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(10) “Bring the full tenth into the storehouse so that there may be food in my house. Test me in this way,” says the LORD of Armies. “See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure. (11) “I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not ruin the produce of your land and your vine in your field will not fail to produce fruit,” says the LORD of Armies.
– Malachi 3:10-11 CSB
We Must Know Our Enemy
Before I get started on tonight’s topic I wanted to take a moment to outline what we are going to be looking at for the next few weeks. In Ephesians 6 Paul describes the warfare we are in. The world may not recognize it, but we as believers must.
It isn’t people that we are fighting. There is an enemy that wants to destroy the people of God and discredit God Himself.
(12) For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens. (13) For this reason take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.
– Ephesians 6:12-13 CSB
God has given us armor so that we can stand and resist the attacks of the enemy. It is our job to put it on and use it.
(16) In every situation take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (17) Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit – which is the word of God. (18) Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.
– Ephesians 6:16-18 CSB
Flaming arrows were used in warfare to destroy a city by shooting over the walls and setting fire to the buildings inside. The purpose of our enemy’s arrows is to set our minds and our relationships on fire.
Paul warns us not to be easily upset or troubled in our minds.
(2) not to be easily upset or troubled, either by a prophecy or by a message or by a letter supposedly from us, alleging that the day of the Lord has come.
– 2 Thessalonians 2:2 CSB
Satan battles for our minds because they are closely connected to our hearts and mouths.
(18) “But what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this defiles a person. (19) “For from the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, slander.
– Matthew 15:18-19 CSB
Satan wants to influence your mind because it helps form what you believe. And belief drives behavior. Another way to put this is that what you think affects the way you act.
(7) for it’s like someone calculating inwardly. “Eat and drink,” he says to you, but his heart is not with you.
– Proverbs 23:7 CSB
As a man thinks so he is… If Satan can control your mind he can control your actions. He has many subtle ways of doing this.
We see him begin in Genesis 3 with Eve. He started her down the path of questioning God’s authority. Did God really say…
(3) “But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’ ”
– Genesis 3:3 CSB
Questioning God and His word led Eve to doubt, disbelieve, be skeptical, and sin. He also uses deception and seducing spirits to attack our minds and distort the truth of God’s word.
(1) Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons,
– 1 Timothy 4:1 CSB
We are tempted through our flesh with a multitude of temptations.
(23) but I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body.
– Romans 7:23 CSB
Satan targets the minds of men with a multitude of weapons. There is no doubt that the greatest arena of warfare is against our minds.
Fear not. God has given us armament and counter-strategies to overcome all of the enemy’s attacks. Over the next few weeks, we will get to know our enemy, understand the battlefield of the mind and look at how to overcome the two strategies of deception and temptation.
Know Your Enemy
We are in the middle of war between God and Satan. From the beginning Satan has been trying to hinder God’s will from being manifested on the earth.
He has used every weapon, tactic and strategy throughout the ages to deceive and blind the eyes of men and women from seeing the truth.
He has corrupted the minds of humanity through his kingdom of darkness. He’s caused them to turn their back on God and His precepts.
Today Satan is using specific strategies to keep the Church in a weakened position. God’s plan and purpose for the Church is to be transformed into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). We are to grow and mature into the full stature of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).
Jesus taught his disciples to take authority over all the power of the enemy. His will is to heal the sick, cast out devils and set free those who are bound by sin – through us ministering in His name.
To get to this point we are going to have to know how to locate our enemy. We can see through our own lives that the attacks of the enemy are intensifying.
This offensive is growing where even the elect are in danger of falling (Matthew 24:11, 24). There are seducing and deceptive spirits at work. False prophets will work to deceive and blind Christians from seeing and understanding the truth.
Deception is one of the most powerful strategies that Satan uses. Look at all those that are bound by addictions, sickness, mental and emotional problems. We classify them as medical conditions and never get to the root of the problem.
Jesus seemed to always go to the root. Devils can be cast out. Healing can manifest. Unforgiveness and bitterness, Jesus said it can be uprooted and cast into the depths of the sea. Our will to choose is part of the image we are created in, the image of God.
The time has come for us to recognize the work of Satan, look Him in the face and tell him to GO. Jesus knew His enemy. We too must know our enemy
Lucifer, Son of the Morning
Let’s take a look at this Son of the Morning.
