During the early days of WW2; British forces were being soundly defeated in their efforts to keep out the invading Germans from North Africa. German General Rommel came to be known as the “Desert Fox” because of his swift moving tank divisions that won him victory after victory in the dessert regions. So one-sided was Rommel’s victories that the British didn’t know what were worse; the rumors circling around Rommel or Rommel the man himself.
When the US became involved in war in N. Africa there was almost something mysterious about their German enemy by then; so much that; C. J. Auchinleck, Commander-in-Chief of the Middle East Force wrote the following order to all commanders and chiefs of staff under his authority:
"There exists a real danger that our friend Rommel is becoming a king or magician or bogey-man to our troops, who are talking far too much about him. He is by no means a superman, although he is undoubtedly very energetic and able. Even if he were a superman, it would still be highly undesirable that our men should credit him with supernatural powers.
"I wish you to dispel by all possible means the idea that Rommel represents something more than the ordinary.”
With such renewed diligence, Rommel was driven back and eventually forced to return to Germany.
Can I say this evening that we are in a similar situation with our enemy the Devil? Sometimes you don’t know which is worst; the exaggerated rumors about the devil or the devil himself! Just as the American general consulted his troops, not to think of Rommel as something more than the ordinary; I think Paul would have us this evening consider some of the ordinary devices of our enemy the devil.
Notice, again v11, Paul says “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” Firstly, Paul warned about the devil getting an advantage of us. What do you think Paul meant when he used the word “advantage”? Well, it means exactly the same as we would use the word today. When you have the ‘upper hand’ over someone; so to speak, you have the advantage over them. When you are superior in areas where they are not; you have the advantage over them. When you have a dominating position, simply by experience or know-how; you are in a position of advantage, over the inexperienced.
Paul is saying that we don’t want the devil to take advantage of us, to dominate us, to rule us, to have the upper hand over us! I don’t think Paul wanted the devil to gain the advantage of him at all! I don’t want the devil to take advantage of me either!
Oh, what a can of worms Paul opens up! To be a Christian, who is saved, born again, redeemed, but to have our lives instead of lived for God they are taken advantage of by the Devil! Too be under the very control of the devil and not even knowing it!
That’s what I believe God wants me to speak about for the next few weeks for Sunday evenings. How that the devil is slowly gaining more and more advantage of individual lives and families and churches that belong to the Lord!
Paul wouldn’t have warned us unless there was the real possibility of this happening. That right there is enough for me to sit up and take notice to what Paul has to say. Paul finishes the verse by saying that the devil gains the advantage through means of his devices; “for we are not ignorant of his devices.” So the devil gains the advantage over us when we fall prey to one of his devices; his traps, his snares and once we have taken the bait he gains control in our lives. What a sad state to be in! To be saved, a child of God but to live in such a way that the devil has more say and control in our lives than the God that saved us!
Before we get right into the first area; does it surprise you to know that just to be saved is not enough? Just being saved is only half the battle; it’s not the end of the conflict but only the beginning! Just being saved doesn’t make us exempt for making bad decisions, dumb mistakes, and sometimes even fatal blunders! Salvation has given us a home in heaven; but before we reach heaven we have a life to live, that life can either be the best life possible lived with God’s blessings here and with rewards to look forward too in heaven. Or we can live a miserable life; fought with care, selfishness and sin, down here and no rewards to look forward too in heaven.
It does matter how you and I live our lives as a Christian!
Now in this sermon I want us to consider the “why” instead of the “How”. In the next few times to follow we will see how Satan gets the advantage, i.e. what he uses in the lives of believers to gain the advantage; but for now I want us to see why Satan wants the advantage over us, what’s His purpose?
The first purpose that I can see from the bible is that he wants:
I. TO MAKE YOU IGNORANT OF GOD'S WILL
Satan is first of all a deceiver. Gen. 3; 1-7, John 8; 44,
2 Cor. 11; 3, 2 Jn. 7, Rev. 12; 9 Here we see just one side of the devil, that is a lair, deceiver! He will tell you any lie if it will take you away from the one source of knowing God’s will.
Satan attacks God's Word because God's Word reveals God's will.
Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105
I delight to do Thy will, 0 my God; Thy Law is within my heart. Psalm 40:8
Apart from the Word of God, we have no sure understanding of the will of God. The will of God is the expression of God's love for us.
