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“FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH

 

 

 

 #1-SATAN’S ATTACK”

1 PETER 5:6-11

 

INTRO:  Friends, we are in a spiritual battle!  Satan is out to destroy

              everything that is good and godly.  Satan wants to deceive us into

              believing that we are fighting a losing battle.  Satan desires to

              discourage you from taking up the Sword of the Spirit and the shield

              of faith.  Folks, Satan is real and he is powerful!  Charles Stanley in

              his book, When The Enemy Strikes, wrote: “If a person doesn’t believe

              in the devil he’ll never seek to understand the traps he continues to

              fall into…how to conqueror the negative, debilitating, addictive

              downward spiral of temptation…how to keep from yielding to

              temptation…how to overcome guilt or deal with low self-worth both of

              which weakens a person and make him even more susceptible to

              temptations and attacks” (Charles Stanley. When The Enemy Strikes.

              p. 10).  If we are going to be effective in waging a winnable warfare, we

              must realize the reality of our enemy and also the resources he uses

              against us.  

 

              In a classic Twilight Zone episode from 1960, an American on a

              walking trip through central Europe gets caught in a raging storm.

              Staggering through blinding rain, he chances upon an imposing

              medieval castle.  It is a hermitage for a brotherhood of monks.  The

              reclusive monks reluctantly take him in.  Later that night, the

              American discovers a cell with a man locked inside.  An ancient

              wooden staff bolts the door.  The prisoner said that he was being held

              captive by the “insane” head monk, Brother Jerome.  He pleads for the

              American to release him.  The prisoner ‘s kindly face and gentle voice

              win him over.  The American confronts Brother Jerome, who declares

              that the prisoner is actually none other than Satan, “the father of

              lies,” held captive by the Staff of Truth, the one barrier he cannot

              pass.  This incredible claim convinces the American that Jerome is

              indeed mad.  As soon as he gets the chance, he releases the prisoner-

              who immediately transforms into a hideous, horned demon and 

              vanishes in a puff of smoke!  The stunned American is horrified at the

              realization of what he has done.  Jerome responds sympathetically,

              “I’m sorry for you, my son.  All your life you will remember this night

              and whom you have turned loose upon the world.”  “I didn’t believe

              you,” the American replies.  “I saw him and didn’t recognize him”-to

              which Jerome solemnly observes, “That is man’s weakness…and

              Satan’s strength.”

 

              Friends, the moral bankruptcy and breakdown of our society did not

              happen by shear accident!  There is an evil, malevolent force who is

              working behind the scenes attempting to destroy mankind.  His name

              is SATAN!  Our Lord Jesus described him this way, “…He was a

              murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there

              is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for

              he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:44b).  We are not in a

             physical battle, friends, but a spiritual battle.  As Paul wrote in

             Ephesians 6:12—“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but

              against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the

             darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” 

             Satan is on the attack and is behind all the destruction, death,

             disease, and wickedness we see in the world today!  I would have you

             note three thing with me this evening as we think on the subject,

             “Satan’s Attack”:

 

(1)  OUR ADVERSARY’S IDENTITY

                       1 PETER 5:8—“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the

devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may

devour.”  

 

A.  HE IS OUR ENEMY.  The word “Satan” means “adversary.”  The word

     “devil” means “slanderer.”  Both of these words describe for the identity of

     our adversary.  He is our opponent.  He opposes all that is good.  He is a

     deceiver and a liar.  He is our supernatural adversary who seeks to slander

     us and destroy the work of God in this world.

 

     ILLUS:  Nature provides us with an illustration that closely parallels the

                  insidious tactics employed by our adversary.  According to

                  scientists, Arctic polar bears feed almost entirely on seals.  To enjoy

                  such a meal, they sometimes resort to a cunning bit of trickery.  If

                  the hole through which the seal gets his food is near the edge of the

                  ice, the polar bear will take a deep breath and swim under water to

                  its exact location.  Remaining below the surface, he will then make

                  a tiny scratching sound, imitating a fish.  When the charmed seal

                  hears this, he dives in for a quick supper, only to find himself

                  suddenly entrapped in the huge, hungry embrace of his predator.

                  (Bible Illustrator for Windows. Version 3.0f. Copyright 1990-1998,

                  by Parsons Technology, Inc. All Rights Reserved).

 

     Our adversary will do anything within his power to destroy us! 

 

B.  HE IS THE EMBODIMENT OF EVIL.  The word embodiment simply means

      “put into visible or concrete form.” (Funk & Wagnall’s Standard Desk

      Dictionary. Volume 1: A-M. p. 207).  He is evil personified!  According to

      Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14, Lucifer (Satan) was originally an archangel of God

      who led a prideful rebellion against God and was cast out of heaven.  He

      has “an army of evil helpers, spirits (demons) all committed to evil…to

      attempt to thwart God and His eternal purpose” (Charles Stanley. When

      The Enemy Strikes. pp. 10-11).  In 26 different books of the Bible we find

      140 references to Satan as a literal, supernatural adversary.  Mark Twain

      said, “We may not pay [Satan] reverence, for that would be indiscreet, but

      we can at least respect his talents.  A person who has, for untold centuries,

      maintained the imposing position of spiritual head of four-fifths of the

      human race, and political head of the whole of it, must be granted the

      possession of executive abilities of the loftiest order. -- Mark Twain. 

      Leadership, Vol. 12, no. 3. (Bible Illustrator for Windows. Version 3.0f.

      Copyright 1990-1998, by Parsons Technology, Inc. All Rights Reserved). 

      Behind every evil thought, word, and deed you will find Satan! 

 

(2)  OUR ADVERSARY’S STRATEGY 

                       1 PETER 5:8-9— Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary

the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he

may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that

the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that

are in the world.”

 

*SATAN’S STRATEGY IS THREEFOLD:

 

A.  DISCOURAGEMENT.  Peter did not say that Satan is a “roaring lion” but

     that he walks about “as a roaring lion.”  A lion puts fear into others by its

     roar.  Satan’s basic way of attack is intimidation.  “Intimidation” means “to

     make timid, to scare…to discourage from acting by threats or violence.” (Funk

     & Wagnall’s Standard Desk Dictionary. Volume 1: A-M. p. 341).  Folks, if

     Satan can intimidate you then he can discourage you.  If he can discourage

     you then he can make you fear.  We must realize that all fear that comes

     from our circumstances is ultimately satanic in origin.  Discouragement is

     one of the greatest tools that Satan uses to defeat God’s people. 

 

    ILLUS:  It was once announced that the devil was going out of business and

                 would offer all tools for sale to whoever would pay his price. On the

                 night of the sale, they were all attractively displayed and a bad

                 looking lot they were: Malice, Hatred, Envy, Jealousy, Sensuality,

                 and Deceit, and all the other implements of evil, were spread out

                 each marked with its price. Apart from the rest lay a harmless

                 looking, wedge shaped tool, much worn and priced higher than any

                 of them. Someone asked the devil what it was. "That's

                 discouragement," was the reply. "Why do you have it priced so

                 high?" "Because," replied the devil, "it is more useful to me than any

                 of the others. I can pry open and get inside a man's consciousness

                 with that when I could not get near him with any of the others, and

                 when once inside I can use him in whatever way suits me best. It is

                 so much worn because I use it with nearly everybody, for very few

                 people yet know it belongs to me." --Rev. E. E. Hendricks (Bible

                  Illustrator for Windows. Version 3.0f. Copyright 1990-1998, by

                 Parsons Technology, Inc. All Rights Reserved). 

 

B.  DETERMINATION.  Peter said in v8—“… your adversary the devil, as a

     roaring lion, walketh about…”.  This implies persistence and determination.

     This is Satan’s habitual activity.  Satan does not discourage easily.  You

     may resist him today and he will flee but don’t think he won’t be back

     tomorrow!  Sometimes he wears us down by just being persistent.  Friend,

     “You will never fully eliminate the devil’s temptation from you life.  No

     matter how mature you may become spiritually, he still has access to you”

     (Charles Stanley. When The Enemy Strikes. p. 14).  How does a hungry lion

     walk about?  The lion prowls very cleverly and hides in the brush.  He

     stalks his prey waiting for just the right moment.  Satan cleverly hides his

     identity and purpose.  He sends subtle temptations our way that if we are

     not walking in the Spirit wear us down and we eventually yield to them.

 

     ILLUS:  A man once watched an Indian preparing a snare with which to

                  catch a wild animal. He was surprised to learn that the Indian

                  never sprang the trap or pulled the noose the first time the animal

                  appeared. Instead of that, he would let it come repeatedly and feed

                  where the trap was. Then, when it had become bold and thoroughly

                  familiar with the surroundings, he would set the trap so that the

                  next time it came the animal would be caught in the snare.

  

                  That is the way temptation works. It does not drive its shaft into

                  the heart of its victim at first, but deceives it and lures it on. Then,

                  the fatal blow is delivered. --McCartney (Bible Illustrator for

                   Windows. Version 3.0f. Copyright 1990-1998, by Parsons

                  Technology, Inc. All Rights Reserved).

 

C.  DESTRUCTION.  Our adversary is “seeking whom he may devour.”  This

      tells us that Satan’s intent is our spiritual destruction and downfall.  He

      desire to spiritually handicap us so that we cannot fulfill God’s purpose

      for our lives!  Jesus said that Satan’s purpose is to steal, and to kill, and to

      destroy. (John 10:10).  The word “destroy” used there comes from a Greek

      word which means “to lose, to mar, to destroy.”  Friend, Satan wants you to

      lose your confidence in the Lord, to mar your testimony before this world,

      and to destroy your effectiveness for the Lord!  If he can accomplish that he

      has fulfilled his purpose in your life!  “The devil has a deliberate, willful

      plan against your life…to destroy your body, mind, or spirit, or all three…to

      keep God’s purpose from you, deny God the glory He might receive from

      your life…to replace God with himself in your life” (Charles Stanley. When

      The Enemy Strikes. p. 16).  Even if he cannot destroy your soul eternally

      because you belong to God he can destroy your usefulness for the kingdom

      of God!  

 

We have looked at OUR ADVERSARY’S IDENTITY and OUR ADVERSARY’S STRATEGY finally let us consider…

 

(3)  OUR ADVERSARY’S CONQUERABILITY  

1 PETER 5:8-11—Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary

the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he

may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that

the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that

are in the world.  But the God of all grace, who hath called us

unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have

suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen,

settle you.  To him be glory and dominion forever and ever.

Amen.”

 

A.  THE CONFIDENCE.  I want you to notice the words in v9—“Whom resist   

      steadfast in the faith…”.  “Steadfast in the faith” means “confiding in God.” 

