AUDIO VERSION: YouTube Podbean
Reverence is a form of respect which is motivated by a fear of being harmed by someone or something’s power. Without thinking about it, you automatically revere many things in life. The sober fear that comes over you when you see a damaged power line sizzling and jerking on the ground is reverence. You realize that if you get too close, the power line might electrocute you. So you keep your distance and you give careful thought as to how you will handle the situation. This is one of the effects reverence has on us: it slows us down. It inspires us to put careful thought into how we are interacting with the thing or being who we revere. When we deeply revere God, His preferences become very important to us, we really want to obey His convictions, and we are much more careful in how we talk to Him. Just as you might be rude to a human who you don’t respect, but you’ll bring out your best manners when you’re talking to someone who has the power to drastically change your circumstances in life, developing reverence for God results in us improving our treatment of Him. We stop treating Him like some intrusive pest, and we start treating Him with great respect.
Reverence is like the tool that you’d use to tune a piano: it’s a tone corrector. When we first come to God, we don’t know Him personally, we don’t trust Him, and we don’t feel like there’s any bond. We’re quick to settle into a habit of treating God as we would another human—ignoring Him when we’re not in the mood to deal with Him, using flattery and gifts to manipulate Him, and expecting Him to settle into a relationship dynamic where the power is shared between both partners as they take turns having their own way. It’s reverence that motivates us to improve our tone. As God creates situations in our lives which force us to face His infinite power and absolute control over every aspect of our existence, we realize that we’re going to have to change the way we are attempting to relate to Him. He’s not a human. He doesn’t share power and He doesn’t take orders.
THE ORIGIN OF EVIL
Now when it comes to supernatural beings, modern Christians are taught to fixate on two main beings: God and Satan. They’re also taught that while God is powerful, He has nothing to do with evil. Today the Church teaches you to view Satan as a super powerful figure who is the one orchestrating all of the pain and strife in the world. The Church essentially teaches you to view God as a kind-hearted Doctor who has a magic serum which He can use to cure any ailment. Meanwhile, Satan is portrayed as a heavily armed, sadistic madman who is constantly hunting for new victims. Once we assign God and Satan these kinds of roles, what is going to happen to your reverence for God? It will vanish. You see, reverence is driven by a very specific kind of fear: the fear of being personally harmed by someone else’s superior power. Are you afraid of the good Doctor and His magical cure? No. You don’t fear the Doctor at all, because you view Him only as a source of help—never a source of harm. Meanwhile, your reverence for the Madman is going to skyrocket, because you are terrified of what he might do to you.
God’s absolute sovereignty over all created beings is one of those critical truths that you must embrace if you’re going to settle into the correct dynamic with Him. But why is this so critical? Because once you understand that God’s control over His own creations is total, not partial, you are forced to conclude that God controls evil. God not only controls evil, He is the Source of it. He is the One who created everything that you define as evil today. But wait—aren’t we being terribly disrespectful to say that God is the Origin of evil? No, we’re aligning with what God Himself says. Here’s a verse that doesn’t get out much in the Christian community:
“I form the light and create darkness; I cause well-being and create evil; I am Yahweh who does all these.” (Isa 45:7)
God is not embarrassed by His association with evil. On the contrary, He boasts about it throughout the Bible. God’s absolute control over demons and humans is a major theme in Scriptures. Many Christians today don’t realize this because they’re taught to hang out in the New Testament epistles—a portion of Scriptures in which God isn’t doing any of the talking. You see, by the time of the New Testament, the Jews had decided to pretend that God had nothing to do with evil. Instead, they had decided to credit Satan for all of the nasty things that were happening to them. What happens when we give Satan all of the credit for doing evil? We start revering him and imagining that he has far more power than he actually does. The New Testament Jews had decided that Satan actually ruled over the entire world. Even those who claimed to be followers of Yahweh were revering Satan far more than God Himself. But if you flip back to the Old Testament, you’ll find that this great awe of Satan was non-existent earlier on. Even when demons were clearly present, Old Testament Yahweh followers didn’t stand around commenting on the great power of Satan. Instead, it was Yahweh who they viewed as directing demonic activity. It was a Jewish man who wrote the book of Judges. Notice how he credits Yahweh for demonic activity with this comment:
Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech… (Judges 9:23)
While this author views a demon as playing a role in getting humans to fight among each other, he rightly credits Yahweh as being the One who is controlling the demon. In fact, he says that Yahweh sent the evil spirit to go stir up trouble for the humans. By elevating Yahweh as the demon controller, this Jewish author is emphasizing God’s absolute control over created beings. This is correct theology. But jump ahead to the New Testament and look at who the apostle Paul blames for giving him his famous “thorn in the flesh”:
Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. (2 Cor. 12:7)
It was God who was credited for sending the evil spirit in Judges 9:23, but here in 2 Corinthians, Paul says his supernatural tormentor came from Satan. Paul then says that he pleaded with God to deliver him, but God refused. See the difference? In Paul’s situation, Satan is the one dispatching the troublemakers, but in Judges, God is described as the One sending demons out.
