Friday, March 31, 2006
Kept in Check
A mother bear had traveled many miles looking for food with her cub, when she noticed that the cub had wandered away from her. Anxious, she began to look for him. Meanwhile, the cub, reaching the rocky area of a river, began to play. First he rolled on his back with his hind legs in the air. Then he chased his tail, and even smacked himself a time or two. Tiring, the distracted cub began to climb on the rocks and to swat at the various fish in the rushing stream. Engrossed in play, he did not realize that a cougar was stealthily approaching. Crouching, the cougar silently and slowly moved toward the cub. Suddenly, the cub thought he heard something and looked up directly into the face of the growling cat that was ready to pounce. Realizing his life was in danger, the cub attempted to defend himself. Standing on his hind legs, he growled back. Although he wasn't sure this was the thing to do, he could think of nothing else, and so on he growled while clawing the air. Startled, but determined, the cougar stared up at the cub with ears back, hissing. Suddenly he looked frightened, turned and ran away. Amazed at how easily the cub had caused danger to flee, he congratulated himself, not realizing that behind him on her hind legs, stood his mother. It was she who had frightened away the dangerous and hungry cat, as she defended her cub. By himself, the cub was no match for the cougar, but the other was. It was the mother bear that kept the cougar in check.
There is a quote from Ellen G. White in Friday’s lesson, which reads, “The prince of the power of evil can only be held in check by the power of God in the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit.” There are two ways to view both this quote and the above story. One is in the subjective sense, and the other is in the objective. Let’s look first at the subjective. In the above story, the cub represents you and I, and the cougar represents Satan – the price of the power of Evil. We have wandered (and continue to roam) away from God into danger and imminent death. The Holy Spirit is represented by the mother bear, which goes looking for her lost cub. It is she who keeps the power of evil in check, so the wanderer has opportunity to escape. According to the Apostle Peter, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” 1 Peter 5:8 (NKJV). This is the reason Peter advises us to be alert and controlled by the Spirit -- having given our will over to Him. On our own, away from God -- the source of life, we are no match for Satan. We do not have a chance against him, even if all of us were to join forces against him. But, thank God for our mother bear, the Holy Spirit.
In the book of Job, God tells Satan about Job, “Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand” (Job 1:12). So the enemy of souls can do unto us, only what God allows him to do. Being that the Holy Spirit is God, the devil must go through Him before he gets to us. According to Sister White, “he who is imbued with the Spirit of Christ abides in Christ. The blow that is aimed at him falls upon the Saviour, who surrounds him with His presence. Whatever comes to him comes from Christ. He has no need to resist evil, for Christ is his defense. Nothing can touch him except by our Lord's permission, and ‘all things’ that are permitted ‘work together for good to them that love God.’ Romans 8:28” (Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing page 71). Isn't this thought amazing? 'It is not that we resist evil, but that we allow Christ to be our defence.' What a novel thought. Whatever difficulties or trials we experience -- as hard as the hit may feel -- the Spirit of God receives it first. We merely feel what God allows us to feel. And even then, He buffers the blow, for without His presence, the entire force of the blow would destroy us.
Another way to view both the story and the quote is in the corporate sense. From this vantage point, the cub in the story represents the church. We know from reading the book of Revelation that in the final days of this earth's history, the restraint that has been upon the wicked will be removed, and Satan will have entire control of the minds and hearts of the impenitent. According to Sister White, When God's long-suffering patience will have ended, when the world has rejected His mercy, despised His love, and trampled upon His law; when the wicked have passed the boundary of their probation; and the Spirit of God has persistently been resisted, He will at last be withdrawn. Unsheltered by divine grace, the wicked have no protection from the evil one. Satan will then plunge the inhabitants of the earth into one great, final trouble. As the angels of God cease to hold in check the fierce winds of human passion, all the elements of strife will be let loose. The whole world will be involved in ruin more terrible than that, which came upon Jerusalem in the hands of Titus in 70 AD (Maranatha, page 265). Perhaps, the plagues of Revelation 16 paint the gruesome picture of the terrible trial that humanity will go through when the Holy Spirit is no longer holding the enemy in check. Persecution will ensue those who by Faith stand alone in this earth without an intercessor. The Devil will convince the agonizing masses of evildoers that the Saints are to be blamed.
We are the cub. God sees us both individually (subjectively), and objectively as one. When we are in Christ, and He is in us, the evil that Satan sends to destroy us does not have its intended effect. We are protected, because the powers arrayed against us are held in check by the third person of the Godhead -- the Holy Spirit. This does not mean that we will not feel frightened, for we will, just as that little cub was afraid for his life. Yet, God has promised -- and He keeps His promises -- He will deliver us speedily when we call upon Him. Perhaps like the cub we are calling silently, thinking no one is around to hear. Take heart, for God is faithful and will not allow any one of us to be destroyed. Keep the faith!
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