Tag Archive: Gustave Dore



“For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life!” -Romans 5:10

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There were times, and are times when I act more in accordance with an enemy of God than an ally. This is of course much to my shame, but this is essentially what sin is, battling against God and those perfect decrees He has made known through all creation. Yet, through the death of Christ on the cross there is offered reconciliation even for the likes of myself. Furthermore, if that what was accomplished through His death, how much more was accomplished by His resurrection? His death was the gateway into salvation and His resurrection the completion. It could not have been accomplished unless these two things were in complete unity. As 1 Corinthians 15:17 states:

“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.”

Thus, when we come to Christ in faith, we must believe upon Him, His death, and His resurrection. For in His death we die along with our sins, but in His life we arise as a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (see my note on, “On The Old Overtaken by What is New”) tells us:

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, and the new has come!”

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Though we are made anew, this doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t contest with those things we allied to when we were enemies of God. In fact, those sins which enslaved our lives are more apt to be the ones we most struggle with in Christ. Yet, let us never tire of doing good, for despite our flaws, we are being renewed day by day (see my note concerning 2 Corinthians 4:16, “On Not Losing Heart Due to Sin”). This can be an esoteric truth to understand when one comes to Christ and it may serve the enemy to trip up those who are new to the faith. I once had a discourse with a messenger from Satan regarding this very thing.

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I had found myself losing battles but striving to do what was right in sight of the Lord. The enemy came to me saying, “Are you sure this is what you want? In me is true contentment, lack of struggle and gratification.” I am not proud to recount that it was a temptation for me. Did I really want to fight against the flesh, isn’t it much easier to go the way of sin, than of righteousness? I found myself warring against myself and I prayed for some sort of guidance and delivery from the argument. This temptation was apparently very effective, for I almost buckled under the weight of it. I kept warring back and forth between ease of gratification and the difficulty of conviction.

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Then the Lord began to answer me and the dark messenger. I found myself responding to the enemy, that even if I fail, even to the point of eternal condemnation, I shall rejoice that Christ has been victorious. By responding as such, the provocation subsided and I was astounded at the thought, to be honest, for like anyone I fear the fires of hell, but my fear was trumped by my love and praise. I began to realize, with the help of verses like the aforementioned one in Romans, that despite losing battles, the Lord is the one who won the war on our behalf. I consistently see new Christians struggle with this very thing, the associations of conviction and condemnation, but as this verse suggests, it’s not about the skirmishes that we may lose, but who we ally ourselves to. I began to see from a different point of view, that in conviction God doesn’t condemn, but rather uses it to produce better soldiers in His army.

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Illustration for John Milton's, "Paradise Lost," by Gustave Dore, c. 1866

The Lord is putting us through a Holy boot camp, that we may serve Him to the best of our ability, and that our abilities may keep improving and developing. If one who has given their life to Christ, still finds themselves asking if they truly belong to Him, they must transcend the worlds idea of worth through action. One should seek inside themselves what side they really are fighting for and against, without taking their lost battles into account, for as I mentioned before, Christ has already won the war. Ally yourself on he side of victory and push beyond what you may conceive as easy, for as the Lord showed me at the end of my discourse with the darkness, effort is put in serving the sinful nature, just as it is in surpassing it. May you surpass it and receive the blessings of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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"Christ Blessing," by Simone Martini. tempera on panel, c. 1317


“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” -2 Corinthians 4:16

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This verse is one that I personally need to repeat to myself daily. When one first comes to Christ and is covered by grace, it is often easier to accept it offers the nullification of the sins of the past than it is to understand that this very same grace covers the sins of the future. Now, I am not one who likes to consistently blame our sins on Satan directly, for to do so negates our own responsibility in sight of the Lord. Furthermore, since we are offered forgiveness in Christ, it testifies to our role in accepting and following the temptations or tricks of Satan.

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Before one comes to Christ, Satan’s deceptions center around keeping man from accepting God or coming to Him. Yet, after we are covered by grace, it seems that Satan reaches into a entirely different bag of tricks altogether. One of his favorite tools is one of condemnation for believers.