The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations. Psalm 33: 11
God's will comes from God's heart. It is not an impersonal thing, but a very personal matter with the Lord. He has a personal understanding of each of his children-their natures, their names, their needs-and he tailors his plans accordingly.
God wants us to know his will. “And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will...” Acts 22:14
He also wants us to understand his will.
Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5: 17
He wants this understanding of his will to fill us and control us.
We have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Colossians 1:9,
The result of all this is the believer, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart Ephesians 6:6
God's will is not a duty; it is a delight. The Christian delights to discover the will of God and then obey from the heart. The will of God is his nourishment.
Jesus saith unto them, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." John 4:34
You and I must pray as did, Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. Colossians 4: 12
If Satan can make you ignorant of God's will, he will rob you of all the glorious blessings God has planned for your life. You will make bad decisions, get involved in sinful activities, and build the wrong kind of life. And, sad to say, you will influence others to go wrong!
Christians who are ignorant of God's will lose the enjoyment of God's peace and power. They cannot grow into their full potential, nor can they accomplish what God has planned for them. Instead of traveling first-class, they travel second-or third-class, complaining all the way. They live like paupers because they have cut themselves off from God's great wealth. They spend their lives-even worse; they waste their lives-when they could be investing their lives.
And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. 1 John 2: 17
Why does Satan want the advantage over us? To keep us away from the Will of God!
II. TO MAKE YOU IMPATIENT WITH GOD'S WILL
Nothing is harder to be patient with than suffering. When suffering comes we want to know why, so we a least can rest our minds, right. Why then do we suffer? We sometimes suffer simply because we are human. We suffer, too, because we disobey the Lord and need to be chastened. We also suffer that God might perfect our faith and help us mature. Not all suffering is Satanic in origin. But there is a kind of suffering that is Satan's weapon, and that is what Job experienced. It seemed that all of the calamities in his life had perfectly natural explanations: the Sabeans took the oxen and donkeys; fire from heaven perhaps lightning) burned the sheep; the Chaldeans took the camels; and a great wind (a 'tornado?) wrecked his oldest son's house and killed all of Job's children. But Satan was behind all of them! When God gives him permission, Satan can use people and the forces of nature to accomplish his purposes.
As believers, we have this confidence: God is always in complete control. When God permits Satan to light the furnace, he always keeps his own hand on the thermostat! Job did not know what was going on behind the scenes. He had no idea that God was permitting him to suffer so that Satan might be silenced. The real battle was "in the heavenly places" Ephesians 6: 121. Job's home and body were only the arena in which the two combatants-God and Satan-were struggling against each other. Satan wanted to use Job's body to defeat God, and God wanted to use Job's body to defeat Satan.
When you find yourself in difficult circumstances, seek to discern through the Word and Prayer whether your suffering is from nature, from God, or from Satan. Is God perfecting you? Is he disciplining you? Is Satan seeking to hinder our ministry or even destroy you? You cannot control the origin of your suffering, but you do control the outcome. How? By being patient!
The only place in the New Testament where Job is named is James 5:11(read).
This verse indicates that Satan's purpose was to try to get Job to be impatient and give up. Job did become impatient with himself and his critical friends, but he never lost his faith in God. Though he did not understand what God was doing, Job knew, that he could trust God and that God would vindicate him in the end.
Patience is an important Christian virtue. Unless we have patience, we can never learn many of the truths that God wants us to learn, truths that will lead us into a deeper life and a more fruitful ministry.
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:2-4
Children are usually impatient; they cannot sit still long enough to get the things done that need to be done. "How long do we have to wait?" is the stock question of the child? Impatience is a mark of immaturity.
But impatience is also a mark of unbelief. "…he that believeth shall not make haste. Isaiah 28: 16 When you find yourself restless and nervous, anxious to "do something," YOU can be sure you are not trusting God to work. You and I need to be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Hebrews 6: 12
Faith and patience go together. If we really trust God, then we will wait on him to accomplish what he has promised.
Impatience is not only a mark of immaturity and unbelief, but it is a mark of fleshly living. The flesh (the old nature) is always impatient, but the fruit of the Spirit is The flesh (the old nature) is always impatient, but the fruit of the Spirit is ... love, joy, peace, longsuffering,
(patience) gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance ( self control): Galatians 5:22, 23
By nature, we are impatient; but the new nature within can produce patience as we yield to the Holy Spirit. Whenever you find an impulsive, impatient believer, you can be reasonably sure that that person is not walking in the Spirit, but is living by the energy of the flesh.