      We must rely on God and the resources of faith.  Listen what Paul wrote in

      Ephesians 6:10-11, 16—Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in

      the power of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able

      to stand against the wiles of the devil… Above all, taking the shield of faith,

      wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” 

      Adam Clarke in his commentary on 1 Peter wrote: “Though invulnerable,

      he is not unconquerable: the weakest follower of God can confound and

      overpower him, if he continue steadfast in the faith - believing on the Son

      of God, and walking uprightly before him. To a soul thus engaged he can

      do no damage.” (Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible. e-Sword. Version

      7.6.1. Copyright 2000-2005. Rick Meyers. All Rights Reserved Worldwide).

   

B.  THE CONFRONTATION.  We should maintain a healthy respect for Satan’s

      power but we should not be fearful.  Our adversary can be successfully

       resisted.  “The Scripture never tells us to go out and take on the

       devil…God’s Word urges us to resist the devil…stand firm and withstand

       his clever tricks…” (Charles Stanley. When The Enemy Strikes. p. 19). 

       When we are confronted by the Enemy there are some things we must do: 

 

Þ    Maintain A Sober Spirit.  Peter says in v8—“Be sober.”  This simply means we are to be mentally self controlled.  We must not let Satan’s lies and accusations drive us to panic.  Our adversary wants us to be lead and controlled by our emotions and feelings but Christians must be lead by the Word of God (Psalm 119:105, 133). 

Þ    Maintain A Watchfulness.  We must “be vigilant.”  The word here means “to be watchful, to keep awake.”  We must be awake so our adversary doesn’t take us by surprise.  This is especially true if you have been saved for a long time.  Sometimes we get to thinking that certain things could never happen to us.  The words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 1012—Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall,” should surely be an area of watchfulness in each believer’s life.  In warfare, the advantage goes to the one that can take the opposition by surprise. 

Þ    Maintain The Faith.  We must at every onslaught of Satan “resist [him] steadfast in the faith.”  The more we understand the faithfulness of God the deeper will be our own personal faith in God.  All who overcome Satan’s attacks do so by faith (1 John 5:4-5). 

Þ    Maintain An Awareness of Others.  “knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”  As we face the attacks of the devil we must keep in mind that others have fought spiritual battles like ours and have been victorious.  Satan will try to make us think that the things we are facing is like none has faced before.  But when we remember the spiritual victories of those who resisted the devil through a strong faith in God it will give us great encouragement to overcome! 

Þ    Maintain Your Goal.  God has promised that he will make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.” (v10).  As you resist the devil God’s grace will work through your trials and temptations so that God may accomplish His goal in your life.  Friends, our temptations are temporary but the result of victory over them has eternal results.  I want you to notice the words “settle you.”  The allusion is to a house which is so firmly fixed on a foundation that it will not be moved by winds or floods. (Albert Barnes’ Notes On The Bible. e-Sword. Version 7.6.1. Copyright 2000-2005. Rick Meyers. All Rights Reserved Worldwide).  Friends, that is God’s desire for each of our lives: that we be so firmly fixed on Jesus that we are not moved by winds or floods!

 

CLOSING:  I heard about a fighter once who had only gone five rounds.  He

                  was already bloody and bruised.  He fell into the ropes near his

                  corner and the referee decided to give him a standing eight count. 

                  Standing there he turned and said to his manager, "Please throw in

                  the towel!"  And the manager said, "What do you mean throw in the

                  towel?  That guy hasn't laid a glove on you!"  To which the fighter

                  said, "Well, you need to start watching the referee because

                  someone's beating the daylights out of me!"  We Christians need to

                  open our eyes to see who it is that is causing us such damage. 

                  Because Satan is really giving God's people a difficult time. - Mike

                  Minix

 

                 The Battle of Antietam in 1862 lasted for 12 hours and ranks as

                  the bloodiest day of the Civil War, with 10,000 confederate

                  casualties and even more on the Union side.  Though militarily a

                  draw, the mediocre Union General George McClellan was able to

                  end the brilliant Robert E. Lee’s thrust into Maryland, forcing him

                  to retire across the Potomac.  How was this possible?  Two Union

                  soldiers had found a copy of Lee’s battle plans and had delivered

                  them to McClellan before engagement.

 

                  There are some respects in which we are no match for Satan, our

                  adversary, whose wiles we must be aware of.  But, as with General

                  McClellan, our enemy’s plans have fallen into our hands.  We know

                  Satan’s usual strategies—to entice us with his lies, lust, greed, and

                  various temptations.  With such knowledge that God’s Word gives

                  us and the help of the Holy Spirit, we can overcome the enemy’s

                  advances.  Friends, We must fight the good fight of faith, lay hold

                   on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a

                   good profession before many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12). 

 

                  Friend, let me ask you this evening: “Are you conquerable or

                  unconquerable?”  We must be “not ignorant of his devices.  Lest

                   Satan should get an advantage of us.”  (2 Corinthians 2:11). 

 

          

        

 

 

“FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH #2-SATAN’S FIERY DARTS”

EPHESIANS 6:16; 1 JOHN 2:15-17

 

INTRO:  Last week we begin this series by exploring “Satan’s Attack.”  We saw

              that the saints of God are in the midst of a spiritual warfare and that

              our Adversary, the devil will do anything with his power to keep us

              from fulfilling God’s will for our lives.  Tonight, we will be looking at

              “Satan’s Fiery Darts.”  In this spiritual warfare we are engaged

              Ephesians 6:16 tells us, Above all, taking the shield of faith,

              wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” 

              I want you to notice the words “fiery darts.”  “The fiery darts” that

              were used in war were small, slender pieces of cane, which were filled

              with combustible materials, and set on fire; or darts around which

              some combustible material was wound, and which were set on fire,

              and then shot “slowly” against a foe. The object was to make the

              arrow fasten in the body, and increase the danger by the burning; or,

              more frequently, those darts were thrown against ships, forts, tents,

              etc., with an intention to set them on fire. (Albert Barnes’ Notes On

              The Bible. e-Sword. Version 7.6.1. Copyright 2000-2005. Rick Meyers.

              All Rights Reserved Worldwide).  Charles Stanley in his book, When

              The Enemy Strikes, wrote: “In the natural, the flaming arrows to which

              Paul referred were arrows common to Roman battles…In the spiritual,

              flaming arrows refer to the bombardment of the mind with thoughts,

              impressions, and impulses that are contrary to God’s purposes…Any

              thought or impulse that entices a person to fall victim to the ‘lust of

              the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life’ is a fiery dart!”

              (Charles F. Stanley, When The Enemy Strikes. pp. 71, 73).  

 

              “Joe Gutierrez tells five stories from his 42 years as a steelworker in

              the book, The Heat: Steelworkers’ Lives and Legends.”  In one story

              called “Snow Danced in August,” he describes a scene of silvery dust

              flakes that frequently floated to the floor in an area of the mill where

              steel strips rolled over pads in a tall cooling tower.  For years, workers

              and visitors alike flocked to the sight, which was especially

              picturesque at night.  Then they discovered that the dust was

              asbestos.  “Everybody breathed it.”  “Who am I? I’m everybody.  Can

              walk too far now, I get tired real fast and it hurts when I breathe,

              sometimes.  And to think we used to fight over that job.”  How many

              things in our culture resemble the silver flakes in that steel mill? 

              Enchanting but deadly (Preaching Today.com).

 

              Friends, the devil makes temptation look attractive to us!  John tells

              us in 1 John 2:16—“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh,

               and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is

               of the world.”  John says that “all that is in the world” falls into one of

              three categories: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride

               of life.  This means that all temptations that the devil entices us with

              comes in one of these three forms:

 

(1)  A DESIRE TO HAVE (TEMPTATIONS FROM WITHIN)

                  1 JOHN 2:16a—“…the lust of the flesh…”

 

A.  SATAN’S APPEAL.  Our Adversary appeals to our physical desires, the

      desire to “do” something.  Our world’s philosophy is “if it feels good do it,”

      or “if it makes you happy do it.”  Satan tempts us with things that will

      pamper our appetites and indulge this old flesh’s passions.  “All people

      desire what they believe will make them happy.  If a person is not full of

      desire for God, we can only conclude that he is engaged with another

      happiness…” (William Law, Christian Perfection (a contemporary version by

      Marvin D. Hinton). Christianity Today. Volume 36, Number 6).  “The devil

      focuses on our strongest need and desire…He observes the way you live!  In

      observing your life, he can see where you are weak by the choices you

      make, the things to which you gravitate, and the things which you

      habitually show an interest in or express an interest in doing” (Charles F.

      Stanley, When The Enemy Strikes. p. 97).  We often desire most what we

      ought not to have.  Friends, Satan knows your desires and feeds your

      desires!  Many times the things we desire are not bad in themselves.  But if

      our desires dim our vision of Christ or lessen our devotion to Him we must

      avoid them!

 

      ILLUS:  An example of the Holy Spirit's guidance can be seen in a

                   statement by J. Wilbur Chapman.  He said, "My life is governed by

                   this rule: Anything that dims my vision of Christ or takes away my

                   taste for Bible study or cramps my prayer life or makes Christian

                   work difficult is wrong for me, and I must, as a Christian, turn

                   away from it."

 

      Believer that should be the rule of our lives also!   

  

B.  SATAN’S APPROACH.  The Lord speaking of Satan in John 8:44 tells us,

      “…He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth,

      because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his

      own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.  Satan approaches us with

     temptation basically in two basic ways concerning the needs in our lives:

 

Þ    The Devil Tells You That You Have Need A That God Can’t Meet.  The implication is always, “God is holding out on you.  He is failing to give you something.  He has something that you need, and He isn’t providing it…The devil won’t tell you the full consequences of the sin he entices you to commit…he holds out only the immediate self-gratification” (Charles F. Stanley, When The Enemy Strikes. pp. 97-98).  The devil shows us only the pleasure of sin not the pain sin causes.  Satan shows us only the happiness of sin for a season not the heartbreak we endure in the aftermath of sin!

 

Þ    The Devil Tells You That He Is Capable of Meeting Your Need.  He never tells us that he can fully meet our need but only that he can he can meet our need.  The devil never claims that he can meet your need fully for the rest of your life without any negative consequences.  He doesn’t tell you the full truth about his capability to meet your need.  Rather, he holds our evidence that he can meet the need.  You need more excitement? Here, try this.  You have a physical need to be met?  Here, this is for you.  You need to feel more important?  Here, this’ll do it. (Charles F. Stanley, When The Enemy Strikes. p. 98).  Folks, listen once again to Paul’s words in Ephesians 6:10-11—

      “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 

      Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the

      wiles of the devil.”  “…Satan does not carry on an open warfare. He does

      not meet the Christian soldier face to face. He advances covertly; makes

      his approaches in darkness; employs cunning rather than power, and

           seeks rather to delude and betray than to vanquish by mere force.”

           (Albert Barnes’ Notes On The Bible. e-Sword. Version 7.6.1. Copyright

              2000-2005. Rick Meyers. All Rights Reserved Worldwide). 

 

Satan’s first fiery dart is A DESIRE TO HAVE (TEMPTATIONS FROM WITHIN) but also let us see the second fiery dart he employs…

 

(2)  A DESIRE TO SEE (TEMPTATIONS FROM WITHOUT)

                       1 JOHN 2:16b—“… the lust of the eyes…”

 

*Satan offers us:

 

A.  A DESIRABLE VISION.  Notice that our Adversary appeals to our

     psychological desires, “the lust of the eyes.”  The desires that are aroused by

     appeals made to our eyes. (B. W. Johnson. The People’s New Testament. e-

     Sword. Version 7.6.1. Copyright 2000-2005. Rick Meyers. All Rights

     Reserved Worldwide). 

