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Find Freedom by Overcoming the Adversary!

Craig L. Ghislin, C.S., Glen Ellyn (Bartlett), IL
Posted Sunday, May 25th, 2008

Find Freedom by Overcoming the Adversary!
Lesson Application Ideas for: "Ancient and Modern Necromancy, alias Mesmerism and Hypnotism Denounced" for May 26-June 1, 2008
by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. of Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Editor's Note: The following application ideas for this week and Possible Sunday School Topics that follow are offered primarily to help CEDARS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and demonstrate the great value of daily study and application of the Christian Science Bible lessons year-round, not just at camp! You can sign up to have them emailed to you free -- in English by Monday or Tuesday each week, or by each Wednesday you can get a FREE TRANSLATION in French from Pascal, in Spanish from Ana or in German by Gabriele. JUST SIGN UP at www.cedarscamps.org/newsletters.

This week's Lesson is all about overcoming the adversary.
There are a variety of words used to denote the adversary: Satan, Devil, opponent, and enemy to name a few. Basically, an adversary could be anything that opposes or works against you with an evil intent. This Lesson exposes the adversary in all its various forms as nothing more than what Mrs. Eddy calls, "animal magnetism." We'll see that the adversary is neither personal nor real. It's just a belief.

In the Golden Text Solomon, the new king, is giving thanks for his freedom to build the temple. His father, King David's reign was filled with turmoil and there were enemies all around. But now, the nation is at peace. The New English Bible translates the citation: "But now on every side the Lord my God has given me peace; there is no one to oppose me, I fear no attack." That's the point of view we'd all love to have -no one to oppose us and no fear of being attacked.

The psalmist in the Responsive Reading is in quite a different frame of mind. Psalm 109 is considered by scholars to follow the format of an "individual lament." In ancient times, when a problem was too difficult for the elders of the village, or the courts to handle, petitioners would bring their case to the temple for "adjudication by God Himself" (Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary on the Bible). Sometimes, the problem might include "malicious gossip or the lying accusations of a whispering campaign against a prominent citizen" (Ibid.).

In the presence of the priests, the one who sought sanctuary stated his case. The language used usually portrayed his predicament in the worst possible light. The petitioner claimed to be a victim being hunted, entangled, drowning, or being attacked savagely and in the grip of death. He then declared his innocence of the charges and appealed to God to judge him. His defense often would include denouncing his enemies "in vigorous terms" and heaping "terrible curses upon them" (as in citation B5). This was due to the fact that in the pagan cultures "the enemies were often sorcerers attempting to destroy the sufferer by magical means. [the petitioner] sought to turn the evil back upon its perpetrators" (Ibid.).

After presenting his case, the petitioner would spend the night in the temple waiting for a sign of comfort and encouragement. The morning was regarded as the time for God to reveal his salvation. After receiving his answer in the form of a dream or orally by a priest or prophet, he made an offering, and left assured that God was good and he was safe.

This Psalm clearly follows the pattern described above. How similar it is to how we feel today when it appears that all things are working against us. Happily, just as the psalmist ended up assured that God would vindicate him, we too, can turn to God for righteous judgment and know that all the opposing factors of evil have no power to harm us.

Section 1: Do You Believe in Magic?
It's interesting to note that traditionally the method in the Psalm 109 included a rebuke of evil magic. Most definitions of magic include producing effects through the use of supernatural powers or enchantments as in sorcery, enchantment, or deception. Though the sources of the magical effects are sometimes mysterious, they are certainly not the result of trusting in God. The psalmist has no faith in magic (B1). He has heard the oracle more than once-"Not through dependence upon men but through trust in God can men find help. He alone in the final analysis has power" (The Abingdon Bible Commentary). God told Moses to tell Aaron to cast down his rod before Pharaoh and it would become a serpent (B3). This was supposed impress Pharaoh. In the desert, the same sign certainly had a profound effect on Moses. But Pharaoh instead called upon his magicians to imitate what he thought was a simple trick. They all did so. But Aaron's rod swallowed up the others. Dummelow writes, "Belief in magic was universal in Egypt and had a most potent influence in every department of thought and conduct." The power of God was proved to be something beyond magic. This demonstration of God's power over material illusion was the opening volley against the claim of any power that would oppose God. Micah prophesies that all "enemies shall be cut off" (B4). Can you think of anything in our time that holds the place magic did for the Egyptians?

