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Posts tagged ‘devil’

WHATEVER IT TAKES, LORD !

SOURCE:  Rick Warren/The Angel Stadium Declaration

On April 6, 1980, 205 people attended Saddleback Valley Community Church’s first public worship service. On Sunday, April 17, 2005, 30,000 people gathered at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, to celebrate 25 years of ministry at Saddleback Church. At the culmination of a three-hour service of worship and remembrance, thousands rose to their feet to read the following together as a commitment to doing God’s will for the next 25 years. It is and will be referred to as The Angel Stadium Declaration: April 17, 2005. I offer it to our devotional readers for the inspiration that it was to me. I suggest you print it and put it where you can refer to it often. That’s what I’m going to do.

Today I am stepping across the line.  I’m tired of waffling and I’m finished with wavering; I’ve made my choice, the verdict is in and my decision is irrevocable.  I’m going God’s way.  There’s no turning back now!

I will live the rest of my life serving God’s purposes with God’s people on God’s planet for God’s glory.  I will use my life to celebrate His presence, cultivate His character, participate in His family, demonstrate His love, and communicate His word.

Since my past has been forgiven and I have a purpose for living and a home awaiting in heaven, I refuse to waste any more time or energy on shallow living, petty thinking, trivial talking, thoughtless doing, useless regretting, hurtful resenting, or faithless worrying.  Instead, I will magnify God, grow to maturity, serve in ministry, and fulfill my mission in the membership of His family.

Because this life is preparation for the next, I will value worship over wealth, “we” over “me,” character over comfort, service over status, and people over possessions, position, and pleasures. I know what matters most and I’ll give it all I’ve got. I’ll do the best I can with what I have for Jesus Christ today.

I won’t be captivated by culture, manipulated by critics, motivated by praise, frustrated by problems debilitated by temptation or intimidated by the devil.  I’ll keep running my race with my eyes on the goal, not the sidelines or those running by me.  When times get tough, and I get tired, I won‘t back up, back off, back down, back out or backslide.  I’ll just keep moving forward by God’s grace.  I’m Spirit-led, purpose-driven and mission-focused so I cannot be bought, I will not be compromised, and I shall not quit until I finish the race.

I’m a trophy of God’s amazing grace so I will be gracious to everyone, grateful for every day, and generous with everything that God entrusts to me.

To my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I say:  However, Whenever, Wherever, and Whatever you ask me to do, my answer in advance is yes!  Wherever you lead and whatever the cost, I’m ready.  Anytime.  Anywhere.  Anyway.  Whatever it takes Lord; Whatever it takes!  I want to be used by you in such a way, that on that final day I’ll hear you say, “Well done, thou good and faithful one.  Come on in, and let the eternal party begin!”

Satan is Powerful But POWERFULLY LIMITED

SOURCE:  Taken from an article by June Hunt

Don’t make the common mistake of assuming that God and Satan possess the same power—or that the power of Satan is equal to the power of God.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Cast out of the heavenly realms to roam the earth, Satan has been given power, but only to the degree that the Lord allows. In the first chapter of the Book of Job, a dialogue between God and Satan confirms that Satan’s activity is limited and always requires the sovereign permission of God.

• Satan cannot be everywhere.

“The LORD said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the LORD, ‘From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.’ ” (Job 1:7)

• Satan has no absolute power over a believer’s possessions.

“Then the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.’ ‘Does Job fear God for nothing?’ Satan replied. ‘Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.’ ” (Job 1:8–11)

• Satan has no absolute power over a believer’s body.

“The LORD said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.’ Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.” (Job 1:12)

• Satan has no absolute power over a believer’s life.

“Then the LORD said to Satan.… ‘[Job] still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.’ ‘Skin for skin!’ Satan replied. ‘A man will give all he has for his own life. But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.’ The LORD said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.’ ” (Job 2:3–6)

• Satan must obey Jesus.

“Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” ’ Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.” (Matthew 4:10–11)

• Satan must ask permission to tempt a believer.

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.” (Luke 22:31)

• Satan has to leave if he is resisted.

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)

• Satan cannot protect his followers.

“Then he [Jesus, the King] will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ ” (Matthew 25:41)

• Satan cannot prevent his own demise.

“The devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Revelation 20:10)

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Hunt, J. (2008). Biblical Counseling Keys on Satan, Demons & Satanism: A Sinister Reality (14–15). Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart.

We Are Being Lied to All the Time

SOURCE:  John Eldredge

The devil no doubt has a place in our theology, but is he a category we even think about in the daily events of our lives?

Has it ever crossed your mind that not every thought that crosses your mind comes from you?

We are being lied to all the time.

