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What is the value of doctrine?


How important is right doctrine to my relationship with God? What is "right doctrine" anyway?

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Doctrine in the New Testament is the translation of two Greek words ‘didache’ and ‘didaskalia’ both of which mean ‘teaching’. The source of doctrine is scripture (all of which has been written by inspiration):

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine (‘didaskalia’)...

Doctrine is the substance of the Gospel preached in the New Testament, which consists of 2 parts.

1. the things concerning the kingdom of God

2. the things concerning the name of Jesus Christ

Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ...

Both parts have their roots in promises made to Abraham and to David.

To Abraham, God promised eternal inheritance on the earth and a seed in whom all nations will be blessed.

Genesis 13:14 And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: 15 For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. 16 And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. 17 Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.
Genesis 26:4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;

To David, God promised a seed to establish his kingdom and reign upon his throne forever whose father would be God.

1 Chronicles 17:11 And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom. 12 He shall build me an house, and I will stablish his throne for ever. 13 I will be his father, and he shall be my son: and I will not take my mercy away from him, as I took it from him that was before thee: 14 But I will settle him in mine house and in my kingdom for ever: and his throne shall be established for evermore.

Matthew begins his gospel by establishing that Christ is the seed of Abraham and David.

Matthew 1:1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Mark begins his gospel by establishing that Christ is the son of God.

Mark 1:1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;

1. The things concerning the kingdom of God

Jesus began his ministry preaching the kingdom of God.

Mark 1:14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

The first time the word ‘didache’ is used it refers to the teachings of Jesus known as the ‘sermon on the mount’. It deals with how people should live if they want to attain to the kingdom of God.

Matthew 7:28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:

The people were astonished because Jesus taught with authority.

Mark 1:22 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.

Jesus explains that the teachings were not his but God’s.

John 7:16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

God’s teachings were different to the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees whose teachings were to be avoided.

Matthew 16:12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

Their teachings were to be avoided because they were not God’s teachings but men’s. The Jews had embellished the Law God gave through Moses with the ‘traditions’ of their ‘fathers’.

Matthew 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines (‘didaskalia’) the commandments of men.
Mark 7:9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

This highlights the importance of correct doctrine. If we worship God without having the correct doctrine our worship is in vain. The Jews had substituted the commandments of men for those of God by the traditions handed down from their ‘fathers’. As a result of their ‘doctrine’ they were not entering the kingdom of God themselves and were making entry impossible for others. The seriousness of the situation is shown in Matthew 23:13-39.

Matthew 23:13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

Matthew 15:14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

If we blindly follow wrong doctrine we will not attain to the kingdom of God. The correct Christian doctrine is essential for a valid relationship with God.

1 Timothy 1:3 As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus... that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,
1 Timothy 4:13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine... 16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
2 John 1:9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
2 John 1:10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed (welcome him): 11 For he that biddeth him God speed (welcomes him) is partaker of his evil deeds.

We can follow through the gospels the commandments of Christ and we see that they are all contained in two commandments.

Mark 12:29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Romans 13:9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Our neighbour includes our enemy:

Matthew 5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Having understood that the kingdom of God is the restored kingdom of David on earth and how we are required to live to attain to it we can move on to

2. The things concerning the name of Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ, the seed of Abraham and David and the son of God is the Messiah (Christ or anointed one) promised in the Old Testament.

John 1:29... John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

John 1:45... We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.

Deuteronomy 18:18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. 19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.

God provided Jesus to make reconciliation for us by taking away our sins. This he did by being born with our sin prone nature but living without sin. He then voluntarily surrendering his life as a sacrifice for sin. By his obedience he took away the curse brought upon us by Adam’s disobedience.

Romans 5:19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

If we won’t believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah we die in our sins.

John 8:24... if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

By his sacrifice the Old Covenant in the Law of Moses is removed and replaced by the New Covenant in Christ.

Ephesians 2:15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
Colossians 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

He redeemed us from the curse of the Law of Moses.

Galatians 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

We move on from the doctrine of ‘The things concerning the name of Jesus Christ’ to the doctrine of how one becomes a Christian.

Doctrine of how one becomes a Christian

Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

From this the sequence is:

1. Hear the Gospel
2. Believe the Gospel
3. Be baptised

At Pentecost when the Jews asked Peter what they were required to do:

Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,

Baptism is for the remission of our sins so it follows that we must recognise our sins and turn from them before baptism. To our sequence, between believing and baptism, we need to add repent. From this the sequence becomes:

1. Hear the Gospel
2. Believe the Gospel
3. Repent
4. Be baptised

Baptism by immersion in water is an essential beginning to salvation.

Matthew 3:15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

Baptism in the case of the Philippian Jailer:

Acts 16:30 And (he) brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.

Baptism in the case of the Samaritans:

Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Baptism by total immersion in water is given 2 symbolic meanings.

1. The ‘washing away’ of sins:

Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

2. Burial of the old man and a rising again to begin a new life:

Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

From this the sequence becomes:

1. Hear the Gospel
2. Believe the Gospel
3. Repent
4. Be baptised
5. Walk in newness of life

Paul gives this advice:

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 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.