 

Þ    The Fall in the Garden began with a look.  Genesis 3:6-7 says, And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and

               that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one

               wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her

               husband with her; and he did eat.  And the eyes of them both were

               opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig

               leaves together, and made themselves aprons.”  When Eve was

              tempted by the forbidden fruit  she saw “that it was pleasant to the

               eyes” (Genesis 3:6). 

 

Þ    Lot.  In Genesis 13:10 we read, And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.” 

 

Þ    David.  The man after God’s own heart succumbed to temptation through “the lust of the eyes.”  We read in 2 Samuel 11:2—And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.” 

 

Satan will bombard our minds with “Lust—‘You need to have your needs met, and this is a fine way to get your needs met.’…Greed or covetousness—‘You should have that.  You deserve it.  You need it.’” (Charles F. Stanley, When The Enemy Strikes. p. 72).  Friend, Satan will offer you a desirable vision but Satan’s offering is always…  

      

B.  A DISTORTED VISION.  Satan’s offering will always lead us to an

     unhealthy desire than can be disastrous to us physically and spiritually! 

     Folks, we must have our eyes fixed firmly on Jesus or else we fall the

     temptation of Satan given to us by “the lust of the eyes.”  Hebrews 12:1-2

     encourages us, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so

     great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which

     doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set

     before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the

     joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is

     set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Our daily prayer must be:

     “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy

     way.” (Psalm 119:37). 

 

     ILLUS:  N2H2, an Internet content filtering company, reports that Internet

                  sites dealing with pornographic material are multiplying

                  exponentially.  The number of porn sites in 1998: 71,831.  In 2001:

                  311,652.  In 2003: 1.3 million (“It Figures,” www.pe.ag.org. 6-27-

                  04).

 

     Not only is sexual sin a major problem in our society today, but also selfish    

     is a major problem because of “lust of the eyes.” 

 

     ILLUS:  In an Atlanta Journal Constitution article by Jim Auchmutey, the

                  writer quotes comedian George Carlin as saying, “The essence of

                  life is trying to find a place to put all your stuff.”  Auchmutey writes

                  that there are 32,000 self storage businesses nationwide (or the

                  equivalent of 1.3 million feet of rentable space), 620 in Atlanta

                  alone (twice as may as 10 years ago), and 100 million storage

                  containers are sold by Rubbermaid every year.  This “stuff”

                  explosion peculiar to Americans has led to a new profession: the

                  professional organizer.  “Some P.O.’s charge as much as 75 dollars

                  an hour to help people get organized in this culture of clutter” (Jim

                  Auchmutey, “Our Overflowing Lives,” Atlanta Journal Constitution,

                  1-20-02). 

 

                  A USA Today article, The Danger of Hoarding (2-18-04), says,

                  “Hoarding is now considered a symptom of obsessive-compulsive

                  disorder.  Hoarders don’t just save stuff, they continually acquire

                  new stuff…According to Randy Frost, a psychology professor at

                  Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, 2 to 3 percent of

                  the population has obsessive-compulsive disorder, and up to a

                  third of those exhibit hoarding behavior.”

 

Folks, there is nothing wrong with having “things” but let us not get so wrapped up in acquiring more “stuff” that we forget those less fortunate than us who need a helping hand.  The selfishness and greed of our society today surely is contrary to the Biblical mandate which says, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have…”. (Hebrews

13:5a). 

 

“The devil often follows this pattern: You can have this…should have this…must have this…There is something wrong with you if you don’t do your utmost to have this…Here’s how you can have this…Now, go get this” (Charles F. Stanley, When The Enemy Strikes. p. 78).

 

Satan’s first fiery dart is A DESIRE TO HAVE (TEMPTATIONS FROM WITHIN), the second fiery dart is A DESIRE TO SEE (TEMPTATIONS FROM WITHOUT) and the final fiery dart is…  

(3)  A DESIRE TO BE (EXALTATION OF SELF)

                  1 JOHN 2:16c—“… the pride of life…”

 

A.  THE APPEAL TO SELF.  Our Adversary appeals to us spiritually and

     tempts us to “be somebody.”  “The pride of life” refers to the vain glory of

     this world.  It refers to the world’s foolish appeal to “be somebody.”  Daily

     our senses are bombarded with advertisements leading us to believe that if

     we wear a certain brand or style of clothing and jewelry or if we eat at a

     certain restaurant or if we know a certain person or group of people that we

     will be more important.  The devil when he tempted Eve in Genesis 3:5 told

     her, “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall

     be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”  In other words,

     he said, “Eve, listen to me, do what I say and you will be somebody!” 

 

B.  THE ADORATION OF SELF.  The apostle Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy

     3:1-2—“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For

     men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud,

     blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy.”

 

     ILLUS:  “The Internet provides opportunity for people to put themselves on

                  display—and they do so in a variety of ways.  At one site alone, over

                  four million people have posted a photo asking others to rate their

                  appearance.  The question is, why, especially when the exposure is

                  often less than flattering, even degrading.  A woman named Angela

                  exemplifies the behavior.  She subjected herself to brutal comments

                  and a low rating of 1.0 on a 10-point scale, trading it for the joy of

                  finding an admirer or two.  Angela said, “It really picked up my

                  esteem to know that there are still some people out there who find

                  me beautiful.”  A New York Times article suggests the reason for

                  this “is that the world is crowded with people so hungry for

                  attention that they will submit to any number of indignities for

                  even a small bit of it” (Preaching Today.com).

 

     ILLUS:  Halley Barry, one of People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People, in

                  an interview for the opening of her film Catwoman, commented on

                  physical beauty.  “Beauty?  Let me tell you something, being

                  thought of as ‘a beautiful woman’ has spared me nothing in life, no

                  heartache, no trouble.  Love has been difficult.  Beauty is

                  essentially meaningless, and it is always transitory.  I can’t believe

                  what people will do to themselves (to make themselves look

                  beautiful), the excess, and then they end up distorted.  Worse, they

                  still have that hole in their soul that led them to change themselves

                  to begin with” (“Beauty’s Beast,” www.NewYorkPost.com 8-2-04).

 

Friend, let me say to you tonight that if Jesus is your Savior, YOU are SOMEBODY!  You are part of a royal family, you are special in God’s eyes, you are rich in spiritual blessings, and you are beautiful because you belong to HIM!  

 

CLOSING:  Friend, I want you to realize tonight that “There is nothing wrong

                  with having a desire…with having physical need and sexual

                  desires…with having strong ambition…God built all these desires

                  and drives into you as a human being…Temptations are

                  enticements to meet God-given desires and drives in an ungodly or

                  wrong way (Charles F. Stanley, When The Enemy Strikes.  pp. 94-

                  95).  All our temptations, Satan’s Fiery Darts, come in the form of

                  one of three areas: A DESIRE TO HAVE (TEMPTATIONS FROM

                  WITHIN), A DESIRE TO SEE (TEMPTATIONS FROM WITHOUT),

                  and A DESIRE TO BE (EXALTATION OF SELF).  The way to answer

                  temptation is to find our significance in Jesus Christ and the fact

                  that we belong to HIM! 

 

     

 

    

“FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH #3-SATAN’S SNARES”

NEHEMIAH 4-6

 

TEXT: NEHEMIAH 4:1-6

 

INTRO:  The theme of the book of Nehemiah is the building of the wall of

              Jerusalem.  Nehemiah in Nehemiah 1:3-4 tells us, And they said

              unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province

              are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken

              down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.  And it came to pass,

             when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned

             certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven.”  The

             heart of Nehemiah, God’s prophet, was broken over the condition of

             his beloved Jerusalem.  The wall and gates of the city were just as

             Nebuchadnezzar left them when he invaded the city.  The walls were

             torn down and the gates burned with fire.  The walls represented to

             the people strength and security.  But in their present condition, the

             people were vulnerable to attackers and also a reproach among the

             nations.  Nehemiah said in Nehemiah 2:17—“…Ye see the distress

              that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are

              burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that

              we be no more a reproach.”

 

             Friends, we need to be distressed and heartbroken over the walls that

             are crumbling in our world today!  What are some of these walls? :

 

Þ    THE WALL OF SOUND DOCTRINE.  The deterioration of truth and Biblical preaching in our Churches today is alarming but not unexpected.  Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3-4—“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”  Richard Baxter, in The Reformed Pastor wrote: “We need to keep close to the ancient simplicity of the original Christian faith, and build our foundation on its original unity.  We must abhor the arrogance of those who harass and tear apart the church of God under the pretense of correcting errors and holding to "the Truth."  The sufficiency of Scripture, of course, must be upheld; but do not let others add anything to it.”  -- Richard Baxter, "The Reformed Pastor".  Christianity Today, Vol. 30, no. 8. 

  

Þ    THE WALL OF SOCIAL DECENCY.  In our society today it seems that all decency has been lost.  “…One has to have an ethical base for a society.  Where the prime force is impulse, there is the death of ethics.  America used to have ethical laws based in Jerusalem.  Now they are based in Sodom and Gomorrah, and civilizations rooted in Sodom and Gomorrah are destined to collapse.  So it is also with individual lives.” - Jesse Jackson, Time, 21 November, 1977 (Bible Illustrator For Windows. Version 3.0f. Copyright 1990-1998, Parsons Technology, Inc. All Rights Reserved). 

 

 

Þ    THE WALL OF STRONG FAMILY.  British anthropologist John D. Unwin conducted an in depth study of eighty civilizations that have come and gone over a period of some four thousand years. He discovered that a common thread ran through all of them. In each instance, they started out with a conservative mind-set with strong moral values and a heavy emphasis on family. Over a period of time, the conservative mind-set became

     more and more liberal, moral values declined, and the family

                        suffered. In each instance, as the family deteriorated, the

     civilization itself started to come apart; and in All eighty cases

                       the fall of the Nation was related to the fall of the family. In

     most cases, that civilization fell within one generation of the

     fall of the family unit. SO GOES THE HOME, SO GOES THE

     NATION!!! --Zig Ziglar (Bible Illustrator For Windows. Version

     3.0f. Copyright 1990-1998, Parsons Technology, Inc. All Rights

     Reserved). 

 

              Nehemiah got busy getting God’s people together and inspiring them

              to repair the walls that had been broken down.  Our adversary, Satan,

              always opposes those who are trying to do a work for God.  Satan

              used several devices, “snares,” against Nehemiah and the people to

              try and stop them from God’s will being done.  Satan still today uses

              them against God’s people!  Charles Stanley in his book, When The

              Enemy Strikes, wrote: “The New Testament refers to the ‘snare’ of the

              devil—his purpose is to entrap us, catch us off guard, and trip us up. 

              He does this not in an obvious way, but in a subtle and deceiving

              way” (Charles F. Stanley. When The Enemy Strikes. p. 34).  Let us

              continue our series on FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH by

              looking at “Satan’s Snares.” 

