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S.A.N.S. Episode103: Whom Shall I Fear?

Chris Tomlin has slowly become the Michael W. Smith of modern-day Contemporary Christian Music. You don’t have to go far to recognize Tomlin’s popularity as fans have purchased over 7 million records. Today’s featured song is a remake of a popular church hymn Whom Shall I Fear? This open ended question serves as a reflection to consider God’s promises and power to protect you from harm.

There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love [g]turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear [h]brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection], 1 John 4:18.

Fear of one of those inner demons that often results in nightmares. Yet, fear can come in the form of peer pressure, especially in this age of virtue signaling and wokeness. However, the apostle Paul reminds his readers that the Holy Spirit is greater than fear, 2 Timothy 1:7. As Christians develop and mature in the love of Jesus, this knowledge can and will expel every trace of fear. Enjoy Chris’ song.

by Jay Mankus

Undoing the Works of the Devil

One of my inspirations to become a youth pastor and high school Bible teacher was to help teenagers avoid the same mistakes that I made when I was their age. Perhaps, this desire was a form of penance to undo the works of the Devil from my younger years. I spent a majority of my adolescence indulging my sinful nature to bring me pleasure. Meanwhile, to those little children who were watching, I set a poor example on numerous occasions.

But the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die, For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil and blessing and calamity. And when the woman saw that the tree was good (suitable, pleasant) for food and that it was delightful to look at, and a tree to be desired in order to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she gave some also to her husband, and he ate, Genesis 3:4-6.

One of the comments Jesus made about adults who corrupt innocent children was to tie a millstone around their neck and throw them into the sea to drown. The imagery of this story in the Bible put the fear of God into me. This combined with a reoccurring nightmare about dying as a child set the stage for God to begin to move me away devilish acts. Like most teenagers, I was a slow learner who couldn’t quite put all the sinful habits of my past behind me.

[But] he who commits sin [who practices evildoing] is of the devil [takes his character from the evil one], for the devil has sinned (violated the divine law) from the beginning. The reason the Son of God was made manifest (visible) was to undo (destroy, loosen, and dissolve) the works the devil [has done], 1 John 3:8.

When you do give into that demon on your shoulder whispering evil thoughts into your mind, confession is your best option, James 5:16. This doesn’t mean when a similar urge returns that you’re safe. Rather, one of Jesus’ former disciples compares the Devil to a predator seeking to prey on isolated and weakened Christians, 1 Peter 5:8. If and when addiction or bad habits get the best of you, this is when you need to wrestle with your flesh to break free, Galatians 5:16-18. If you want to undo the works of the devil in your life, your have to put to death that sinful mindset by taking your thoughts captive, 2 Corinthians 10:5-6.

by Jay Mankus

Freedom as a Pretext for Wickedness?

A pretext is given in justification of a course of action that is not the real reason. Whenever you are caught in the act of wrongdoing, the creative will come out with a logical excuse right off the top of their head. While watching an episode of Cold Case Files, one serial killer blamed a Succubus; a female demon. Similar to a child whose is caught by a parent, “the Devil made me do it” is a common rationale to explain irrational behavior.

[Live] as free people, [yet] without employing your freedom as a pretext for wickedness; but [live at all times] as servants of God, 1 Peter 2:16.

In a letter to the Church at Corinth, the apostle Paul explains that everything is permissible via freewill, but not everything is beneficial, 1 Corinthians 6:12. A few verses later, Paul uses a prostitute to introduce the concept of soul ties. Whenever human beings participate in any sexual act, a bond is formed. Instead of waiting for marriage to consecrate sacred vows made by a couple, temporary pleasures are gratified by giving into temptation.

And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. 16 The people answered, Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods; Joshua 24:15-16.

Following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven, there were several religious cults that arose. Some of these groups cheapened God’s grace by professing the more you sinned, the greater God’s grace will be poured out upon you. This likely explains the words in Hebrews 6:4-6 as freewill was being used as a pretext for wickedness. Rather than follow the trends in today’s progressive culture, God wants more leaders like Joshua who aren’t afraid to take a stand by faithfully serving the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

What Makes Demons Tremble?

Over five billion copies of the Bible have been sold worldwide. This book is a great resource for history, faith, and religious practices. Yet, the Bible contains details of what will happen in the last days on earth. The book of Revelation refers to seven tribulations that lead up to the battle of Armageddon, Revelation 16:14-16. The conclusion of this war is what makes demons tremble.