Peter gives similar advice:

1Peter 4:1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.

We will be saved only if we endure to the end of our lives.

Matthew 24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Salvation has to be worked out with fear and trembling.

Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Paul was aware that even he could fall away.

1Corinthians 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

The doctrine of ‘once saved always saved’ is not taught in scripture.

From Hebrews 6:

Hebrews 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

Doctrine of baptisms

We have got as far as water baptism. The other baptism of the baptisms is that of baptism with the Holy Spirit. We need to understand this doctrine correctly.

It was promised to the apostles.

Acts 1:5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence.

It happened at Pentecost. The only other occasion where baptism with the Holy Spirit is recorded is at the conversion of Cornelius several years later. That it was not the normal thing to receive the Holy Spirit gifts at baptism is evident from Peter’s response.

Acts 11:15 "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. 16 "Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’

If it was a normal occurrence he wouldn't have had to remember something that happened several years ago. The evidence in the Bible is only the apostles and Cornelius household were baptised with the Holy Spirit and everyone else received gifts of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the apostle’s hands.

Doctrine of laying on of hands

When the apostles established churches they appointed elders and laid their hands on them to confer Holy Spirit gifts. At Ephesus the disciples received Holy Spirit gifts by the laying on of Paul’s hands. (We can assume that Paul received the Holy Spirit directly from Christ who ordained him as the apostle to the Gentiles).

Acts 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.

In this way each church had a full complement of gifts to establish it.

1 Corinthians 1:7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Those who had Holy Spirit gifts by the laying on of the apostle’s hands could not pass them on. The proof for this is Philip:

Acts 8:5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. 6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. 14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, 15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money,

Philip could work miracles and heal the sick but he couldn't impart the Holy Spirit gifts; the apostles had to come from Jerusalem. Consequently with the death of the apostles and those upon whom they had laid hands, the Holy Spirit gifts ceased. People are not baptised with the Holy Spirit today. Holy Spirit gifts are not essential for salvation.

Doctrine of resurrection of the dead

Salvation does not involve going to Heaven. There is not a single verse in Scripture which speaks of going to heaven as the reward of the righteous. At death men go to the grave.

The sentence on Adam.

Genesis 3:19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
Ecclesiastes 3:20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

There is no conscious existence after death.

Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing...
Psalms 146:4 His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.

The soul is the person, not an immortal part of the person; souls die.

Ezekiel 18:4... the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

The dead do not go to heaven.

John 3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven...
Acts 2:34 For David is not ascended into the heavens...

Eternal life requires resurrection from death to life on the earth and a physical change of nature. For this reason the dead in Christ are said to be ‘asleep’.

1 Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (precede) them which are asleep.16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

Paul’s aim was to attain to the resurrection of the dead.

Philippians 3:11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

The Christian hope is resurrection from the dead at the return of Christ.

Doctrine of eternal judgment

Christ is God’s appointed judge. He will raise the responsible dead and judge the living at his return and his kingdom.

John 5:28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
2 Timothy 4:1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick (living) and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

The reward consists of eternal life for the righteous and a return to death for eternity for the unrighteous (which is why it is called eternal judgment). The lake of fire in Revelation 20 is a symbol for the second death and represents complete destruction. Hell (the grave) far from being a place of eternal torment is itself cast into the lake of fire. After the final judgment at the end of the millennial reign of Christ all who live on will be immortal – which is symbolised by death and hell being cast into the lake of fire. The reward of the righteous is eternal life in the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God, or kingdom of heaven, is to be set up on earth when Christ returns to rule as king on the throne of David. The angel Gabriel says:

Luke 1:32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

This agrees with the prophecy of Isaiah:

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

David by inspiration of the Holy Spirit says:

Psalm 37:11 But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

Christ confirms it:

Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

The Gospel speaks of the kingdom of God on earth in confirmation of Daniel’s prophecy.

Daniel 2:44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

As God said to Moses:

Numbers 14:21 But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.

And through the prophet Habakkuk:

Habakkuk 2:14 For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

Jesus promised his apostles:

Matthew 19:28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Paul describes the reign of Christ and what will follow:

1 Corinthians 15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. 24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

The doctrine concerning the devil and satan.

Devil is the translation of the Greek word ‘Diabolos’ literally meaning ‘false accuser, slanderer’. It is used of men and women.

John 6:70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil (Diabolos)?
1Timothy 3:11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers (Diabolos), sober, faithful in all things.
2Timothy 3:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers (Diabolos), incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
Titus 2:3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers (Diabolos), not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

It is also used in the New Testament to personify the ‘lust’ or propensity to sin which is in the heart of all men. Jesus says that all the evil that men are prone to comes from inside their minds.

Mark 7:21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

This agrees with what God says through Jeremiah in the Old Testament.

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked...

When we are tempted to sin the temptation comes from within.

James 1:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

This helps us to understand what John says.

1John 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil (Diabolos);

This simply means that the man who sins is ruled by his own lust. Once we understand this, seemly contradictory statements become clear.

