14 But by you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:14-15).
In Paul’s time, the Holy Scriptures was the Old Testament. Without “faith in Christ Jesus” these Scriptures cannot make us “wise for salvation.” It is critically important for us to note that, for everyone living right now, it is only “through faith in Christ Jesus” that the Scriptures will be Holy to us and will make us wise for salvation.
16 All Scripture [THE OLD TESTAMENT] is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Without the words “through faith in Christ Jesus”—which means without Christ Jesus’ revelation of the Old Testament—verses sixteen and seventeen will read like this for us: All Scripture is not given by inspiration of God, and is not profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. [THOSE WHO “WILL TURN THEIR EARS AWAY FROM THE TRUTH, WHO IS CHRIST JESUS, WILL BE TURNED ASIDE TO FABLES]. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (2 Timothy 4:1-5, emphasis added)
In the Mount of Transfiguration, God the Father Himself testified of His Son, saying: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” The apostle John speaks of this event in the first epistle of John. He says:
9 If we receive the witness of men, [SEE WHAT JESUS HAD TO SAY ABOUT THE WITNESS OF MEN. JN. 5:34F. 8:17-18,] the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. 10 He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar (1 John 5:9-10)
The devil was a liar from the beginning. We make God a liar when we do not receive His testimony regarding His Son, because we have not believed the testimony that He has given of His Son. His testimony was: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” Why are we to hear the Son? Because the Son’s testimony is to “bear witness to the truth,” which is the revelation of God’s character of agape love.
11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has [THE] life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have [THE] life (1 John 5: 9-12, emphasis added).
9 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds (2 John 9-11).
The apostle Paul wants us to base all our understanding of the Bible upon one foundation, “which is Jesus Christ:”
10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3: 10-11, emphasis added).
Jesus, the King of God’s kingdom, which He was representing, had declared to Pilate in no uncertain terms: “My kingdom is not of this world, if My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
Jesus was bearing “witness to the truth” as to how His and His Father’s kingdom functioned by what He taught in His Sermon on the Mount. This sermon was a radical declaration that God was not involved in any of those violent activities presented in the “oracles of God,” which were in the possession of the Hebrew people—the Old Testament.
43 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy. 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of Your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as Your Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5: 43-48, emphasis added).
Usually, when someone is about to die, we pay very careful attention to what they have to say. Jesus words to Pilate, at a very significant moment in His life, are critically important. In His exchange with Pilate Jesus explains in His own words why He was born: “For this cause I was born, for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Jesus had a very specific truth which He came to give to this world of human beings. Unfortunately, no one had ever given that particular truth before, and that is because they did not know it.
It is of ultimate importance and grave spiritual significance that we know that specific truth that Jesus came to give to every human being.
Did the Jews—God’s chosen people, those to whom were committed the
“oracles of God”—did they have that exact truth that Jesus was born to give? According to Jesus, they categorically and unequivocally did not! That is why He said that He was born to “bear witness to the truth.” If they had the actual truth that Jesus came to this world to give, then He did not give the truth to Pilate—and we know that is impossible. If we really analyze what He said to Pilate we will conclude that no human being had “the truth” that He came to give to this world.
HOW WAS JESUS DESTROYING “THE WORKS OF THE DEVIL?”
Jesus was destroying “the works of the devil” first and foremost when He declared to Pilate “the truth” that was uniquely His to give, and that had never been given before:
You say rightly that I am a King. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.
Jesus fulfilled what He said to Pilate in every aspect of His life—by the things that He taught and demonstrated. “For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Thus, He was destroying “the works of the devil.”
It is of profound spiritual importance that we have it established in our minds that Jesus Christ is the Creator. Because He is the Creator, therefore, with certainty, He knows who is the destroyer of His perfect creation and its inhabitants.
He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil (1John 3: 8, emphasis added).
The Destroyer, the devil, “has sinned from the beginning.” And anyone who does the same works as the Destroyer falls into the category of “he who sins is of the devil.”
What sin did Lucifer, who became the devil, commit “from the beginning”?
15 You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you. 16 By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned; and I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones (28: 15-16, emphasis added).