Science and Health opens with Mrs. Eddy's definition of adversary. "An adversary is one who opposes, denies, disputes, not one who constructs and sustains reality and Truth" (S1). The physical senses, not being cognizant of spiritual truth, fall into the category of an adversary. Nothing material is true. Just as the magicians of Egypt tried to claim superiority over spiritual power, so today, "human belief has sought out many inventions" (S2). Whereas a discovery is the finding of something that has always existed, an invention is "the contrivance of that which did not before exist" (Student's Reference Dictionary). Nothing can be added to what God has already done, but humans keep trying to come up with something. The list of these inventions claiming to have power over mankind is pretty long. Think about what "inventions" you might put on the list. Mrs. Eddy explained that the only reality is that which comes from God. Everything else is an illusion. It's no more real than magic (S3, 4). As mentioned earlier, Mrs. Eddy terms these illusive beliefs "animal magnetism." Moses challenged this adversary with the power of God. The children of Israel left the magical beliefs of Egypt for the understanding of the omnipotence of God (S5). "In Science, you can have no power opposed to God..." (S6). Nothing can take God's place. Goodness is power. Anything else is a mockery of true power that "falls, never to rise."

Section 2: Feeling Outnumbered?
In citation B5 the psalmist "implores God to bring his enemies to such shame and confusion that he will be completely vindicated in the eyes of all about" (Abingdon). This might have been Elijah's prayer as he alone faced four hundred and fifty of Baal's prophets (B6). Though outnumbered, Elijah questions his adversaries, "How long halt ye between two opinions?" Dummelow points out that Elijah is admonishing the Baal worshipers to stop pursuing a "vacillating and irregular course, serving Baal a one time and at another time the Lord...They were reluctant to break with either form of worship." Baal's prophets spend all morning doing a chaotic dance around the altar with no result. Elijah calls the people to him and takes every practical step to preclude the possibility of remaining doubt as to the outcome. Not only is the sacrifice consumed but the whole altar and the water in the trench. The people "fell on their faces" and acknowledged the supremacy of God.

The worldly majority generally still believes that there are two major powers, good and evil, fighting it out on equal footing. Mrs. Eddy called this belief "animal magnetism." Sometimes we are tempted to think of animal magnetism as the Christian Science version of Satan or Devil. While, as a belief, animal magnetism is certainly adversarial to spiritual reality, we need to be sure not to think of it as an intelligent personified evil that is in combat with God. There is no intelligent evil, and animal magnetism is no more than the belief that there could be two powers. The only reality is God and His idea-man. Evil is a powerless lie (S7). It looks like the world is fighting it out, vacillating between good and evil just as the prophets of Baal were. Mrs. Eddy asks her readers to consider what is influencing them (S8). What influences your thought? Are you tempted to go along with the crowd? There are all sorts of "semi-metaphysical systems" vying for our attention. Our Leader notes that these systems "savor of Pandemonium" (S9). Pandemonium is "the High Capital of Satan and his peers" in John Milton's Paradise Lost. In short, it's a gathering place for demons. So why would we allow our thoughts to be confused and cluttered by these unholy imaginings? The erratic confusion exhibited by the prophets of Baal foreshadows the turmoil brought on by the belief that material laws have precedence over, or equality with, the power of God (S10). "The battle-axe of Science" wipes out the confused belief that evil and good have anything to do with each other (S11).