Yet we never stop to say, “Wait a minute . . . who else is speaking here? Where are those ideas coming from? Where are those feelings coming from?”

If you read the saints from every age before the Modern Era-that pride-filled age of reason, science, and technology we all were thoroughly educated in–you’ll find that they take the devil very seriously indeed. As Paul says, “We are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Cor. 2:11). But we, the enlightened, have a much more commonsense approach to things. We look for a psychological or physical or even political explanation for every trouble we meet.

Who caused the Chaldeans to steal Job’s herds and kill his servants? Satan, clearly (Job 1:12, 17). Yet do we even give him a passing thought when we hear of terrorism today?

Who kept that poor woman bent over for eighteen years, the one Jesus healed on the Sabbath? Satan, clearly (Luke 13:16). But do we consider him when we are having a headache that keeps us from praying or reading Scripture?

Who moved Ananias and Sapphira to lie to the apostles? Satan again (Acts 5:3). But do we really see his hand behind a fallout or schism in ministry?

Who was behind that brutal assault on your own strength, those wounds you’ve taken? As William Gurnall said, “It is the image of God reflected in you that so enrages hell; it is this at which the demons hurl their mightiest weapons.”

There is a whole lot more going on behind the scenes of our lives than most of us have been led to believe.

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(Wild at Heart , 152-53)

Evil Has A Name

SOURCE:  Taken from  The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) pp. 50-51

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Satan prefers that we do not recognize his role in our conflicts.

As long as we see other people as our only adversaries and focus our attacks on them, we will give no thought to guarding against our most dangerous enemy.

Both James and Peter were aware of this danger, and they warn us to actively resist Satan’s schemes (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:9). Paul gives a similar warning, reminding us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12). 

Food for Thought

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”
— C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Who is your most dangerous enemy?

Think about it for a moment. What would you say? Odds are that among both non-Christians and Christians, most of us would answer in terms of flesh and blood; in other words, someone or some group of people. But as Ken reminds us, that’s just not the case. Three scriptural authors — Peter, James and Paul — all echo the reality that our most dangerous enemy in this life is Satan.

There is an enemy out there and we’re basically oblivious to his schemes – we’re asleep at the wheel. We just keep on blaming each one another, a.k.a., flesh and blood, for everything that’s going on. Ken says it well: Satan prefers that we do not recognize his role in our conflicts.

If we have any intention of living as peacemakers, it’s imperative that we live with an awareness of our most dangerous enemy. Now it is true that most of our struggle comes through flesh and blood, but we’ve got to be self-controlled and alert, remembering that it’s not ultimately against flesh and blood that we battle.

All Trouble and Affliction Comes From God’s Hand (Part 1 of 2)

SOURCE:  Bishop Myles Coverdale (by Deejay O’Flaherty)

[Myles Coverdale  (c. 1488 –  1569) was a 16th-century Bible translator who produced the first complete printed translation of the Bible into English.]

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I Call all that trouble and affliction, whatsoever is reputed to be contrary to the desire and appetite of man’s nature; as the unquiet suggestions of the flesh, the temptations of the devil, sickness of body, a wicked and forward mate in matrimony, to have disobedient children, unkind and unthankful friends, loss of goods, to be deprived of any old liberty or privilege, loss or blemish of name and fame, the malice and displeasure of men, hunger, dearth, pestilence, war, imprisonment, and death. And in this register do I put all kinds of crosses and afflictions, whether they be bodily or ghostly, our own or our friends’, private and singular, or universal and general, privy and secret, or open and manifest, deserved or undeserved.

Every Christian man ought first of all to consider the very root, ground, and beginning, after this wise: that all things, whatsoever God sends, we ought to take and receive them patiently.

For this is once true, that God is our Creator and Maker, and we his workmanship; he is our King, our Lord, and Father; and like as it is not seeming that the pot should murmur against the pot-maker, (Isaiah 45:64, Jeremiah 18) even so is it much less convenient that we should murmur and grudge against God’s will and judgment.

And although trouble and affliction rises and springs oftentimes by the wickedness of enemies, and through the instigation of the devil, or else by some other means; yet ought we never to imagine that it cometh by fortune or chance, without the permission, sufferance, determination, and will of God, but by and with the foreknowledge, providence, and appointment of God.

Ezekiel 28, Job 1, Matthew 10.

Never Underestimate The DEVIL!

SOURCE:  J. C. Ryle

Let it never surprise us, if we are tempted by the devil.

Let us rather expect it, as a matter of course, if we are living members of Christ.

The Master’s lot will be the lot of His disciples. That mighty spirit who did not fear to attack Jesus himself, is still going about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. That murderer and liar who vexed Job, and overthrew David and Peter, still lives, and is not yet bound.

