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The First Age of Enlightenment on Earth

The Age of Enlightenment can be illustrated by a famous painting entitled the School of Athens. This painting was one of the commissioned artworks by Pope Julius II when artist Raphael moved to Rome. This two-year project began in 1509 and was completed for public viewing in 1511. The School of Athens contains two great philosophers: Aristotle and Plato. While one scholar points to the sky, the other is pointing to within. This signifies the transition of seeking truth from God above toward humanism, searching for truth from within your own heart and soul.

Now the serpent was more subtle and crafty than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And he [Satan] said to the woman, Can it really be that God has said, You shall not eat from every tree of the garden? And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat the fruit from the trees of the garden, Except the fruit from the tree which is in the middle of the garden. God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. 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, Genesis 3:1-5.

If the serpent above is either the fallen angel Lucifer taking possession of this serpent or merely the first voice of temptation, this is the Bible’s first age of enlightenment. As a former Bible teacher, King Solomon wrote the Book of Proverbs for one of his sons to set spiritual boundaries for life on earth. This invisible line is designed to protect human beings by keeping danger out of their lives. This was likely the same reason God only had one rule in the garden, not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, Genesis 2:16-17. The apostle Paul once urged the Church at Corinth to look for the way out of any temptation, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

When men began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair, and they took wives of all they desired and chose. Then the Lord said, My Spirit shall not forever dwell and strive with man, for he also is flesh; but his days shall yet be 120 years. There were giants on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God lived with the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination and intention of all human thinking was only evil continually, Genesis 6:1-5.

Jesus refers to the Devil as the father of all lies in John 8:44. The first lie is introduced to Eve as Adam was standing right there with her. Psalm 1:1-3 compares everyday life to talking a walk. Who you associate with, and join will influence the decisions that you make in life. Whenever a lie is passed onto to you, Christians must filter any content with the Bible, Acts 17:10-12, testing this to determine if it’s true. Unfortunately, when lies are repeated over and over again, social media elevates lies to truth status. Rather to repeat historic mistakes by doing what’s right in your own eyes, Judges 21:25, test everything and cling to God’s truth.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 258: Devil

Anne Wilson made her debut as a Christian artist in 2021. Wilson’s version of “My Jesus” reached number one on Billboard ‘s Hot Christian Songs chart. Perhaps Anne’s timing was ideal like the words of King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3:4. Regardless of the reason for Anne’s success, I was impressed my Wilson’s most recent single Devil.

Then Jesus was led (guided) by the [Holy] Spirit into the wilderness (desert) to be tempted (tested and tried) by the devil. And He went without food for forty days and forty nights, and later He was hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, If You are God’s Son, command these stones to be made [[a]loaves of] bread. But He replied, It has been written, Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God, Matthew 4:1-4.

When I heard this song on K-Love Radio a few weeks, I was immediately reminded of the passage above. After fasting for 40 days to prepare Jesus for his earthly ministry, the Devil tried to catch Him off guard. Jesus was tempted physically, mentally, and spiritually before telling the Devil to get lost. The lyrics of Devil reference the apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:54-58. May Anne’s song bring you comfort the next time you are tempted.

by Jay Mankus

You Make the Darkness Tremble

Two Old Testament prophets write about Lucifer’s fall from heaven in Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:14-15. According to the Bible, 1/3 of all angels were expelled from heaven along with the arch angel Lucifer, a.k.a. the Devil. The apostle Paul explains Satan’s new role on earth as the ruler of the air in Ephesians 2:2. Despite these supernatural powers, Jude 1:6-7 reveals how Jesus makes the darkness 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]! 20 Are you willing to be shown [proof], you foolish (unproductive, spiritually deficient) fellow, that faith apart from [good] works is inactive and ineffective and worthless? – James 2:19-20

As someone who grew up in a military family, the Army drilled into my father a spirit of discipline along with a clear right and wrong. Whenever I wasn’t acting properly, my mother responded with the words, “wait until your father gets home.” Since the demons know they are on the wrong side of history, they tremble in fear of their future judgment just as I was frightened to receive the consequences for my actions.

And when this perishable puts on the imperishable and this that was capable of dying puts on freedom from death, then shall be fulfilled the Scripture that says, Death is swallowed up (utterly vanquished [h]forever) in and unto victory. 55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? 56 Now sin is the sting of death, and sin exercises its power [i][upon the soul] through [j][the abuse of] the Law. 57 But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory [making us conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Corinthians 15:54-57.

