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Garden City Christian Union Church

Knowing Our Enemy

Scripture reading: 1 Peter 5:8-11

As I have prayed and considered what I might begin to share with you as we take off in our new relationship as church and pastor I thought it well to begin with some basic Christian principles that are vital to our success a followers of Jesus Christ.

  • I began as a candidate here with a sermon on knowing God for who He is, as you may remember, from Jeremiah 9:23-24

  • When I was here four Sundays ago I shared with you from the 30th Psalm about God's chastening love that redirects our glorying from us to Him.

  • And last week as I assumed the pulpit here officially I shared with you from Colossians 3:17 what the proper motivation is for living a life of obedience;

  • What were those two important words that we learned about? Indicative and Imperative.

  • John Calvin says in the opening sentence of his Institutes of the Christian Religion: “Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid Wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.

  • This has so far been my goal in preaching the truth of Scripture to you and it will continue to be as I take my direction from God's Word and edify the saints for the work of the ministry.

The next step I intend to take as we go forward in this endeavor is to look at what is commonly called Spiritual Warfare.

  • In the providence of God we will begin this short series as we look to Veterans Day and hopefully finish it as we look to Thanksgiving.

  • Though you may have some understanding of this I will tell you that I approach this idea a bit different than many contemporary Bible teachers.

  • Rather than explain my approach, I will simply open the Scriptures this morning and show you what they say about this often distorted and misunderstood idea.

2 Corinthians 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

 

  • In this text the Apostle is challenging those who are in error and is coming pretty close to threatening them as he establishes his authority in Christ.

  • He calls this a War;For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God

  • He tells us where the battle takes place;5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

So veterans, whether you have seen the front or not in your active duty, you are as Christians still engaged.

  • Those who never wore the uniform of a soldier in life are still a part of the Lord's army and are to this day engaged in a battle for Truth with a capital T.

  • It is a spiritual battle as real and as serious as any physical battle that you have ever been in, this one is even more so.

  • Today, as any good commander would, I want you to get to know your enemy.

  • For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.

  • Our enemy is not man, but a spiritual enemy, Satan (The adversary) The Devil (The Accuser)

As we enter into chapter 3 of Genesis we turn from pristine beauty and perfection to the most wicked and notorious act in the History of Creation.

  • My chief goal here is to make you hate the devil.

  • If you already hate him I want to make you hate him more.

  • Then I want to help you uncover his M.O. And avoid his trap.

Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.

  • Immediately we are introduced to the “Serpent.”

  • Satan is not mentioned here by name, throughout the whole narrative we see him only as, “the serpent.”

  • Elsewhere we see that this is indeed a reference to Him, Revelation 12:9, 20:2 call him that, “serpent of old.”

     

  • Though we learn much in the New Testament about the scope of his power, in these few verses we can gain enough insight into his motives and methods, his malice and malignity to say with the Apostle Paul, “We are not ignorant of his devices.” 2 Corinthians 2:11

  • He took the form of the serpent because it was the most cunning of the beasts that God had created. Its nature is to move stealthily, lie in wait and devour its victims whole.

Genesis 3:1b And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”

4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.

  • Satan is the epitome of evil, he is like a child molester.

  • It may be hard to grasp, but his malignity is demonstrated here.

  • I have come to a new level of disdain for this ancient enemy after looking closely at his first act of malice toward mankind.

  • He is indeed a coward, attacking the weaker person and

  • He is an opportunist, waiting for her to be near the one object of God's negative command.

  • He is a liar, twisting God's Word and the woman's attitude toward the God who had provided so much for her.

  • He is a manipulator, putting the woman's desires above her needs and her relationship to God.

  • We, or at least I, have a jaded understanding of Eve, she is that evil woman who ate Adam out of house and home.

  • In reality, Eve was perfectly pure and innocent and Satan took full advantage of her; waiting for her to be in proximity to the object of God's one negative command and attacking her rather than Adam as the weaker vessel; casting doubt on God's word and enticing her with the idea that God had withheld when He had provided so much; luring her with the idea of personal godhood and the pleasure of the fruit itself.

  • I really want to help you to see the malignity of the devil here. I think that too often we are passive in our resistance toward him. If we are to overcome him we need to know how evil he really is.

  • You say, “Everyone knows how evil the devil is.” Maybe in theory, not in practice. We are influenced by his evil constantly and often we do nothing about it.

  • Psalm 97:10 You who love the Lord, hate evil!

  • Hate means to hate as an enemy and it is in the imperative. (a command)

  • Maybe its me, never having been at war or having someone I really considered an “enemy,” but this idea of hating is difficult for me to get my mind around.