 

SATAN’S SNARES:

 

(1)  DERISION

         NEHEMIAH 4:1-3—“But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that

we built the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and

mocked the Jews.  And he spoke before his brethren and the army

of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify

themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will

they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are

burned?  Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even

that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their

stone wall.”

 

A.  THE MOCKERY.  Sanballat asks in  v. 2—“What do these feeble Jews?”

      Then he asks four questions.  Each of these questions were meant to cause

      derision.  The word “derision” simply means “mockery, ridicule.”  Each of

      these four questions were aimed at some point of Nehemiah and the

      people’s character.  Note:

 

Þ    Will they fortify themselves?  This is an attack on their COURAGE.  Did you know that any time you find trouble in the Church you can rest assured Satan will find the person who is the weakest spiritually?  He knows he doesn’t stand a chance against those who are spiritually strong, but he can cause havoc in the Church through the spiritually weak!  Satan knows when God’s people come together and learn to operate as the body of Christ he doesn’t stand a chance!   

Þ    Will they sacrifice?  This is an attack on their COMMITMENT.  If we, as a Church, are going to be successful our people must be willing to sacrifice.  Did you know that in the Church today we see very little commitment among God’s people?  There's a difference between interest and commitment.  When you are interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstances permit.  When you're committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results.  - Art Turock, Getting Physical (Doubleday). 

Þ    will they make an end in a day?  This is an attack on their CONFIDENCE.  Will they stick to what they are doing? Or Will they lose confidence and quit?  If we are going to keep going for the Lord, we must have a strong confidence that what He has called us to do we, by his power, can perform.  When a Church sticks to God’s plan, things will get done!  God will bless!

Þ    Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned?  This is an attack on their CONSECRATION.  This was a dirty job!  Would they get their hands dirty?  Remember the gates had been burned.  They had some hard work ahead of them.  Sanballat asked, “WILL THEY…be willing to do something that somebody else refused to do?”  Folks, we need some people in our Church that is willing to get their hands dirty and get the job done! 

 

      Satan will try to laugh you out of your work for the Lord.  Friends, ridicule

      has a sting to it.  It hurts to be ridiculed, mocked, and laughed at for doing

      what is right.  Thomas Carlyle said, “"Ridicule is the language of the devil."-

      Thomas Carlyle - _Instant Quotation Dictionary_, p. 261. 

 

      ILLUS:  “We live in an age where the ridicule of blacks is forbidden, where

                    anti-Semitism is punishable by political death, but where

                    Christian-bashing is a popular indoor sport; and films mocking

                    Jesus Christ are considered avant-garde.” (Patrick J. Buchanan,

                    Focus on The Family. Christianity Today. Vol. 33, no. 1). 

          

B.  THE MOTIVATION.  How did Nehemiah and the people overcome?  What

     motivated them to keep going?  Two things:

 

Þ    PRAYER. Nehemiah 4:4 says, “Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity.”  Nehemiah offered a prayer to God for His assistance to accomplish the task set before them. 

Þ    WORK.  But not only did they pray but they kept working!  V6 says, “So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.” 

 

Folks, those two things must motivate us also as we face Satan’s snare of DERISION.   Satan’s first snare is DERISION but also note the snare of …

 

(2)  DISCOURAGEMENT

         NEHEMIAH 4:10— And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of

burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not

able to build the wall.”

 

A.    THE NAYSAYERS.  Satan will always have people around who say, “we are not able to build the wall.”  Saying things such as “This is too big of a job, it cannot be done,” “We don’t have the money for that,” and “We never done anything like this before”! 

 

ILLUS:  Some people are so negative!   Did you hear about the farmer

             that had a brilliant dog?  He had a neighbor that just absolutely

             was negative, no matter what. If it was raining, the farmer

             would say to his neighbor, "Boy, look at it rain, God's sort of

             washing it clean."  "Yeah, but if it keeps up it's gonna flood." 

             Then the sun would come out and he'd say, "If it keeps that up,

             it's gonna just scorch the crops."  The farmer thought, "What

             am I gonna do to win this guy?"  So he trained his dog to walk

             on water.  He didn't tell his neighbor, he just took him duck

             hunting.  Boom!  Boom! They brought these ducks out of the

             sky, and said to his dog, "Go get 'em."  The dog went across,

             picked them up, and hopped back in the boat, nothing wet—

             just his paws.  The farmer said, "What do you think of that?" 

      The neighbor said, "He can't swim, can he?" (Bible Illustrator For

     Windows. Version 3.0f. Copyright 1990-1998, Parsons

     Technology, Inc. All Rights Reserved).  

 

 

B.    THE GO-GETTERS.  Praise God that even though there are many “naysayers” out there we still have those who are GO-GETTERS!  Nehemiah refused to listen to Judah and the job got done!  Earlier Nehemiah said in Nehemiah 2:18— Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.”  Nehemiah was a “go-getter!”  Friend, let me ask you tonight are you are “go-getter” or a “naysayer”?  Are you easily discouraged? Or Do you labor realizing “the hand of my God [is] good upon me”?  The Sunday School teacher had been telling her class the story of Jonah and the whale. Finally, she asked them what lesson they thought the story taught.  One little boy put up his hand. "I know, Miss!" he said. "It teaches that you can't keep a good man down!"   

 

ILLUS:                        When Things Go Wrong

 

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,

When the road you're trudging seems all up hill,

When the funds are low and the debts are high,

 And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit,

Rest if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,

As everyone of us sometimes learns,

And many a failure turns about

When he might have won had he stuck it out;

So don't give up, though the pace seems slow –

For you may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than it seems to a fain and faltering

man,

Often the struggler has given up,

When he might have captured the victor's cup.

And he learned too late when the night slipped down,

How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure, turned inside out,

The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.

And you never can tell how close you are,

It may be near when it seems afar;

So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit,

It's when things seem worst that you mustn't quit.

                                      --Anonymous

Galatians 6:9 encourages us—“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

 

SATAN’S SNARES are DERISION, DISCOURAGEMENT and also…

 

(3)  DANGER

         NEHEMIAH 4:11—“And our adversaries said, They shall not know,

neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease.”

 

A.  THE FEAR.  Our Adversary tries to be subtle and crafty when possible but

      if that strategy will not work he will start to play rough.  Let me say tonight

      that Satan will always attempt to instill fear in us when we are trying to

      accomplish God’s will in our lives!  And when we suffer a lack of faith it is

      then when fear can grow.  We see Judah’s words in v10—“… we are not

      able to build the wall,” there is the lack of faith now in v11 we see the fear—

      “And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in

      the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease.” 

 

B.  THE FOCUS.  I want you to notice in vv. 14-18 Nehemiah’s response to

     this danger was three-fold:

 

Þ    REMEMBER THE LORD (v14).  “Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord…”.  When Satan sends the snare of danger on us we must remember that the Lord’s PRESENCE is always with us (Hebrews 13:5-6), the Lord’s POWER is available to us (1 John 4:4), and the Lord’s PROTECTION is around us (Psalm 37:23-24).

Þ    REFLECT ON YOUR FAMILY (v14).  “fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”  Folks, there are things out there worth fighting for and our family is one of those things!  Satan wants to destroy our families!  We need love each, live for each other, and learn with each other. 

Þ    RESIST AND REMAIN FAITHFUL (vv. 17-18).  They had to work with one hand and hold a weapon in the other.  They were building and battling at the same time!  Friends, we MUST KEEP WORKING and arm ourselves with THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT. James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

SATAN’S SNARES are DERISION, DISCOURAGEMENT, DANGER and…

 

(4)  DISCORD

         NEHEMIAH 5:1-6— And there was a great cry of the people and of their

wives against their brethren the Jews.  For there were that said, We,

our sons, and our daughters, are many: therefore we take up corn

for them, that we may eat, and live.  Some also there were that said,

We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards, and houses, that we

might buy corn, because of the dearth.  There were also that said,

We have borrowed money for the king's tribute, and that upon our

lands and vineyards.  Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our

brethren, our children as their children: and, lo, we bring into

bondage our sons and our daughters to be servants, and some of

our daughters are brought unto bondage already: neither is it in our

power to redeem them; for other men have our lands and vineyards. 

And I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words.”

 

A.  THE REASON FOR THE DISCORD.  Satan brought discord among them. 

      “The devil always seeks to divide people” (Charles F. Stanley. When The

      Enemy Strikes. p. 36).  There was a great dearth or draught in the land and

      Satan, as he always does, used a problem to divide people.  They were

      dealing with hard times (vv. 2-3) and they were dealing with hard people

      (vv. 4-5).  The enormity of the dearth and the extremity of their need

      brought discord among the people.

   

B.  THE REMEDY FOR THE DISCORD.  Friends, We must be very clear on

      one point; brothers and sisters in Christ are not our enemies.  Genuine,

      committed, Bible-believing Christians who are part of a Christian

      denomination other than the one to which we belong are not our enemies. 

      We need to recognize that the devil attempts to blind us and deceive us so

      that we will become divided and begin a war against one another rather

      than against him!  The real enemy is the devil and his forces acting behind

      the scenes in every case of spiritual assault” (Charles F. Stanley. When The

      Enemy Strikes. p. 37).  What is the remedy for discord?  REAL LOVE! 

      ROMANS 12:9 says, “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is

      evil; cleave to that which is good.”  The word “dissimulation” there means

      “hypocrisy.”  Our love for one another must be genuine and unfeigned. 

      PROVERBS 10:12 tells us, “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all

      sins.”

 

      Someone has said, “There are no problems too big to solve, just people too

      small to solve them.”

 

      ILLUS:  Renowned British novelists William Thackeray and Charles

                   Dickens once had a vicious quarrel.  Just before Christmas in

                   1863 they met in London, but refused to speak with one another. 

                   Pricked in his conscience, Thackeray turned back and seized the

                   hand of his friend, saying he couldn't bear the coldness between

                   them.  Dickens was touched, and the old anger and jealousy gave

                   way to reconciliation. Shortly afterward, Thackeray suddenly died.

                   Reflecting on this incident, a man who knew both Thackeray and

                   Dickens wrote in his memoirs, "The next time I saw Dickens he

                   was standing at the grave of his rival.  He must have rejoiced, I

  thought, that he had shaken hands so warmly a few days before."

  (Bible Illustrator For Windows. Version 3.0f. Copyright 1990-1998,

  Parsons Technology, Inc. All Rights Reserved).

 

      Nehemiah and the people straightened out this problem by making sure

      Restitution was made so the work could go on. (Nehemiah 5:7-13).

 

SATAN’S SNARES are DERISION, DISCOURAGEMENT, DANGER, DISCORD, and…

 

(5)  DECEPTION

         NEHEMIAH 6:1-4— Now it came to pass, when Sanballat, and Tobiah,

and Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had built the wall, and that there was no breach left therein; (though at that time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;) That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief.  And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?  Yet they sent unto me four times after this sort; and I answered them after the same manner.”