The real game changer occurred on Easter Sunday. Like Super Bowl 51, Satan thought he was victorious like the Falcons who were up 28-3 at halftime. Yet, when Jesus rose from the grave, the sting and power of death was conquered. The apostle Paul writes about this in Colossians 3:1-14. When a Christian’s mind dwells and focuses on God’s Word, this mindset also makes the darkness tremble.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 225: Never Felt Better

Back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, there was a belief among conservative Christian churches that any form of Rock music was of the Devil. This ungodly belief was formed by preachers who didn’t understand the events of the sexual revolution of the late 1960’s. Never Felt Better by Barnabas touches on how this group was ostracized at the time this song was written, but the band members felt like they were following God’s will for their lives.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will, Romans 12:1-2.

The apostle Paul addresses how to discover God’s will in the passage above. As Christians begin to develop and share their earthly talents and spiritual gifts, the Holy Spirit often places burdens on your heart in the form of a calling from God, Galatians 5:25. Whenever individuals are able to keep in step with the Spirit, spiritual blessings tend to follow. While Barnabas never received the attention of groups like Petra or Stryper, the members was faithful to God’s calling.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Lose Sight of the Mission

There are 3 main aspects that guide people through life. Some personalities prefer living task to task by creating daily to do lists. Others tend to be more goal oriented by setting weekly, monthly and yearly goals which serve as a target to accomplish. My personal preference is to be vision oriented, using this as a filter to determine how and where I invest my time. Jesus told his disciples to be mission oriented.

But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth, Acts 1:8.

While visions and missions are similar, Jesus’ final objective before ascending into heaven was to fulfill the Great Commission, the blueprint for spreading the Gospel throughout the world. The heart of a Christian’s mission is to go and make disciples, Matthew 28:19-20. Yet, Luke discloses Jesus’ 3 step plan: share the gospel with everyone in Jerusalem, go to the surrounding towns and villages and then send missionaries to the ends of the earth.

Fight the good fight of the faith; lay hold of the eternal life to which you were summoned and [for which] you confessed the good confession [of faith] before many witnesses, 1 Timothy 6:12.

While writing a young first century pastor, the apostle Paul encourages this spiritual leader to not lose sight of the mission. When defeat and failure drag you down, you have to develop the will to press on. As the Devil attempts to distract you, 1 Peter 5:8, stand your ground, Ephesians 6:10-12. Although you can’t control what happens in the supernatural realm, keep on fighting for your faith by keeping your eyes on Jesus, Hebrews 12:1-3.

by Jay Mankus

Responding to the Open Doors in Life

Human nature is on full display in Genesis 3. Back in the Garden of Eden, Genesis 2:15-17, God only gave Adam and Eve one rule. The rest of the garden was free to explore. The story of mankind’s fall from grace was passed down orally until Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible. According to Genesis 3, no timetable is provided on the length of the serpent’s temptation. Sometimes open doors are snare traps set by the Devil. Responding to these open doors require caution, maturity and wisdom.

When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down. 27 Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him]. 28 Let the thief steal no more, but rather let him be industrious, making an honest living with his own hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need, Ephesians 4:26-28.

One chapter after the warning in the passage above, the apostle Paul introduces the concept of keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 5:25. Galatians 5:16-18 details this internal tug of war which Adam and Eve both lost. When a child is told not to do something by their parents, this boundary or restriction elicits a sense of curiosity. Subsequently, the Tree of Knowledge was accessible by exercising free will. Today, there are countless temptations, opens doors that end up trapping the curious into addictions.

Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I tell their faults and convict and convince and reprove and chasten [I discipline and instruct them]. So be enthusiastic and in earnest and burning with zeal and repent [changing your mind and attitude]. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me, Revelation 3:19-20.

One of the most beneficial visions in the Bible is a door which only has one handle. God’s side of this door doesn’t have a handle. John’s vision is symbolic of free will. God will try to get your attention daily by knocking or via a still small voice, 1 Kings 19:12. The door handle is on your side so the only way to access open doors is by exercising freewill. Faith comes into play when you try to open these doors, but some may be locked for a season. May today’s song help you learn how to respond to open doors in life.

by Jay Mankus

When You Can’t Make It Happen?

As a son of a former immigrant to the United States, I was raised to be frugal. My grandmother taught me to appreciate everything that you have. As I grew up in Delaware and began to learn from my teenage peers, I was encouraged to try to make things happen. Through dedication and hard work, I was initially successful in making things happen until I became a middle-aged white man.

And to keep me from being puffed up and too much elated by the exceeding greatness (preeminence) of these revelations, there was given me a thorn ([a]a splinter) in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to rack and buffet and harass me, to keep me from being excessively exalted. Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me; 2 Corinthians 12:7-8.

