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Staying on Target... (4)

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The trap of trying to stand on your own two feet...

Last week I shared a brief survey about Christians and their their beliefs. Many claim to be Christians and yet don’t believe the Bible.
Heaven and Hell wasn’t mentioned but we get confused when we pick and choose what we like and what we don’t like. Confusion comes when we start to mix religions.
As our ability to access information increases, so does our exposure to new ideas. Reincarnation is not something that is taught in the Bible, and yet it is gaining ground in people’s belief systems
Here’s what Paul has to say about the last days.
2 Timothy 3:1–5 NLT
You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!
This morning, we’re going to look at the results of what happens when we try to make it on our own. Some may do this out of ignorance while others out of outright rebellion against God, but nonetheless, the outcome is disastrous.
Let’s read,
2 Peter 2:4–10 NLT
For God did not spare even the angels who sinned. He threw them into hell, in gloomy pits of darkness, where they are being held until the day of judgment. And God did not spare the ancient world—except for Noah and the seven others in his family. Noah warned the world of God’s righteous judgment. So God protected Noah when he destroyed the world of ungodly people with a vast flood. Later, God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and turned them into heaps of ashes. He made them an example of what will happen to ungodly people. But God also rescued Lot out of Sodom because he was a righteous man who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him. Yes, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day. So you see, the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials, even while keeping the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment. He is especially hard on those who follow their own twisted sexual desire, and who despise authority. These people are proud and arrogant, daring even to scoff at supernatural beings without so much as trembling.
Peter gives

Three examples of punishment

We’ll look at each and see how God provides for those He deems as righteous.

1. Angels that sinned

2 Peter 2:4 NLT
For God did not spare even the angels who sinned. He threw them into hell, in gloomy pits of darkness, where they are being held until the day of judgment.
In reading some commentaries, there are two possibilities of who these are.

A. Those that fell with Satan

Revelation 12:3–4 NIV
Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born.
When we look at the book of Revelation, we can ask ourselves is this literal or figurative. In many places in Scripture, stars are synonymous with angels. If that’s the case, 1/3 of the angels were cast out of the heavenly realms to the earth.
Revelation 12:7–9 NIV
Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
Is Peter referring to these angels when he’s taking about these angels that are chained in prison waiting for judgment?
I don’t want to get too deep but I think it’s necessary to talk for a minute about fallen angels and who we believe that they are.

Where do demons come from?

I believe that God is the creator and Satan is not. This means that demons have to come from somewhere, and if Satan and 1/3 of the angels were cast out of heaven and are adversaries or enemies of God, these angelic being have become demons.
1 Peter 5:8 NIV
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Ephesians 6:11–12 NIV
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Satan is not God’s equal, and he and his angels will be thrown into the lake of fire.

B. Sons of God

Many commentators suggest that the sons of God spoken of in Genesis is who Peter is speaking of.
Genesis 6:1–4 NLT
Then the people began to multiply on the earth, and daughters were born to them. The sons of God saw the beautiful women and took any they wanted as their wives. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not put up with humans for such a long time, for they are only mortal flesh. In the future, their normal lifespan will be no more than 120 years.” In those days, and for some time after, giant Nephilites lived on the earth, for whenever the sons of God had intercourse with women, they gave birth to children who became the heroes and famous warriors of ancient times.
The Sons of God can be a little confusing as to what it means when Moses wrote it.

Who are the Sons of God?

1. Descendants of Seth

Some say that descendants of Seth married descendants of Cain and had these children.

2. Angelic beings

Others say that they were angelic beings that came down and saw women and married them and had children.

3. Men indwelt by fallen angels

A third view is that powerful men that were indwelt by fallen angels married and had children that were heroes and famous warriors.
Could it be that these are the angels that God has condemned who are waiting their final judgment. We may never know until we see Jesus, and it won’t matter to us then.

What do we know about fallen angels?

They can’t be saved. They rebelled against God, and there is no path home for them.
It appears that angels have free will just like us, because they chose to follow Satan. I wonder if there is no road back for them because they have seen God in all His glory.
They wage war against God’s people.
2 Corinthians 10:3–5 NIV
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Satan wants to bring accusations and lies against us.
Revelation 12:10 NLT
Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last— salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth— the one who accuses them before our God day and night.
In John 8:44, Jesus said this to the Pharisees,
John 8:44 NLT
For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.

