"The MIGHTY Lord is with us; the God of Jacob is our FORTRESS." Psalm 46:7
 
 

Concordia Chapel Devotion
Rev. Dr. D. K. Schroeder
1 Timothy 4:1-6
December 10, 2015

WHAT SCARES YOU? 

      TEXT: The Spirit says clearly that in later times some believers will desert the Christian faith. They will follow spirits that deceive, and they will believe the teachings of demons.  These people will speak lies disguised as truth. Their consciences have been scarred as if branded by a red-hot iron.  They will try to stop others from getting married and from eating certain foods. God created food to be received with prayers of thanks by those who believe and know the truth.  Everything God created is good. Nothing should be rejected if it is received with prayers of thanks.  Godís word and prayer set it apart as holy.

         You are a good servant of Christ Jesus when you point these things out to our brothers and sisters. Then you will be nourished by the words of the Christian faith and the excellent teachings which you have followed closely. 

      There's a humorous story I'm going to share with you this morning.  This took place at a concert, and the concert hall was packed full of people.  All of a sudden, the devil appears as a 50-foot monster and looms over the audience from the stage.  He raises his arms, makes a scary face and growls loudly.  An icy wind sweeps through the place like a cyclone.  He says, "I am Satan!  Be afraid, be very afraid!"

      And it worked too.  The devil continued with his frightening actions as everybody in the building started screaming and crying and making a mad dash for the exits.

      Well, I should say that it almost worked.  Everybody was gone with the exception of one rather slightly-built man.  The devil looked at him and unleashed everything he had, but the man remained calm and still.

      Out of frustration, the devil roars, "Don't you know who I am?  You should be scared and afraid!"

      But the man remained completely unflustered.  He replied, "Yes, I know very good and well who you are.  You are the devil, Satan himself."

      The devil was puzzled.  "You know who I am, and yet you aren't afraid of me?"

      The man answered, "Why should I be afraid of you?  I've been married to your sister for the last forty years."  

      What scares you?  If I were to ask each of you to list the top ten things that you find scary, would Satan be found on that list?  Is there anything about the devil that would shake you right down to your shoes?

      There's an actual experience that happened to someone I knew quite well in college, an RA to be exact.  About six students gathered in one of the dorm rooms one night.  They had gotten a hold of a Ouija board, and they decided to fool around with it.  They weren't serious or anything; they were just playing around.

      All of a sudden, it got really chilly, and things started flying around the room, about everything you could imagine.  The door and window were shut tight.  No fans or air conditioners were running either.  There was no logical explanation for this. 

      I don't know how long all of this lasted, but I know it gave everyone there a real bad scare.  They learned very quickly that there are certain things you just don't play around with.  The Ouija board wound up in the dumpster, and that was the end of that.

      We might think that such things are ridiculous and don't really happen.  Now I can't be sure of exactly what happened in that dorm room that night, but I don't want to try to duplicate it either.  Something just wasn't right about it.

      The Apostle Paul is not afraid to tackle such things.  He warns his young understudy Timothy about following spirits that deceive, and to avoid the teachings of demons.  The Ouija board example is quite dramatic; and even though I don't doubt its authenticity, Satan's ways are most frequently a lot more subtle and low-key. 

      If we look at John chapter 8, Jesus is having a rather heated discussion with the Pharisees.  He upbraids them in grand fashion in verse 44:  "You come from your father, the devil, and you desire to do what your father wants you to do.  The devil was a murderer from the beginning. He has never been truthful.  He doesnít know what the truth is.  Whenever he tells a lie, heís doing what comes naturally to him.  Heís a liar and the father of lies."    

      Do you see what is happening here?  We have the Pharisees, who were the expert Jewish theologians, and Jesus literally calls them the spawn of Satan!  They were so totally corrupt that they didn't even remotely resemble God-fearing men any more.

      We can look at the Pharisees and see how they had fallen prey to almost every sin in the book.  They were greedy and had made money their god.  They were guilty of stealing, bribery, usury, and other shady business practices.  They took unfair advantage of people.  They were guilty of adultery and murder.  And if you went down the list of the commandments, there wasn't a single one they hadn't regularly and routinely broken.  These were definitely not men of God by any means.