Section 3: Disease Has No Part in God's Government
One of the most prevalent ways the world imagines good and evil to work together is that somehow, God brings or allows sickness either to punish, test, or to teach us a lesson. Remember that Mrs. Eddy refers to this as an "ancient belief" (S11). Jeremiah prophesies that God "will restore health unto thee, and...heal thee of thy wounds" (B7). The story of Job is often sited as proof that Satan exists and that God knows evil and allows it. But modern concepts of a personified devil named Satan with horns, a tail, and a pitchfork are based again on illustrations found in Milton's Paradise Lost. The concepts are very similar to the Roman and Greek myths that include a pantheon of gods-good and bad-fighting for the loyalty of mortals. In Job, Satan means nothing more than "the adversary." It represents "a spirit whose mission it is to try and test the lives of men and the motives of their acts" (Dummelow). Here the adversary or the opposing thought is: "perhaps man wouldn't be so loyal to God if he suffered great loss of property, family, and health." In other words, does man love God only because things are going well for him? Not a personal Satan, but the contemplation of this devilish suggestion is responsible for it's devastating effects. Job was in such bad shape that his friends didn't even recognize him (B9). Though they felt God must surely have had a hand in Job's trials, Job maintained his innocence. He couldn't reconcile his discomfort with an all-loving God. Job eventually, finds his answer not through hearsay, but through first-hand experience with God-"now mine eye seeth thee" (B11). Some scholars feel that Job's story indicates that man finds God during his darkest hours rather than during times of comfort and security. First Peter (B12) reminds us that our real adversary is the accuser filling us with questions and doubts about God. We need to be clear headed and alert in order to withstand it.

Mrs. Eddy writes, "Unless an ill is rightly met and fairly overcome by Truth, the ill is never conquered" (S15). In order to be "rightly met" we need to see through the adversary's methods. Animal magnetism first tries to mesmerize us into thinking sickness is a real physical condition. Next, it has us believing we heal physical conditions through prayer. That sounds good on the surface, but Mrs. Eddy calls that "quackery" (S&H 395:21). We must awaken to see that our condition is never physical to begin with. It's always mental. Finally, mesmerism gets us to go to work searching out error in thought that caused the sickness. This approach still leaves the false impression that God is punishing us for something-similar to the approach Job's friends took. But God has no part in evil at all. In citation S13 Mrs. Eddy uses the word "theodicy." Theodicy means "the vindication of the justice of God in regard to the natural and moral evil that exists under his government" (SRD). In other words, it's an attempt to justify why God permits evil to take place. But the theodicy of Christian Science never includes evil as a necessary part of God's government. Only divine action is right. All so-called evil action is wrong. God's government includes no disease, and there is nothing beyond God's control (S14). In fact, the only way to overcome sin, sickness, or death is through the healing power of God (S15). We heal by realizing that man is never sick in the first place. The belief that a sick man needs to be healed is part of the lie. The adversary, or evil, is telling a lie to itself and believing it. It's a closed system. Healing results from realizing that the whole system is false-both the belief and the believer (S17).

Section 4: Keep Error in Its Place-Behind You!
The Greek word translated as "tempted" has a slightly different connotation than we give to it today. While we usually think of temptation as a suggestion to sin or commit an immoral act, the word actually means to be tried by trial or experience. It includes the hard experiences in life that put our convictions to the test. Jesus was being tempted (B14) to "set aside his complete obedience to the will and purpose of God by adopting easier means to the fulfillment of his mission" (Interpreter's). Jesus could have conformed to the prevailing Messianic ideals and expectations of the time, but he didn't. Even though the tempter quoted scripture to influence him, Jesus knew the difference between the liar's voice and the Word of God. Have you ever been tempted to utilize methods that do not fully rely on God? Sometimes they might seem fairly practical and even wise given the circumstances. Adopting means of popular thought would deter our spiritual growth. Jesus rebuked this adversarial notion by putting it behind him. The Bible promises that when we are tested, we don't need to worry about what our response will be. God "will give you a mouth and such utterance and wisdom that all your foes combined will be unable to stand against or refute" (Amplified Bible).

