Peace on Earth – Teaching

At Christmas we celebrate the birth of our Lord, we gather together with family and friends, and we sing carols that include lines such as “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.” I wonder, sometimes, how much of what we say and sing we actually take to heart. If we are to truly have Peace on Earth, we must learn how to live in unity.

Since today is our Christmas service, and it’s the first Christmas we are celebrating together in fellowship, I’d like to talk about Christmas however, not from the standpoint of the birth narratives of Jesus. Not that the narratives aren’t an important part of the story, they are. It’s just that we’ve heard them and we know them. I’d like to take a few minutes today to discuss the meaning of Christmas.

Quote

Martin Luther King, Jr. said it beautifully:

“We must learn to live together as brothers [and sisters],
or we are going to perish together as fools.”

Thoughts

When did Christmas begin?

When Jesus was born very few, if any, birth records were kept. Those that were kept were reserved for people of importance, generally royalty. People of importance Mary and Joseph were not. We can be fairly certain however, that Jesus was not born anywhere near December 25th. Using a variety of tools, including statements in Scripture and the ancient Hebrew calendar, scholars and theologians have estimated His birth to be anywhere from March to October.

No one thought to celebrate or commemorate Jesus’ birth for the first several hundred years of church history. It was somewhere around A.D. 440 that the Roman Catholic Church, in an attempt to do away with the pagan celebrations of Saturalie (honoring Saturn) and the Roman celebration honoring the birth of the Unconquerable Sun (Natialis Solis Invicti). It doesn’t appear that this early celebration of Christ’s birth actually incorporated any of the pagan ritual. The decision was simply one of power and control. Note, too, the Eastern churches such as Greek, Russian, etc. used a different calendar and adopted January 6th as the day on which to celebrate. And they still do to this day.

What about Santa?

Santa didn’t come on the scene until the nineteenth century. The story actually dates back to Saint Nicolas, a Christian bishop in what today is called Turkey. Legend has it that he dressed in red, and gave money and gifts to the needy. The legend also says that at one time he dropped gold into a stocking that was hanging to dry. He is supposed to have died on December 6, 343; and that day was set aside for a celebration feast in his memory.

Over time, the custom of generously giving gifts to people in need and the feast held in Saint Nicolas’ honor was incorporated into the Christmas celebration; and the Santa story we all know was born.

What about Christmas Trees?

Cutting down a tree and decorating it was not part of the original Christmas celebration, either. The custom actually began in Eastern Europe and Germany in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The cut trees were set up all over town and in homes, and were decorated with fruits, candies, and candles. The evergreen trees were a symbol of life and light during the cold, dark winter.

Once again, this tradition was simply incorporated into the Christmas celebration. In addition to the ever-living quality of the evergreen, some have even said that the evergreen was used because it is shaped like a triangle, pointing up to the heavens, and is therefore symbolic of the Holy Trinity.

Right or Wrong?

There are those who say it’s wrong to celebrate Christmas at all. They point to the fact that December 25th was originally a pagan holiday. However, there is no evidence that any of the pagan rituals were incorporated at the time December 25th was chosen. In fact, the date was chosen as a way to suppress the pagan celebrations.

Many will quote Scripture such as Deuteronomy 12:29-31 and Jeremiah 10:1-5. Both of these passages deal with idolatry and detestable pagan rituals such as child sacrifice. However, no Christian I know of worships a Christmas Tree as God, nor do they participate in any “pagan” rituals.

While I understand where these folks are coming from, I don’t share their interpretations. That said, I respect their right to believe how they believe, and I reserve the right to do the same.

While it’s true that in the early years of the church birthdays were not something generally celebrated, over the centuries birthday celebrations have become commonplace. Setting aside time to celebrate the life-giving meaning of our Lord’s birth is appropriate.

