Saturday, March 25, 2017

Dominion, War, and Love

"God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.'" Genesis 1:26 (NKJV)

Dominion is an important biblical concept. As free moral agents made for love, Adam and Eve were given the high privilege of self-governance. The earth would be the material space where their love for God and one another could flourish. Their dominion of the earth was a big responsibility; it was up to them to decide which way it would go.

Since God gave Adam and Eve dominion over the earth, it was theirs to do with as they pleased. God’s intent was that they would use the power of their free will to be fruitful and multiply and build a loving society. Tragically, Adam and Eve surrendered their position of authority over the earth by giving allegiance to Satan.

The Fall of humanity was a moral fall, but it was also a legal fall, as well, because it involved a transfer of power. Adam and Eve lost their dominion because they chose to give it away. Through the exercise of human free will, Satan became the ruler of this world.

Satan’s is not earth’s legitimate ruler. His triumph over humanity was an act of war based on deception. He led Adam and Eve into rebellion by denying the existence of love in God’s heart for them. Questioning God’s love made it hard for them to trust God. The hope of humanity from that day until now is the revelation of God's true character of selfless love.

Once the war began here on earth, God made a promise. Speaking to Satan in the hearing of Adam and Eve, God said, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel." Genesis 3:15 (NIV)

God here announced that a deliverer would be coming to Earth to crush Satan’s head. Just to make it very plain, If your head is crushed you do not survive. The King James version doesn’t say crush but instead, says bruise. So I refer you to Romans 16:20 (KJV) where it says, "the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly."

The promised Deliverer came to this world as a helpless, dependent baby. Jesus came to win back the world by truth and love rather than by deception and violence. Satan recognized Jesus for who He was.

With an arrogance developed by thousands of years of apparent victory, Satan claimed the earth as his domain and offered it to Jesus in exchange for worship. Luke 4:5-7 (NKJV) "Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, 'All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.'"

Jesus refused, of course, knowing that Satan could not possibly see what was coming. Satan had become blind to the character of God; He was incapable of grasping that Jesus was about to defeat his dark empire the power of self-sacrificing love.

With Jesus now living on this earth as a human being, the battle was underway, and a showdown was about to happen. Jesus doesn’t use a weapon. He isn’t commanding a violent army. But there is a war.
Pointing to the sacrifice He is about to make on the cross, Jesus explains the victory He will achieve over Satan in John 12:31,32 (NKJV) "Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself."

At the cross, all of Satan’s lies about God were shown to be false by the revelation of God’s character and His love. Paul explained it like this: "Having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." Colossians 2:15 (NIV)

Love, not force, triumphed over evil. In principle, the Great War between good and evil was won in one supreme act of self-sacrificing love on Calvary. Love conquered all. But even though Jesus was victorious, there are still small battles to be won in individual human hearts, person by person, home by home, town by town, all over the world. And that is where you and I come in.

Even though Jesus won the War so to speak – we know what the outcome will be - there are still battles going on. Some people, including Satan, don’t understand that the war is over and they continue to fight.

On December 24, 1814, Great Britain and the United States signed a treaty in Belgium that ended the War of 1812. The news was slow to cross the Atlantic Ocean, and on January 8, 1815, the two sides met in the Battle of New Orleans. Andrew Jackson and a ragtag group of local militia, frontiersmen, slaves, Indians, and Pirates defeated a superior British force. Although it was a decisive victory for the Americans, the outcome was meaningless because the war was already over.

The battles that are going on right now in the Great War are not battles of territory. The real war is over the minds of human beings. God wants our “foreheads.” Revelation 14:1 (NKJV) says, "Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads." God wants His name, his character, written on our forehead. In other words, He wants our mental and emotional center.

Satan also wants to leave his mark on our foreheads. Revelation 13:16 (NKJV) reads, "He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads."

God and Satan are engaged in a battle over your mind. The Bible often refers to your mental and emotional center as your heart. Philippians 4:7 (NKJV) equates your heart with your mind; "The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." The war we are fighting occurs in our mind, where thoughts and feelings are formed, and where we store knowledge.

Satan is waging his battle against us by filling our minds with arguments that are designed to slander the character of God. When we are going through trials, Satan whispers in our ear, "God doesn’t care what happens to you. He doesn’t hear you. He doesn’t love you. He will not answer your prayers. If God loved you, he would deliver you from this trial." These arguments are much more effective on the minds of God’s people than false doctrine.

Our mission as Christians is to fight against Satan by telling people about God's beautiful character of love as revealed in Jesus Christ. Satan is filling their minds with false perceptions of God. Our mission is to counteract Satan’s propaganda by presenting the true character of God. Too often I am afraid that we are ourselves misrepresenting the character of God and by doing so are on the wrong side of the war. Think about how you witness. Is your witness about God's beautiful character of love as revealed in Jesus Christ? If it is not, maybe you need to change your battle plan.

Our mission is to use our talents, our energies, and our resources for the one task of reclaiming individual minds for Jesus. In the minds and hearts of men and women, Jesus has laid claim to the territory stolen by Satan. We are to do the same. By forgiveness, compassion, feeding and clothing the poor, and always by loving people the way Jesus loved them, we are on the front lines of the Great War.

Today the Great War is nearing its close. The Holy Spirit and heavenly angels are working to help people choose God's side by showing His loving character. We are asked to be soldiers in this war for the minds of the people. I’m afraid that we are fighting many battles that we haven’t been asked to fight. Our mission isn’t to fight, but to represent the loving character of God. By showing the world the love of God, we counteract Satan’s propaganda. When we show our selfish carnal natures, especially when we claim to be followers of God, we strengthen Satan’s propaganda

In the end, the Bible assures us that there will be a complete victory for God and vindication of His character. Love will win out. But until then, good and evil will continue. The Great War is still being fought. "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." Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV)  Let’s resolve to be mighty soldiers in God’s defense. When was the last time you told someone about God’s beautiful, loving character?

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