Marginal notes about discipleship
In the Bible text 1 John 5:18 John writes that a disciple of Jesus has nothing to fear from Satan, because Satan is no longer able to touch him.
This is illustrated schematically in the study ‘Discipleship (1)’ by the thick black line that forms a barrier in the spiritual world between the spirit of the disciple and the realm of darkness.
This is the same schematic illustration as that of Adam and Eve in paradise, before the fall.
The difference between paradise and the present time.
Adam and Eve were created perfectly and lived in a perfect relationship with God, in a perfect world.
Their relationship with God was broken by their disobedience to Him. Since then man has been born with a nature that is not focussed upon God, but upon himself and on the world.
Because the earth has been cursed by God since the fall, man has also been living in an imperfect world as well.
As a result, disciples of Jesus also live in the area of tension that is called the struggle between ‘the flesh’ and ‘the spirit’ in the Bible. This is the continual struggle to want to choose between the natural desires of the heart and the will of God.
Similarity between Adam and Eva and the disciple.
As illustrated in the schematic representation, Satan was unable to influence the spirit of Adam and Eve directly. Likewise, he is unable to influence the spirit of a disciple of Jesus directly.
It was through the visible world that Eva was seduced by Satan, through a serpent that spoke to her.
Now too, Satan will try to seduce the disciple via the visible world, in an attempt to arouse the disciple’s natural desires.
John also warns :
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world:
- the lust of the flesh, (the desire to fulfil one’s own desires)
- the lust of the eyes, (desires that aroused by what one sees)
- and the pride of life (a bragging life, trusting in one’s own abilities or worldly affairs)
comes not from the Father but from the world. (1 John 2:15-16)
The struggle, in the life of the disciple as well.
Everyone has to make choices in life between ‘good’ and ‘not good’.
For the disciple, Jesus is the norm for what is ‘good’, as John writes:
We know that we have come to know him (Jesus) if we keep his commands (pay careful attention to his commands, observe his commands). (1 John 2:3)
Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. (1 John 2:6)
John writes about the disciple who lives consciously under the authority of Jesus:
No one who lives in him (Jesus) (literally: remains in Jesus, waits for Jesus) keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. (1 John 3:6)
The one who does what is right (literally: lives righteously) is righteous, just as he (Jesus) is righteous. (1 John 3:7)
The one who does what is sinful (literally: continues to sin) is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot (is not able to) go on sinning, because they have been born of God. (1 John 3:8-9)
This is the image of the perfect Man, Jesus Christ, who, throughout His whole life on earth, never sinned against the will of God, His Father.
This is the ideal world of the disciple who lives from the Divine love that is poured out into His heart by the Holy Spirit.
Anyone who has given himself to Jesus in this way cannot sin.
He is incapable of going against the will of Jesus. As a result, Satan has no hold on him.
No-one is so perfect in life, however.
We all stumble in many ways. … (James 3:2)
A disciple must therefore be completely focussed on the Holy Spirit and set himself up in total dependence upon Jesus Christ, for He alone …
… is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy. (Jude 1:24)
Make every effort (also: hasten to, be seriously occupied with) to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble. (2 Peter 1:10)
Although Satan no longer has any natural authority in the world since Golgotha, he is nevertheless still able to be active in the life of people who grant him authority in their life, whether consciously or unconsciously.
A disciple of Jesus can also make wrong choices and turn up on to Satan’s territory as a result. A disciple will therefore always have to be conscious of his doings and goings, for:
Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. (James 1:14)
… and cracks can appear in the protection against the realm of darkness.
The disciple will continually have to consider whether his life is still in accordance with the will of Jesus.
Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil (also: full of hard work, annoyances, privations). Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord (Jesus’) will is.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee (run away) from you. (James 4:7)
With good advice from Paul:
Therefore, … continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.
And, if someone does stumble however:
… we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2)
Jesus promises in this respect:
Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)
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Marginal notes about discipleship.