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WITH A GENTLENESS OF SPIRIT, WE HAVE AUTHORITY OVER EVIL

A SERMON DELIVERED AT

THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

28 SEPTEMBER 1997

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

John 8:3-11
Ephesians 4:1-3

1 Thessalonians 2:5-7
2 Thessalonians 2:1- 7
James 5:13-20

In our Bible study, over the past two weeks, we have had discussions about the rapture, and when it occurs.

The rapture is when the born again believers, who are still alive, are taken out of this earth in bodily form around the time of Jesus' return.

Depending upon the interpreter's frame of reference, the rapture occurs either before the tribulation period, or mid way through it, or after the seven years of tribulation.

In our discussion this morning of how born again believers, with a gentleness of spirit have authority over evil, we will see that one of our selected Scripture passages also points to a pre or mid tribulation rapture of the church.

Let's begin by looking at 2 Thessalonians 2:1-7.

1.  Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him,

2.  that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.

Someone who would send a false message is not of God, but is following the evil one.

Satan wants us to doubt, that we become weak, for he knows of our power if we remain strong in the Lord.

Satan wants us to live in the concessions of God granted in the Hebrew Testament, and not in the true intent of God, that we remain weak in the faith.

3.  Let no one in any way deceive you, for it [Jesus Christ's second coming] will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction [the Antichrist],

4.  who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.

And in recent times, we have seen several people try to do just this, and fail.

Thus, Paul reminds the Thessalonians and us about how things really are.

5.  Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?

6.  And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he may be revealed.

7.  For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.

Who restrains Satan?

Who restrains his Antichrist?

Note carefully that the "he" in verses 6 and 7 is not capitalized.

Then who is this that restrains both Satan and his Antichrist?

It is all of us who are born again believers, but not really us in our own power, but the Holy Spirit who resides within us.

And this power must be taken out of the way before the Antichrist can be revealed.

Satan tries to do this now by discouraging and deceiving the believers, and by having them act as the world behaves.

But as long as we hold fast to the Lord in the spirit of love and gentleness, Satan has no power over us.

And we know from Scripture that the Antichrist will be revealed in the middle of the tribulation period.

Thus, according to this passage, the rapture of the church must occur prior to or at the beginning of mid-tribulation.

For as long as the truly believing church remains upon this earth, the restraining power also remains, and the Antichrist will not be revealed in his full power.

And I don't believe, that the church as a whole, really understands the power and responsibility it has; for, as we talked about last week, we are not utilizing this great strength; and thus, we allow the forces of evil to multiply.

We are to be as Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:1-3.

1.  I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,

2.  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love,

3.  being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

The example we set, as Christians, can have great power against the forces of evil, that is, if we act in this manner.

But if we act like the rest of the world, we, in effect, are taking the Holy Spirit out the way of the forces of evil.

But if we stand firm in the Lord, in the Spirit of humility and gentleness, exhibiting our patience and love, we restrain the power of Satan.

And we need to exhibit these same qualities towards one another, that we encourage one another, and strengthen one another, just as Paul and his companions did when they came to Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2:5-7).

5.  For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed--God is witness--

6.  nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority.

7.  But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children.

Think of the examples set before you, and how you react to them.

Which ones make you feel cared for, and loved, and filled with peace?

And which ones make you angry and frustrated?

Now, sometimes we become angry and frustrated because we are being convicted of a sin in our own lives, or of something in our way of life that we don't want to change.

This kind of anger and frustration is to be overcome by correcting our ways back to the ways of God, until we only become frustrated at the things that are counter to the humility and gentleness, and patience of God.

Seek that which is of God, and be filled and strengthened with His love and compassion, living in the bonds of peace with a gentle spirit.

Now, if we turn to James 5:13-20, we can see the practical application of this gentle power in our day to day lives.

13.  Is anyone among you suffering?  Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful?  Let him sing praises. 

This should be the constant state of being of all believers.

14.  Is anyone among you sick?  Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;

15.  and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.

This is really a two way street.

Those who are suffering, those who are sick are to begin by praying for themselves, and asking for forgiveness for any of the things in their lives that are not according to God's intent and desire.

They are also to ask the truly believing leaders of the church to pray for them; those in whom they see strong faith, and the consistency of gentleness and love.

And if there is something wrong in their lives, they are to confess them, and repent, seeking the Lord's forgiveness, just as James says.

16.  Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.  The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

In others words, with a gentleness of spirit. we have authority over evil.

But for this to be lasting, it must involve the entire church, or at least most of it.

One person may be heard, but a large group living and speaking in like manner will be listened to, and others will follow suit.

17.  Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.

18.  And he prayed again, and the sky poured rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

Elijah stood alone against the forces of evil, and overcame them.

The people even killed the 450 prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, but that's not where it ended.

As a side note, we need to remember that we are not to kill such sinners, for Jesus took away capital punishment when He refused to condemn the woman caught in adultery (John 8:3-11).

Why?

Because it makes our acts just as evil as those of the evil doers, and in the process causes us to loose faith, because we look to the physical violent acts as a way of solving our problems rather than to the spiritual solutions.

And perhaps this why it had no lasting affect on Elijah or the people.

When Elijah, in his excitement, went to Samaria, he expected things to be different, but they were just as evil, for he was alone in his faith.

He became discouraged, and ran away by himself and hid.

We need to pull together in the power and the Spirit of the Lord our God.

19.  My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back,

20.  let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins.

Think of what we could do if we did these things together.

Think of how we could multiply our individual accomplishments many times over, through our encouragement of one another, and through the results we will see.

It has to start with us as individuals, but it is accomplished together.

We need to stand firm in our faith in the strength of the Lord, with gentle and loving spirits; and as we do, we will see the world around us change for the better, until the day we are taken out of it.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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