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"Lucifer in Hell," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1861 (From Dante's "Divine Comedy," Canto 34 of "Inferno")

As I have mentioned before, Satan hasn’t created anything. He merely takes God’s purpose, His great deeds, and twists, manipulates or perverts them, offering them unto man in a way God hadn’t intended. Our responsibility is apparent when we choose to follow either truth, or the lies of darkness.

As Christians, Satan may now attack us in ways that belittle Christ’s sacrifice and/or our relationship with the Lord. When we come to Jesus and are baptized in His blood, we begin to gain a conviction of sin through the Spirit and we may feel guilty or sorrowful for our disobedience in sight of God. Yet, the enemy tries to twist this conviction into condemnation, again making a mockery of what Christ accomplished on the cross.

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"The Darkness at The Crucifixion," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1866

I am no stranger to this lie, and I remain quite convinced it is a common trick used by the enemy that Christians need to be aware of and refute using scripture. This is a verse the Lord led me too early on after my conversion and one that has allowed me to overcome the stumbling block of such condemnation. This is the very same condemnation Christ took upon Himself and freed me of and it is disrespectful to the Lord to say that what He did wasn’t good enough for me, when everything about the message of reconciliation says otherwise.

Yet, let us remember that we are not given a divine “get out of jail free card,” to continue sinning. For to rely on grace as an excuse to continue sinning is to trample on the blood of Christ and take advantage of God’s Son to indulge in your own evil desires. This is disrespectful and evil as well, and I urge all Christians to not fall into that trap. The grace of God is not a pass for sin, but an opportunity to fight against it. Sin still has the ability to easily entangle, that’s why the conviction of the Spirit is so important, not to condemn, but to warn or identify that area in your life that remains a stronghold.

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Give thanks that God does not want you to take on these strongholds alone. It is important that one press on, ignore the taunts from the enemy, work on your relationship with the Lord, and pray He would mold your heart and guide you into victory. If God demanded perfection in man, then Christ wouldn’t have came. What He does demand however, is your love, faith, trust and loyalty.

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Do not lose heart if you slip and fall, for Christ’s grace is sufficient for you, just as it was for Paul. As a river’s water is renewed day by day, Christ, the River of Life, will renew your water day after day, hour after hour, and moment by moment. Though our bodies age, decay and become marred by mud, sweat and blood, the internal self is not bound to such a sentence. Rather we can develop that side of ourselves which is unseen, and gain a richer relationship and understanding of our Savior.

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Do not let conviction of sin, and even guilt, turn into condemnation, which is closely followed by despair, for this leads to death. Rather rejoice, not in your sin, but instead that the Lord by His Spirit is convicting you of it, and is therefore with you, and realize that if He couldn’t cover your sin, you wouldn’t have been granted the Spirit, a deposit guaranteeing what is to come, in the first place.

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“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” -2 Corinthians 12:7

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"The Conversion of Saul," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1865

Let us not compare our Christian walk or spiritual gifts with anyone else in the Body of Christ. Romans 12:6-8 makes it abundantly clear that we differ in gifts and those godly manifestations expressed in the body. These are from God and are granted to us by His grace. This is important to realize, for even these blessed gifts by the Lord can be used by our sinful nature to feed our pride.

The enemy loves to turn our work for the Lord into something sinful. It’s not to say the work of the Lord in and of itself is sinful, of course not, but rather that we ourselves may sin in our efforts to be in complete obedience with our Lord. We may have the gift of prophecy and we may serve, teach, encourage, give, lead, or show mercy. Yet, a hidden danger might lie in wait, for instead of acknowledging the source, we may use these gifts to feed our pride. This verse suggests that Paul himself was tempted with this as he followed obediently to complete God’s great works.