You believe that God is one; you do well. So do the demons believe and shudder [in terror and horror such as [a]make a man’s hair stand on end and contract the surface of his skin]! – James 2:19

If you follow current events by watching cable news or reading articles on various sites, not much makes sense. Criminals in many states are being released from jail without bail on the same day only to commit similar or more violent attacks on law abiding citizens days later. This trend has spiraled act of control resulting in numerous unnecessary deaths if these criminals were punished for their first violent offense.

And angels who did not keep (care for, guard, and hold to) their own first place of power but abandoned their proper dwelling place—these He has reserved in custody in eternal chains (bonds) under the thick gloom of utter darkness until the judgment and doom of the great day. [The wicked are sentenced to suffer] just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the adjacent towns—which likewise gave themselves over to impurity and indulged in unnatural vice and sensual perversity—are laid out [in plain sight] as an exhibit of perpetual punishment [to warn] of everlasting fire, Jude 1:6-7.

This is not how the Bible works. According to Matthew 12:36-37, there will be a day of judgment where you will have to give an account for everything you have done on earth. Individuals who have had near death experiences have explained this as watching a movie about your life containing the good, bad and ugly moments. After dying, everyone will be judged by God. This is what makes demons tremble.

by Jay Mankus

The Spiritual Dimension

There are 30 passages in the Bible that refer to a spiritual dimension. The most famous occurs in Ephesians 6:12 where the apostle Paul unveils what is out of sight to human eyes. This dimension is transcendence toward something more than what is apparent in the experiences of other dimensions. According to Paul, what lies beneath the surface is an ongoing spiritual battle between powers, rulers and spiritual forces.

Now there was a day when the sons (the angels) of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan (the adversary and accuser) also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, From where did you come? Then Satan answered the Lord, From going to and fro on the earth and from walking up and down on it. And the Lord said to Satan, Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who [reverently] fears God and abstains from and shuns evil [because it is wrong]? Then Satan answered the Lord, Does Job [reverently] fear God for nothing? 10 Have You not put a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have conferred prosperity and happiness upon him in the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has, and he will curse You to Your face, Job 1:6-11.

Although it’s not the first, Job was the first completed book in the Bible. Since chapter 1 references living in the land of dinosaurs, Job likely lived prior to the biblical flood mentioned in Genesis 7. Following a brief introduction, Job is made aware of what lurks out of sight. Whether through prayer or a one on one conversation with God, Job’s spiritual enemy is brought to life. Lucifer is described as a diligent traveler of the earth, seeking to steal, kill and destroy human souls, John 10:10.

But someone will say [to you then], You [say you] have faith, and I have [good] works. Now you show me your [alleged] faith apart from any [good] works [if you can], and I by [good] works [of obedience] will show you my faith. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. So do the demons believe and shudder [in terror and horror such as make a man’s hair stand on end and contract the surface of his skin]! – James 2:18-19

In the middle of the first century, Jesus’ earthly brother writes about demons. Based upon Christian historians, James did not come to faith until after Jesus rose from the dead. While there is no mention of a private conversation with his big brother before ascending into heaven in Acts 1, James was aware of demons. Despite their tricks, demons know the fate that await them, Jude 1:6. While you’re current struggle may not be obvious to you, don’t be surprised if there is a spiritual element to what’s going on in the world today.

by Jay Mankus

A Biblical Look into the Mind

In the hours immediately following a mass shooting, law enforcement searches homes, computer devices and social media to see if any clues can explain these tragic events. While some motives may include revenge or terrorism, most investigations turn up signs of mental health problems. When individuals stop taking their medication or reach a breaking point, one stressful situation can push souls over the edge, acting upon the whispers and voices of evil in their head.

Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever], Romans 8:6.

Apparently, the apostle Paul received a revelation about the human mind detailed in the passage above and below. The flesh has a mind of it’s own, placing individuals in direct conflict with their conscious. As people act upon, behave and respond to their own impulses, this seems natural and normal. Yet, Paul warns readers that daily decisions made in the flesh prevents the Holy Spirit from providing spiritual insight. If people aren’t careful, you might find yourself overwhelmed by all the miseries which arise from sin.

[That is] because the mind of the flesh [with its carnal thoughts and purposes] is hostile to God, for it does not submit itself to God’s Law; indeed it cannot. So then those who are living the life of the flesh [catering to the appetites and impulses of their carnal nature] cannot please or satisfy God, or be acceptable to Him, Romans 8:7-8.