Prior to the internet, people were forced to use a rolodex of phone numbers as a means to social network with all the individuals that you know. Back in these days, making it happen took weeks, months, and even a year on occasion. Yet, modern day technology gives the desperate, eager, and motivated a vast social network to make all your dreams come true. Yet, for me, I wasn’t able to find a new job.

But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and [b]show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may [c]pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! 10 So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [[d]in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful [e]in divine strength), 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

The apostle Paul writes about a troubling time in his own life in the passage above. Paul was suffering from a physical ailment that he blamed on the Devil. Nonetheless, when you can’t make it happen in your own life, turn to Jesus in your own weakness. According to Paul, the more desperate you become in life, the stronger that Jesus can become for you. Therefore, lean on Jesus when you’re not strong and needy.

by Jay Mankus

No Doubt About It

One of the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church is a time of prayer during each mass. Depending upon the congregation or priest, a list of prayers is usually read out loud. Following each individual request, the audience responds with “Lord hear our prayer.” One of Jesus’ disciples writes about this in the passage below. According to John, God does hear these prayers and there’s no doubt about it.

And if (since) we [positively] know that He listens to us in whatever we ask, we also know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted us as our present possessions] the requests made of Him, 1 John 5:15.

It’s not uncommon for children to adopt an invisible friend when they are young. While parents may be uneasy about this behavior, this is the power of the imagination of a child at work. Similar to Robin Williams’ adult character in the film Hook, age and time have a way of sucking the joy out of parents. Rather than revel in the innocence of being young, the Devil has a way of wearing down faith, John 10:10.

When the disciples saw it, they marveled greatly and asked, How is it that the fig tree has withered away all at once? 21 And Jesus answered them, Truly I say to you, if you have faith (a [n]firm relying trust) and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, Be taken up and cast into the sea, it will be done. 22 And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive, Matthew 21:20-22.

During a first century walk, Jesus teaches his disciples a powerful lesson about pray. This isn’t a meaningless imaginary exercise where you pretend to talk to an invisible God. Rather prayer is maximized when Christians approach God without doubt. Having belief and faith takes prayer to the next level. To those who pray without a doubt begin to move the mountains blocking God’s path for you.

by Jay Mankus

Under the Power of the Evil One

Whether you receive your news from cable, social media or local television, current events suggest that the world is falling apart. Beneath the surface, there are spirits of anger, hatred, and rage that result in chaos, violence and war. New Testament authors in the Bible point to a supernatural force that incites unknowing individuals toward evil acts. The apostle Paul provides a scapegoat: the fallen angel Lucifer.

We know [positively] that we are of God, and the whole world [around us] is under the power of the evil one, 1 John 5:19.

One of Jesus’ disciples makes a powerful declaration in the passage above. Members of the body of Christ know God without a doubt, absolutely through a daily personal relationship. Whether you fellowship with other believers, pray or study the Bible, faith results in spiritual clarity. Meanwhile, anyone who does not seek God end up falling under the influence and power of the evil one.

In which at one time you walked [habitually]. You were following the course and fashion of this world [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air. [You were obedient to and under the control of] the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes of God], Ephesians 2:2.

The apostle Paul points to the Devil’s past. the archangel Lucifer who was kicked out of heaven. Despite losing his eternal destiny in heaven, this prince of the power of the air maintains his angelic powers. Ezekiel 28:14-15 details that 1/3 of the angels were banished from heaven along with Lucifer. These fallen angels now serve the Devil as real spiritual demons. This is the powerful force that is present on earth which corrupts human beings who aren’t strong enough to resist the power of the Evil One.

by Jay Mankus

Shutting the Door on Fear

Two first century authors use the imagery of a door to prove their point. The apostle Paul warns Christians against giving the Devil an open door to enter your life. This analogy suggests that you shouldn’t leave a crack or a gap. One of Jesus’ disciples focuses on the positive. This spiritual illustration uses God’s love as a source of superior power to snuff out fear by closing the door.

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.

As I read the passage above recently, my mind turned to 2 Corinthians 10:5-6. Trying to confront the Devil alone is reckless. Yet, when you learn to take your thoughts captive by making them obedient to Christ, shutting the door on fear is possible. If fear feeds on weakened minds that become paralyzed by ungodly beliefs, you’re giving the Devil a foothold to use your fears against you.

When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down. 27 Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him], Ephesians 4:26-27.

One of Jesus’ disciples compares the Devil to a predator that feeds on isolated and wounded Christians. When a door is left ajar or cracked open, fear will enter your dreams while you’re sleeping. Anyone who doesn’t shut the door on fear will allow nightmares to continue to fester. These threats will only intensify as time goes by. This is why shutting the door on fear is essential for all Christians to practice.

by Jay Mankus

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