now working [ἐνεργέω energeo – to work, energize, empower] in the sons of disobedience [i.e., sons characterized by their disobedience to God]. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh [σάρξ sarx – flesh, body, i.e., sin nature], indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind [even their reasoning processes were corrupt], and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest." (Eph 2:1-3)

     The Bible recognizes Satan’s world-system and warns us not to love it. John writes and tells the Christian, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world” (1 John 2:15-16). We live in a fallen world, and John’s command is intended to warn us of real danger. First, John opens with the negative particle Μὴ Me, which is followed by the Geek verb ἀγαπάω agapao, which is in the imperative mood—the mood of command. The word ἀγαπάω agapao denotes desire or commitment to something or someone. David L. Allen comments on love:
"In its essence love is two things: a desire for something and a commitment to something … Whatever it is you desire and whatever you’re committed to, that’s where your time and resources will go. If you love football, that’s where your time and resources will go. If you love hunting or fishing, that’s where your time and resources will go. If you love your spouse, you desire to spend time with her and you are committed to her. Love is more than an emotional feeling. Love requires a commitment of time and resources."[1]

     John then gives the object we are not to desire or be committed to, namely, the world (τὸν κόσμον). The Greek word κόσμος kosmos is used in Scripture to refer to: 1) the physical planet (Matt 13:35; Acts 17:24), 2) people who live in the world (John 3:16), and 3) the hostile system created and controlled by Satan that he uses to lure people away from God (1 John 2:15-16). It is this third meaning that John has in mind. Hence, the word κόσμος kosmos refers to “that which is hostile to God…lost in sin, wholly at odds with anything divine, ruined and depraved.”[2] Concerning, the word κόσμος kosmos, David L. Allen writes:
"Sometimes the word “world” is used to refer to the organized evil system with its principles and its practices, all under the authority of Satan, which includes all teachings, ideas, culture, attitudes, activities, etc., that are opposed to God. A fixation on the
Deuteronomy 28:15-46 - God’s Curses for Disobedience Deuteronomy 28:15-46 - The Lord’s Cursings
     Having already presented God’s blessings for obedience (Deut 28:1-14), Moses turned to the cursing section of the covenant, saying, “But it shall come about, if you do not obey the LORD your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you” (Deut 28:15). The responsibility fell upon Israel to abide by the terms of the covenant. They were to abide by “all His commandments and His statutes”, and failure to do so would bring God’s curses. Earl Radmacher states:
"A curse is the opposite of a blessing. It wishes or prays for ill or injury on a person or an object. God cursed the serpent and the ground after the sin of Adam and Eve (Gen 3:14, 17). Jeremiah, in despair, cursed the man who brought news of his birth (Jer 20:14, 15). The seriousness of God’s covenant with His people is illustrated by the threat of a curse on any who violate it (Deut 28:60, 61)."[1]

     The curses would reverse all God’s blessings and would overtake His people wherever they were. Moses wrote:
"Cursed shall you be in the city and cursed shall you be in the country. 17 Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. 18 Cursed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock. 19 Cursed shall you be when you come in and cursed shall you be when you go out" (Deut 28:16-19).

     What follows in Deuteronomy 28:20-68 spelled out God’s curses in specific detail and were intended to produce a healthy fear in the Israelite who might be tempted to turn away from the Lord and His clear directives. Moses informed his people that the curses would pursue them in stages until they were destroyed (Deut 28:20-22, 24, 45, 48, 51, 61). Daniel Block states, “By means of a seemingly endless catalogue of secondary agents of doom, Moses warns that Yahweh will marshal every conceivable agent of destruction against His people.”[2] God is offering a theological understanding of Israel’s circumstances and experiences should they break their covenant with Yahweh and not abide by His directives.
     Moses gave an overarching summary statement of all God would do to Israel if they pursued evil and forsook Him. Moses said, “The LORD will send upon you curses, confusion, and rebuke, in all you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken Me” (Deut 28:20). The word send translates the Hebrew verb שָׁלַח shalach which in this passage means to “send out, forth, send on a mission.”[3] The form of the verb is intensive (Piel), which means the curse will be relentless in its pursuit. God’s judgment would come because of Israel’s choice to forsake the Lord and to pursue a life of evil deeds. According to Craigie, “The root cause of the disaster would be forgetfulness; the people would forget God, and in forgetting God they would forget his commandments. Having forgotten the commandments of God, the people would inevitably commit evil deeds and bring upon their own heads disaster. God sends the curse (v. 20a), but man invites it by his deeds (v. 20b).”[4]
     At the beginning of the judgments, Moses said, “The LORD will make the pestilence cling to you until He has consumed you from the land where you are entering to possess it” (Deut 28:21). The pestilence (דֶּבֶר deber) could be something like bubonic plague, which afflicted both people and animals with fever and delirium. This might explain Moses’ next statement, saying, “The LORD will smite you with consumption and with fever and with inflammation and with fiery heat and with the sword and with blight and with mildew, and they will pursue you until you perish” (Deut 28:22). Blight and mildew refer to attacks on crops, which God brought upon His people during times of judgment (see Amos 4:9; Hag 2:17). Daniel Block states:
"In verse 22 Moses becomes more specific, listing seven afflictions with which Yahweh will strike his people. The catalogue of seven afflictions expresses Yahweh’s sovereignty over all agents of death and destruction. The first four entries elaborate on deber in verse 21 and specify diseases at Yahweh’s disposal: wasting disease, fever, inflammation, and scorching heat. The fifth refers to the sword (ḥereb), which functions as shorthand for Israel’s defeat by enemy armies (cf. vv. 25–26), and the last two refer to crop diseases."[5]

