The Great Paradox: Violence in America

John J. Blanchard

January 19, 2013

Good morning, brethren.  Today I want to talk about a sobering subject, and it is a great paradox.  It is a great paradox I want to talk about today, and I want to start by turning to I Corinthians chapter 2.  If you would open your Bibles, please, turn to I Corinthians chapter 2.  We are going to start reading in verse 11. We often read this whole chapter about having the mind of God and the Holy Spirit working with us, but I want to focus in on one thing that is said here.

I Corinthians chapter 2, verse 11.  “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?  Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”

What I want to focus on here is not so much that the Holy Spirit works with God’s people.  We understand that.  I want to focus on the fact that there are two spirits at work here.  There is a spirit in the world, and then there is a Spirit of God.  You can see in My Bible the spirit of the world is a small “s” because it is speaking, of course, of Satan.  The Spirit of God is capitalized because it is the Holy Spirit.  It is the mind of Jesus Christ.

A SPIRIT IN THE WORLD

We have these two spirits working in the world.  One is, you could say, the god of this world.  If you turn to II Corinthians chapter 4, verse 3 Satan is called that here:  “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds of the god of this age [or the god of this world, as it says in the King James Version] has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”

The gospel is veiled—it is hidden—from those who are following the god of this world—the god of this age.  You notice the word “god” also has a little “g” just as the little “s” in I Corinthians.  We are speaking of a very powerful being but many steps down from God, but he is considered almost the god of this world.   He is a very powerful spirit.  Christ called him the prince of this world.

Turn to the gospel of John chapter 16.  We won’t read all the context here, but Christ says in John 16, verse 11:  “…of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”

Satan has been judged by God the Father and Jesus Christ.  If you go back a couple chapters to chapter 14, once again Christ says this.  John 14, verse 30:  “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.”

We see that Satan is called the prince of this world, the ruler of this world, the god of this world with the emphasis, of course, that he is an infinite number of steps below God the Father and Jesus Christ.  That is why god and prince are in small letters instead of capitalized.

Satan is also called the prince of darkness in various places.  I want to go to Ephesians 6 which we often read.  Satan and his forces of darkness are organized in such a way to fight God.  Turn to Ephesians chapter 6.  It is a set of Scriptures we often read to focus on the evil in the world and how we fight Satan.

Ephesians 6, starting in verse 10:  “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

This is referring specifically to high places.  A ruler is in a high place.  He rules over his kingdom.  This evil prince of darkness—this god of this world—is organized.  He has his powers organized in such a way to form spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places like principalities.  Just like principalities are divided into kingdoms or states or provinces in this world, spiritually Satan has divided up the world into various principalities.  He has put a demon over them.  That is a littler god than himself.  It is somebody to rule over a small portion of the earth, and they cause nothing but problems.

Backing up a couple of pages, turn to Ephesians chapter 2, verse 1:  “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience…”

We see that Satan is called the “prince of the power of the air,” and then the epistle goes on to say in verse 3:  “…among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”

Before we were converted when we followed this god of this age—this prince of darkness—we were children of wrath.  We were following the prince of the power of the air, and we were letting it have influence in our lives, some of us to varying degrees and more so than others.  You have some that are totally depraved, and I would point to people like Hitler.  We also have people who let the prince of the power of the air rule in their lives to varying degrees.

We often talk about how we are to worship God, the first God I mentioned here, the tall God, the high God, the Almighty God.  We know we are to please Him as Christians.  We know that we are to be living sacrifices.  We have done many studies and many sermons on these subjects.  We don’t need to turn to the Scriptures.  We should know them.  We understand we are to kneel before our God in prayer to humble ourselves.  We understand we are to pay our tithes to God, to give homage to Him through offerings, to sing hymns of praise to Him, and to honor Him in all that we do acknowledging His greatness, His kindness, His love, and His mercy.  These are all good and proper things for Christians to do, and these are as they should be.  This is what we should be doing.  I think we all understand that very well.

THE GOD OF VIOLENCE

Today I want to ask a simple question.  If we know all these things, why do so many Christians pay homage to the god of violence?  First we want to clearly state that the god of violence is Satan, and we want to define his names.  God calls things what they are.  The word Satan in the Old Testament means an opponent, an arch enemy of God, an adversary.  It also means to attack and to accuse.

In the New Testament the name Satan means the accuser.  He is also called in the Book of Revelation Apollyon, the angel of the abyss, a destroyer.  He is also often referred to as the devil, which means a false accuser, a slanderer, a demonic being, a devil god.  It is god once again with a little “g.”

These are various names for Satan.  You might ask, as a Christian, who would want to pay homage to that?  We know that there are people in the world that willingly pay homage to Satan.  They are practitioners of the occult, but they are a very small minority.  Christians would never admit to being part of that group.  It is interesting that most Christians won’t get involved with the occult.  They do not want to be an opponent of God.  They certainly do not want to be called an accuser, and they do not want to be called a destroyer.  No Christian wants those monikers.  But this is what Christians say they want to be.  They want to be like God.  They say they do not want to be part of these evil things.  Christians would deny ever bowing down to the god of this world.  It is just anathema to a Christian.  But could we be tricked?  Could we be deceived into doing just that?  Satan is the arch deceiver, and he is the arch opponent of God.