(12) Shining morning star, how you have fallen from the heavens! You destroyer of nations, you have been cut down to the ground. (13) You said to yourself, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will set up my throne above the stars of God. I will sit on the mount of the gods’ assembly, in the remotest parts of the North. (14) “I will ascend above the highest clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”
– Isaiah 14:12-14 CSB
Most will take this to be Satan. The destroyer of nations. A created being that wanted to ascend above God. To be self-made into God.
Ezekiel takes us a little further and shows a connection between Satan and an earthly king. It seems this king was influenced and fell to pride and corrupted wisdom. Lost in his own self-importance he lost sight of the Most High God who is the only one worthy of praise.
(11) The word of the LORD came to me: (12) “Son of man, lament for the king of Tyre and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord GOD says: You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. (13) “You were in Eden, the garden of God. Every kind of precious stone covered you: carnelian, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and emerald. Your mountings and settings were crafted in gold; they were prepared on the day you were created. (14) “You were an anointed guardian cherub, for I had appointed you. You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked among the fiery stones. (15) “From the day you were created you were blameless in your ways until wickedness was found in you. (16) “Through the abundance of your trade, you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I expelled you in disgrace from the mountain of God, and banished you, guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. (17) “Your heart became proud because of your beauty; For the sake of your splendor you corrupted your wisdom. So I threw you down to the ground; I made you a spectacle before kings. (18) “You profaned your sanctuaries by the magnitude of your iniquities in your dishonest trade. So I made fire come from within you, and it consumed you. I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of everyone watching you. (19) “All those who know you among the peoples are appalled at you. You have become an object of horror and will never exist again.’ ”
– Ezekiel 28:11-19 CSB
Jesus tells us of the nature of the devil. He is a thief and comes only to steal and kill and destroy. But God’s plan for us is much better.
(10) “A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance. – John 10:10 CSB
The Devil – The Accuser, Deceiver, and Slanderer
Accusing is one of the strategies of Satan. This is one of the ways we can identify his voice and start evaluating what is going on in our minds.
His very nature is to accuse our brothers and sisters, the people of God, the Church.
(9) So the great dragon was thrown out – the ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the one who deceives the whole world. He was thrown to earth, and his angels with him. (10) Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say, The salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have now come, because the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been thrown down.
– Revelation 12:9-10 CSB
If we listen and start to take on this attribute of accusing and having a critical spirit, we are siding with Satan. Is this someplace you really want to go?
(19) Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, (20) idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, (21) envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I am warning you about these things – as I warned you before – that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. – Galatians 5:19-21 CSB
Job got to experience the power of the accuser and the sustaining power of God. God used him to show the devil that he was wrong about Job. God knew best.
(6) One day the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. (7) The LORD asked Satan, “Where have you come from? ” “From roaming through the earth,” Satan answered him, “and walking around on it.” (8) Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? No one else on earth is like him, a man of perfect integrity, who fears God and turns away from evil.” (9) Satan answered the LORD, “Does Job fear God for nothing? (10) “Haven’t you placed a hedge around him, his household, and everything he owns? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. (11) “But stretch out your hand and strike everything he owns, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
– Job 1:6-11 CSB
The end result of this experience was Job knew God more. He relayed that he thought he had known God, but now he really knew Him.
(23) Jesus turned and told Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me because you’re not thinking about God’s concerns but human concerns.”
– Matthew 16:23 CSB
Peter didn’t know that he was playing into Satan’s hands by trying to tell Jesus He shouldn’t fulfill His purpose. Jesus rebuked Satan for Peter’s sake. I’m sure it shifted Peter’s thinking when this happened.
Jesus is our Intercessor. Taking on His attributes brings the fruit of the Spirit into play. We bless, we encourage, we edify. I believe this is the side we would rather be on.
As you come into conflict and are upset with your brothers and sisters, ask yourself this question. Am I accusing or interceding for them.
Instead of accusing, He asks us to reason with one another, to forgive, and to love. And while we can’t do it in our own strength, He will be with us through it if we keep our eyes on Him.
(15) “If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother.
– Matthew 18:15 CSB
Your position of strength is not in the strength of your flesh or the wisdom of man. It is being led by the Holy Spirit.
The powerful position that God wants you to walk in, comes through knowing and recognizing Satan and his strategies.
We can have the assurance of victory even though we are in the battle. We resist and fight against Satan and his evil principalities with the armor that God has given us. Remember, Jesus has already won the war!
(20) The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.
– Romans 16:20 CSB
The Church of the living God will not be defeated.