These two phrases, “…Till iniquity was found in you,” and “you became filled with violence within, and you sinned…” are inseparable.
“Iniquity,” “violence” and “sinned,” means that when Lucifer deviated from God’s agape love he transgressed the law of love, which governed the universe. Thus he became hamas, which in Hebrew means “act of violence.”
The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (volume 2. R. Laird Harris; Gleason L. Archer, Jr.; Bruce K. Waltke) says the following about this passage: “Thus the words have an important theological significance for they refer to behaviour contrary to God’s character and against which he must respond.”
Iniquity and violence came into being in Lucifer when he went against God’s law of agape love that governed the universe; it was thus that he sinned.
Conversely, Jesus is the “everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end,” and “He had done no violence” (Isaiah 9: 6,7; 53: 9).
As Christians, we have overlooked the most important truth, the one that must be heeded by all who positively want to know the truth. The truth is that “God is love (1 John 4:8,16).” Once we know the depth of this supreme truth in the way it should be known, then we will not confuse the works of the Creator with the works of the destroyer.
What was the worst consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin— “the sin”—after they ate “from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?” The worst consequence of that one act was that they opened up the doors for the outworking of “the works of the devil.” They opened the gates for the destroyer to come in. And in doing that, they were told by the devil that the destroyer was God, and not himself. Jesus came to show that this was not true: “…For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil (1 John 4: 8).”
Jesus destroyed “the works of the devil” by showing that he, the devil, is the destroyer. How did He do this? By undoing all of “the works of the devil”—which is all of the fallout from the sin—whenever the opportunity arose. In other words, when the destroyer put on sickness, Jesus healed it. When the destroyer brought in death, He brought back life.
The entirety of Jesus Christ’s ministry was to reveal God’s character of agape love. For this reason He came into the world that He should bear witness to the truth. “Everyone who is of the truth hears [HIS] voice.” As Jesus taught and demonstrated God’s agape love in people’s lives, He was destroying “the works of the devil.”
Now, as our heavenly High Priest, He is still doing the same. How is Jesus, our heavenly High Priest, destroying “the works of the devil” even now? He is doing this as He is purging our minds of all the lies we have believed about God’s character, and settling that extremely important issue, that the Creator is not the destroyer. By doing this right now He is still destroying “the works of the devil.” At the same time that He vindicates God’s name, Jesus also wants us to know who the destroyer is, who it is that is responsible for all of the works of destruction, sickness, infirmity and death. When we know the truth from Jesus and believe it, that is precisely how He is destroying “the works of the devil.”
There is a story in the New Testament in which there was a village of the Samaritans that did not want to receive Jesus. James and John had a quick and fatally drastic solution to deal with those who rejected Jesus. But Jesus rebuked them, and through His reply He destroyed “the works of the devil” that were in James’ and John’s mind, because they were attributing to God “the works of the devil:”
54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?’ 55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.’ And they went to another village (Luke 9: 54-56, emphasis added).
On another occasion, Jesus healed a woman with “a spirit of infirmity” on the Sabbath. “The ruler of the synagogue” was indignant for what Jesus did on the Sabbath, and in His reply to him, Jesus was also destroying “the works of the devil”:
So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound – think of it – for eighteen years be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath (Luke 13: 16)?’
Elsewhere He had also said:
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (John 10: 10).
And the apostles gave this testimony concerning Him:
How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him (Acts 10: 38).
“The works of the devil” were being destroyed when Jesus gave the apostle Paul his commission:
15 So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will reveal to you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me (Acts 26: 15- 18, emphasis added).
All who believe in Jesus have these words fulfilled in them: “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” What shall the truth set us free from? The truth shall set us free from “the works of the devil.” “For this cause [JESUS] was born, and for this cause [HE HAD] come into the world, that [HE] should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears [HIS] voice.” This is what was happening in the Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ.
We, at The Apostolic Church of God Seventh Day, claim to have all our understanding and teachings from the Apostolic Church that Jesus began. That is indeed an awesome mandate, but are we doing all we can to fulfill that humbling obligation? Are we prepared to step out in faith and do what the apostles did in teaching everything Jesus taught them?
