Lecture Hall Archives
HOW TO DISCERN A SPIRITUAL TRAP
Luke 9:55-56 “But He turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.’ And they went to another village.”
The context for the above verses have to do with the fact that Jesus knew that this was His last ministry trip as He was going up to Jerusalem to be crucified. Jesus sent messengers ahead of His ministry team to prepare the people of the villages that He was passing through on His way to Jerusalem, for He wanted to do as much ministry work as possible on behalf of those who needed His ministry before His crucifixion.
A Samaritan village upon hearing from the messengers, that Jesus wanted to minister to them before going up to Jerusalem, did not receive them because of the fact that He was going to Jerusalem, and the Samaritans of that village did not want anything to do with the Jews of Jerusalem. The Jews of that day did not consider the Samaritans to be Jewish enough to worship in Jerusalem, so the Samaritans had to worship God in Samaria instead, and there was a rivalry between them as to where the proper place to worship God was.
James and John upon hearing from the messengers that the village that they were about to enter did not welcome them, said this:
Luke 9:54 “...Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”
Jesus rebuked them for not having the same spirit in their hearts for ministry that He had; and this is the part that I want our focus to be for this lesson. We need to consider what type of spirit is it that rules in our hearts as we engage in our pursuit of preaching the Gospel that Jesus preached to the masses.
There are so many really bad things going on right now, everywhere, that if at some point you don’t feel like James and John felt at that time, and wished that you could call fire down from heaven, then you better check your pulse. I know, we know better than that, thank God for hindsight; but not everybody is aware of this spirit of rage that can just rise up at any minute, even within holy apostles, and we need to learn how to discern and how to stay away from their hidden traps.
Jesus rebuked against James and John had to do more with their failure to recognize this spirit for what it was, a spirit of antichrist, than for the foolishness of what they wanted to do.
Luke 4:18-19 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel (good news, not bad news) to the poor; He has sent Me to heal (not to kill) the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Nowhere in our Lord’s mission statement do we see the words, to bring fire down from heaven. Now isn’t He God? Yes He is! Does He have the power to bring down fire from heaven upon anyone He chooses? Yes He does! But if you are called by God to the ministry, then you better find out quick which type of ministry you are called to fulfill on God’s behalf before you start vaporizing people.
It is true that Elijah had called fire down from heaven after prophesying that the injured king of Israel that ruled from Samaria was going to die.
2 Kings 1:2-4 “Now Ahaziah fell through the lattice of his upper room in Samaria, and was injured; so he sent messengers and said to them, ‘Go, inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this injury.’ But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, ‘Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them, “Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Akron?” Now therefore, thus says the Lord: “You shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.”’ So Elijah departed.”
When we read our opening Scripture within the greater historical context we can see the trap that the spirit of antichrist was trying to set up against Jesus’ ministry team.
It was from Samaria the capitol of Israel at that time, that the king of Israel highly insulted the Lord by trying to bypass God’s duly instituted Elijah’s prophetic ministry, and instead sent seeking for the counsel of Satan himself, the representative of everything that is in opposition to God and His goodness, just like antichrist is the total opposite of who Christ is and His goodness.
So that we have messengers, Samaritans, the spirit of antichrist and Satan, all involved in an intricate spiritual plot to try and derail the ministry of Jesus who has been anointed to preach the Gospel of good news to the poor by the Spirit of the Living God.
What is troubling about this story is that the two disciples fell for it.
Now when the king of Israel saw that his messengers return so quickly, he asked them why had they disobeyed his orders and returned without accomplishing what he had commanded them, to seek the counsel of Satan on behalf of the nation of Israel. He was told that a man had ordered them to return to the king. So the king asked them who was the man that had spoken to them with such authority.
2 Kings 1:8 “So they answered him, ‘A hairy man wearing a leather belt around his waist.’ And he (the king) said, ‘It is Elijah the Tishbite.’”
So that the king knew that Elijah was a prophet of God, called to speak on God’s behalf as it concern the nation of Israel and its kings. Angry at Elijah for prophesying that he would not recovered from his injuries, he sent a garrison of fifty soldiers to fetch Elijah.
2 Kings 1:10 “So Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, ‘If I am a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men.’ And fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.”
Now keep in mind that all of this is taking place during the time when Elijah was being prepared to be taken up to heaven, just like Jesus was.
2 Kings 2:1 “And it came to pass, when the Lord was about to take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind…”
Luke 9:51 “Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him (Jesus) to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.”