 

A.  THE PRETENSE.  The word “pretense” means “a pretended claim.” (Funk &

      Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary. Volume 2, N-Z. p. 523).  Nehemiah said

      in “…Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet

      together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono.”  Why this invitation

      to meet together?  Barnes in his notes writes: “The choice made of Ono, on

      the skirts of Benjamin, 25 or 30 miles from Jerusalem, as the meeting-

      place, was, no doubt, in order to draw Nehemiah to a distance from his

      supporters, that so an attack might be made on him with a better chance

      of success” (Albert Barnes’ Notes On The Bible. e-Sword. Version 7.6.1.

      Copyright 2000-2005. Rick Meyers. All Rights Reserved Worldwide).  No

      doubt Sanballat and Geshem invited Nehemiah to meet with them to

      proffer friendship or to make reconciliation but the real reason was to get

      Nehemiah away from the task God laid on his heart to accomplish. 

      Sanballat and Geshem were the devil’s tools to attempt to divert Nehemiah

      from the main thing.  “Deception occurs when we believe things are good,

      but they aren’t; when we believe things look hopeless, but they aren’t;

      when we think something is true, but it isn’t; when something looks too

      good to be true and turns out not to be good at all.  Deception is perhaps

      the devil’s foremost snare” (Charles F. Stanley. When The Enemy Strikes. p.

      47). 

 

     ILLUS:  In July of 2004, the Arizona Game and Fish Department began

                  nursing more than 30 emaciated, dehydrated, banged-up

                  pelicans.  During the previous two weeks, the injured pelicans had

                  been found from Yuma to Phoenix.  The brown pelicans were

                  injured when they descended from the sky, sailed low over

                  sidewalks and asphalt highways, stretched out their feet as though

                  to make a perfect splash landing in water, and then tumbled end

                  over end when they hit the pavement.  The pelicans, apparently

                   suffering from a food shortage in California, flew to Arizona looking

                   for fish.  From the sky, the shimmering hot air over the black

                   asphalt appeared to the pelicans like water.  Down they flew for

                   fish and a refreshing dip in a lake.  What they found instead was

                   solid pavement, dehydration, hunger and near death.  Reality hits

                   hard! (PreachingToday.com). 

 

     Friends, Is not this how our Adversary operates: promising us something

     that appears good, fulfilling, and satisfying and later we find out the reality

     of his offers bring us spiritual dehydration and hunger, and broken

     fellowship with God!

 

B.  THE PERSEVERANCE.  I want you to notice Nehemiah’s perseverance in

      the work God called him to do.  Vv. 3-4 tells us, And I sent messengers

      unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why

      should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” Yet they

      sent unto me four times after this sort; and I answered them after the same

      manner.”  Friends, Satan works through diversion and distraction!  But

      Nehemiah refused to compromise because he was “doing a great work” for

      God! 

 

      ILLUS:  Are you discouraged because the work that God has called you to

                   do is off to a slow start?  Remember, some of our most wonderful

                   inventions got off to slow starts as well.  The first electric light was

                   so dim that a candle was needed to see its socket.  One of the first

                   steamboats took 32 hours to chug its way from New York to

                   Albany, a distance of 150 miles.  Wilbur and Orville Wright's first

                   airplane flight lasted only 12 seconds. And the first automobiles

                   traveled 2 to 4 miles per hour and broke down often. Carriages

                   would pass them with their passengers often shouting, "Get a

                   horse!"  But look at what these inventions are capable of today.

 

      Friends, let us live by the words of Paul in 1 CORINTHIANS 15:58—“… my

       beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the

       work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the

       Lord.”

 

SATAN’S SNARES are: DERISION, DISCOURAGEMENT, DANGER, DISCORD,

DECEPTION and the final snare…

 

(6)  DEFAMATION   

           NEHEMIAH 6:5-7— Then sent Sanballat his servant unto me in like

manner the fifth time with an open letter in his hand; Wherein was written, It is reported among the heathen, and Gashmu saith it, that thou and the Jews think to rebel: for which cause thou buildest the wall, that thou mayest be their king, according to these words.  And thou hast also appointed prophets to preach of thee at Jerusalem, saying, There is a king in Judah: and now shall it be reported to the king according to these words. Come now therefore, and let us take counsel together.”

 

A.  THE RUMOR.  When Satan saw he could not stop the building of the wall

      by any other method, he started a rumor about Nehemiah (vv. 6-7).  He

      attacked his integrity and character calling them into question.  “The

      foremost tactic the devil uses in dividing people is accusation.  The Bible

      refers to the devil as “the accuser of our brethren…which accused them

      before our God day and night.” (Rev. 12:10) (Charles F. Stanley. When The

      Enemy Strikes. p. 37).  

 

B.  THE REQUEST.  In v9 Nehemiah prays for God’s support—“ Now therefore,

      O God, strengthen my hands.”  I am glad God is always there for us!  When

      We feel Satan’s attacks are going to overwhelm us, God strengthens us and

      gives us the grace to go on!  PSALM 46:1 tells us, “God is our refuge and

      strength, a very present help in trouble.”  In v14 we read, “My God, think

      thou upon Tobiah and Sanballat according to these their works, and on the

      prophetess Noadiah, and the rest of the prophets, that would have put me in

     fear.”  Nehemiah in these verses made two requests:

 

Þ    STRENGTH TO ACCOMPLISH GOD’S WILL (v9b).

Þ    SWIFT JUSTICE ON THOSE WHO TROUBLED HIM (v14).

 

CLOSING:  Friends, to FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH we must be aware

                  of SATAN’S SNARES.  They are: DERISION, DISCOURAGEMENT,

                  DANGER, DISCORD, DECEPTION, and DEFAMATION.  Satan is

                  a defeated foe.  The Cross spelled his defeat and yet he continues

                  to hurl out lies, insults, and condemnation at the saints.  What do

             we do?  How can we overcome?  “And the LORD shall help them,

              and deliver them: He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save

              them, because they trust in Him.” Psalm 37:40

 

                  In Old Testament days, when a tribe commenced war, they would

                  sometimes hurl a spear into enemy territory. It made no difference

                  whether the enemy was there or not. It really wasn’t for the enemy

                  to see. It was an attitude of faith that was a declaration of war.

                  Some would call it a throwing down of the gauntlet. You may want

                  the victory in something today, and yet you haven’t let your arrow

                  of faith fly into the enemy’s territory. Faith that acts will bring the

                  enemy to his knees. We don’t fight our enemy with actual bows and

                  arrows, instead we fight him with the weapons of prayer and the

                  Word. When we pray, we face the foe. By letting the arrow of prayer

                  fly, God moves in, and our prayer becomes the Lord’s deliverance.

                  God does business with those who mean business. --Adrian Rogers 

                       (Bible Illustrator For Windows. Version 3.0f. Copyright 1990-1998,

                  Parsons Technology, Inc. All Rights Reserved).

     

 

          

 

 

“FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH #4: SATAN’S NATURE”

GENESIS 3:1-6; JOB 1:6-12

 

INTRO:  We have often heard it said that words reveal character.  Our Lord

              Jesus said in Matthew 12:34b—“…out of the abundance of the heart

              the mouth speaketh.  Three times in the Scriptures we see the very

             words of Satan.  And each time these words reveal the true

             character of our Adversary.  The word “Satan” is translated from a

             Greek word that means “slanderer, adversary, opponent.”  If words

             truly reveal character then an examination of Satan’s words will

             teach us about his true nature and help us understand motives and

             defend ourselves against his attacks. 

 

             Folks, I want us to see a strategy that Satan uses often when waging

             warfare against the saints; and that is: SLANDER!  A “slanderer” is

             “one injures by uttering false reports.” (Funk & Wagnall’s Standard

              Desk Dictionary. Volume 2, N-Z. p. 631).  Someone has said, "Slanders

             are like flies, that pass all over a man's good parts to light on his

             sores."- Unknown - _Instant Quotation Dictionary_, p. 273.  Friends, is

             this not how Satan operates, by lies, accusations, and false reports. 

             Does he not look for our weak areas and vulnerabilities so he can

             attack us there the hardest?  In Revelation 12:10 he is called, “…the

              accuser of our brethren…which accused them before our God day and

              night.”  Please note with me the words, “…which accused them before

              our God day and night.”  He never ceases bringing these accusations

              nor will he cease until he is cast into the lake of fire in the last

              day.  Revelation 20:10 tells us, “And the devil that deceived them

               was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the

               false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and

               ever.”  

 

              Friends, tonight I want us to look at the three times in the Bible in

              which we see the very words of Satan.  These words will give us

              insight into his character so that we be “…not ignorant of his devices.”

              (2 Corinthians 2:11).  Satan slanders in three areas:

 

(1)  SATAN SLANDERS THE CHARACTER OF GOD

           GENESIS 3:1-6— Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the

field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman,

Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 

And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the

trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst

of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye

touch it, lest ye die.  And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall

not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof,

then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing

good and evil.  And when the woman saw that the tree was good for

food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired

to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and

gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”

 

A.  HE SLANDERS GOD’S TRUTHFULNESS.  Listen to his question to Eve in

     v1—“ Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”  The

     devil puts a question mark where God puts a period!  “He generally doesn’t

     come at you and say, ‘God’s Word isn’t true.’  Rather, he says, “Does God’s

     Word really say…?’ or ‘Is that really the right interpretation of that verse?’”

     (Charles F. Stanley. When The Enemy Strikes. p. 40).  Satan asked Eve, “Is

     it true that God has restricted you from using certain fruits in this beautiful

     place?  That sure does not sound like One who is so good and kind.  There

     must be some mistake.”  Satan instilled doubt in Eve’s mind.  Many people

     believe their doubts and doubt their beliefs.  They listen to Satan’s lies

     instead of standing strong in their faith!  Friend, Satan wants you to believe

     that no one can understand what this Bible really means.  He wants you to

     believe that God’s truth is open to interpretation and that it means different

     things to different people.  And it seems that in this slander of God’s

     truthfulness Satan is gaining ground.  

 

     ILLUS:  In two national surveys conducted by Barna Research, one among

                  adults and one among teenagers, people were asked if they believe

                  that there are moral absolutes that are unchanging or that moral

                  truth is relative to the circumstances. By a 3-to-1 margin (64% vs.

                  22%) adults said truth is always relative to the person and their

                  situation. The perspective was even more lopsided among

                  teenagers, 83% of whom said moral truth depends on the

                  circumstances, and only 6% of whom said moral truth is absolute.

                  (Americans Are Most Likely to Base Truth on Feelings. 

                   www.barna.org). 

 

     Homosexuality is a topic of hot debate in our world today.  Even many who

     consider themselves Christians condone the immoral practice.  But God’s

     Word is PLAIN!  In Leviticus 18:22 God declares, Thou shalt not lie with

     mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”

 

     ILLUS:  Peter James Lee, one of 60 Episcopal bishops who voted to approve

                  the appointment of Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, as bishop

                  of New Hampshire, said, “If you must make a choice between

                  heresy and schism, always choose heresy.” (Breakpoint with

                  Charles Colson, Commentary #040205, 02-05-04).

