And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 22, Number
In this issue:
The Lord spoke eight Beatitudes at the beginning of His Sermon on the Mount that set forth the characteristics of the citizens of His kingdom. These characteristics bring great blessings to those who possess them. The book of Revelation contains seven lesser-known Beatitudes, which also promise to bring great blessings to those who possess them.
“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near” (Rev. 1:3).
“Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them’” (Rev. 14:13).
“Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame” (Rev. 16:15).
“Then he said to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!”’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true sayings of God’” (Rev. 19:9).
“Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Rev. 20:6).
“Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book” (Rev. 22:7).
“Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (Rev. 22:14).
Satan asked for Peter. He wanted to destroy his soul. “And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat’” (Lk. 22:31). Satan wanted to dislodge Peter from his faith and consume his soul like so much chaff separated from the wheat. Jesus told Peter he prayed for him, “that your faith should not fail” and charged him with strengthening his brethren when he returned to Him (Lk. 22:32).
But, Peter was confident – overconfident – that he would go to prison and death with Jesus instead of Satan ever getting hold of him (Lk. 22:33). Self-assured, he declared, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble” (Matt. 26:33). Although Jesus predicted Peter’s triple denial “this night,” Peter still did not believe the Lord. “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” he said. Peter was not the only one making this bold assertion; “And so said all the disciples” (Matt. 26:34-35). They refused to believe Christ’s application of Zechariah’s prophecy to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered’” (Matt. 26:31).
Like Peter, Satan wants to devour you and me (1 Pet. 5:8). When Jesus tells us something is sin, do we believe Him? Or, like Peter (and the rest), do we confidently argue with the Lord that we would never commit that sin? Satan will never get us! There is a warning here against a prideful attitude toward ourselves and toward sin that echoes 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”
Consider some of Peter’s decisions that warn us to be careful, lest Satan sifts us like wheat.
1) Peter drew the wrong sword at the wrong time. Earlier Jesus had approved the sword for self-defense as the apostles prepared for things to come (Lk. 22:35-38). So, when the Judas-led mob came to Gethsemane, Peter drew a sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant (Lk. 22:49-51; Jno. 18:10). Jesus healed Malchus’s ear and told Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” (Jno. 18:11)
Let us learn this lesson: Like Peter, there are times we fight the wrong battles with the wrong weapons, and for the wrong reasons. There is no doubt we are in a battle against evil (Eph. 6:10-13). But, carnal tactics and weapons will bring defeat, not victory. Only the weapons of faith that Christ gives us will prevail (2 Cor. 10:3-5; Eph. 6:14-18; 1 Jno. 5:4).
We must have the wisdom to know when and how to fight our spiritual battles. We cannot fight against the purposes and word of God and suppose we are on the Lord’s side (Acts 5:39). When we are driven by fleshly, sinful, worldly pursuits to wage “wars and fights,” we are fighting for ourselves, not the Lord (Jas. 4:1-4). Let us not be overconfident and say, “We would never fight any battle except the good fight of faith!” If we do, Satan has us right where he wants us. Proud of our devotion to Jesus, yet standing confidently on the precipice of sin, we will fall.
Jesus forgave Peter for using the wrong weapon for the wrong battle. Thanks be to God the Lord forgives us when arrogant presumptions lead us to fight for ourselves, for our pleasures, and our purposes instead of His holy will. He gives grace when we humble ourselves (Jas. 4:6).
2) Peter warmed himself at the wrong fire (Mk. 14:54; Jno. 18:18). Peter was somewhere he never should have been. Following at a distance, he wanted to see what would happen (Matt. 26:58). So, at the fire in the high priest’s courtyard, Peter sat with the servants “to see the end” (Matt. 26:58, 69). Threatened with being exposed as a follower of Jesus, he denied Jesus three times (Matt. 26:69-75).
Let us learn this lesson: We must not put ourselves in the middle of sin’s temptation and then expect to walk away unharmed. “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits’” (1 Cor. 15:33). The friends we choose and the places we go will have an impact on our willingness and ability to resist temptation. Since “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” we must take care not to subject ourselves to the environs of sin (Matt. 26:41). We are warming ourselves at the wrong fire when we love the world and the things of the world – and we will get burned (1 Jno. 2:15-17).
Jesus forgave Peter for denying Him. Peter wept bitterly, leading to his repentance (Matt. 26:75; Jno. 21:15-19; 2 Cor. 7:9-10). Thanks be to God the Lord forgives us when we warm ourselves at the sinful fires of worldliness, error, and unfaithfulness. Repentance and confession of sins bring merciful forgiveness (Acts 8:22-24; 1 Jno. 1:9).
3) Peter sat at the wrong table (Gal. 2:11-14). Fearing Jewish brethren would consider him unclean, he separated himself from eating with Gentile Christians. Peter’s hypocrisy was on display (since he had previously taught the truth that there is no distinction between Jews and Gentiles – both are purified by faith, Acts 10:34-35; 15:9). On top of that, his sin influenced others to sin, including Barnabas (Gal. 2:13).
Let us learn this lesson: Separating ourselves from others due to bias and prejudice is sin. It increases evil suspicions and sinful divisions (1 Tim. 6:4-5). It is hypocritical to speak against bigotry while holding it in our hearts and practicing it toward others. James taught against the sins of favoritism and prejudice in James 2:1-4. We must take heed.
Jesus forgave Peter of his bias and hypocrisy. Rebuked by the apostle Paul, Peter surely repented and continued his faithful service in the kingdom as an apostle and an elder. Thanks be to the Lord we can also be forgiven the sins of bigotry and hypocrisy.
Satan wants to sift us as wheat. We must be watchful and never trust ourselves. Trust the Lord. If we sin, may we humble ourselves and repent. The Lord will forgive us when we do. Then, we can strengthen our brethren.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Sauce for the Goose
The headline says it quite well: “Planned Parenthood Admits Founder Margaret Sanger Was Racist, Supported Eugenics” (christianhealines.com). On July 21, “Planned Parenthood of Greater New York (PPGNY) announced its plans to remove Margaret Sanger’s name from the Manhattan Health Center as a public commitment to reckon with its founder’s harmful connections to the eugenics movement” (plannedparenthood.org). Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the U.S.
At a time when this country is discussing historical racism, acknowledging their racist roots is a good first step. PPGNY said it would take other steps to “address Sanger’s legacy and system of institutional racism” (Ibid). Pro-life activists have long highlighted Sanger’s racial legacy and her ties to the eugenics movement. Eugenics is “a set of beliefs and practices that aim to improve the genetic quality of a human population, historically by excluding people and groups judged to be inferior and promoting those judged to be superior” (Wikipedia). Sanger used abortion to “breed out” so-called racism inferiorities.
The historic disproportion of abortions among populations of color by Planned Parenthood deserves to be addressed. Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser observed, “The next step for Planned Parenthood is recognizing that Margaret Sanger’s racist legacy continues today, as abortion continues to disproportionately impact minority communities, especially the black community. We call on Planned Parenthood to immediately publish its historical abortion data by race given indications they have skewed the placement of abortion facilities and actively target minority communities. Further, we call on Planned Parenthood to drop its fierce opposition to anti-discrimination laws that protect unborn children from being selected for abortion due to their race, sex, or disability” (SBA List Press Release).
“For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged” (Matt. 7:2). Sauce for the goose.
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 07/23/2020
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA