Last week we looked at some ways in which Satan keeps the world lost. We learned that Satan's tactics in the world don't change very much. And in that regard he is predictable, but he is cunning and sly. The Lord has given us many insights about our enemy so that we may stand. We know he has limitations and is answerable to God. He is a created being, he is more powerful than you BUT greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.
This lesson is the last installment of Knowing Our Adversary before turning to the Armor of God. We want to focus on some of Satan's chief strategies against God's people, the church. We have placed them in eight general categories that cover most of his activities so we might know him and not be unaware of his devices.
Read Ephesians 6:10-13
[Eph 6:10-13 NKJV] 10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual [hosts] of wickedness in the heavenly [places]. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Satan's greatest work against you, more than anything else, is he wants to tempt you to sin. Sin destroys; it cuts off your relationship with God. Sin is basically defined as missing the mark God has set and turning instead to our own ways. Sin will not ruin your relationship in terms of you being His child, but it will inhibit and cut you off from blessings of God or from your usefulness to the Lord.
Category 1 - He will tempt us to sin. We need to be aware of the fact that not all temptation is sin. What does James 1:13-15 tell you about sin versus temptation?
[Jas 1:13-15 NKJV] 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
Satan cannot make you sin, but he can invite you to sin or lure you away from God by appealing to your flesh, to your lust or even to the pride of life. He is the chief instigator.
Sin appeals to our flesh which is why we are constantly warned to put on the new man and put off the old (Romans 6:11-13, Ephesians 4:17-24, Colossians 3:12-17).
[Rom 6:11-13 NKJV] 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members [as] instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness to God.
[Eph 4:17-24 NKJV] 17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
[Col 3:12-17 NKJV] 12 Therefore, as [the] elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also [must do]. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Temptations often begin in the thought realm, and these fiery darts of the enemy come at the most peculiar times. Satan is very keen on taking you down the wide road that leads to destruction as often as he can. The good news is Satan has no patience so sin temptation is very short lived. If you can say, "No, Lord help me" and keep moving it won't be very long before the temptation is gone. James tells us to draw near to the Lord then you can resist the devil and he will flee. Sometimes the victory over sin is often won in milliseconds. Temptation is not sin according to James but the entertainment of it and the carrying it out certainly is.
Even Jesus' temptation in the wilderness, Luke 4:1-13, suggests these assaults were from within not from without, as our Lord, Jesus, knows what we face and can help us be more than conquerors (Hebrews 2:18, 4:15).
[Luk 4:1-13 NKJV] 1 Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry. 3 And the devil said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." 4 But Jesus answered him, saying, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.' " 5 Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for [this] has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 "Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours." 8 And Jesus answered and said to him, "Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.' " 9 Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. 10 "For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you,' 11 "and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.' " 12 And Jesus answered and said to him, "It has been said, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God.' " 13 Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.
[Heb 2:18 NKJV] 18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.
[Heb 4:15 NKJV] 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all [points] tempted as [we are, yet] without sin.
Category 2 - He will seek to create doubt in your heart about God
The struggle between maintaining our faith based on His Word and work while dealing with our feelings that we experience, often lead to struggle and question and doubt. Some questioning and searching for truth is healthy and needful for our growth while others are the insidious work of the enemy who would have us focus on how we feel, not what we know. Doubting Thomas earned his name but he was by no means alone in his difficulties as other verses tell us (Luke 24:36-40, Matthew 28:16-17).
[Luk 24:36-40 NKJV] 36 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, "Peace to you." 37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. 38 And He said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have." 40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.
[Mat 28:16-17 NKJV] 16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.
We read about John the Baptist having his share of doubt (Matthew 11:3), Peter as he attempted to walk to Jesus on water (Matt 14:28-32). All of the disciples participated with doubt and fear in waking Jesus up in a bad storm on the Sea of Galilee (Mark 4:38-40).
[Mat 11:3 NKJV] 3 and said to Him, "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?"
[Mat 14:28-32 NKJV] 28 And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." 29 So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind [was] boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!" 31 And immediately Jesus stretched out [His] hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
[Mar 4:38-40 NKJV] 38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?" 39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace, be still!" And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 40 But He said to them, "Why are you so fearful? How [is it] that you have no faith?"
Doubt works against faith (Mark 11:23) and Jesus spoke of it in the Sermon on the Mount (Luke 12:28-31) as worrisome and worldly. Yet we all have to battle weakness in faith as evidenced in doubt (Romans 14:1, 23). Paul spoke of it (1 Tim 2:8) as did James (James 1:6). We have an enemy that will seek to undermine the things of God. Doubt will make you question God.
[Mar 11:23 NKJV] 23 "For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.
[Luk 12:28-31 NKJV] 28 "If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more [will He clothe] you, O [you] of little faith? 29 "And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. 30 "For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. 31 "But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.
[Rom 14:1, 23 NKJV] 1 Receive one who is weak in the faith, [but] not to disputes over doubtful things. ... 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because [he does] not [eat] from faith; for whatever [is] not from faith is sin.
[1Ti 2:8 NKJV] 8 I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting;
[Jas 1:6 NKJV] 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
Category 3 - Satan is behind the persecutions that come against you for your faith.
Satan is the one that motivates persecution against you. Jesus warned of this (John 16:1-3,33). When we are wallking with God we will run into the enemy. Jesus said that you should not be made to stumble. When Jesus wrote the letter to the Smyrna church (Rev 2:9-10) He said I know your works, I know your tribulation. Paul told Timothy that people who obey God and live for Christ will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12). Don't give up. Continue to live as you know you should.
[Jhn 16:1-3, 33 NKJV] 1 "These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. 2 "They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. 3 "And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me.
... 33 "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
[Rev 2:9-10 NKJV] 9 "I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and [I know] the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but [are] a synagogue of Satan. 10 "Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw [some] of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
[2 Tim 3:12 NKJV] 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
Category 4 - He will hinder your service to the Lord.
Along with persecution comes hindrance (1 Thess 2:18)., especially as we make ourselves available to the Lord for service. The more effective you become, the greater the hindrances will be. Satan's plan is actually to stop you before you begin! So the discouragement and opposition is found early on as you begin to serve, step up to teach, decide to spend more time in church, make yourself available. Knowing his plans will keep you from falling to them...forewarned is forearmed.
3. Tell of a time in your life that you recognize the enemy has hindered your service to the Lord.
[1 Th 2:18 NKJV] 18 Therefore we wanted to come to you--even I, Paul, time and again--but Satan hindered us.
Category 5 - Satan desires to tempt us to lean on our own resources when it comes to serving the Lord.
It is a temptation we all constantly face. The Lord wants us to learn it is in His strength and His power that He enabled you to be fruitful in your life. One good example is found in the report of 1 Chronicles 21 as David stumbles in his trust in the Lord and leans to his own strength and assumed power, only to find judgment as the enemy stands alongside encouraging him to go that route.
4. 1 Chronicles 21:1 1 Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.
David began to trust more in the military power than God. To keep him and his troops from trusting in themselves may have been one of the reasons behind God whittling down the potential fighting force of Gideon before sending him into battle with the Midianites (Judges 7).
5. The warnings from our Lord regarding this foolishness abound in scripture (Jer 17:5, 1 Cor 10:12). Look at Ephesians 6:10 where is Paul telling us to keep our focus?
1 Chronicles 21
[Jer 17:5 NKJV] 5 Thus says the LORD: "Cursed [is] the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the LORD.
[1Co 10:12 NKJV] 12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.
[Eph 6:10 NKJV] 10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
Category 6 - Satan likes to bring division amongst Christians.
6. Read Proverbs 6:16-19 and list the things that God hates
[Pro 6:16-19 NKJV] 16 These six [things] the LORD hates, Yes, seven [are] an abomination to Him: 17 A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, 19 A false witness [who] speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.
7. Satan works to promote what God hates. The consequences and fallout of falling for it is horrendous. Yet it is no prevalent that God speaks often of our being on guard against it.
Category 7 - The enemy thrives on false teachers and the development of false believers.
Last week we discussed false doctrines as a work of the enemy to keep the world in the dark and away from God. One problem is the large numbers of those who call themselves the church bu do not know Jesus Christ (Mark 4:30-32 Parable of the mustard seed). The parable of the wheat and tares is a good example as well (Matthew 13:24-40). We must remember not everyone who sits in church is saved. The sword of the Spirit, the Word of God will help us stand fast and clearly see.
[Mar 4:30-32 NKJV] 30 Then He said, "To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it? 31 "[It is] like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth; 32 "but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade."
[Mat 13:24-40 NKJV] 24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 "but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 "But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 "So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' 28 "He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?' 29 "But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 'Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn." ' " 31 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, 32 "which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches." 33 Another parable He spoke to them: "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened." 34 All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them, 35 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: "I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world." 36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field." 37 He answered and said to them: "He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 "The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked [one]. 39 "The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 40 "Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.
Category 8 - The enemy will seek to have you give up.
Sometimes through discouraging circumstances we can be tempted to give up. Read Luke 5:18-20 -- these men could have left in discouragement not seeing a way to bring their friend to Jesus, but they did not give up and they ended up in the presence of Jesus. Jesus responded to their faith and healed the man. For better or worse, our faith affects others.
8. Sometimes we might be tempted to give up by unbelieving friends or by questioning divine delays. We must simply hang in there. [Gal 6:9 NKJV] 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
[Luk 5:18-20 NKJV] 18 Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Him. 19 And when they could not find how they might bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the housetop and let him down with [his] bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus. 20 When He saw their faith, He said to him, "Man, your sins are forgiven you."
Satan will always try to get you to give up on Jesus but Psalm 37:5 says: [Psa 37:5 NKJV] 5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring [it] to pass.
We need to believe this more than how we feel. Thank you LOrd that we don't have to be fooled by an enemy that is so exposed.
9. How does this week's lesson encourage you? ______________________________