And The Violent Take It By Force
Often we use the story of Jesus driving out the money changers from the temple simply as an example of using righteous anger. Let’s come at this from a different perspective.
What does most of the world see when they look at the Body of Christ today? They see a mass of people who claim Jesus as Lord but remain unchanged in temperament, in the way they conduct their lives. There are just as many, if not more, divorces. Sexual sin abounds. Addictions, anger, divisions and selfish ambition run amuck among those who profess to be believers.
THIS is exactly why Jesus took the time to fashion a whip and open up a can of whoop ass on the money-changers at the Temple.
Think about it.
Even when Jesus dealt with the Gadarene Demoniac, a man filled with a legion of demons, he was firm but remained civil. He spoke and the demons trembled. They begged and he allowed them to enter a herd of pigs.
Why, then, did Jesus show such a violent side when dealing with the mess at the Temple?
First, we are now His temple. When we profess Jesus as Lord and give Him our lives, He takes up residence in us. But there’s a deadly line of thinking in religious circles that says at that moment the battle is over.
Far from it.
Yes, what Jesus accomplished by His life, death, burial and resurrection is all we need to stand before God clothed in righteousness. But did Joshua and the Israelites just stroll into Canaan and find it cleaned out and peaceful? Nope. There were giants in that land. There were strongholds where evil had been in charge for many generations. Even several generations later, during King David’s rise to power, they still fought giants and evil empires, right there in the middle of their Promised Land!
What does this mean for you and me, Christians who are “saved by grace” and yet have the seemingly opposite mandate to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling?”
First, when we come to worship, with Jesus in our hearts we are His portable Temple. What rises up to separate you from the simple communion with Father God that Jesus has earned for you?
Why was it a violent Jesus who hit the Temple chaos head-on? Because this evil had cloaked itself in religion. This was a subtle, deceitful, deadly poison, a stronghold of Satan barring the door to God’s house. This stronghold separated people from true worship by convincing them what they brought wasn’t “holy enough” to suffice as an offering. They had to pay more, often what they couldn’t afford, in order to meet with God. This stronghold made God look like a judgmental tyrant.
But how many of us, me included, have issues, strongholds, experiences, generational curses, habits, bitterness, self-hatred or just hateful religious beliefs that rise up and block the door when we come to God? How many of us have lived with these strongholds for so long that deep down we believe things will never change?
This is where a deeper meaning of “The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence and violent men take it by force” comes into play. There are:
- · Strongholds that need tearing down
- · Lies that need exposing.
- · Hurts requiring forgiveness
- · Bitterness that needs release
- · Addictions that still have a ring in our nose, making us slaves
- · Fears that choke out faith
It’s time, Body of Christ, for repentance that floods every hidden facet of our lives. There’s a violent battle of lordship Satan hates losing. He will hide and disguise himself in robes of religion. This is the toughest battle to fight because our pride feels like a friend. We have coddled this tyrant and then, when we accept Jesus as Savior, our pride refuses to get off the throne.
“But I can’t be oppressed by demons or evil. I’m a Christian.”
Oh yeah? What makes you shy away from God in shame? Why are there still secrets no one can know? Where does that driving ambition come from that screams at you to succeed regardless of who becomes road kill along the way? Why, even with good deeds and lots of church attendance, is there panic and a tape on perpetual replay in your head saying it’s never enough?
It’s because there are giants in the land. We live in a screwed up world. We’ve opened doors that let evil run amuck. We’re dealing with spiritual forces that know our weaknesses, and the weakness of our parents, and grandparents, and great-grandparents, etc. These are proud, evil, deceptive, experienced squatters who don’t want to lose their home.
Time to sit with Jesus and fashion a whip. Time to stride in with His authority and take back what’s been stolen—peace, sweet sleep, a sound mind, healthy family relationships, pure desires, etc. Time to be free from fear and the cancer of bitterness and blame.
Yes there is a place for righteous anger. Aim it at inner strongholds that prevent the joy of wholeness in God. Do what the truly righteous leaders of God’s people did in the Old Testament. Leave no foothold for the enemy. Cast down ALL the high places and hidden shrines where evil has a grip.
“If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven, I will forgive their sin and I will heal their land.” II Chron. 2:14
Chana is wife of one, mom to four and bestselling author of two. She brakes for old barns, chai, homemade cookies and any time someone needs to watch Pride & Prejudice.
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Here are a couple great resources on this topic:
Eyes of Honor by Jonathan Welton
Possessed Believers by David Higginbotham