Take another incident, where the Apostles were teaching doctrines in Jesus name, doctrines they had learned from Him. Notice what they said when they were brought before the council, which was comprised mostly of people who were full of violence:
27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, 28 saying, ‘Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!” 29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. 31 Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.’ 33 When they heard this, they were furious and plotted to kill them. 34 Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them: ‘Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men.’ 38 ‘And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; 39 but if it is God, you cannot overthrow it – lest you even be found to fight against God’ (Acts 5: 27-35, 38-39, emphasis added).
IN THE BEGINNING GOD CREATED THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH.
The narrator of the creation story covered and presented in these words, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” the entire history of God’s completed creation. These words encompass the time creation began on the first day of the week to the time it ended on the seventh day. We will soon see why verse one was narrated this way. Subsequently, the entire process of creation, from the beginning to the end, took seven literal days as stated in Genesis 1:3 to Genesis 2:3. Then, Genesis 2:4 (below) reiterates and affirms what had just been declared above in the opening words of the Holy Bible:
This is the history [GENERATIONS] of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.
Thus, what had been stated in Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” is asserted again in Genesis 2:4: “This is the history [GENERATIONS] of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.”
Imbedded in Genesis 2:4 is the seven-thousand-year history—the Hebrew word actually means “generations”—that encompassed the seven-thousand year- history of the earth.
Knowing that His character would be brought into question, and that is was critically important that we, the human race, knew the truth about Him with all certainty (since it concerns the very essence of who He is, of His character of agape love), God gave the human race a memorial, something by which we will always remember that God is the Creator and anything that is contrary to Him being the Creator is not of Him. Can anything else in the entire cosmos be more vitally significant and important than the character of God?
What did God give us? He gave us the seventh day. But even before He established the seventh day, He gave us a clue at the end of the sixth day, in words that were clearly decreed by Him and which concerned His character as the Creator:
Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day (Genesis 1: 31, emphasis added).
Both by creation and by declaration God demonstrated and proclaimed in no uncertain terms that everything He had created was indeed “very good.” The Sabbath, therefore, was given to us so that we would never forget—so that we would always remember—that anything that happened from then onwards during the seven-thousand-year history of the world that was not in harmony with the One who had declared that His creation was indeed “very good” was not the world of the Creator.
Therefore, if anything negatively impacted His perfect creation after Adam and Eve ate “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” we can know for sure that it is not something that comes from Him. Tragically, the opposite has happened, and the devil has deceived us into believing the ultimate lie.
The indescribable pain, suffering, carnage and death that has been inflicted on God’s earthly children have resulted in us believing that God is the One responsible for executing such evil atrocities. But Paul admonishes us:
Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God (Hebrew 3: 12).
Anyone who believes in God unquestionably knows that God is “the living God.” But we must realize that when the Scriptures talk about “the living God” they mean to say that God is the giver of life. He is the king of the kingdom of life. He is the tree of life, He is life. Through Jesus Christ we know definitely that “the living God,” who is the Creator, is not responsible for “the law of sin and death:”
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, has made me free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8: 2, emphasis added).
Someone else is responsible for “the law of sin and death.” When we have fully understood this verse, as we believe that “the law of sin and death” is not from God but from the devil, then “the works of the devil” are destroyed in us. “The Spirit of life” is “in Christ Jesus.” Consequently, He alone can make us “free from the law of sin and death.”
If we claim that death is from God then we are also saying that He is responsible for “the law of sin and death.” If that is true, then Jesus is a divided Person who operates a divided kingdom. But in Matthew 12 verses 22-32 Jesus clearly taught that it is Satan who has a divided kingdom—not God. Tragically, we have come to believe that God is both the Creator and the destroyer—a divided kingdom—because of our lack of understanding of His character of agape love. Thus, we impute unto Him a divided character and believe that He operates a divided kingdom.
How did the human race end-up with this particularly horrendously depraved view of God’s character? This depraved and debauched belief originated when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and obeyed the serpent/devil.
