Tag Archives: satan

According to the Word of God

This morning in group, one of the men shared that he is thankful that God will never leave nor forsake him, according to the word of God.  

According to the word of God.

I was impressed with the way he stated this and told him so.  What impressed me is that his assurance that God was with him was not based on how he felt but rooted in the trustworthiness of God’s word.   God said he would never leave him and this young man believed it, regardless of his feelings.

No doubt this is why he is 20 weeks sober and continuing to flourish.

In my personal experience in both my own recovery and being a coach for others I have learned that the extent to which we flourish in our recovery – and life! – is the extent to which we have utter reliance on God’s words over any other words.  Those who continue to preach the gospel to themselves, who consistently chew on and digest scripture, who replace the voices of this world with the voice of the Holy Spirit are those who get and remain sober and are less likely to allow the troubles of this life to knock them off the wagon.

It’s imperative for us to daily remind ourselves that we are in a war and there is an enemy that wants to destroy us.  His name is Satan, which literally means “The Accuser.”   The bible says that he is a liar and is the father of lies (John 8:44).  Ever thing that is untrue finds its genesis in Satan, The Accuser.  He lives to accuse those who belong to Christ (Rev. 12:10).  He lives to sow lies into us meant to harden our hearts towards the truth of God, inspire bitterness in our hearts towards others and make us feel unworthy of the abundant life Jesus promised.

And he’s crafty. He has been doing this from the beginning and knows our weak points.  He knows how to whip us into a frenzy of anger or lust or pride or self-indulgence.  He knows how to inspire in us the justifications to seek our own way and defend our rights and put ourselves before anyone else.  He knows how to cause us to doubt the faithfulness of God or the kindness of others.

Your best defense against this liar is a good offense.   My counselor, when he talks about the way Satan works his lies into my head, will get very animated and jump up and scream,

Damn him!

It reminds me that I’m fighting someone very real who is playing for keeps.  My best defense is a good offense.  I need to be in the word. I need to replace the lies with the truth so that my mind can be renewed (Rom. 12:1-2).

I’ve written extensively on this blog about how to do that.   Three very practical ways you can begin today are these:

1.  Get into the word and begin by reading Psalm 119.  It will, if you open yourself to it, nurture in you a love for God’s words.   If you commit to the reading I outline HERE, you will find in a few months a hunger for God’s truth that you’ve never known before.

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2. Pray for people instead of think about them, including yourself.  The Mercy Prayer (click the link) is a prayer that changed my life and my thoughts towards God, myself and others.  Commit to this prayer for the next 3 months and I promise you that your inner world will do a 180.

3. Finally, ask yourself this question often:  Is this feeling, emotion or response I’m about to give one that is produced by the Spirit of God or by some other spirit?  My counselor reminds me that it will always be one or the other.  Recalling this again and again helps me to take every thought captive for Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).  If it’s not from God, renounce it and replace it with truth from God’s word.

According to God’s word, you are a beloved child of God (1 John 3:2).  You were worth dying for even while an enemy of God’s, thus proving God’s love for you (Rom. 5:10)!    Nothing, NOTHING, can separate you from God’s love, neither death nor life, not even angels or demons – including The Accuser – nor the present or future nor any other kind of power (Rom. 8:38-39).   Let that soak in.   Let those be the words that shape you.

Let it be so, according to the Word of God.

The Anatomy of Temptation

Genesis 3 contains everything we need to know about what goes wrong in all of us.  It contains the anatomy – the inner workings – of temptation, from the beginning seed planted by the enemy to the tragic fall which follows. It’s a fall that need not happen to us because we know how the enemy attacks.  And yet, we fall for it time and time again.

Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthian church that we should not allow Satan to get an advantage over us, for we are not ignorant of his designs (2 Cor. 2:11).   That we are not ignorant of how Satan works may have been true in the first century, but is it today?   Do you know how the enemy sets out to destroy you?   Do you even know that you have an enemy?   Peter, another one of Jesus’ first followers, warns that the devil “prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).   If you don’t know this, nor understand how he works, you are easy pickings.

So, looking closely at Genesis 3, learn this “anatomy of temptation” well so that you can be better prepared to defeat the lion, and even see him coming a mile away.

The Enemy Subverts

  1. Bring into question whether God really said something or not.
    • “Did God really say…?” (3.1)
  2. Twist the command into something absurd.
    • “You must not eat from any tree?” (3:1)
    • Notice how he twisted God’s original command, that they may eat of every tree but one (2:16-17), into one that seems absurdly restrictive.
  3. Implants doubt in the mind that God has my best interests at heart.
    • God must be holding out on me.  He is not a good Father.

