Nazarene Principles ©2000

THE SEVENTH PRINCIPLE:
Temptation and your Enemy

#325. Jesus closed his model prayer with the words of the Seventh Nazarene Principle, ‘Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’ (Matthew 6:13) What an excellent phrase to follow the theme of forgiveness. Having recognized our own need for God’s forgiveness, demonstrated in our willingness to forgive others, we are in a better mood to think about the subject of temptation. Only if we desire to do God’s will and walk in the footsteps of the Nazarene are we concerned about temptation.

#326. In Greek this phrase is more literally, ‘You should not bring us into temptation, but rescue us from the Wicked One.’ Translators either render ponerou as “evil” or “the Evil One.” The word is used to mean what is hurtful or ethically bad and malicious. It is used as a substitute for the word “evildoer” and is often associated with wicked men or evil spirits. Though it may refer to that which is morally or lawfully evil, it is also used to refer to Satan. (Matthew 13:38; 1 John 2:12, 14; 5:18, 19)

#327. The Nazarene was fully aware of such an Evil or Wicked One called Satan the Devil, for he himself was tempted in the wilderness at the end of his forty-day retreat. So, Jesus knew something of efforts to tempt him. The record of this is found in Matthew and Luke and a paraphrase of this portion would demonstrate that Satan is a real person and also the methods339 he often uses. The accounts read: ‘Then Jesus, full of holy spirit, was led by the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. And after fasting forty days and night he felt hungry. The Tempter approached him and said: “If you are a son of the God tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus replied: “It is written: ‘Not by bread alone will man live but by every word coming forth from the Mouth of God.’340
339 METHODS. Note the Greek methodias at Ephesians 6:11 rendered: RHM: strategies; NEB: devices; NASB: schemes; PME: methods; TCNT: stratagems.
340 MOUTH OF GOD. This quote is from Deuteronomy 12:32 and in the Hebrew, and likely the oldest Jewish Greek LXX, YHWH occurs. Did the Nazarene use the Divine Name here, out in the desert, within the hearing only of the Devil? Some would say he did, others, no. Note Luke only uses part of the quote, omitting the Name of God. (Luke 4:4)

#328. ‘The Devil transported Jesus into the Holy City and stationed him upon the battlement of the Temple and then said to him: “If you are a son of God, hurl yourself down from here, for it has been written: ‘He will give his angels a charge about you and upon their hands they will carry you so you never strike your foot against a stone.’”341 Jesus said to him: “Again, it is written: ‘You shall not put the Lord342 (YHWH) your God to the test.’”343
341 AGAINST A STONE. The Devil quotes precisely the LXX of Psalm 91:11, 12. Luke changes the order of the three temptations.
342 LORD. Again, in the ancient LXX YHWH was used as it is in the Hebrew Text.
343 TEST. This is a quote from Deuteronomy 6:16 (LXX).

#329. ‘Again, the Devil transported Jesus to an unusually high mountain where the Devil showed Jesus all the glory of the kingdoms of the Cosmos in a time-puncture and then said to Jesus: “All of this authority and its glory I will give you, because it has been given me. If you will fall down and do an act of worship to me, it will all be yours.” Then Jesus said to the Devil: “Go away, Satan, for it has been written: ‘It is the Lord (YHWH) your God you shall worship and to Him alone shall you render service.’”344 Then, the Devil, having concluded the temptation, let Jesus go until another time. And angels came to minister to Jesus.’ (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13)
344 SERVICE. The Nazarene quotes Deuteronomy 6:13 from the LXX and again YHWH occurs. So three times the Nazarene used the Divine Name or a surrogate against the Devil.

#330. It ought to be clear from this record that Jesus considered Satan the Devil a real person just as the account in Job chapters one and two. The designations “Satan” and “Devil” are used nearly 30 times in the Gospels. The word “Satan” occurs as a name 72 times and most often (17x) in Job. The designation “Devil” never occurs in the Old Testament but does occur 42 times in the Christian Bible. The Nazarene calls the Devil “Beelzebub.”345 Additionally, the word “demon(s)” was used over 60 times. So, whether in the Lord’s Prayer the Nazarene limited the idea of ponerou to that attribute of evil or to an invisible person whom he knew to be Satan, the thrust of his petition remains the same: “guard and protect or rescue us from whatever evil influence which may allure us into error.”
345 BEELZEBUB. Compare Matthew 12:24,27; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15, 18, 19.