Just as professional caterers attempt to persuade customers to return to their establishment, the Devil works behind the scenes each day to ensure that souls become addicted to various sins. While appetites vary from person to person, demons are assigned accordingly based upon your own weaknesses. These two verses in the Bible highlight the spiritual dimensions of America’s mental health crisis. Until individuals are made aware of this internal tug of war, peace of mind is unachievable. May this blog help those living in bondage, enslaved by addiction find freedom through a personal relationship with Christ, Romans 10:9-11.

by Jay Mankus

The Exorcists in the Bible

The 1973 film the Exorcist is a classic horror movie that will scare the hell out of you. Adapted by William Peter Blatty from his 1971 novel, a mother notices dramatic and worrisome changes in the behavior and physical make-up of her 12-year-old daughter. This storyline sets the stage for an exorcism conducted by two priests. Although this fictional scene may seem unbelievable today, the supernatural power exhibited by demons and evil spirits is consistent with that found during an exorcism gone wrong in the Bible.

Then some of the traveling Jewish exorcists also attempted to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I implore you and solemnly command you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches!” 14 Seven sons of one [named] Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this, Acts 19:13-14.

During Paul’s third missionary journey, God enabled Paul to perform extraordinary and unusual miracles. Just as followers of Jesus gathered around to touch the edge of his cloak, Matthew 9:20-22, aprons, handkerchiefs and towels touched by Paul were used to heal the sick. As bystanders watched in awe, 7 brothers decided to imitate Paul’s teaching, performing exorcists in the name of Jesus and Paul. However, during one encounter with a demon possessed man, an evil spirit attacked all 7, ripped their clothes off as each exited a house, running for their lives buck naked.

But the evil spirit retorted, “I know and recognize and acknowledge Jesus, and I know about Paul, but as for you, who are you?” 16 Then the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they ran out of that house [in terror, stripped] naked and wounded. 17 This became known to all who lived in Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified and exalted, Acts 19:15-17.

College professors and public school teachers often refer to the Bible as out of date, not relative in today’s progressive culture. Yet, the passage above unveils a glimpse of the supernatural powers that exist in the spiritual realm. During my last few years at the University of Delaware, I was fortunate to meet and hear missionaries share their experiences living within third world nations. One guest speaker talked about America becoming spiritually dead, numb to the idea of demons, evil spirits and powers of darkness. Perhaps, the armor of God is included within of Ephesians 6 as a reminder to the 7 sons of Sceva who were from Ephesus to prepare skeptics for the schemes of the Devil. If you don’t take this threat seriously, you too could be caught off guard like these exorcists in the Bible.

by Jay Mankus

Demonic Influences on Mental Health

Whenever people hear accounts of curses, demons and evil spirits, there is a hesitancy to believe these stories.  Perhaps, unrealistic movie scenes or television re-enactments have placed doubts into human minds.  Unless you are an eyewitness to one of these supernatural events, demonic influences on mental health isn’t even considered.  However, if curses, demons and evil spirits are real, their impact on mental health would explain many unsolved questions.

They came to the other side of the sea, to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him, and the man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with chains. For he had often been bound with shackles [for the feet] and with chains, and he tore apart the chains and broke the shackles into pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue and tame him. Night and day he was constantly screaming and shrieking among the tombs and on the mountains, and cutting himself with [sharp] stones, Mark 5:1-5.

An estimated 2 million Americans practice some form of self-injury.  During my final year of teaching high school, I became aware of the practice of Self-Mutilation.  According to an article on the Daily Dot, Emo music and it’s impact on teenagers has been overlooked in America’s growing mental health crisis.  Apparently, this new age disco like music is playing a role in tempting depressed and lonely souls to continue cutting their bodies.  If you take the passage above as a case study, it’s possible that demons are the force behind modern self-mutilation.

And the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you so angry? And why do you look annoyed? If you do well [believing Me and doing what is acceptable and pleasing to Me], will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well [but ignore My instruction], sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you [to overpower you], but you must master it.” Cain talked with Abel his brother [about what God had said]. And when they were [alone, working] in the field, Cain attacked Abel his brother and killed him, Genesis 4:6-8.

The passage above sheds light on what happens inside the human brain as individuals contemplate what they are going to do.  In this case, God has a private conversation with Cain as he wrestles with jealousy within his heart.  Cain is frustrated that his occupation as a farmer is much harder than Abel’s position as a shepherd.  Subsequently, a spirit of hatred seizes this opportunity to consume Cain’s vulnerable heart.  In the end, this evil spirit persuades Cain to do the unthinkable, murder his younger brother.  While those who commit crimes today are usually imprisoned, demons and evil spirits flee the scene without blame or getting caught.

For such men are counterfeit apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, since Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 So it is no great surprise if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness, but their end will correspond with their deeds, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.