  • I think the general passivity of our culture, at least when it comes to things like war and capital punishment, effect us more than we are aware of.

  • I am not saying that we should hate people, but evil. There are some who do evil and deserve judgment, like the man who murdered all of those women over in Cleveland. If he had murdered my wife or daughter I would probably understand this kind of hatred better.

  • Our hate needs to be directed against evil, not necessarily evil men, though it may be impossible to distinguish at times, Proverbs 8:13 says, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; ”

  • That means that we cannot properly reverence God without hating evil.

  • Romans 12:9 tells to abhor what is evil and cling to what is good

  • I don't want to go too far with this idea, but when we see Satan in his true light, hatred and disgust should be the normal response.

  • To often in our culture we get used to his influence and let it go past unchecked.

  • Hating evil is an action, not a feeling. The word “abhor" in Romans 12:9 is in the present, active, imperative. That means do it now, you do it, it is a command.

  • So the question comes, “How can I biblically hate evil?”

  1. See it for what it is.

  2. Contrast it with the Love that God has for you (one who is evil by nature but redeemed by grace)

  3. Do whatever you can to combat evil while demonstrating the Love of God to the people affected by evil.

  • We are not to cast down people, but ideas, Paul says, “Arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.”

  • We have more than Eve did in someways;

  • We have clear and complete Revelation from God.

  • We have the Spirit of God dwelling in us.

  • But, We also have a sin nature which she didn't

  • We have to remember that the devil is a real malevolent being and that his main tactic is to misrepresent truth. In that misrepresentation he will do many things, as I have already mentioned. He will:

  • Attack us when we are weak.

  • Wait for an opportunity.

  • Get us to doubt God's Word.

  • Get us to focus on apparent lack rather than God generous supply.

  • Appeal to our lusts.

  • Cause us to reason against truth in our minds

How much fellowship do you want to have with a being that has this job description?

  • The Devil would just as soon do this to you and me as well.

  • He knows us,

  • our weaknesses

  • our opportune moments

  • our doubts

  • our selfishnesses

  • our minds

  • and He will exploit them for his ends just as quickly as he did Eve.

  • I don't know about you, but I have had enough time in my life while I was taken advantage by the enemy of my soul. I spent 27 years as his dupe and I really don't want him to have the advantage anymore!

Proof that this is his attitude abounds in the New Testament;

  • 1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world

  • He wants to eat you up and chew on your bones!

  • Resistance, that is to take a stand against.

  • This is warfare, Webster says that An army resists the progress of an enemy actively, by encountering and defeating it.

  • Ephesians 6:13 says that we need to, "WITHSTAND in the evil day," the day that Satan comes to devour us. This is the same Greek word as Peter uses in 1 Peter 5:8

  • This is serious warfare, the resistance is not just holding our ground! I think of Gideon with his little band of 300 taking the offensive against the Amalakites and Midianites whose armies were like locusts in number.

  • We are the Church Militant, are we not? Prosperity and ease have taken their toll on the Church, at least here in America. Jesus Told His disciples that He would build His Church and the "gates of hell (would) not prevail against it."

  • We are in a battle and we dare not take a passive attitude toward the enemy! Rome fell when her soldiers were no longer citizens but hirelings. They had no heart to fight the barbarians closing in on their borders. Many of them were those barbarians who had already been overcome.

  • The Devil actively pursued Jesus in His temptation in Matthew 4,

  • He sows tares in the Church and steals the Word from those who hear it according to Christ's parables

     

  • He entered Judas Iscariot in order to try and thwart Christ's mission. (What was he thinking?)

  • He ensnares, takes captive and devours men at will. And we are commanded to resist him by Peter and James.

You who love the Lord, hate evil! And, The fear of the Lord is to hate evil. And, Abhor what is evil and cling to what is good

 

Again,

Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

  • Here is demonstrated the cunning of the serpent, attacking the man through the woman.

  • Finding the weak point and exploiting it.

  • Here is his craft toward the woman, asking the leading question, "Has indeed God said...?"

  • Octavius Winslow on Christ's temptation says "Satan, with an intelligence and cunning peculiarly his own, knows how to shape his assault to the time and circumstance of the assailed. In no instance were his knowledge and subtlety more conspicuous than now, and in no instance was his shaft leveled at so illustrious a mark. It was of the physical condition of our Lord that Satan now took advantage. Forty days and forty nights’ abstinence from food must have produced an effect upon His bodily frame, intensely exhausting. How natural, yet how artful, that Satan, availing himself of this peculiarly trying position of Christ, should select from his quiver an arrow so singularly appropriate and so precisely aimed! And in this particular we trace a close parallel of the Christian’s temptation to Christ’s. In both instances the enemy adroitly adapts his temptation to the individual circumstances of his victim. Seizing upon our physical, mental, and spiritual condition-the infirmity of the body, the depression of the mind, and the spiritual phases of the soul-he selects the most fitting shaft, and with the accuracy of an eye that never misses, hits the very center of his mark."