#331. It is not that the Father will “lead” us into temptation, for James puts it, ‘For God cannot be tempted by evil nor does He ever tempt anyone with evil. But each one of us is tempted by our own desire, drawn out, baited and seduced by those inner passions. And then this heightened desire, having been conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin when fully consummated, gives birth to death.’ (James 1:13-15) Our inner self is the hidden beast, the real enemy, sometimes stimulated by immoral influences. Paul promises, ‘God will never let us be tempted beyond what we can bear. And, along with the temptation,346 He will provide the means of escape.’ (1 Corinthians 10:13)
346 TEMPTATION. Compare the dangers in riches. (1 Timothy 6.9) Pride can be a danger. (Matthew 16:1)

#332. Like Christ, we are all temptable. Our prayer not to be tempted beyond our ability to withstand assumes we will make our best effort not to put ourselves in a position to be tempted. The Nazarene instructed his disciples the night of his agony in the garden, ‘Keep praying that you do not enter into temptation.’ (Luke 22:40) So, prayer is vital in resisting temptation and can never be under estimated. However, there are two other factors which can assist in this matter: a) avoid situations, settings and circumstances which will make you a victim of temptation; and, b) be aware and on guard against the Tempter’s methods.

#333. Regarding the first matter, it is obvious that if one is an alcoholic, or drug addict, and is struggling one day at a time with this temptation, it is necessary to avoid that environment which weakens resolve. If one is weak in any moral or ethical area, then it is best to fill the mind with upright, positive and virtuous thoughts, as well as flee347 from those things which stimulate wrong desires. It is sometimes a simple matter of mentally saying, “No!” when wrong thoughts invade the Christian mind.
347 FLEE. Compare 2 Timothy 2:22 with Genesis 39:6-12. (1 Timothy 6:10, 11)

#334. Note how Joseph flees from Potiphar’s wife. (Genesis 39:10-12) But, David does the opposite and compounds his desire with multiple sins of murder, lying and deceit with far-reaching complications. (2 Samuel 11:2, 3) Paul tells the young man Timothy, ‘Take flight from youthful passions.’ (2 Timothy 2:22) In an exaggerated metaphor or hyperbole, the Nazarene warns, ‘Gouge out your eye that lusts if it makes you stumble. Cut off your hand if it stumbles you.’ (Matthew 5:29, 30; Genesis 2:3-6)

#335. Secondly, it is wise to “know your enemy,” Satan. Paul warns, ‘So we are not over-reached by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his methods.’ (2 Corinthians 2:11) And, again, ‘Stand firm against the craftiness of the Devil.’ (Ephesians 6:11) It is in the context of this warning that Paul outlines the proper armor to wear into battle against the Enemy. He writes, ‘Put on the armor of God and so be able to hold your stance against the methods of the Devil. Because we wrestle, not against blood and flesh, but against governments and authorities, against the master-spirits of this dark world, against spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil.’ (Ephesians 6:12 GDS, PME)

Armor of God

#336. Paul continues to describe this “armor.” (Ephesians 6:10-18) We read these keeping in mind the Devil’s key “methods”:

  • Doubt (Matthew 14:31; 21:21; Mark 11:23)
  • Greed (Proverbs 20:21; Ephesians 4:19; 5:3)
  • Desire (Proverbs 6:25; Galatians 5:16, 17; Colossians 3:5; James 1:14, 15)
  • Pride (Proverbs 8:13; 16:18; 1 Timothy 3:6; 6:4; James 4:16)
  • Fear (Matthew 10:26, 28; Hebrews 2:15; 1 Peter 3:14; 1 John 4:18)

#337. (1) THE BELT OF TRUTH. (KNX) The Wicked One flees from Truth as if his eyes cannot stand the illumination. We remember the Nazarene’s use of Truth when quoting the inspired Scriptures. Later he is to pray, ‘Your Word is Truth.’ (John 17:17) The Devil did not argue that these quotations were a false premise or ridicule them. He knew them to be the Truth and quotes them himself. However, the Devil “twists” these to his own use (2 Peter 3:16) just as false prophets are foretold to do later. (Ephesians 4:14; Luke 21:8)

#338. As pointed out in John 17:17, the Nazarene understood the Truth to be God’s Word. This is in harmony with his statement to the Devil when he used Deuteronomy 8.3, ‘To make you know that not by bread alone does man live but by every expression of Jehovah's mouth does man live.’ (NWT) These “expressions” are found in the inspired Scriptures, as Paul describes: ‘All Scripture is God-breathed and beneficial for teaching, for refuting error, for resetting the directions of a person’s life, for moral discipline so that the Man of God will be perfectly fit for every good work.’ (2 Timothy 3:16, 17 RHM, PME, MOF, WMS) There is only one source of Truth and it is found in the Holy Scriptures.

