Bound to Work: 3 reasons you should not try bind Satan

by Clint Archer

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Spiritual warfare is real. It might not make the news; but it ought to. Paul acknowledges this in Ephesians 6: 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

But the weapons of this warfare are often somewhat misunderstood. In some church circles, for example, it is commonplace to hear pastors and their people talk of “binding Satan” or “renouncing the devil’s presence” or some such display of confidence.

Here are three reasons I believe this is misguided.

1. Satan is (most probably) not in earshot

There is a pernicious paranoia that permeates churches today: folks think Satan can hear them speak. Some people unwittingly pad Satan’s résumé to include God’s unique attributes of omniscience and omnipresence. Yes, Satan certainly is ambulant (1 Pet 5:8), but he is confined to one place at a time. He can’t read your mind, and he doesn’t perk his ears when he hears his name mentioned in your prayers.

I have heard a pastor who was praying to God, lapse into addressing Satan! “Lord we pray against the forces of evil in this place today, and Satan we bind you in the name of Jesus, we denounce your efforts to distract us by messing with the PowerPoint projector again, and we rebuke your presence here today. You are not welcome here!”

First, Christian should pray to God, and not Satan (even if what we are saying to Satan is meant to irk him). Second, I doubt Satan is loitering around your church anyway. So unless he has demons recording our prayers and then e-mailing him the transcript, Satan would have to be in the room.

As one who understands the very basics of time management (I have read Kevin DeYoung’s Crazy Busy) I am confident that fiddling with my church’s sound equipment has got to be a lower priority than say, what happens at the UN or a North Korean nuclear testing facility.

2. Binding Satan is above your pay grade

Satan can be bound, just not by you. The task of binding Satan is given to an angel. (Rev 20:1-3). It’s a pretty important task, and a lot of eschatology depends in it being done properly.

Jude sternly warns precocious people who presume to venture above their pay grades and malign angelic beings.

Jude  8 Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. 9 But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.

The archangel Michael himself didn’t pull rank on Satan the way many swaggering televangelists do.

Even invoking the name of Jesus is no guarantee that your exorcism would work. Sceva’s boys tested that hypothesis…

Acts 19:13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

Next time you are tempted to start bossing an evil spirit around in the name of Jesus, make sure you have a change of clothes in the car.

3. God has a better idea

The Bible is not written in code. There are sections written as descriptive narrative, which record what happened in history. And there are other narrative sections written as prescriptive commands that apply to you and me.sword

The only instruction Christians are given about how to confront the spiritual forces of darkness is Ephesians 6. Note the conspicuous absence of what you’ve seen on TV.

Eph 6: 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. …13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

He then lists: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, readiness given by the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and praying at all times in the Spirit.

No holy water required.

On an unrelated note, my apologies for any typos that crop up this week. The devil is in the details.

-Clint Archer, http://thecripplegate.com/bound-to-work-3-reasons-you-should-not-try-bind-satan/

Avoiding the Pre-Church Tornado

By Clint Archer

“Beep, beep, beep- snooze- beep, beep, beep- click. Yawn. And then it begins. The Sunday pre-church tornado of chaos…

tornado warnign signWake kids, dress kids, feed kids, clean up kids’ mess on floor, clean up kids mess on kids, dress kids again, shower, choose tie, convince wife that tie does match outfit, dress self, feed self, clean mess on tie, load car, screech out driveway only 3 minutes late this week, return for kids’ juice cups, screech out driveway again, 7 mins late this week. Still better than last week. Discuss tie choice on the drive. Struggle to be patient with clamor from kids, taxi drivers, broken traffic light, no parking in church lot; ignore dirty look from usher who saw you park in the handicapped spot, humbly accept that your pew is taken, remember that you forgot the overdue church library book, the sound is too soft so you move forward where it’s too loud. You missed the opening song (your favorite), but you were just in time for your three least favorite hymns.

Then the sermon starts.

After you wrangle your thoughts away from whether or not you turned off the iron, the stove, and the curling iron, and after you stop imagining your house burning down, you start drifting into a light doze as the movie you watched til midnight last night plays in your brain. After a few elbow jabs from your spouse, you catch the last point of the sermon about how you should pray more. The sermon ends you greet the pastor who says, “Good to see you again, it’s been a while, have you been away?” You resist pointing out that you haven’t missed a service in three weeks, because deep down you know that although you were there in body, you really did miss the service every week since you had kids.