If he cannot rob us of heaven, he will at any rate make our journey there painful. If he cannot destroy our souls, he will at least bruise our heels (Gen. 3:15). Let us beware of despising him, or thinking lightly of his power.

Let us rather put on the whole armor of God, and cry to the Lord for strength. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

~ J.C. Ryle

Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Luke volume 1, [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1986], 108, 109. {Luke 4:1-13}

The Character and Intention of the Devil

SOURCE:  J. C. Ryle

Editor’s Note:  As brought out in the below article by J. C. Ryle, there is a devil, and we must be wise to his wiles.  At the same time, our focus must be ultimately upon Jesus.  Although a great and formidable foe to us, the devil is a defeated foe nonetheless (Col 2:15).

There is a devil!

We have a mighty invisible enemy always near us–one who never slumbers and never sleeps–one who is about our path and about our bed, and spies out all our ways, and will never leave us until we die.

He is a murderer!

His great aim and object is, to ruin us forever and kill our souls. To destroy, to rob us of eternal life, to bring us down to the second death in hell, are the things for which he is unceasingly working.  He is ever going about, seeking whom he may devour.

He is a liar!

He is continually trying to deceive us by false representations, just as he deceived Eve at the beginning. He is always telling us that good is evil and evil good–truth is falsehood and falsehood truth–the broad way good and the narrow way bad.

Millions are led captive by his deceit, and follow him, both rich and poor, both high and low, both learned and unlearned.

Lies are his chosen weapons. By lies he slays many.

~ J.C. Ryle

Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: John, volume 2, [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1987], 125. {John 8:37-47}

Satan may “vex”, BUT he cannot “hurt!”

Christ’s Ultimate Dominion Over Satan

SOURCE:  J C Ryle

Our Lord Jesus Christ’s dominion over the devil should be a cheering thought to all true Christians. Without it, indeed, we might well despair of salvation.

To feel that we have ever near us an invisible spiritual enemy, laboring night and day to compass our destruction, would be enough to crush our every hope, if we did not know a Friend and Protector.

Blessed be God!  The Gospel reveals such a One.

The Lord Jesus is stronger than that “strong man armed,” who is ever warring against our souls. The Lord Jesus is able to deliver us from the devil. He proved his power over him frequently when upon earth. He triumphed over him gloriously on the cross.

[Jesus] will never let him pluck any of His sheep out of His hand. He will one day bruise him under our feet, and bind him in the prison of hell. (Rom. 16:20;Rev. 20:1, 2). Happy are they who hear Christ’s voice and follow Him!

Satan may vex them, but he cannot really hurt them!

[Satan] may bruise their heel, but he cannot destroy their souls.

They shall be “more than conquerors” through Him [Jesus] who loved them (Rom 8:37).

~ J.C. Ryle

Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Luke volume 1, [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1986], 269. {Luke 8:26-36}

The Devil: Is This Ancient Foe Real? YES!

SOURCE:  Ligonier Ministries/Dr. Keith A. Mathison

Talk of the Devil and spiritual warfare makes some people roll their eyes. We live in an age of particle accelerators, microchips, and organ transplants. The Devil? Why, he’s nothing more than a medieval superstition created to scare naughty children. We can’t take any of that seriously.

Martin Luther would have disagreed. He took it very seriously and wrote often of his ongoing battle with the Devil. He was very aware of the forces of evil. Most of us have heard the story about Luther throwing an inkwell at the Devil. Whether truth or legend, such an act would not have been out of character for Luther. It is also well known that Luther believed in using contempt to fight the Devil, and some of the things he said to and about the Devil were colorful, to say the least.

According to the skeptics, Luther may have meant well, but his encounters with “the Devil” say more about his fragile mental state than they do about reality. This is what our demythologized world would have us believe, and, frankly, it is what the Devil himself would have us believe. As the French poet Charles Baudelaire said, “The devil’s best trick is to persuade you that he doesn’t exist!”

Luther’s language about the Devil wasn’t always crude. Sometimes he was more tactful. His hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” is a magnif icent description of spiritual warfare and our place in it.

A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood
of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great,
and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

The Devil is quite real, and there is a spiritual war going on every minute of every day (Rev. 12:17). It was foretold by God when He cursed the Serpent and said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring” (Gen. 3:15). This war is not a dualistic Manichaean battle between two essentially equal forces, good and evil, light and darkness. Satan is not omnipotent or omniscient. God alone is sovereign and all-powerful. All that the Devil does is done only by God’s permission and ultimately will be used by God for His own purposes.

Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

It is important for believers to understand that the outcome of this war is not uncertain. As God also said to the Serpent, “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” The decisive battle has already been won at the cross. The Devil may have thought he had won when Jesus was crucified, but this was actually the point in redemptive history when his head was crushed. It was by means of His death on the cross that Jesus destroyed the Devil (Heb. 2:14).

Some theologians have used World War II as an analogy of what happened. The cross was D-Day in the spiritual war. It was the decisive assault that sealed the doom of the enemy. The final victory, analogous to VE-Day, occurs at the final judgment when the Devil is cast into hell. Christians today live between D-Day and VE-Day. During this time, the armies advance against the enemy, slowly but surely, in a bloody and painful battle until Christ has put every last enemy under His feet. Some days see advances while other days see retreats, but overall there is an advance until the last day, the day of the enemy’s complete surrender.

And though this world,
with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers,
no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

The fact that we live between the decisive battle and the final battle explains why Peter must still warn his readers that the Devil prowls around like a lion seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). The Devil has suffered a fatal wound, but he is not dead. He remains dangerous, and we must remain watchful against his schemes. He does not always come at us looking as evil as he is. He and his servants can disguise themselves as angels of light (2 Cor. 11:14). In spite of this, because we are united with Jesus Christ, the One who crushed his head, we can resist the Devil, and he will flee from us.

Our Soul Enemy

SOURCE:  Tom Eisenman/Discipleship Journal

The first rule of war is to know your enemy.

When the satellite TV company offered us—their “preferred customers”—a three-months-free package of movie channels, my wife, Judie, and I said, “Sure, sign us up.” If nothing else, we’d save a bundle on movie rentals while the kids were visiting us over the holidays.

What were we thinking?

Judie and I had known we’d need to make discerning choices about what we watched. But we totally underestimated the tsunami of violence, nudity, bad language, and unabashed affronts to a godly lifestyle that would flood our home once we got hooked up. Two days later, we called and cancelled.

This experience brought to mind again the Apostle Peter’s warning: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). In this case our relationship with God was at risk of being devoured with each image and sound bite.

Devilish Tactics

The Bible clearly teaches that a powerful evil being called Satan rules over dark powers in this world and also over forces of evil that inhabit the heavenly realms (Eph. 6:12). He appears to be motivated largely by anger and envy; he was banished forever from the very paradise to which we, as God’s children, are now heirs. And so he aggressively opposes both the people of God and the work of God (1 Thess. 2:18,Mt. 13:37–39).

Satan’s aliases suggest the typical strategies he employs against us. He is called the tempter (Mt. 4:3), the father of lies (Jn. 8:44), and the accuser of God’s people (Rev. 12:10). He is always looking for ways to wreak havoc in a believer’s life and will employ any or all of the above tactics—tempting, deceiving, accusing—to diminish or demoralize God’s people. Knowing his tactics will help us stand against him.

How tempting! First, let’s look at Satan’s role as tempter. How does Satan entice us? James describes the evil process this way: “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed” (Jas. 1:14).

James leans heavily on fishing imagery in this verse. We are like hungry fish, lured by the bait. The evil fisherman knows us well: our appetites, our obsessions, the potentially dangerous power in our suppressed angers. His lure will be personal and powerful. Whatever our particular desire, he will dangle it in front of us to entice us and drag us away from God.

If you are captivated by sex, Satan will make certain that opportunities to satisfy your fantasies are readily available. If your battle is with envy or jealousy, you will meet people at every turn who have more than you do or who have succeeded in areas where you have failed. If you are susceptible to anger, you will struggle to forgive a person who has offended you, finding it nearly impossible to get the incident out of your mind.

Weapons of mass deception. One can visit the Garden of Eden for a revealing picture of Satan’s next role: deceiver. The entire entrapment of Adam and Eve is a network of lies, deception, and half-truths (Genesis 3).

Satan asks Eve what God said about the tree in the center of the garden. She says God warned them not to eat of it or they would die. Satan responds,

You will not surely die…For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God.

—vv. 4–5

In two brief lines he calls God a liar and implies that God has ulterior motives for withholding His best from the first couple. Further, Satan deceives Eve by suggesting that she can gain equality with God by taking things into her own hands.

Satan will similarly engage each of us. He will subtly invite us into dialogue about what God actually said or, more slippery yet, what God might have meant by what He said. We may find ourselves rationalizing why something we’ve always considered to be wrong might be acceptable in this particular case. Or an inner voice will convince us to indulge in something that will ultimately deliver only grief and pain. I deserve it, we reason, as hard as I’ve been working lately. Besides, everybody else is doing the same thing, and it doesn’t seem to be hurting them.

