Hebrews 2:14 says Christ came to destroy him who “holds the power of death--that is, the devil.” What does it mean that the Devil holds the power of death? A surface reading suggests that if a person dies it is the Devil that kills him; that we live or die depending on what the Devil decides. That isn't what the passage means!
Simply stated, The Devil is linked with human sin and human sin is linked with death (1 Corinthians 15:56 ) therefore the Devil is linked with death.
I said the Devil is linked with human sin (and he certainly is--Genesis 3) but I don't mean that the Devil made us sin. He can't do that! He is spoken of as the tempter and seducer and that is what he does, but he can't make us sin by sheer coercion or overwhelming power. Sin is not sin if a sinner doesn't freely choose it. (That statement needs developed and to isolate each human from all others and put all the blame on him/her is foolishness. Sin is like an infection and we catch it from one another.). So, while it's perfectly true that Satan brought temptation, the sin is our doing--he didn't “make us do it.”
Romans 5:12 tells us that sin entered the world through a man! It goes on to say “and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” We mustn't take the Devil out of the entire equation if we want to remain true to the biblical Story but we must lay sin squarely where it belongs--at the feet of humanity. The link between Satan and human sin is that he tempted us, we chose sin and the consequence was death.
But in what way is death the consequence of sin? Who brought death into the human experience? It wasn't Satan--it was God (see Genesis 2:17 and the curse pericope in 3:14-19 that concludes with the death sentence). It's a mistake to think that death is something “natural” or as something that is independent of God. Death isn't something that sin inflicts; it is a judgment that God brings down on the sinful human family (see Romans 1:32 which tells us that death is a judgment on those worthy of death).
The flood in Noah's day, the destruction of Sodom and the fall of Assyria , Israel and other nations are the work of God (so the scriptures say). To say that the Devil sent the flood on the world or destroyed Sodom would be nonsense so it's clear that Hebrews 2:14 shouldn't be taken at the surface level. You must take the time to read Deuteronomy 32 and note especially 23-27, 39. In 32:27 Israel 's conquering enemies might claim that they destroyed Israel while God insists that he did it. I find it interesting that we worry about thinking God did it and he worries about people thinking he didn't (32:26-27).
Though God has brought death into the world in response to human rebellion it isn't his “first choice”. Death is one face of his redemptive anger against sin but the truth is that life is what God means to deliver and one day he will obliterate death because it isn't what we wants for people. In that respect death is called an “enemy” (1 Corinthians 15:26 and see how it is linked with other “enemies” in Revelation 20:14).
But why is death linked with Satan? For the same reason human guilt is linked with one man (Adam). Satan doesn't actually kill us any more than Adam actually made us guilty by his personal sin (see Romans 5:15-19) but in both cases our awful state is linked with a single human rebellion. All our troubles are one grand drama that began with a satanic rebellion on our part. Both Paul and the Hebrew writer remind us of the racial nature of our sin before our Holy Father.
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com.

“The Man Upstairs” by Kyle Butt, M.A.


“The Man Upstairs”

by Kyle Butt, M.A.

Maybe you have been in a conversation when a person used the phrase “the Man upstairs.” In fact, it might be the case that you have used it yourself. Most people understand that this phrase is supposed to refer to God. The famous country singer Garth Brooks performed a song, titled “Unanswered Prayers,” in which he referred to God as “the Man upstairs.” Let’s consider some possible implications that this idea may contain.
There seems to be a human tendency to view God as “the Big Man,” or “the Man upstairs,” and attribute to Him human qualities. Most of the time, when a person uses such phrases, that person attributes to God more power than other men, and places God higher (upstairs) than other men, but still views God as some kind of giant, powerful Man. In fact, the Greek and Roman religions took the “Man upstairs” idea to its logical conclusion and attributed to their gods personalities and character flaws that were seen in mere men. The pagan deities lied, cheated, stole, consorted, and murdered like “little” humans, only their dastardly deeds were perceived to be on a cosmic scale.
In truth, the Bible paints a very different picture of God than is contained in the thought of “the Man upstairs.” The Bible repeatedly insists that God is not a man. In Numbers 23:19, in an inspired oracle, Balak stated: “God is not a man, that He should lie.” The prophet Isaiah wrote: “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (55:8-9). The true God of heaven is nothing like the ancient pagan deities with their lies and hypocrisy. The God of heaven “cannot lie” (Titus 1: 2), nor can He even be tempted with evil (James 1:13). In fact, God is perfect in every way, “a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He” (Deuteronomy 32:4).
While it is true that the Bible sometimes describes God with human traits (called anthropomorphisms), like having hands or eyes, it is not true that God is just a bigger, higher Man. He is altogether perfect, “Whose judgments are unsearchable and Whose ways are past finding out” (Romans 11:33). Let us always bear in mind as we approach our God in worship and prayer, that we are approaching the Perfect God of Heaven “to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:11).
[NOTE: Of course we understand that Jesus was called the Son of Man, and became a Man. Unlike other men, however, Jesus lived a perfect life and never sinned. This brief article is solely intended to encourage us not to view God as having the same character flaws, failings, and limitations as men and to refer to him in an accurate, reverent way.]

