Let me ask you a question, and I’d like you to be honest with yourself about the answer…
What percent of the decisions you make on a daily basis are made out of fear?
If we’re honest, I think we’d all say the answer is a lot more than we’d like it to be. That’s because fear has a way of gripping us like no other emotion can. And it haunts us incessantly… prompting us to replay the worst-case scenarios over and over again in our minds.
But I love the acrostic the late Zig Ziglar gave us: F-E-A-R: False Evidence Appearing Real.
You see, fear, anxiety, and worry are results of listening to lies from the enemy. And Satan is a really good liar. But when we instead focus on God’s promises to take care of us, we begin to hear those lies for what they are, and the way we think about and handle our fears begins to change.
It’s interesting that the word worry comes from the old Anglo-Saxon word würgen, which means to “strangulate.” It paints a picture of a wolf at the throat of its prey.
Worry, anxiety, and fear will choke the life out of you. They cause you to assume a burden that God never intended for you to carry… and that burden can hinder you from accomplishing God’s work in your life.
But I love the promise found in 2 Timothy 1:7, “God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power.”
Maybe today, you’re tempted to run from something wonderful God has for you because of fear. Or perhaps you’re overwhelmed with worry about the current events of the world. Let me assure you, those feelings aren’t from God — they’re from Satan. And as a believer, you have the Holy Spirit power within you to defeat them for good!
There are so many wonderful, wonderful instructions given to us in the letters of the New Testament that comprise the teaching that relates to our Christian living and Christian ministry that it’s good to go back and be refreshed in these things.
Turn in your Bible, if you will, to chapter 6 in Ephesians. A very familiar portion of Scripture is the main focus of this chapter. It actually begins in verse 10 and it runs all the way down through verse 20. It is about the Christian’s war or, if you will, the armor of the believer.
This is really the end of the epistle and needs to be seen a little bit in its context. This particular epistle follows a pattern that many of the epistles of the New Testament follow, particularly those written by Paul, in that the opening chapters – namely, in this case chapters 1, 2, and 3 – identify our position in Christ. They are doctrinal. They define for us what it means to be a Christian.
For example, back in chapter 1, it means that we have been blessed with all spiritual blessing or every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. And then Paul unpacks all of that, starting in verse 4, in one long sentence running down to verse 14, “We have been chosen before the foundation of the world to be made holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us, so that we have been adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for the purpose that we might be to the praise of His glory.” We have redemption, verse 7, through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of His grace and that grace He lavished on us.
Furthermore, He has given us revelation in that all wisdom and insight has been made known to us. And that involves the mystery of His will, that which was formerly hidden and is now revealed. We are able through the revelation of Scripture to understand not only the past and the present but the fullness of the times, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in heaven and things upon the earth. We have obtained an eternal inheritance to which we have been predestined.
We have been sealed through that eternal redemption with the Holy Spirit of promise in verse 13, who is given as a guarantee and engagement ring, a down payment, the Greek word arrabōn, sealing our final inheritance and our final redemption as God’s own possession to the praise of His glory.
So Paul starts out with this long staggering list of benefits and blessings that belong to us because we belong to Christ. And Paul prays then that we would understand all of this, verse 18, the eyes of our heart being enlightened to know what is the hope of His calling and the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, what is the surpassing power that has been extended to us, the working of His might, the very power that raised Jesus from the dead.
And then he says that this Christ, who is our Christ, having been raised from the dead, is seated at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the age to come. And everything has been put in subjection under His feet because He’s the head of everything.
Keep that in mind because all rule, authority, power, and dominion, words like that come back again in chapter 6. And there, clearly, they refer to demonic powers. So here in chapter 1, we are told – and it’s very important – that among the benefits and the blessings of belonging to Christ is that He is not only the head of all things, not only the head of all things given to the church as head of the church, but He is over all demonic powers in this age in the one to come. So we are told that the One who is the head of the church, the One who is our Lord and our Redeemer, our Savior, is also the One who has total power over the forces of hell.
Chapter 2 further describes this wonderful gift of salvation by reminding us that we were dead in trespasses and sins but we have been made alive, verse 5. We have been made alive together with Christ by grace, raised up with Him, seated with Him in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, with a view that in the ages to come, He’s going to show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
And this is how these first three chapters go. All of the blessings are defined. We are His workmanship, verse 10. We have been created in Christ Jesus for good works. The result of our regeneration is that we do those works that please God, which He prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. We used to be excluded from the purposes and plans of God, now we are included, along with Jew and Gentile, and that’s how chapter 2 ends.
Even when you come into chapter 3, Paul talks about the wonderful privilege that has been his to be a steward and to be a minister. Even though he’s the least of all saints, as he says in verse 8, in order that he might bring to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things. That is, he has been able to be the vehicle by which God reveals the glorious truths of the New Testament, which define the infinite and eternal blessings that are ours in Christ.
And so these chapters are all about what belongs to us because we belong to Christ. We have been granted from the riches of His glory everything we need. And the third chapter then closes with this great doxology, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all we can ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” So there is this doxology, this outburst of praise in response to all that is ours in Christ.
And then in a very typical fashion, there is a “therefore” in chapter 4, and that is to say we now move from the doctrinal section to the practical section. We now move to the duty section, you might say. Since all of this is true, since God has given you all of this, this is your position in Christ, this is all that belongs to you because you belong to Christ, here is what is then required of you. “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” That sums it up.
And then he begins to unpack all of that. “We are to walk in a way that is consistent with our calling, that means humility, gentleness, patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, diligently preserving the unity of the Spirit,” which is then further elucidated in the subsequent verses. “We have been grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. We are to make sure that we use that grace. We are to submit ourselves to those who are evangelists and teaching pastors in the church who are there for our edification, to build us into mature people, a body fitly brought together – verse 16 – held together by that which every joint supplies according to the proper working of each individual part.”
So here we come into the body now and we have a function, and a responsibility and a ministry for which we’re gifted and given the grace that is required for that function. We are to walk differently than we used to walk, no longer walking like the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their minds, no longer being callous, sensual, practicing impurity with greediness. We didn’t learn Jesus Christ, verse 20 says, in this way.
In reference to your former manner of life, verse 22, lay aside that old self. We are called to a new kind of life. In order to live that life, verse 23 says, we have to have our minds renewed. And that’s where the Word of God comes into the picture and thereby we put on the new self, created in righteousness and holiness. We set aside falsehood, we speak truth, each one of us with his neighbor. We’re angry but we don’t sin – in other words, only a righteous anger, don’t let the sun go down on our anger.
And then this: “And don’t give the devil an opportunity.” Don’t give the devil an opportunity. The assumption here is that any of these kinds of behaviors give the devil an opportunity, including the ones that come after this. Don’t steal anymore, but work, performing with your own hands what is good, not only that you might provide what you need, but you might have something to share with the one who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, that only such a word is as good for edification according to the need of the moment that it may give grace to those who hear.
Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit. That is, don’t do anything that would bring grief to the Holy Spirit. Any unholy act would do that. Get rid of all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander. Let it be put away from you, including all evil – that’s the word malice, evil. On the positive side, be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has forgiven you. You come into chapter 5 and he says, “Be imitators of God, walk in love as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us.”
Don’t let immorality or impurity or greed be named among you. Let there be no filthiness or silly talk, coarse jesting, obscenity. It just keeps going like this. This is how you live because of what God has done for you. You were formerly darkness, verse 8, now you’re light. Walk as children of light. Verse 15, be careful how you walk, not as unwise but as wise. Make the most of your time. Don’t be foolish. Understand what the will of the Lord is. Don’t get drunk. That’s dissipation.
Be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another in psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, singing, making melody with your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks for all things in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Be subject to one another in the fear of God. And he tells wives how they’re to act and husbands how they’re to act. And he tells parents how they’re to act and children how they’re to act and slaves how they’re to act and slave owners how they’re to act.
Coming down into chapter 6, verse 9, then, you have all of this accumulation of the details of living out our Christian life. Standards for unity, standards for life in the church, for ministry, principles for purity, for fellowship, for witness. What the Spirit-filled life looks like, a life controlled by the Spirit of God, if you will, under the dominating impulse of the Word of God. The great theme here is to walk the worthy walk.
In the metaphor of walking, there is a certain benign reality. Walking is not difficult. Walking is the easiest thing we do. And one might assume that because this is the metaphor that is used that it somehow means this is going to be a stroll for us. Well, the reason the New Testament writers like to use the word “walk” is because it is a constant pattern. But it is not to make us assume that this is some kind of a stroll that’s going to be easy. I think we know better than that. And we certainly know better than that when we come to verse 10 in chapter 6.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. The assumption here is it will not be easy. It’s going to take strength. It’s going to take strength that you don’t have. That’s why it says be strong in the Lord and repeats it in the strength of His might. This is not an easy walk, it is a walk in the sense that it is repetitive, that it is constant, that it is not highs and lows, fast and slow, it is a pace. You’re to live a godly, holy pace. But it is not easy.
