A New Heart

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

–Ezekiel 36:26

God’s amazing grace produces radical change in our lives. We have a new awareness of sin that keeps us close to God. We have a new status as friends rather than enemies of God. We even have a new heart. In Ezekiel 36:26, God promised His people that one day He would give them a new heart, a heart that would be motivated to obey God not out of fear but out of genuine desire. He said, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

When did that occur? Historically, it occurred after Christ was raised from the dead, and God sent his Holy Spirit to indwell every believer at Pentecost. Today, anyone who receives God’s grace and forgiveness also receives the power of the Holy Spirit, who makes us into a new person with a new heart and new desires.

Yet to fully appreciate the new heart that God gives us, we have to understand the old heart that still remains within us. Paul described the defectiveness of our old heart (which he called “the flesh”) in Galatians 5:17: “The flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” What is the desire of the flesh? What does it produce in our lives? Look at verses 19-21: “Immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these.”

Let me ask you a question: Do you ever have problems controlling your anger? Do you ever find it difficult to forgive somebody who has wronged you? Do you occasionally find your thoughts going someplace they should not go? Congratulations–that means you still have the remnants of an old heart inside of you.

Now let me ask you this: When you hear great worship music, is there something inside your heart that just wells up? Do you have a hunger to be with God’s people? Is there something about the Word of God that speaks to you when you read it? Do you find yourself wanting to know God better and to live a life more pleasing to Him? Those desires are not natural; they are supernatural. They are evidence that you are the recipient of a new heart as well. God’s grace not only provides a pardon from sin but gives us a new heart with the desire to please Him.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Under New Management” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.

Jesus’s Incomparable Sacrifice

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

–2 Corinthians 5:21

Yosemite National Park – California

After Jesus’s sixth and final trial, Pontius Pilate ordered for Him to be scourged and crucified. In our system here in the United States, it is the law that execution ought to be as painless as possible, but the Romans thought differently. One scholar described the horror of Christ’s punishment this way: “The heavy whip was brought down with full force again and again across Jesus’ shoulders, back and legs. At first the weighted thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continued, they cut deeper into the subcutaneous tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles. . . . Finally, the skin of the back was hanging in long ribbons, and the entire area was an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. . . .

“The heavy patibulum of the cross was tied across His shoulders. . . . In spite of Jesus’ efforts to walk erect, the weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced by copious loss of blood, was too much. He stumbled and fell. The rough wood of the beam gouged into the lacerated skin and muscles of the shoulders. He tried to rise, but human muscles had been pushed beyond their endurance. . . . Simon was ordered to place the patibulum on the ground, and Jesus was quickly thrown backward, with His shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire felt for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drove a heavy, square wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly, he moved to the other side and repeated the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flexion and movement. The patibulum was then lifted into place. . . . As the arms fatigued, great waves of cramps swept over the muscles, knotting them in deep relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps came the inability to push Himself upward. . . . Air could be drawn into the lungs, but could not be exhaled. Jesus fought to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. . . . He suffered hours of limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, and searing pain as tissue was torn from His lacerated back from His movement up and down against the rough timbers of the cross.”

For those six hours, He looked down at the crowd and said to His Father, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Yet God knew what He was doing. In some inexplicable way when Jesus died on the cross, He experienced the punishment of God that you and I deserve. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, Paul wrote, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” This was the incomparable sacrifice that Jesus made for us.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “God On Trial” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.

C. Truman Davis, “The Crucifixion: A Medical View,” New Wine Magazine, April 1982, 12-14.

The Secret Of Contentment

In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

–Philippians 4:12-13

Root Glacier – Alaska

The late Ted Turner, founder of CNN, was once asked what it was like to be so successful and wealthy. He said, “Well, I think it’s kind of an empty bag, to tell you the truth, but you have to really get there to know that.”

That is what a billionaire said about wealth–once you attain it, you realize it is empty. It is a mirage. Yet the love of money can easily lure you off track in your relationship with God.

To keep materialism from detouring your relationship with God, you have to learn the secret of contentment. Hebrews 13:5 says, “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have.” Admittedly, that is a lot easier said than done, isn’t it? The truth is, no matter what income level you are at, there is always somebody who has more than you do. And you think, “If only I could have this amount of money, then I could have all my needs met, and I would be free from the love of money. I just need a little bit more.”