2. The Flood

2 Peter 2:5 NLT
And God did not spare the ancient world—except for Noah and the seven others in his family. Noah warned the world of God’s righteous judgment. So God protected Noah when he destroyed the world of ungodly people with a vast flood.
Genesis 6:5 NLT
The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil.
As the story of the flood goes, Noah built an Ark to preserve the animals as well as his family. Peter said that he was a preacher of righteousness. He warned the people by his speech and also his actions.
I’m sure that there were people that thought that he was crazy. “Why build a boat, we aren’t even close to water?” “What’s that crazy old man doing today?”
Jesus said that when He comes back, it will be like the days of Noah.
Matthew 24:37–39 NLT
“When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.
Noah was righteous. He pleased God and he was in a relationship with God.
The rest of the people around him were doing the things that they always did. They had no clue what was going to happen. They probably thought that Noah was an old eccentric man that had gone crazy.
They were standing on their own two feet. They fell into the trap that they didn’t need God. They had everything that they needed and had become self-sufficient.
We live in a society that is very affluent. We think that we can take care of ourselves. We go out and work at our jobs to take care of our families, and many don’t see how God is relevant or if there is a God.
According to Barna Research, the more educated and wealthy we become, the lower the percentage that we believe in God. In a sense, we become our own gods.
What happened in Noah’s day was that anyone who wasn’t in the Ark died. Only eight people survived.
We need to be in relationship with Jesus, so when he comes we will be ready and experience God’s grace and mercy.

3. Sodom and Gomorrah

2 Peter 2:6 NLT
Later, God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and turned them into heaps of ashes. He made them an example of what will happen to ungodly people.
Just a picture of how quickly things change, according to Answers in Genesis, the Flood took place approximately in 2348 BC. Abraham was born around 1996 BC, and Abraham was around 100 when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed.
Jeremiah 17:9 NLT
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?
God saw the wickedness of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and He sees the wickedness of humanity. He knows that we need a saviour. He sent Jesus to save us and set us free from the power of sin and death.
God sent fire and brimstone to destroy the plain where Lot was, but He was merciful to spare Lot and his family.

Lot was righteous before God

After reading Genesis, it can be hard to believe that Lot was righteous, but where are we without Jesus dying on the cross for us. How many times do we need to confess our sins. Jesus is still faithful and just to forgive us from our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
2 Peter 2:7–8 NLT
But God also rescued Lot out of Sodom because he was a righteous man who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him. Yes, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day.
There is no question that Lot knew that what was going on around him was wrong. Sin sickened Lot. His soul was tormented by the wickedness.
My prayer is that we would not become desensitized with the evil that is going on around us. Societies and Governments can make laws and they can tell us what is right and wrong, but they don’t have the authority to change what God says is right and what He determines is wrong.
Sin represents an archery term which means “missing the mark.”

Sin = Missing the mark

We can draw a new target and paint a new bull’s eye, but we still miss the target if we hit our own bull’s eye.
Romans 3:23 NIV
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
This would be a sad end to the story, but
Romans 5:8 NIV
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God knows how to rescue...

2 Peter 2:9 NLT
So you see, the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials, even while keeping the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment.
We are made godly through Jesus’ sacrifice.
Just as God rescued Noah and his family, just as God rescued Lot and his family, He will rescue us from our trials.
2 Timothy 3:12 NLT
Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
Paul said in
Romans 8:18 NLT
Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.
Jesus promised that we would face persecution. We are told to count it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds.
We know that God is for us. He is not against us. Ultimately, we will be with Jesus forever and ever, but we don’t have to wait for God to work on our behalf until we get to heaven.
Even when we don’t see it, God is working on our behalf.
He is our ever present help in time of trouble. He is our strength, our shield. He is our Rock, our Strong Tower.
We can trust in Him, because He knows how to rescue.
For many of us, we have been taught from a young age that we need to stand on our own to feet. Noah gladly went into the Ark, but Lot had to be dragged out of the city.
They were both rescued but Lot did it the hard way. Let’s make it easy.
Hebrews 4:16 NIV
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Let’s pray!
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