#339. In order to take advantage of this “belt of Truth” it seems clear the Nazarene Saint ought to become very familiar with the written Word of God. He can do this by reading and hearing the Truth from the Scriptures. There is a danger, of course, because the Devil has his own instruments or agents. (John 8:44; 1 John 3:10; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15) For this reason, John cautions: ‘Beloved, do not believe every “inspiration” but prove them whether they are from The God, because many false prophets have gone forth into the world.’ (1 John 4:1)

#340. Certain ones who did this were commended by the historian Luke, when he records Paul’s missionary work: ‘Paul reasoned with (the Thessalonians), opening up thoroughly the Scriptures, that the Jesus he preached was in fact the Messiah… (Now) the Boreans were of a nobler disposition than the Thessalonians for they receive the Word with a mental readiness, making a daily study of the Scriptures, to verify Paul’s interpretation.’ (Acts 17:2, 3, 11 WEY, MOF, RIE)

#341. Only by such a study can the Nazarene Saint be on guard against false prophets and teachers who may present an erroneous doctrinal creed, a moral guide out of harmony with the Nazarene, and certain prophecies which may not originate with God. Many ask where to begin or how to go about reading the Bible. Using Hebrews 1:1 as a guide, ‘God used to speak to our fathers by the prophets, but now He speaks to us by a Son,’ it seems wise to first become familiar with the words and teachings of the Nazarene. That is, the purpose of the Nazarene Principles.

#342. Begin this study by reading “the red letters” or those words specifically of the Christ. A large portion of these are found in Matthew chapters 5, 6, 7, 13, 16, 18, 22, 23, 24, 25; Mark chapters 4, 13; Luke chapters 6, 12-21; John chapters 3-17. While reading make a list of the Nazarene’s “commandments” (John 14:15; 15:12-14) and note certain “doctrine” (John 7:16, 17; Hebrews 6:1; 2 John 9,10 KJV) such as “kingdom,” “judgment,” and “coming.” A concordance can help study these words as a harmonious body.

#343. By this study of the Truth the serious Christian can be protected from temptations and untruths and not become the victim of “false prophets.” (Matthew 24:5, 11, 24; Mark 13:6; Luke 21:8; 1 John 2:26; 3:7) Group studies or discussions can incorporate the prayerful meditations of others as well as provide encouragement. Sharing what you learn with others will guide you in walking in the Lamb’s footprints. (1 Peter 2:21; Revelation 14:5) When speaking to others, imitate the Nazarene and do so with “mildness and respect” along with “graciousness.” (1 Peter 3:15; Colossians 4:6)

#344. This publication, Nazarene Principles, is prepared for group Bible study in mind. Questions may be prepared on each numbered paragraph to draw out the main points. Various texts cited but not quoted can be compared for further clarification. Just two persons can study together using their Bibles and Nazarene Principles.

#345. (2) BREASTPLATE O RIGHTEOUSNESS. The breastplate protects the heart and other vitals. The Nazarene Saint must walk righteously. When John the Baptist resisted the notion of baptizing the Messiah, Jesus responded, ‘Let it be for in this way we may fulfill all that is righteous.’ (Matthew 3:15) Righteousness means obedience to law. The Hebrew tsedheq and tsedhaqah as well as the Greek dikaiosyne have the thought of "rectitude," "uprightness," indicating a standard or norm determining what is upright. "Righteousness" is frequently used in connection with a judge, or with judgment, giving the term a some what legal flavor.

#346. No Nazarene Saint should ever succumb to the Satanic idea that righteousness is not important because a Christian “is saved by Grace not works.” John, the Beloved, makes it clear this is not true in the third chapter of First John. Read this chapter and ask yourself if righteousness is important. The word group (righteous[ness]) occurs 869 times in the Bible. The four books which emphasize it most are Psalms (155x), Proverbs (97x), Isaiah (82x), and most often in the Christian Bible in Romans (63x). There can be no doubt that anyone who claims, “I have no sin,” is a liar. This is the judgment of John. (1 John 1:6, 8)

#347. Since righteousness is related to observing law or commandments then those “commandments” of the Nazarene ought to be right at the top of the list of anyone striving to please God. (John 14:15, 21; 15:10, 12; 1 John 2:3, 4, 7, 8; 3:22-24; 4:21; 5:2, 3; 2 John 4-6) These “commandments” for the “righteous” have one major theme: love. (John 13:34) John writes that these “commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)

#348. With this Paul agrees, ‘Because of her freedom Christ liberated us; so stand firm and do not become yoked again as slaves (to the Law of Moses) … You have nullified Christ if you seek to be righteous by (the Law of Moses). You have fallen from Grace. Your calling liberated you… Do not use this liberty as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but by love serve one another. For the whole body of the (Mosaic) Law stands fulfilled and complete in one precept: "You must love your neighbor as yourself." But, I tell you, conduct yourselves spiritually then you will never satisfy fleshly passion.’ (Galatians 5:1,13, 14, 16)