When you don’t want to face the fact that God is the Creator and Controller of evil, you work hard to avoid attaching His Name to anything that you don’t like. But when you have a firm grip on God’s absolute sovereignty, you make a point to underscore His involvement in evil, because in doing so, you are emphasizing how supreme He is. When rebellious King Saul defied Yahweh one too many times, Yahweh turned against Saul. He refused to talk to Saul, and then He sent a demon to torment Saul by driving him into fits of jealous hysteria. It was a Jewish man who wrote the historical book of 1 Samuel. Notice how both he and Saul’s Jewish advisors emphasize God’s control over demons as they comment on Saul’s problems.
Now the Spirit of Yahweh had left Saul, and an evil spirit sent from Yahweh began to torment him, so Saul’s servants said to him, “You see that an evil spirit from God is tormenting you.” (1 Sam. 16:14-15)
While Paul complained about a “messenger from Satan,” these Old Testament Jews have no qualms talking about an “evil spirit from Yahweh.” You see, it isn’t wrong to associate God with evil and demons—what’s wrong is to pretend that He has nothing to do with these things.
Jump back to the New Testament—a time when Satan was being credited as ruling the world—and notice who Paul blames for hampering his travel plans:
For we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, more than once—and yet Satan hindered us. (1 Thess. 2:18)
Paul doesn’t say that God sent Satan to block him. For Paul, the buck stops with Satan. Satan is the powerhouse. Satan is the one causing problems and preventing God’s will from happening.
THE POWER OF EVIL
As a human, you are going to give all of your reverence to the being who you view as controlling evil. The controller of evil has the most power to harm you, and reverence is driven by the fear of being harmed. By teaching you that God has nothing to do with evil, the Church teaches you not to revere God, and instead to redirect all of your reverence to Satan, who she promotes as being the king of demons, the ruler of Hell, and the source of all of your troubles in life. And once you’re giving Satan and his fellow demons all of your reverence, what happens to your relationship with God? Nothing good.
The reason reverence is so critical in your relationship with God is that reverence drives submission. Where there is no reverence, there is no submission—there’s just compromising, bargaining, and endless negotiating. Today Christians are being taught to align with Jesus because He’s such a Sweetheart. They’re not being taught to fear Jesus as the awesome, wrathful, vengeful Being that He is. Is Jesus gracious, loving, kind, and compassionate? Absolutely. But He’s also jealous, explosive, unpredictable, and violent.
All three of your Creators are very complicated Beings. This shouldn’t surprise you when you look around at this world that They created. The same Beings who created cuddly kittens, delicate flowers, and wonderful perfumes also created molten lava, scorching deserts, and carnivorous plants that smell like rotting flesh. They place the velvety soft petals of roses above a stem that is covered in vicious thorns. The same lioness that is caught on tape nuzzling her cubs is later seen ripping the flesh from the torso of her writhing prey. When we see how our Gods create creatures who are attracted to both love and war, we should be realizing that the Beings who delight in such complexity must be pretty complicated Themselves. But instead of teaching you to see how vastly complex your Creators are, the Church works hard to oversimplify Them in your mind. She gives you permission to strip away every quality about Jesus that you feel personally threatened or repulsed by—His wrath, His violent side, His capacity for hate—and by the time you’re done customizing your God, you’re left with some spineless Pushover who tears up whenever He sees that you’re having a hard time on earth.
