Saturday, January 17, 2009

Spiritual warfare and relationships

Satan's power and control are contingent. He is dependent on our participation in sin. following the bent of his murdering nature, he wants relationships broken and/or distorted. How he does that varies from relationship to relationship. We must be careful not to give Satan to much credit-he takes advantage of our sin to bring breaches or build inappropriate dependencies, but he is not responsible for all of our bad relationships. God has set us free through Jesus to live in loving relationships with others. God is compassionate, a term which denotes the strong tie that God has with His children; He looks upon them as a Father upon His children; with a deep, tender love. He is gracious, which depicts a heartfelt response by someone who has something to give to one who has a need. He is slow to anger, His anger prolongs itself and is not quick to inflict punishment on the sinner, in order that he may repent. He is abounding in loving kindness (tender and benevolent affection; loyal covenant love) and truth (faithfulness) ("reliability, trustworthiness," the attribute of someone one can depend on, certainly, dependability). These two combine in a single attribute- loving kindness of truth, true and faithful loving kindness. He keeps, with complete faithfulness, His promises to shew loving kindness and bestow good. God keeps loving kindness for thousands. This takes off from Exodus 20:2-7, which states that God punishes sins to the third and fourth generations, but shows love to thousands of generations (the term implies a limitless number) towards those who love Him. How great is God's mercy in comparison to His wrath. This brings us to the question a Lawyer asked Jesus. In the New Testament our Lord answered a Lawyer's question as to which is the greatest commandment. "He answered 'love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind;' and 'love your neighbor as yourself." Luke 10:27. Relationships are at the center of the Christian life. The believers priority relation is to be with God, who desires a relationship of love with each of us. This relationship is responsive in that "We love Him because He first loved us." How do I know I am loving Him with my entire being? I am loving God most when I am abiding in a intimate relationship of trust with Him. A real need among believers is how to exercise discernment in relationships. Examples of wrong relational discernment is identifying with movie stars and patterning ones life after them, or becoming involved with pornography. One might simply use people wrongly for personal advancement or in other unethical ways. How does this work in the Church. Many fellowships have started down the slope that leads to relational destruction by demanding her members wear masks. What does a mask look like? It's the I've got my life together, everything is under control and all is just fine with me mask. Just let slip that you have spiritual doubts and confusion, try asking prayer for your daughter who is pregnant out of wedlock, or your son who is struggling with homosexual issues. Let your mask slip a little and expose some of your real self. You may be embraced by believers who are filled with the sweet love of Christ. However I have seen the pronouncement of "You are unclean, you are not welcome here," far to many times. Our relational discernment will have it's outworking in our love for God and others. The Holy Spirit is the relationship expert, allow Him through the Scriptures to develop in you relational discernment.

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