Good and Bad Fruitage

#349. Paul then goes on to list fifteen characteristics of the flesh’s fruitage:

#350. Paul next lists the nine spiritual fruits:

#351. Many Friends of the Nazarene make these a special study in their search for righteousness. By this absorption of “spiritual words” (1 Corinthians 2:13) the “heart” of the Christian experiences that promise of the New Covenant: ‘Look, the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when I shall make a new covenant with (Israel) … but not like the covenant I made with their ancestors (at Sinai), a covenant they broke… No, this is the covenant I shall make with (Israel) when those days come, Yahweh declares. I shall plant my Law inside them, writing it on their hearts. Then I shall be their God and they will be my People.’ (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:8-12; Romans 2:14, 15) Thus, this “law” is not that written on “stones” but one inscribed on the heart. (2 Corinthians 3:7-17) There is an inner “seed” which produces a bent toward righteousness and habitual sins ceases. (1 John 3:9)

#352. Dressed in the Breastplate of righteousness there is less room for the Wicked One in a pure and clean environment. Satan hates the light of righteousness preferring a dark atmosphere to do his work.

#353. (3) FEET EQUIPPED WITH THE GOSPEL. Various renderings are: “in readiness to publish the gospel” (KNX); “put on your feet the preparation the good news of peace supplies” (WMS); “with the readiness to serve the Good News” (TCNT); “shod as ready messengers” (CON). Our feet carry us on our path in life: to work, to school, to market, to friends, and home. When leaving the home most often we put on our shoes or sandals. So, Paul encourages us to carry the Gospel wherever we go. The spirit of this is echoed in the Apocalypse, ‘They follow the Lamb no matter where he goes.’ (Revelation 14:5) Or, Peter’s encouragement, ‘Christ left you an example to follow in his footsteps.’ (1 Peter 2:21)

#354. Where the Nazarene walked, the Friends of the Nazarene follow. Clearly, many of the thousands of miles Jesus walked involved his preaching of the Kingdom gospel. His Apostles followed him. Later the Seventy followed him. The Gospels record this activity: ‘And Jesus made a tour, traveling into the cities and villages preaching the good news of the Kingdom… And the Twelve were with him… By the sight of the crowd Jesus was deeply moved with pity because they were distressed and thrown down, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he spoke to his disciples: “Indeed, the Harvest is great but the workers few. So, beg the Lord of the harvest to send out more workers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:35-38)

#355. Shortly after this observation by the Nazarene the group of Twelve was formed. (Matthew 10:1-11.1; Mark 3:14-16; Luke 8:1; 9:1-6) This chapter outlines the “instructions” of Jesus to his Apostles. He tells them specifically the theme of their message: ‘The Kingdom of heaven has drawn near.’ (Matthew 10:7) A modern Nazarene Saint may do well in reading these “instructions,” not that they directly apply to each Christian, but to gain some insight into the methods of the Nazarene. To what extent all of these “instructions” apply, successive generations of disciples are left for each one to determine.

#356. Next, the Nazarene sent out Seventy disciples in groups of twos. He gave them similar instruction. However, he cautioned them, Do not go from house to house.’ (Luke 10:7) This sounds similar to what some translations373 record the Apostles actually doing later in Acts 5:42 and Acts 20:20, “from house to house.” Is there a contradiction? The Greek phrase in Luke 10:7 is, ex oikias eis oikian, or literally “from house into house.” The Greek in Acts is kat oikon, or “according to house.” The later is more like, “in private homes.”374 It is more likely the Apostles and later disciples obeyed the Nazarene’s “instructions” not to go “from house to house.” However, they did preach in private homes as well as in a variety of public places.
373 TRANSLATIONS: KJV: every house; ASV: at home; TCN: in private houses; KNX: from house to house; NWT: from house to house (see footnote).
374 PRIVATE HOMES. kat oikon is not limited to the “distributive sense” of “from house to house.” The Expositor’s Greek Testament states: “ ... the words may mark a contrast between public preaching which was not discontinued ... and the teaching continued at home in a household assembly, or ... distributively, and refer to the Christian assemblies met together in various houses in the city as in Acts 2:46 ... (Acts 20:20) ... privately as in the Church in the house of Aquila and Priscilla (1 Corinthians 1:24).”