But remember Ted Turner’s words: once you get that little bit more, it is an empty bag. Money does not satisfy your deepest needs. The secret to having your needs met is to learn contentment.

The word “contentment” comes from the same Latin root as the word “containment.” A content person is one who is self-contained. That is, his satisfaction in life is not tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the square footage of his home, or the kind of car he drives. He is not looking to external things to fill him up; he is looking inwardly. And for a Christian, that inward resource is a relationship with Jesus Christ. No amount of money or possessions can satisfy the void of an empty life. That is why Paul said in Philippians 4:11-12, “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.”

What is the secret of contentment Paul spoke of? He told us in the next verse: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” The secret to contentment is tying your sense of well-being to Jesus Christ. That is how you avoid the trap of materialism.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Detours That Destroy” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.

Ted Turner, as quoted in Gary Rosberg, “Guard Your Heart: For Out of It Will Flow Your Life Story” (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1994), 133.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org

A Life Without Regrets

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

–Mark 16:15

William Borden grew up an heir to a great fortune. By the time he was in high school, he was a millionaire–which in the early 1900s was a lot of money. He and his family assumed that he would one day take over the family business. So after he graduated from high school, before he was to enroll at Yale University, his family sent him on an around-the-world trip. He visited Egypt, Syria, China, Japan. And while he was traveling, God called him to spend the rest of his life as a missionary.

His father told him to wait a few years before making any big decisions; a friend told him not to throw his life away. But Borden was so certain of God’s call on his life that in the back of his Bible, he allegedly wrote these words: “No reserves.”

Borden went to Yale, where he organized weekly Bible studies and opened the first rescue mission in New Haven. During his freshman year, he went to a conference where he learned about millions of Chinese Muslims who were not served by any missionaries. And Borden decided he wanted to spend his life serving Muslims in China. Instead of taking over the family business after college, he enrolled at Princeton Theological Seminary. He would not be deterred from his calling. In the back of his Bible under the words “No reserves,” he is said to have written two more words: “No retreats.”

After graduating from Princeton Seminary, Borden said goodbye to his family and friends and set sail for China’s Gansu province. He stopped in Egypt to learn Arabic and study Muslim customs so he could minister to them more effectively. But while in Egypt, he contracted cerebral meningitis. He died nineteen days later at the age of twenty-five. “What a tragedy,” you might think. “What a shame that somebody who was willing to give up so much died even before he got to the mission field.” But tracts about his testimony were distributed in several languages, and in 1914, China Inland Mission founded the Borden Memorial Hospital in the very province he had been hoping to serve. Because of Borden’s story, countless missionaries have been inspired to share the gospel around the world.

Borden did not live long enough to see the full results of his obedience to God. But as he lay dying in that Cairo hospital, he is said to have added these words to the back of his Bible: “No regrets.” The kind of faith that endures problems is a faith without reserves, without retreats, and without regrets.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Against All Odds” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.

Jayson Casper, “The Forgotten Final Resting Place of William Borden,” Christianity Today, February 24, 2017, https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/2017/february/forgotten-final-resting-place-of-william-borden.html.

Trusting In God’s Character

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac. . . . He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead.

–Hebrews 11:17, 19

In Genesis 22:3, God told Abraham, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.”

Every time I read this story, I think, “If God told me to do the same thing, to kill one of my children as a sacrifice to God, would I be able to do that?” If I am honest, I do not think so. But Abraham obeyed. He was fully ready to sacrifice Isaac until God intervened at the last second.

Hebrews 11 gives us the secret of how Abraham was able to obey God’s command: “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac. . . . He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead” (vv. 17, 19). The word for “considered” is an accounting term meaning “to add up, to weigh.” I imagine the night before they left for Moriah was a sleepless night for Abraham. I can just picture him tossing and turning as he considered what God had asked him to do. I am sure he added up all the reasons not to do it: It would break the heart of Sarah, his wife, and probably end the marriage. It would mean the child of promise had been killed and there would be no nation.

But then Abraham added up all the reasons he could and should obey God’s command. God had provided for him supernaturally and fulfilled every promise He had made. Finally, Abraham considered that God is able to raise people from the dead. That was the tipping point in his calculations. He reasoned that even if he killed Isaac, God would raise him from the dead. You know, Abraham had never heard of anybody being raised from the dead. He had never been to an Easter service. But Abraham knew God, and he believed that God could be counted on.

