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Resist the Devil November 18, 2010

Posted by theronwatson in Uncategorized.
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Matthew 4:1-11
We have a very real enemy in this world. We called him the ‘Devil,’ ‘Satan,’ ‘Beelzebub.’ He is the ‘Deceiver,’ and the ‘Father of Lies.’ The good evangelist will often remind us that the devil is a defeated foe. He says, “When the devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.” He says, “I’ve read the last chapter of the Book. We win.” This makes for very good preaching. But, as my Hebrew professor used to say, “Proper hermeneutics will often ruin good preaching.”
If all of this is true, why is there so much destruction and pain in the world? Why are divorce rates as high within the church as they are in society? Why are anger and pessimism still around? Why does depression still exist? Because the devil is a very real enemy. It is true that he is a defeated foe, but before we run off half cocked thinking there is no longer reason to guard our hearts against the things of the world, we might want to consider that this is true at the Eschaton, The End Times. Until then, the devil remains the Prince and Principalities of the Air. He remains at large, prowling around like a lion seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
It is easy to tell the difference between truth and a lie. It is easy to tell the difference and judge between right and wrong, good and evil, yes and no. The devil, as the Father of Lies, does not work in the areas of black and white, blatant differences, but in the subtle shades of grey. The devil, once a very power angel, knows the truth. He knows the truth so well in fact that he is able to twist and pervert it just enough so that it still sounds like the truth, but is not. Think about what he told Eve in the Garden of Eden. The crafty serpent (the devil) led Eve down a path of bad choices and doubt by making her question what God had said. How did he know what God said? Was he there when the instructions were being given, or was it spiritual knowledge available to all beings? Somehow, the serpent knew and led the man and woman to choose poorly. Of course, it was still their choice.
The devil is subtle and slips up on us when we are least expecting it, usually at our times of greatest weakness. Notice here that he even tried to sneak up on Jesus at His weakest point. Jesus had been in the desert for 40 days before the deceiver came to tempt Him. He was hungry. The devil began his attack at the most basic level, the need for food. But, notice that the devil did not just tempt Jesus with food. He questioned Jesus’ identity. His first statement says, “If you are the Son of God…” He did not say, ‘if you will do this for me, I will give you food.’ It was not like Esau who sold his birthright for a bowl of soup because he was so hungry. That would be very easy to recognize as wrong. Instead, the devil questioned the basis of Jesus’ identity. Sometimes the devil does that to us too.
In his second attempt at tempting Jesus, the devil asked Jesus to question the Father’s love and care for the Son. Here, the devil quoted scripture. The devil knows what the Bible says probably better than we do. But, it was not an accurate depiction of Scripture. It was quoted exactly, but with an incorrect meaning. The devil was trying to make Jesus question His understanding of scripture. The devil said, “If.” If you are who you think you are, then this is true, right? He was tempting Jesus with testing the love of God. Sometimes the devil does that to us too. He makes us question whether God truly loves us. This is usually in the midst of some terrible adversity, the kind that leads to questions of ‘theodicy;’ the problem of evil. You know the ones that say if God is truly loving and kind how can He let bad things happen? The doubts that arise from those lies can steal a person’s joy and disrupt their walk forever. People leave the faith as a result of that kind of doubt. Is that of God or the devil?
In his third attempt at tempting Jesus, the devil offered Jesus power over humanity. This is amusing to me because Jesus already had power over everything and everyone. At the end, at the Eschaton, the Bible tells that, “Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.” Satan offered Jesus something he could not give. That is what he does. He makes promises that he cannot fulfill. But, if they lead you astray then he has won a victory over you. So then, what do we do?
Satan is a defeated foe. His fate is sealed. He with his followers will be thrown into the lake of burning suffer. Until then, be wary. The book of James tells us, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) When you recognize yourself as being under attack, falsely accused or reminded of your past failures, claim the truth of God’s Word and the blood of Christ. “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.”(Rev 12:11) The devil will come after you when you least expect it. He will wait until you are weak and vulnerable. But, God is good and will provide you a way out. We can claim the promises of the Bible. We can resist the devil. We may not have enough spiritual strength to command him for the moment, but God does. Claim the truth in Jesus’ Name. The devil will have to flee. Get other believers involved. Pray. You have already overcome the devil. Don’t be persuaded by his lies in subtle shades of grey.

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