#357. What responsibility falls on each Nazarene Saint as disciples of Jesus Christ? Often certain texts are expanded from their original meaning to be applied to modern Christians. For example, Matthew 28:19, ‘Go your way and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them, teaching them to observe everything I commanded you.’ That this applies specifically to the Apostles is shown by Acts 1:2, ‘Until that day, having giving a commandment to the Apostles he chose, he was received up.’ This would seem to limit the application of Matthew 28:19 to the Apostles. However, we note that these Apostles were to “teach all nations to observe my commandments.” Thus, whatever Jesus taught might have a fine application to new disciples in all nations of the earth.

#358. When the heart swells up with an exciting idea it cannot but be enthusiastic about it, with the result of telling others. This is reflected by what Paul says at 2 Corinthians 4:13, ‘But, having the same spirit of the Faith of which it was written: “I BELIEVED, THEREFORE, I SPOKE.” (Psalm 116:10) We also believe, and therefore, we speak.’ How could one not “speak” about what is dearest to the heart? A “public confession” is what comes from the heart’s conviction: ‘For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved. For in their hearts people exercise the faith that leads to a right standing with God; and it is stating his belief by his own mouth that confirms this salvation.’ (Romans 10:9, 10 WMS, PME)

#359. How does the Nazarene Saint go about this? The natural thing is to do what is called “networking”; that is, begin with those closest in the family, among relatives and friends. (John 1:40, 41, 45) Then work-mates and fellow school students. Paul preached wherever people gathered: schools, markets, synagogues, and in private homes. A reading of the Book of Acts will reveal the various methods used by history’s greatest missionary. In the Electronic Age there are other avenues: radio, television, and the computer Internet. The Nazarene Saint is free to “speak” in any manner which shows due regard for the spirit of Colossians 4:5, 6 and 1 Peter 3:15. This is how the “shod feet” of the Nazarene Saint are “equipped” with the “gospel of peace.” Thus, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those declaring the good news.’ (Romans 10:15; Isaiah 52:7)

#360. The Nazarene assured his disciples, ‘Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am among them.’ (Matthew 18:20) From this we can draw encouragement that if we meet with only one or two others, we have the support of Jesus Christ. It is usually not too hard to find one or two others who would enjoy a weekly Bible reading and discussion. From this may grow a group of ten or twenty, meeting regularly in homes to read and study the words of Jesus the Nazarene Principles. The first goal ought to be to learn and understand a reasonable portion of Jesus’ teachings and from these the “elementary doctrine” found in his disciples’ writings. (Hebrews 1:1; 6:1)

#361. Following in the footsteps of the Lamb is a daily process. In Matthew 16:24, 25 we find these words: ‘Then Jesus said to his disciples: “If anyone wishes to walk in my footsteps, let him deny himself,375 take up his own cross and keep on following me. Whoever cares for his own safety is lost but if a man will let himself be lost for my sake, he will find his true self.’ (RIE, KJV, NEB) Walking with “feet shod with the good news” will not always be easy. There will be some difficult times. There will be periods of the greatest joy.
375 DENY HIMSELF. Or, “renounce self” (TCN); “leave self behind” (NEB); “he must disregard himself” (GDS); “he must say ‘No’ to self” (WMS) Compare Philippians 2:7.

#362. (4) THE GREAT SHIELD OF FAITH. (WEY) One of the Devil’s greatest tools is doubt. He is powerless in the face of strong conviction for he no longer understands it. Paul describes the large Roman shield which covered the whole body. It was constructed in such a way the soldier could lay under it when scores of flaming arrows arched toward him. Note Paul’s description: ‘for with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming darts of the Evil One.’ (Ephesians 6:16 TCN) The Wicked One, Satan, will not hesitate to shower a barrage of flaming arrows in the form of doubts. These may take the form described by Paul: ‘Then we shall no longer be like infants, nor resemble mariners tossed on the waves and carried about with every changing wind of doctrine, through the trickery and the craftiness of men, experts in the craft of the presentation of lies.’ (Ephesians 4:14 TCN, WEY, PME) Or, again, ‘Be careful that nobody spoils your faith through intellectualism or high-sounding nonsense. He may set forth some human tradition, or some theory about the nature of the universe, but not the teachings of Christ.’ (Colossians 2:8 PME, NOR)

#363. One of the best ways to strengthen faith is through study of the Bible, for the more one learns about it, the more it rings of truth as God-breathed Scripture. (2 Timothy 3:15-17) The Bible is unique in that it never begins an account, “once upon a time in a land for away.” No, it provides locations and often contemporary rulers in order to prove the chronology. (Luke 3:1-4) It is a historical record which depends on its accuracy of ancient events in its presentation. Those matters which touch on science prove to be uncannily accurate. Archaeology confirms much of what the Bible describes. There are numerous books and writings on these subjects.

