Cannibalism in the Church

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I am writing today from beautiful Florida.

The other night I tried a new restaurant, and the food was horrible! It actually made me sick. So I got a to-go box and took it home so I could chew on it for several days and share it with my friends.

Sound crazy? Of course it is. Thankfully my story never actually happened. I just wanted to illustrate how foolish it is for us to keep dwelling (chewing) on negative experiences and sharing them with our friends. Sometimes we feel we have been offended and we share the painful experience over and over with out friends. Sometimes we want them to validate our negative feelings. However whenever our friends justify our hurts and feelings of being offended, they are encouraging us to walk in the flesh instead of the Spirit. Sometimes we share the bitter experience to turn our friends against the person who hurt us. This is when we start tinkering with Cannibalism.

My brethren, clear your souls before God. Cease your criticizing and fault-finding. Satan will keep you at this till the Lord comes, if he can. He knows that thus he can most effectually hinder the Lord’s work. Backbiting is cannibalism. -Ellen White, General Conference Bulletin, April 2, 1903

When the serpent tempted Eve, he started off with a very subtle slander.

“Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”Genesis 3:1 NKJV

Notice he forms the insinuation as a question. Not accusatory. Maybe even “sincerely” seeking for clarification, but the idea is now thrown out there that God is restrictive and holding good things back from us. 2 Corinthians 2:11 says we are not ignorant of Satan’s devices, and of course we are not. We even use his devices! Gossipers and slanderers in the church will often start off very subtly, hoping to gain an ear. Once they have that ear, they turn from subtle hints to outright slander just like the serpent did with Eve.

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden;  but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”
Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. Genesis 3:2-4 NKJV

Now the serpent has called God a liar! He started off subtly to gain an audience. Now that he has captured his audience, he has moved into outright slander! There are predators who groom entire congregations by sweet-talking them and buttering them up, even lending a helping hand whenever needed. Then they will subtly point out that they are helping the congregation more than anyone else. After their sweet talk and “good deeds” they insinuate that they deserve your loyalty more than the pastor, since after all, they have helped you more than the pastor, haven’t they? Then they begin to slander the pastor and usurp his influence. And you owe them your loyalty, because, after all, they have helped you so much with all their “kindness” and “encouraging” words. Absalom, in 2 Samuel 15:2-6, is an excellent example of grooming people, pretending to have their interest at heart, when in reality just wanting to promote self.

Jesus has a cure for slandering, gossiping and backbiting. It is the exact opposite of those things.

“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.  Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. Luke 6:27-31 NKJV

Paul adds,

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Romans 12:14 NKJV

Peter describes Satan as a lion looking for someone to devour with his mouth. When we gossip and slander others we too are like the lion looking for someone to devour with our mouth. This is cannibalism. Revelation 16:13 talks about three unclean spirits like frogs. Frogs catch their prey with their tongues. When we gossip about someone are we trying to catch our victim with our tongue? When we gossip are we practicing Satan’s device? In Genesis 3:1 the NKJV says the serpent was “cunning.” The KJV says he was “Subtle.” The NIV says he was “crafty.” Satan is too cunning, subtle and crafty to just walk up to you and invite you to practice cannibalism. So what does he do? He relabels it “white lies” and “gossip.” Or even more benign than that, he will label it “just venting to a friend.” Remember, when a friend validates your feelings of being offended and wronged, he is encouraging you to walk in the flesh instead of the Spirit. Love keeps no record of being wronged. (1 Corinthians 13:5 NLT)

2 Corinthians 2:11 tells us we are aware of Satan’s devices. This means we are not supposed to use them ourselves in the church! Subtle and outright slander, lying and cursing are all Satanic tactics and should not be practiced by Christians. As Seventh-day Adventists preparing for translation, let’s remember the seal of God is not just about the Sabbath. There will be many in heaven who kept Sunday and many who kept Saturday, but there won’t be anybody in heaven who made a practice of slandering. I personally fear more people will be excluded from the 144,000 over gossip and slander issues than Sabbath issues. John says the 144,00 have no guile in their mouths. (Revelation 14:5 KJV) Google “guile meaning” and you will find, “cunning,” “craft,” etc. basically all the things that make up gossip and cannibalism.

Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts. Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends. Psalm 15:1-3 NLT

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here. 