Take heart. You are not alone. This is the frenetic milieu of every suburban churchgoer. I’m not sure what the solution is, or if there is one at all. But there are some practical preparations you can do to ameliorate the experience somewhat.

What makes tornadoes so devastating is if you are unprepared for them. If you get some warning, you can batten down the hatches, get under ground, and ride out the storm. If you are caught off-guard, you get swept up in the clutches of the chaos. It’s the same for Sundays. You know what’s coming, so get your house in order before it hits.

Last week we looked at some spiritual preparations suggested by Ken Ramey in his excellent book, Expository Listening. Here are four practical steps you can take:

1. Make it a habit to be home on Saturday night.

What you watch, who you hang out with, and how late you return after a night out on Saturday, can noticeably hinder your ability to focus on worshipping the Lord on Sunday. My pastor, Rick Holland, regularly reminded the thousand college students he shepherded, “Sunday morning starts Saturday night!

tornado2. Get things ready on Saturday night

Lay out the kids’ clothes, set the breakfast table, decide what you will wear, write the offering check, load the stroller in the car, pack the diaper bag. These little chores amass like hordes of little time-eating gremlins, to gnaw at your efficiency. Sunday is war, and every minute counts. Use Saturday as an accomplice to ensure success on Sunday.

3. Sleep well and Eat well.

If you got o bed at  reasonable time instead of watching Seinfeld reruns until midnight; and if eat a hearty breakfast instead swallowing a pop-tart whole on the way out the door, then your body will work with your mind (or at least not be a saboteur) as you listen to the sermon.

I have seen people fall asleep while I was preaching. I usually start to pound the pulpit and preach louder– not because I’m admitting I was lagging in zeal before, but because I’m attempting to rouse the comatose.

4. Work hard at helping one another get ready.

The family is a team. Any problem that comes up (spilt milk on the floor, or dress) is a temptation to get frustrated and angry at a particular family member. This causes tension and tears and makes for a tense drive and unproductive worship time. Rather view everything “bad” that happens on Sunday as Satan’s devices to trip you up. Your holiness is more important than your punctuality. If you get to church late, but in the right frame of mind to worship and learn, you will have won the battle. If you get there on time but sinning in your heart, angry at your wife, with a teary toddler… your Sunday service has been forfeited.

If you have any other suggestions, I’m sure the readers would appreciate hearing from you in the comments section below.”

-Clint Archer, http://thecripplegate.com/avoiding-the-pre-church-tornado-of-chaos/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheCripplegate+%28The+Cripplegate%29

Secret Rapture?

“It bugs me when people refer to a ‘secret rapture.’ The use of the term is outmoded and ambiguous.  It stands like a scarecrow with a target painted on his chest, inviting straw man attacks. The secret rapture moniker is used by some Premillennialists who reckon that only believers will be aware of the return of Christ. Unbelievers will be left perplexed at where their ‘religious’ neighbor and bus driver suddenly went.

The secret rapture idea posits that Christ returns with a shout of an angel that only believers can hear (and maybe dogs), an appearance in the sky that only believers can see, a physical resurrection of deceased Christians, which only believers can witness, and then a sudden catching up of all believers into the sky, to accompany Jesus back to Heaven while the seven year tribulation ensues. The image in Premill pulp fiction views the “left behind” world as utterly confused as to the ‘mysterious disappearances’ of a goodly slice of earth’s mostly amiable and cheerful population.

This ‘secret’ concept of the return of Christ is not based on the descriptions in the NT, but rather it is an odd way of envisioning the rapture event in a way that explains the persistent unbelief spoken of in Revelation. (To be fair, some do cite 2 Thess 9-10 which states that Christ’s return will cause him “to be marveled at by those who have believed.” But this text could easily be taken simply to mean that it is only believers who will truly marvel, though others will also see and still not capitulate in their stubbornness).

I suppose the rationale of Premills who call it a secret rapture is to try and make sense of why the appearing of Christ doesn’t result in the belief and repentance of the whole world. We who believe in Jesus without having seen him, cannot fathom how a person could not believe in him after seeing him come in the clouds while simultaneously proving the Bible’s prophecies to be true.

But this attempt to explain the unbelief, I believe actually does a disservice to the cause. It opens up the accusation that we are exegeting the white spaces. I agree with my Amill friends (yes, we are actually friends), that if the rapture were to be secret, then Paul certainly did a poor job at articulating that notion when he wrote, in 1 Thess 4:16-17,

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

Sounds pretty unmissable to me.