In his commentary on this portion of Hebrews, William Barclay noted, “For everyone at some time, there comes something for which there seems to be no reason and which defies explanation. It is then that we are faced with life’s hardest battle–to accept when we cannot understand. At such a time, there is only one thing to do–to obey and to do so without resentment, saying: ‘God, you are love! I build my faith on that.’” That is what Abraham did. He trusted in the character and the promises of God, and he obeyed.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “A Legacy Of Faith” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.

William Barclay, “The Letter to the Hebrews,” The New Daily Study Bible (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2002), 181.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org

Christ’s Simple Appearance

Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.

–Luke 2:15

God’s indescribable gift–Jesus Christ–was preceded by elaborate preparation. God waited until just the right time to send His Son. But this gift was also missed by many because of its simple appearance. Luke 2:6-7 says, “While they were there, the days were completed for [Mary] to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Most people missed God’s indescribable gift because of the wrapping in which it came. You see, the Jews had been looking for the Messiah to be the King of kings. They expected him to come dressed in regal robes, not worn strips of cloth. Why did they expect that? The Jews were looking for a Messiah who would come and liberate them from their oppressors the Romans. They did not understand that their real need was for somebody to liberate them from their sins. That may explain why the angel chose to announce the coming of Christ to a group of shepherds. In the Jewish social scene, you did not get much lower than shepherds. They were the outcasts of society. But it was to this group that the announcement came. Look at verses 10-11: “The angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior.’”

Notice how the shepherds responded: “When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, ‘Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us’” (v. 15). The shepherds picked up and beat a path to Bethlehem to see the Lord Jesus Christ. Now contrast their response to that of the religious leaders in Matthew 2. When the religious leaders heard about the coming of the Messiah, they did not move an inch. How do you account for that difference in response? Simply put, the religious leaders were filled with pride. They did not need a Savior, or so they thought. But the shepherds were filled with humility. Because they were outcast from society, they understood their need, and they went immediately to see their Savior.

What is the greatest need you have right now in your life? You might say, “I need a fresh infusion of cash into my checking account.” Or, “I need physical healing, either for myself or for somebody I care about.” Or, “I need reconciliation with someone from whom I have been estranged.” But our greatest need, whether we realize it or not, is the need for God’s forgiveness. Somebody has said that if man’s greatest need had been for information, God would have sent an educator. If our greatest need had been for money, God would have sent an economist. But our greatest need was for forgiveness, so God sent a Savior. That is what makes Jesus Christ His indescribable gift, but many people missed it because of its simple appearance.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “A Gift Beyond Description” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.

Choosing Generosity Over Greed

Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

–Matthew 6:20-21

Ask yourself: “Is my focus on Jesus, or on money?” For many people, including Christians, the honest answer is money. What is the fix to a fixation on money? Jesus gave us the remedy for materialism in Matthew 6:19-21. He said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” He went on to say, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (v. 33). Jesus was saying the remedy for materialism is knowing and living your purpose. Living your purpose will help you choose generosity over greed.

Let me show you the connection between your purpose, materialism, and your affections toward God. First of all, you have to know your purpose. We have been talking about our purpose for the past two weeks, but Jesus said it again in verse 33: “Seek first His kingdom.” Our real purpose in life is seeking to expand God’s kingdom, rather than our own kingdom. When you understand that your purpose is to seek God’s kingdom, then that is where you will invest your resources. That is what Jesus was talking about in verse 20: “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” Your purpose determines your investments. But notice what He said in verse 21: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Wherever you invest, your affections will naturally follow.

We had a building campaign at my previous church, and there was a man who wrestled about the amount of the money he was going to commit. Finally God told him an amount that was so large, he had not even considered it. But he made the investment. About a year later, when the steel was going up for the new sanctuary, the man stopped by my office one morning and said, “Pastor, every morning I used to get a cup of coffee, open the business section of the newspaper, and see how my stocks were doing, because that’s where my money was. Now every morning I get up, have a cup of coffee, drive down to the church and watch the construction project, because that is where my money is.”

Knowing your purpose helps you make the right investment choices, and once you have invested in God’s kingdom, your affections will naturally follow. If you want your affections to be centered on God rather than this world, then put your treasure in the kingdom of God.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “These Boots Were Made For Walking” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.

Deuteronomy 2:7
For the Lord your God has blessed you in all that you have done; He has known your wanderings through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you; you have not lacked a thing

God’s Eternal Purpose For Us

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.

