walk in the word
Sin / Suffering / Satan
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)
C.S. Lewis once said that there are two equal and opposite errors that we can fall into regarding Satan and his demons. One is to act like they don’t exist; the other is to be unduly and overly interested in them. Today I want to talk with you about how not to drift to either error but to stand firm on God’s Word.
God has it on His heart to communicate Satan’s reality to His family. More than 250 separate times in the New Testament God tells us about the chief enemy of our souls. He says, Watch out for him. He’s trying to get access into our lives. This is his strategy. This week on Walk in the Word, you can get a full download of truth about Satan (Monday’s message is “10 Things You Should Know about Satan.”) For our purposes right now, let’s focus on just one truth about his character: Satan is a master of disguise.
You may say, “Man, I just don’t see Satan trying to mess with me. I don’t think this applies to me.” If you are a follower of Christ, it does. The following exposure will help explain why.
Second Corinthians 11:14 tells us that the prince of darkness masquerades as an angel of light. The devil is not going to show up in some red Halloween outfit with the pitchfork, horns, and pointy tail. That’s what he wantsyou to think he looks like because a cartoon character is no threat to you. But you’re not always going to recognize him or his work. When you’re least aware, he may be chiseling away at your emotional and spiritual health.
Let’s brainstorm for a moment on this “angel of light” concept. For one, his deception makes him appear the opposite of what he really is. That includes those on his payroll. Not everyone who claims they speak for God is from God. Second Corinthians 11:13 says, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.”
Secondly, as an angel of light Satan uses these false teachers to lead the church astray. He plants tares among the wheat. Do you know who the wheat are? It’s us! The body of Christ is like one big wheat field and each of us is a shaft. Though it’s not apparent to the human eye, amongst the wheat are what the Bible calls “tares” or weeds. These are not real followers of Christ. Maybe they’re going through the motions or playing the Christian game, but they don’t really know Christ. Jesus Himself paints the picture in Matthew 13:38, “and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; and the enemy who sowed them is the devil.”
The battleground for spiritual warfare is in one word: truth. As an angel of light, Satan disguises lies as the truth. You can see it in John 8:44. Jesus said to the Pharisees, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Satan lies to God’s people. The battle is going on right now in the mind of every person reading this. The enemy and his demonic hosts are filling our thoughts with doubts and deceit. “Why is James making such a big deal about this?” Or “I really wonder if God’s Word is true…” From time to time in my teaching as I expose error in someone’s doctrine, people will say, “Can’t you be a little more loving?” Loving?—toward the servants of darkness disguised as angels of light who are proclaiming a message contrary to God’s Word? No way. I love God’s people and God’s Word too much to tolerate Satan’s deception.
In Matthew 4, Satan tempted Christ with lies. Make these stones into bread . . .(v.5). Cast Yourself down from the temple . . . (v.6). We can learn how to battle Satan from Jesus’ response. Every time He named the lie and inserted the truth. Jesus said, you say this, but God says this. We get victory by stating the truth, too. It’s James 4:7 in action, “Resist the enemy and he will flee from you.” Although Satan is powerful, he’s a weakling when faced with truth from God’s Word. While he’s unimpressed with our incantations or the clever things we say, he runs from the truth of God’s Word that lives and abides forever.
And that’s why we need to know God’s book. It’s God’s truth that sets people free. When Satan lies to us about spiritual issues that undermine our confidence and security in Christ Jesus, we need to be so familiar with what God has said that we can name his lie and insert God’s truth. When you live according to that truth, you live in victory. When you live according to the lies of the enemy, you live in defeat.
Test every message and messenger against the truth of God’s Word and “walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light . . .” 1 John 1:7.
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