Day 336

How to Avoid Spiritual Infections

Wisdom Psalm 136:13-26
New Testament 1 John 2:12-27
Old Testament Daniel 7:1-8:14


Joseph Lister, the nineteenth-century medic, is known as ‘the father of antiseptic surgery’. Lister was disturbed by the high proportion of patients who died from post-operative infections.

He became convinced that infinitesimal microbes, invisible to the naked eye, were causing the infections. He began to develop a number of antiseptic solutions with which to treat the wounds. Sure enough, the proportion of patients dying from infections decreased.

In a similar way, there are evil spiritual forces at work in our world today. They cannot be seen, but they wreak havoc in people’s lives, causing them to fall into temptation, moving evil people into positions of national power, manipulating people’s emotions, tearing them apart and destroying them.

But just as Lister’s contemporaries dismissed his theory of destructive microbes, many people today are ignorant or dismissive of spiritual realities. Yet you have the powerful spiritual ‘antiseptic’ to use against these destructive forces. It is vital that you learn to do so.


Psalm 136:13-26

  13 to him who divided the Red Sea asunder
   His love endures forever.
  14 and brought Israel through the midst of it,
   His love endures forever.
  15 but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea;
   His love endures forever.

  16 to him who led his people through the wilderness;
   His love endures forever.

  17 to him who struck down great kings,
   His love endures forever.
  18 and killed mighty kings —
   His love endures forever.
  19 Sihon king of the Amorites
   His love endures forever.
  20 and Og king of Bashan —
   His love endures forever.
  21 and gave their land as an inheritance,
   His love endures forever.
  22 an inheritance to his servant Israel.
   His love endures forever.

  23 He remembered us in our low estate
   His love endures forever.
  24 and freed us from our enemies.
   His love endures forever.
  25 He gives food to every creature.
   His love endures forever.

  26 Give thanks to the God of heaven.
   His love endures forever.


Thank God continually

Do you ever feel ‘under attack’ – from powerful temptations, overwhelming fears, major anxieties or from some other form of attack?

The ‘enemies’ in the Old Testament were often physical attacks, whereas in the New Testament they are usually spiritual attacks. But the outcome is the same – God promises to rescue you from all your enemies.

The psalmist gives thanks for what God has done. In particular, he thanks God for freeing us from our enemies (v.24):

‘God remembered us when we were down… Rescued us from the trampling boot... Takes care of everyone in time of need… Thank God who did it all!’ (vv.23–26, MSG).

The final verse summarises the psalm: ‘Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever’ (v.26).


Lord, thank you that you have rescued me through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thank you that your love endures for ever.

New Testament

1 John 2:12-27

Reasons for Writing

  12 I am writing to you, dear children,
   because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
  13 I am writing to you, fathers,
   because you know him who is from the beginning.
  I am writing to you, young men,
   because you have overcome the evil one.

  14 I write to you, dear children,
   because you know the Father.
  I write to you, fathers,
   because you know him who is from the beginning.
  I write to you, young men,
   because you are strong,
   and the word of God lives in you,
   and you have overcome the evil one.

On Not Loving the World

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

Warnings Against Denying the Son

18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.

20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

24 As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us—eternal life.

26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.


Stay close to Jesus

Pippa and I were very young when we got married. We had no money to pay for our honeymoon. A friend kindly lent us a cottage in Scotland and another friend, called Micky, lent us his car.

On the way home, we crashed the car right outside Micky’s house. We rang his doorbell. Micky could see that we were both very upset. Immediately he said, ‘Oh, don’t worry about my car, it’s only a piece of metal!’ Micky loved God and he loved people. He did not love things; he held them lightly.

Do not love the things of the world (v.15). Don’t love things and use people. Use things and love people.

Your struggle is against the enemy within – sin (v.12), the enemy around – the world (vv.16–17), and the enemy below – the devil (v.14). You have already been rescued from these enemies.