–Jeremiah 1:5

Whether you believe it or not, God has created you for a great purpose. In Jeremiah 1:5, God said to the prophet, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Do you realize every life has been skillfully and wonderfully woven by God in the womb? That is why abortion is such a travesty. When you abort an unborn child, you are not just destroying a life; you are destroying God’s handiwork. He is the one who has skillfully and wonderfully made every human life.

Notice that God also told Jeremiah, “I consecrated you.” In other words, “Jeremiah, before you were born, I had a great purpose for your life.” Jeremiah’s purpose was to be a prophet to the nations. But God also has a unique purpose for your life. You are no accident. God created you for a unique purpose.

What is that purpose? We have to differentiate between God’s eternal purpose and God’s immediate purpose for your life. God’s eternal purpose for you is clear in the Bible: God created you to have fellowship with Him. Another of God’s eternal purposes for your life is that you be fashioned into the image of Christ. Romans 8:29 says, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.” God wants you to be just like His perfect Son, Jesus Christ. Those are God’s eternal purposes.

Now here is the $64,000 question: Why didn’t God take you to heaven the moment you were saved so that those purposes could be immediately fulfilled? After all, the Bible says in 1 John 3:2, “When He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” John was saying when we meet Christ, we are going to be immediately transformed to be like Him. Not only that, Revelation 22:3 says in heaven the curse of sin will be removed and we are going to have perfect fellowship with God. All of those things that hinder our relationship with God will be gone. So if God’s eternal purpose for us will be accomplished when we are with Him, why did God leave us here on earth? Why is He delaying that perfect fellowship with us? Why is He postponing His plan to conform us to the perfect image of His Son? Because in addition to God’s eternal purpose for us, we have an immediate purpose to fulfill in this life. God created us and left us here on earth for a reason.

A lot of Christians are walking around in a fog, wondering what God’s will for their life is. But as Erwin McManus put it, the question is not, “God, what is Your will for my life?” but, “God, what is Your will, and how can I give my life to fulfill it?” Our purpose here on earth is to fulfill God’s purpose. So what is God trying to do? Here are a few hints:

  • “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
  • “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
  • “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

God’s purpose in the world is clear: He wants to deliver as many people as possible from the pit of Satan’s kingdom into the light of His kingdom through Jesus Christ. And God invites you and me to join with Him in that mission. That is why we are here. Does God need us to do His work for Him? No, but God has chosen to partner with us in accomplishing His purpose. Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He gave the disciples their instructions: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Those are our marching orders too. Throughout the Bible, Christians are described as soldiers for Jesus Christ. In 2 Timothy 2:4, Paul said, “No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.” In Paul’s day, the primary role of the soldier was to expand the emperor’s kingdom. When a soldier arrived at a new post, did he pull out the yellow pages and say, “First let me visit every restaurant in town so I can sample the local cuisine”? If that had been the soldier’s priority, he probably would have been dishonorably discharged. No, a soldier understands the reason he has been dispatched is to fulfill not his mission, but the mission of his commander and chief.

God has left us in a foreign outpost called planet Earth to fulfill one mission–and that mission is not to build a successful career, to see how much money we can accumulate, or even to have a successful and fulfilling family life. Our mission is to rescue as many people as possible from the kingdom of darkness and introduce them to faith in Jesus Christ.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Putting On Your Soul Shoes” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.

Lamentations 3:22-23
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Refuse To Feel Guilty About Wrong Thoughts

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil.

–Luke 4:1-2

If you want to gain control over your thoughts, first of all, you have to refuse to feel guilty about wrong thoughts. Let’s suppose you are awakened at 3 o’clock in the morning by a robber trying to break into your home. What do you do? You might call the police. You might turn on the outside lights to try and scare him away. You might go get some sort of weapon in order to defend yourself. What you would not do is start wallowing in guilt: “What is wrong with me that somebody would choose my house to break into? This is all my fault!”

You would not feel guilty that an intruder was trying to break into your home. Yet many times, we feel guilty for the wrong thoughts that break into our minds. Now, there are some things we do to stimulate wrong thoughts, like watching certain television programs or visiting certain internet sites. But the truth is, even if you were alone on a desert island, you would still struggle with wrong thoughts. How do I know that? Because in Luke 4, we see that even Jesus battled wrong thoughts when He was by Himself in the wilderness. For forty days, He was bombarded with temptations that were all centered in wrong thoughts: “You don’t have what You need to be satisfied.” Or, “Why don’t You forget God’s timetable and take charge of Your own life now? Jump down from the pinnacle of the temple, and everybody will recognize You as the Messiah.”

