Lest Satan Should Get an Advantage of Us

August 5, 2012

by Shawn Brasseaux

We as Pauline dispensationalists need to know who our adversary is, and who our adversary is not. In this Bible study, we will learn how Satan divides us, the grace believers, and how to prevent him from “getting an advantage of us.”

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Even someone with a shallow understanding of the Bible knows that there is a battle between good and evil, between God and Satan. The devil and his fallen angelic cohorts are warring against God and His children, the Christians. Satan has employed perhaps the oldest military strategy—“divide and conquer”—in order to make the Christian army weaker and more susceptible to defeat.

For instance, the Church the Body of Christ can be divided into two groups: the denominationalists comprise the vast majority, while the Pauline dispensationalists constitute only a very small percentage. The denominationalists are segmented into thousands of groups, all of which claim to be “Christian.” Satan has the denominationalists under his influence because they do not understand the Bible dispensationally. They do not know what God is doing today, so they cannot do God’s will for their lives (they do not know what God’s will even is for this, the Dispensation of Grace). Fragmenting the Body of Christ into thousands of denominations, and the resulting confusion, is one of Satan’s ways of conquering God’s people.

With the denominationalists sidetracked by church tradition, we, the Pauline dispensationalists, are of particular interest to the devil’s tactics, for we know how to use God’s Word, the Bible, God’s way, and we serve as a threat to Satan’s agenda. Because we study the Bible and we know how to use it to find the answers that Satan and religion often obscure, the devil is usually unsuccessful in deceiving the local grace church with denominational doctrine. If he cannot infiltrate our local grace church with denominational teaching, then Satan will use our flesh to divide local grace church and thus discredit the message it proclaims and defends.

Let us consider 2 Corinthians 2:10,11 KJV, “To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.”

The Corinthians and the Apostle Paul had forgiven someone. Who was this individual, and why was it necessary for the Christian brethren to forgive him? When Paul wrote the epistle of First Corinthians, he addressed nearly a dozen issues that disrupted Christian fellowship and hindered spiritual growth in Corinth. The problem associated with 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 is described in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 KJV:

“1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.
2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,
4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,
5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”

A Christian brother in Corinth was having sexual relations with his father’s wife, an act that not even the pagan Gentiles committed! Unfortunately, the Corinthians were bragging of this sin, making light of it, and Paul’s solution was to temporarily cast out the man from fellowship, which would hopefully bring him to his senses, and cause him to change his lifestyle:

“9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.
11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.”

Now, in Second Corinthians, a year or so has passed since the penning of First Corinthians. Evidently, the Corinthians had heeded Paul’s instructions by having nothing to do with the fornicator, and Paul now tells them how to go about restoring the brother to fellowship. Read 2 Corinthians 2:6-8,10,11 KJV:

 “6 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.
7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.
8 Wherefore I beseech you that you would confirm your love toward him….
10 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;
11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.”

This brother had now straightened up, so the Corinthians were to forgive him, accept him, and show their love toward him, lest Satan would use bitterness and strife to further divide these Christians. Saints, we must never be ignorant of Satan’s “devices,” tactics he uses to thwart the ministry of the local grace church. May we forgive, and not “give place to the devil” by holding grudges or being bitter. Let us compare that to Ephesians 4:20-32 KJV:

“20 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
21 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
27 Neither give place to the devil.
28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour [shouting, demanding, uproar], and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Our sin nature—our “old man”—has been crucified with Christ (Romans 6:6). Grace teaches us to “deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, that we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11,12 KJV). Sin does not rule us anymore: Jesus Christ has given us victory to deny sin so that is does not control us. In Christ, we can walk pleasing to the Lord, fulfilling His will.

