“A harmful spirit from the Lord,” tormented Saul. (1 Samuel 16:14-15) “God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem, and the leaders of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech.” (Judges 9:23) “Satan entered into Judas.” (Luke 22:3)
There has been debate as to whether accounts such as these are either about one being (a spirit being) taking over another being (a human being), or perhaps they are just ancient ways of describing the personifying of changing human attitudes. Either way, the bottom line is that Saul, Abimelech, and Judas respectively, each made a choice… They each chose to do what was not right. James warns in his epistle that…
James 4:17 (ESV)
…whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
We are constantly challenged to make a wise decision, regardless of the influences that we encounter. This process of getting better and better at choosing the right thing is called “sanctification.” Paul encourages the church in Corinth that…
1 Corinthians 10:13-14 (ESV)
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
As believers in Christ, we now posses the power to “escape” the temptation to be unwise. We can now “flee from idolatry.” We are now being sanctified. Paul wrote the following encouragement to the believers in Rome…
Romans 6:22-23 (ESV)
…now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
A Picture from Luke 22
So, what does that “end,” “eternal life” look like?
An important thing that we learn in Luke 22 is that a great meal is in our future. While the disciples were enjoying the Passover meal with Jesus, the Lord made it clear to them that…
Luke 22:29-30 (ESV)
…I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
One writer, *Steve Atkerson, put it this way…
“…modern Gentiles associate heaven with clouds and harps, first century Jews thought of heaven as a time of feasting at Messiah’s table. This idea of eating and drinking at the Messiah’s table was common imagery in Jewish thought during the first century. For instance, a Jewish leader once said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God” (Lk 14:15). Jesus Himself said that “many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 8:11).”
This picture of heaven (as dining in God’s presence) is a snapshot of our future, eternal life experience.
Maybe we can learn something from this in regards to what regular, wise habits we might implement now, as we wait for our Lord’s return?
After all, it makes sense as to why Luke in his second letter to Theophilus would later describe early church life in this way…
Acts 2:42-47 (ESV)
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Godspeed, to the brethren!
*Atkerson, Steve. House Churches. Atlanta: New Testament Reformation Fellowship, 2008. Page 33. Print.