From Mark Copeland... Jesus Before The Council (Mark 14:53-65)

                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"

                  Jesus Before The Council (14:53-65)


1. Jesus faced two trials prior to His execution...
   a. The ecclesiastical trial, in three stages
      1) The preliminary hearing before Annas  cf. Jn 18:12-14,19-24
      2) The midnight trial before Caiaphas and the council 
         - Mk 14:53-65
      3) The morning consultation of the council - Mk 15:1
   b. The civil trial, also in three stages
      1) Before Pilate, the Roman governor - Mk 15:2-5
      2) Before Herod, the tetrarch over Galilee - cf. Lk 23:6-12
      3) Before Pilate again - Mk 15:6-15

2. In this lesson we turn our attention to the events of the midnight
   a. The main stage of the ecclesiastical trial
   b. Where Jesus appeared before the council (Sanhedrin)

[Turning to Mk 14:53-65, let’s direct our attention to the details of
the trial, starting with...]


      1. Served for 18 years (18-36 A.D.)
      2. Presided over the council (Sanhedrin)
      3. This meeting occurred at his house - Lk 22:54; Mk 14:54
      4. He had predicted Jesus’ death - Jn 11:49-52
      5. He was involved with the plot from the beginning - Jn 11:53

      1. Who had plotted to kill Jesus - Mk 14:1
      2. Those who had sent to arrest Jesus - Mk 14:43

   C. MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL... - Mk 14:55
      1. Also known as the Sanhedrin
      2. The supreme ecclesiastical court of the Jews
      3. Possibly including Joseph of Arimathea, even Nicodemus - cf. Mk 15:43; Jn 3:1

   D. FALSE WITNESSESS... - Mk 14:55-56
      1. From whom the chief priests and council sought testimony
      2. But their testimony did not agree

      1. Peter in the courtyard - Mk 14:54
      2. Another disciple, known by the high priest (John?) - cf. Jn 18:15-16
      3. Other servants and officers - cf. Jn 18:18; Mk 14:65

[With the majority present predisposed against Jesus, accusations were
brought against Him...]


   A. BY FALSE WITNESSES... - Mk 14:57-60
      1. Many bore false witness, but could not agree
      2. Jesus would destroy the temple and build another in three days
         without hands
      3. A false charge, misrepresenting what He taught - cf. Jn 2:19-22
      4. Against which Jesus refused to defend Himself - cf. Isa 53:7

   B. BY THE HIGH PRIEST (CAIAPHAS)... - Mk 14:61-64
      1. In response to the question, "Are you the Christ, the Son of
         the Blessed?"
      2. To which Jesus replied, "I am.  And you will see the Son of Man
      3. Greatly angering the high priest, who tore his clothes
      4. Leading to the charge of blasphemy, deserving of death

[With the charge of blasphemy against Him, the physical abuse against
Jesus began to intensify...]


      1. Some began to spit on Jesus
      2. He was blindfolded and beaten
      3. He was mocked to prophesy

   B. BY THE OFFICERS... - Mk 14:65
      1. Struck with the palms of their hands
      2. As foretold by Isaiah - cf. Isa 50:6


1. The injustice at this trial is evident...
   a. The false witnesses and physical abuse
   b. Many say the midnight setting made it illegal

2. How difficult it must have been for some who were present...
   a. For fair-minded members of the council (e.g., Joseph and Nicodemus,
      if they were there)
   b. For Peter and John as they witnessed or heard the proceedings take

3. Most importantly, how difficult it must have been for Jesus...
   a. Who knew what was coming - cf. Mk 8:31; 9:31; 10:33-34
   b. Who kept silent when He could have called a legion of angels - cf.
      Mt 26:53

Isaiah prophesied:  "He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of
sorrows and acquainted with grief.  And we hid, as it were, our faces
from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him." (Isa 53:3)

If we had been there, we would have likely been influenced by the
religious leaders.  But knowing what Jesus went on to do and why, may we
resolve never to be ashamed of our Lord...

