Discipleship: The God of this World

Satan’s influence is pervasive. He can affect the unwary and strong as well as the weak and insecure. He would like to so thoroughly confuse and deceive the human race that no one would understand the truth.

The Bible calls Satan the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4, KJV), and in this age we can never be completely free of his influence. It contaminates all aspects of life today—politics, music, entertainment, education, and even religion. The apostle Paul described Satan as the “prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2).

Satan can prey on attitudes, moods and feelings. He is especially tuned to negative emotions like vanity, pride, hurt feelings, revenge and lust. He is ready to fan the embers of discontentment into flames of hatred, and is always eager to coax the first stirring of temptation into the reality of sin. (Temptation, when resisted, is not sin. Even Jesus was tempted by Satan, but he did not sin.) Wherever human beings are, he is there also, waiting for those moments when a man, woman or even a nation can be tempted, deceived and started on the road to ruin.

Satan’s rule as “god of this world” will be over when he is removed and replaced by Jesus Christ at his return. But until that happens, we must be aware of him. Aware, but not afraid. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you,” advises James 4:7.

To resist spiritual influence, you need spiritual power. Human beings were created in the image of God, but with a physical frame. How do we get the spiritual power to resist Satan and worship God in “spirit and in truth”? The answer to this question will also show the safe and legitimate way by which you can contact the spirit world.

Human beings were made mortal and physical, but with the capacity to be made spiritual and immortal. It is God’s intention that humanity, made in the image of God, become even more like God. But not until we have been made ready – transformed by God through the process. It begins with Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit living within us, changing us from the inside out.

Jesus Christ is the vital link. He, an immortal, eternal being, the Son of God, was born on earth as a human being. Jesus lived his life without sin. Then he allowed himself to be put to death, an innocent sacrifice for the sins of others. For three days he lay dead in a tomb, until the Father resurrected him. Jesus was restored to eternal life and returned to the spirit world.

When he returned to heaven, he left behind a little band of people who had believed in him and had tried to follow him. He had been their constant companion for 3½ years, leading, helping, teaching, encouraging, correcting and comforting them. Now he was leaving. What would become of them?

Jesus knew that without him, they would certainly fail. They needed to be able to draw on the strength and power of God, as he had. So he promised to send them, and all who followed them, spiritual help. “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you,” he reminded them at the Last Supper. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:25-26).

He gave them access to the power of the Holy Spirit. He opened up a direct line, so to speak, to the throne of God, through which human beings can receive the same power that Jesus Christ had access to while he was on earth. Jesus Christ is in heaven today, at the right hand of the Father. He understands human frailty. He is compassionate and merciful, and he knows what we need.

His Spirit guides us, leads us, encourages us, and changes us. The Holy Spirit is the safe, legitimate contact with the spirit world. He does not force us to do what is right. He does not manifest himself in wild and uncontrollable outbursts. Through his Spirit, God gives humans the power to resist selfishness, pride, lust and greed. Unlike a hostile demonic spirit, God’s Holy Spirit does not take us over or possess us. We can seek his Spirit in sincere, heartfelt prayer.

With his help, our lives will begin to show the fruit of the Spirit, which the Bible tells us are “love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, [and] faithfulness” (Galatians 5:22). The Holy Spirit is the safe, legitimate means by which human beings can make contact with what lies beyond our natural world. It is safe because “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Through the Holy Spirit, God gives us spiritual insight, gives us eternal life, and leads us in a safe, controlled and disciplined manner. Eternal life in the spirit realm with all its power and splendor is waiting for us. “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit,” writes the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).

Through Jesus Christ, we can prepare for eternal spiritual life and show in our lives now the fruit of the Holy Spirit. “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (John 15:8). May God help you to trust him and to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.

Fantasy games: just good fun?

What many people think of as harmless fun has the potential to become dangerous.

The danger inherent in traditional occult parlor games, like Ouija boards and tarot cards, should by now be obvious to the reader. The spirit forces you could come in contact with when using these devices are nothing to play around with.

However, “fantasy adventure games” of a more sophisticated kind are growing in popularity. They come in two forms: those designed to be played on a board (or sometimes with cards), and electronic video games. What they have in common is that the players take on the role of mythical, fantastic heroes and embark on missions through surreal landscapes.

The players, under the direction of a “game master,” assume fantasy roles and then try to negotiate the course devised by the game master. Sometimes they have tasks to perform or missions to fulfill. Often, the goal is simply survival. To do this, they must overcome a variety of fantastic opponents, sometimes by brutal and violent methods.

There is no question that these games are clever and challenging. The rules are complicated, and a game can last for hours or even weeks. The players often become totally involved in their roles. Enthusiasts defend their hobby, claiming it is harmless fun. But the potentially obsessive nature of the games and the intensity of the role-playing can make the game dangerous, especially to those whose real lives seem boring and empty.

Although the game isn’t any more violent than many current movies, role-playing puts the players much closer to the violence. Their fantasy characters are a reflection of their own personalities, and their fantasy lives can become “larger than life.”

Many fantasy role-playing games simply aren’t the best activity for the human mind because they can monopolize a player’s time and thoughts. If one continually dwells on violence, witchcraft and the progress of his fantasy character, there is little time to concentrate on the good and pure things of God (Philippians 4:8).

The Bible warns us to have “no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness” (Ephesians 5:11). That warning applies not only to physical deeds, but also to the “unfruitful works of darkness” committed in the mind. Christ said that committing murder or violence in your mind is as bad as committing it in deed (Matthew 5:21 -22).

From statements published by those who manufacture these games, we understand that this type of obsessive behavior is not intended nor inherent. However, such elements could be introduced, depending on the moral character and inclination of players.

Fantasy video games are also quite popular. They are fun, and they develop a high degree of brain, eye and hand coordination. They are potentially a powerful educational tool, since they bring together two powerful communication tools—the computer and television. But not always constructively.

At first exposure they may seem like a fairly harmless parade of cartoon figures beeping and squawking across the screen. But some of these games involve extensive role-playing and extreme violence. Just as with the board games, the video versions can have a profound impact on impressionable minds.

We do not want to overreact. But some fantasy board games and video games can eventually exert a powerful, and even dominating, influence over players. The Bible warns: “For by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage” (2 Peter 2:19).

So be careful. Fantasy role-playing board games and video games are here to stay. There are some positive aspects to them, but there are also some dangerous pitfalls. Be aware of the nature of a game before you become involved with it.

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