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I loved Leviticus 19:32 "Show your fear of God by standing up in the presence of elderly people and showing respect for the aged. I am the LORD." The point is that a mark of genuine holiness beyond just the 'practices/disciplines' of holiness is to respect the elderly, to treat them in a 'godly' way. To not see them as an interruption to our lives but to see them as people who really matter to God. One of my sons works in a home for 'seniors' and he gets to be "Jesus" to these people who sometime think the world has forgotten them.
Two of the best books on HOliness that i have read are The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges (Navpress) and R.C. sproul's The Holiness of God. These two very helpful 'classics' are readable to every generation.

Satan

Since Satan is mentioned in Mark 8:33 I thought I would bring up a few things.

From the "Barna Group"
"Six out of ten Americans (59%) reject the existence of Satan, indicating that the devil, or Satan, is merely a symbol of evil. Catholics are much more likely than Protestants to hold this view - 75% compared to 55% - although a majority of both groups concur that Satan is symbolic."
http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=122

In Mark 8:33 I will grant that it can be argued that Satan is a real entity or that the concept is one of a "nebulous evil force". I will also grant that nationally I am in the minority in my view of Satan as a "real entity". It always seems strange to me when a person believes in God, and angels, yet Satan isn't real.

As an unbeliever, I tried to prove the Bible wrong, and after quite a bit of time, I couldn't prove my hypothesis. I understand that people have different views of the Bible and that some will spiritualize, allegorize, metaphorize, etc. the Bible. I believe the Bible is straightforward, and when I disagree with such a person mentioned above: The only point I want to make is that while we may disagree about interpretation, let us be real clear on what the Bible "says" on the issue.

So what does the bible say on "Satan".

Old Testament

Satan is mentioned in Genesis, Job, and Zechariah. There is controversy over Genesis and I admit that different views on Satan can be argued in Genesis. So for now I would like to mention Job and Zechariah.

In Chapter of Job:

Let us play the analogy game -
"God is real", "Job is real", and "Satan is "______".

"Classical Torah scholarship has not doubted Job's existence."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Job_(person)

Christians that believe Job is real cite:
Ezek 14:14, 14:20 and James 5:11.

In Zech 3:

"the angel of the Lord is real", "Joshua is real", "Satan is "______".

As stated before, I believe references in O.T. to THE angel of the Lord represent Christ. I would submit vs.4 as proof (at least in this instance).

Zech 3:4
"...Then he said to Joshua, "See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you."

Joshua here in Zech. has been referring to the High Priest in place in Jerusalem after the return from Babylonian Captivity. A real person.

Even if the chapter is a "good vs. evil" story, and I think it is such a story. Where Angel represents Good, Joshua represents Israel, and Satan represents Evil. IMO the characters that represent these roles are all "real".

Enough for now, I will tackle some New Testament passages later today.

If this is interesting to you, or you have been struggling with your understanding of Satan, I would suggest perusing through these two links.

http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/109

http://www.apologeticspress.org/modules.php?name=Read&cat=1&itemid=112


Not many comments today! I would just emphasize that He said, 'I am the Lord, I am God.' I think we would do well to listen to Him.

Satan

New Testament

While there are quite a few places in N.T. that Satan can be regarded as an "entity" or as evil that is just a "nebulous force", the important thing is that it could be considered either one.

So where does it seem clear that it can only be one of those choices.

"...consider the emphasis on Satan within the whole of the Sacred Text, the importance placed on the fact of his existence by both biblical writers and the Son of God Himself, and the critical role he has played in the necessity of God’s great plan of salvation for mankind."
http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/109

Matt 12:26
"If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand?"

How does a nebulous force cast out a nebulous force? Notice himself (Gk. Heautou)is a personal pronoun - not "itself".

Luke 22:31
"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat."

How does a nebulous force ask or better translated "demand" anything?

1John 3:8
"He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning..."

How does a nebulous force sin? It is evil and just IS. Sinning is an action taken by an entity, not some passive state of being in the wrong.

Matt 13:39
"and the enemy who sows them is the devil...."

Jesus is explaining the parable. He is explaining what the symbolism represents - the real person or thing.

Good place to stop. With a clear example by our Savior.

I realize that these examples and many others will not change the minds of those who believe Evil is a nebulous force. But for those of you who haven't made up your mind, are not sure, or are new to Chrisitianity; I implore you, do not believe me,nor an article I post, nor a liberal theologian, nor spiritual books. Instead:

Go to the primary source. Go to the "Word" and do a word study on Satan, Devil, evil one, tempter, etc. Pray about what you read, reflect on it, and make up your own minds.

What does the Bible say, not how it applies in your life or based on pre-conceived notions.


John, if you present all these arguments about satan and in the end you say, "I implore you, do not believe me..." sounds so contradictory isn't it?
Reading your postings obvivously looks that you're trying to convince people but thought you weren't convincing anyway?

Anonymous,

I have no idea if I was convincing or not regarding my post on Satan :).

I am thouroughly convinced that Satan is a "REAL ENTITY", but in the end it does not matter what I think.

The purpose of the post was to get people to think, and explore the issue on their own.

I think too many times Christians get enamored with a book, an article, or a persuasive person's argument on a theological point (issue, doctrine, etc.). They subsequently just adopt that point without really thinking about it, praying about it, or consulting the "Word" about it. That is the same as the "house built on sand" from Matthew's gospel.

What I was imploring was not to believe written or spoken versions on either side of the issue: "real entity" vs. nebulous force". Conservative or Liberal.

By extension, the imploring continues down to:
"Go to the primary source. Go to the "Word" and do a word study on Satan, Devil, evil one, tempter, etc. Pray about what you read, reflect on it, and make up your own minds."

I listed four verses in the New Testament, there are many more to look at and consider.

Build your "house on a bedrock" of study, prayer , and reflection - that ONE does on his or her own.

[BTW think of this decision matrix:
"If you beleive the Devil is a "real entity" and you are right, you can be prepeared for spiritual warfare."

"If you are wrong, it ends up being a non-event."

If you believe Satan just represents a "nebulous force", and you are right - then you can just go thru life knowing that evil just "is", and it may or may not touch you.

If you are wrong, you will be woefully unprepared for spiritual warfare and the resultant attacks on your faith. Your testimony will be a shambles, and real harm may come to you, yours, and your church.]

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