PASTOR DON'S CHRISTIAN ED NOTES
Part 10
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Sunday, February 24, 2008 -

2 Corinthians 2:11 - “....so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.”The ignorance Paul cautions against is not the ignorance of stupidity, but the ignorance of thoughtlessness. These people weren’t simple. But they were in danger of being careless. And Paul says that carelessness could give the Devil a needless advantage in their lives and in their church.

14) DEVICE NUMBER FOURTEEN - To weaken our relationship to GOD by causing us to be indifferent in our relationship to OTHERS

The Devil knows he will have very limited success turning believers against Jesus Himself. Even at my most unspiritual moments, I simply have too much respect for Jesus to treat Him with outward disdain. There is simply nothing unloving or unattractive about Jesus in any way. Everybody - even non-Christians - likes and respects Jesus Christ.

This is where the Devil does some of his slickest work. He takes the closeness out of my walk with Jesus, not by attacking my views of Jesus directly, but by causing me to think of my relationship with Jesus as something separate and distinct from my relationship with you.

And the reason this scheme works so well is simple. While Jesus is perfect, you and I are not. I can find all sorts of things not to love in you, as you can with me. And the Devil wants me to believe that I can love Jesus without loving you. He splits churches over smaller issues of lesser importance than the Cross of Jesus or His Resurrection or Second Coming. But the trick is always the same. The Devil wants me to think I can love Jesus while quarreling with the saints. But it simply can’t be done.

REMEDIES AGAINST THIS SCHEME:

a) Above everything else, I must remember that my relationship with Jesus and my relationship with my fellow Christian aren’t two separate relationships, but one single relationship

1 John 2:10-11 - “Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. [11] But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”

1 John 4:20-21 - “If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. [21] And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

It is clear where John developed his thinking along these lines:

Matthew 25:37-40 - “Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? [38] And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? [39] And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' [40] And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'”

Now the issue is pressed even deeper. It’s not enough to avoid bitterness and hatred. Jesus presses us further. We must actively show care and kindness.

b) Constantly focus your attention on the graces and strengths of other people rather than the faults and flaws that irritate

See Matthew 7:1-5. Jesus teaches here that most of the things that bug us about other Christians are smaller than we’d like to admit (the terms “speck” is repeated three times).

c) Constantly remind yourself how frequently the Scriptures command Christians to love each other (see John 13:34, John 15:12, John 15:17, Romans 13:8, Hebrews 13:1, 1 Peter 1:22, 1 Peter 3:8, 1 John 2:32, 1 John 3:11, 1 John 4:11). This is just a sampling.

d) Remember that believers are described as members of one single body

Paul develops this most fully in 1 Corinthians 12:27 - “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” The idea here is not merely that we are close in our relationships. It is also a picture of the common life and health we share together. How safe is the heart when the brain is full of tumors? Division is not only wrong. It is deadly. Personal revenge is self-destructive. Never let another person ruin your life by making you hate them.

e) Remember, we are fellow-soldiers in the battle against the Devil and the world

2 Timothy 2:3-4 - “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. [4] No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”

The idea here, that we tend to overlook, is this: Not only do I need Jesus - I need you. An army of one is simply too small and weak to survive.

f) Finally, remember that both holiness and peacefulness are necessary if we’re to see the Lord:

Hebrews 12:14 - “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”