You have a lot of things working against you. First of all, the flesh. Your fallenness is a problem, as is mine. We all face the same reality that we’re living in an unredeemed body. There are in this body impulses that go along with being human that are not yet redeemed. And that is what Paul calls the flesh in Romans 7, and it wars against the spirit. There is a battle going on in every believer between the spirit, which is that new creation, and the flesh, which is what’s left of that old man. And there is a war going on so that Paul says, “I don’t do what I want to do and I do what I ought not to do.” And he says, “It’s a wretched man that I am.” He describes it like having a corpse tied to your body that you can’t get rid of.
In Galatians chapter 5, which is another helpful passage along this line, we learn more about this conflict. In Galatians 5:17, “The flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, that is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit against the flesh. These are in opposition to one another so that you may not do the things that you please.” The reality of living our Christian life of walking the way we ought to walk, walking a worthy walk, is that it is not easy. It is not easy because of the opposition of our unredeemed flesh.
What are the elements of this flesh? Verse 19 of Galatians 5, “The deeds of the flesh are these: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing and things like these.” So this is not an exhaustive list, this is merely a representative list. Those are the kind of things that are done by people who have no part in the kingdom, verse 21. The people who continually practice those things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
On the other hand, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things, there is no law. And so therein lies the battle. The Sprit drives us in the direction of that which is holy, the flesh drives us in the direction of that which is unholy, and that is the battle. So the battle is not outside of us; in this sense, the battle is inside of us. It is inside of us.
It doesn’t do you any good to – like the medieval monks, it doesn’t do you any good to pluck out your eyes or go live in a cloister somewhere on the side of a mountain so that you’re somehow away from sin. It doesn’t do you any good to have some kind of surgery that is supposed to deal with your desire, as some of the medieval monks did. And by their own testimony, it had zero effect on their evil desire. Doesn’t do you any good to run from sin because wherever you go, sin goes with you. It’s in you. Even though you may be a believer, there is still remaining sin.
So you’ll not be walking some kind of stroll through a happy meadow, if that is a way to view it, you really are walking through a minefield that is inside of you. The minefield has been basically set by your own flesh, and there’s a war from the very outset on the inside. You don’t need the devil for that war, your own fallenness is sufficient. But when you add the presence of the devil, the battle becomes all the more fierce.
And if you go back to chapter 4 and verse 27, which I read to you a moment ago, Paul says in the middle of all of this, walk this worthy walk, do not give the devil an opportunity. And falling into any of the patterns that are described there as sinful patterns is how you give the devil an opportunity. So we have an enemy that is in us, and we have an enemy that is outside of us. We have to be aware of this.
So when the apostle Paul comes to the end of this epistle in which he calls us to walk in a certain way, and to live a certain kind of Christian life, he reminds us that we have a very, very aggressive and formidable enemy; namely, Satan. And he says in chapter 6, “Be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might put on the full armor of God that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil, for our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Wow – that’s serious stuff. There are adversaries that are human, but behind them is supernatural evil. And, you know, before you come to Christ – this would be true of the Ephesians or anybody else – you’re caught up in the kingdom of darkness to which you belong. You’re under the power and authority of the prince of the power of the air, the ruler of this world, who is Satan. To borrow the language of John 8, you are of your father, the devil.
And so you come to Christ, and Satan still is committed to your destruction. Once he had you, now he doesn’t have you. Once you were part of his system, now you’re not. You have become the enemy of Satan, and an enemy indeed you are, as he is an enemy to you, so you are an enemy to his cause now that you have come to Christ.
In a sense, when you were saved, when I was saved, at the point that we were saved, we were basically delivered out of the kingdom of darkness, to borrow the language of Colossians 1. We had been captive to (2 Corinthians 10 says) certain ideologies that were fortifications, wrong views, wrong thinking, and we were set free and brought captive to Christ. We were rescued out of Satan’s fortress, out of his lying, damning, deceptive ideologies, all those ideas raised up against the true knowledge of God.
He doesn’t take it lightly. Christ literally rips us out of his clutches, as it were. We are like brands snatched from the burning, to borrow the words of Jude. Satan then brings to bear upon us all the forces of hell as if to undo what Christ has done. So we have an enemy that is in us and we have an enemy that is outside of us. How do we deal with the enemy that is in us? Galatians 5 says, “Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” Put another way, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.” Put it another way, “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
We walk in the Spirit, which means to walk in the things that the Spirit affirms, which would be the things that are revealed in Scripture as holy attitudes, holy thoughts, holy words, and holy behaviors. But what do we do about the enemy that is outside of us? How are we to cope with this supernatural, massive evil? When you think about it on a cosmic level, it’s a pretty astonishing thing that we’re dealing with. We live in an infinite universe. It has no end. It is infinite. The bigger our telescopes get, the more they penetrate into outer space, the more stunning and staggering it all becomes. And I don’t need to take you through all the science of that. But it is a stunning, staggering thing.
And you might think, “Why in the world would God create this massive, massive universe where, traveling at the speed of light, it would take millions of years to get to the edge of it? What is that all about when all that ever seems to happen is down in this tiny little dot called the Earth?” Well, this is not the only place where things are happening. There is a host of beings that occupy the space between this little planet and the very throne of God at the final end of the infinite heaven. The Bible describes that as the realm of Satan and his demons, as well as the realm of holy angels.
We get a little bit of a glimpse occasionally into the battle between holy angels and the demons that occupy that realm, such as when God dispatched an angel to bring an answer to a prayer prayed by Daniel and he was held up by a demon. But when you think about God creating the universe the way He created, understand that while there is the human realm here, there is the spiritual realm that is vast. I only point that out to you to let you know that this is a formidable, formidable enemy that we have and we cannot be ignorant of his schemes.
There are countless demons with him. In fact, in Revelation chapter 12, it gives us a picture of Satan when he fell, and it says he took a third of the angels with him. So there are twice as many holy angels as there are fallen angels. But there are ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands and ten thousands, the highest number in the Greek language that has a word. So it’s just another way to say there are uncountable angels; there are, therefore, countless demons in Satan’s army and arsenal.
The question is: How does Satan operate? Well, he operates against the people of God through a system that would be called the world. That’s why we say we have a threefold enemy (the world, the flesh, and the devil). The flesh is in us, the devil is outside of us, and the means the devil uses is the world system. Christians don’t need to feel that Satan could come and live in them. No Christian in the Bible is ever pictured as being indwelt by a demon. The only people that had demons in them were nonbelievers.
You cannot, like so many do today, say that because a believer has a besetting sin in his life, as we heard in testimony tonight in baptism, because a believer may have a besetting sin, he still has a demon of whatever in him that needs to be exorcized. There is no indication in Scripture that any believer ever could have a demon living in him. We are the temple of the Spirit of God. There are times when Jesus casts demons out, but always out of nonbelievers.
Furthermore, there’s nothing in the Bible that associates demonization with moral evil. That may surprise you. Demon-possessed people manifested bizarre behavior, sometimes screaming at Jesus in a synagogue, sometimes jumping into a fire, being suicidal, having some physical infirmity. But there’s no illustration in the Scriptures of a demonized person having that demonization manifest in moral evil. So sin is an issue of the flesh. Demons can’t overpower people and make them sinners, but what they can do is overpower people who are already sinners, and, of course, cause them to manifest bizarre kinds of behavior and self-destructive kind of behavior.
But as far as Christians are concerned, no demon could take up residence in a believer. There is no illustration of that anywhere in Scripture. We are the temple of the Spirit of God. You say, “Well, then, what do we have to fear from Satan who is just one of the fallen angels who we call demons? What do we have to fear from them?”
They dominate the world in this way: They own the unregenerate people of the world, they own them. The unregenerate people in the world are in the kingdom of darkness. They are under the power of the prince of the air, Ephesians 2, right? That’s exactly what we saw earlier. You formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that works in the sons of disobedience.
What is the world? We’re not talking about the planet, we’re talking about the kosmos. The opposite of kosmos is chaos. And there is an order in the world. There is a system in the world that is run by Satan. It is a sinful system. Demons work in that system. That system basically operates by demonic power through human agencies. And this is what comes at believers.
It isn’t so much that the devil himself comes at you, although there may be times when that does occur in a more specific way; such as when Jesus turned Peter over to Satan to accomplish a certain purpose in his life; such as when a messenger from Satan was coming after Paul and attacking Paul’s ministry in Corinth, and he prayed that it would be removed; such as in the case of Job when God allowed Satan to go after Job. There may be those occasions when Satan or a demon becomes, in the purposes of God, a means by which God accomplishes something in our lives.
That is not to say that that demon will take up residence in a believer, but it is to say that for God’s purposes, He may allow Satan or He may allow a demon to have some effect on a believer, such as in the case of Paul, tearing up the Corinthian church, and God allowed him to do that because Paul had had so many revelations, he needed to be humbled. And having demons wreak havoc in his church was a humbling experience for him, and God wanted him humbled.
