A recent illness kept Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II away from several high-profile engagements over Christmas. Now some are wondering if Prince Charles, who has been first in line to the throne longer than any person in British history, should become king one day. He would also be head of the Church of England. Given his status as a divorcee who married a divorcee after admitting to adultery during his first marriage, his capacity to serve as “Defender of the Faith” is being questioned.
The past seldom stays in the past.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was questioned again last night by authorities looking into allegations that he has received illicit gifts and favors from wealthy donors. The Senate Armed Services Committee spent several hours yesterday investigating allegations that Russian government officials tried to influence the US election.
There’s a spiritual principle at work here. Theologian J. V. Langmead Casserley noted that we do not break God’s rules—we break ourselves on God’s rules. His principle is illustrated by today’s news.
Here’s why this principle is relevant to you and me today: We are useful to God to the degree that we are usable by him. I am writing this article on a laptop that is useful to me only so long as it processes what I type. When devices work according to their intended purpose, they are most useful to those who employ them.
The same is true of people.
One of the reasons Satan tempts Christians is that he wants to keep us from helping other people become Christians. The Holy Spirit is less able to use an unholy vessel. Private sin impedes God’s public use of his people.
Private sin impedes God’s public use of his people.
A second reason why our enemy tempts God’s people is that he knows our sin grieves our Father’s heart. Satan has no power to harm God, so he attacks his children. Just as my children’s welfare is my greatest concern, so our welfare matters deeply to our Lord. Satan knows this fact and loves to use it against us and our Father.
Abraham Kuyper likened God’s pain in watching us sin to a mother’s grief in watching someone disfigure her child. Sin grieves the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30), which is why it should grieve us as well.
What is the remedy?
In Matthew 4:10, Jesus responds to Satan’s attempt to entice his worship by quoting Deuteronomy 6:13, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve” (Matthew 4:10). However, the Deuteronomy text states, “It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear.” Nowhere does the word “only” appear. I checked the Hebrew original—it also lacks the word. “Only” is certainly consistent with the text, of course, but it seems to have been added for emphasis by Jesus.
Does our Lord mean that we should serve no one else? No—he means that all our service is ultimately service to God and should glorify him. So, ask yourself before your next decision: Will this honor Jesus? Will it express love for my Lord and my neighbor (Matthew 22:37–39)?
Hillel, the famous first-century rabbi, once asked, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?”
NOTE: In response to the recent United Nations resolution regarding Israel, I have written a paper on Israel and the two-state solution. It describes the history of the region, the peace process, and a way forward. I invite you to read it here.