#364. A final matter on “faith.” The Nazarene spent three and a half years teaching and healing among “the lost sheep of the House of Israel.” Thousands observed his miracles: healing, expelling demons, feeding multitudes, and raising the dead. After full three years, there were only 120 gathered in Jerusalem at Pentecost. Paul states that Jesus appeared to about 500 disciples after his resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:6), so there were substantial eye-witnesses that a man had been raised from the dead. Specifically that Jesus the Nazarene had been raised from the dead, a man crowds had seen hung on the execution stake.

#365. Though only 120 were gathered in response to the Nazarene’s command, within a few days thousands of visiting men from all nations were baptized as new disciples of the Nazarene. Most of these had never seen Jesus’ miracles, but they reacted to the eye-witness reports of others. This was enormous proof, convincing testimonial evidence, that Jesus the Nazarene had been raised from the dead and thereafter ascended to heaven in fulfillment of Daniel 7:13. This sudden and astounding growth found its source in this Gospel, the resurrection of Christ, and not the healings and miracles of Jesus or his Apostles. This was indeed Faith. And, this Faith swept the Roman Empire and then the world, all based on the original eyewitnesses. (Luke 1:2; Acts 1:8; 2:32; 3:15; 5:32; 10:39, 41; 1 Timothy 2:2)

#366. Regarding this faith which would result from the testimony of these eyewitnesses, it is written about the glorified Nazarene: ‘But Thomas, one of the Twelve, whose name means “Twin,” was not among the disciples when Jesus appear the first time. So, the other apostles would tell him: “We have seen the Lord!” but Thomas responded: “I will not believe unless I see in his hands the nail puncture and put my fingertip into the nail puncture and place my hand into his side.” About a week later all the Nazarene’s apostles were inside, Thomas with them; and Jesus appear suddenly among them though the doors were locked. He said: “Peace to you!” Then Jesus said to Thomas: “Insert your fingertip here and see my hands and placed your hand here into my side. Stop this disbelief. Believe! To which Thomas cried: “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to Thomas: “You believe because you have seen me? Happy are those who do not see me and yet believe.”’ (John 20:24-29)

#367. We are among those millions throughout the last nineteen centuries who have come to believe because of the eyewitness report of these men. The Nazarene prayed regarding this group of millions, if not billions, I make this prayerful request, not for the Apostles only, but also regarding those who believe in me by their word.’ (John 17:20) This belief or faith is like a great shield which protects us against the temptations from the Evil One.

#368. (5) THE HELMET OF SALVATION. At 1 Thessalonians 5:8 Paul uses a similar phrase, but adds a word: ‘as a helmet the hope of salvation.’ The head, and thus the mind, is where hope resides. When one looses hope then all life begins to fail. For the Nazarene Saint there is only “one hope”. (Ephesians 4:4) This is the “heavenly calling.” (Hebrews 3:1) To the Christian there is only one kind of “salvation.” One belonging to heaven.

#369. The word “salvation” may occur over 250 times in the Bible with the word group “save(d)” another 500.The first occurrence is in the context of a prophecy at Genesis 49:18. The Psalms contain the theme most with 80 occurrences. (Isaiah 30x) The Nazarene only used the word “salvation” twice: regarding the house of little Zacchaeus (Luke 19:9) and to the Samaritan woman at the well. (John 4:22)

#370. Jesus Christ is the agent or captain of salvation. (Acts 5:37; Hebrews 2:10) His name means: “Yehowah is Salvation.” Peter declares regarding his Master: ‘And Salvation comes through no one else, for there is no other Name in the whole world, given to men, by which we must look for our Salvation.’ (Acts 4:12) The power in this “name” is seen in the Book of Acts where the “name” of Jesus the Nazarene is the center of focus over four dozen times. Just the name “Jesus” occurs 732 times in the Christian Bible making it the premier “name” in the Bible’s last 29 books.

#371. What is required to gain this salvation? First, note there is a difference between being “saved” and “salvation.” In order to be “saved” or enter the Realm of Profession (the Son’s Kingdom) faith or belief is the main criteria. This is shown throughout Paul’s epistles. However, note this experience recorded in the Book of Acts16:25-33:

#372. ‘But about the middle of the night Paul and Silas were praying and praising God with song; yes, the prisoners were hearing them. Suddenly a great earthquake occurred, so that the foundations of the jail were shaken. Moreover, all the doors were instantly opened, and the bonds of all were loosened. The jailer, being awakened out of sleep and seeing the prison doors were open, drew his sword and was about to do away with himself, imagining that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul called out with a loud voice, saying: "Do not hurt yourself, for we are all here!" So he asked for lights and leaped in and, seized with trembling, he fell down before Paul and Silas. And he brought them outside and said: "Sirs, what must I do to get saved?" They said: "Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will get saved, you and your household." And they spoke the word of (the Lord) to him together with all those in his house. And he took them along in that hour of the night and bathed their stripes; and, one and all, he and his were baptized without delay.’ (NWT ftn)