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"Apostle Paul," by Rembrandt. oil on canvas, c. 1657

Yet, God in His wisdom knew that this would hinder the great work He was doing through and with Paul. This partnership would have been spoiled if the apostle would have become conceited. So, there was given to Paul a thorn in his flesh, “a messenger of Satan,” to torment him. What this “thorn” actually was has been debated for some time. These range from a physical malformation or defect of some sort, to a sin that tormented Paul. Regardless of what it was, we know that this “thorn” kept Paul grounded with the Lord, and he eventually found that “thorn” to be a blessing, for without it Christ’s power wouldn’t be able to “rest on him” to the degree it did.

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Outside Christ, who was perfect, even the most amazing men of God in the scriptures had grievous faults, which should give us some hope. It certainly does me. Moses for example was a murderer, had anger issues, was a stutterer, and was disobedient to the Lord. Though Moses was disciplined for this by not being able to enter the promised land, God used this faulty man to do an amazing work, as He can use us, as faulty as we are, to do great works as well.

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"Moses Striking The Egyptian (detail)," Amsterdam Hagadah, c. 1695

When we come to the Lord in faith, He is not beyond bringing hardship, weakness, persecutions, “thorns,” and difficulties in our lives so that we may not loose sight of Him. If we are too prideful in our walk with the Lord and in the gifts He bestows in us, we should not be too shocked when, in His sovereignty, brings about a hardship to “ground” us.

Although I don’t like speaking for God, I do feel comfortable saying that God doesn’t want to encourage sin in your life. So if you haven’t been granted gifts to a fullness yet, perhaps if they were given unto you, the glory would go to the self and not God.

Let us pray for the understanding at only comes from the Spirit, that we may be instructed on how to avoid becoming to proud in our obedience and the gifts God pours into us. Let us pray that we will give credit where it’s due, that is, to the source of the gifts we are presented and indeed all things. Let us forever strive not to pervert that which is Holy or shift the glory of God onto the self. May He be forever praised. Amen.

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“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” -Romans 12:3

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"The Confusion of Tongues," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1865

In my earlier post concerning 2 Corinthians 10:7 entitled, “On Proper Pride and Humility,” I discussed a little about the relative aspects of pride and a few ways one can avoid this particular sin in their life. Yet, I feel some added clarification is required, that we may gain a deeper understanding of this sin, in order that it might be identified. Pride has great ability at concealing itself in ones life, by defining it with more clarity, we may illuminate it.

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Pride at its very core is a lie and deceitful. To have pride in oneself, is to take those attributes one has been granted by God and embellish upon them so they become more than they are. As Paul urges, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.” This in essence it what pride is, to think of oneself more highly than you should, or to think about a particular attribute more than you should.

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Therefore, if you stand in front of a mirror and suck it in and flex periodically, as I have been known to do, you are exercising that pride. Also, if you are a big, “Rock Band” fan and picture yourself in your minds eye playing in front of a crowd of screaming women, or men, this is also prideful. Do not use your mind and heart to exalt and exaggerate the self, for to do so is incredibly sinful. In addition, because you will fall short in this elaboration, this can lead to extreme depression, when one doesn’t match up to the conception offered up by the sinful mind.

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In atheism, a popular argument against God’s being, is that if He existed or exists than He is an extremely prideful being. Yet, when we take Paul’s definition, we find this not to be the case at all. God knows exactly who He is and cannot be anything different. Furthermore, because he is the thing-above-which-no-greater-can-be-thought, as defined perfectly in St. Anselm of Canterbury’s Ontological Argument, He is perfectly worthy of worship. In fact, due to God’s knowledge of exactly what He is, this is humility.

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"Sistine Chapel Ceiling (detail)," by Michelangelo. fresco, c. 1508-1512

Paul continues saying, “think of yourself in sober judgment.” This is what humility is when it is in, “accordance with the faith God has distributed.” This being the case then it negates the idea of God being a prideful, and thereby sinful deity. God cannot deceive Himself, for this would present an irreconcilable contradiction, for He would have to imagine Himself greater than He is, which is an impossibility when one applies the definition of God offered by Anselm.

