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July 7, 2012

Religion column: Jesus is the only way to the Heavenly Father

Jesus spoke to some people in John 8 who chose not to follow him. Jesus said the devil is a liar and the father of lies and that the devil was their father. In rejecting Jesus, they were actually doing the "desires" of the devil. The people said Jesus had a demon and they tried to stone him.

The Bible is full of references to a very real devil. Satan does exist and is actively "seeking whom he may devour," 1 Peter 5:8. Satan disguises himself as an "angel of light," 1 Corinthians 10:14. Many are fooled by his disguise. He can make an evil thing look like something good.

Even today, things have been turned upside down to where good is called evil and evil is called good. What used to be recognized as wrong is often now treated as the right thing or the right view. Jesus said there is no truth in Satan. Jesus taught that Satan is a "thief who comes only to steal, kill and destroy."

But there is good news following that statement, which says Jesus came that we might have "life, and have it abundantly," John 10:10. Lying and stealing seem not to carry with them these days much concern to a large part of humanity.

The Bible's Ten Commandments, which are still relevant, deal with these sins, but sadly God's commandments are often ignored. A popular notion today is that everyone lies on a regular basis, and therefore it's no big deal. God says it's a big deal and there are serious consequences.

The same applies for all Ten Commandments. If society returned to paying more heed to the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy 5:11-21, much of the problems of society would be remedied and life on this earth would run much smoother.

The reality is evil does exist and as Jesus taught in Matthew 7:13, many choose "the broad road that leads to destruction" while only a "few take the narrow road that leads to life." Satan, along with the world and fleshly desires, is busy leading many astray. We also find in the Bible there are many demons. Satan and demons are working feverishly today to keep people from placing their faith in Christ. That same devil working so "feverishly" to capture souls will have a major fever of his own one day when God casts him into the "lake of fire," Revelation 20:10: "The devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone."

Demons will do anything to keep people from the truth, sometimes even deceiving otherwise very faithful Christians into believing what the Bible calls in 1 Timothy 4:1, "doctrines of devils." Such false doctrine can lead even some of God's people to be duped by the devil.

Christians must speak up where Satan is trying to get away with deceiving unsuspecting good people about what God's Word says, and then share with others the truth, while doing so with gentleness and love.

Jude 1:3 says "Contend earnestly for the faith." As for any of the false doctrine that is out there, it is not appropriate here to state or debate opposing theological views. It is enough to say that sound biblical exegesis will easily expose any fallacy. Praise God for the good news of the gospel. Jesus gave his life for all. John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."

The choice is offered to all to either follow Christ and be saved, or to reject him. Romans 10:13 says: "Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved."

We are warned there is a scheming devil and wicked spiritual forces in warfare against us. Ephesians 6:11-12 says: "Stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness."

Jesus not only paid the price for our sins on the cross, but he dealt the devil a powerful blow that Satan can never recover from. 1 John 3:8 puts it this way: "The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil."

We need to know that as we place our faith in Christ and "submit to God and resist the devil," the devil "will flee," James 4:7.

Jesus countered the lies of Satan and said "I am the way, the truth, and the life," John 14:6.

Jesus offers a new, eternal life to all who believe and receive him as Lord and Savior.

The Rev. Jim Wheeler Sr. of Oneonta is an Assemblies of God evangelist.

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