Turn, if you would, to II Corinthians chapter 6, verse 11:  “O Corinthians!  We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open.  You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections.  Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open.  Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.  For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?  And what communion has light with darkness?  And what accord has Christ with Belial [another name for Satan]?  Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?  And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?  For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:  ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them.  I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’”

It is talking about Christians.

Verse 17:  “Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.  Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.  I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.’”

You notice we started this passage by saying people are restricted in their love of God by their affections.  What is being talked about here?

We sometimes quickly assume we are not to be yoked with unbelievers.  We do not want to be in a business association with them.  Sometimes that can mean a poor marriage with them.  We tend to generalize in those sorts of ways. There are ways that we do yoke ourselves together with unbelievers through our own affection.  Before we get to that, I want to turn to James chapter 4.

James chapter 4, verse 1:  “Where do wars and fights come from among you?  Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?”

We could call this once again “affections.”

Verse 2:  “You lust and do not have.  You murder and covet and cannot obtain.  You fight and war.  Yet you do not have because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.  Adulterers and adulteresses!  Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, ‘The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously’?”

Here we talk about affections once again.   It is a desire for pleasures that are in concert with the world and therefore are at enmity with God.  We could actually be a Christian against God, and that was part of Satan’s definitions of his names and part of his character.

This is a tremendous paradox for a Christian to contemplate.  What would a Christian say if they were told, you have been bowing down to the god of violence—the god of this world because they are diametrically opposed to God whenever we do that.  Yet examples abound, and I am going to give you some now.

How many Christians have read or watched the Twilight Series, Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, and I could go on and on?  How many?  Are these not violent and dealing with the occult?  How many watch violent and perverse television programs, movies, u-tube clips?  How many play or participate in violent and perverse video games or occult video games like dungeons and dragons and that sort of thing?  Then there are Internet games.  How many have done that?  When we do that, who are we kidding?

Go to Galatians chapter 6, beginning in verse 6:  “Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.  Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.  And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

We have a choice here to do good and to pursue good that is sowing to the Spirit, or we can sow to the flesh and reap corruption, for whatever a man sows, that he will reap.  Every time we pay money for evil, we support the evil prince of this world.  Did you ever think about that?  Satan needs money!  He needs money to have access to every way into people’s minds.  Movie tickets require money.  Video games often require money.  They are produced somewhere for a profit.  There are books like Harry Potter and the Twilight Series and movies by those same titles.  Every time we watch evil it is like kneeling quietly before the god of violence.  We give him access to our home.  We give him access to our minds.  We allow the adversary of God into the temple of God to fight God!  It is something we actually do willingly!

Satan requires our cooperation.  In order to spread and make it as ubiquitous as it is requires profit for people of the world who have given their ways of making a living over to Satan.  We make it possible.

There are millions and millions of people in the Western world who call themselves Christian, yet they support these very endeavors of Satan working through people.  That is showing our affections for the god of this world.  It is receiving pleasure from the god of this world who has inspired people to do these things.  We expect people of the world who are not Christian at all to willingly pay money for these things, willingly participate in these things, and willingly enjoy them.  That makes sense.  But the great paradox is how does this makes sense for anyone who calls themselves Christian?  It does not make sense.

NOT LIFTING A FINGER TO RESIST

We are literally not lifting a finger to resist Satan when we participate in these lifestyles and these ways of living.  I mean we literally do not lift a finger because if something comes on the television or on the Internet, there is always the off button.  We don’t have to allow it into our minds and into our homes.  This is double-mindedness, brethren.  It is hypocrisy.  It leads to all manner of sadness and misery in our lives.  It is no wonder that the Laodicean era is characterized by Jesus Christ as being poor, blind, naked, wretched, and miserable.

We all want our prayers answered.  We all want our homes to be peaceful quiet places.  We all want blessings from God.  But if we want that, we should get rid of the double-mindedness.  We have to get rid of the paradox in our lives and give to God the sacrifice He really wants.  He wants a contrite heart, a pure life, a willingness to do what is good and pure.  The Scripture says to dwell on those things that are good and pure and upright.  We don’t need to let this crud into our minds and our homes.

PURIFY OUR HEARTS

If we want to feel better and we want our prayers answered, we have to literally do better.  We have to do better.  Turn to James chapter 4.  We will continue with the Scriptures we left off with earlier.  James 4, verse 7:  “Therefore submit to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you doubled-minded.  Lament and mourn and weep!  Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

There is the answer.  We need to purify what we do, what we think, and what we say.  Literally we need to mourn for the times that we have not done so.  Then God will come near to us.  He will be here.  It takes humility and an honesty with ourselves that we have been hypocrites and that we have allowed the god of this world way too much access to our minds and hearts.

We are still at the very beginning of 2013.  We want this to be the year that people receive the message of peace and joy that we have and understanding from the Bible.  We want to have growth.  If we want to have these blessings, we are going to have to get rid of the double-mindedness, get rid of the paradox in our lives, and not be hypocrites.  We need to do what is good, pure, and right in the sight of God.  It is our choice.  We make that choice every day. I think if every day we get up in the morning and pray for God to give us the strength to make the right choices, all the blessings that we desire and even more God will gladly give to us.

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