This verse suggests something which may give some insight into what human nature consists of. We are told, again, to think of ourselves in sober judgment in accordance with our faith in Christ. Thereby, since faith plays such a roll in the sober judgement of self, the question arises if we can have any victory against pride away from Christ? I would argue we can’t for the world is based on the self and the flesh. This sin of pride is the very same that drove Adam and Eve from the Garden. In a world where even good actions are self serving and motivated by the self, this doesn’t seem like a complete absurdity.

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"Adam and Eve Expelled," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1865

To be in accordance with one’s faith, we need to realize that we are indeed imperfect and sinful. This is how Paul had such a lowly conception of himself without sinning. Paul realized how much of a sinner he was and how unworthy he was to both serve God, and be offered grace through Jesus Christ. Paul was completely humble in that he knew what he was and worked for God to serve all man and almost singlehandedly brought about the New Israel among the Gentiles.

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Remember to use discernment and do not elaborately adorn yourself with things like makeup, clothing (but please do wear clothes), jewelry, and anything that you use to magnify your being. This goes for both men and women. Yet, at the same time, we do not need to look like we just crawled out of a gutter whenever we go out in public, but we should use, “sober judgement in accordance with the faith.” Do not attempt to hide the beauty of being that goes beyond mere appearances, but be modest. God has granted you many things and because God is perfect, they are perfect. Do not magnify it by means of worldly things to either please the self or others, for this is a stumbling block to both, and sinful.

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Finally, God has distributed the Spirit to all those in the faith. I can’t address every context and every situation, for such wisdom and omniscience belongs to God alone. Pray to the Lord that He may reveal you by the Spirit of Truth, if such sin is present, and to what degree. Pray that He would help and instruct you how to walk that thin line between both pride and envy, that you may see yourself for who you are, a precious child of the Most High.

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“See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright – but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness.” -Habakkuk 2:4

I regard it as a wonderful and amazing thing that when I first began reading the scriptures and developed my relationship with the Lord, I found some humor to be included in the Bible. I knew it would take some self discipline to sit and read the scriptures, for where I was at I knew the Lord would have plenty to say to me, some of which I probably didn’t want to hear. This isn’t too uncommon and most believers can probably relate to some degree, for when one lives in the darkness, the light can hurt or blind you for a time. Yet, when I began to notice little things that made me smile or laugh, I considered it a huge step towards developing a deeper relationship with God by His Son. Not only did I believe that conceptually, but I also felt it in my spirit.


I shall quickly mention here though, that the humor in the Bible is very different from the humor we are used to in the world, for the humor is never arbitrary, to be funny for the sake of being funny, but it is meant to teach and provide insight at the same time. Also, the humor comes at the appropriate time, meaning that God may have you focus on the lesson at hand, then follow it up by something that may make you chuckle. In a same way, something might make you chuckle to get your attention and then the message might come to you.

What ever the case, its possible we all approach the scriptures individually and maybe some are convicted about reading over the word of God with more of a stone-like countenance, but I ask why? If we do laugh and there is humor in the world, then it follows that it had to originate with God as did everything (See my note on 1 John 4:19, “On Love’s First Cause”). In addition, the potential of humor in evangelism cannot be denied. It is man that perverts humor. I will take this opportunity to confess that I myself have engaged in crass forms of it from time to time, which I am sure Lord didn’t find particularly amusing. Yet, despite my struggles, to me and my walk it was a fantastic realization that God does indeed have a sense of humor.

Thus, during your devotional time, if you find something particularly amusing, don’t be afraid to laugh, for the Scriptures tell us that laughter is a manifestation of joy (Psalm 126:2). The Bible wasn’t meant to be a burden on us, as it can honestly feel like due to the spiritual battle and war against the self in particular times of conviction. Rather, we are told that the yolk is light and to take great joy in God’s word (Jeremiah 15:16). Indeed, it is difficult to read about the crucifixion, for the events are brutal, but paradoxically it’s difficult not to smile when one thinks on Christ going through all the suffering He did for us that we may be saved by what He accomplished, and then appearing to His disciples alive and victorious! Amen!