  1. The enemy within (sin)

    Jesus has rescued you from your sins: ‘I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name’ (v.12).

  2. The enemy around (the world)

    Jesus has rescued you from needing to be intimately attached to the world. John writes, ‘Practically everything that goes on in the world – wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important – has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out – but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity’ (vv.16–17, MSG).

  3. The enemy above (the devil)

    Jesus has given you the power to be free from the devil – the evil one: ‘I write to you, young people, because… the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one’ (v.14b). The victory comes from staying close to God: ‘Your fellowship with God enables you to gain a victory over the evil one’ (v.14, MSG).

John then goes on to warn his readers against false teachers who would seek to shake them from this firm foundation (vv.18–23). He encourages them to steer well clear of such false teaching. He highlights some of the marks of the false teachers, which you can use to identify them:

  1. ‘Lies’ about Jesus

    Lies and deceit are the mark of false teachers, ‘no lie comes from the truth’ (v.21). John explains that ‘whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ’ (v.22) is a ‘liar’ and an ‘antichrist’, opposed to both the Father and the Son (v.23).

  2. Leaving the fellowship

    These false teachers were individuals who ‘went out from us’, which was an indication that ‘they did not really belong to us’ (v.19). They often leave the fellowship because they leave the apostolic teaching.

  3. Leading people astray

    ‘I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray’ (v.26).

Have nothing to do with such false teachers, but instead root yourself in the truth of the gospel. ‘Stay with what you heard from the beginning, the original message. Let it sink into your life’ (v.25, MSG). If you do this, then you have nothing to fear.

You have the Holy Spirit living within you to lead and guide you; ‘the anointing you received from him remains in you’ (v.27).

Immerse yourself in Scripture (v.14), and in the fellowship of the church (v.19). This will protect and strengthen you. The key is to stay close to Jesus: ‘If what you heard from the beginning lives deeply in you, you will live deeply in both Son and Father. This is exactly what Christ promised: eternal life, real life!’ (vv.24–25, MSG).


Lord, thank you that you have rescued me from sin, the world and the devil; and anointed me with the Holy Spirit to lead and guide me.

Old Testament

Daniel 7:1-8:14

Daniel’s Dream of Four Beasts

7 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying in bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream.

2 Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. 3 Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.

4 “The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a human being, and the mind of a human was given to it.

5 “And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up and eat your fill of flesh!’

6 “After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule.

7 “After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.

8 “While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a human being and a mouth that spoke boastfully.

9 “As I looked,

  “thrones were set in place,
   and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
  His clothing was as white as snow;
   the hair of his head was white like wool.
  His throne was flaming with fire,
   and its wheels were all ablaze.
  10 A river of fire was flowing,
   coming out from before him.
  Thousands upon thousands attended him;
   ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
  The court was seated,
   and the books were opened.

11 “Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire. 12 (The other beasts had been stripped of their authority, but were allowed to live for a period of time.)

13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

The Interpretation of the Dream

15 “I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me. 16 I approached one of those standing there and asked him the meaning of all this.

“So he told me and gave me the interpretation of these things: 17 ‘The four great beasts are four kings that will rise from the earth. 18 But the holy people of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever.’

19 “Then I wanted to know the meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others and most terrifying, with its iron teeth and bronze claws—the beast that crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. 20 I also wanted to know about the ten horns on its head and about the other horn that came up, before which three of them fell—the horn that looked more imposing than the others and that had eyes and a mouth that spoke boastfully. 21 As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favour of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.

23 “He gave me this explanation: ‘The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. 24 The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. 25 He will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and the laws. The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time.

26 “‘But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. 27 Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.’

28 “This is the end of the matter. I, Daniel, was deeply troubled by my thoughts, and my face turned pale, but I kept the matter to myself.”