There may be times when God allows Satan and demons to do certain things in the realm in which His people live for ends that are His, purposes that are His. God allowed Satan to bring Peter into a very, very difficult situation where he actually wound up denying the Lord, and he was restored and recovered and then he would be able to strengthen the brethren who would go through a similar situation. God allowed Job to be hammered by Satan in order that he might prove that saving faith can never be broken and that he might come out a purer worshiper than if it had never happened.
So Satan may be occasionally, sometimes for the purposes of God may be allowed or some demons may be allowed to have some effect, some way on our lives for divine purposes. Remember now, please, the devil is God’s devil. God owns the devil. God commands the devil. God sets the parameters where he can operate and where the demons operate.
I saw that and I pointed it out to you in the first chapter, that it is Christ, having been raised from the dead, seated at the right hand of God in heavenlies, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named in this age and the age to come, and things that are named are persons. He has power over all persons, whether they are spiritual persons or physical persons living in this world. People or angels all come under God’s control.
So all of that to say there may be occasions when God permits demons to do certain things that affect believers, not from the inside but from the outside. But the primary issue that we have to understand is that Satan works against believers by developing a world system in which believers must live that brings temptation to bear on their flesh. You would like to think that we could live in a world that’s not hostile. People say we have to protect our children from evil influences. Lots of luck. Not going to happen – not going to happen. And evil men get worse and worse.
I think here in the United States of America, we enjoyed a kind of reprieve for a while because this country had so much of Christianity in its beginnings and its roots, and in many ways our culture was influenced by great revivals of the gospel, and there was a kind of cultural morality that maybe insulated us a little bit, at least superficially. That has long since faded away, and we are now living in a culture that is fully exposed to the worst of the kosmos that Satan has crafted among godless people. We are all literally hammered and battered and besieged – aren’t we? – by this system that is really designed by Satan and plied through people.
Now, the leading edge of this system is ideological. The leading edge of this system is that Satan appears as an angel of light, disguising himself as an angel of light. Works most of the time in religion. His ministers are angels of light. All false religion is called by Paul doctrines of demons. In other words, all false religion is concocted by Satan as a part of his system to lead people into deception religiously. And they are doctrines of demons that are propagated, Paul says in 1 Timothy 4, by hypocritical liars.
So the leading edge of Satan’s effort in the world because man is by nature a religious animal – that is to say, his conscience and his mind – the conscience by the moral law written in his heart, the mind by the reality of cause and effect – leads him to God. And the most natural thing for a human being is to understand that because he has a moral law, there had to be a moral lawgiver; because he understands that nothing can exist unless it has a cause, there is a great cause. So there is a great cause who is also moral. That’s inherent in the understanding of man.
Satan knows about that god-consciousness, and so Satan diverts that from the true God to an endless array of false religious systems of which he is the author. And all of them have one thing in common: They tell man that salvation and a right relationship with God can be earned – can be earned. Some of them are moral, some of them are immoral. Across the spectrum, something for everybody. But that’s the leading edge.
It’s false religion because man is naturally a worshiper. And because he has a conscience, he has the sense of guilt over his own sins. And so Satan invents religions that attempt to mitigate that guilt. But for those people who have so stomped their conscience into insensitivity, there is also a full world system available to them that is irreligious, atheistic, if you will, blatantly immoral. And there is that world in the middle that says yes, I’m spiritual, but I can be spiritual and immoral at the same time.
All of these ideologies that range from very legalistic, tight kinds of restrictive religions for people who find an appeal in that, to the kind of open, flagrant, atheistic immorality at its worst level and everything in between is all part of this very broad system designed by Satan. And there is enough in it that it has the ability to drive temptations at all of us. That’s how Satan works. You don’t have to worry about Satan crawling inside of you and making a residence there, it’s not going to happen if you’re a believer.
But we live in a day when we not only deal with the temptation that is in us as all believers had, but we have to deal with the system that is outside of us, and the system is more sophisticated and it is worse than it’s ever been and all the bad of the past has been accumulated and stayed and been fully developed. And now we have media to make it worse than it’s ever been in terms of its exposure. I personally think that Jesus needs to come soon because the onslaught is so massive that it’s beyond hope of ever being reversed.
I’ve been saying to people, by the way, if you think somehow there’s going to be a turnaround in America – forget it. Forget it. We’re going down the path of immorality at such warp speed, we’re not going to turn around. This is Romans 1, we’ve been turned over by God to the consequences of our own choices, and Satan is having a field day in the system. And we are all inundated by it.
So what do we do about it? Well, that was kind of an ad lib introduction, but let’s look at verse 10. I didn’t even turn a page here, that’s not good. Verse 10. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” This is the preparation – this is the preparation. Be strong – not a time for weak people. Doesn’t it strike you as interesting that at a time when the power of the world is its greatest that its ever been, the weakness of the church is at its greatest as well? At a time when the world system is more formidable than it’s ever been, the church is weaker than it’s ever been.
And we are called to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might, recognizing we don’t have in ourselves the strength, we have to rest in Him. But know this, that the power is already yours.
Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. There is no temptation taken you but such is as common to man. God is faithful, who will never allow you to be tempted above that you’re able but will with the temptation make a way of escape. 1 Corinthians 10:13. The Lord has gained the victory at the cross. The Lord has taken up residence in our heart in the presence of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, and all the power that is there is the very same power that has raised Jesus from the dead.
And we have already pointed that out, and I did that on purpose so I could take you back to it. We understand this. Go back to verse 18 of chapter 1, “I pray the eyes of your heart to be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might, and it’s the very strength which He brought about in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.”
It is the very same power that raised Christ from the dead. It is the same power that exalted Him to the right hand of God. It is the same power He exercises over all rule and authority and power and dominion, every name that is named. And this power has caused Him to put all things in subjection under His feet, made Him His head over the church, which is His body, and the church as His body – I love this – is the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
We are the fullness of Christ. We have the fullness of Christ; therefore, we have the fullness of His resurrection power. In the third chapter also, Paul prays that we would understand this. Verse 14, chapter 3, “I bow my knees before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you according to the riches of His glory to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.” Verse 20, “Now to him who is able to do exceeding, abundantly beyond all we can ask or think according to the power that works within us.”
So the power is there. It’s not as if we have to plead for the power. Christ is there, and with Christ’s presence is Christ’s fullness, and with His fullness is His power. So we are strong. The strength is there. All that we need is there in the very presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
So we begin with the preparation, and the preparation is to understand that we have to rest in the strength of Christ. The second thing I want you to see in this text, as we just begin, is the equipment. The preparation is to realize our strength is in the Lord, and that strength is available to us. Secondly, the equipment – put on the full armor of God. How do you tap into the power? Here’s the key. How do you tap into the power? You put on the full armor of God. I’m going to leave that because verse 13 says, “Take up the full armor of God” and then describes it starting in verse 14, running down to verse 17.
So when we look at the armor itself, we will see the equipment that allows us to tap the strength, okay? The strength is there, it is bound up in the armor, and the armor is defined for us in verses 13 to 17, and we’ll look at it in detail. So the preparation and the equipment – thirdly, the enemy. We need to understand our enemy, verse 11. “Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” The schemes of the devil.
We don’t need to take a lot of time to define Satan, this is not a course on Satanology, if you will. Suffice it to say that Scripture describes the devil carefully and repeatedly. Jesus believed in him, referred to him, spoke to him, pronounced judgment on him. The apostles believed in him, obviously, as Paul does here when he writes about him. He is active through all human history. He rebelled against God in heaven, according to Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28, he was thrown out of heaven, he is the one who fell from heaven, described also elsewhere in Scripture, including the twelfth chapter of Revelation.
When he came to earth, he tempted Eve in Genesis 3. He tempted Christ in Matthew 4. He perverts God’s Word, as we see in Matthew 4. He opposes God’s work, as we see in Zechariah chapter 3. He hinders God’s servants, as we see in 2 Thessalonians 2. He restricts (or tries to restrict) the proclamation of the gospel by blinding the minds of people so the gospel cannot come to them, 2 Corinthians 4. He snares the wicked in 1 Timothy 3. He deceives the nations, as we see in the book of Daniel as well as the book of Isaiah and the book of Ezekiel and the book of Revelation, chapters 16 and 20.
He fights with Michael, that means that he is conflict with the holy angels. He has the whole world in his lap, 1 John 5, the whole world lies in the lap of the evil one. He runs the whole system. All his evil is basically worked through unregenerate people who make up his kingdom, and that is the world system, and that is the source of temptation driven at our human flesh by this very sophisticated system.
He is a person. He is called the anointed cherub. He called the prince of this world. He is called the prince of the power of the air. He is called the god of this age. He is called the prince of demons, Luke 11:15. He has personal names. Fifty-two times, he’s called Satan, which means adversary. Thirty-five times he’s called devil, or diabolos which means slanderer. He is called that old serpent, that great dragon. He is described in 1 Peter 5:8 as a roaring lion who goes about seeking whom he may devour. In John 17:15, he is called the evil one, intrinsically evil, ponēros.