1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 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.’ ” 4 Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. 8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ 10 So he said, ‘I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.’ 11 And He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?’ 12 Then the man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate’ (Genesis 3: 1-12, emphasis added).
The serpent/devil took over Adam and Eve’s minds when they disobeyed God and obeyed him. Thus he became their father and the father of the human race. Consequently, also began the ultimate radically warped understanding of God’s character.
God, who is the God of agape love, has been labeled as a God of “good and evil.” But the real god of “good and evil” (notice the lower-case ‘g’ which refers to Satan) has a dual character. The true God, however, has a singular character of agape love.
The result of believing that God is a dualistic God of good and evil is that we have developed an abject fear of Him. Such became Adam and Eve’s new belief and is ours as well. Adam and Eve viewed God as One who was going to kill them as a punishment for disobeying His command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We too believe the same, that God punishes evil people by killing them.
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day you eat of it you shall surely die’ (Genesis 2: 16-17, emphasis added).
But what was really happening there in the Garden is that once Adam and Eve disobeyed God they would be placing themselves into the hands of the one “who had the power of death, that is the devil.”
14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (Hebrew 2: 14-15), emphasis added).
How can “fear of death” come from God if the power of death belongs to the devil? If the devil is the one who has the power of death, then fear of death is also under his power. God is love and when that same love is in us it casts out our fear of death, which is from the devil.
17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgement, because as He is, so we are in this world. 18 There is no fear in love: but perfect love casts our fear, because fear involves torment [punishment]. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love (1John 4: 17-18, emphasis added).
15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (Hebrew 2:15), emphasis added).
How can we have the horrible belief that God has the power of death, when it is clearly stated in Hebrews 2:14 that “the power of death” belongs to “the devil?” By not believing this truth we believe the lie that God is the one who does the killing of the ungodly, the depraved, the debauched, the evil and unpardonable, when in reality it is the devil, as we read in Hebrews 2: 14. Thus, with such an erroneous understanding of God we commit “the sin,” which only Jesus can save us from.
The entire human race was in Adam when he obeyed the devil. As a result, all of humanity inherited the same warped view of God, which is “the sin;” and we are all in need of “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1: 29).
Every human being has “the sin” in them. The Holy Bible has revealed this, and more specifically, so has Jesus Christ. He, Immanuel, God with us, is the only sinless being in whom Satan had nothing of himself in Him. Therefore, Jesus alone can and has given us the ultimate truth about God’s character of agape love.
Tragically, we have believed Satan’s lies about God instead of believing “the truth” Jesus taught and demonstrated about God’s character.
We, as believers in Jesus Christ, must become aware of a most important spiritual reality. This reality is what the apostle John narrated concerning what Jesus Christ said about some so-called believers in Him:
28 Then Jesus said to them, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as the Father taught Me, I speak those things. 29 And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.’ 30 As He spoke these words, many believed in Him. 31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’ (John 8:28-32).
When we “lift up” Jesus He will give us the true knowledge of God the Father. Through Jesus we will be freed from the mundane, earthly way through which we have known the Father. Thus, we will experience spiritual healing from “the lie” of the devil. Such a healing will result in our knowing that Jesus is “the truth.” All He taught and demonstrated about the Father He received first-hand from God, and we will know with certainty that He has given us the truth.
But even in Jesus’ time, such was not the case with some of “those Jews who believed Him.” There was something seriously lacking in some who outwardly appeared to believe in Jesus. They needed “the truth” in order to be saved from “the lie” of the Devil, which they believed about God. This was the same lie that Adam and Eve fell for after they obeyed the devil, because then he became their father and taught them “the lie” about God.
Jesus tells these apparent believers in Him something quite shocking: He tells them that they are “of their father the devil.” Why did He say something so shocking, when these were “believers in Him?” The reason is that even though they professed to believe in Him they did not want to “abide” in His word and become His “disciples indeed.” In order to “abide” in His word and become His “disciples indeed” they needed to believe what He taught about God’s character. But since His teachings were radically different from what they believed from the Old Testament, they challenged Jesus’ revelation and ended up having the devil as their father, according to Jesus.