Remember, the devil has been around aeons longer than we have. He has been studying human nature and behavior from the beginning. He knows what lies we are most likely to believe. And he will not hesitate to use them against us.

I stand accused. Accusation is Satan’s third attack strategy. He uses this tactic to demoralize us and make us feel unworthy of a relationship with God.

Satan moves to the “accuser mode” after he has succeeded at tempting and deceiving us. In his roles as tempter and deceiver, the evil one whispers how sweet sin will be. “After all,” he reminds us, “God is a God of grace, mercy, and love. Nothing to worry about! You can always repent. Forgiveness will be easy.”

But once we take the bait, Satan changes his tactics. We’ve sinned, the glow has dimmed, and now reality hits. In that moment when the shame and emptiness of sin strikes, we’ll likely also hear a sneer within: “And you call yourself a Christian!” Now Satan is all over us about what losers we are, how unworthy we are to name the name of Christ, how undeserving we are of His costly love.

Have you noticed the common thread in these three strategies of the enemy? Whether he is acting as tempter, deceiver, or accuser, all these assaults are launched as attacks on our minds.

Messing with Our Minds

Let’s look at some specific ways Satan may try to invade the territory of our minds.

Commandeering our imaginations. Imagination is a wonderful gift from God. I believe it is given to us so that we can envision all we might do and become according to God’s power at work in and through us. But our imaginations are also vulnerable to Satan’s enticements, lies, and accusations.

Consider Eve. Satan shrewdly set her up to fantasize about grasping equality with God. The image was powerful, exciting, irresistible; any thought of following God in obedience and devotion paled in comparison. She ate, and then she became the devil’s advocate by inviting Adam to join her.

Fostering obsession. Another common strategy Satan employs to keep us off-balance is to feed our tendency to obsess. He will do anything to get our focus off of God and onto ourselves or our problems.

For instance, one person’s obsession might be guilt. As Satan keeps the image of her failures vividly alive, a healthy, active conscience is usurped by obsessive thoughts about how bad she has been. Remember, Satan is the accuser. His barrage of condemnation locks her inside herself and blinds her to the light of God’s forgiving grace.

One of my weaknesses is out-of-control worry. When my concerns are infected by the evil one, it’s like I have a video tape in my mind that won’t shut off. Over and over I replay an ugly list of what-if’s: What if this happens! What if that happens! Satan is playing on my fears, and fear always takes my focus off of God and places it on myself.

We are all vulnerable in some area. The evil one is prowling around, looking for host cells in which to plant one of his powerful obsession viruses.

Confusing our sense of what’s right. As we have seen, the deceiver loves to convince us that taking an action that is against God’s will can actually produce something good.

A person may conclude that it makes perfect sense to murder the doctor at the abortion clinic to save the lives of unborn children. Another might slip into a sexual encounter with a coworker, thinking that a temporary fling is just what’s needed to recharge the romance in a lackluster marriage.

Supersizing the initial pleasure. Satan also messes with our minds by ensuring that a first foray into sensual sin yields the greatest possible pleasure. By supersizing that initial experience, he hooks us into a pattern of committing the sin again and again in an attempt to recapture that first-time intensity. When indulging in the same experience doesn’t do it any longer, we up the ante.

A friend of mine started down this road when she tried marijuana. Over time she wound up addicted to heroin, which gave her the rush she could no longer get from other drugs. Finally clean after years of struggling with the addiction, she described her experience to me as “one big high, and the rest was killing pain.”

This is the nature of bondage to Satan: He works to produce in us a greater and greater appetite for a steadily decreasing pleasure. In the end, there is no pleasure at all. Only the raw hunger remains.

Encouraging isolation. In another mind-messing tactic, Satan tries to convince us that we can deal with our struggles on our own. Once we buy into this deception, we are less inclined to seek help and prayer support when we need it most. So we fail, and fail again, and fail again—and tell no one. Ashamed, we slip away altogether from fellowship with other Christians. Finally, isolated and alone, we pose no threat to the evil one’s deadly devices.

Distorting the truth about the reality of evil. The most effective mind trick of all is to downplay the truth about evil. If we don’t believe we have an enemy, we will spend no time preparing for spiritual battle. The truth is, as soon as we name Jesus as our personal savior we pick up enemies—all those evil beings pitted against the purposes of God. A spiritual battle is raging, and we are in the thick of it. If we refuse to believe it, we play into Satan’s hands.

Master Minds

Though these tactics may sound harrowing, we haven’t been left defenseless. Following are a few biblical strategies for defending ourselves against these attacks on the mind.