He is called Abaddon and Apollyon in Revelation 9, that is a destroyer. He is called the tempter in Matthew 4, the accuser in Revelation 12, and the spirit working in the sons of disobedience in Ephesians 2, as we just read. He is described as a murderer and a liar. He works overtly, blatantly, and covertly. He works overtly in the raunchy open wickedness of the world. He works covertly in the false religious systems of the world. Mark it, folks, both are under his power.
He will be religious when he needs to be religious, sanctimonious when he needs to be sanctimonious, and blatantly wretched and wicked and vile as it suits him. He is some enemy. He is the one who once was Lucifer, the son of the morning, the anointed cherub fallen from heaven, the ruler of the demon world, and plies his wretched assault on God’s kingdom through the humans that are his subjects. We cannot be ignorant of his schemes.
Schemes comes from a verb meaning to stalk – to stalk. It suggests that lion, stalking his prey that Peter referred to. He uses special tactics, guile, deceit, craft, subtly. We need to beware, that he is a very old enemy, been around since before the world was created. In 2 Corinthians 2, verse 11 says, “In order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan for we’re not ignorant of his schemes,” same idea, you can’t be ignorant of his schemes. You must understand. As we read in 4:27 of Ephesians, you don’t want to give him any advantage.
We must understand that he works in false doctrine. We cannot just embrace everybody in every religion, that would be embracing Satan. Hard to get people to understand that. Really hard to get people to understand that. Tertullian once said, “Diabolos est dei simia,” the devil is God’s monkey. He apes God, part of his strategy. His system is the world. That’s why we hear James say, “If you love the world, you’re an enemy of God.” Right? Friendship with the world is enmity with God.
Or we hear John say, “Love not the world, nor the things that are in the world. For all that is in the world, the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life is not of God, it’s of the world, and the world is passing away.” False religions, heresies, subtle deceptions, as well as blatant immorality, all part of his arsenal. And through all of that, he would assault believers and attack the truth and endeavor to hinder the work of God.
He loves to snatch the Word away, as we heard in the parable of Jesus and the sower where the seed is sown in the hard ground and the devil snatches it away. He loves to pervert the Word. He loves to interfere in the life of the church. He works in so many ways. He can create all kinds of false theologies that cause believers to doubt, all kinds of false standards of spirituality that cause believers to think that they’re not really required to live holy lives. He creates theologies like antinomian theologies and perversions of God’s truth.
In all these things, he is at work. And so this means, as we think about these things, that we are engaged in battle. We have to prepare for that. We have to be equipped for that. We have to know our enemy, and we have to understand that we’re in a battle. Verse 12, it is a struggle. It is a struggle not against flesh and blood. People are not really our enemy. I know sometimes we think that immoral people and people who advocate immoral things and people who make referendums against marriage, such as the one we’re facing this week, are really our enemy.
No, our real enemy is far, far more powerful. These are just dupes. These are just pawns. These are just people that he uses who belong to his kingdom. We’re not struggling against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the powers, against the spiritual forces of this wickedness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness that reside in the heavenlies. And that’s what I told you, between here and the throne of God, that’s the domain of demons and angels where there is angelic conflict.
Understand that we have a formidable enemy who has developed a very successful system. The rulers and the powers would simply be the rankings of demons. They’re all structured. Like the holy angels have some structure, as we learn in Scripture, so do the demons. There is a kind of world, there’s a kind of kosmos, even among demons where they have varying ranks. Some of them are associated with nations and governments, in particular, as we see back in Isaiah and Ezekiel and even in Daniel. Spiritual wickedness in very high places.
Should we fear? No. Verse 13 says, “We should react not with fear, but with readiness.” Herein is our instruction as we engage in the battle. “Take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day and having done everything, to stand firm.” That tells us there can be victory, right?
What is the evil day? The evil day is any day that evil comes. In fact, the evil day would be a way to describe this era in the world. The evil day would be a way to describe living in the world. For us, every day is an evil day. This is evil’s day as opposed to the day of righteousness to come in the future. So as we live in the evil day, if we are putting on the armor, then we can resist. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” We can resist. Victory is promised.
And when the battle is over and the smoke is cleared and the dust is settled, we can be standing firm. That’s a promise of victory. Paul wonderfully understood that. Second Corinthians 4 – I love this. Second Corinthians 4:8, “We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; perplexed but not despairing; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed.” In the end, the devil threw everything he had at him but he couldn’t be victorious. He triumphed through it all and so can you. There is victory promised.
So he says your preparation is in the strength of the Lord. Your equipment is in the armor of God. Your enemy is formidable, the devil. You need to understand his schemes. You’re engaged in a real struggle, and your struggle is not just with humans but it’s with a supernatural force, a complex structure, a hierarchy of demons that operate in the heavenlies. This may seem more than you could ever be able to bear, but the truth of the matter is, if you put on the full armor of God, you will be able to resist in this evil day, this era of evil that dominates the fallen world, and when it’s all over, you can stand firm.
I know that’s what you want in your life, and so starting next time, we’re going to look at verse 14 where it says, “Stand firm, therefore,” and it tells you how. This is how to tap the strength, this is how to stand firm no matter what Satan brings. Let’s pray.
Father, we thank you for the clarity with which the Scripture enlightens us, as always, on things that would otherwise be absolutely mystifying. We know the world is full of ridiculous, foolish ideas about Satan, bizarre, Halloweenish fantasies that are not even close to reality. And then there are those people who would deny the existence of the devil altogether.
But we know the truth because we know your Word. We thankyou that you’ve given it to us and you’ve opened our minds to understand it, to be enlightened by it, and that you’ve promised us that even though we have an enemy that is cosmic, an enemy that is massive, an enemy that is as old as time, an enemy that is experienced in evil for thousands of years at a supernatural level, an enemy who has seen all human behavior come and go, a mass, a force of demons who literally rule over the unregenerate population of the world and have developed a system that is powerfully evil.
You have told us that we can stand and resist and be firm if we have the armor on. What a wonderful, hopeful promise that is. And we stand in that promise, ready to know how to tap that strength, to be strong in the Lord and in the power of your might. So continue to open your truth to us and ready us to live triumphantly to your glory, even in this evil day.
We know the day will come that Satan will be vanquished, sent forever to the lake of fire, which you prepared for the devil and his angels. Until that time, we cannot be ignorant of his schemes nor can we be foolish enough not to put on the armor. Enable us to do that, Father, that we might live not only to your glory but that we might live lives of fruitfulness and joy in the path of obedience. And we’ll thank you for your Son’s sake. Amen.
In the Bible the number 17 symbolizes “overcoming the enemy” and “complete victory.” God overcame the sins of rebellious humans when he began to flood the earth through rain on the 17th of the second Hebrew month. Noah’s ark and its eight passengers rested on the mountains of Ararat on the 17th of the seventh month (right in the middle of God’s annual Holy period known as the Feast of Tabernacles).
Jesus Christ gained a complete victory over death and the grave when God resurrected him near sunset on Nisan 17 (Saturday, April 8, 30 A.D.).
Daniel 7’s beasts have seven heads and ten horns, for a total number of 17. They represent world-ruling powers from Daniel’s time to the Second Coming of Jesus. The devil’s end-time system (Revelation 13) will have seven heads and ten horns, which totals 17.
All mankind will very soon obey and worship the devil and the Beast power. They will war against those who have faith in Jesus and keep the commandments, thus achieving a victory (though short-lived) against God’s people (Revelation 13:1 – 8).
The FloodMattia Bortoloni (1717 – 18)
True Christians, however, will gain the ultimate victory over God’s adversaries when he resurrects them back to life (Revelation 15:2; 20:4). One of the major themes of the Day of Atonement (commonly referred to as Yom Kippur), which occurs in the seventh Hebrew month on the tenth day, is the binding of Satan (see Revelation 20). Thus, 10 plus 7 equal the number 17, which testifies to Christ’s perfect overcoming of Satan.
Appearances of the number seventeen
Rehoboam, son of Solomon and the the very first king of Judah after the united kingdom split in 930 B.C., reigned for 17 years (930 to 913 B.C.).
The book of James has material from seventeen Old Testament books. The book of 1Corinthians has 17 direct quotations from the Old Testament.
One of the longest names found in the word of God, containing 17 letters, is Chushanrishathaim (Judges 3:8).
How does the number 17 symbolize our standing with God?
In Romans 8:35 the apostle Paul asks a simple question which is “What shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (HBFV). He extends his question a little more by asking if the following seven things could separate us, which are tribulation, persecution, distress, nakedness, famine, the sword or any other danger.
Paul then tells us ten things that cannot get between our God and us, which are life, death, principalities, powers, angels, things present or to come, depth, height or anything created. Thus we have 7 + 10 = 17, representing a Christian’s perfect and eternal standing with God through Christ.