     The judgments would include a severe drought upon the Land. Moses said, “The heaven which is over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you, iron. 24 The LORD will make the rain of your land powder and dust; from heaven it shall come dow
Tares Among the Wheat - Part 8 - The Despair of Atheism And The Hope of Christianity The Despair of Atheism
And the Hope of Christianity
     As we grow and develop mentally, we develop a worldview, which is a biased perspective on life. A worldview is a mental framework of beliefs that guide our understanding of what is. It’s the assumptions we employ to help us make sense of the world, ourselves and our experiences. Early in life—when our perception of the world is being shaped—we are influenced by the worldviews of family, friends, and surrounding culture. As we grow older, we are confronted with different and opposing worldviews via religious and educational institutions, literature, movies, music and art. At some point in our development—it’s different for each person—we choose what we believe and why. Our worldview is important because it’s the basis for our values which influence our relationships, money habits, social and political decisions, and everything we say and do. At its core, there are basically two worldviews a person can have. Either one is a theist or an atheist. Choices have consequences, and the worldview we adopt has far reaching ramifications. The biblical worldview offers value, purpose, and hope. The atheistic worldview—when followed to its logical conclusion—leads to a meaningless and purposeless life that eventuates in despair.
     The atheist’s worldview denies the existence of God and believes the universe and earth happened by a chance explosion billions of years ago. Rather than intelligent design, he believes in unintelligent chaos, that the earth, with all its complexity of life, is merely the product of accidental evolutionary processes over millions of years. His worldview believes everything is merely the product of matter, motion, time and chance; that we are the accidental collection of molecules; that we are nothing more than evolving bags of protoplasm who happen to be able to think, feel, and act. The conclusion is that we came from nothing significant, that we are nothing significant, and we go to nothing significant. Ultimately, there’s no reason for us to exist, and no given purpose to assign meaning to our lives. We are a zero. Some have thought through the logical implications of their atheism and understand this well. Mark Twain wrote:
"A myriad of men are born; they labor and sweat and struggle for bread; they squabble and scold and fight; they scramble for little mean advantages over each other. Age creeps upon them; infirmities follow; shames and humiliations bring down their prides and their vanities. Those they love are taken from them and the joy of life is turned to aching grief. The burden of pain, care, misery, grows heavier year by year. At length ambition is dead; pride is dead; vanity is dead; longing for release is in their place. It comes at last – the only unpoisoned gift ever had for them – and they vanish from a world where they were of no consequence; where they achieved nothing; where they were a mistake and a failure and a foolishness; where they have left no sign that they have existed – a world which will lament them a day and forget them forever. Then another myriad takes their place and copies all they did and goes along the same profitless road and vanishes as they vanished – to make room for another and another and a million other myriads to follow the same arid path through the same desert and accomplish what the first myriad and all the myriads that came after it accomplished - nothing!"[1]

And Bertrand Russell wrote:
"Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hope and fears, his loves and beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruin – all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy that rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built [bold added for emphasis]."[2]