One prime example of this pure humor is Habakkuk 2:4. I had to laugh, not because of the enemies of God’s existence and their sinful being is funny, but because what the Lord brought to my mind during the reading of this verse. An image of a “puffed-up” cat. Indeed, the very fact the Bible can be said to contain the imagery that is suggested by “puffed-up” is really kind of funny. Yet, despite the humor I find too an important message. Though in worldly humor we can make a person laugh just for the sake of pure entertainment, hardly ever can this humor actually teach us something important, besides maybe revealing the depths of sin by what kind of humor we may or may not indulge in.

This isn’t the case with God, when something strikes us as humorous when reading the word, one also needs to remember to reflect on the meaning and purpose of that particular which brought us to laughter. Again, this this verse is a great example and tells us a few things.

First, that the enemies of God are often bloated with pride. When we look at at the animal kingdom, we see creatures that extend their forms as a whole for a variety a reasons. We see a reliance based on appearance. What I mean is this, a cat does it when he is threatened in order to make himself look bigger than he really is. Thus, it is self manipulation, the cat “knowing” he may be perceived as weak by what he considers a threat. Thereby, the cat attempts to manipulate its appearance and alter how that aforementioned threat might perceive of it. Of course, I will point out a cat is sinless in its display.

We know this is true in many aspects of life. Think about some of the bullies you may have known, or maybe you were even one at one time in the past, or even now (I will pray for you).

Such people are usually putting on a display for any variety of reasons and though the cat does it for protection, such men do it because egoism, pride, or for the desire to be prideful in some thing, even if it means puffing themselves up to torture others, for they feel the more people they have underfoot, the greater they are. This consequently adds to their pride. The sad thing is we all tend to fall for the “puffed up” guise.

Secondly, those who act in like manner are not virtuous people. They rise up against anything that challenges them or threatens their pride, which by the way, is extremely fragile. They indulge in all glorifications of the senses and forgo the spirit, mind and God, for such a person cannot be hindered by such ridiculousness. They are threatened by those who have security and contentment, and will ruthlessly mock or attack those who have acquired it, for it is what they truly desire, but they remain bitter that through their comfortable means they cannot attain it, and indeed mock all other system of intermediate steps to acquire it. It is never based on rationality, but more so rather on emotion and not based on strength, but rather frailty. At times its not just explicit hate, but its expression can take on the appearance of something much more innocent and thereby more deceptive, like humor.

Their wretched minds are dark, and their actions sinful. They will attack those who even have the nerve to offer a better way of life. We see this not only in man, but these traits are even evident in Satan. Thus, if a man is puffed up to a large degree like I have described, the person is most likely following in the trail of darkness rather than being led by the light. The perversions that Satan originated, become the person’s own, represented in his spirit, thoughts and actions. He lives according to the self, not respecting anything, but demanding respect from everybody. This can get to such an extent that he will try to silence his mind and spirit to focus completely on the flesh.

From "Paradise Lost," by John Milton. "Satan Lands Atop Mt. Niphates, Where He Laments The Loss of Heaven," by Gustave Doré, c. 1866

The antithesis however, is that the upright, the secure, the content, and the joyful, will live in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of pushing any differing person away as the enemy does, the faithful will attract the lost to themselves, and more importantly, by the Lord who shines bright within those that are righteous in God’s sight.

The books of the prophets are amazing in that, not only do they give us insights of how we are to live today concerning our own lives, but also contain prophecy about the the Christ. Habakkuk, though a minor prophet by scholarly classification, is no different from his “major” counterparts, other than slightly harder to spell.

The Prophet Habakkuk

We see that the phrase, “but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness,” not only suggests tests how we are to live to be granted righteousness, but also that we will need to be faithful to something greater than the self, namely the Lord Jesus Christ, who was still to come in Habakkuk’s time. Also, because it is in a singular context, we see that it is pointing to a savior who by His faithfulness, will be made righteous and offer that same righteousness to all that would approach Him in humble faith. Not only was this verse fulfilled in Christ, it has been fulfilled within us at the present, that is in The Body of Christ, and will be fulfilled in the future when the enemy is brought low and deflated by the power, authority, and righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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