The apostle Paul throws another curveball into the discussion of demonic influences on mental health.  As a fallen angel, Satan knows how to appear as an angel of light.  Thus, you must know that this masquerade continues today, deceiving many Christians and non-believers.  This is why Paul wrote a letter to the church at Thessalonica warning people the test everything that you hear with the word of God, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22.  Abstinance from every form of evil must be practiced.  If not, demonic influences will impact your mental health.

by Jay Mankus

 

Recognizing Distractions Early Before It’s Too Late

There is a strange phenomena that occurs when individuals are about to draw close to God.  The apostle Paul points to the spiritual realm to explain distractions, interruptions and unexplained events, Ephesians 6:12.  According to Paul, the devil’s strategy includes three waves.  The first enables certain rulers to rise to power such as judges, kings and political leaders.  This wave is reinforced by worldly forces, areas, regions and territories under demonic oppression where evil is allowed to reign.  Finally, there are spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly realm fueled by demons, minions and strongmen to execute Satan’s schemes on earth.

It happened that as we were on our way to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination [that is, a demonic spirit claiming to foretell the future and discover hidden knowledge], and she brought her owners a good profit by fortune-telling. 17 She followed after Paul and us and kept screaming and shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God! They are proclaiming to you the way of salvation!” – Acts 16:16-17

Using this criteria, Luke details an example from Paul’s ministry while visiting Philippi.  While on his way to participate in a prayer and worship service, a slave girl was sent to distract Paul.  Apparently, a demonic spirit recognized that Paul’s missionary team were servants of the most high God.  Just as spirits hounded Jesus, this revealed truth caused a slave girl to interrupt Paul’s message of salvation to Europe for several days, regularly screaming and shouting as Paul tried to preach.  According to Luke, this gradually wore Paul down, annoyed by this constant distraction.  When Paul rebuked this spirit, the owners of this slave girl complained to the chief magistrates, convincing law enforcement to imprison Paul and Silas.

She continued doing this for several days. Then Paul, being greatly annoyed and worn out, turned and said to the spirit [inside her], “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ [as His representative] to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment, Acts 16:18.

While in prison, Paul and Silas could have been distracted by anger, bitterness and injustice.  Yet, prayers of the saints strengthened these men, turning this setback into a golden opportunity.  How you may ask?  Well, Paul and Silas transformed their prison cell into a worship service.  As Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns, a great earthquake rocked Philippi.  When this quake opened the doors to each cell, some would have taken this as a sign from God to escape.  However, Paul demonstrated amazing leadership, convincing all the prisoners to stay put; saving the life of the jailor who was about to kill himself, the fate he would have faced if any prisoner escaped.  These are the blessings that await those who recognize spiritual distractions early before it’s too late..

by Jay Mankus

How to Increase Your Strength

Everyone wants to feel important at some point in time.  In the early stages of life, a desire to fit in will cause individuals to want to become a part of or join a specific group of people.  Whether this is a clique, fraternity, sorority or team, being part of a social setting adds a sense of belonging to lives.  To those embraced by their peers, an inner strength is found as a support system is formed.  This is one way that you can increase your strength.

Jesus did not let him [come], but [instead] He said to him, “Go home to your family and tell them all the great things that the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.” 20 So he [obeyed and] went away and began to publicly proclaim in Decapolis [the region of the ten Hellenistic cities] all the great things that Jesus had done for him; and all the people were astonished, Mark 5:19-20.

During the first century, one man selected twelve individuals to become fishers of men.  As Jesus began to heal, perform miracles and spread a message that became known as the gospel, large crowds followed these 13 men daily.  This popularity inspired new converts to become disciples.  After being freed from a legion of demons, a man begs Jesus to accept and receive him as a disciple.  However, God had another plan for this man’s life.  When you go home and tell others all that God has done to transform your life, your spiritual strength grows as faith is shared.

All those who heard him continued to be amazed and said, “Is this not the man who in Jerusalem attacked those who called on this name [of Jesus], and had come here [to Damascus] for the express purpose of bringing them bound [with chains] before the chief priests?” 22 But Saul increased in strength more and more, and continued to perplex the Jews who lived in Damascus by examining [theological evidence] and proving [with Scripture] that this Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed), Acts 9:21-22.

One of the most radical spiritual transformations occurs in Acts 9.  A religious zealot who persecuted apostles as well as overseeing the killing of Stephen, was blinded by a light from heaven.  This sets into motion a series of events that leads Ananias to eventually heal Saul.  As soon as Saul is healed, Ananias baptizes Saul suggesting a spiritual conversion.  Like the man in Mark, Saul spends at least 2 years convincing Jews in Damascus that Jesus is the promised Messiah of the Old Testament.  Like anything in life, the more you do something, the greater your confidence becomes.  Thus, if you want to increase your strength, make it your ambition to share your faith daily.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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