1. Ephesians 4:27 Neither give place (ie an opportunity) to the devil (Diabolos).
2. James 4:7...Resist the devil (Diabolos), and he will flee from you.
3. 1Peter 5:8 ...your adversary the devil (Diabolos), as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
4. Revelation 2:10 ... the devil (Diabolos) shall cast some of you into prison,
If the devil spoken of in 1 and 2 is the same as that in 3 and 4 the statements are contradictory. They could avoid being devoured or cast into prison simply by resisting him and he would flee from them. If the devil in 1 and 2 is the evil within themselves and the devil in 3 and 4 is the evil in other people (the authorities for example) then the scripture is reconciled. The evil within themselves they can resist by self control. The evil brought upon them by others they cannot resist.

Matthew 5:39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

So they would be devoured (killed as James and Stephen were) and put into prison (as Peter and Paul were). Going back to James we see that it is the outworking of lust that brings death.

James 1:15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

The importance of Christ having our nature and overcoming the lust that is inherent in that nature becomes clear. It is lust that has the power of death and in Hebrews it is plainly called the devil.

Hebrews 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil (Diabolos);

Christ was tempted as we are yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Because Christ overcame his nature and did no sin, when he died death could not be his end.

Acts 2:24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

The temptation that took place in the wilderness was not from an external source.

Matthew 4:3 And when the tempter came to him,

That this is a personification of the thoughts that came into his mind can be reasonably conjectured from the temptation to control the whole world.

Matthew 4:8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

1. There is no mountain high enough from which the kingdoms of this world can be seen.
2. The devil (if he be the fallen angel of popular Christian mythology) does not have the kingdoms of this world within his power to give.
The kingdoms of this world are appointed by God.

Daniel 4:17 ... the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.
Romans 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation... 6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

Christ, being the rightful king of Israel and having the Holy Spirit without measure had the power not only to turn stones into bread but to take the kingdoms of this world in his own way. The angels had the charge to keep him from harm. (Even at his crucifixion he only had to ask and 12 legions of angels were at his disposal). He could rule the world and avoid crucifixion. It was a greater temptation than any other man has faced. At the end of his life he would have died of old age and neither he nor we would have had the hope of resurrection to life eternal. If we believe that Christ could not be tempted by lust in the same way that we are, then we deny the magnitude of his victory. It is one thing to resist external temptation and quite another to deny our own desires. To do what God wants and not what we want.

Luke 22:42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

Satan is the translation of the Greek word Satanas from the Aramaic satan literally meaning ‘adversary’. It is used of men and angels. In the New Testament satan is also used interchangeably with devil.

Mark 8:33 But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.

Consistent with the idea that devil refers to lust in man; Peter, being called satan is said to savour the things that be of men (not as we might otherwise expect the things that be of the devil). It helps us to understand how Paul seemingly colludes with Satan.

1Timothy 1:20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.

If Paul has delivered them to ‘Satan the fallen angel’ it is hardly likely that he will teach them not to blaspheme; rather the contrary. If as would seem from the context Paul has put them out of fellowship to fulfil their own desires and suffer the consequences, then they might indeed learn the error of their way and repent.

In Revelation we are presented with the symbol of a great red dragon.

Revelation 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Everything in Revelation 12 is symbolic representation. None of the symbols, the heaven, woman, child, dragon, stars, Michael and his angels, war in heaven, casting out into the earth are intended to be understood literally. (Try to clothe a woman with the sun or imagine stars cast upon the earth by a dragon’s tail – stars are suns in their own right, just one would obliterate the earth). It only makes sense if the symbols are describing a cataclysmic change in the religious/ political ‘heaven’ of the Roman Empire.

In the fourth century with the advent of Constantine, Christianity replaced Pagan idolatry as the state church of the Roman Empire within 70 years.

The great dragon is said to represent that old serpent, called (named) the Devil, and Satan. The Devil and Satan, then are names given to the old (ancient) serpent. The serpent referred to is the one in Eden which deceived Eve.

2Corinthians 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled (deceived) Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

The serpent’s deceit of Eve and Adam’s subsequent disobedience brought sin and death into the world. The fruit of the tree gave them the knowledge of good and evil within themselves.

Genesis 3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked;

They and their progeny became subject to lust and consequent death.

1John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

Lust had its origin in the serpent’s deceit and the Bible makes the serpent (now long dead) a cipher for the evil in the heart of man. So John Baptist can call the Jews of his day a generation of vipers.

Matthew 3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

Jesus says of the same:

John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.

The prophecy in Genesis relates to the triumph of Christ over the lust in our nature.

Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

In conclusion Devil and Satan are names given to the serpent which is the personification of the LUST in the heart of man which causes us to sin and die.

This answer is rather long but I have tried to cover most aspects of doctrine.

Christianity has sadly followed the example of the Jews and substituted the doctrinal decisions of the Church fathers for the plain teaching of scripture. This is why there are so many Churches with different doctrines – they are astray from the Bible.

This is as prophesied:

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Fortunately we have the example of the Bereans and still have the scriptures to test doctrines against.

Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

I hope this helps.

Glenn Smith

 
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