     No God means we live in a purely materialistic universe. Logically, materialism leads to nihilism which teaches that life is meaningless. If there is no God, then each of us are nothing more than the accidental collection of molecules. All our thoughts, desires, passions and actions can be reduced to electrochemical impulses in the brain and body. We are nothing more than a biochemical machine in an accidental
Tares Among the Wheat - Part 7 - Positive and Negative Volition Positive and Negative Volition
In this lesson, Dr. Cook continues his study of positive and negative volition as it's revealed in Scripture. Below are examples of negative and positive volition in the Bible. 
Examples of negative volition include
The antediluvian generation (Gen 6:5-13; 2 Pet 2:5)
The city of Sodom (Gen 13:13)
The first generation of Israelites after the Exodus (Num 32:10-13; Deut 1:35)
Israel during the Judges (Judg 17:6; 21:25)
Solomon when he turned away from God and worshipped idols (1 Ki 11:1-10)
Israel under the leadership of Jeroboam (1 Ki 12:26-33)
Israel under the leadership of Ahab (1 Ki 16:29-33)
Judah’s pre-exilic leaders (Jer 25:3)
Jesus’ generation who rejected Him (John 3:19; 12:37; cf. Matt 23:37-38)
The last generation of the church age (2 Tim 3:1-5)
Unbelievers living during the Tribulation (Rev 9:20-21; 16:8-11).
The last generation of the millennial kingdom (Rev 20:7-9).
Examples of positive volition include
Enoch, who walked with God (Gen 5:21-24)
Noah, who obeyed the Lord (Gen 6:22)
Moses, who led Israel out of Egypt (Ex 3:1—14:31)
Joshua, who led Israel into the Promised Land (Josh 1:1-18)
The Ninevites who responded positively to Jonah’s preaching (Jon 3:1-10)
Elijah, who turned Israel back to the Lord (1 Ki 18:17-40)
King Josiah, who delayed God’s judgment against Judah (2 Ki 22:1-20)
The apostles (Matt 19:27-28)
Saul, who believed in Jesus and spread the gospel (Acts 9:1-20).
Conclusion
     Every person we meet is either positive or negative to God and His Word. Though we are not neutral and try to persuade people to believe the gospel (John 3:16; 20:31; Acts 4:12; 1 Cor 15:3-4; Eph 2:8-9), and live righteously (Rom 6:11-14; Tit 2:11-14), each person must choose to accept or reject the offer. Those who believe in Jesus will be forgiven all their sins (Eph 1:7), given eternal life (John 10:28), and will spend forever in heaven (John 14:1-4); and believers who pursue righteousness will be rewarded in eternity (1 Cor 3:10-15). Those who reject the gospel have no other way to be saved and will forever be separated from God in the Lake of Fire (John 3:18; Rev 20:11-15).
Deuteronomy 28:15-68 - Introduction to the Curses & Review of Israel’s History Deuteronomy 28:15-68
Dr. Steven R. Cook
Introduction
     Concerning Deuteronomy chapter 28, Thomas Constable states, “This section of Deuteronomy (chapters 27-28) is one of the most important ones in Scripture because it records the two options open to Israel as she entered the Promised Land. Obedience to the revealed Word of God would result in blessing, but disobedience would result in blasting.”[1] Dwight Pentecost adds, “For understanding and explaining Israel’s history as recorded throughout the Old Testament, there are perhaps no more important chapters than Deuteronomy 28–30.”[2]
     Moses, having previously stated God’s wonderful blessings for the obedient-to-the-Word Israelite (Deut 28:1-14), followed with God’s cursings that would come upon the one who was disobedient-to-the-Word (Deut 28:15-68). In Deuteronomy 28:15-68, Moses set forth the curses that God would bring upon Israel if they repeatedly violated His directives as found in the Deuteronomic law code. Moses used the Hebrew verb אָרָר arar six times, which means, “to bind with a curse.”[3] The form of the verb is passive, which meant a curse was received by the nation of Israel if they turned away from God. Victor Hamilton states that אָרָר arar means “to bind, hem in with obstacles, [or] render powerless to resist.”[4] The curses mentioned in Deuteronomy are reflexive of those who violate their covenant relationship with God. That is, they bring the curses on themselves by violating God’s Word.[5] God’s curses are His righteous response to unethical behavior among His people, and they could be avoided by simply walking in obedience with the Lord (Deut 28:15, 20, 45-47, 58-59, 62; 29:25-28; 30:17-18). If the Israelite was aligned with God’s Word in thought, speech, and conduct, it would open the channel for His blessing. However, if the Israelite turned from God’s path, it would open the channel of cursing. Dwight Pentecost states, “These curses were not viewed as punishment for disobedience as much as disciplines to bring a guilty people back to obedience to God.”[6] Jack Deere agrees, saying, “Each individual judgment essentially had one goal: to turn Israel from disobedience.”[7]However, the curses would lead to ultimate destruction if God’s people persisted in their sinful rebellion.
     This lengthy section can be viewed in two parts: 1) a statement of curses that reverse all God’s blessing (Deut 28:15-19), and 2) specific descriptions of the curses that God will send on Israel until they are destroyed (Deut 28:20-22, 24, 45, 48, 51, 61). God’s judgment upon His people was self-inflicted because they would not obey Him (Deut 28:20, 45, 47, 62). God executed these curses at various times when His people were disobedient to the covenant (see Judg 2:20-22; Jer 6:19; 11:9-11; 29:15-20; 34:17-20; Dan 9:4-6; Hos 8:1-3).
