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The Sting of Death (Root of Slavery Pt. 2)

“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, (Jesus) himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, (15) and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery (bondage).  -Hebrews 2:14-15 ESV

In my last post, found here, I made the case that the “devil” in Hebrews 2 is not an evil spiritual being.  “Devil” is translated from the Greek word diabolos; an adjective which means something like “an accuser.”  In this post I want to look at what this “accuser” actually is.  

The primary thing Hebrews 2 says about this devil/accuser is that it had the “power of death.”  To make sense of this, we have to understand that “death” is often used in scripture in a spiritual sense, referring to a state of separation from God (who is Life).  Here are a few examples:

  • Romans 8:6: “For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace…”  Just like darkness has no existence in itself, simply being the absence of light, so death has no existence itself, being the absence of Life.  The idea that the mind of the flesh IS death means is that there is nothing divine to be found in or given from the natural mind/imagination of man, which has not been refined by the Fire of God’s presence.

  • 1 John 3:14: “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.”  Abides in death = dwells/lives in death.  This is clearly not speaking of physical death (or life), but of a state of separation from from God, who is Life.  Note also: love is THE sign of Life.

  • 1 Timothy 5:6: “…She who is self-indulgent is (spiritually) dead even while she (physically) lives.”

 

  • The devil having the “power of death” means it somehow facilitated a separation from God, and it creating a “fear of death” means it also reinforced the awareness of this separation.

 

Now, how did the devil create a separation from God?  To answer that, let’s look at a few other scriptures which mention death and its power. My comments are in blue.

  • 1 Corinthians 15:56 ESV:  “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.”  -In other words, law empowers sin, and sin gives death it’s “sting.”  So the foundation of sin and “stinging” death is law.  Law—> sin —>death.

  • Romans 5:12-13 ESV:  “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned–for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.”  Again, crazy as it may sound, we see that law —> sin —> death.  

  • Romans 3:20 ESV:  For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.  -Justification NEVER comes by law, only knowledge of sin/violation does!  

  • Romans 7:5-6:  For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.  This is the same basic thing as said in the verses above: law—> sin —> death.  But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.”  There are many parallels here with Hebrews 2.  Here in Romans, we are told law and the “written code” held men “captive.”  Hebrews 2 mentions a “life-long bondage” empowered by a “devil” which was destroyed through Jesus’ death.  It’s clear in this passage that “that which held us captive” is the law, also referred to as “the written code.”  So, the “captivity” of Romans 7 is the same thing as the “life-long bondage” of Hebrews 2. All this captivity and bondage stems from the law, aka “the written code,” which created sin and death.

Think of a speed limit: does the law give a reward to those who drive within the limit?  No!  Law doesn’t work like that!  Law’s ONLY function is to accuse; to identify and prescribe penalties to those who step outside it’s boundaries.  In this way, law creates both sin and “sinners.”   When we become self-aware and conscious of sin, then spiritually speaking, we “die.”  This is what took place when Adam and Eve at from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  They immediately saw their “nakedness,” BECAME AFRAID, and hid from God.   But, remember this: when Adam and Eve “sinned,” THEY hid from God, but HE went looking for them!   So here it is:

 

  • LAW is the “devil” of Hebrews 2.  Law accuses and thus gives rise to sin.  Sin then gives rise to death – an awareness of separation from God – through self-awareness and fear.  This also gives death a “sting,” causing people to be aware of and pained by it.  

To summarize: we know that the devil had the “power of death.”  By the same token, it is LAW which gives rise to sin, which then gives rise to death. The devil also facilitated a “fear of death.”  Again, law, by way of sin, gives death a fearful “sting.”  Third, the devil caused “life-long bondage.” Again, it is LAW which creates “captivity,” or bondage!  Here is one final scripture to support this idea:

In part 3 to come, I am going to look at how Jesus broke the cycle of “sin and death” and placed ALL men into a position of grace and life, though many remain ignorant of it.  Thanks for reading.  I know this may be a bit “dense,” but I hope it makes sense and you glean what you can.  Bless you!

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Posted by on June 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Women Are The Devil!? (The Root of Slavery Pt. 1)

“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, (Jesus) himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, (15) and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery (bondage).  -Hebrews 2:14-15 ESV

These verses contain a lot of big ideas, stating “the devil” imparted a “fear of death,” which then made one “subject to” (meaning “put under the authority of”) “lifelong slavery” (or bondage).  Put another way, this says: “the devil’s power created a fear of death, causing life-long bondage to those under his rule.”  Although (thank God!) Jesus broke this bondage once for all, I think it’s worth understanding what the devil and this bondage are or were, so we don’t somehow go back under it.  

To understand what all this means, we have to be open to the possibility that our current understanding is wrong, and that this is ok!  It also greatly helps to keep in mind that while the New Testament contains much truth and enlightenment we can benefit from, was not written TO us, in 2017 A.D. (possibly except for the gospels).  Certainly the book of Hebrews, which was written nearly 2,000 years ago to Jews living while the temple in Jerusalem was still standing, was not written TO us!  I could elaborate a lot more about this, but my point is that our understanding of scripture derails very quickly when we don’t keep the original audience and time-frame in mind.

So, looking again at Hebrews 2:15, the Greek word translated “slavery” or “bondage” is douleia.  This word, used four other places in the Bible, always refers to a “state of being” which was undesirable, immature, inferior, and temporary.  In fact, it is said to have already passed away in Christ!  Notice its use in these four scriptures: 

  • “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery (douleia) to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”” (Romans 8:15 ESV)

  • “…that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage (douleia) to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8:21 ESV)

  • “Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery (douleia); she is Hagar.” (Galatians 4:24 ESV)

  • “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery (douleia).” (Galatians 5:1 ESV)

So, douleia is associated with death, the devil, fear, corruption, an old covenant, and a yoke of slavery!  Aren’t you glad Jesus defeated the devil and delivered us?!  