Though some feel that the account of the temptations is biblical proof that there exists a real devil, most feel that Jesus' temptation was not an outward, but an inward experience. Mrs. Eddy sees it as no more than another example of the adversary (S18, 19). It is simply a liar telling a lie. Jesus put the lie behind him. He didn't let it stand in his way (S20). Jesus didn't contemplate the possibility of error. He rebuked it. The only thing that moved him was the Word of God (S21). Our Leader tells us that we cannot demonstrate Christianity if we believe that there is a personal devil (S22). Strangely enough, just as the adversary tried to use scripture to mislead Jesus, it tries to trick us into thinking this story is biblical proof of a personal devil. Conceding belief in a personal devil would be to adopt a worldly position. It will do us no good at all. We need nothing more than the wisdom of the "inspired Word of the Bible" (S23). Mrs. Eddy adds that it is our "sufficient guide to eternal life." That means it's enough and equal to the end proposed (SRD). Why fall for anything else?

Section 5: Consistent Rejection of the Adversary Brings Freedom
Another way the adversary tries to oppose us is to threaten our freedom. The psalmist follows the good, but his enemies are after him (B16). The adversary renders "evil for good" and tries to stop the activity of good. "The prison...is a common symbol for distress...narrow and confining and the root meaning of salvation is ‘to make wide'" (Interpreter's). Abingdon notes that Paul and Silas didn't attract much attention until Paul had cast a "spirit of divination" out of a woman whose powers had been a source of income to her masters (B18). When she lost her powers, they went after Paul and Silas who were promptly beaten and cast into prison. But they weren't afraid. They counted it as a joy to suffer for their cause. They prayed and sang songs of praise to God. The passage indicates that the other prisoners were listening too. An earthquake suddenly shook the prison to it's foundations and they were free.

Even though the slave girl was correct in her declarations about Paul and Silas, Paul didn't accept them because her declarations were not from God. They were an involuntary action-a form of animal magnetism (S24). She was actually in bondage herself and Paul's rejection of evil's claim to voice the truth freed her. The violent backlash of this was also the adversary's work (S25). Paul and Silas could have accepted their imprisonment, but they knew the power of God was able to free them. Today, humanity continues in bondage to suffering due to ignorance of divine power (S26). Paul and Silas were imprisoned as Jews for throwing the city into confusion and teaching customs unlawful to the Romans. The adversary would attempt to hinder the practice of Christian Science by invoking a similar argument. We have the great fortune of having the Science of the Christ at our disposal. It frees us from sin, disease, and death. The "great heart of Christ" eliminates the adversary-or the accuser (S27). To the degree we comprehend our God-given freedom we can find ourselves able to declare in Solomon's words, "there is no one to oppose me, I fear no attack." Through the acknowledgement of the allness of God, the adversary is exposed as a fraud, and we are free.
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Camp Director's Note: This sharing is the latest in an ongoing, seven-year series of CedarS Bible Lesson "mets" (metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians. (To keep the flow of the practitioner's ideas intact and to allow for more selective printing the "Possible Sunday School Topics" and Homework options come on a following page or subsequent email.) This weekly email (and website posting) is intended to encourage further study and application of ideas in the lesson and to invigorate Sunday School participation by students and by the budding teachers on our staff. Originally sent JUST to campers, staff and CedarS families who wanted to continue at home and in their home Sunday Schools the same type of focused Lesson study, application and inspiration they had felt at camp, CedarS lesson "mets" are in no way meant to be definitive or conclusive or in any way a substitute for daily study of the lesson. The thoughts presented are the inspiration of the moment and are offered to give a bit more dimension, background and new angles on daily applicability to some of the ideas and passages being studied. The weekly Bible Lessons are copyrighted by the Christian Science Publishing Society and are printed in the Christian Science Quarterly as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms or online at eBibleLesson.com or myBibleLesson.com. The citations referenced (i.e. B1 and S28) from this week's Bible Lesson in the "met" (metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the King James Version of the Bible (B1-24) and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. (S1-30) The Bible and Science and Health are the ordained pastor of the Churches of Christ, Scientist. The Bible Lesson is the sermon read in Christian Science church services throughout the world. The Lesson-Sermon speaks individually through the Christ to everyone, providing unique insights and tailor-made applications for each one. We are glad you requested this metaphysical sharing and hope that you find some of these ideas helpful in your daily spiritual journey, in your deeper digging in the books and in closer bonding with your Comforter and Pastor. Have fun unwrapping, cherishing and sharing your special, spiritual gift(s)!
Enjoy!
Warren Huff, Camp Director, director@cedarscamps.org (636) 394-6162
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Possible Sunday School Topics by Merrill Boudreaux
for the lesson: "Ancient and Modern Necromancy, Alias Mesmerism and Hypnotism, Denounced"