Christmas is a time for family and friends, a time when people – even non-Christians – reach out to help those in need, a time of love and peace. Even the symbols celebrate this meaning. The Christmas Trees, rather than being idols, are symbolic of the light and the ever-living life and love of Jesus. And, as Bishop Spong says of Santa Clause in The Bishop’s Voice, “Santa Claus stands for the spirit of Christmas that finds its greatest pleasure in giving rather than receiving. It is a spirit that binds the human family together on at least that one day of the year, a spirit so powerful that even opposing armies in the field have been known to suspend hostilities on December 25th.”

Of course, there are those who celebrate the season of Christmas who do not identify themselves as Christian. That’s okay. Their reasons don’t detract from why I choose to celebrate. Do some, even Christians, go overboard – spending money they don’t have, trying to “keep up with the Jones’?” Sure…but that’s their choice. I don’t have to buy in to the commercialization. I give because I want to give, I don’t spend money I don’t have, and I don’t use credit. But, that’s my choice. Christmas provides an opportunity for even non-Christians to go beyond themselves – actually living Christ-like principles – giving generously and helping others in need. How can giving and helping others be “wrong?”

Live Together in Unity

I’d like to share a poem by James Patrick Kinney titled The Cold Within:

Six humans trapped by happenstance,
in bleak and bitter cold;
Each one possessed a stick of wood
or so the story’s told.

Their dying fire in need of logs,
the first man held his back,
For of the faces round the fire
he noticed one was black.

The next man looking cross the way,
saw no one of his church,
And couldn’t bring himself to give,
the fire his stick of birch.

The third one sat in tattered clothes,
he gave his coat a hitch;
Why should his log be put to use
to warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat back and thought
of the wealth he had in store,
And how to keep what he had earned
from the lazy, shiftless poor.

The black man’s face bespoke revenge
as the fire passed from his sight.
For all he saw in his stick of wood
was a chance to spite the white.

The last man of this forlorn group
did naught except for gain,
Giving only to those who gave
was how he played the game.

Their logs held tight in death’s still hand
was proof of human sin:
They didn’t die from the cold without –
They died from the cold within.

Closing Thoughts

Psalm 133:1 says, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” And Romans 12:18 & 20 says, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men…Therefore, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink…”

We all, Christian and non-Christian, and even Christians with opposing views, must learn how to live together in unity. If we don’t, we will perish as fools – dying from the cold within. Christmas, for me, is a time in which we Christians come together and celebrate our Lord’s birth, even if it’s not on the actual day. It’s a time when we, even those who are non-Christian, set aside our differences and come together in a spirit of love, giving, peace, and joy – even if for a day. And, it’s a time to reflect – to reflect on the meaning of Jesus’ birth and His life; and to give serious thought as to how we might best live our lives in a Christ-like way. When we can come together and live in unity, we will truly live up to the words “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.”

Scripture

  • Deuteronomy 12:29-31
  • Jeremiah 10:1-5
  • Psalm 133:1
  • Romans 12:18 & 20

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Peace on Earth – Quote

At Christmas we celebrate the birth of our Lord, we gather together with family and friends, and we sing carols that include lines such as “Peace on Earth.” I wonder, sometimes, how much of what we say and sing we actually take to heart. If we are to truly have Peace on Earth, we must learn how to live in unity. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it beautifully:

Quote

“We must learn to live together as brothers,
or we are going to perish together as fools.”

Join us Sunday as we gather for worship and fellowship.

A Foundation of Love – Teaching

This Sunday we had the opportunity to join in an Ecumenical Service at Aquarius Books & Gifts. It was a wonderful celebration of love, with speakers from the Jewish, Buddhist, and Christian faiths. The service was led by Fred Jennings of Aquarius, opening with a peaceful meditation and closing with a beautiful intention prayer.

I was fortunate to have been invited to speak from the Christian faith. Below is a synopsis:

Message

At Abundant Life Spiritual Center, our weekly message is always tied to a spiritual quote. This week’s quote is particularly appropriate to this wonderful ecumenical service. Martin Luther King, Jr. said:

Man must evolve, for all human conflict, a method which
rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation.
The foundation of such a method is Love.
~Criminal Minds Episode

 Thoughts

There are many paths to God. For me, the method referred to by Dr. King is the Christian path. The Christian path, quite simply, is a path of love.