That leads me to the main issue I want to explore: who or what does “the devil” refer to?  You might be surprised, as I was at first, to learn that this term does not necessarily refer to an evil spiritual being.  The Greek word translated “devil” is diabolos, which is not a name and does not refer to a specific being.  Diabolos is an adjective, a descriptive term, literally meaning “an accuser, a slanderer.”  Anyone or anything which slanders and accuses a child of God is a/the devil!  Consider these scriptures:

  • 2 Timothy 3:2-3 ESV:  “For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous (diabolos), without self-control, brutal, not loving good…”   –Here, we clearly see Paul writing that PEOPLE will be diabolos (devils)…

  • Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers (diabolos) or slaves to much wine.”  (Titus 2:3 ESV)

  • Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers (diabolos), but sober-minded, faithful in all things. (1 Timothy 3:11 ESV)

Again, very literally, people who slander others are “devils,” and judging strictly by scripture’s use of this term, it seems women were particularly prone to being devils (kidding)!

Now, I’m not arguing for or against the idea that there is a spiritual being or force known as “the devil.”  My point is simply to show that the term “devil” in the Bible doesn’t necessarily or always refer to such a being, and, as you are probably gathering, I strongly believe Hebrews 2 is such a case where “devil” isn’t referring to an evil spiritual being.  In my next post, I hope to show why I believe this, what the “devil” refers to in this passage, and look at how he/it empowered the “fear of death” and what “life-long slavery” referred to.  I hope this has made you think!  Stay tuned.  

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Nullified

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“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he (Jesus Christ) 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; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Hebrews 2:14-15 KJV)

I will be examining two questions from this passage:

  1.  How was the devil “destroyed?” Isn’t he still alive and active today?
  2. What was it that the fear of death held people in bondage to or from?

Regarding question 1: The Greek word translated “destroyed” here is katargeo, which actually means “made void, ineffective, nullified.” Jesus didn’t eradicate the devil, he nullified him.  In particular, Jesus’ death nullified the “power of death” which the devil had. I’m not entirely sure all of what that entails, but I do know we have to look at this spiritually, and Paul said that the mind of the flesh (the natural mind) is death, while the mind of the spirit is life and peace.1 I think the power of death has to do with keeping men naturally-minded and religious.  This is done by continuing to offer fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, using law to keep men aware of their sins, and thus keeping men in a state of guilt and self-awareness (death).  In short, the power of death is the power of accusation and guilt, fueled by law, which keeps one naturally-minded, self-focused and fearful of/withdrawn from God.

I believe that the devil’s power is nullified because there is no longer a legitimate claim of guilt or condemnation (or even “sin” in the sense of violating a written law) for those in Christ.2  The law’s purpose was to symbolize Christ, but because of the weakness of our flesh, law also functioned to bring natural-mindedness (spiritual death) through an awareness of sin, which fostered a fear of death and judgment.3  But in Christ, there is no written law, condemnation, guilt or “sin.”4 That’s an unchangeable fact. As Romans 8:33-34 says in the literal version: Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? God is the One justifying! Who is he condemning? It is Christ who has died, but rather also is raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession on our behalf.”  Christ conquered death and is a permanent intercession. Having been nullified, the devil’s primary weapons are now deception and accusations which have no basis.  I realize that some may worry this creates an excuse for people to “sin.”  Maybe it does.  But regardless, one who truly loves God and His Kingdom would abhor using God’s mercy as an excuse to gratify their flesh or dishonor Him, and God would not trust one with a selfish heart like that.  If simply “getting to heaven” is your goal, then in reality you’re serving yourself, and God is just a means to get what YOU want.    

Regarding question 2: what was it that the fear of death kept men in bondage to or from? I think the answer is simple, though it can be expanded upon greatly. The fear of death is the awareness and fear of judgment fueled by offended law, guilt, and self-focus.  This fear kept men bound to the law and thus stuck in a cycle of sin and death, and bound from the spirit, thus kept away from righteousness and life.5 Bringing men into righteousness and life in the spirit is what the “freedom” in Christ is about. Our being freed from an awareness of sin and guilt is for the bigger purpose of freedom to participate in the spiritual Kingdom of God as sons. Jesus was sent to those who were under the law, who through the law had become spiritually poor, blind, broken and bruised,6 with no real relief in sight.  He fulfilled this law and ended it in order to institute a “new way” of relating to God, in righteousness, spirit and truth, with God-awareness, not self-awareness.  A return to a relationship with God as Father, not simply “master.”7  Hallelujah!

Now, let’s remember it’s not enough for us just to see and acknowledge these truths (and I only see them partially as it is); we must allow them to shine within us and cast out the darkness (deception, manmade ideas) which we have called light (truth, wisdom from God). This will seem very much like allowing our way of thinking and understanding to be cast away and replaced as the spirit reveals to us God’s heart and will.  This is repentance. Being diligent in this by God’s grace will bring change, freedom and joy.

 “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15 KJV)

  1. Romans 8:6
  2. Romans 7:4-6, Galatians 2:19
  3. Galatians 3:19-25, Romans 3:20; 5:13,20; 7:4-7; 8:3, 1 Corinthians 15:56.
  4. Romans 4:15, Romans 8:1-3, 1 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 9:26, 1 John 3:5-9
  5. Romans 8:2
  6. Luke 4:18
  7. Galatians 4:4-5; Romans 7:6; John 4:23-24
 
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Posted by on March 21, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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