Matthew 4; Faith in God’s Love

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.  And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.  Matthew 4:1-3

 

 

Jesus overcame sin for us by meeting the same temptation Eve met. In the Garden, Satan had told Eve that if she ate of the forbidden fruit that she would be like God and be much happie,r and insinuated that God had withheld this special fruit because He did not really love them. Eve’s sin was rebelling against God and buying the lie of Satan that God did not really love her. Sin is saying God does not really love me. When we do not believe God is planning for our good and happiness we rebel and start making our own laws and plans.

 

In the wilderness Satan insinuates again to Jesus that He is not the object of God’s  love. “IF” “Thou be the Son of God” insinuated distrust. Satan appears an angel of light to Jesus, who has taken human nature and not eaten for days. Satan insinuates that there was an angel who had been rejected by God and banished from heaven. Satan wanted Jesus to feel like that angel and believe that he, an angel of light was the Son of God. “Turn those stones into bread and prove to me that you are the Son of God, in whom He is well pleased. Prove to me that your Father still loves you and has not banished you to this sin dark world” was Satan’s temptation.  Just days earlier, Jesus had heard the Word of God saying, “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased.” Jesus had a choice to make. He could go by feelings and appearances, or He could go by the Word of God. Jesus overcame by putting His faith in the Word of God, that He was loved by the Father. Thus, Jesus overcame and solved the sin problem by trusting in God’s love. When we choose sin, we are saying we don’t think God really loves us. When we obey God’s Word we are putting our trust in His love.

 

By God giving us His One and Only Son to us, we no longer need to doubt God’s love! By dying on the Cross Jesus does not convince God to accept us, God already accepts us. By dying on the Cross God wins our trust back, by proving that He really does love us so much that He would die for us. Would Satan do that? No! We can trust God’s law of love now. He really does love us!

 

Here is another article I wrote a while back called “Was the Atonement to Appease an Angry God or an Angry Race?”

Redemption in Romans, Lesson 9

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

This week’s SS lesson takes a look at freedom in Christ. To me, real freedom begins when we break free from Satan’s lies. Jesus says in John 8:32, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” The truth is about God’s love. Jesus is the truth. Jesus equals God. God equals love, therefore the Truth must equal love as well. So we see that Truth is much deeper than setting the world straight about what day is Holy or what foods should not be eaten. The truth Jesus speaks of is His love and character.

Satan appeared as a serpent and told Eve she just had to try this forbidden fruit in order to experience a higher quality of life. The serpent insinuated that God did not want her to have a quality life. By taking the fruit, Eve was putting her faith in the serpent. Eve’s sin was unbelief  in God’s love. When we sin, we do not doubt God’s power. we doubt His love. When this sin occurred, God did not leave Adam and Eve. God stayed right where He was, but Adam and Eve ran from Him. Sin does not separate God from us. It separates us from God.  Notice whenever Jesus was in the presence of a demoniac , Jesus was not repulsed or tormented by the presence of the demoniac but rather the demoniac was tormented by the presence of Jesus.

Even after Adam and Eve separated themselves from God He still had a plan. He would show His love by dying for them! In 1 John 1:29 John says to Behold the Lamb. By beholding we become changed. What changes is our attitude about God’s love. We behold a God who loves us so much He would die forever in order to save us. Save us from what? The lies of Satan that bring death. You see when we buy Satan’s lies and put our faith in him, we reject Jesus who is the life and we choose death. When we behold the Lamb, our attitude about His character changes and we believe in Him again. When we believe in God and His love, all the damage caused by Adam and Eve are reversed. When we believe God really loves us, we no longer choose to perish and we accept back the eternal life that God had wanted us to have all along. See John 3:16.  (Isaiah 28:15 & 18 refer to an agreement the sinner has made with death and hell. In this chapter the Messiah breaks not the agreement He had made for the destruction of the sinner, but rather the agreement the sinner had made with death. Verse 15 also implies that the covenant was made when the sinner trusted in lies.)

God the Father did not need to see His Son die in order to forgive us as much as we needed to see His Son die in order to repent of our attitude about Him and His love! When we see the truth about God’s love we can experience freedom from Satan’s lies. We will no longer bind ourselves to other god’s, buying the lie that they will make us happy. We will no longer buy Satan’s lies that we need to steal , lie, or covet to get what others have to be happy. We are freed from the lie that immoral sex brings fulfillment. Remember, the serpent did not make Eve doubt God’s power. He made her doubt God’s love.  When the Son sets you free from Satan’s lies and false accusations about God not being a God of love, and you see the truth about His love, you shall be free indeed!

Click here to see some ways Satan lies about God’s Character and what the truth really is.