Guard your thought life. The Apostle Paul was apparently no stranger to assaults on the mind. He wrote,

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

—2 Cor. 10:5, emphasis mine

In Phil. 4:8, Paul urges us to fill our minds with those things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. This is strong encouragement to make choices that strengthen and guard the territory of our minds.

This strategy helped me recently with a man I have struggled to forgive. He pretended to be my friend but behind my back was spreading rumors about me that helped advance his career. The evil one loves to use a situation like this to plant anger and bitterness. Yet I remembered Jesus’ admonition to love and pray for our enemies (Mt. 5:44). Praying for an enemy is a powerful way to stake out the territory of our minds for the Lord.

Every time ugly thoughts about this man popped into my head and I felt anger rising again, I chose to pray for him. More than once, right after praying for the man and his family, I ran into him in a store or saw him drive by. Encountering him in person helped me sense immediately and thankfully how my thoughts had changed for the better.

Remember who you are. Often we don’t realize the full range of spiritual resources that has been passed on to us. In Ephesians 1, Paul prays that Christians will

know the hope to which [God] has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

—vv. 18–19

If we know the truth about our victory in Christ, nothing the evil one does can steal our hope. A growing knowledge of our heavenly inheritance will sustain us when Satan loads on the doubt or tempts and accuses us. And if we know and really grasp the fact that the very power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to each of us, we will not fear the enemy’s attacks.

I have found it helpful to fill my mind with the truths in Ephesians 1. I’ve not only read this chapter repeatedly, I’ve also committed it to memory so I can carry it with me at all times. When temptations, doubts, or accusations assail me, my immediate response is to choose to remember who I am in Christ and all the heavenly resources that are at my disposal through my relationship with Him. When compared to the reality of God’s truth, the counterfeit pleasures of Satan grow dim. Instead of a one-time supersized thrill at the front end, the pleasures of true intimacy with God keep growing through time.

Give and receive prayer. Nothing will keep our minds more focused and actively engaged against evil than intercessory prayer. Prayer for one another was the mainstay of the early church. For instance, Paul mentions Epaphras, saying, “He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured” (Col. 4:12). Intercession is the primary ministry through which the community of faith can stand shoulder to shoulder with each other while joining with Jesus in our mutual struggle against the powers of evil.

Never give up.

It is important to remember that, no matter how much we learn about Satan’s strategies, we will not be victorious in every struggle against temptation, deception, or accusation.

As I wrote this article, I was often aware that I had—again—fallen short in some area. As always the evil one was right there to accuse me: How can you write about guarding your mind? Look what you’ve done. Yet I did not stop writing.

Yes, I’ve sinned. Yes, I still sin. But I get up, dust myself off, and keep going because I know my security does not lie in a perfect record. I take comfort in God’s promise through Paul: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Ro. 8:1). The Spirit gave Paul this breakthrough insight as he was lamenting his own repeated failures (Ro. 7:14–25).

So yes, it is wise to know the tactics of our enemy. This knowledge will help us stay in the fight and make headway. But the enemy should never be our focus. Our focus needs to be on Christ, who saves us and in whom we have our victory. We finally and fully rest our minds and hearts in the truth that “the one who is in [us] is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 Jn. 4:4).

Quotations of BILLY SUNDAY

SOURCE –  Adapted From:  Keiki Hendrix

Brief Biography
Billy Sunday (1862-1935), was a professional baseball player from 1883 to 1891 for Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia teams.

He was converted through the street preaching of Harry Monroe of the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago.

He left a $5,000 a year salary as a baseball player for a $75 a month for the previously evangelistic YMCA. From 1893 to 1895 was associated with J. Wilbur Chapman.

He was an evangelist from 1893 to 1935. It is estimated that over 300,000 people walked the “sawdust trail” to receive Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. (Adapted from “The Wycliffe Biographical Dictionary of the Church,” page 387, Elgin S. Moyer, 1982, ©Moody Press, Chicago, IL)

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–


+Let’s quit fiddling with religion and do something to bring the world to Christ.

+If you want to drive the devil out of the world, hit him with a cradle instead of a crutch.

+I’m against sin. I’ll kick it as long as I’ve got a foot, and I’ll fight it as long as I’ve got a fist. I’ll butt it as long as I’ve got a head. I’ll bite it as long as   I’ve got a tooth. And when I’m old and fistless and footless and toothless, I’ll gum it till I go home to Glory and it goes home to perdition!

+Live so that when the final summons comes you will leave something more behind you than an epitaph on a tombstone or an obituary in a newspaper.

+The Lord is not compelled to use theologians. He can take snakes, sticks or anything else, and use them for the advancement of his cause.

+I believe that a long step toward public morality will have been taken when sins are called by their right names.