  • So with Christ, so also with Eve and with us. “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

  • This is the scheme that takes down the learned and the mighty as well as the novice and the feeble.

  • This one question is as Octavius Winslow said, "How natural, yet how artful, that Satan, availing himself of this peculiarly trying position should select from his quiver an arrow so singularly appropriate and so precisely aimed! "

  • There is so much in this one question that it bears some serious study.

  • This question shows the character of the serpent, questioning God and His word.

  • It also shows his shrewdness as he manipulates the mind of the woman.

  • Has God INDEED said...? There is in the Hebrew a little particle, aph which indicates the derogatory nature of this comment.

  • We like to watch old Sherlock Holmes movies, and I see this most clearly as Dr. Watson being indignant as Sherlock Holmes insinuates that his friend may be the murder. Dr Watson retorts, "Indeed! You think you know everything."

  • The Hebrew is a bit difficult here, literally, "Indeed, that God said." and in this context it makes sense rather as an accusation than a question.

  • Thus he would begin a discourse, and draw her into a parley. says Matthew Henry

  • And here is the fatal mistake.

  • Again with the movie motif, I think of Elizabeth from Pirates of the Caribbean as she is caught in the closet of her father's mansion which has been invaded by the undead pirates and apparently rescues herself with that single word, "Parley." Only to get herself into the bigger problem of being a captive on their ship.

  • When we get into a discussion about the situation we have as good as lost.

     

  • Shield of Faith / Doubting God's Word – 1 Corinthians 10:13,

  • When we open up to discuss the possibility of sinning, we we have opened the door that we may not be able to shut.

  • James 1:14 says, But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.

  • The serpent discovered the woman's desires and exploited them.

  • This is where he got Eve to join in his game. She entered into his train of thought and then blurted out a distortion of God's word.

Genesis 3:2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”

  • The woman's response is telling, either she is exaggerating or Adam has misinformed her. God did not tell them not to touch it..

  • Did Adam over stress this to her of did she panic and overstate it?

Genesis 3:4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

  • Now that Satan has drawn her into his discussion he drives it home with the blatant disavowing of God's Word.

  • This moment of Eve's doubt cost the rest of us our standing before God. This moment of doubt changed the paradise of Eden into a desert and God's crowning creation [man] into His enemy.

  • It had been that the woman saw the fruit of that tree like we see the chemicals under the kitchen sink. Eating of it was not even a thought. Why would she? She had everything!

  • The serpent has cast doubt on the words of the warning label, Is it really poison? Let's have a closer look......

  • One other thing Satan does is to get our focus off of the consequences and on to the short term benefit.

  • You will surely die!”, Eve knew this, she told the serpent that it would happen, but when she thought about the short-term benefit she forgot about it

Genesis 3:6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.

  • Here is that malignant Satan's deadliest ploy, once he has drawn us into his discussion he distorts our focus bringing it to our apparent lack rather than God's generous provision.

  • It was good for food, the lust of the flesh. She was really lacking in food in the garden of Eden, wasn't she.

  • It was pleasant to the eye, the lust of the eye. There was nothing that appeared pleasing there in the Garden either.

  • Desirable to make one wise, the pride of life. God was her teacher there, she had her husband living in His very presence.

  • Before she entered into parley with the serpent there was no way she was going to do this. His sly tactic of getting her to enter into a discussion about the propriety of this was the beginning of the end. His setting her focus on what she didn't have instead of the great provision of God was the deathblow.

  • All that's left now is the blame game and the consequences.

 

Remember, the serpent is cunning and crafty. As we learned in the book of Ephesians he is wily. Though he has essentially the same tactic it will come in countless ways and under such stealth that we may enter into his temptation without at first realizing it.

  • Have you ever been in a situation where you found yourself having a conversation with yourself regarding a particular sin?

  • An opportunity arises, not to claim some cash from a small job, to look at a woman, to worry about your situation, financial, health, you name it.

  • Hopefully we begin by claiming God's promises, God said..... “Render to Caesar that which is Caesar's” or “If you look at a woman to lust you have already committed adultery in your heart”, or “Do not worry about what you will eat or what you will drink or what you will wear...”

  • This is good if we do not bend!

  • But then we look more closely at our circumstances

  • The government is wasting the money I give them now

  • I can't afford X

  • Just this once

  • I don't have time to go to the bank

  • It's just a look,

  • I can't help it

  • I won't do it next time

  • I know God is in control but...