A better way to understand how there can be pervasive unbelief in light of such incontrovertible evidence, is by noting that the NT demonstrates over and over how it is neither sight nor proof that convinces people, but always requires the intervention of God’s grace on man’s willfully darkened mind.

Some reasons I believe that seeing is not always believing…

  • John 12:37 says as much.
  • Luke 16:31 reminds us that “Even if one is raised from the dead they will still not believe.”
  • The prophecies of Christ’s resurrection which were fulfilled fully did not convince all the Pharisees, but they instead paid the Roman guard to fabricate a tale of bodysnatching.
  • Judas and many others witnessed the miracles of Jesus and were convinced of his claims, and yet did not place saving trust in him.
  • In John 12: 42 we are told of Jews who believed in Jesus but feared the religious authorities and loved acceptance enough to opt out of confessing him as their Lord.
  • As did the parents of the newly healed man born blind, in John 9.
  • We also see in the Millennial Kingdom, a physical reign on earth with unbelievers still present (Rev 20:7-10).

The human heart is too dark to convince by sight, evidence, and reason. It is a supernatural work wrought in the heart of the elect by God’s sovereign grace, so that he gets all the glory.

So, no, the rapture will not be secret. According to 1 Thess 4:16-17 it will be a very conspicuous event. It will be loud, visible, and undeniable. There will be widespread repentance and belief, but the majority of the population will still reject Christ. And just like everyone else who ever rejected him, they will have no excuse (Rom 1:18-21).

And if you disagree with me, one day one of us will be vindicated in a twinkling of an eye.”

-Clint Archer, http://thecripplegate.com/secret-disservice-problem-with-the-term-secret-rapture/

Pizza and Coke for Communion?

Great Article by Clint Archer at the Cripplegate today: http://thecripplegate.com/pizza-and-coke-for-communion/  A great reminder of why we celebrate communion the way we do and the importance of being intentional about our practice of the Lord’s Supper.

“Have you ever thought of these provocative variables in the form and substance of the Lord’s Supper:

•Should we not emulate the NT church’s practice of sharing an entire, sit-down meal?
•Must the bread be unleavened?
•Must the wine be alcoholic?
•Must the wine be red or can we useChampagneinstead?
•Where does one draw the line? For example, can pizza and Coke count as communion? I.e. can the bread be sweetened, or have a topping? What about milk and cookies?

 

Makes the blood boil a bit, doesn’t it? You may have got stuck on the milk & cookies on, and you would probably say: “Obviously not, don’t be dumb.” And you’d be right to say that…but why?

Here are some principles by which we can make these decisions.

1. Jesus instituted a practice of breaking and sharing bread and wine, therefore the substance of the meal must correlate with his intention.

Thus breaking bread is essential, as it represents the breaking of Christ’s body. The bread represents the body. It was the symbol Jesus selected, perhaps because he also called himself the Bread of Life (John 6:35).

This is why he said “Do this in remembrance of me” as he broke the bread. He clearly meant “Break bread.” Not, break a cookie, or cut some pepperoni pizza slices.

The question as to substance is, Does it correlate to what Jesus intended? Wheat crackers, unleavened pita, or even your regular store-bought breadloaf all accurately manifest the image of Christ’s body being broken as bread.

Likewise the contents of the cup is significant. At that Last Supper it was most certainly alcoholic wine, as there was no other kind available. Fermentation can only be delayed by refrigeration, invented later than 33AD. The wine may have been highly diluted, but this is speculation, and thus not stipulated in Scripture as a requirement. After all, Paul had to rebuke the Corinthian gluttons to not get drunk on the communion wine (1 Cor 11:21).

But today’s non-alcoholic grape juice is still an accurate manifestation of the symbol. The cup was intended to symbolize Christ’s blood being shed. Also, Jesus clearly said that he would not drink of the “fruit of the vine” until the kingdom comes (Luke 22:18). This pries open the category to include any fruit of the vine, like grape juice, or even perhapsChampagne (calm down, it’s just wine made in a region ofFrance calledChampagne).

Though the white color is usually a no-no for conservative types, it must be noted that the color of the communion wine is never mentioned in Scripture, it is only assumed, and therefore should not be stipulated as an unwavering regulation in our churches. And yes, the bubbles are ok. Fermenting grape juice always produces bubbles, it’s just a matter of quantity, which again has not been limited by Scripture.