+Your reputation is what people say about you. Your character is what God and your wife know about you.

+If you took no more care of yourself physically than spiritually, you’d be just as dried up physically as you are spiritually.

+If you live wrong you can’t die right.

+Look into the preaching Jesus did and you will find it was aimed straight at the big sinners on the front seats.

+If good preaching could save the world, it would have been done long ago.

+Churches don’t need new members half so much as they need the old bunch made over.

+There wouldn’t be so many non-church goers if there were not so many non-going churches.

+There are some so-called Christian homes today with books on the shelves of the library that have no more business there than a rattler crawling about on the floor, or a poison within the child’s reach.

+Too many churches are little more than four walls and a roof.

+Home is the place we love best and grumble the most.

+I don’t believe there are devils enough in hell to pull a boy out of the arms of a godly mother.

+There is nothing in the world of art like the songs mother used to sing.

+To train a boy in the way he should go you must go that way yourself.

+Don’t stop with telling your boy to do right. Show him how.

+Be careful, father, or while you are taking one lap around the devil’s track your boy will make six.

+If you would have your children turn out well, don’t turn your home into a lunch counter and lodging house.

+Not to walk in the straight and narrow way yourself, is to give the devil the biggest kind of a chance to get our children.

+Some homes need a hickory switch a good deal more than they do a piano.

+Better die an old maid, sister, than marry the wrong man.

+Whiskey is all right in its place — but its place is hell.

+The normal way to get rid of drunkards is to quit raising drunkards — to put the business that makes drunkards out of business.

+Riches have never yet given anybody either peace or rest.

+It won’t save your soul if your wife is a Christian. You have got to be something more than a brother-in-law to the Church.

+You can’t raise the standard of women’s morals by raising their pay envelope. It lies deeper than that.

+The reason you don’t like the Bible, you old sinner, is because it knows all about you.

+Going to church doesn’t make a man a Christian, any more than going to a garage makes him an automobile.

+The difference between God’s side and the devil’s is the difference between heaven and hell.

+God keeps no half-way house. It’s either heaven or hell for you and me.

+A man can slip into hell with his hand on the door-knob of heaven.

+The Bible will always be full of things you cannot understand, as long as you will not live according to those you can understand.

+The inconsistency is not in the Bible, but in your life.

+God likes a little humor, as is evidence by the fact that he made the monkeys, the parrot — and some of you people.

+Yank some of the groans out of your prayers, and shove in some shouts.

+If you are strangers to prayer you are strangers to power.

+What have you given the world it never possessed before you came?

+The Bible says forgive your debtors; the world says “sue them for their dough.”

+Temptation is the devil looking through the keyhole. Yielding is opening the door and inviting him in.

+I am not the author of the plan of salvation, but I am responsible for the way I preach it.

+I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time religion, that has warmed this cold world’s heart for two thousand years.

+When I hit the devil square in the face some people go away as mad as if I had slapped them in the mouth.

+The backslider likes the preaching that wouldn’t hit the side of a house, while the real disciple is delighted when the truth brings him to his knees.

+To discover a flaw in our makeup is a chance to get rid of it, and add a new line of beauty to our life.

+It is not necessary to be in a big place to do big things.

The Horror of Hell

Source:   Tom Ascol

“There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ’s moral character, and that is that He believed in hell.” So wrote the agnostic British philosopher Bertrand Russell in 1967. The idea of eternal punishment for sin, he further notes, is “a doctrine that put cruelty in the world and gave the world generations of cruel torture.”

His views are at least more consistent than religious philosopher John Hick, who refers to hell as a “grim fantasy” that is not only “morally revolting” but also “a serious perversion of the Christian Gospel.” Worse yet is theologian Clark Pinnock who, despite still regarding himself as an evangelical, dismisses hell with a rhetorical question: “How can one imagine for a moment that the God who gave His Son to die for sinners because of His great love for them would install a torture chamber somewhere in the new creation in order to subject those who reject Him to everlasting pain?”

So, what should we think of hell? Is the idea of it really responsible for all the cruelty and torture in the world? Is the doctrine of hell incompatible with the way of Jesus Christ? Hardly. In fact, the most prolific teacher of hell in the Bible is Jesus, and He spoke more about it than He did about heaven. In Matthew 25:41–46 He teaches us four truths about hell that should cause us to grieve over the prospect of anyone experiencing its horrors.

First, hell is a state of separation from God. On the day of judgment, Jesus will say to all unbelievers, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire” (v. 41). This is the same sort of language that Jesus uses elsewhere to describe the final judgment of unbelievers (see 7:23).