Additional info on the Biblical Meaning of 17
Psalm 83, verses 6 to 11, lists seventeen total enemies of Israel. Seven of these God destroyed in the past. The other ten foes will soon try to destroy the Israelites and “cut them off from being a nation.” The Psalm, written by Davidic priests, beseeches the Eternal to treat Israel’s future enemies like those in the past.
The seven enemies of Israel God destroyed in the past are the Midianites, Sisera, Jabin, Oreb, Zeeb, Zebah and Zalmunna. The future confederation prophesied to be against God’s chosen are Edom, Ishmaelites, Moab, Hagarenes, Gebal, Ammon, Amalek, Philistines, Tyre and Assyria. This makes for a total of 17 foes vanquished by the Eternal!
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” – Ephesians 6:10-13. (Bold emphasis added).
I am not one who believes in demons behind every bush. I’m sorry, but I won’t give the enemy that kind of credit, BUT, the truth is, there ARE spirits that are influencing lives of those around us every day. This does not mean that every bad action or circumstance is spirit-caused, but we DO need to be aware there is evil at work and it is becoming more and more blatant as the time of the Lord’s return is approaching.
Sometimes, we as Christians just do NOT give enough credit to the carnal fallen nature, because if we can blame something else, then we can feel as if we are not responsible. It reminds me of the former comedian, Flip Wilson when he used to say in his comedy acts, “the devil made me do it.” In reality, too often times it is NOT the devil or his minions but rather our own selfish desires and wants that cause us to do things that are far removed from God’s Commandments!
However, with that all being said, there are attacks that are becoming more prevalent due to spiritual forces and influences and they definitely USE those who retain a carnal, selfish and self-centered desire to have what they want no matter who it hurts or at what cost.
Sadly, when we are unaware of these forces, they can take us by surprise and catch us off-guard, but when we are aware of what is at work, maintain an intimate relationship with the Father through the Lord, Jesus Christ as empowered by His Holy Spirit, we are usually not caught so off-guard and in fact are prepared for these onslaughts, at least to some degree or another.
One avenue the enemy has ALWAYS exploited and even appears to be accelerating in, is the area of families. The devil has always known that if he can divide families, he can initiate destruction and this has been his motive since the very first family. Adam was created first and was meant to not just be the “priest” of his family, but its protector, its supplier of all things, material, ideological and theological. He was to honor and cherish his wife and kids, not to lord it over them, but to guide, nurture and instruct them. It was only when he allowed his wife Eve, in conjunction with the wily and manipulative devil, disguised as a serpent, did the order that God had established become divided and destroyed. The consequences introduced the devil’s true intentions into the world in the form of murder and destruction.
Now before you get the wrong impression, I am NOT blaming Eve as many do, but rather, I am blaming Adam! We have no idea just how long Adam walked with the Lord in the Garden before God chose to give him a help-mate, soul-mate. The fact remains is that Adam walked and talked with the Lord and was given great responsibilities and great blessing to carry them out. In the end, it was Adam, who was created to spiritually cover Eve, who yielded to her words and ultimately the temptation of the serpent.
Jesus, Himself spoke very openly and blatantly about the devil’s intentions and motives and those who CHOOSE to follow in the devil’s footsteps; “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” – John 8:44.
Destruction, isn’t that truly what murder is? To destroy something and remove it from existence must seem like the ultimate power to him. What greater destruction than eternal murder? The enemy of our souls KNOWS that his time is limited. He was created as one of the most intelligent of God’s creations and so he is NOT stupid nor ignorant, BUT, his greatest downfall is and always has been his pride in himself. He is very much aware of the fact that God, his Creator has put a time-limit on his antics and that HIS very destruction is nearing, so what better motivation to destroy as many other souls as he can before his own eternal demise!
As we move closer and closer to the time of Christ Jesus’ return, not just to gather His Bride, but also to rule the world for a millennium, the enemy and his fallen comrades have stepped up their onslaught against God’s creation, no longer just hiding in the shadows as they once used too. Families will ALWAYS be the primary target.
In the 1980s, the divorce rate in the U.S. was about fifty percent. Today it has actually gone down to about forty-two percent, but the reason is that more couples are deciding on a civil, non-marriage lifestyle rather than to get married with the chance of divorce. Actually the divorce rates of those who have been married twice has steadily increased and those who have been divorced at least twice and are in their third marriage has increased exponentially.
There are more people living together in what is considered a civil union rather than a religious or spiritual union than ever before. The incidence of mixed or blended families has increased drastically and it is considered close to twenty percent of families where kids share parentage with their siblings. It is no wonder this generation is growing up either without hope or future prospects or feel entitled and due for their state of being. The world and not just the U.S. is RIPE for demonic and spiritual influences to abound.
Now I’m going to make a confession; this chapter in Ephesians is one of the favorite of many, many Christians, because of the Scripture I quoted in the very beginning and for the analogy of the armor of God, which is quoted by so many Christians. I have used this chapter in various forms myself in my teaching and preaching in the past, but I always looked at it in at least two parts, until this morning! As I was preparing and praying for the Holy Spirit’s guidance on what to say about the principalities, powers and the rulers of darkness, as I always do, I started with the first verse to get into the context.
Now without going into detail, my family is going through some spiritual warfare in many areas, familial and medical and though my wife and I have had many years and much experience in trusting in the Lord and not relying on what our eyes alone see going around us, other family members haven’t had the luxury or benefit of our years of experience and sadly, some things just have to be learned with the guidance of the Holy Spirit!
But when teaching on what I have put down as the title, it was done in the sense of recognizing and realizing where a lot of problems stem from. Then I read what was leading up to my main subject; something the family is experiencing right now. I found it very enlightening and in truth had NEVER put the two parts together in a combined teaching, but sometimes, situations identify themselves in the light of Scripture and the truth is revealed fully in a new light!
We talk about our real battle when we go through things. We talk about the armor of God to defend against attacks of the enemy, but there is a whole paragraph that is identifying specifics that lead up to the REASON for relying on the armor of God and the TRUTH of God’s Word!! I truly believe now, it is because this is the battle that has been raging from day one with Adam and Eve through to where we are at this moment in time!
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.” – Ephesians 6:1-9.
Everything leading up to our necessity for being able to IDENTIFY our true enemy, the ability to stand in the face of attack and the armor we rely on to withstand those attacks is listed in the very first paragraph of chapter 6. You will notice that the Apostle Paul addresses the family unit AND those responsible for it and yes that INCLUDES employees AND employers and their responsibilities! All the attacks, all the battles we fight, stem from the very thing the enemy of our souls has wanted to destroy from the very beginning!
Now those of you who know me and follow my teaching know I am very adamant about the characteristics of the spiritual life being all about ACTIONS as compared to just feelings! Love, Godly love is active. It is NOT reliant upon how we feel about the subject being loved but upon our trust and obedience to God and His Word. So it is with other spiritual characteristics. For instance, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” This speaks of the commandment to HONOR father and mother which promises long life if followed. This commandment does not say, AGREE 100% with everything your parents say, but to obey them IN THE LORD! Honoring is an action that demonstrates trust and gratitude as well as giving respect when due. This is done in the Lord and as unto the Lord! But this comes with a caveat. You have to know the Lord and His ways because you do NOT obey your parents IF they are NOT following after the Lord. Just because they are your parents does not mean they are morally or spiritually right and, you will NOT be God’s child just because of your parents. You WILL stand or fall on your own relationship with God as Father. If your parents are godly, you follow them then, for that is right and honorable. If they are not, YOU DO what is godly and honorable. Ultimately it all comes back to you, individually. You do what is right, honorable and holy before the Lord. If your parents are godly and follow the Lord, (even amidst mistakes), they deserve your honor and in the long-run, it is beneficial to you.
Now parents and especially fathers; “do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Now I know there are some that would love to end this and change the comma after the word wrath to a period. However, this is NOT the case. This is a WHOLE sentence and thus a commandment of the Lord! Do not provoke, do not incite or stimulate, or do not stir up to wrath or anger your children, BUT, a big, big but, therefore or however, bring them up, instill in them, teach, stimulate them in the training and admonition, advice, counsel, guidance of the Lord! In other words, you teach them the ways of the Lord and how God handles things and not the ways that the world dictates.
Now the same thing goes for employees and employers for we ALL must work and be accountable to someone. A true employer is running a business, sure, but if he is a godly employer then he is running it like a father runs his home. The employee, though he is getting paid in some form, he is obedient and honorable towards that employer as if the employer were the parent. In the same way the enemy wants to destroy the family, he will look to destroy and employee – employer relationship for the running of the home, and especially in this day and age, is dependent upon that smooth and honorable relationship.
In closing let me remind everyone of this fact; division is not of God. Yes, Jesus stated that He came to cause division and there would be division, but that was due to one fact and one fact alone, either you place Him as the Head of your household or you do not. When He IS the Head then and only then is no division! (Luke 12:53). Jesus was NOT condoning division, only that He came demanding total surrender to Himself or there WOULD be division!
