Saturday, November 10, 2012

Victory or Just a Bayer Aspirin

Dear Sabbath School Class and Special Guests,

Because of so much going on this week I wasn't planning on preparing teaching notes per se but alas I ended up doing it any way.  There is so much to cover.  As I studied I remembered something I read years ago and it seemed to fit in with how we view God, Satan and victory over sin.  At least it caused me to think again about how I sometimes limit what God really wants to do in my life.  See what you think of the quote:

“There is no such thing as a peace of soul approach to religion.  It makes of God a gigantic Bayer aspirin . . . take God three times and you won’t feel any pain.” (John Powell, Why Am I Afraid to Love, p.34)

So what do you think?  Does it have anything to do with "Victory Over Evil Forces" or am I connecting dots that don't necessarily connect?
Larry R Evans, D.Min.

Victory Over Evil Forces
Sabbath School Lesson Study Notes
Larry R Evans, Class Teacher
November 10, 2012

The Road Not Taken
Robert Frost

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Life is filled with choices.  Depending on the choices we make has everything to do where we will go – maybe not when we will arrive but certainly the destination will be certain.

Our study this week is about both the powerful effects of the choices we make and the powerful forces at work attempting to direct us as we make those choices.

Before we begin our study I’d like to ask you a question.  What is there about Christianity (or if you prefer “religion”) that draws you to accept it as part of your life? (or is it all of your life? – either way:  why accept it?)

The author of this quarter’s Bible study wrote:
“The real spiritual problem that some Christians face is that their walk focuses, not on attaining, through the power of Jesus, the certainty of victory over sin, but on using religion as an ointment to make life daily challenges a little bit better.”  (Growing in Christ by Kwabena Donkor, p.44)  Do you agree?

Another author, John Powell, has written: “There is no such thing as a peace of soul approach to religion.  It makes of God a gigantic Bayer aspirin . . . take God three times and you won’t feel any pain.” (John Powell, Why Am I Afraid to Love, p.34)

So the follow-up question is this:  Does overcoming sin relieve pain or does it bring on more pain?  After all, our lesson for today is all about “Victory Over Evil Forces.” What is there about sin that keeps us there?  What is there about Christianity that pulls us away from sin?


1.         When vice in the world increases, the Christian’s hope is only reinforced not weakened.  (Eph. 1:18-22)  TRUE

18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened  in order that you may know the hope to which he has called  you, the riches  of his glorious inheritance  in the saints,  19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power  is like the working of his mighty strength,  (Eph.1:18-19)

What needs to be enlightened?  Why?

Note how the NLT translates this:
18I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident ehope he has given to those he fcalled—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
19I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power20that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. (Ephl 1:18-20, NLT)

2.         For the Christian, hope is with them because they have learned to “grin and bare it” in all circumstances. (Romans 8:26-39) True or False?

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good  of those who love him,  who  have been called  according to his purpose. (Rom.8:28)

So, then, God is responsible for all that happens—right?

Even while the enemy means for my harm, God is one step ahead of him and will work it as though God Himself allowed it to happen. While God is not the author of confusion, sickness or death, He still gets glory!  . . .  But why?

3.         According to Scripture the struggle for the Christian is to do right when facing adversity. (1 Peter 5:6,7; James 4:7)  True or False?

6But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say,
“God opposes the proud but favors the humble.”
7So humble yourselves before GodResist the adevil, and he will flee from you.8Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. (James 4:6-8, NLT)

What is there about grace that opposes the proud? (v.6)  How is pride related to drawing near to God (NIV) mentioned in verse 7?

NIV says “draw nigh to God”; NLT says “humble yourselves before God”.  The Greek word suggests “to let down” with the idea of being subject to.  What I get from this is that God’s powerful grace is at the door.  Our pride can keep the door closed but if we let down our resistance to God and instead put up our resistance to God then the power of grace will save us from the destructive powers of Satan!  So pride and stubbornness can stand in the way of victory!

Have you ever known anyone whose pride and confidence in self let to their downfall?  Have you ever been defeated by a temptation because you thought you were strong enough to do fight temptation on you own?

4.         Demonic powers were stronger than the disciples. (Matt. 10:1-8)  True and False

7 As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven  is near.’  8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,  drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.  (Matt. 10:7,8)
But compare with Matt 11:4-6.  Here these miracles are signs of the Messiahship of Jesus.  [driving out demons is not listed here]

Notice the commission Jesus gave to the disciples:
1 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons  and to cure diseases,  2 and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God  and to heal the sick.  (Lk 91,2)

Do you see this as instructions to cast out demons through exorcisms or was this a confrontation with Satan’s powers at work in the lives of people as seen in sickness.  Were they to engage in conversations with Satan such as is often the case with modern exorcisms?

5.         We live in the constant danger of turning what God has done into praise for some attribute His servants may or may not have. (Acts 5:12-16)  True

Was there power in Peter’s shadow?  See the passage. Do you think Peter promoted this?

As a result of the apostles’ work, sick people were brought out into the streets on beds and mats so that Peter’s shadow might fall across some of them as he went by.16Crowds came from the villages around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those possessed by evil spirits, and they were all healed. (Acts 5:15-16)

A Concluding Thought

“It is true that Satan is a powerful being; but thank God, we have a mighty Saviour who cast out the evil one from heaven.  Satan is pleased when we magnify his power.  Why not talk of Jesus? Why not magnify His power and His love.?”  -- Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, pp. 493

“Two roads diverge . . .” Which road will you take and why? Will you focus on the power of Satan or the power and love of Jesus to change your own life?  Where do you find the most hope?

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