We are to be “renewed in the spirit of [our] mind” (Ephesians 4:23 KJV). Romans 12:2 KJV affirms, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” And Colossians 3:8-10 KJV:

“8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:”

When we study and believe the Pauline Bible doctrine that discusses our identity in Jesus Christ—that is, when we walk by faith in an intelligent understanding of God’s Word to us (Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon)—then God’s Word will transform our minds for His glory (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

Returning to opening Bible passage, which mentioned forgiving a Christian brother, so that Satan would not get an advantage of the Christians (2 Corinthians 2:10,11). In Ephesians 4:26,27 KJV, we read something similar: “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil.” There is nothing sinful about anger, if this anger is righteous and if this anger does not lead you to commit sin (cf. Matthew 5:22; Mark 3:5). It is when you do not control your anger—that is, you allow it generate bitterness and strife—that Satan will use this to isolate you from the grace saints, and vice versa. Forgiveness is necessary, especially within the confines of the local grace church, or the ministry of the church will be hindered, and it will risk the credibility of the church. This is why we read the Bible’s passages warning against bitterness and strife.

Ephesians chapter 4 concludes with: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour [shouting, demanding, uproar], and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (verses 31,32).

CONCLUSION

Saints, we must never be ignorant of Satan’s “devices,” tactics he uses to thwart the ministry of the local grace church. May we forgive, and not “give place to the devil” by holding grudges or being bitter. Let us understand that God has already forgiven us in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ. Now, that forgiveness that we have received from God is our motivation to forgive others (Ephesians 4:32). Satan is our enemy, not our grace brethren.


Confession of Sins

June 3, 2012

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 KJV). Should we believers in this the Dispensation of Grace practice this verse? Must we keep “short sin accounts,” as religion claims? Do we have to confess our sins to be saved? Must we Christians confess our sins daily to keep fellowship with God? If so, must we confess our sins to a preacher or priest, or to God? Let us be Bereans, and search the Scriptures to see whether these things are so (Acts 17:10,11)!

Before we attempt to follow 1 John 1:9, we must first consider who John is and why he wrote what he did. The greatest blunder of the professing Church the Body of Christ has been to use the Bible, but not to rightly divide it. To “name and claim” verses, but to ignore their context (author, audience, dispensation, et cetera). To fail to understand the divisions God has made in His Word, and to combine all of the Bible’s instructions to result in one giant mass of confusion!

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV). All of the Bible is for us, but not all of the Bible is to us or about us. Dispensational Bible study is the key to understanding 1 John 1:9.

 

PAUL, NOT JOHN, IS OUR APOSTLE

The Bible tells us in Romans 11:13 KJV that Paul is our apostle: “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:”

God’s spokesman to us is not Matthew, Mark, Luke, John (Christ’s earthly ministry), and it is not Peter and the eleven. The man God sent to us is the Apostle Paul.

Paul wrote, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:37). The test for spirituality today is not how often one prays, gives, or attends church. According to the Bible, a spiritual person in this the Dispensation of Grace will acknowledge that God’s instructions for us are the Pauline epistles, Romans through Philemon. Just because you follow the Bible does not mean you are spiritual. You are spiritual only if you follow the Apostle Paul as he follows Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:1).

Circa A.D. 51, James, Peter, and John met with Paul and Barnabas in Jerusalem. They reached an agreement, as found in Galatians 2:9: “And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.” Paul and Barnabas would go to “the heathen” (this is not simply Gentiles, but unbelieving Jews too) and James, Peter, and John would go to “the circumcision” (these are born-again Jews).

When we come to the little epistle of 1 John, we see that John is not writing to us Gentiles. He is writing to Jews. Dispensationally speaking, John is writing to Jews living beyond our present-day (post-Dispensation of Grace). John is not our apostle, so this is the primary reason why we do not practice 1 John 1:9.

 

WE ARE ALREADY FORGIVEN IN CHRIST

We have no need whatsoever to confess our sins to anyone, to God or to men (a priest or preacher). According to the Gospel of the Grace of God, our salvation and fellowship with God are independent of our performance. We are forgiven in Christ, apart from anything we have done.