     The transmission of God’s law to subsequent generations was primarily the responsibility of the parents (Deut 6:1-9), and priests (Lev 10:8-11; Ezra 7:10; Mal 2:7). Failure to teach God’s law to subsequent generations of Israelites would create a theological vacuum in their souls which Satan would gladly fill. If God’s people operated by unethical standards, His judgments would fall upon them. God held His people accountable for their ethical behavior, even if/when the majority did not know or abide by His laws, as ignorance did not protect them from His judgments (see 2 Ki 22:1-13). However, His judgments did not happen right away, as God would send ample warnings through His prophets, who occasionally functioned as a prosecuting attorney (רִיב rib),[8] pointing out their violation of the law and the impending consequences if they did not turn back to the Lord (i.e., repent). When God’s prophet functioned as a prosecuting attorney for the Lord, he would present God’s case before the people (Hos 4:1-3; 12:2; Mic 6:1-2). The Hebrew verb רִיב rib, when used by the prophet, denotes “God’s lawsuit…against His own people.”[9] According to Earl Radmacher, “The Hebrew word refers to a formal complaint charging Israel with breaking the covenant.”[10] If Israel persisted in sin, God would execute His judgments in ever increasing severity, until they were eventually destroyed and removed from the land. Historically, we know God destroyed the ten northern tribes of Israel in 722 B.C. because His people had broken covenant with the Lord, and this occurred after repeated warnings through His prophets (2 Ki 17:1-23). The same judgment fell upon the two southern tribes of Judah in 586 B.C. when God raised up the Babylonians to defeat His people and take them into captivity (2 Ki 24:8-16), and this happened after repeated war
Tares Among the Wheat - Part 6 - Positive and Negative Volition Positive and Negative Volition
     Volition is the ability to act within a sphere of freedom and in accordance with one’s desires. There are three categories of volition in existence: God’s volition (Isa 46:8-11; cf. Gen 1:1-31), angelic volition (Psa 103:20), and human volition (Gen 1:26-28). God’s volition is absolute, immutable, and always operates in concert with His divine attributes. And, according to His sovereignty, He created intelligent and moral beings—angels and people—with the ability to obey or resist His directive will. In fact, Lucifer and a third of the angels exercised their volition against God and caused a bifurcation in the angelic realm (Isa 14:12-14; Rev 12:7; cf. Matt 25:41). Two thirds of the angels exercised their volition to stay with God, and these continue as holy angels to do His will (Matt 16:27; 26:53; 1 Tim 5:21; Heb 1:14). As Scripture reveals, Satan persuaded Adam and Eve to disobey God, and this brought sin and death into the creation (Gen 3:1-8; Rom 5:12; 8:20-22), with the result that every person is born with a sinful nature and proclivity to sin (Jer 17:9; Matt 7:11; Rom 7:18-21; Gal 5:16-17; Eph 2:1-3). However, God has dealt with the sin problem through the life, death, burial and resurrection of His Son, Jesus (John 3:16; 1 Cor 15:3-4), who paid our sin debt (Col 2:13-14), and liberates us who have trusted in Jesus as Savior (Rom 8:1-4), so that we might not be controlled by sin, but will pursue righteousness (Rom 6:5-13; 1 Pet 2:24).
     The tendency of people who operate on negative volition is to “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom 1:18), and to operate by a worldly wisdom that is not “from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic” (Jam 3:15). The vast majority of humanity will not choose a relationship with God nor a walk with Him (Matt 7:13-14).
     When God’s Word is dethroned from the mind of the believer, other forces will dominate for the worse. God’s desire for the Christian is to develop his/her character so that righteousness, goodness, grace and love flow easily and with continuity of expression. If the character is good then the behavior will be good, for it follows that a person with an honest character will easily and consistently behave in an honest manner, and a person with a loving character will easily and consistently behave in a loving manner. But good character does not automatically occur in the life of the Christian, nor does it happen overnight; rather, it matures over a lifetime as we make many good choices to walk in step with God and let His good Word transform us from the inside out. But we should be aware that it is possible to abuse our liberty and make bad choices with the result that we weaken the will and forfeit our freedoms (the addict knows this to be true). Not only that, but bad choices and abuses of freedom bring harm to others within our periphery; for this reason, Scripture states, “You were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Gal 5:13).
     Unbelievers who love their moral depravity will naturally stand against those who are children of God and who love righteousness. This is why Scripture states, “Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you” (1 John 3:13). Those who set their wills against God will not listen to the Christian who comes with His message; however, they will listen to their own. The apostle John tells us about those who walk in darkness, saying, “They are from the world; therefore, they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them” (1 John 4:5). That is, there are those who operate from presuppositions and values that are cosmocentric, which exclude or pervert serious consideration and discussion about God, refusing to give Him any say over their lives. When confronted with divine revelation, the person who is negative to God either denies His existence (Psa 14:1), or reduces Him to the status of a creature (Rom 1:22-25). And the person who is negative to God can be simultaneously immoral and religious (2 Tim 3:1-5).
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