1 John 4:8 tells us, “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

Jesus’ message in Matthew 22:37-40 tells us the greatest commandment…

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Notice that Jesus does not put qualifiers on His statement. He does not say to love your Jewish neighbor, your white neighbor, your straight neighbor, your Muslim neighbor, your black neighbor, etc., etc. He does not say to love those who look like you, pray like you, believe like you, think like you, love like you. He says simply “Love your neighbor.” The way to move into a world of Peace and Love is to put aside our boundaries and to recognize that we are all created in the image of God.

Jesus calls us all to move beyond our boundaries and to live in love. Jesus’ teachings, His parables, indeed, His life, demonstrated that moving beyond our boundaries and living in love is the pathway to God.

Jesus moved beyond prejudice, beyond tribal barriers, and beyond religious laws that do not enhance life.

Over time, we’re going to explore each of these in more detail in our regular services. For now, let me point to some examples…

  • Move past our own nationality and culture and ‘Go into all the world’…Luke 16:15
  • God’s love is meant for everyone…all are equal (Jew, Gentile, Male, Female, Gay, Straight, etc.)…Galatians 3:28
  • Showing compassion, even to those who are different or who would scorn us (The Good Samaritan)…Luke 10:30-37
  • Move beyond prejudices (Samaritan Woman at the Well)…John 4:7-42
  • Everyone deserves compassion and mercy (The Adulterous Woman)…John 8:1-11
  • Set aside religious law when it does not enhance life (Setting aside the Sabbath to feed those who are hungry and to heal those in need; Confronting the “Unclean”)…Mark 2:23-28, 3:1-6, 1:40-45, and Acts 8:26-40)

As evidenced by Jesus’ teaching, the Christian path is meant to be one of Love. It calls us to be more than we are, to live our lives fully and to love completely. As John 13:34&35 says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

I wish you Peace and Love.

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A Foundation of Love – Quote

This week, instead of our regular Worship Service, we’ll be participating in an Ecumenical Service at Aquarius Books & Gifts. In addition to our representation of the Christian faith, there will be representatives from the Jewish and Buddhist faiths, and others.

This week’s quote is particularly appropriate to this wonderful Ecumenical Service. Martin Luther King, Jr. said:

Man must evolve, for all human conflict,
a method which rejects revenge, aggression,
and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is Love.
~Criminal Minds Episode

Join us Sunday at Aquarius Books & Gifts for a wonderful, Spirit-filled time of Fellowship and Worship.

Try and Try Again – Teaching

This week, as we near the end of our Alternatives series, we’ll take a look as “Sin.” Our quote from Mother Teresa hits the nail on the head:

Quote

God doesn’t require us to succeed.
He only requires that you try.

Thoughts

A Little History

What is Sin? Depending on the context and frame of reference, sin can mean a host of different things. The modern dictionary definition is:

  1. A transgression of a religious or moral law, especially when deliberate
  2. Theology:
    1. Deliberate disobedience to the known will of God
    2. A condition of estrangement from God resulting from such disobedience
    3. Something regarded as shameful, deplorable, utterly wrong

My New King James Version of the Bible defines sin as: deliberate defiance, wickedness, ungodliness.

Biblically speaking, however, numerous words were used. For instance, in the Old Testament, nine different words were used that have been translated into our English word “sin.” Each Hebrew word had a slightly different meaning depending on the context in which the word was used. For instance, râ‛âh is used over 600 times and means “evil” or “bad”; chaṭṭâ’âh is used over 300 times and means “sin” or “offense”; râshâ‛ is used over 250 times and means “wicked”; pesha‛ is used over 100 times and means “transgression”; and tâ‛âh, used over 50 times, means “cause to go astray”; just to name a few.

Again, in our current “Western” translations, we use just one word – sin. But, based on the original words used and translated, sin can mean a lot of different things depending on the context in which it’s written.