  • What if I don't get this money on time?

  • What if the check doesn't clear on time?

  • What if I have to face some horrible treatment?

  • What if I I end up with these huge medical bills?

  • This is the point at which we go from being tempted to “entering into temptation.” John Owen makes this distinction in his book entitled, Temptation.

  • We know that we have entered into temptation when we find ourselves in this place.

  • Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 26:41 to watch and pray so that they would not enter into temptation.

  • Once we have come this far it is amazing what we will fall into. Acts 5:3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit..?”

  • Lying to God? How can anyone who is a Believer be so dumb??? All of us can if we get into parley with Satan. All of us can once we enter into temptation.

  • Proverbs 5:8 says not to go near the door of the immoral woman. Then it goes on to list all of the bad things that will happen to you if you do. This Proverb also begins with an admonishment to remember the wisdom of our father.

There is one occasion in the Scripture where a successful battle with Satan is recorded. That is the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.

  • Here Satan uses the same tactic, take advantage in a time of weakness and opportunity.

  • The lust of the flesh: Matthew 4:2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

  • Jesus answers with Scripture, Matthew 4:4, But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”

  • The Pride of Life: Matthew 4:5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ”

  • Now he begins to quote Scripture, abusing its meaning.

  • Jesus replies again, Matthew 4:7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ”

  • Finally, Satan comes with the Lust of the Eye, Matthew 4:8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”

  • Again, Jesus replies with Scripture. Matthew 4:10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” 11Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

 

 

In comparing these two accounts, we see one primary difference, Eve misquoted the Scripture and was open to discussion. Jesus quoted the Scripture with authority and did not discuss its possible meanings.

 

So we have seen what Satan's devices are,

  • Taking advantage of weakness

  • Taking opportunities

  • Twisting Scripture

  • Focusing on desires rather than God's provision

  • Focusing on the short term benefit rather than consequences.

  • Personal Autonomy.

We see some remedies,

  • Knowing God's Word

  • Trusting God.

  • Knowing Satan's devices

  • Watching and praying

  • Seeing God's provision

  • Understanding the consequences.

This is our shield of Faith that quenches every fiery dart of of the Wicked One.

We are not ignorant of his devices” 2 Corinthians 2:1. The question remains, What will we do in order not to be overcome by them?

  • Jesus used the Word of God and true faith in its meaning. Not magic words to ward off the Devil, but reliance on the Truth of it.

  • In addition to that we see here also that a godly focus is imperative as well.

  • Seeing God's abundant supply and generous provision.

  • Being thankful

  • Being God centered instead of self-centered

  • These are not automatic, they take time and effort and a real desire for godliness.

  • The Devil will throw the world in our faces every chance he gets and many of us are so entranced by the world that we can no longer distinguish between Godly and worldly.

  • Study the Word and do not violate the principles in it.

  • Don't trust the world, the flesh or the devil to tell you what is godly, go to the source.

     

Let him that would not enter into temptations labor to know his own heart, to be acquainted with his own spirit, his natural frame and temper, his lusts and corruptions, his natural, sinful, or spiritual weaknesses, that, finding where his weakness lies, he may be careful to keep at a distance from all occasions of sin. - John Owen

  • Daily focus on the Cross and God's provision for your sin is the best place to start!

  • He that will play with Satan's bait, will quickly be taken with Satan's hook. The promise of conquest is made over to resisting, not to arguing: "Resist the devil, and he will fly from you," James 4:7. Ah, souls! were you better at resisting than at disputing, your temptations would be fewer. - John Owen

 

Thomas Brooks: Though Satan has his devices to draw souls to sin, yet we must be careful that we do not lay all our temptations upon Satan, that we do not wrong the devil, and father upon him what is to be fathered upon our own base hearts. Man has such an evil root within him, that were there no devil to tempt him, no wicked men in the world to entice him, yet that cursed sinful nature that is in him would draw him to sin, though he knows beforehand that the wages of sin is eternal death. The whole frame of man is out of frame: the understanding is dark, the will cross, the memory slippery, the affections crooked, the conscience corrupted, the tongue poisoned, and the heart wholly evil, only evil, and continually evil. If God should chain up Satan, and give him no liberty to tempt the sons of men to vanity or folly, they would not, they could not but sin against Him by reason of that cursed nature that is in them. Satan has only a persuading sleight, not an enforcing might. He may tempt us, without ourselves he cannot conquer us. In every sin our hearts carry the greatest stroke: the fire is our wood, though it be the devil's flame. Satan can never undo a man without himself; but a man may easily undo himself without Satan. Don't excuse yourself by your accusing him.

 

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