Did those wrong thoughts make Him any less the perfect Lamb of God who could take away the sins of the world? No. Having wrong thoughts, in and of itself, does not make you a sinner. If you are going to seize control of your thoughts, first of all, refuse to feel guilty when those wrong thoughts come into your mind.

Instead, second, resist allowing wrong thoughts to linger in your mind. It is one thing to have wrong thoughts come into your mind; it is another thing to embellish or fantasize about them. In his book “When The Enemy Strikes,” Charles Stanley explained that the first time we entertain a wrong thought, it is just a toehold for Satan. But if we turn that thought over in our minds and begin wondering how we might act on it, that toehold becomes a foothold. The more we obsess about that temptation, the more we make plans to experience it, the more that foothold turns into a stronghold for Satan. At that point, all Satan has to do is dangle the bait out in front of us, and we become spiritual roadkill. That is why it is so important not to allow wrong thoughts to linger in our minds.

How do you know if a thought that comes into your mind is from God or Satan? Ask yourself:

  1. Is this thought true?
  2. Does this thought motivate me toward faith and obedience, or toward fear and disobedience?
  3. Does this temptation in any way contradict the clear teaching of God’s Word?

The problem is, after recognizing a wrong thought, most of us just do everything we can not to think about it. But that approach is absolutely useless in spiritual warfare. If you do not believe me, try this: For the next thirty seconds, do not think about a pink elephant. That is the one thing you have to try not to think about. I am betting there is now a herd of pink elephants stampeding through your mind! It is not enough to recognize wrong thoughts; we need to replace them with God’s thoughts. That is exactly what Jesus did when He was being tempted by Satan in Luke 4. Satan said, in essence, “You do not have what You need to be satisfied in life. Why don’t You turn these stones into bread?” Did Jesus try to put that thought out of His mind? No, He responded to that wrong thought with the right thought by quoting from Scripture: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone’” (v. 4). Jesus did the same thing for the other temptations Satan put into His mind–He replaced those wrong thoughts with the right thoughts from God’s Word. That is how we “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “When Satan Comes Knocking” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.

Can A Christian Be Demon-Possessed?

In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.

–Ephesians 1:13

Yesterday we saw that demons manifest through other people, including Christians. Does that mean Christians can be demon-possessed?

Let’s look at that term “demon-possessed.” That phrase is found nowhere in the New Testament. You might be thinking, “But what about the demon-possessed man in Luke 8?” In the Greek text, the phrase is not “demon-possessed,” but simply “demonized.” In other words, the man was under the influence of demons.

As we will discuss tomorrow, Christians can be influenced by demons, but demon possession is not an accurate term for a Christian. Think about what the word “possessed” means. If you possess something, you own it. So the real question is, can Christians be owned by demons or by Satan? The answer is no. No Christian can be owned by Satan and his demons. In Ephesians 1:13-14, Paul wrote, “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” The moment you trust in Christ as your Savior, you not only receive the forgiveness of your sins, you are sealed by the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is God’s stamp of ownership on your life. And God does not believe in joint ownership–He does not share His possessions with anyone. If God owns it, nobody else can own it. The fact that you as a Christian are owned by God means it is absolutely impossible for you to be possessed or owned by Satan and his demons.

That should be comforting for you as a Christian, but it also means every person who is not a Christian is possessed by Satan and his demons. When you are born into this world, you are not born as a free agent–you are born as a part of Satan’s kingdom. It is only through Christ that you are rescued from the kingdom of darkness and placed into the kingdom of light. But every non-Christian you know is still demon-possessed. That does not mean they levitate off the ground or have their heads spin around like that girl in “The Exorcist.” Demon possession does not manifest itself that way. But what it does mean is that those people belong to Satan. He is free to do to them whatever he wants to do. If that is unsettling to you, remember that you can help do something about it. As Christians, you and I are called to be part of God’s plan to deliver people from Satan’s kingdom by sharing the gospel message with them–that only through Christ can they be redeemed from the ownership of Satan.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “What Demons Want To Do To You” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.

Matthew 22:29 The Greatest Commandment Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”