In Colossians 2:13, our Apostle Paul explains that we are “forgiven of all trespasses [in Christ].” Ephesians 4:32 says, “God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” We are forgiven (past tense), not because we confess our sins, but because of Christ’s finished cross work on Calvary. In Christ, we have unbroken fellowship with God forever and ever. To say that we have to do something to gain God’s forgiveness—in this case, confess our sins—is to make void (cancel) God’s grace.  Grace what God can do for you because you can do nothing for God. God has already paid for all of our sins, so why rehash them over and over again? How many times can we be forgiven of all unrighteousness?” Only once.

In Christ, now and forever, we are forgiven of all sins—past, present, and future!

 

SO, WHAT IS 1 JOHN 1:9 ACTUALLY TEACHING?

What John wrote about in 1 John 1:9 was nothing new for Israel. Confession of sins was Israel’s doctrine under the Mosaic Law.

In Leviticus chapter 26, the LORD warned Israel: But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; and if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant: I also will do this unto you…” (verses 14-16a KJV).

From verse 16 and following, God lays out a five-fold plan of chastisement and judgment (punishment) for Israel’s breaking the Mosaic Covenant of Law. The LORD clearly instructed Israel regarding the “fifth course of judgment” in verses 38-42:

“38 And ye shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.
39 And they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them.
40 If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me;
41 And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity:
42 Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.”

The final series of judgment on wicked Israel would involve deportation (exile) into foreign/Gentile lands (Leviticus 26:27-46, the context of the above verses.)

Gentile armies would come and destroy Israel and scatter the Jews amongst the nations. If Israel would acknowledge and confess her sins (that is, breaking the Mosaic Covenant), then God would restore national Israel to fellowship and bring them back into the Promised Land (verses 40-42).

Daniel, while Israel is deported amongst the Medes, prayed and confessed his sins and the sins of Israel (Daniel 9:3-20, particularly verses 5-7,10,11,16, and especially verse 20). Ezra and Nehemiah, during the Persian exile, did the same as Daniel (Ezra 9:5–10:3; Nehemiah 1:4-11). In Nehemiah 9:1-3, repentant Jews confessed their sins and the sins of their fathers.

Even in the “New Testament,” Jews who admit their national failure to keep the Old (Mosaic) Covenant confess their sins and are baptized of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:6; Mark 1:5): Israel is under the fifth course of judgment by the time of John the Baptist. This is where 1 John 1:9 fits.

There are two groups of people in 1 John: some saved (forgiven), and some lost (not forgiven). In 1 John 1:9 John urges lost Jews to confess their sin of breaking the Old Covenant, so they can receive salvation (entrance into Christ’s earthly kingdom): this is exactly what John the Baptist preached.

To those Jews who had trusted Jesus Christ as Messiah-King, John wrote, “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake” (1 John 2:12). Thus, 1 John 1:9 is not a practice for any believers, Jew or Gentile. It is for lost Jews because it is Israel’s plan of salvation in her prophetic (kingdom) program.

In addition, we Gentiles have never had any covenants with God (Ephesians 2:11,12). Consequently, it would be utterly pointless for us to confess our sin of breaking the Old Covenant like Israel did. Again, 1 John 1:9 is not written to saved Gentiles—it is written to lost Jews.

 

CONCLUSION

When we approach the Bible dispensationally, we understand that 1 John 1:9 has nothing to do with us. John is not writing to us Gentiles in the Dispensation of Grace (mystery program). He is writing to the nation Israel in the prophetic program (Galatians 2:9. Paul, not John, is God’s spokesman to us (Romans 11:13): Paul never tells us to confess our sins (for salvation or for fellowship). Furthermore, 1 John 1:9 is not written to saved people; it is directed to lost Jews (see 1 John 2:12).

In this the Dispensation of Grace, we understand that Christ Jesus has already dealt with our sins fully and completely at Calvary’s cross. Why do we have to confess our sins for forgiveness if Christ Jesus already forgave us of all of them at Calvary? We do not, for 1 John 1:9 is not for us to follow.