On a practical note, we use grape juice and never wine because of the epidemic prevalence of alcohol abuse in our society. Those who are repentant drunks find it unhelpful to be tempted back into their debauchery each time they are trying to remember the shed blood of their Lord at church. Our grape juice is not legalism, it’s courtesy.

2. Jesus instituted the practice for us to remember his death, namely his broken body and shed blood, therefore the form of the practice must be an accurate reflection of his original intention.

So, it doesn’t matter if we recline or line-up or remain seated in our pews, as long as we all share. It does appear the Corinthian congregants each had a meal (1 Cor 11:21), but Paul rebukes this practice. The object of the exercise is to share a common piece of bread. Whether this is done as part of a sit-down meal (which I observed with believers inIsrael), or by queuing at table, or being served in the pew, it is the sharing that is symbolic.

It was a distinct moment in the mail that Jesus said “Do this” as he broke bread and “likewise” has he passed the cup (Luke 11:19-20). The “this” was referring to the moment of breaking and sharing, not to the whole meal. Which, incidentally, is also why foot-wshing is not one of the ordinances (as the Bretheren movement takes it to be). It was done as a precursor to the meal, but not part of the “this” we are instructed to perform; neither does foot-washing aid in the remembrance of the death of Christ through symbolism.

Some insist that there is only one cup and that it should be passed around. But the command was to “Take this [cup] and divide it among yourselves,” (Luke 22:17). There is no stipulation on how to divide it. At our church, for example, we divide the grape juice into single portion shot-glass-type cups that are distributed. I have also divided the wine among 300 Russians the other way: a single cup complete with floaties and lipstick marks.

As long as the form is an accurate representation of the Lord’s intention, it counts.

The Lord’s Supper is one of the most precious events on our calendars. It should be experienced with reverence, purity, and joy. The elements employed should reflect this attitude. So no Oreos and chocolate milk. At the same time, there has been given us tremendous liberty to accommodate various cultural norms and denominational quirks.

Let’s keep the main thing the main thing, and not spend too much effort straining out the gnats or other floaties in the communion juice.”

-Clint Archer, 03-05-2012

Hermeneutics & Skin Art

http://thecripplegate.com/tattoos-and-skin-deep-hermeneutics/

Awesome article from Clint Archer on Hermeneutics and Skin Art.

“It used to be easy for Christians to formulate an opinion about tattoos. Sailors had them. And some prisoners. Other than corpsmen and convicts the only ink you saw in church was on the page.

This is not a pointed tirade against tattoos, nor a defense of them; it’s a jab at bad hermeneutics. I have found that some like to decorate their arguments with Bible verses that have no place in the debate.

These are the three usual suspects…

1. Thou shalt not tattoo thyself.

Leviticus 19:28 ”You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.”

This one is the biggie. It is literally the only verse in the Bible to actually employ the word ‘tattoo.’ So if you can’t get this one to play for your team, you don’t have a team.

The immediate North & South context of the verse should provide a clear indication that an understanding of Leviticus’ place in the canon of Scripture is going to be a key. The verse below says don’t make your daughter a prostitute. I sure hope that still applies. But the verse above says you can’t trim your beard or the hair next to your ears. Ever been to an orthodox synagogue? The gents who congregate there (and keep the whole Mosaic Law—kudos for consistency) look a little different from those who attend the men’s breakfast at your church, right? If Christians don’t need to apply verse  27, then why do we have to obey vs 28 of the same chapter?

I experienced the arm wrestling tourney between Law & Grace when I preached through Deuteronomy. (See Bodily Fluids & Skin Diseases: Is Deuteronomy Relevant to Me?). It was in that laboratory which I examined how the OT and the NT dance in unison. To be sure it’s a greasy topic to grasp, but I’m confident we can all agree that the verses in Leviticus are not directly binding on the NT church in the same way that it was for Israel (Rom 10:4).

So, Lev 19:28 gets a red card and is sent off the field as too old for this team.

2. Your Body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit.

1 Cor 6:19 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,”

Here’s an oldie-but-goodie that also wants to come out and play every time someone lights a stogie or perforates their nose. Unfortunately for our tat debate, this verse is already busy opposing real sin, namely sexual immorality. It can’t be pried loose from that important function to join our debate team.