Another use, old English in origin, is a derivation of syn – which means to “miss the mark.” And ancient Greek word, harmartia, used frequently in the ancient texts, also meant “to fall short” or “to miss the mark.” Quoting Mr. Fischer: “Traditionally, sin has been defined as a missing of the mark. This means falling short of our highest potential. There are obviously many ways that we can and do fall short. The important thing to remind ourselves is that such falling short is not, does not have to be, a permanent life experience. There is a definite remedy for it.”

Living in the Light

Let’s take a look at what the Bible calls the “Seven Deadly Sins”:

  • Pride: Excessive belief in one’s own abilities – removes God from the picture.
  • Envy: Wanting what someone else has – results in resentment, diminishing the light and love of God flowing in and through one’s life.
  • Gluttony: The desire to consume or accumulate more than one needs – can harm others in the process, can be injurious to ourselves (over eating, drinking too much, etc.);can easily turn to greed.
  • Lust: Strong cravings for sex, money, power – things or people lusted after can become so central to our desires that it negatively impacts our ability to form possitive, longlasting relationships; can inhibit our ability to love others in a genuine, caring, compassionate way; can easily be linked to greed.
  • Anger: the loss of rational self-control – can lead to the desire to or to actually harm others; minimizes the light and love of God flowing in and through one’s life.
  • Greed: The desire for material wealth – can create envy, can lead to gluttony, reduces one’s inclination and ability to help others.
  • Sloth: Lazy and avoids work – abdicates responsibility for one’s self, can lead to depression and sense of entitlement, and one can become slow to respond to the needs of others.

When we indulge in these types of behaviors or “sins” we often feel a sense of separation from God. Many, in fact, define “sin” as a separation from God. However, as Mr. Fischer says, “It is a false sense of separation because we cannot actually be separated from God. God is our very Spirit, the life that pulsates in and through our beings. However, if we labor under the delusion that we are separated from God, the effect is almost as if we were. If, in our own consciousness, we feel that God is ‘there’ and we are ‘here,’ we will feel separated from our highest good. We will feel as if we really are poor, tires, sick, and the rest of negative host.”

Our task, then, is to minimize and even eliminate those behaviors that are harmful to us, that are not for our hightest good, and which cause us to feel separated from God. We must focus on thoughts and actions that build and strengthen our oneness with God.

I AM

One of the ways we can reinforce our oneness with God is to pay attention to how we speak about ourselves. Remember, in Exodus 3:14 when God responds to Moses He says, “I AM WHO I AM”….[tell them] I AM has sent me to you.” Quoting Mr. Fischer again, “This means that anytime we use the words I AM associated with any quality that would degrade or betray our spiritual character, we are taking the Lord’s name in vain. Any time we say, ‘I am sick,’ or ‘I am poor,’ or ‘I am angry,’ we are associating the name of God with qualities that are the antitheses of the true character of God. Quoting Mr. Fischer, “Our words do have a tremendous effect upon our well-being. Therefore, it is important that we never associate the words I AM with anything less than the qualities we normally associate with God. We need to affirm: I am well and strong. I am alive with the joy of God. I am rich with God’s bountiful supply. This is to use the name of God as it was intended to be used.”

When our thoughts and our words reinforce our oneness with God, we are less prone to give in to the temptations of the “Seven Deadly Sins.” We are less likely to be prideful or angry when we say to ourselves, “I AM a kind, compassionate, loving child of God.” We are less likely to succumb to envy and greed when we say, “I AM thankful for the many blessings in my life.” By focusing our thoughts and behaviors on those things that build up and strenghten our oneness with God, we will simultaneously begin to minimize and eliminate those thoughts and behaviors that are harmful to us and which cause us to feel separated from God.

Personally, I had heard of this concept long before I read Alternatives. However, I still catch myself saying, “I’m tired,” or “I’m frustrated.” When I do, I cancel the thought and re-phrase it, “My body is tired,” and “I’m feeling frustrated.” And, I remind myself, “I am a child of God and I am blessed.”