 

     Always choose heresy?  What happened for standing for our convictions? 

     What about the Scripture which declares, yea, let God be true, but every

     man a liar”?  (Romans 3:4).  Friends, it matters not what man believes but

     what matters is THUS SAITH THE LORD!  Many today say, “Our world is

     changing.”  To them I would say, “TRUTH NEVER CHANGES!”  If God says

     it is SIN; it is SIN!  If God says it is WRONG, it is WRONG!

 

B.  HE SLANDERS GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS.  Satan’s slander of God’s

     character moves quickly from questioning to flat denial.  V4 says, And the

     serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.”  Satan questions the

     righteousness of God by suggesting that God will let sin go unpunished. 

     Satan would have us believe that God is so good that he will wink at sin and

     overlook it.  But the truth is that because of God’s holiness He MUST

     punish sin!

 

     ILLUS:  A distressed father sat at the bedside of his comatose son, hurt

                  playing basketball. At a crucial point in the game the 16-year-old

                  lunged for an

                     errant pass going out of bounds. As he toppled over a spectator's

                     chair, one of its legs caught him in the stomach and damaged

                     vital organs. Because he felt little pain, the teen continued to play

                     the game's final minutes while he hemorrhaged internally. By the

                     time the pain grew enough to warrant a trip to hospital, it was

                     almost too late. The doctors worked frantically to save him, but

                     the outcome was uncertain.  Though the son eventually                     

                     recovered, those awful hours of waiting for the slightest signs of

                     recovery forced family members to ask questions they'd never

                     before faced. The father was alone on his bedside shift one

                     evening when the pastor visited. Trembling with emotion, the

                     father asked, "Will God kill my son to punish my sin?"  "No," said

                     the young minister, searching for words that would comfort and

                     grant renewed trust in the God this father now so desperately

                     needed. "The Lord's not punishing your son for your sin. He

                     couldn't, because God punished his son for your sin." --Bryan

                     Chapell, The Wonder of It All, (Crossway, 1999); quoted in Men of

                      Integrity, Vol. 4, no. 2, (March/April 2001).

 

      Friends, even though the Lord has paid the debt for sin; we must still bear

      the consequences of sin.  God will not let sin go unchecked or unpunished.

      Sin is an affront to the holiness of God, an abomination in his sight, and an

      abuse of His great love and mercy!  Yes friends, the price has been paid but

      the penalty of sin still must be dealt with!  Galatians 6:7 tells us, Be not

      deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he

       also reap.” One of the biggest lies Satan tells people, and millions believe

      the lie, is that you can sin and get away with it.  Millions are living in sin. 

      They act as if they are never going to give an account to God for their sins,

       but they are!  Some say, “God loves us too much to punish sin.”  They

       have it backwards.  God loves us to much not to punish sin!  The Same

       Bible which proclaims “God is love,” also says, “Our God is a consuming 

       fire.”  God is a God of Love, but also He is a God of wrath.  God HATES SIN

       and it was because of SIN that Jesus had to die!  Therefore God cannot

       overlook sin.  As Acts 17:30 tells us— And the times of this ignorance God

       winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.”  What

       times is God speaking of here?  The times when there was no revelation in             

       to those in darkness. (B. W. Johnson. The People’s New Testament. e-

       Sword. Version 7.6.1. Copyright 2000-2005. Rick Meyers. All Rights

       Reserved Worldwide). Because of the revelation of the Gospel, God

       commands ALL men EVERYWHERE to repent!  

        

 C.  HE SLANDERS GOD’S GOODNESS.  V5 says, For God doth know that in

      the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as

      gods, knowing good and evil.”  Here Satan slanders God by accusing God of

      holding out on Eve.  The devil is simply saying “Eve, God is trying to keep

      you from things that will make you happy.”  Satan would like us to believe

      that God has made up a list of rules and regulations just to make us suffer. 

      Satan wants you to believe that when God tells us in His Word, do this or

      don’t do that, that God is depriving us of pleasure.  I enjoy being a

       Christian!  Since God saved me, I cannot imagine living without Him!  But

      what Satan does tell not tell man about God’s commandments is that the

      commands of God are for our own good, whether we understand it or not.

      And if we truly love Him, it is not hard to serve Him (1 John 5:2-3)!  God

      did not just sit in heaven, make man, and then randomly choose what

      would be sin and what would not.  Sin is sin because it is wrong in the

      sight of God because He and He alone knows what is not in our best

      interest!  

 

      ILLUS:  There are two big lies that Satan has been perpetrating ever since

                   the Garden of Eden. The first is that God is mean, vindictive, a

                   spoilsport whose main role in life is to keep us from being fulfilled

                   and happy--when we step out of bounds, he takes delight in

                   making us pay.  The second lie is that God really doesn't care what

                   we do--probably doesn't know. And if he does, his business is to

                   forgive us. He'll always forgive no matter what, so it really doesn't

                        make much difference how we live and what we believe. -- B.

                   Clayton Bell, "Many Happy Returns," Preaching Today, Tape No.

                   135.

 

SATAN’S NATURE is to SLANDER THE CHARACTER OF GOD and also…

 

(2)  SATAN SLANDERS THE CHILDREN OF GOD

         JOB 1:6-12—Now there was a day when the sons of God came to

present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.  And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.  And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?  Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for naught?  Hast not thou made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.  But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.  And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.”

 

A.  HE QUESTIONS THEIR DEVOTION.  In v8 we read, “And the LORD said

     unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him

     in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and

     escheweth evil?”  Satan is called in John 8:44—…a liar, and the father of

     it,and in Revelation 12:10— the accuser of our brethren… which accused

     them before our God day and night.”  The Lord Jesus said that Satan

     “…abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. (John 8:44). 

     Satan told Eve that God was not good to her and was holding out on her. 

     But now he tells God that He has been to good to Job.  Job was a devoted

     man but Satan said, “…Doth Job fear God for naught?  Hast not thou made a

     hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every

     side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is

     increased in the land.  But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he

     hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.”  God allowed Satan to touch Job’s

     life and to strip him of the things near and dear to him, but did Job waver

     in his devotion?  NO!  Listen to Job’s words in vv. 21-22—“… Naked came I

     out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave,

     and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.  In all this

     Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” 

 

B.  HE QUESTIONS THEIR DEDICATION.  In Zechariah 3:1-5 we read of

     Satan accusing Joshua before God— And he showed me Joshua the high

     priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right

     hand to resist him.  And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O

     Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a

     brand plucked out of the fire?  Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments,

     and stood before the angel.  And he answered and spoke unto those that

     stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto

     him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will

     clothe thee with change of raiment.  And I said, Let them set a fair miter upon

     his head. So they set a fair miter upon his head, and clothed him with

     garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by.”  Joshua the high priest here

     is a picture of the priesthood at this time who had married strange wives

     and forsaken the God given duties.  It says here, “Satan standing at his right

     hand to resist him…”.  This was written during the time when the Temple

     was being rebuilt.  So whether Satan was trying to hinder his work from the

     building of the Temple, or else was accusing him of sin, and bringing a

     charge against him, he was resisting him in his service to God.  Folks, any

     time you are trying to do a work for God, Satan will question your

     dedication!  The business of Satan here was to accuse, to bring charges, to

     plead for condemnation, and endeavour to get the sentence of it passed

     against Joshua; for he was at his right hand, to be an "adversary" to him

     (John Gill’s Exposition of The Entire Bible.  e-Sword. Version 7.6.1.

     Copyright 2000-2005. Rick Meyers. All Rights Reserved Worldwide).  Satan    

     will say things to God such as, “They don’t have the ability to do what you

     ask of them,” “They have too much sin in their lives to really devote

     themselves to you,” and “They aren’t worthy to be called your servants”.  But

     Friends, because of grace what God calls us to do He also enables us to do,

     what I confess to the Lord and forsake He forgives, and What He has

     cleansed He has made worthy!

    

C.  HE QUESTIONS THEIR DESTINATION.  In Jude 9 we see Satan

     contending with Michael over the body of Moses—“Yet Michael the

     archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of

     Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord

     rebuke thee.”  In Zechariah 3:1-5 and Jude 9 Satan is seen as the

     prosecuting attorney leveling charges against the accused.  When the people

     of God fall into sin, Satan the accuser of the brethren, their avowed enemy,

     observes it, and accuses them before the Lord, and seeks their

     condemnation. (John Gill’s Exposition of The Entire Bible.  e-Sword. Version

     7.6.1. Copyright 2000-2005. Rick Meyers. All Rights Reserved Worldwide). 

     Satan will say to God, “If they were really Your child they wouldn’t do that,”

     “If they were really Your they wouldn’t say that,” and “If they were really

     your child they wouldn’t look at that”.      

 

     Friends, the only plea we can offer is the BLOOD OF JESUS!  (Revelation

     12:11; Romans 8:31-39). 

 

     ILLUS:  Carla Faye Tucker in 1983 helped kill two people with a pickaxe,

                  and she was so animalistic in her behavior that she laughed while

                  she did it.  She was found guilty and imprisoned.  On death row,

                  Carla Faye Tucker became a born-again Christian, and all those

                  close to her say, “You can’t question the legitimacy of her

                  conversion experience.”  Carla Faye Tucker became the first woman

                  executed in Texas since the Civil War era.  But as she lay strapped

                  on a gurney, she delivered her final message to those gathered to

                  witness her execution.  She said, “I’m going to be face to face with

                  Jesus now.  I love all of you very much.  I’ll see you all when you

                  get there."  No matter how back your sin, the blood of Jesus Christ

                  can cleanse you and make you white as snow.  No matter how

                  inhuman your nature, the power of the Holy Spirit can transform it

                  from bitterness to tenderness and faith.

 

     ILLUS:  It is said that Luther, during a serious illness, seemed to see Satan

                  coming to him with a great scroll on which were written all the sins

                  and errors of his life. Looking at him with a triumphant smile, he

                  unrolled it before the saint: "These are your sins. There is no hope

                  of your going to heaven." Luther read the long list with growing

                  consternation, when suddenly it flashed upon his mind that there

                  was one thing not written there. He said aloud, "One thing you

                  have forgotten. The rest is all true, but one thing you have

                  forgotten: The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sins." --H. F.

                  Sayles (Bible Illustrator For Windows. Version 3.0f. Copyright 1990-

                  1998, by Parsons Technology, Inc. All Rights Reserved). 

 

     Friends, NONE of us will enter Heaven unless we are covered by the BLOOD

     OF JESUS!  

 

SATAN’S NATURE is that SATAN SLANDERS THE CHARACTER OF GOD, SATAN SLANDERS THE CHILDREN OF GOD and finally…

 

(3)  SATAN SLANDERS THE CHRIST OF GOD   

           MATTHEW 4:1-11

 

* “Perhaps the most insidious lies the devil tells are about Jesus” (Charles F.