And now we see that when the time had come for Jesus to be received up, as He is headed for Jerusalem trying to minister to as many people as He can before He goes back to heaven, how the devil tried to derail the ministry of Jesus in the same manner that he tried to derail the ministry of Elijah before He was taken up.
The way to derail a ministry is by causing it to deviate from its original calling. Jesus ministry was that of: For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them. So the devil by his craftiness tried to use a historical instance recorded in Scripture, along with fanning the flames of anti-Samaritan feelings that were so prevalent among the Jewish people of that day, to change the course of Jesus’ ministry from that of saving peoples lives into destroying them.
And if he is able to do that right before Jesus the leader of the ministry is taken away, so that while He is gone the deviation cannot be corrected, then the whole purpose of the ministry is forever altered, from that of being a ministry that aims to save people, to one that ends up destroying them.
Although I am using the word ministry as an example, my aim here is more into the personal side of things. Let me explain:
Luke 9:62 “...No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.”
Satan is not so stupid as to think that he can derail that which the Lord has established, but if he can disarm as many of the Lord’s servants as he can, then the kingdom of God is hindered.
A Christian is disarmed when he/she looks at the circumstances, that is what looking back means, instead of focusing on the foundational principles of our calling. We need to stay away from the frustrations that our present day evil brings; there is so much perversion going on, there is a total disregard for the truth, there is so much hate emanating from people that do not even have a clue as to what Christianity is.
We need to understand that people have been blinded by the lies of this present age, and that Jesus came to bring recovery of sight to the blind. The fire that we call from heaven upon them is not for their destruction but for their enlightenment. If we fall into the trap of hating back those who hate us, then we are not in the same manner of spirit that Jesus is and become disqualified, not fit for the Kingdom of God.
I know, it is so hard to pray for a world that murders innocent children by the millions and then calls it a choice, but let us keep in mind that God does not rejoice in their destruction, for He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. So let us not fall into the temptations of hate and vengeance for in due time God will deal with all the treachery, and when He does it will not be pretty.
Luke 10:10-11 “But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, ‘The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the Kingdom of God has come near you.’”
If it helps, know that the ministry of the Kingdom of God is two fold, the main and present purpose is to convert those who live in darkness into the liberty of God’s enlightenment, our part in this present ministry is simple, staying true to the fact that Jesus came not to destroy lives but to save them.
John 3:17 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
As long as we keep the same reference of mind with the mind of Jesus, that is how we know that we are of the same manner of Spirit with Him, no matter how much the evil perpetrated by the world keeps pushing us into repaying evil with evil, we will not budge.
Now the second part of the two fold ministry of the Kingdom of God is reserved for the day of the great judgment. I guess that we could say that God is not judging the world as much for the evil that it did, but rather for the fact that it refused the opportunity to receive the freedom that it was offered by the demonstration of God’s great love.
Luke 10:12-13 “But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city (the city that refused to receive the Kingdom of God). Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.”
But how can the judgment of God be rendered to them if the Kingdom of God has not been clearly demonstrated to them. In a sense we could say that the devil, by drawing us into the trap of repaying evil with evil, is trying to lessen the very judgment that will befall all those who have rejected the Gospel of Jesus the Anointed One.
After Elijah had called down fire from heaven to fall consequently upon the two captains and their fifty men squads that were sent to arrest him, the third captain fell down before Elijah and pleaded for mercy. If he disobeyed the king he would have been killed instantly, and going to arrest Elijah meant certain death as well for him and his fifty men. But he trusted in the God of mercy to deliver him out of an unwinnable situation, and God answered him with mercy.
2 Kings 1:13-15 “Again, he sent a third captain of fifty with his fifty men. And the third captain of fifty went up, and came and fell on his knees before Elijah, and pleaded with him, and said to him: ‘Man of God, please let my life and the life of these fifty servants of yours be precious in your sight. Look, fire has come down from heaven and burned up the first two captains of fifties with their fifties. But let my life now be precious in your sight.’ And the angel of the Lord said to Elijah, ‘Go down with him…’”
So that the fire was never really in Elijah’s hand, it was always in the hands of the angel of the Lord. Notice that the wise captain’s plead was two fold, he said, we were sent here to arrest you but we are now your servants, and since we are now God’s servants, ready to do His will, our lives are now precious to the Lord, and he made that fact the second part of his plead.
By doing it that way the spiritual trap that was set before Elijah was disarmed and God was able to show them mercy; and at the same time God’s conviction of their horrible sin of seeking Satan’s advice over God’s counsel was never weakened nor compromised.
Justice and love prevailed!