To be separated from God is to be separated from anything and everything good. That is hard to conceive because even the most miserable person enjoys some of God’s blessings. We breathe His air, are nourished by food that He supplies, and experience many other aspects of His common grace.

On earth even atheists enjoy the benefits of God’s goodness. But in hell, these blessings will be nonexistent. Those consigned there will remember God’s goodness, and will even have some awareness of the unending pleasures of heaven, but they will have no access to them.

This does not mean that God will be completely absent from hell. He is and will remain omnipresent (Ps. 139:7–8). To be separated from the Lord and cast into hell does not mean that a person will finally be free of God. That person will remain eternally accountable to Him. He will remain Lord over the person’s existence. But in hell, a person will be forever separated from God in His kindness, mercy, grace, and goodness. He will be consigned to deal with Him in His holy wrath.

Secondly, hell is a state of association. Jesus says that the eternal fire of hell was “prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). People were made for God. Hell was made for the Devil. Yet people who die in their sin, without Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, will spend eternity in hell with the one being who is most unlike God. It is a tragic irony that many who do not believe in the Devil in this life will wind up spending eternity being tormented with him in hell.

The third truth is that it is a state of punishment. Jesus describes it as “fire” (v. 41) and a place of “punishment” (v. 46). Hell is a place of retribution where justice is served through the payment for crimes.

The punishment must fit the crime. The misery and torment of hell point to the wickedness and seriousness of sin. Those who protest the biblical doctrine of hell as being excessive betray their inadequate comprehension of the sinfulness of sin. For sinners to be consigned to anything less than the horrors of eternal punishment would be a miscarriage of justice.

And that brings us to the fourth truth — hell is an everlasting state. Though some would like to shorten the duration of this state, Jesus’ words are very clear. He uses the same adjective to describe both punishment and life in verse 46. If hell is not eternal, neither is the new heaven and earth.

How can God exact infinite punishment for a finite sin? First, because the person against whom all sin is committed is infinite. Crimes against the infinitely holy, infinitely kind, infinitely good, and infinitely supreme Ruler of the world deserve unending punishment. In addition to that, those condemned to hell will go on sinning for eternity. There is no repentance in hell. So the punishment will continue as long as the sinning does.

The dreadfulness of hell deepens our grateful praise for the salvation we have in Jesus Christ. Hell is what we deserve. And hell is what He experienced on the cross in our place.

Believing the truth about hell also motivates us to persuade people to be reconciled to God. By God’s grace those of us who are trusting Christ have been rescued from this horrible destiny. How can we love people and refuse to speak plainly to them about the realities of eternal damnation and God’s gracious provision of salvation?

Clearer visions of hell will give us greater love for both God and people.

PUTTING SATAN IN HIS PLACE

SOURCE:  BILL BELLICAN

Who is Satan? Is he real?  Do we even need to be concerned about him?  Or, to be safe, do we need to be hyper-vigilant concerning him?  It has been said that to have a sound theology, we must have a sound demonology.  So, what is the proper perspective?

First, Satan is real. He is mentioned in Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. He is called by a number of names including: the devil; Lucifer; the evil one; the serpent; the tempter; the adversary; the prince of darkness; the father of lies. He is indeed fearsome.  He is the enemy.  As a fallen angel, he is a higher order of being than humans.  He has more power than earthly creatures.  He has clever abilities and is subtle, crafty, and beguiling.  He can appear as good, while at the same time, he is said to be like “a roaring lion looking for someone to  devour.’  Among his passions are to kill, steal, and destroy all that God has declared as good.  He hates God, and he hates those whom God loves.

The truth is that, although he is real, he desires people to underestimate him and deny his existence.  In this way, they can be lured into a hidden trap.  On the other hand, he wants people to overestimate him and elevate him to the level of God so that they might be overwhelmed, intimidated, and paralyzed by his threatening power.

What Satan doesn’t want you to know is that he was already defeated the moment he sinned.   As one of God’s creatures, he is dependent upon God for his continued existence.  Any power he would exercise would always be subject to God’s sovereign will and decree.  Satan may be stronger than us, but Christ is incomparably stronger than Satan.  Unlike God, Satan is finite and limited; he is nowhere near being equal with God; he is not divine; he is infinitely less powerful, intelligent, capable, wise, and effective than the Almighty God.

Although Satan is ultimately defeated now, there is coming a point in God’s timetable when Satan will realize his eternal defeat. When he is thrown in the lake of fire forever cast away from the Divine Presence of God, this roaring lion will experience an unending, shameful agony realizing his foolishness trying to stand against the One and Only Holy God.

 

1 Peter 5:8-11;  John 10:10, 16:11;  1 John 4:4;  Revelation 20:10

 

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