   Stanley. When The Enemy Strikes. p. 49).  Listen to some of his slanders

   against the Lord Jesus Christ:

 

A.  CHRIST IS NOT THE ONLY WAY TO GOD.  Jesus said in John 14:6—I

      am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by

      me.  Satan’s slander here targets the truthfulness of Christ’s words.  It is

      also a slap in the face to Christ’s deity.  Because of Christ’s word can be

      called into question then His deity can also be challenged.  Proverbs 14:12

      tells us, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end

      thereof are the ways of death.”  Friends, there is only ONE WAY to God

      and that is by JESUS!  There is only one DOOR to Heaven and that is

      through the BLOOD OF JESUS!  Jesus said in John 10:1—“… He that

      entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way,

      the same is a thief and a robber.

 

B.  CHRISTIANITY AND ALL RELIGIONS ARE THE SAME—THEY ALL LEAD

     TO GOD.  Satan has men to believe in the end everyone will be in heaven.

      He says, “There’s no need to believe in Jesus or to respond to His death on

      the Cross.  Believe anything you want, everything will turn out ok in the

      end.”  Jesus said in John 3:16-18— For God so loved the world, that he

      gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not

      perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to

      condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  He that

      believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned

      already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of

      God.  Friends, CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST!  And unless we believe and trust

       HIM as the ONLY WAY to HEAVEN we will spend eternity in hell! 

 

       ILLUS:  Imagine a ship filled with people crossing the Atlantic. In the

                    middle of the ocean there is an explosion. The ship is severely

                    damaged and slowly sinking. Most are dead, and the rest are

                    rushing for the lifeboats. Now suppose one man doesn't know

                    about the lifeboat, so he does not get aboard. He doesn't have

                    knowledge, so he is not saved. Suppose another man knows about

                    the lifeboat and believes it will save his life, but he is grief-stricken

                    over seeing his wife killed, so he chooses not to get aboard and

                    dies with his wife. He has knowledge and mental assent, but he is

                    not saved. Others believe the lifeboat will save them, and they get

                    into the boat. They are saved by faith, that is they have

                    knowledge, mental assent, and trust. However, it is not their faith

                    that saves them--no matter how much they have. It is the boat.

                    Saving faith trusts Christ, and Christ saves. Evangelism, A

                    Biblical Approach, M. Cocoris, Moody, 1984, p. 77

 

C.  CHRIST WAS MERELY A GOOD MAN WHO DIED A MARTYR’S DEATH.

     This slander of Satan relegates the Lord Jesus Christ to the same level as

      Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius, and others.  But friends, John 1:1-3

      tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and

      the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things

      were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was

      made.”  CHRIST IS GOD!  But Satan’s lie here implies “There is no reason

      to believe He was the Son of God.  Just doing some good works He told us

      to do is enough.”  Folks, Satan will always attack the deity of our Lord

      Jesus Christ.  Why?  Because He know that if we believe that He is God  

      and His Word is true, then we are accountable to Him for our lives.  Daniel

      Webster once said:  "If I might comprehend Jesus Christ, I could not

      believe on Him.  He would be no greater than myself. Such is my

      consciousness of sin and my own inability, that I must have a superhuman 

      Savior." ("Choice Illus." W.W. Clay  pg. 38).  Just think, every promise God

      has ever made finds its fulfillment in Jesus. God doesn't just give us grace,

      He gives us Jesus, the Lord of grace. If it's peace, it's only found in Jesus, \

      the Prince of Peace. Even life itself is found in the Resurrection and the

      Life. Christianity isn't all that complicated ... it's Jesus. -- Joni Eareckson

      Tada in Lamp Unto My Feet. Christianity Today, Vol. 41, no. 8. 

 

CLOSING:  Friend SATAN’S NATURE is SATAN SLANDERS THE CHARACTER

                  OF GOD, SATAN SLANDERS THE CHILDREN OF GOD, and SATAN

                  SLANDERS THE CHRIST OF GOD.  But friends, Satan is a defeated

                  Foe!  According to Hebrews 2:14 the Lord Jesus Christ came “that

                   through death he might destroy him that had the power of death,

                   that is, the devil.”  Our English word “destroy” there is translated

                  from a Greek word which means “bring to naught, to make void, to

                   render useless.”  At the Cross Jesus, Colossians 2:15 tells us,

                  “…spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them

                   openly, triumphing over them in it.” 

 

                  Satan has been spoiled, shamed, and stripped.  The Lord “made a

                   show of them openly, triumphing over them”  Folks, the VICTORY IS

                  OURS, we must only “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his

                   might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand

                   against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:10-11).       

         

 

 

 

 

 

 

“FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH #5-SATAN’S TEMPTATIONS”

MATTHEW 4:1-11

 

INTRO:  There was a little boy named Willy in the kitchen one day with his

              hand reaching down into the narrow top of the cookie jar. While in

              this position, his mother walked in on him and said, "Willy, what are

              you doing?"  Willy answered his mother bluntly, "I am fighting

              temptation."  Willy was not fighting temptation. He had allowed his

              emotions to get involved and had thought his action through. He

              watched for when his mother was out of the kitchen, figured out how

              to get onto the counter, and remembered to carefully lift the lid so

              that it would not make any noise. He had thought about that

              temptation and allowed the desire and lust to come to pass.  A.C.

              Green once said, "We all have the power of choice, but once we

              exercise that choice, it has power over us." (Bible Illustrator For

              Windows. Version 3.0f. Copyright 1990-1998, by Parsons Technology,

              Inc. All Rights Reserved).  Too many of us plan to expect to sin and

              plan ahead for it. 

 

              In Matthew 4:1-11 we read of the temptation of Jesus by Satan in

              the wilderness.  He came to Jesus with three great temptations. 

              Satan’s goal was to destroy Jesus and the kingdom of God.  Just as

              the devil was our Lord’s enemy while on this earth, you and I face the

              same enemy today.  Satan will use the same temptations on us that

              he used on the Lord Jesus Christ.  Our Lord truly was in all points

              tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15b).  “He was s

              subjected to all the kinds of trial to which we can be, and he is,

              therefore, able to sympathize with us and to aid us.” (Albert Barnes’

               Notes On The Bible. e-Sword. Version 7.6.1. Copyright 2000-2005.

              Rick Meyers. All Rights Reserved Worldwide).  In all our temptations

              “Jesus is our role model.  The way He responded to temptation is the

              way we are to respond to it” (Charles F. Stanley. When The Enemy

              Strikes. p. 130).  Folks, when temptation comes knocking at our

              door we must know how to respond to it!

 

              In the verses before us tonight, our Lord shows us how to properly

              respond to temptation when it comes our way.  The mighty Niagara

              River plummets some 180 feet at the American and Horseshoe Falls.

              Before the falls, there are violent, turbulent rapids. Farther upstream,

              however, where the river's current flows more gently, boats are able to

              navigate. Just before the Welland River empties into the Niagara, a

              pedestrian walkway spans the river. Posted on this bridge's pylons is

              a warning sign for all boaters: "Do you have an anchor?" followed by,

              "Do you know how to use it?" Faith, like an anchor, is something we

              need to have and use to avoid spiritual cataclysm.  -- Paul Adams in

              Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors

              of Leadership.  Friends, temptation is going to come, but the question

              is, “How will we respond when we are staring it in the face?”  I want to

              speak on the subject tonight, “SATAN’S TEMPTATIONS”.  Let us look

              at these three temptations Satan placed before Jesus and how our

              Savior responded to each temptation:

 

(1)  SATAN TEMPTED JESUS TO DOUBT AND DISBELIEVE

           MATTHEW 4:3—“And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be

the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.”

 

A.  THE DOUBT SATAN INFERRED.  I want you to listen to Satan’s words to

      Jesus, “…If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made

      bread.”  "If" suggests a doubt, and, perhaps, a taunt. It is a cunning appeal

      to Christ to work a miracle to satisfy his hunger and to display his power

       (B. W. Johnson. The People’s New Testament. e-Sword. Version 7.6.1.

       Copyright 2000-2005. Rick Meyers. All Rights Reserved Worldwide).  Did

      you know that one of the greatest of all temptations that Satan uses

      against us is the temptation to disbelieve?  “If Satan can get you to doubt

      God’s presence…love…forgiveness…purpose…commandments, he is well

      on his way to getting you to yield to temptation” (Charles F. Stanley. When

      The Enemy Strikes. p. 38).  Satan’s suggestion to Jesus to turn the stones

      into bread was his way of tempting Jesus to act independently of God.  He

      wanted Jesus to take the initiative and no longer trust and follow the will of

      God.  Satan said, “You are hungry because of divine appointment, and yet

      in this divine appointment there is no provision for your hunger. 

      Therefore, it is right for you to act on your own to satisfy your need.”  Satan

      wanted our Lord to despair and doubt the Father’s goodness.  I want you to

      note something here: one of the wiles of the devil is to take advantage of

      our outward condition.  V2 tells us of our Lord, And when he had fasted

      forty days and forty nights, he was afterward hungry.”  When Jesus began

      to be hungry, out in the wilderness where there was nothing to be had,

      there Satan assaulted him!  Friends, when you find yourself in want and

      poverty Satan can easily tempt your to doubt and disbelieve the goodness of

      God.

 

B.  THE DEPENDENCE THE SAVIOR INSISTED.  When Satan suggests to us

      that God cannot be trusted or that He doesn’t care about us, we must

      respond by affirming our love and dependence upon God.  Jesus answered

      Satan’s temptation by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3—“… man doth not live by

      bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD

      doth man live.”  That verse is part of a passage given to Israel so that they

      would understand how God sustained their lives while they were in the

      wilderness.  The only HOPE they had was God!  He sustained them,

      provided for them, guided them, and protected them.  Jesus simply said to

      Satan, “I depend solely upon God!”  Friends, when Satan tempts us to

      doubt and disbelieve God’s goodness, mercy and grace we simply need to

     affirm, “Lord, I believe in YOU.  I trust YOU and believe that YOU are who

     YOU say YOU are!  I believe YOU are able to meet my every need.  I depend

     Upon YOU and wait upon YOU!” 

 

     ILLUS:  This is almost overwhelming when you think about it. Moses and

                  the people were in the desert, but  what was he going to do with

                  them?  They had to be fed, and feeding 2 or 3 million people

                  requires a lot of food.  According to the Quartermaster General in

                  the Army, it is reported that Moses would have to have had 1500

                  tons of food each day. Do you know that to bring that much food

                  each day, two freight trains, each at least a mile long, would be

                  required!  Besides you must remember, they were out in the desert,

                  so they would have to have firewood to use in cooking the food.

                  This would take 4000 tons of wood and a few more freight trains,

                  each a  mile long, just for one day. 

 

                  And just think, they were forty years in transit.  And Oh yes!  They

                  would have to have water. If they only had enough to drink and

                  wash a few dishes, it would take 11,000,000 gallons each day and

                  a freight train with tank cars, 1800 miles long, just to bring water!

                  And then another thing!  They had to get across the Red Sea at

                  night. Now, if they went on a narrow path, double file, the line

                  would be 800 miles long and would require 35 days and nights to

                  get through. So there had to be a space in the Red Sea, 3 miles

                  wide so that they could walk 5000 abreast to get over in one night.

