Angry Spirits from 11.11.16
Brexit, then the swing to independents at our elections, finally Donald Trump; everywhere angry voters are protesting against their powerlessness at the hands of an elite. Whether in political causes, or the inconvenience of everyday life, Christians can be as irate as anyone else. Few of us seem to realise that an angry spirit is an unbroken spirit unyielded to the Lord and controlled by the devil. In our distemper, for or against political personalities, few sense God working out a long term plan to re-disciple the West. He is handing us over to political, social and churchly masters who will utterly fail us so that our spirits might be crushed and humbled as he did for David of old, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Ps 51:17). As David needed to hear the voice of the prophet Nathan to be broken and revived we must heed the life of the first prophet in scripture, Abel, and why he was murdered by his brother Cain (2 Sam 11; Luke 11:50-51).
The spirit of Satan and the spirit of Cain
The devil is chronically angry. He has been a “murderer from the beginning” and when defeated in heaven plunges to earth “in great wrath” (John 8:44; Rev 12:12). Knowing Satan is the father of all unholy angry Paul cautions the Church, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” (Eph 4:26-27). The Satan- Cain connection is manifest in scripture; “Cain…was of the evil one and murdered his brother.” (1 John 3:12). Abel is always “righteous” and Cain “unrighteous” (Matt 23:35; 1 John 3:12; Jude 11). Commentators have commonly paid attention to the difference between the sacrifices offered by the brothers. Whereas the LORD “gazes on” the animal offering of Abel favourably he disregards the cereal offering of Cain who becomes “very angry” (Gen 4:4-5). Since the Bible itself does not say Cain’s offering was inferior to Abel’s, and we have no record that God had commanded any particular type of sacrifice, the essential difference between Cain and Abel needs to be sought at a much deeper level. The biblical assertions that Cain is “child of the devil” and fallen people are “children of wrath” must be taken very literally (Eph 2:3; 1 John 3:10). The intention of Cain’s heart to slay his brother imaged the devil’s original plot to murder humanity (John 8:44). Whilst not in Eden when Satan deceived his parents, he did grow up witnessing their demonically inspired inclinations. When God judges Eve with the words, “Your desireshall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”” he uses words he later employs for the controlling power of sin that seeks to possess Cain; “sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”” (Gen 3:16; 4:7). Adam and Eve could never completely forgive one another for their great loss in Eden, and through witnessing their mutual accusations Cain learned how to kill. For Jesus taught us that in the eyes of God anger is as murder (Matt 5:21-22). Abel grew up in the same family as Cain, why then is he so different?
The spirit of prophecy
Unlike Cain, Abel understood that the essence of sacrifice is not what is offered but the character of the One to whom it is offered. The faith of Abel accepted that the LORD is one who delights to forget all sin; this is Abel’s righteousness (Heb 11:4 cf. Jer 31:34). The his great faith should not be sought in his own character, but in the call of God to be a prophet (Luke 11:50-51). As a prophet, Abel shared in the witness of “the Spirit of Christ within him” that a full and final sacrifice was coming (1 Pet 1:10-11). His prophetic life with its settled conscience was a witness to the coming of the gospel (Rev 19:10).
Jesus and the Gospel
Like Cain, the Pharisees are men who “hear from their father” the devil and like him have no true comprehension of the power of God-ordained sacrifice (John 8:34; 10:34). Jesus rebukes these committed worshippers, tithers, evangelists and Bible students; “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”” (Matt 9:13).The Pharisees were religious people whose faith was in the quality of the sacrifice they offered God, and not the quality of his mercy as someone that forgives and forgets sin. In the presence of Jesus however the tax collectors, prostitutes and other sinners however understood they were unconditionally forgiven. For us today it is “the sprinkled blood” of the cross “speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” (Heb 12:24). The power of the cross is that in our place Jesus refuses to respond like a child of the devil. The crisis of the cross, ““My God …why have you forsaken me?””, is that Jesus remembers the mercy of the Father but experiences none of it (Mark 15:34). As our substitute he takes into himself a history of rage passing through Satan, Adam and Eve, Cain, the persecutors of prophets, the Pharisees…and every person whom God in his holy wrath has handed over to an unholy anger (Rom 1:18, 28-30). Yet despite his untellable agony at the weight of evil and seeming abandonment to our rages Jesus never becomes angry at feeling powerless. There is in the crucified Christ no spirit of vengeance directed to man or heaven but only a humble crying out to God. In the perfection of a fully broken spirit Jesus demonstrates himself to be fully the Son of God by refusing to become angry with his persecutors, but forgives them utterly “for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34; Heb 5:7-8). The Father never “gazed upon” the sacrifice of Cain, and all who have followed his way, but he delighted in the death of Jesus so much as to raise him to glory as his true Son (Rom 1:4). This should be the prophetic testimony of every believer (Rev 19:10). Why isn’t it so in the West today?
Born again believers living in the revelation of forgiveness cannot make “a practice of sinning” (Rom 6:14; 2 Pet 1:9; 1 John 3:9). This means the habitual sins of so many Western Christians aresure evidence we do not believe our sins have in fact been fully forgotten in Christ. Multitudes of church-goers are in religiously repressed guilt unwilling to allow the Holy Spirit to open the “can of worms” on past sins and to fully put to death the ways of the flesh (Gal 5:24). Churches with their motivational speaking, fervent singing, prosperity preaching and formulae of tithing, or, who teach obligatory Bible prayer and worship, have anaesthetised the conscience of their members. This dulls us to the “dead works” of our shallow spirituality but also to the Spirit’s testimony that all is forgiven (Rom 9:1; Heb 9:14). The water and the blood flowing from the crucified Christ bring a “better word” than Abel’s, they testify that God “justifies the ungodly” (John 19:34; Rom 4:5). Faith in this word is what separates the children of the devil like Cain from the children of God in Christ (1 John 3:10).
“the Son of God appeared…to destroy the works of the devil.” and our lives are to evidence he has done this once and for all by taking away the guilt of our sin (1 John 3:8). As a prophetic people in the line of Abel Christians cannot join in any enraged secular chorus roaring for justice (Rev 19:10). Our peace is in knowing we have another Father than the angry one, the father of Jesus who assures us we never need to irately clamber to regain control of anything, political, social or churchly (Gal 4:4-6).God has not abandoned the West. Those who read the signs of the times will pray, “Lord, break our spirits, but gently please” (Matt 16:3).