While Christians crank out the paintings of Jesus cradling lambs in His arms and crying over the state of the world, they’re a million miles from actually submitting to Jesus as the Supreme Authority that He is. Jesus isn’t their God—He’s their super powerful Buddy who only has the power to do good, not evil. The Jesus who the Church has invented is a sap, a delicate daisy, a wimp, a dope. He’s a groveling, codependent masochist who lives to make His humans happy and who gladly played the part of their torture victim in hopes that maybe if they got to beat Him long enough, they might decide to do Him the favor of liking Him. The Jesus who the Church exalts today is nothing close to a God who reigns with absolute sovereignty—instead, He’s a blind fool who is constantly being outwitted by demons and relying on His human followers to tell Him what He ought to do next. If this is the Jesus you are personally worshiping today, then you need to wake up and realize that you’re on your way to Hell—a Hell that the real Jesus owns and operates. You see, Satan isn’t really the ruler of this world. Hell isn’t Satan’s stronghold. Satan is just another limited fleck of a creature who must be continually propped up by the Gods who created him. Satan doesn’t control evil. He doesn’t control anything. Like humans, demons make many plans only to have most of their plans blocked and revised by the Gods who sustain their existence.
REVERENCE IN THE END TIMES
If you’re going to stay on the right side of God’s wrath during the end times, it is vital that you get your theology straightened out on the subject of evil. Whoever you view as controlling evil is who you will revere, and it is only reverence which will motivate you to give God the kind of submission He demands of you. The only souls who God will grant eternal salvation to are those who submit to Him as the Supreme Authority that He is. As long as you’re telling yourself that God has nothing to do with evil, you are redefining what a true God is. It doesn’t matter if you call yourself a Christian, and it doesn’t matter if the Church calls you a Christian—human labels aren’t going to get you into Heaven. The only way that you will receive salvation is by reverentially submitting to the true Gods—Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit—as the Supreme Authorities that They claim to be. Without reverence, you won’t submit—instead you’ll try to partner with God the same way that you would a human spouse or boss, and that isn’t going to get you anywhere.
God is not your Partner. Jesus is not your Pal, your Friend, or some nice Guy who died for you on a cross. Jesus is God Almighty. Jesus is going to have a fabulous time torturing you forever if you refuse to submit to Him, because contrary to what you’ve been told, Jesus isn’t the kind of Being who just eats your abuse without ever complaining. Is Jesus gracious, merciful, and easy to succeed with? Absolutely. Does He delight in seeing humans thrive under His care? Absolutely. But Jesus demands reverential submission from you–He doesn’t just suggest it. He doesn’t say it’s all good if you just aren’t in the mood to get serious about respecting Him. Sure, He gives you choices in life—but He also tells you that your choices will have epic consequences.
Violence, destruction, suffering and death are going to be major themes in the end times. Because the Church is brainwashing Christians into blaming Satan for all of these things, you will see reverence for Satan skyrocket among Christians during the end times, while their respect for God plummets. Whoever you think controls the evil gets your reverence: this is how it works with supernatural beings and humans. To help you steer clear of the colossal trap of viewing Satan as the director of all end time activities, let’s use a metaphor that will help you understand what Satan’s role in the end times will be.
THE BAT METAPHOR
Suppose you walk into a room and you see a bat lying on the floor. Are you afraid of the bat? Are you going to run into a corner and cower, afraid of the bat suddenly rising up and attacking you? Of course not. As a human, you understand that a bat is an inanimate piece of wood that can’t do anything to you by itself. But now suppose a man comes into the room, grabs the bat, and starts threatening to beat you with it. Now are you afraid of the bat? Definitely, because you understand that the bat can do serious damage to your delicate body. But you’re even more afraid of the man, because you understand that he’s the one controlling the bat’s activity. In your efforts to try and diffuse this situation, you’re not going to talk to the bat, you’re going to talk to the man. You’re going to try and figure out what you’ve done to provoke him like this and you’re going to try to find a way to calm him down.
During the end times, demons are not going to be extra active. Demons are already quite active in this world every day, but in an atheistic culture like America, we’re not used to seeing demons flaunting their tricks in public. In America, there are plenty of folks who are currently possessed by demons, and there are even more who are playing around with sorcery. But if you’re not personally participating in a subculture that is used to horsing around with spells and demonic rituals, it will be quite a shock for you when you see news footage of possessed individuals going fruit in public, or of sorcerers appearing to pull off supernatural feats. During the end times, demonic activity is going to become more obvious and in your face. So how should you interpret a scene in which demons are clearly involved? You need to realize that demons are always stuck playing the role of God’s pawns. They are the bat in our metaphor, while God is the man who wields the bat. While you need to realize that demons certainly have the ability to do great harm to you, you also need to realize that demons can’t touch you unless God brings them to you. Bats don’t swing themselves. Humans swing bats. In the same way, demons are powerless by themselves. They can only do what God allows them to do.
