We have an enemy who prowls about like a lion, looking for fresh meat.
And we are apt to forget him, which gives him a real advantage.
So let’s bring him out of the tall grass
and see how he is at work in John’s gospel.
Every time there is a miracle, he is there.
Every time Jesus says one of the great I AM’s,
he is there.
He is in the religion of the Pharisees,
the gospel that can set us free.
As Jesus says:
Let me tell you a story.
I have also learned that our enemy is always looking for the wounded, for they are easy targets. It is the wounded wildebeest that lags behind the herd that he is watching, waiting for the right moment to pounce.
After Steve died, I heard two of our daughters quarreling, accusing one another of “not being there” for their dad. I was upstairs, but I could smell that snake, who had slithered into my wounded children to deceive and divide. I ran downstairs and asked them to lie on either side of me on the bed. I wanted to overcome lies with truth, and division with grace. I hugged them and told them we all had failed in various ways, but we all had been there for Steve. I recited the ways they had! Sally had come home, given up her dream of being at the San Francisco Art Institute. Annie had sat by his side while chemo dripped into him, comforting him with her silent presence. I told them we needed to give grace to one another for we needed to stick together. We must not let the enemy turn us against one another.
The enemy did not win. My girls have remained close, and are there for one another in one another’s trials.
But oh, how we need to speak truth to our souls, for our enemy prowls about breathing lies. And so often, he tells us we are not loved by God, so we better rely on ourselves. He wants us to retreat from the truth, love, and power of the gospel to the frailty of religion. He wants to divide friends, families, and churches — and then pluck them off, one by one.
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
Monday: The Deception
2. Read John 5:1-18
A. Describe the miracle and anything that stands out to you.
B. Were the Jews rejoicing for the transformed life of this man? What was their focus?
C. Can you see the deception of the enemy here? Explain.
Tuesday: The Truth that Jesus is Equal with the Father
How we need to be continually speaking the truth to our whirlpooling souls. As Martin Lloyd Jones says, “Don’t listen to your soul, speak to it.” Use Scripture. Sing hymns. Overcome that enemy with the truth. Jesus speaks the truth right after this miracle. The Pharisees are continually accusing him of being a rule-breaker, for their god is religion. Read carefully to see the lie of the enemy in their words and then how Jesus follows this miracle with the truth.
3. Read John 5:18 again.
A. What lie are they telling and what do they want to do to Jesus?
B. How do you see the characteristics of the enemy here?
4. Read John 5:19-23
A. How does Jesus directly confront their lie with truth?
B. What particularly stands out to you from this passage and why?
Wednesday: The Gospel Truth
The Pharisees thought their religion would save them, their rule-keeping, their legalism. They were in chains but they could not see it. Every miracle in John shows the frailty of man’s ways and the power of God’s. But following the miracles come accusations. So Jesus confronts the lies with the truth. This is so relevant to us, for the default mode of our hearts is religion. When circumstances are hard, we may assume God is angry with us. When we break the rules, again, we may assume He will withdraw His love. And because we have been deceived, and feel we are not given grace, our gracelessness spreads to others. We accuse. We fail to truly forgive. Satan wins.
Satan brings deception and division.
Jesus gives us truth to overcome deception
and grace to overcome division.
5. Read John 5:24-30
A. What causes someone to pass over from death to life?
B. In verses 25, what promise does He make? (See also verses 28-29)
6. Tim Keller says he will often take a promise and then write down ways he would live if he believed this to the bottom of his toes! I’d like you to take John 17:23, particularly “You have loved them even as You loved me.” How would you live if you believed this to the bottom of your toes? Be specific. I want to see your answers!!!
Thursday: Applying Truth and Grace
7. What lies has the enemy told you about your acceptance before God, and about how God sees you?
8. How could you overcome these lies with Scripture? Be specific.
9. Read 1 Peter 3:8-12 and share anything that becomes radioactive.
10. How might you give a blessing to those who have insulted you?
11. Read 1 Peter 3:13-17
A. What stands out to you from the above and why?
B. What did the Pharisees fear? How do you see this in their remarks after the miracles?
C. How should we always speak to people according to the end of verse 15? Why?
D. How might you apply this?
I recently heard of a very wise grandmother counsel her grandson who considers himself bi-sexual and was living with another man. She said, “That is a way, Michael. But it is not the best way because it is not God’s way — and I want the best for you.”
12. How do you see truth and grace in the grandmother’s words?
Friday: Redeemer Seminar or other Option
13. If you have added an option for Lent, what have you learned?
14. What is your take-a-way and why?