I want to leave you with the words of Jude as inspired by the Holy Spirit. He explains where divisions truly come from:
“These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” – Jude 1:16-21. (Bold emphasis added).
You will know where the divisions and the attacks are from. They do not come from those who seek to do God’s will, but from those who refuse to acknowledge the truth and only want what they want, no matter who is in the way. If you see yourself in this battle, the enemy is from “out there” not from the one standing next to you and the ONLY way to win this battle is to recognize the enemy and put on the proper battle gear!
One last thing, the fighting will sadly increase as the enemy knows his time is getting shorter. That means, that we will have to be prepared all the more and we will have to have one another’s backs. If we are to stand, we are to stand together as the united Body of Christ!
1 Peter 5:8-9 (KJV) 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
It was Thursday, March 5, 2009. I came back into the Church parking lot and found 8 young Mexican men huddled together by the Nursery building.
– I went to see what was going on and what these guys were up to.
The Mexican people that I’d hired to do the yard work knew why these young men were there.
– The young lady told me they’d just escaped from a house in the neighborhood where they were being held prisoner by coyotes.
– The coyotes were demanding $4000 a piece for them to gain their freedom.
The police had been there and now these men were waiting for friends to come pick them up.
COYOTES — PROMISE A BETTER LIFE, THEY’LL TAKE THE VICTIM’S MONEY UNDER FALSE PRETENSES, AND THEN BETRAY THAT PROMISE FOR RANSOM MONEY.
THESE REFUGEES HAD ESCAPED FROM THE COYOTES — THE COYOTES WANTED $4000 RANSOM MONEY FOR EACH OF THEM.
– According to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was Sheriff at that time, many victims have been murdered when the ransom wasn’t met.
– It’s not uncommon for a coyote to abandon his victims to die on the desert if he thinks the authorities might be aware of them.
The next night I noticed a helicopter flying around our house and later learned the police had closed down another coyote house.
It all sounds a lot like Satan:
– SATAN IS THE KING OF THE COYOTES — HE’LL PROMISE ANYTHING TO GET YOU TO FOLLOW HIM.
– HE’LL GET YOU TO INVEST YOURSELF INTO HIS LIES, BUT HE WILL ONLY DELIVER DEATH, DESTRUCTION AND HEARTACHE.
– HE’LL HOLD YOUR SOUL FOR RANSOM, BUT GOD DOESN’T PAY SATAN RANSOM, HE SETS THE SOUL FREE THROUGH THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST.
Satan is so deceitful! He will make you think he’s on your side even while he destroys you………….
That’s why we should stay away from things that are questionable……..
Many parents have a hard time explaining to their youth why some music, movies, books, games and magazines aren’t acceptable material for them to bring into the home, for them to see, or hear.
One dad came up with an original idea that’s hard to refute.
He listened to all the reasons his children gave for wanting to see a particular PG-13 movie. – It had their favorite actors. – Everyone else was seeing it. – Even church members said it was great.
It was only rated PG-13 because of a little nudity and the suggestion of sex — they never really showed it.
– The language was pretty good. They only used the Lord’s name in vain 3 times in the whole movie.
– The video effects were fabulous and the plot was action packed.
Yes, there WAS one scene where a building and a bunch of people got blown up, but the violence was just the normal stuff. It wasn’t very bad.
Even with all these explanations for the rating, the father wouldn’t give in.
He didn’t even give them a satisfying explanation for saying, “No.” He just said, “No.”
Later that evening this same father asked his teens if they’d like some brownies he’d baked.
He explained he’d taken the family’s favorite recipe and added something new.
They asked what it was.
He calmly replied that he’d added dog poop. But, he said, it was only a little bit. All the other ingredients were gourmet quality.
He’d taken great care to bake it at the precise temperature for the exact time. He was sure the brownies would be superb. – But, even with all the explanations of the perfect attributes of the brownies, the teens wouldn’t take one.
The father acted surprised. There was only one little element that would have caused them to act so stubbornly. He assured them they’d hardly notice it if at all. They all held firm and wouldn’t try the brownies. – He then explained the movie they wanted to see was just like the brownies.
Satan tries to enter our minds and our homes by deceiving us into believing that just a little bit of evil won’t matter — just a little gossip, just a little disobedience — after all, I have my rights………..
With the brownies, just a little bit makes all the difference between a great brownie and a totally unacceptable product. – He explained that even though the movie people would have us believe the movies that are coming out are acceptable for adults and young people to see, they’re not.
Now when this father’s kids want to do something or see something they shouldn’t, he merely asks them if they’d like some of his special dog poop brownies — and they never ask about it again.
Satan and his demons are masters at deceiving people into rationalizing why it’s OK to go against what God wants in our lives.
There are a thousand or more varieties of mushrooms that are good to eat….The most dreaded of the poisonous mushrooms are two members of the Amanita group. – One is the death cup, and the other is the fly amanita.
The death cup grows in the woods from June until fall. Its poison acts like the venom of a rattlesnake, as it separates the corpuscles in the blood from the serum. – No antidote is known for the poison of the death cup. – The only hope for anyone who has eaten it is to clean out his stomach promptly with a stomach pump.
It’s small wonder that one variety is known as the destroying angel.
The death cup has often been mistaken for the common mushroom. A person should not make this mistake if he observes carefully. – The poisonous plant has white gills, white spores, and the fatal poison cup around the stem.
The plant that’s safe to eat has pink gills, brown spores, and no cup.
Many of the mistakes come from picking it in the button stage, for it doesn’t show all these differences until it has grown larger.
The problem most people have is they don’t want to obey Jesus and do things His way. – They think Jesus just wants to keep them from enjoying their lives. They want freedom to do their own thing and really enjoy themselves by having no restraints.
Augie, “I’m too old for temptation! Satan doesn’t have anything he can tempt me with.” He’d say this as he displayed temper, bitterness, and wrong judgmental attitudes. We don’t get too old in this life time for Satan to figure out how to trap us and make us fall.
We need to live close to Jesus, no matter how old we get.
Monkey trappers in North Africa have a clever method of catching monkeys.
Several gourds are filled with nuts and firmly fastened to a branch of a tree. Each has a hole just large enough for the unwary monkey to stick his hand into it.
When the hungry monkey discovers this, he quickly grasps a handful of nuts, but the hole is too small for him to withdraw his clenched fist. And he doesn’t have enough sense to open up his hand and let go in order to escape, so he is easily taken captive.
What a picture of many Christians.
The devil with his crafty devices tries to ensnare them. He appeals to the appetites of the flesh which can lead to their spiritual downfall.
As long as they hold on to worldly bait, they cannot escape from Satan’s trap. But he keeps on urging, “Don’t let go! Enjoy the pleasureof your sin just a little bit longer!” So, listening to the tempter’s alluring voice, they continue in their evil way.
Paul explains 1 Corinthians 10:13 (KJV): 13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
These are comforting words. We can open our hand and let go of the “nuts!” God is on our side, he will not let us fall into Satan’s trap. We have to be willing to let go — open our hand and let go of those sinful things we find in the world.
James writes, “When people are tempted, they should not say, ‘God istempting me’. Evil cannot tempt God, and God himself does not temptanyone. But people are tempted when their own evil desire leads themaway and traps them. This desire leads to sin, and then the sin growsand brings death” (James 1:13-15 — NCV).
The desires of this world lead us to sin. Once we latch on, we find it hard to let go. It continues to grow, until it consumes our life. In the end, this sin leads to death.
Are the sins of this world preventing you from obeying God? If so, you have to let go! It’s the only way out of the trap!
The devil comes to tempt us away from the safe boundaries God has set for us (His Commandments, His Word and His specific area of calling for us).
The devil will come time after time to tempt us and capture us. However, true freedom only comes in being a servant of the Lord! — John 8:36: If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
We should recognize Satan’s tactics and resist him to his face and he will flee — James 4:7-8: Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
Satan, that Old Coyote, is out to get you, but you don’t need to get got! – “Turn your eyes upon Jesus!”…………..
I want to remind you that without question, the biggest problem a Christian has by far is temptation.
If you can eliminate temptation, you can eliminate sin.
1 Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
James 1:14-16: But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
1 Peter 5:8: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
A pastor told his congregation, “I learned a great lesson from a dog.”
He said, “His master used to put a piece of meat, a biscuit or some kind of food on the ground, and say to the dog, ‘Don’t eat that,’ – The dog would run over and eat it, so he’d spank the dog.
He put another piece of meat on the ground and say, ‘Don’t eat that.’
The dog would go over and eat it, and he’d hit him again.
After awhile, the dog got the message: eat meat, get spanked. – So the dog decided he wouldn’t eat the meat.”
The dog finally got to where he didn’t look at the meat. – He felt if he looked at the meat, the temptation to disobey would be too great, so he constantly looked at his master’s face and never took his eyes off him. – Then the temptation didn’t cause a problem.
Temptation works like that.
As long as we stare at it looking at the baubles or the bangles Satan dangles in front of us and entertain ourselves on that and feed on it, we’re susceptible.