Now let’s think about our metaphor of the man with the bat. How much control does the man have over the bat? Could the bat suddenly wiggle out of the man’s grasp and come bonk you on the head of its own accord? No, the bat doesn’t have this capability. The bat is going to be forced to do what the man wants it to do, and everything the man makes the bat do will be fulfilling the man’s personal agenda. In the same way, God’s control over demons is absolute, not partial. God isn’t like a human commander who dispatches a group of soldiers only to have them go rogue and disobey his orders when they’re out in the field. God’s control over demons is absolute, and understanding this point is vital to helping you keep your reverence focused on God.
While you’re no match for demons personally, you will never find yourself in a position where you have to duke it out with demons using nothing but your wits and some religious props. While the Church teaches you to transfer all of your reverence to demons, she also teaches you to exaggerate how powerful you are. She teaches you that you can easily take demons on by yourself, as long as you’re armed with some potent spells. She teaches you that her pushover Jesus will gladly play the part of your helpful Servant in such moments. If you bark the commands, Jesus will gladly send those demons packing (see Sicking Jesus on the Devil: The Christian Addiction to Bossing God). This is what the Church teaches you because the Church has lost her reverence for God. Once you lose reverence, you lose your motivation to submit. Today the Church doesn’t submit to God. Instead, she keeps trying to get Him to submit to her by blasting Him with incessant demands and trying to manipulate Him through tithes, services, and Scripture quoting. You don’t want to listen to the Church on the subject of spiritual warfare, because she’s going to teach you all wrong (see Spiritual Warfare in the Church: Delusions vs. Truth).
If you remember our bat metaphor, and remember that demons are always the bat while God is the man who wields the bat, you’re going to end up reacting to demonic activities the right way. What’s the right way? Focusing on God, talking to God, and trying to figure out what God wants from you. When God brings demons into your life, He always wants something from you. If you’re being a rebellious brat, then God will be using demons to terrorize you back towards submission. But God doesn’t just use demons to discipline humans—they also make fabulous teaching tools. How are you going to learn what God’s motivations are for bringing demons into your personal life? You’re certainly not going to get answers by talking to the demons themselves (see Rebuking Demons). Instead, you need to talk to God. Always talk to God. He is the One you should always be focusing on, because He is the One controlling everything.
Once you get a correct view of God’s sovereignty—and that means realizing that His control over created things is absolute, not partial—then many other things fall into place. Once you understand God’s sovereignty, then you understand that He controls both good and evil. Once you understand that God controls evil, your reverence for Him skyrockets. Reverence drives submission, and soon you’re treating God like the Supreme Authority that He is. When troubles come, God is the first One you turn to, and when you turn to Him, your attitude is one of submission, not domination. Instead of telling God to make your troubles go away, you ask Him what He wants you to learn from them. You ask Him to help you respond to your situation in a way that pleases Him, because you’re all about the submission. You’re all about submission because you have immense reverence for God. You have immense reverence because you understand how easy it would be for Him to pulverize you, since He has all of the power. See how it works? Reverence is critical, and to kick your reverence into high gear, you need to get a correct understanding of God’s sovereignty. So ask Him to help you out with this. Ask Him to show you if you’re viewing Him as limited in anyway, and if so, to help you adjust your view of Him to match reality.
God is not just the God of you. He’s the God of all that exists. As Christians, we should not be obsessing over Satan and his fellow nitwits. We shouldn’t be wasting time trying to locate demonic strongholds or track individual demons. We shouldn’t be fussing around with non-existent spiritual armor, we shouldn’t be flinging around holy water or trying to fabricate invisible shields for ourselves. As Christians, we shouldn’t be focusing on Satan and handing him all of our reverence. Instead we should be focusing on the God who reigns over Satan—the God who creates, sustains, and controls all that is. It is God who deserves endless reverence from us, for God has infinite power to harm. It is God who we should be concerned with pleasing in life. It is God who we should be seeing at work in every moment of the end times. It is God who directs the wonderful and the horrible. The buck always stops with Him. He is the Supreme Authority, the Ultimate Judge, and the One who all created beings are totally dependent on. The end times are God’s choice, God’s show, and God’s last invitation for you to make wise soul choices in this world. Ask Him to help you choose wisely and He will.
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God’s Absolute Sovereignty: Essential Theology
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Your End Times Faith Crisis: Staying Aligned with a Scary God