1 Cor 6:19 verse is talking about sexual immorality being a spiritual affront on God’s holiness and a contamination of the Church Body. If this verse did apply to the physical damage we allow to deface the façade of our skin (“temple vandalism”), then we need to be consistent.

Ever mowed the lawn in sandals, or without sunblock? You jeopardized the temple. Do you maintain your ideal BMI? Ever downed a can of Coke without immediately brushing your teeth? You see the thin edge of the wedge. Why draw the line at ink? So let us let this verse get back to work, while we audition another.

3. Do not be conformed to this world.  

Rom 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world …” 

This verse is a strong candidate. I like this one a lot. I don’t get why some Christians try their darndest to blend in with what the world is doing. Being holy and worldly at the same time is a messy business.

A common defense is that of contextualization for the sake of the gospel, which is little more than an sophisticated version of, “everybody’s doing it.” And everybody is doing it. In fact, no tattoo is the new tattoo.

There are so many social non-conformists out there, to distinguish oneself one really needs to get creative about not being a non-conformist. A non-non-conf… anyway, I digress. We should be distinct from our cultural norms, if said norms jar with Scripture. Using skin as a canvas for art used to be a sign of non-conformity and anti-establishment sentiment.

Nowadays it’s more likely an indicator of boredom, herd mentality, or jejune impulsiveness.

Butsince tattoos are no longer associated exclusively with pagan worship (as in the days of the Celts and their inked druids perhaps), this verse doesn’t apply to this scenario.  Nor is the phenomenon still linked with prison inmate pastimes and salty-mouthed seamen. The debate may have been trickier in the transition period, when tats began to go mainstream (say, the early 90s or so?). But that ship has now sailed. The only ones clinging to the tattoo taboo are those out of touch with what the decision to get marked represents these days. It is no longer necessarily rebellious. Tattoo parlors are no longer limited to dingy alleys operated by seedy social misfits. It is no longer alternative culture.

So, we are forced to relegate this verse to the bench until “worldly” refers to tattoos again. I’m optimistic that the trend will fade as soon as this generation gets wrinkly. Bible verses contorted by sagging skin will convince our kids’ generation that long-term decisions have grotesque consequences when made on impulse, at age 17.

So, are there any verses left? I propose we stick to what God is concerned about: the heart.This body will be renewed sansscars later, but the soul needs to stay in shape now.

When I counsel young people who want a tattoo, I ask about their heart in the decision.

motives (1 Cor 10:31)

parents‘ views (Eph 6:1)

level of contentment (1 Tim6:6)

view of modesty in dress (1 Tim 2:9)

understanding of dishonorable nakedness (1 Cor 12:23)

I like this insightful blogpost by Gareth Palmer, a young non-conformist who has some good thoughts on the issue (and no tattoo).

If examining the heart doesn’t work just have your arty teen turn to Leviticus. By the time they have matured enough to know they’ve been hoodwinked by skin deep hermeneutics, they’ll have outgrown the impulse for a tattoo.

What verses would you use to counsel one through making the decision?”

Herding the Elephants

“This isn’t on the scale of Piper inviting Warren. This is more akin to Augustine inviting Muhammad.” -Thabiti Anyabwile

“Thanks for the herding. Now lets hope there’s no more breeding and that the issue becomes extinct.” -Clint Archer, response to Riccardi’s synopsis

For a great synopsis of the Elephant Room debacle, check out Mike Riccardi’s post at the Cripplegate.

http://thecripplegate.com/herding-the-elephants/

Don’t Be a Self-Appointed Sheriff with a Plastic Badge

“What is the call to ministry?

It is becoming popular these days in certain circles to become bolder in claiming that God audibly called you to the ministry. Being from South Africa, I am often curious as to which English accent God employs. From the aggregate location of the claims, I’m guessing it’s North West Coast American. (If you are curious about my views on these claims, readHeaven is for Real, Well Duh.)

Other than from my distracted guidance counselor in high school I’ve never personally heard an audible voice telling me what to do with my life. I merely have the inspired word of God with all things pertaining to life and godliness in it to help me determine if I’m called to teach. So for those of you who don’t have the red telephone some claim to use, I hope you find this helpful.

There are four widely recognized aspects to the biblical call to a teaching ministry in the church.”

Read Clint Archer’s post at:

http://thecripplegate.com/are-you-a-sheriff-with-a-plastic-badge-the-call-to-teach/