The Unprepared Response

  1. A misquote of the original command, even adding something (we may not touch it) that is not there (3:3).
    • Because we are ignorant of what the bible actually does say, the lies the enemy tells us ring true.
    • How easily we fall into the trap of adding more rules to the perfectly good ones God has already given, thus adding to our delusion that God is not a good Father and is holding out on us.
  2. Water down the punishment.
    • This is more evident in the original Hebrew, but God’s initial command came with the warning that if they disobey, they will surely die.   Eve misquotes the command itself and then diminishes the punishment, essentially saying, “If we do this, God said we might die.”

The Enemy Pounces

  1. Seeing an opening, Satan presses in on the angle of non-punishment.  “You will not surely die!” (3:4).  You will be fine!
  2. He then appeals to our sense of entitlement, desire and independence.
    • You deserve to be happy. Everyone else has it.  You have the right to be your own boss. 
  3. Satan convinces us this will make us like God.  It will give us life.  It’s what we have been missing all this time.

The Fall

  1. After seeing that the thing wanted is appetizing (isn’t all sin?) Eve reaches outside of God’s design and grabs something she shouldn’t.
  2. Result is estrangement from God rather than unity.
  3. Result is shame and guilt rather than a deeper intimacy with God and with each other.
  4. Result is blaming everyone else, never taking responsibility for the choices made.
  5. Result is a sure death, both physical (one day) and spiritual (immediate).

Consider how this plays out in your life.   If you are addicted to something – sex, porn, food, fame, career, money, whatever – then every point above has been compromised as your reaching for something outside of God’s parameters has become habitual.   We addicts have, over time, whittled away at what God has really said about how we should live our lives (if we ever knew it to begin with), convincing ourselves that God is holding out on us and that we must seek happiness on our terms.  Even more, we have watered down the punishment God promised would come to us if we do this.   The enemy has pounced on this and each time we do it without getting caught we think ourselves more and more invincible.

And yet, if we are honest, in the cool breeze of the evening (3:8) when God comes looking for us, we are found hiding.  The intimacy and connection we crave is broken, not only with God but with all our relationships.   Our reaching for life on our terms has not delivered anything the enemy promised.   We are dying, both physically and spiritually, with each successive bite.

Want to be free of this insane cycle of destruction wrought through this anatomy of temptation?   Go and read Matthew 4:1-11 and see how Jesus handles the same cycle.  Jesus knows and respects the words of God and their authority.  Jesus knows where the true source of Life is found and never questions the goodness of his Father (even while he is going to a cross!).   Jesus knows the designs of his enemy well, and comes through temptation victorious.

You and I can do the same.  The enemy is prowling.  Are you prepared to face him?

Don’t be Outwitted by Satan

so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs (2 Cor. 2:11).

The first Christians took seriously the spiritual realm.   They knew that there was a war being waged for their hearts and knew that any successful battle strategy would have to involve knowing the enemy.  

I’m reading through a set of books called The Christian in Complete Armour written by Puritan preacher William Gurnall in the 17th century.  Gurnall seems well acquainted with spiritual warfare, much like most if not all the writers of scripture.    Throughout the first volume he traces the designs of the enemy, Satan, and arms the saint with strategies to both flee and upend him.   

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Here is a brief excerpt which I read this morning, describing the saint’s need to cling to the promise of justification, and know it intimately, as one means of fortifying oneself against the wiles of the devil: 

When Satan comes to take away your peace, if you do not understand the full significance of your justification in Christ you will be easily overcome.   A saint without assurance of salvation is as unprotected as the rabbit that darts into a thicket to escape a fox, but is easily followed by the print of her own feet and the scent she leaves behind.  In Christ you have a hiding place where the enemy dare not come: ‘the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs’ (Song of Sol. 2:14).  While the devil may be in hot pursuit of your soul, the very scent of Christ’s blood, by which you are justified, is noxious to him and will stop him in his tracks.  Run straight into this tower of the gospel covenant, and roll this truth on the head of Satan, as the woman cast the stone on the head of Abimelech: ‘To him…that…believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness’ (Rom. 4:5).

 

The blood of Christ is “noxious” to the devil, the enemy of your soul who “prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).   Scripture’s mindfulness of Satan’s designs are never reduced to excuses for our sinfulness (as in, “the devil made me do it”) and therefore fatalism is never an option for the child of God.   Rather, scriptures repeated warnings to be on guard, to be vigilant, to be of sober-mind, to put on the whole armor of God, only serve to heighten our responsibility to know who we are up against, and to Whom we can turn for help.   

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places (Eph. 6:12).  

May you and I learn well the tactics of our enemy, and know even more the blood of Christ, which sends him scampering for the hills.