Temptation’s a common problem for all of us — often victory over temptation isn’t so common. . –1Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
We have the same problem the dog had. – If we entertain the temptation rather than keeping our eyes on Christ, we’re going to fall.
The strength of a temptation is in how long you play with it and think about it. – The longer you toy with temptation the stronger it becomes and the harder it is to resist. – If you dismiss it immediately, you’ll not have a problem.
How do you do that?
– There are hundreds of radio towers all around the country, sending out different frequencies with different programming.
If you don’t like the program on one station you change to another station! – When Satan bombards you with temptation you can change the station too.
By Praising Jesus, quoting scripture, testifying to Satan how God’s forgiven your sin, plea the Blood, sing a hymn, and remembering you aren’t having a private moment. There’s a crowd of witnesses watching you!
Hebrews 12:1: Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
We’ve gotten used to surveillance cameras watching us everywhere, but that’s nothing to what Hebrews tells us — “There’s a great host of witnesses watching how you’ll respond!” – Knowing this has always helped me resist temptations.
Remember when Satan offers you a temptation, he wants to destroy you.
1 Peter 5:8: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
– Bait on a fish hook.
Whatever Satan offers you might gratify for a moment — when it’s over you’re not satisfied. – You’ll deal with guilt, feel miserable and know you’re out-of-step with God.
Any deal Satan offers you is a bad deal!
I know many people think God is too restrictive — they don’t want to be tied down to a bunch of rules — they want more freedom to indulge in what the world offers:
A German shepherd lived with his master who loved him very much. Every day when the master went to work the German shepherd would be on a long chain in the garden, long enough to cover all the grounds and be able to go inside through the dog-door if need be.
One day when the German shepherd was keeping watch over his Master’s property, a Bulldog came bouncing up to him laughing and taunting.
The bulldog said, “Hey, Look at you, all chained up. Not free! I’m free; I can do what I want. If I’m hungry I go to the garbage cans and find food, I can chase all the lady dogs. You can’t be happy!”
“Actually”, said the German shepherd, “you have a point. I do wonder what it’d be like to have more freedom and go beyond the boundaries set by my master. But my master’s good! He takes care of me and loves me — I’m secure in his care.”
The Bulldog came every day with the same old tactics. Finally, the German shepherd started listening to the bulldog and said, “OK, if I want to be free how is it possible? I’m chained up!”
“Ah!,” said the Bulldog, “You’ve got to be smart like me. When your master is away you go into the living room, right to the center of the rug and do a big job”
“But my master will beat me!” gasped the German shepherd.
“He’ll beat you a few times, then he’ll let you loose!” Said the Bulldog.
The German shepherd couldn’t sleep that night. – He tossed and turned deciding whether to listen to the Bulldog or not. – The next morning his master hugged him and left with the usual loving words, ‘Be a good dog, look after my house’.
But the German shepherd was under the spell of the Bulldog — he went to the center of the living room and did big business!
The next day the Bulldog saw the German shepherd still chained sitting silently in the garden. His nose was bright red!
“What happened?” asked the Bulldog, “You did it didn’t you? What happened?”
“My master was so angry, he took me to the living room and rubbed my nose painfully in the mess!” replied the German shepherd.
“Ah! That’s just the first step. You do it a few more times and you’ll be free”, said the Bulldog running circles around him.
“No”, said the German shepherd, “This experience taught me one thing”.
“What is that?” asked the Bulldog.
“Now I know why your face is like it is!”
Satan tries to tempt us away from the safe boundaries God has set for us (His Commandments, His Word and His Will for us).
He tempts us to make a mess instead of being watchful and caring for our Master’s house (body). The devil will come time after time to tempt us and tell us we’re not really free. – However, true freedom only comes in being a servant of the Lord!
We should recognize Satan’s tactics and resist him and he will flee. – Martin Luther did. One night he woke up and the devil was the end of his bed. Martin Luther said, “Oh! It’s only you!”, and he went back to sleep.
Satan knows what bait you’ll go for and tries to entice you with that! – Beth George was part of a coven and was assigned to make me fall morally while I was pastoring in Cheyenne. She later became a Christian and told me about that assignment. Annette, with big brown eyes and long black hair, wanted to have personal counseling with me. She said she wanted to “sit at my feet and learn about spiritual warfare!” – SORRY SATAN, I SEE A TRAP!
LISTEN! Temptation IS NOT SIN! — Every Christian is tempted – If the Devil’s leaving you alone check your relationship with Christ because . evidently Satan’s not worried about you!
Satan works harder on Christians than on the patrons at the neighborhood bar or brothel because he already owns those people!
James 1:14-16: But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
Temptation is when the Devil says, “Will you?” – Sin comes when we say, “I Will!”
Flip Wilson drew laughs by saying “The Devil made me do it!”
Satan can’t make you do anything: — James 4:7-8: Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
You choose to live for Jesus and do His Will or to disobey Christ and fall prey to Satan.
“Pastor, I try, but the battle’s too hard. I find myself constantly giving in to temptation and I’m constantly defeated. The Christian life isn’t working for me!”
Your problem is you’ve never totally committed your life to Jesus!
– You need to be sanctified!
When you’re Saved you confess the sins you’ve committed in the past, you’re freed from the guilt of past committed sins and have become your own person, but you still have that carnal nature of rebellion (wanting your own way instead of God’s Way).
To be Sanctified means you dedicate your life and all it entails to God’s Will and let the Holy Spirit cleanse you of that bent toward sinning and rebellion (inbred sin). The Sanctified Life is cleansed BY GOD, and set apart for God’s Holy use.
Romans 7:21-8:10: 21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
Romans 7:24: O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
Paul’s referring to the practice Rome had of chaining prisoners together. If one died he remained chained to the living one who had to drag that dead body every place he went until that rotting carcass poisoned and killed him too.
Paul’s saying the sin you refuse to let go of is a horrible burden like a rotting corpse which will eventually bring your death too.
The reason you’re struggling with the Tithe, witnessing, prayer, devotions, turning your life over to Christ 100% is because you’re still fighting for what you think are “your rights” — “the body of death.”
This attitude will take you right to Hell!
– You’ve no rights to fight for when you belong to Christ.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20: Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
If you’re fighting for your “rights” and refusing to give God your obedience “that body of death” is decaying in your spirit and will eventually destroy you.
Sanctification is an experience you maintain by a daily commitment to Jesus Christ. “NOT MY WILL, BUT THINE!”
You still have the power of choice and Satan will continue to challenge and tempt you, but if you’re committed to Christ He will guide you and you will remain victorious!
A man wanted to buy a house in Haiti for $2000.
– The property owner wasn’t sure he wanted to let the house go permanently, but was willing to negotiate a sale on the condition he could buy the house back if he ever wanted to.
– One stipulation for the sale was he could put a nail above the front door and would continue to own the nail.
The buyer thought, “What could one little nail hurt if I own the rest of the house?”
The buyer agreed to the condition of the sale and paid the $2000 asking price..
2 years later the original owner wanted his house back.
– By then the new owner wanted to renege on the agreement.
The previous owner said he owned the nail and could do what he wanted with it.
– He found a dead dog and hung it on the nail.
The new owner protested, but was reminded the contract read the nail belonged to the previous owner — he could use it anyway he wanted to.
The dog carcass continued to hang — rotting and decaying and smelling horrible.
Finally, the new owner could take it no longer and moved his family out and sold the house back to the original owner.
When you hold something from God, you’ve a nail Satan will use to hang his poison on and defeat you. — Romans 7:24: O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
Is there something dead hanging in your life today?
– Are you being defeated by “that body of death?”
– God can clean it out for you and restore your relationship with Him.
There are seminal moments in American history that test every fiber of our nation’s soul.
We are facing one now.
Revolutionary forces are causing every American citizen to question which direction the country is heading. To determine the outcome, we must examine our nation’s history to project ourselves forward into the future.
Once again, tyranny and treachery are in our midst, and although we feel we’ve descended into a hellish state of existence, we must never forget, hell is conquerable.
Prayer is the greatest weapon and a consciousness of God is the ultimate “thought of the day.”
The idea or notion of a heaven on Earth is the very real sense of being free. Freedom is oxygen. Like the air we breathe that keeps our lungs full and our hearts beating, the celestial feeling of freedom brings a sense of peace to our souls.
Freedom must never be taken for granted. Securing our freedom demands a high price — and that price requires hard work and sacrifice. Both will bind us all by the value they produce, but only if we are willing to seek new opportunities and new ideas.
Those who have sacrificed the most, those who have given the last true measure of devotion that derives from the love of faith, family and the cause of freedom — for all of us to be free, and for the betterment of our republic and the free world — cannot be allowed to have died in vain.
Our future, the future of our children and grandchildren and the future of our country are at stake. God will not give way to the care of the devil or allow us to be left to the evil vices of those who would steal our freedom in the dark of night.
He will not.
Instead, God will stand with us, as he always does.
