Meditation: What is the best protection which brings
lasting security to our lives? Scripture tells us that true peace
and security come to those who trust in God and obey his word.
"Obey my voice and walk in all the way that I command you, that it
may be well with you" (Jeremiah 7:23). The struggle between
choosing to do good or evil, yielding to my will or God's will,
God's way or my way, cannot be won by human strength or will-power
alone. Our enemy, the devil, conspires with the "world" (whatever
is opposed to God and his truth and righteousness) and our "flesh"
(whatever inclines us to yield to hurtful desires and wrongdoing),
to draw us away from the peace, joy, and security which God
provides for those who put their trust in him.
Peter the Apostles tells us, Our adversary, the devil prowls
the earth seeking the ruin of souls (1 Peter 5:8-9). The
devil is opposed to God and he seeks to draw us away from God's
plan and will for our lives. God offers us grace (his merciful
help and strength) and protection (from Satan's lies and
deception) if we are willing to obey his word and resist the
devil's lies and temptations. Because you have made the Lord
your refuge, the Most High your habitation, no evil shall befall
you, no scourge come near your tent. For he will give his angels
charge of you to guard you in all your ways (Psalm
91:9-11). The Lord offers us the peace and security of his kingdom
which lasts forever and which no other power can overcome.
God's kingdom brings healing and freedom from the
destructive forces of sin and Satan
Jesus' numerous exorcisms brought freedom to many who were troubled and oppressed by the work of evil spirits. Jesus himself encountered personal opposition and battled with Satan when he was put to the test in the wilderness just before his public ministry (Luke 4:1-13). He overcame the evil one through his obedience to the will of his Father. Some of the Jewish leaders reacted vehemently to Jesus' healings and exorcisms and they opposed him with malicious slander. How could he get the power and authority to release individuals from Satan's power? They assumed that he had to be in league with Satan. They attributed his power to Satan rather than to God.
Jesus answers their charge with two arguments. There were many exorcists among the Jews in Jesus' time. So Jesus retorted by saying that they also incriminate their own kin who cast out demons. If they condemn Jesus they also condemn themselves. In his second argument he asserts that no kingdom divided against itself can survive for long? We have witnessed enough civil wars in our own time to prove the destructive force at work here for the annihilation of whole peoples and their land. If Satan lends his power against his own forces then he is finished. How can a strong person be defeated except by someone who is stronger? Jesus asserted his power and authority to cast out demons as a clear demonstration of the reign of God.
Jesus' reference to the finger of God points back to Moses' confrontation with Pharoah and his magicians who represented Satan and the kingdom of darkness (see Exodus 8:19). Jesus claims to be carrying on the tradition of Moses whose miracles freed the Israelites from bondage by the finger of God. God's power is clearly at work in the exorcisms which Jesus performed and they give evidence that God's kingdom has come.
Is Jesus the Master of your life?
Jesus makes it clear that there are no neutral parties. We are either for Jesus or against him, for the kingdom of God or against it. There are two kingdoms in opposition to one another - the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness under the rule of Satan. If we disobey God’s word, we open to door to the power of sin and Satan in our lives. If you want to live in freedom from sin and Satan, then your "house" - your life and possessions (all that you rely upon for livelihood, peace, and security) - must be occupied by Jesus where he is enthroned as Lord and Savior. Is the Lord Jesus the Master of your home, heart, mind, and will?
"O Lord, our God, grant us, we beseech you, patience in troubles, humility in comforts, constancy in temptations, and victory over all our spiritual foes. Grant us sorrow for our sins, thankfulness for your benefits, fear of your judgment, love of your mercies, and mindfulness of your presence; now and for ever." (Prayer by John Cosin)Why does God seem far from us at times? Separation and loss of relationship often lead to grief and pain. The apostles were filled with sorrow when Jesus spoke about his imminent departure. Jesus explained that it was for their sake that he must leave them and return to his Father. He promised, however, that they would never be left alone. He will send in his place the best of friends, the Holy Spirit.
Paul reminds us that "nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:39). By sending the Holy Spirit to his followers, the Lord Jesus makes his presence known to us in a new and on-going way. We are not left as orphans, but the Lord himself dwells within us through the power of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 4:9; 6:16b).
The work of the Holy Spirit
Jesus tells his disciples three very important things about the work of the Holy Spirit - to convince the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment. The original word for convince also means convict. The Holy Spirit is our Sanctifier. He makes us holy as God is holy. He does this first by convicting us of our unbelief and sin and by bringing us humbly to the foot of the Cross. The Spirit convinces us of God's love and forgiveness and of our utter dependence on God for his mercy and grace. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to lead us from the error of our unbelief and sinful ways and to show us the way of love and truth.
The Jews who had condemned Jesus as a blasphemer and false messiah thought they were serving God rather than sinning when they crucified Jesus. When the Gospel was later preached on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:37), many were pricked in their heart and convicted of their sin. What made them change their mind about Jesus? The Holy Spirit opened their hearts to recognize Jesus as the true Messiah sent by the Father in heaven.
It is the work of the Holy Spirit to both convict us of our unbelief and wrongdoing and to convince us of God's truth. The Spirit convinces us of the righteousness (moral truth and goodness) of Christ, backed by the fact that Jesus rose again and went to his Father. The Holy Spirit also convicts us of judgment. The Spirit gives us the inner and unshakable conviction that we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God. God's judgments are just and good. He not only forgives those who repent of their wrongdoing, he also vindicates the innocent who have been unjustly treated and restores their rights and he rewards those who have done what is just and good. When we heed his judgments we find true peace, joy and reconciliation with God. Do you allow the Holy Spirit free reign in your life that he may set you free from the grip of sin and set you ablaze with the fire of God's love?
"Come Holy Spirit, and let the fire of your love burn in my heart. Let me desire only what is pure, lovely, holy and good and in accord with the will of God and give me the courage to put away all that is not pleasing in your sight."
This reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager, whose website is located at: http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/