                  But then, there is another problem...............each time they camped

                  at the end of the day, a campground two-thirds the size of the state

                  of Rhode Island was required, or a total of 750 square miles

                  long........ think of it!  This much space for camping.

 

                  Do you think Moses figured all this out before he left Egypt? I think

                  not!  You see, Moses believed in God. God took care of these things

                  for him.  Now do you think God has any problem taking care of all

                  your needs?

 

     ILLUS:  “Immediately after World War II the allied armies gathered up many

                  hungry, homeless children and placed them in large camps.  There

                  the children were fed and cared for.  However, at night they did not

                  sleep well.  They seemed restless and afraid.  Finally, a psychologist

                  hit on a solution.  After the children were put to bed, they each

                  received a slice of bread to hold.  If they wanted more to eat, more

                  was provided, but this particular piece was not be eaten—it was

                  just to hold.  The slice of bread provided marvelous results.  The

                  child would go to sleep, subconsciously feeling he would have

                  something to eat tomorrow.  That assurance gave the child a calm

                  and peaceful rest.

 

                  In the 23rd Psalm, David points out something of same feeling in

                  the sheep when he says, ‘The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not

                  want.’  Instinctively, the sheep knows the shepherd has made plans

                  for its grazing tomorrow.  He knows the shepherd made ample

                  provision for it today, so will he tomorrow, so the sheep lies down

                  in its fold with, figuratively speaking, the piece of bread in its hand” 

                  (Charles L. Allen. God’s Psychiatry. Revell. 1988).  

 

Friends, every believer can say “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want” if he is willing to rest in His presence, rely on His protection, and rejoice in His provision!

 

SATAN TEMPTED JESUS TO DISBELIEVE but also note…

 

(2)  SATAN TEMPTED JESUS TO DIVERT AND DEMAND

           MATTHEW 4:5-7— Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and

setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou

be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give

his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall

bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 

Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the

Lord thy God.

 

A.  SATAN’S DESIGN.  Friends, we must always remember, “The devil tempts

      us to bring us down, but God tests us to bring us up.” -- Jerry W. Mixon in

        Along the Way.  Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 13. (Bible Illustrator For

      Windows. Version 3.0f. Copyright 1990-1998, by Parsons Technology,

      Inc. All Rights Reserved).  Satan’s ploy was to suggest that Jesus cast

      Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple to corrupt and pervert the

      purpose and plan of God for the Lord Jesus.  Satan said, “You’re the Son of

      God, you have faith in God to provide for your needs.  So show your faith

      by casting yourself down.”

 

B.  SATAN’S DEMAND.  This demand of Satan is a oft repeated demand: 

     “God, if you’re real, give us a sign.”  “Lord, if this is Your will, provide us a

     miracle!”  “Christian communicators ... face the temptation, as Jesus did, to

     test God and find a shortcut to success.  If Jesus had jumped from the

     pinnacle of the temple, it would have been the ultimate publicity stunt.  But

     that wasn't the way God wanted to usher in the Kingdom.” -- Ron Wilson in

      The Next to the Last Word. Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 7. (Bible

     Illustrator For Windows. Version 3.0f. Copyright 1990-1998, by Parsons

      Technology, Inc. All Rights Reserved).  The devil tempted Jesus "to show a

     sign from heaven," to make a display of his power to secure popular

     applause. Perhaps the evil spirit whispered to him to perform one

     stupendous miracle in Jerusalem, in the presence of all people, and to

     secure such fame that he would reach the throne without treading the

     thorny way of the cross. To have done so would have robbed the world of its

     Savior. "It behooved him to die, and to rise again." (B. W. Johnson. The

     People’s New Testament. e-Sword. Version 7.6.1. Copyright 2000-2005. Rick

     Meyers. All Rights Reserved Worldwide). 

 

     Our Lord replied to Satan again using SCRIPTURE.  Exodus 17 tells us of

     Israel’s experience at Massah.  They had no water and began to complain

     against Moses.  We read in Deuteronomy 6:16 that God instructed Israel—

     Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.” 

     Jesus used this verse of Scripture to rebuke Satan refusing to do anything

     that might be considered as a demand on God.  Folks, it is dangerous

     business to presumptuously demand anything from God!  We must beware

     never to be presumptuous and demand anything of Almighty God!  How are

     some ways we tempt God? :

 

Ø     WE TEMPT GOD BY DEMANDING SIGNS, MIRACLES, AND EVIDENCE INSTEAD OF SIMPLY TRUSTING HIM.  These demands show that we are walking by sight and not by faith.

Ø     WE TEMPT GOD BY PUTTING OURSELVES INTO SITUATIONS WHERE WE CAN BE TEMPTED TO SIN EXPECTING GOD TO PRESERVE US BECAUSE WE ARE SAVED.  1 Thessalonians 5:22 commands us—Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

Ø     WE TEMPT GOD BY DEMANDING TO THE DETAILS OF OUR FUTURE: HOW AND WHEN GOD WILL DO THIS OR THAT.  The resurrected Lord told His disciples after they asked,Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?,” “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. (Acts 1:6-7).

Ø     WHEN TEMPT GOD BY OUR PRAYERS WHEN THEY BECOME DEMANDS INSTEAD OF REQUESTS.  Folks, our Lord never promised to give us everything we ask of Him.  But He did say, And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.(John 14:13).  Also 1 John 5:14 assures us— And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.”

Ø     WE TEMPT GOD BY BELIEVING THAT FAITH IS BEST EXPRESSED IN THE SENSATIONAL AND UNUSUAL RATHER THAN THE COMMON EXPERIENCES OF LIFE.  The real test of faith is not the ability to do something sensational or unusual but rather it expresses itself in the change it make in your daily life!

Ø     WE TEMPT GOD BY ATTEMPTING TO DO GOD’S WILL IN OUR OWN WAY.  Spiritual results are never achieved by fleshly means.  Any thing we attempt to do for God apart from His enabling and power is unacceptable in His sight!  A. W. Tozer said, “If the Lord is in it, it flows.  If it is of the flesh it is forced.”  “One of the greatest failures of the Church is that we often try to accomplish with human systems what only God can do” (Fred Smith. Leadership. Vol. 1, no. 1).  “Some people think the prayer of faith is crawling out on a limb and then begging God to keep someone from sawing it off.  But that is not real prayer, that is presumption.  If God makes it clear that he wants you out on a limb, fine—you will be perfectly safe there.  If not, it is presumptuous to crawl out on that limb, expecting God to keep you there” (Ray C. Stedman. Man of Faith. Christianity Today. Vol. 40, no. 7).

 

SATAN TEMPTED JESUS TO DOUBT AND DISBELIEVE, SATAN TEMPTED JESUS TO DIVERT AND DEMAND and finally…

 

(3)  SATAN TEMPTED JESUS TO DESERT AND DISOBEY

         MATTHEW 4:8-10— Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding

high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.  Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

 

A.  THE OFFER.  “…the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain,

      and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And

      saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and

      worship me…”.  Jesus came to be a King, but the pathway to the crown is

      weary, painful, beset with thorns and blood. Satan proposes an easier way.

      He will rally the Jewish nation around him, set him on the throne of David,

      make him the Messiah King of the world, if he will only consent to give up

      his idea of a spiritual kingdom, "not of this world," and worship the god of

      this world by conforming his kingdom to the worldly ideas of Israel. The

      temptation is to turn away from the path of self-denial, the cross and the

       tomb, and to establish an outward, worldly domain. (B. W. Johnson. The

      People’s New Testament. e-Sword. Version 7.6.1. Copyright 2000-2005.

       Rick Meyers. All Rights Reserved Worldwide).  Satan’s temptation and

      appeal to Jesus here was, “Give me the worship, adoration, and allegiance

      instead of Your Father and I will give you all these things.”  Friends, Satan

      still uses everything in his power to make sin and the false gods of this

      world look appealing and attractive to us!

 

      ILLUS:  In August of 2003, a study was released revealing that money

                   can't buy happiness.  Beginning in 1975, University of Southern

                   California researcher Richard Easterlin surveyed 1500 persons

                   annually and found:

 

                   “Many people are under the illusion that the more money we make,

                   the happier we will be.  We put all of our resources into making

                   money at the expense of our family and our health…The problem

                   is that we don’t realize that our material wants increase with the

                   amount of money we make.  The study discovered happiness was

                   related to quality time with loved ones, good health, being friendly,

                   having an optimistic outlook, exercising self-control, and

                   possessing a deep sense of ethics.” (www.BusinessDay.com 8-26-

                   03) 

 

B.  THE OBEDIENCE.  Our Lord once again responded to Satan’s temptation

      with the WORD OF GOD: Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt

      worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. (v. 10).  Jesus

      said, “I will only worship and serve the Lord God.”  “He sent the devil away

      by reminding the devil that he was under orders from God the Father to

      worship only God and serve only Him.  The devil was the one who needed

      to be worshipping Jesus and serving Him!” (Charles F. Stanley. When The

      Enemy Strikes. p. 131).  Jesus said in John 8:29— And he that sent me is

      with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that

      please him.  Our Lord Jesus was obedient to the will of the Father

      therefore He was pleasing in His sight.  What an example for us!  Why

      should we give God our total obedience? :

 

Ø      GIVE GOD ABSOLUTE ALLEGIANCE BECAUSE IT IS THE BASIS OF OUR MORAL CONDUCT.  We become like the God we worship.

Ø      GIVE GOD ABSOLUTE ALLEGIANCE BECAUSE HE IS WORTHY.  He made us for Himself.  He made us with His purpose in mind.  He loves us with an everlasting love!

Ø      GIVE GOD ABSOLUTE ALLEGIANCE OR LIVED A DIVIDED LIFE.  God created us in such a way that we can only give total allegiance to one.  To whomever we give our allegiance to that will be the god we serve.  Satan did not ask Jesus to serve him but only to “worship” him.  But Jesus’ reply was, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.   Why?  Jesus knew that the God you worship you will also serve.  “No man can for any considerable time wear one face to himself and another to the multitude without finally getting bewildered as to which is the true one.” (Nathaniel Hawthorne. Leadership. Vol. 7, no. 1).

CLOSING:  SATAN TEMPTED JESUS TO DOUBT AND DISBELIEVE, SATAN

                  TEMPTED JESUS TO DIVERT AND DEMAND, and SATAN

                  TEMPTED JESUS TO DESERT AND DISOBEY.  “The temptation of

                  Jesus in the wilderness give us the pattern of response we are to

                  use when the devil tempts us” (Charles F. Stanley. When The

                   Enemy Strikes. p. 131).  What should we do:

 

Ø     Rebuke Him through the Word.

Ø     Rest in the Promises of God.

Ø     Resolve to do things God’s way.

 

                  “Jesus was 100 percent committed and resolved in His heart and

                   mind that He would choose to do things God’s way—using God’s

                   methods to achieve God’s goals—and to act in God’s timing”

                   (Charles F. Stanley. When The Enemy Strikes. p. 132).  Folks,

                  can that be said of us?   Temptation will come.  How will you

                  respond when it comes to you?