#373. We note Paul’s answer is… “Believe on the Lord Jesus.” Two things followed this “belief”: the Roman jailer’s family were instructed within a few hours in “the word of the Lord” which must have acquainted them with “the word of salvation” (Act 13:26, 47) and the primary teachings of the Nazarene. Possibly this instruction included, ‘talk about righteousness and self-control and the judgment to come.’ (Acts 24:25) Or, something similar to Paul’s speech to the Greeks. (Acts 17:22-31) And, then, baptism. This put the family on the road to salvation though they could have been called “saved”. (Acts 2:40, 47; Romans 8:24; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 15:2; 2 Corinthians 2:15; Ephesians 2:5, 8; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5)

#374. However, “salvation” is a future experience. This is shown in a half dozen texts. (Romans 13:11; Hebrews 1:14; Hebrews 9:28; Revelation 7:10; 12:10; 19:1) Peter, for one, shows this when he writes: ‘Blessed the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for by His great mercy he gave us a New Birth376 by a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead into an incorruptible, undefiled, unfading inheritance,377 reserved for you in the heavenly realms, you who are safeguarded by God’s power through faith in a salvation ready to be revealed378 in the Last Time.’379 (1 Peter 1:4, 5) This “salvation” follows the Return of Christ. (Hebrews 9:28; Revelation 7:10; Matthew 24:31)
376 NEW BIRTH. Compare John 3:3-5; 1 Peter 1:23. The Greek here is anagennesas and is rendered: begotten again, born anew, new life.
377 INHERITANCE. Note Matthew 25:34 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-52.
378 REVEALED. The Greek is apocalyphthenai and is rendered: unveiled, disclosed. Compare Luke 17:30 and Romans 8:19.
379 LAST TIME. Or, “last appointed time.” The Greek is kairo eskhato. This is similar to the kairos of the Nazarene at Mk 13.33. It is that kairous the Apostles cannot know; and, the kairos false prophets will predict and who disciples should not follow. (Luke 21:8)

#375. This hope of future salvation will realize its fulfillment at that moment of the Parousia when the dead hear the Voice (John 5.28, 29) and the living hear the “commanding call.” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17) The Christian dead will experience no passage of time while they rest in unconscious sleep and in that future moment the first sensation they will have is hearing his “voice.” The living will undergo that foretold experience following the celestial darkness and Appearing of the Son of man: they will hear, “Come on up here!” and then they will ascend, even as their Lord did, toward a celestial gathering. What a glorious hope! This hope has sustained the whole body of Christians throughout centuries. (1 Thessalonians 4:18) Truly, it is a “helmet of salvation.”

#376. What matters are necessary to make this “saved” state permanent? The Bible lists several: 1) It requires “work”. (Philippians 2:12) 2) Familiarity of the Bible is involved. (2 Timothy 3:15) 3) Obedience to the King by observing his commandments. (Hebrews 5:9; John 3:16, 21, 36) Those who do will experience that ultimate “salvation” when the Son of Man is revealed. (Luke 17:30, 34-37) They will then join that celestial chorus which sings: ‘Salvation we owe to our enthroned God and to the Lamb.’ (Revelation 7:10)

#377. (6) THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT. Paul continues listing the parts to “the complete suit of armor”: ‘(Accept) the sword of the spirit which is God’s Saying.’380 (Ephesians 6:17) Paul compares “the word of God” to a sword at Hebrews 4:12, ‘For the Word of The God is living and energetic, more cutting than any sword with a double edge, penetrating deeply, making a distinction between the (physical) soul and the spirit, to the innermost intimacies of a person’s being, a judge between thoughts and mental inclinations of the heart.’ (RHM, MOF, NOR, PME, NW) Elsewhere, Paul speaks of ‘weapons of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.’ (Or, "for offense and defense.” (2 Corinthians 6:7 NW) This “sword” may be used defensively or offensively in defending the Faith after the manner of 1 Peter 3:15.
380 SAYING. The Greek is rhema and is also translated “word, message, voice.” This rhema is related to the rhemati of Matthew 4:4 and represents all that God has spoken including His theo-pneustos (god-inspired; God-breathed) Scriptures. (2 Timothy 3:16; John 17:17)

