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Death – The Evil Emperor

Death – The Evil Emperor

As we continue looking at the book of Romans, Paul is dealing with the battle between life and death. In my last post we were seeing the result of the cross in this struggle.

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:15

This verse should really open our eyes to the truth. Death became king because of the one offense, when Adam sinned. But now, in Christ, how much greater is our reigning in life because of God’s super-abundant grace?

This verse literally says that we will rule or be kings in life through Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, it seems that many believers are fighting the wrong enemy. We think that the devil is the highest enemy. NO! He answers to his boss – death.

If you have subscribed to this blog for any length of time, you probably know that I’m a scifi nerd. I remember when Star Wars first came out. Darth Vader was the evil mastermind that the rebel forces were trying to defeat.

But then, in the second movie, The Empire Strikes Back, we were shocked to see Darth Vader bowing before an even higher being…the Emperor. That’s the way it is in our spiritual battle. Death is the emperor that the devil bows before.

Death is the real enemy, not the devil.

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

Hebrews 2:14-15

That’s why throughout Scripture the battle has always been life versus death. That’s what we’re always told to choose between (Deuteronomy 30:19). The choice is always between life and death. It’s not about good and evil, or even God and the devil.

That’s why Jesus holds out life to all who will come to Him.

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”

John 5:24

Notice that we haven’t crossed over from the kingdom of Satan, but from death. We have got to grasp this truth. Our greatest enemy is not the devil, it’s death.

When we speak or act in the power of death, that’s when we give him power over us. Satan is the Darth Vader of the empire of death. His goal is to carry out the agenda of death.

But there’s a greater truth at work in us. Now we are the king through Christ. We have the authority of life. That is, if we speak and act according to the agenda of the God of life.

It seems that we’re always on the lookout for sin and the devil. We need to start watching for the little ways we let death enter the scene.

…and do not give the devil a foothold.

Ephesians 4:27

What is a foothold? Simply put, it’s a place to stand. We have to stand on God’s Word. The devil has to stand on death’s word. Actually, he has to operate the same way we do. The difference is that the Word of Life is more powerful, has more authority, than the word of death.

If you haven’t already done so, change your way of thinking. Choose life and speak the Word of God. That’s the best way to a victorious lifestyle.

Question: How have you seen the battle of life and death playing out in your experience?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Human Yet Victorious

I’m so glad that the Holy Spirit doesn’t whitewash the lives of the great men and women of the Bible.  He lets us see them for who they truly are.  By showing us their strengths and weaknesses, we can identify with them and follow their examples.

We see this in the life of Paul the Apostle as we continue to look at his second letter to the Corinthian church.

Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there.  So I said good-by to them and went on to Macedonia.
2 Corinthians 2:12-13

I find this verse to be very eye-opening.  On the one hand, Paul acknowledges that it’s the Lord opening up a door of ministry for him in Troas.  On the other hand, he had no peace of mind as he ministered in that city.

Why was that?  It was all because of his anxiety over the whereabouts of his spiritual son, Titus.  They were supposed to meet up in Troas, but Titus never arrived.

I think that we sometimes get too comfortable with the modern convenience of our smartphones.  A simple text message, “Where are you?  I just got to Troas.  What’s your ETA?” can alleviate a lot of worries.

Back then, all they could do was to set a time and place to meet up.  Then, if one didn’t show up, there was no way of finding out what the problem was.

In Paul’s case, he started to get anxious and worried about all the possibilities that could have caused this delay.  However, Paul overrides all of this anxiety by his next statement.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.
2 Corinthians 2:14

The next words out of his mouth are an acknowledgment of the victory he has in Christ Jesus.  The phrase, triumphal procession, means a victory parade.

That’s just like when a team wins the Superbowl or the World Series.  They come back to their city and have a massive parade in the streets.  That’s what Paul is talking about here.

We need to learn this lesson.  We’re never called to deny what we’re going through.  We don’t have to pretend that everything is flowers and butterflies.  We can speak the truth of the challenge we’re facing, as long as we then declare the victory that Christ has already won.

“The doctor just gave me a bad report, but Praise God, Christ is my Healer and He has the final word.”

That’s why it’s so important to know who you are in Christ.  It’s His victory that we’re walking in.  We must learn to declare what He’s done for us.

Paul explained what Christ did in another of his letters.

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Colossians 2:15

This is the victory that the Lord won for us.  It’s important to see this truth.

Never deny the challenge that you face.  But, at the same time, never forget to declare the victory that Christ gives you over it.

You’ll find that this changes your whole outlook on the future.

Questions: What challenges do you face right now?  What victory has Christ already won for you?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2020 in Faith, Spiritual Walk

 

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Thanksgiving and God’s Plan for You

ThanksgivingMany people are preparing their homes for Thanksgiving. I think that the average American has lost sight of the true meaning. It’s become “Turkey Day” or a day for watching great football games. But many have erased God from the picture.

The world we live in is so uncertain. Finances, healthcare, government, crime, terrorists…society is on the edge of their seat. How can we be thankful in a time like this? The fact is, if we want to live victoriously, then it’s all about thankfulness. Here are some things to think about as we head into this holiday.

…give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

First of all, giving thanks is God’s will. It doesn’t matter what you’re going through – good times or bad. Notice that He doesn’t say for all things, but in all things. We shouldn’t be moved by the visible. We must keep our eyes on the eternal.

The ups and downs of society and the weather are all temporary. In any situation I find myself in, I can give thanks and I’m in the will of God for me.

…always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:20

This is a poor translation. The verse literally says always giving thanks OVER everything.

Giving thanks raises you over the situation. In the name of Christ we’re above our circumstances.

We see the problems and they look so big. Like the Israelites who spied out the Promised Land. They saw the giants. But Joshua and Caleb were looking through eyes of thankfulness because God was giving them the land.

It doesn’t matter how big the mountain is thankfulness puts you over it.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

Giving thanks results in the peace of God. The literal Greek of this verse says that when you offer up thanksgiving in a worrisome situation then the peace of God will hold you above all understanding.

Then it will guard you; like having sentries all around you. It’s the peace OF GOD that will hold you above the circumstance.

He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.
Psalms 50:23

Giving thanks prepares you for victory. You need to be prepared to receive God’s blessing. That’s the rule in the kingdom of God.

Somewhere along the way we’ve missed it. We’ve let the selfishness of society mold our thinking.

“When somebody does something nice, you thank them.”

Thankfulness after the fact is based upon doubt. The kingdom of God is based on faith. When do you thank God for your food – after you receive it? No – we see the food, thank God, and receive it.

By faith we see the answer to our need, thank God, and THEN receive it. This holiday, be thankful – future tense.

Question: What are the future blessings that you’re thanking God for right now?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2015 in Faith, God's Provision, Power of God

 

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