Live in the Light and Truth

John 3:21 says, “But he who does the Truth comes to the Light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” and 1 John 1:7 says, “If we walk in the Light as He is in the Light we have fellowship with one another.” Continuing with Mr. Fischer’s thoughts, “…every prayer that we pray should be one for healing – to heal our sense of separation from God. It may well be that this sense of separateness is the only real sin. Everything we experience that could be termed sinful stems from this sense of separation from God. If we feel at one with God, which we truly are, how could we ever feel deprived of any good thing in life? Much to the contrary, a feeling of at-one-ness with God gives us a sense of assurance that all is well with our world. We know that God is blessing us constantly with the strength of Divine presence, which works mightily in and through us. This was the great secret to the Messiahship of Jesus Christ. ‘I and the Father are one,’ He said [John 10:30]. He meant for us to know this Truth for ourselves. When we do know this Truth, there can be no feeling of separation from God.”

Closing Thoughts

Basically, it all comes down to this…we “sin” when we do what we know we should not do, when we don’t do what we know we should, when we say what we should not say, and behave in ways that do not promote our highest good. It’s when we allow Divine energy to flow in an through us that we feel no separation from God. When we make the choice to live our lives in oneness with God, we turn away from things that are harmful to us. We focus our attention on those things that emanate from the Light – love, compassion, forgiveness, generosity, kindness, etc. To close, I’d like to finish with these thoughts from Mr. Fischer, “From our hearts the very love of God flows, as compassion toward all. Our personal worlds are peacefully prosperous, and we are grateful.

Is it easy? No. The wonderful thing is, it’s okay to stumble. As Mother Teresa said, we just have to keep trying.

Scripture

  • Exodus 3:14
  • John 3:21
  • 1 John 1:7
  • John 10:30

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The Devil Made Me Do It – Teaching

Moving on with our series we come to the chapter of Satan. What an interesting chapter! In researching articles on the internet, I found many, many conflicting statements, all perfectly justifiable from certain perspectives. It all depends on how one interprets the Bible; and on which translation. To me, we, as humans, are presented with choices – some of those choices will lead us down the path of light (Jesus) or the path of darkness (Satan).

Quote

“The future is always changing.
We create the future with our words,
our deeds, and with our beliefs.”
~Babylon 5 Episode

 Thoughts

First, let’s dismiss the picture we commonly have in our minds when we think of Satan. Nowhere in the Bible is Satan depicted as having horns, a pointed tail, a pitchfork, cloven hooves, a wicked beard and moustache, etc. In reality, that picture is very representative of the Greek god Pan.

When we think of Satan all kinds of things come to mind. To quote Mr. Fischer:

“Tremendous cunning and power are attributed to satan by some people. It is said that sometimes a battle rages between satan and God over the custody of a person’s soul. The devil supposedly wins an occasional battle. This is a rather frightening consideration, because it accords more power to satan than to God. It would make us wonder if we have a right to call God “Almighty.” Perhaps, if this were the case, we would more appropriately call God “partly mighty.”

So, where did the concept of ‘satan’ come into our consciousness? According to Mr. Fischer:

“In the allegory of creation, there was no devil until Adam and Eve began to think in opposition to divine principles. This is important for us to remember.”

In my research, some state that ‘satan’ was around before the creation of the world. They espouse that there was a creation, then a gap, then the world was created. (See www.learnthebible.org/satan-vs-lucifer.html.) Others maintain that ‘satan’ was created at the same time as the heavens and the earth. (See www.angelfire.com.) Both writers quote numerous Scriptures, as well as citing their reasons for their own interpretations of those Scriptures.

Especially when reading Old Testament, it’s important to remember that it was originally presented orally. It wasn’t until the Babylonian captivity that the first Jewish Scriptures were actually written. And, as we’ve discussed before, the first stories written began with Abraham. It was decades, perhaps centuries later that the story of creation was added. There are several possible influences to the introduction of Satan. Quoting Mr. Fischer again:

“The actual origin of the concept of satan is hidden in almost impenetrable mystery. But one tempting trail leads to the religion of the Persians. The ancient Persians had a two-god religion:

One god was Ahriman, the god of darkness and evil; the other was Ormazd, the god of light and goodness. Many religious scholars feel that this Persian philosophy had an influence on Hebrew theology; hence, the character of satan became a part of the Hebrew legends, and these legends, in turn, became the basis for the Hebrew scriptures.”