#378. However, in the matter of temptation and protection from the Wicked One, the “sword of the spirit” is most useful in reaching the inner recesses of our mind and heart, “soul and spirit.” What our thoughts and motives are we can learn from a study of the spirit’s “sword.” This becomes a matter of humble willingness to disregard self-centered motives and justification of our opinions regarding ourselves and others. By daily meditation on the Bible, particular the words of the Nazarene (Hebrews 1:1), we can search the depths of our “soul” and “spirit.” We can identify our inclinations and motives which might be out of harmony with God’s will. (John 3:19-21)

#379. It is unfortunate so few “Christians” are only mildly acquainted with the Bible, most unable to find even simple Scriptural truths. This is so even among some of the more vocal “Christian” groups and organizations who, though encouraging: “Read the Bible, God’s Word, daily,” are ill equipped to actually “defend” their “hope.” (1 Peter 3:15) Therefore, the Nazarene Saint must make the Bible a daily friend which is read, meditated on, memorized, shared with others, and used respectfully in the defense of the Nazarene Principles.

#380. (7) PRAYER. ‘Use every kind of prayer and entreaty, and at every opportunity pray381 in the Spirit and always be on the alert to seize opportunities for doing so, with unwearied persistence and entreaty on behalf of the Saints.’ (Ephesians 6:18 GDS, WEY) Paul lists prayer as part of the “armor.” It is true it is vitally important for a soldier to remain in contact or communication with his commander. Prayer is the way the Nazarene Saint battles temptation. Jesus Christ is an example of this.
381 PRAY. The words “pray” and “prayer” occur over 200 times, first occurrence of “pray” is the woman Hannah (1 Samuel 1:10) and “prayer” Solomon. (2 Samuel 7:27)

#381. We have an example of this in the Garden of Agony (Luke 22:40-46): ‘On going out he went as customarily to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed him. Having come to the place he said to them: "Carry on prayer, that you do not enter into temptation." And he himself drew away from them about a stone's throw, and bent his knees and began to pray, saying: "Father, if you wish, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, let, not my will, but yours take place." Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. But getting into an agony he continued praying more earnestly; and his sweat became as drops of blood falling to the ground. And he rose from prayer, went to the disciples and found them slumbering from grief; and he said to them: "Why are you sleeping? Rise and carry on prayer, that you do not enter into temptation.” (NWT) Two times the Nazarene encourages his disciples to pray so they do not become tempted. Possibly he has in mind the coming “night in which no man can work” during his suffering and death. The temptation to scatter, as all the apostles did; or compromise, as Peter did, is on the Lord’s mind. Three times he counseled them to pray. They all “scattered” and at least one denied his Lord. Did they fail to pray? (Matthew 26:31-35; Mark 14:27; John 16:32)

#382. The Nazarene’s example in the Lord’s Prayer, as well as Paul’s, is to pray for others. Such prayers for others make it difficult to become judgmental and critical. Jesus encouraged praying for enemies. This action has a profound influence on attitudes toward others, even those who hate. Hate is a breeding ground for Satan. The Wicked One cannot invade that home where God resides. Do not give up in prayer not to be tempted.

#383. Two things defeat the Wicked One: prayer and meditation on spiritual words which cause us to draw close to God. (James 4:7, 8) We have the promise, ‘We are convinced that everyone who is God-born does not habitually sin, for the One God-born keeps watch so the Wicked One never touches the God-born. We know our source is The God though the entire world is in the power of the Evil One. The Son of God has come and he has given us the right kind of mind to “know” the true God and His Son, Jesus Christ.’ (1 John 5:18-20)

#384. Doubt is created by ignorance. Faith is made strong by study and experience. Greed is created by a selfish longing for more. Contentment is brought about by spirituality and learning to lead a simple life. Pride is created by natural beauty, ability, intelligence, social standing and riches. Humility triumphs where modesty resides in a deep relationship with Christ and his Father. Fear is created when one honors the glory of men above the glory of God. Fear is defeated in the triumph of faith in God’s promises. Where fear of God exists, fear of man and what he can do vanishes even in the face of the worse threats.

#385. Though temptations abound in this modern world under the control of the Wicked One it is not hopeless as long as these final words of the Seventh Principle are kept close to the heart: ‘Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.’ (Matthew 6:13)

#386. You can be victorious in your faith because of seven Nazarene Principles:

  • Your relationship with the Father
  • Your effort to sanctify the Name of God
  • Your place in the Kingdom
  • Your part in fulfilling the Divine Will for the Earth
  • Your satisfaction with Daily Bread
  • Your forgiveness of your neighbor
  • Your prayers to be rescued from the Wicked One

What do we do now?

Nazarene Commentary 2000

Mark Heber Miller

2000 All Rights Reserved