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

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From Gary... Bible Reading January 28

Bible Reading  

January 28

The World English Bible

Jan. 28
Genesis 28

Gen 28:1 Isaac called Jacob, blessed him, and commanded him, "You shall not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan.
Gen 28:2 Arise, go to Paddan Aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother's father. Take a wife from there from the daughters of Laban, your mother's brother.
Gen 28:3 May God Almighty bless you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, that you may be a company of peoples,
Gen 28:4 and give you the blessing of Abraham, to you, and to your seed with you, that you may inherit the land where you travel, which God gave to Abraham."
Gen 28:5 Isaac sent Jacob away. He went to Paddan Aram to Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian, Rebekah's brother, Jacob's and Esau's mother.
Gen 28:6 Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Paddan Aram, to take him a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he gave him a command, saying, "You shall not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan,"
Gen 28:7 and that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone to Paddan Aram.
Gen 28:8 Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan didn't please Isaac, his father.
Gen 28:9 Esau went to Ishmael, and took, besides the wives that he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham's son, the sister of Nebaioth, to be his wife.
Gen 28:10 Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran.
Gen 28:11 He came to a certain place, and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. He took one of the stones of the place, and put it under his head, and lay down in that place to sleep.
Gen 28:12 He dreamed. Behold, a stairway set upon the earth, and its top reached to heaven. Behold, the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
Gen 28:13 Behold, Yahweh stood above it, and said, "I am Yahweh, the God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac. The land whereon you lie, to you will I give it, and to your seed.
Gen 28:14 Your seed will be as the dust of the earth, and you will spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south. In you and in your seed will all the families of the earth be blessed.
Gen 28:15 Behold, I am with you, and will keep you, wherever you go, and will bring you again into this land. For I will not leave you, until I have done that which I have spoken of to you."
Gen 28:16 Jacob awakened out of his sleep, and he said, "Surely Yahweh is in this place, and I didn't know it."
Gen 28:17 He was afraid, and said, "How dreadful is this place! This is none other than God's house, and this is the gate of heaven."
Gen 28:18 Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil on its top.
Gen 28:19 He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first.
Gen 28:20 Jacob vowed a vow, saying, "If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and clothing to put on,
Gen 28:21 so that I come again to my father's house in peace, and Yahweh will be my God,

Gen 28:22 then this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, will be God's house. Of all that you will give me I will surely give the tenth to you."


From Gary... Caught

This picture, with its simple message says it all- almost. Animals will eat until they get sick; sometimes even after that. They are what they are- ANIMALS!!! People should be able to recognize when they do something wrong (The Bible calls this SIN), but often refuse to either recognize what they are doing IS WRONG, or refuse TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. If the aberrant behavior is repeatedly practiced, even the worst activities imaginable can seem enjoyable to the extent that it can become a permanent lifestyle.  I like Paul's letters to the Corinthians because they deal with genuine, down-to-earth problems and their associated attitudes. Fortunately, the Corinthians church listened to Paul and changed. In the second letter, Paul writes...

2 Corinthians, Chapter 7
  8  For though I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it, though I did regret it. For I see that my letter made you sorry, though just for a while.  9 I now rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that you were made sorry to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly way, that you might suffer loss by us in nothing.  10 For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation, which brings no regret. But the sorrow of the world works death.

Facing sin and doing something about it can be very difficult- but it is NOT IMPOSSIBLE!!! The Corinthian church was living proof of this.  They made a choice and stopped sinning and so can we. Not only did they stop sinning but they became even more zealous for the cause of Christ.

11 For behold, this same thing, that you were made sorry in a godly way, what earnest care it worked in you. Yes, what defense, indignation, fear, longing, zeal, and vengeance! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be pure in the matter.

Do you have a problem with some sin in your life? Listen to what God says about, pray about it, make a decision to turn from it- and actually change your life!!!  If the Corinthian church could- so can you!!!