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T. - Golden Text and Responsive Reading] - Where is God? (You may substitute any other synonym or term for God)
Where is God in your life? How big is God? (You may substitute any other synonym or term for God) How big is God in your life?
How do artists depict saints in early paintings? (With a halo of light around their head. If the person was significantly saintly the painter portrayed them with a halo of light surrounding their whole body.) Do you know what this is called? An aura. You also have one of these auras of prayer surrounding you. What is its purpose? Find your answer in the Responsive Readings, Psalms 109:21.
Does Mrs. Eddy have a chapter titled "Animal Magnetism" in Science and Health? You may be surprised that the answer is, "No." What is the chapter really called? When you unmask something or remove the mask from it what is the benefit? Why would an individual wear a mask? Why would you want to remove the mask? What is an alias? Why would one use an alias?


Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T. - Section 1] - Please name some illusions or tricks with you may be familiar: Railroad tracks that seem to converge in the distance, Mirages, The setting sun - which makes the sun appear to move, Objects when moving away from us appear to get smaller. How do you know these are illusions? See S&H 273:4-7.
Have you ever seen the wind? Or, did you see the effect of the wind?
Who controls the wind? See S&H 192:17.


Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T. - Section 2] -
In both sections 1 and 2 are Bible stories that may seem "miraculous" or difficult to believe. What aspects of these stories are difficult for you to believe? These stories happened so long ago that maybe we should just ignore them, right? Who has the power in each of these stories? Who was God acting through in each of these stories? Describe how big is God's truth that aided Moses and Elijah. Can this big truth aid you also?

 

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T. - Section 3] - Does God send bad things to good people? Was Job a good man? What was it that protected and saved Job? Imagine that you are Job. Role play the kind of conversation you might have with God. Role play the kind of conversation you might have with Job if you were some of Job's friends. Now role play the kind of conversation you might have with Job if you were God.


Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T. - Section 4
] - In each of the sections 1-4 there is a different kind of adversary. Define "adversary." List the adversaries from each section. Now list three statements of truth to counter each adversary you listed.


Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T. - Section 5] -
P.U.S.H. Possible Uplifting Sunday School Homework Make two charts.
On one list words from all sections of the lesson that would define a person as a slave. On the other chart list all the words from the lesson that would define a person as free. When in class compare the two lists. Are there any words that are opposites of one another? Which of the opposing words in the word pairs are more powerful? Which of the words can you use to uplift your thought when unmasking an adversary so the true child of God is revealed?

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Go to www.myBibleLesson.com to check out this visually-oriented and very helpful study resource for the weekly Christian Science Bible Lesson. It's being produced by The Christian Science Publishing Society. What a great auxiliary to lesson study - and to reading beyond citation markers using the handsome new student books now in Reading Rooms. MyBibleLesson contains word definitions, Bible background Notes, fun, topical cartoons, timelines and translations, plus many healing ideas to use. Why not check out this vehicle to help bring new meaning and life to each beloved Bible lesson and so bless the youthful thinker and Sunday School student (and teacher) in us all!

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CEDARS 2008 theme: "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the leper, cast out demons: Freely you have received, freely give!" (Matthew 10:8)

 

 



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