Hard work and personal sacrifice still very much matter. Being a good person and showing kindness to others still matter.
If our nation is to survive this crucible moment, we need to fall back on the God-given values and ideals that are the very foundation of our constitutional republic. Let us not fear the uncertainty that comes with the unknown, instead accept it and fight through that sense of fear.
Can people in our day and age really believe in Satan, an actual devil? Why not? With so many people believing in reincarnation, astral projection, and other New Age beliefs, why not a devil? Unlike those other beliefs, belief in Satan is clearly taught in the Bible, in addition to being an article of faith for Christians for two thousand years.
Maybe we’ve outgrown the old pictures of the devil, with horns, a pitchfork, and a pointy tail. Fine. The Bible shows no concern about the devil’s looks. The Bible is concerned with a spiritual being that acts in direct opposition to a loving, merciful God who wants people to lead full, rewarding lives.
“If I am casting out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you.” Matthew 12:28
When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!”
“Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan falling from heaven as a flash of lightning! And I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. But don’t rejoice just because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered as citizens of heaven.” Luke 10:17-20
“You know what happened all through Judea, beginning in Galilee after John the Baptist began preaching. And no doubt you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the Devil, for God was with him.” Acts 10:37-38
When Jesus appeared to Paul on the Damascus road, he specifically mentioned tearing down the works of the devil:
“I am going to send you to the Gentiles, to open their eyes so they may turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.” Acts 26:18
The apostle Paul, like Jesus, understood the incredible power of Satan. He understood even better that God was much stronger, and would ultimately triumph.
The Bible’s classic passage about our safety from Satan is Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians. It reminds us that, frail though we are, we have a divine “armor” to protect against the powers of darkness.
Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.
Use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that you will be fully prepared. In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Ephesians 6:11-17
Humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you. James 4:7-8
Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour. Take a firm stand against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that Christians all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. 1 Peter 5:8-9
When people keep on sinning, it shows they belong to the Devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy these works of the Devil. Those who have been born into God’s family do not sin, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they have been born of God. So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the Devil. Anyone who does not obey God’s commands and does not love other Christians does not belong to God. 1 John 3:8-10
The Book of God’s Promises — Copyright, 1999 by J. Stephen Lang. All rights reserved, used with permission.
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When we pray for God’s kingdom to come and for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, what do we pray for? Peace? Prosperity? The revival of the Christian church? Or the advent of the latter times — the impending judgement that must come as prophesied by countless prophets throughout Biblical history?
For me, I see the formation of a global polity. I see the rise of global powers coming together in the name of peace. I see a day when all nations will set aside their differences, put down their weapons of war, come together to tackle issues that can only be solved if humanity comes together as a collective.
Got to admit, though, that if the Bible claims that the impending judgement on the earth in the latter days will be the work of the devil, then I think that our job as believers is to dance alongside the devil and to rise above him. To do this, we’ll need to be conversant with Biblical prophecies (because it is the sequence of events that must happen) and be kept up-to-date with current affairs. Let no one trick you to think that there is no need to read beyond the Bible. It is in the middle of the war when we’ll need to be well-versed with Biblical prophecies and then be able to link modern happenings with what we know must happen.
Don’t be fooled. The devil knows better than we do about what must happen — and shudder. Daily, the devil live out the vision of being swallowed alive due to the decision that he’s made earlier before the formation of the universe. The devil knew everything that must happen. The devil knew everything that lies ahead of him. Faced with the prince of the power of the air, it is in our every intention to work alongside him and to realise the purpose that he was called to fulfil. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling us to stand alongside him, but to rise above him. If we understand that the devil’s purpose was predestined by God to be fulfilled on this earth, we will understand that any action against the devil will be an act against God.
Don’t misunderstand me. Dancing alongside the devil is not accepting all the workings of the devil in this world. Rather, we are called to understand the works of the devil and to rise above him. Look, if the Bible says that there will be a global leader in the future who will unite global powers and the global economy, then we will work alongside him to achieve it. But if the Bible says that the global leader will cause people to worship him, then we will need the wisdom to consider alternatives to it. We can run, but we can’t hide. He is, after all, the prince of the power of the air. If we know that all the nations will turn to God and this is also the purpose of the devil, then work alongside him and be advocates of the Truth. But if we also know that the devil will pervert this to his own advantage and cause the world to worship him as theCreator, then we will need to stand our ground, one way or another — either by going into hiding or divorcing ourselves from the global economy.
Whether or not we put our faith in God, all of these must happen. But as Christians, when we pray for God’s kingdom to come and God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven, then we must be prepared that we’re inviting the devil into our midst. Therefore, we are called to ready ourselves for the war that is ahead of us.
In the stillness of my meditations, I have listed down a few pointers for our consideration as we prepare for the arrival of the latter days.
Do we know the prophecies in the Bible well enough that we can determine where we are on the Biblical calendar of end-time prophecies?
Do we know how to recognise true news sources from fake ones? Are we able to take decisive steps to determine the level of truth of the articles we read?
Are we grounded ethically to God’s original design? Or are we easily swayed by the waves of modern trends?
Are we prepared to divorce ourselves from the economy for the sake of survival? Going into caves and relying on agriculture to stay alive? Or are we overly reliant on modern technologies for our survival?
Is our definition of love, sin, and forgiveness, grounded on Biblical truth? Or are we overly legalistic, condemning every “sinner” that comes our way, forgetting that we are too, the needy sinner who has fallen short of the glory of God?
We are called to dance with the devil. But much more than that, we’re called to rise above him. We are not to be swayed by the waves of modern trends, but we are called to be rooted in our faith in Christ. Are we ready for the dance?
God is sovereign over Satan. This means that Lucifer does not have a free hand in this world. He is on a leash and will never do more than God permits.
In effect, he must seek permission as in the case of Simon Peter, where Jesus discloses Satan’s intentions “Simon, Simon – behold, Satan has asked to have you, that he might sift you like wheat.” [Luke 22:31] We see this same pattern in Job’s case. “Behold, Job is in your hand; only spare his life.” [Job 2:6]
We must constantly pray against Satan’s requests and the trials he tirelessly design’s against our lives and families. Truth is, everything which happens in the physical realm, is first created in the spiritual realm. It is our duty to bind and cancel seen and unseen evil in the name of Jesus Christ.
When the right time comes, Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire. “The devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” [Revelation 20:10] His complete defeat is coming.
We must spend time reading the word of God. That is where we find our weapon against spiritual warfare. God sees behind enemy lines and knows exactly the strategies that will be used against us. The bible is written down in a wartime manual. So that we could not be outwitted by Satan. We must not be ignorant of his destructive design [2 Corinthians 2:11]Recognize some of Satan’s Strategies below –
Satan is the Father of all Lies:
“When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of all lies.” [John 8:44] On his first appearance in the bible, his first words are suspicious of the truth “did God say, you shall not eat of any tree in the garden?” And the second words on his lips were a subtle falsehood “You will not die.”
“Satan has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him.” [John 8:44] We are dealing with the essence of falsehood and deception.
He Blinds the Minds of Unbelievers:
“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the Glory of Christ.” [2 Corinthians 4:4]. He not only speaks what is false. He hides the truth at all cost. He keeps us from seeing the treasure of the gospel. He let’s us see facts, even proofs, but not preciousness.
He Masquerades in Costume of Light and Righteousness:
“Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.” [2 Corinthians 11:14] In other words Satan has servants who profess enough truth to join the church, and from inside teach what Paul calls “doctrines of demons.” [1 Timothy 4:1].
Jesus says they will be like wolves in sheep’s clothing. [Mathew 7:15]
Acts 20:30 says they will not spare the flock, but will draw people away to destruction. Without God’s gift of discernment [Philippians 1:9] our love will be suckered into stupidity.
Satan Tempts you to Sin:
This is what he unsuccessfully attempted to do with Jesus at the wilderness. He wanted him to abandon the path of suffering and obedience. [Matthew 4:1-11]
He did the same to Judas in the last hour of Jesus’s life and succeeded. [Luke 22:3-6]
In 2 Corinthians 11:3, Paul warns against this for all the believers ” I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
Satan Intends to Choke the word of God from your Heart and Choke your Faith:
Jesus told the parable of the four soils in Mark 4:1-9. In it, the seed of the word of God is sown, and some falls on the path and birds quickly take it away. He explains in verse 15, “Satan immediately comes and takes away the word which was sown in them. Satan snatches the word because he hates faith which the word produces. [Romans 10:17].
Satan Causes Sickness and Diseases:
Jesus healed a woman once who was bend over and could not straighten herself. When some criticized him for doing that on the sabbath, he said, “Ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan bond for 18 years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” [Luke 13:16]. Jesus knew Satan had caused the disease.
In Acts 10:38, Peter describes Jesus as the one who “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil.” In other words the devil often oppresses people with illness. This too is one of his designs.
Those are just some of Satan’s strategies against the children of God. We should always pray for discernment and victory over all his evil strategies.