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December, 2000

Neosho, MO

The devil said to Eve about the forbidden fruit,"For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Gen. 3:5)

In the first place, Satan is a fallen foe, since Jesus, "..disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross" (Col. 2:15). Therefore, the only thing the devil can do for a living is lie. He's a "toothless lion" in terms of his actual power over believers. Paul called him "the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient" (Eph. 2:2). Air has to do with the physical world, the flesh. The serpent's curse was that he had to eat the dust of the ground all the days of his life (Gen. 3:14), which again, indicates the physical realm. Jesus came to bring "light to every man" (John 1:9), and salvation to all men (Jn. 1:7; 12:32; Rom. 5:18; I Tim. 2:4,6,10; Tit. 2:11). Satan's spiritual power was crushed at the cross, leaving him to grub around in the flesh, and then, under God's strict control (Job. 2:3-6). Jesus said he saw him fall like lightening from heaven (Lk. 10:18). John the Beloved testified, "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, (Satan) who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down" (Rev. 12:10).

When you think of it in spiritual terms, Satan really only has one lie, with which he's still deceiving believers today. The lie is that when you know good from evil, you become like God, or in other words, when you know the law, you can keep it. There are countless variations on this old story, but it's the same tired old lie that he started with. At the heart of it is the question of who's in control of the universe, or as I put it recently, "Who is driving this train?" If Satan can get us to believe that we have anything at all to do with God's successful fulfillment of His eternal plan for the salvation of all, then he wins and we lose, because the minute we go back to depending upon our own works for righteousness, justification, and salvation, we've taken on the law, and Paul affirmed about that, "All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law'" (Gal. 3:10). No man has EVER kept the entire law except Jesus. Nearly every Christian agrees with that last statement, and all Christians that I've ever dialoged with concur that we cannot be saved by law, and yet, one of the most successful variations of his basic lie that the devil still uses to confuse and deceive Christians is what it means to be saved by grace.

Ask any Christian if they live by law or grace, and they will stoutly affirm, "We live by grace." But when asked what it means, they may answer like an elderly church matron, who replied, "Grace is what God gives us when we obey Him." It's the wrong answer, but a predictable one, since she's been in church all her life, and has heard over and over again the dire consequences of not keeping the rules and regs, whichever ones that organization deems important. Can you see that this attitude is exactly the same as Eve's, who was saying by her behavior that God is not capable of taking care of us? He needs our help; He needs our faith; He needs our obedience; He needs our money, our time, or whatever else you want to put in there. Eve figured this out in her carnal mind; she took a bite of the mango (surely no one thinks she sold us down the river for an apple), and Katie, bar the door, here we all went down the tubes (Rom. 5:17-19; I Cor. 15:21-22).

The law, given on Sinai through Moses was God's interim response to Satan's lie. In effect, He said, "OK. You think you can be like gods knowing good from evil? Here's the greatest testimony of goodness and righteousness the world has ever seen. Will you keep it?" (Rom. 7:12). They jumped at it, saying, "Whatever you say is just what we'll do" (Ex. 24:7). Moses hadn't been gone back up the mountain very long when they said, "We don't know what happened to this fellow Moses, but we need a god. Aaron, make us a golden calf" (Ex. 32:1). So much for the knowledge of good and evil. Christ is God's ultimate response to Satan's lie.

I've been writing steadily the past weeks on the topics of the sovereignty of God ("Growing Pains," End Note "A"), the false belief in a two power universe ("The Trash Heap of All human Fears," End Note "B") and the most subtle twist of this ancient lie, beloved of church leaders and religious leaders alike, man's so-called free will ("God's Glory Road," End Note "C"; and "When good things happen to bad people", End Note "D"). What God has impressed upon me in 72 point type and stereophonic sound is that He is in control of our lives, from before the foundation of the world (II Tim. 1:9-10). It is His calling and election that shall stand (Rom. 9:11), not the wiles of the devil. Nothing can separate us from the love of God, Paul reminds us, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:38-39). God always had a plan and He will bring His plan to fruition because "The mouth of the Lord has spoken it." (Is. 1:20; 40:5) He "Consigned all men to disobedience" Paul said, and why? "So that He can have mercy upon all" (Rom. 11:32). The devil told Eve that she had to do something on her own to become like God, when in fact, becoming like God is our inheritance, our eternal calling from the Father (Rom. 8:14; Gal. 3:26; I Jn. 3:1). As His heirs, we may now eat of the Tree of Life and live forever (Gen. 3:22). There is really only one lie, and one sin worth talking about and that is the belief that God is not able to deliver us, to save us, and to bring us into holiness and perfection. May He open our eyes to see that there is only ONE power in the universe and it is our heavenly Father. "Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;" (Isaiah 59:1, RSV). As it is written, so let it be done in our lives.

Jan Antonsson

Jan and Lenny Antonsson

17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)

End Note "A." "Growing Pains"

End Note "B." "The Trash Heap of All Human Fears"

End Note "C." "God's Glory Road"

End Note "D." "When good things happen to bad people"

The Glory Road

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and last edited 11/5/08.