Daniel’s Vision of a Ram and a Goat

8 In the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign, I, Daniel, had a vision, after the one that had already appeared to me. 2 In my vision I saw myself in the citadel of Susa in the province of Elam; in the vision I was beside the Ulai Canal. 3 I looked up, and there before me was a ram with two horns, standing beside the canal, and the horns were long. One of the horns was longer than the other but grew up later. 4 I watched the ram as it charged toward the west and the north and the south. No animal could stand against it, and none could rescue from its power. It did as it pleased and became great.

5 As I was thinking about this, suddenly a goat with a prominent horn between its eyes came from the west, crossing the whole earth without touching the ground. 6 It came toward the two-horned ram I had seen standing beside the canal and charged at it in great rage. 7 I saw it attack the ram furiously, striking the ram and shattering its two horns. The ram was powerless to stand against it; the goat knocked it to the ground and trampled on it, and none could rescue the ram from its power. 8 The goat became very great, but at the height of its power the large horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven.

9 Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land. 10 It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. 11 It set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the Lord; it took away the daily sacrifice from the Lord, and his sanctuary was thrown down. 12 Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.

13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, “How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled —the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, the surrender of the sanctuary and the trampling underfoot of the Lord’s people?”

14 He said to me, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.”


Remember his victory is complete

Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. Jesus lives within you. Through him you have the victory. When it comes to understanding who Jesus is and what he came to do, this is one of the most important passages in the entire Bible.

God spoke to Daniel through dreams and visions while he was lying on his bed. ‘He wrote down the substance of his dream’ (7:1). (When God speaks, it is wise to write it down so you don’t forget.) Daniel had a vivid dream all about spiritual warfare: ‘making war on God’s holy people’ (v.21, MSG).

There was an immediate historical fulfilment of the vision and dream. The four beasts, for example, represent four kingdoms – the Babylonian Empire, the Medo-Persian Empire; the Greek Empire and the Colossus of the Roman Empire (see commentaries for details\*).

But this dream and vision had a far greater fulfilment. Daniel foresaw that there will come a time when evil is completely destroyed and eradicated from the earth (vv.11,26), and when God will reign supreme and eternally over the whole universe (v.14).

He also foresaw a great victory for the people of God: ‘the horn will be stripped of its power and totally destroyed. Then the royal rule and the authority and the glory of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the people of the Most High. Their royal rule will last forever. All other rulers will serve and obey them’ (vv.26–27, MSG).

More than that, Daniel foresaw that the victory would be won by a messianic figure in the form of a ‘son of man’ (v.13).

  ‘I saw a human form, a son of man,
   arriving in a whirl of clouds...

  He was given power to rule – all the glory of royalty.
   Everyone – race, colour, and creed – had to serve him.
   His rule would be forever, never ending.
   His kingly rule would never be replaced’ (vv.13–14, MSG).

Jesus spoke of ‘the Son of Man… coming on the clouds of heaven’ (Mark 14:62), and ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory’ (13:26; see also Matthew 24:30; 26:64).

This passage clearly had a profound impact on Jesus and his own understanding of himself. He often described himself as the ‘Son of Man’. The expression appears eighty-two times in the Gospels, all in the sayings of Jesus.

Jesus chose a title that did not have the same political overtones as some of the other Messianic titles. It spoke of a representative figure who would identify with human beings and ‘give his life as a ransom for many’ (Mark 10:45). It carried with it the idea of suffering (Daniel 7).

In his great love for you and me, Jesus, the Son of Man, suffered as a representative of the entire human race, so that you could be rescued from all the spiritual forces of evil in the world. One day, Jesus will return ‘with the clouds of heaven’ (v.13) as he promised, and victory will be complete (Matthew 24:30–31).


Lord, thank you for this amazing victory of Jesus over all the forces of evil. Thank you that all the powers of evil have been defeated and one day will be utterly destroyed.

Pippa adds

In Psalm 136, the phrase, ‘His love endures forever’, is repeated twenty-six times. Hopefully we have got the message!



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\*See, for example, Ronald S. Wallace, The Lord is King: The Message of Daniel (InterVarsity Press, 1979).

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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