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When the Lord Jesus was asked to obtain the division of an inheritance between two brothers, He first answered the petitioner, and then took occasion to instruct and exhort His disciples: “Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning, and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord.” Our treasure being in heaven, our heart is to be there, our mind is to be set on things above, and while waiting for the Bridegroom, our light is to shine down upon the world, above which we are raised, as we hold forth the word of life.
In writing to the Ephesians as his fellow-soldiers, the apostle Paul, well aware of the terrible conflict to be waged with the powers of darkness, and of the need of the whole armour of God, first says, “ having your loins girt about with truth.” With trueness of spirit we have to discern, receive, hold fast, and contend for the truth, “ the faith once delivered to the saints,” which is being assailed on all sides. Similar to this is Peter's exhortation to the scattered
As strangers and pilgrims he says to them, “ Gird up the loins of your mind,” and he points onward to the grace that is to be brought at the revelation of Jesus Christ, for which they are stedfastly to hope, rejoicing with joy unspeakable and full of glory. His second epistle warns us of the false teachings and corruptions with which we are surrounded, and the more, therefore, do we now need to be thoroughly girded in mind.
Finally, let us rejoice in knowing that He who walks among the candlesticks, and knows the exact condition of all the churches and of each of those who compose them, still wears His golden girdle, and is ever ready to serve us, to counsel, to rebuke if need be, to help, and to deliver,
THE AUTHORITY AND POWER OF SATAN.
REMARKS MADE AT A BIBLE-READING. In the midst of the deceptions with which we are surrounded, it is well to know what Scripture says about our great adversary Satan is spoken of by our Lord as “ the prince of this world” (John xii. 31., xiv. 30); he is
( also called “the prince of the power of the air"
" ” (Eph. ii. 2), “the God of this age” (2 Cor. iv. 4), and "the accuser of our brethren ” (Rev. xii. 9-10); and in Rev. xx. he is given four names, “ dragon,” “old serpent," "devil,” and “Satan."
It is very important for us to see the relation in which Satan stands to our Lord Jesus Christ, and the force of that word, “Now is the prince of this world cast out." In Heb. ii. 14 we read that in order to deliver us Christ took part of flesh and blood, “ that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil.” In Col. i. 12–13 this power is regarded as an authority: “Who delivered us from the authority of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love." While God is the only source of authority, outside Christ the tempter has the authority of a gaoler. As one with Christ we stand in the same relation to Satan in point of law and justice as that in which Christ stands.
In Rev. i. 17-18, it is Christ who has the keys of death and hades in His hand; Satan's authority is not over us but over the world of which he is the prince. Christ has authority over us, not only by the Father's gift and the possession of the Spirit, but as having redeemed us who were by nature sons and daughters of Adam.
We are as life.
delivered from the bondage of the fear of death, and now “all things are ours," death as well (1 Cor. iii. 21-23.)
We need to see what Satan is and what Satan is not. He may still obtain power over us through his subtlety ; and he may be used of God for our trial of faith, as in Peter's case, or for our correction and instruction, as when Satan's messenger kept Paul from being puffed up.
Christ's death was an act of God's justice and power, moved by His love; an act of Satan upon Christ as the sin-bearer, in bruising His heel; an act of man as having crucified and slain the Lord of glory; and an act of Christ's submission, in bowing to all that God allowed to come upon Him. Sin was on but not in Christ, even as He said, “The prince of this world cometh and hath
, nothing in Me.”
Through the woman the tempter drove the first man into rebellion, but he found in Christ, the last Adam, no corruption, no sinfulness, no perverseness of soul. The first man had a creature's mutability, and yielded to temptation ; but though in the wilderness the tempter found the Lord capable of suffering and temptation through taking flesh and blood, he found Him incapable of sinning—"yet without sin.”
Satan has power to tempt, but not to defile us without our consent. God uses him to test us, but if we are walking worthily He enables us to withstand. The things pleasing to the flesh are more dangerous than the hard things. Satan is God's sieve, and as such is continually used to sift out the chaff that is in us.
The book of Job is very instructive on this point. The Lord said of Job, “ There is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil ;” and Satan was unable to point out any
thing to the contrary. But God saw chaff, of which neither Job nor Satan was aware, and Satan was made the means of sifting it out. But the limiting of Satan's authority is clearly seen.
Job's knowledge of God far exceeded that of his three friends, and when Elihu says, “ God is greater than man,” Job bows, and allows that God has a right to do as He wills. The sifting of Job was to show how much wheat there was in him, and God was honoured thereby. It was no triumph of Satan, for at the end Job stood far higher than at the beginning. In chap. xlii. he is four times honoured with the title of “servant of Jehovah," and in the first two chapters only twice. This was the best of the double portion that he had after his trial.
We must expect that God will deal with us in Christ in the way of death, burial, and resurrection, and we must not count it a strange thing if we are sifted and buffeted in many ways.
The sifting of Peter was to show, not how much wheat but how much chaff there was in him. Satan discerned the state of the apostles, and “ requested” that he might sift them all (see the word "you" in Luke xxii. 31-32). But Peter was in especial danger and the Lord prayed for him, not that he might escape the sifting, but that his · faith might not fail. Peter had previously been warned of Satan's power, in Matt. xvi. 23, but failed to heed the Lord's rebuke.
Satan has a particular commission in the case of each servant of Christ, but he can only do the will of God.
The tempter was present at the Lord's supper (Luke xxii.), and at the very time when the Lord Jesus was giving the deepest unfolding of His love, he was not only taking possession of Judas, but was setting the disciples to strive among themselves for greatness.
In the case of Paul we see Satan, who is essentially the proud one, actually used to make the humble one still more humble, the "thorn in the flesh,” implanted by Satan; being meekly and even gladly yielded to by the great apostle.
It is very solemn to see that once glorious but now fallen creature, become so blind as to offer our Lord the kingdoms of this world, which were but as a dunghill to Him.
We can only understand the reality of our deliverance from the authority and power of Satan, when we are brought into the liberty of the sons of God. In John viii. 28-44 we see man's foolish boast of liberty, while he is yet the very bondslave of Satan. By nature all are "children of wrath," but the expres
” sion “children of the devil” should only be applied to those who are manifestly so by their works. It was to the Pharisees who sought to take His life that our Lord “ Ye are of
father the devil ;" he was a derer from the beginning,” and there was no disguising their parentage. The apostle Paul uses similar language respecting Elymas, the .sorcerer. It is with reference to works that the apostle John writes, “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil."
In 1 Cor. v. the apostle speaks of delivering one to Satan for the destruction of the Hesh, and evidently he had become like the horse and the mule of Ps. xxxii.; he had so yielded to uncleanness and perverted his liberty in Christ, that, as a last resource, he was placed again in the sphere of Satan's power.
All suffering in the flesh is not the result of being placed under the power of the devil. The world is not yet redeemed, and until the time of the redemption of the body, for which we wait, we remain liable to suffer