Other trails are the Babylonian legend of creation and Greek mythology. In the Babylonian legend, a fallen angel named Kingu had an army of demons who went around trying to get people into trouble. The Greek tradition holds that Hades is the kingdom of the dead. This kingdom has fields of good and places of torment – depending on whether you were good or bad. Our common ‘picture’ of Satan that resembles the Greek god Pan stems from this tradition. Remember that the Jews were in Babylonian captivity for somewhere around 70 years. After the Babylonians came the Persians, then the Greeks. So, it stands to reason that all of these influences helped to shape the concepts and ideas of the Hebrews.

Was Satan an angel?

Again, it depends on who you read, their interpretations, and how we read the Scriptures. Some Bible versions use the word cherub and interchange it with angel. And many use references to a cherub as a reference to Satan. However, the description of cherubs as being with four different animal heads, feet with the soles of a calf, and having an appearance of burning coals, as found in Ezekiel (1:6-13), comes nowhere near the picture we hold of an angel. The original Hebrew word is malak and the Greek word is angelos – these words simply mean “a messenger.” This translates into our concept of angels being “messengers of God.” There’s nothing in the Bible that indicates Satan would be a messenger of God. Again, a lot of what we think and believe is based on our reading, which version of the Bible we read, how words have been translated in those various versions, and how we interpret the meanings.

What About Lucifer?

It’s important to keep in mind that lucifer is not actually a name, it is a word from the Latin Vulgate that means “morning-star” or “light bringer,” and is used in reference to the planet Venus.

The original King James Version is one of the only versions that uses this term, and it was never intended to be a proper name. It comes from Isaiah 14:12 which reads, “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer (Day Star), son of the morning!” Some feel this passage refers to ‘Satan’ while others say it has nothing to do with ‘Satan.’ There are many interpretations of what this symbolism means, which is a much longer examination. Suffice to say, some do feel that “fallen from heaven” refers directly to the “fallen angel” and thus the name became Lucifer. If we look at 2 Peter 1:19 we read in reference to Jesus, “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”; and if we assume this passage to be in reference to Numbers 24:17 (“…A Star shall come out of Jacob…”) and interpret this to mean Jesus; then we give Satan the name Lucifer – since lucifer means morning star, and all of a sudden Satan and Jesus become one in the same! This illustrates once again how different translations, and different points of view, can lead to some very unintended meanings.

The Tempter

The term ‘satan’ in Hebrew literally means to oppose or to obstruct. The term ha-satan translates traditionally as “the accuser,” or “the adversary.” In Greek the term was translated to diablos, which is translated to devil in English. It is traditionally held that the goal of Satan, the adversary, is to lead us away from God – to tempt us. This is vividly illustrated in Matthew 4:3-11, which describes the temptations of Christ. What if, rather than reading Matthew literally, the story is illustrative of man’s condition and Jesus’ ability to rise above it. As Mr. Fischer says:

“Jesus was in the wilderness and was tempted to change stones into bread. It is reasonable to assume the tempter was the voice of human hunger speaking to Him. When He was at the pinnacle of the temple and was tempted to throw Himself off and land safely, it was probably the voice of a human desire for quick, sensational recognition. In the third temptation, He thought about becoming the political and military leader that the Jews expected their Messiah to be – and to worship materiality that would go with filling such a role.

This was the voice of worldliness speaking to Him. There was no being outside Jesus, only the voice of His own human nature. For example, the pinnacle of the temple was a high platform where Roman soldiers had an outpost. If there had been a visible satan there, these soldiers would have encountered ‘him,’ and attempted to destroy ‘him.’

Each time Jesus Christ, in His higher nature, rejected the temptation. Had He succumbed, the power of God working through Him would have been nothing more nor less than magic to Him. But because He remained in a high state of spiritual consciousness, He became the ethical Messiah of the world.”