     The Pharisees had also written literally hundreds of their own rules and regulations, and had bound the consciences of people accordingly.  In verse 2 of our text for today, we read:  "These people will speak lies disguised as truth. Their consciences have been scarred as if branded by a red-hot iron."  It sounds like they fit this description rather nicely.

      I think if we look at this section of Scripture and start to do some comparisons, this way of thinking is not uncommon at all.  The words of the Bible are very clear and unmistakable; and yet, people are completely ignoring what God is saying to them.  They seem to think that they know better than God, so they make up their own rules.

      Just look at what is happening in society today.  People's consciences are being scarred.  God's Word has become subjective; people believe that they can pick and choose God's will according to their own caprice.

      Paul warns Timothy about this as well.  In 2 Timothy chapter 4, verse 3 he writes:  "A time will come when people will not listen to accurate teachings. Instead, they will follow their own desires and surround themselves with teachers who tell them what they want to hear."  And that is happening around us all the time.

      But as things go, God always provides a bright spot on the horizon.  James chapter 4, verse 7 gets right to the point:  "So place yourselves under Godís authority. Resist the devil, and he will run away from you."   

      And not only that, but Paul explains the weapons we have at our disposal in the battle against Satan.  Listen to some selected verses from Ephesians chapter 6 (vs. 10-12a; 14-17):  "Finally, receive your power from the Lord and from his mighty strength.  Put on all the armor that God supplies. In this way you can take a stand against the devilís strategies.  This is not a wrestling match against a human opponent....So then, take your stand! Fasten truth around your waist like a belt.  Put on Godís approval as your breastplate.  Put on your shoes so that you are ready to spread the Good News that gives peace.  In addition to all these, take the Christian faith as your shield. With it you can put out all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Also take salvation as your helmet and Godís word as the sword that the Spirit supplies."       

      Just this month, a new movie has appeared on the scene called "Krampus." Hollywood has revived an ancient legend from Austria and Bavaria, and made a movie out of it. 

      I've known about this legend for a long time, but this is the first time I've seen it resurrected on such a grand scale.  Krampus is a devil-like character who is the complete antithesis of Santa Claus.  The legend is that St. Nicholas gives toys and presents to the good children on December 6th (St. Nicholas Day).  Krampus is then supposedly set loose on the bad children, all with the intent of scaring children into being good.  Originally, Krampus was reported to dismember and devour the bad children; but as time progressed, that was toned down to being given a lump of coal and a bundle of switches (small sticks).

      I've only seen the trailer; however, you won't find me standing in a queue waiting to get into a theatre to see it.

      Krampus is a type of scare tactic; and in a similar sense, people have used Satan as a scare tactic as well.

      If we look at our text for today, Paul doesn't use scare tactics when it comes to Satan, because a person cannot be scared into faith.  As we look at the entirety of Scripture, we see that Satan is very real and there are very real consequences to unbelief.

      Paul exhorts Timothy not to ignore what Satan is doing in the world and in the Church.  He is to be honest and straight-forward with his teaching, and not to mince words.  People have to know the unvarnished truth, irrespective of how negative it might be.  In verse 6 of our text for today, Paul writes:  "You are a good servant of Christ Jesus when you point these things out to our brothers and sisters.  Then you will be nourished by the words of the Christian faith and the excellent teachings which you have followed closely." 

      When we look to Jesus, there are no negatives in our salvation.  There are only positives.  Certainly his life was anything but glamorous, from his birth right down to his crucifixion.  But he did everything to completely defeat Satan, and free us from his grasp.  Sin, death, and hell would be eradicated from us through faith in our Saviour.

      Think about what the Bible teaches about Jesus.  We will indeed be nourished by those words of our Christian faith, and we will be edified by the excellent teachings of the Gospel.  All of our sins, doubts, and imperfections, and yes our fears are completely gone through faith in Jesus our Saviour.  And there's nothing scary about that at all.

      Yes, Satan is very real, and he is very active.  But this can't overwhelm us or cause us to despair.  Jesus is very real too.  He really loves us and shows us his grace; and he is the way to heaven, through faith alone. No fear here at all.

      And so we hear the words of the angels in Luke 2 (10-11; 14):  "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.   Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

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