In the Metaphysical Bible Dictionary, Charles Fillmore writes:

“Satan assumes various forms in man’s consciousness, among which may be mentioned egotism, a puffing up of the personality; and the opposite of this, self-depreciation, which admits the “accuser” into the consciousness. This “accuser” makes man believe that he is inherently evil. Satan is the “Devil,” a state of mind formed by man’s personal ideas of his power and completeness and sufficiency apart from God. Besides at times puffing up the personality, this satanic thought often turns about and, after having tempted one to do evil, discourages the soul by accusing it of sin. Summed up, it is the state of mind in man that believes in its own sufficiency independent of its creative Source.”

The concept of being inherently evil also flies in the face of our creation. In Genesis 1:31, after making the world, the plants, the animals, and humans, “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good…” God’s plan for creation and for life is that it is good – not inherently evil. It is our own choices that move us away from our “goodness.”

The Alternative

We have discussed the idea that Heaven and Hell are states of consciousness. When we allow God to live in and through us, we manifest Heaven. When we allow the temptations of ‘Satan’ – the adversary – to invade our consciousness, we move away from the light of God and into darkness. As Mr. Fischer puts it,

“Satan is not an impish being with a pitchfork, prodding people into a sinful life; rather, satan is the lower nature of all people. It is the self of us that can tempt us to do things that we know are not for our highest good. Satan is the selfish, human, cunning, devious ego of limitation that motivates the human personality to turn away from God. It is the part of us that must decrease as or spiritual nature increases.”

In John 12:32, Jesus says, “I, if I am lifted up from this earth, will draw all men to myself.”

“We must elevate our desires of human appetite, raise the standards of our moral passions, bear up our spiritual aspirations, and be receptive to the drawing power of Christ. This is to lift up and spiritualize the human self, thus defeating our ‘satanic’ nature. When this happens, the kingdom of Christlikeness will be established in our hearts, minds, and worlds. This is the great personal victory, which is the objective of true Christianity. Rather than doing battle with an external force that doesn’t exist, the overruling of the lower nature by the higher is the ultimate accomplishment.” (Mr. Fischer, Alternatives)

Closing Thoughts

Through writing this, I thought of the story of Job. In the story, God and Satan are having a conversation. Satan says, ‘Sure Job worships you, you’ve given him everything. But, take it all away and he’ll curse you.’ God responds, ‘Ok, you Devil, you…take away everything he’s got – but don’t touch him.’ The story progresses, there’s a lot of back and forth, a nagging wife, and friends get involved and throw in their two-cents worth. Through it all, Job stays firm in his commitment to God. As interpreted in our tradition, the story gives Satan a lot of power. Thus, “the traditional view of satan is that of a second god, a god of evil who prevails in today’s world to influence the evil-doing of human-kind.” (Mr. Fischer, Alternatives) What if we took a different view of the story? Perhaps it’s a beautifully written story to illustrate the point that we all have choices. We can choose those things that edify life and demonstrate the light and power of God such as love, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, and gratitude; or we can choose those things that separate us from God and thus move us into “darkness” – lies, lust, greed, gossip, anger, vengeance, violence, etc. This all points directly back to our quote – we determine our future. Our thoughts, our words, our actions, and our beliefs all will play a role in whether our journey is one that leads to Light or to Darkness. The choice is ours to make.

Side Note: In researching today’s topic, much of what I read carries from the author an implied “I know the truth” statement. Remember, Scripture warns us of deceivers of the truth. In John 8:44, Jesus says, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” Personally, I hesitate at anyone’s statement that they alone possess the truth. We should research, read, study, and pray; and let God lead us to the truth. I’m on a beautiful journey into the experience of God – and I invite you to journey as well. Don’t just take my word, or anyone’s word, for the truth.

Scripture

  • Ezekiel 1:6-13
  • Isaiah 14:12
  • 2 Peter 1:19
  • Number 24:17
  • Matthew 4:3-11
  • Genesis 1:31
  • John 12:32
  • John 8:44

Websites:

  • www.learnthebible.org/satan-vs-lucifer.html
  • www.angelfire.com

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