Impatience always leads to costly mistakes. Abraham became impatient with God and "married" Hagar, his wife's handmaid, in order to bring a son into the world and fulfill God's promise. A son was born, but he caused
nothing but trouble! Abraham had to wait another fourteen years for Isaac to be born, and Isaac brought joy and blessing to the home.
King Saul was impatient and forced himself into the place of the Priest and lost the Kingdom.
The night that Jesus was arrested Peter tried to rush in and save the Lord, cutting off Malchus’s ear!
Why doesn’t Satan want to gain the advantage of us, to make us impatient with God!
III. TO MAKE YOU INDEPENDENT OF GOD'S WILL
Man is a dependent creature. He must depend on God, and his fellowman in order to stay alive. The essence of sin is to seek to be independent of God. It is to make ourselves the Creator instead of the creatures. It is to believe Satan's lie, "You will be like God,"
If Satan can get you to act and think independently of God's will, he can then control your will and control your life. You will think that you are acting freely, which is part of Satan's deception; but actually you will be acting under orders from the ruler of this world.
As we have seen the will of God is the most important thing in the believer's life. As the deceiver, Satan seeks to make you ignorant of God's will. As the destroyer, he seeks to make you impatient with God's will. In both cases, the will of God will not be at work in your life. But even if Satan does not deceive your mind and make you ignorant, or attack your body and make you impatient, he will try to control your will through pride so that you will think and act independently of the holy will of God. Whenever you and I act in direct disobedience to the will of God, we are displaying pride and independence. It may be in a great life changing thing or it may not be; it might be in connection with something we think is trivial and unimportant. But everything in our lives is important to God!
John tells us that there are three ways we are tempted to sin. 1 John 2; 15-16 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
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.
There are two blemishes on the person of David, one was act of Adultery with Bathsheba, but was when David conducted a census of his kingdom! Both of these were acts of sin! David was guilty of "the lust of the eyes" (as when he looked at Bathsheba), and "the lust of the flesh"
(as when he committed adultery with Bathsheba). But the act of counting the people was “of the pride of life!”
God gave David nearly ten months in which to repent and call off the census, but he persisted in his stubborn way. This subtle sin of pride keeps feeding itself and getting stronger. And 70, 000 persons died from David’s act of pride, acting out of God’s will, acting dependently!
Acting like God!
David acted out of pride, my life, my kingdom, my choices, my people! David learned the hard way that pride makes us act independent of God’s will.
VI . BRING AN INDICMENT BY GOD'S WILL
Satan wants you to feel guilty. He wants you to experience regret and remorse, but not repentance. He wants to keep accusing you so that you focus your attention on yourself and your sins. If, once you look away by faith to Jesus Christ, you will repent; confess your sins, and find cleansing and restoration of fellowship. As long as you are feeling guilty, you are under indictment and you are moving farther and farther from the Lord. True conviction from the Spirit will move you closer to the Lord.
You would be surprised who among God’s people are not serving the Lord because their past haunts them.
Satan wants you to feel guilty. Your heavenly Father wants you to know that you are forgiven. Satan knows that if you live under a dark cloud of guilt, you will not be able to witness effectively or serve the Lord with power and blessing. To be sure, there is a place for proper spiritual conviction; but we must not major on guilt. To do so IS to play right into the devil's hands.
Paul had a situation like that in the church at Corinth. One of the members had fallen into sin a d had refused to repent and make things right with God and the church. (If the sin is known to all, public, then there ought to be a public confession. But if it is a private sin then, there is no need to air our dirty Landry.) That’s what Paul is seeking in Corinth; everybody knows about the sin, it was just too obvious. Boy, the Corinthians were extremist, Paul had to write to them to discipline the man because they were complicit, then after hearing that they did discipline the man, Paul had to write again to them not to be to hard on him so that the man would not despair, 2 Cor. 2:7-10. Excessive guilt and sorrow can only lead to depression, despair, and defeat. Sometimes it leads to destruction; even Christians have been known to attempt suicide in order to escape Satanic accusation..
What, then, is your defense against Satan's accusations?
Remembering that we have an advocate, Jesus Christ the
Righteous, interceding for us!
Closing: Why does Satan want the advantage of us?
TO MAKE YOU IGNORANT OF GOD'S WILL,
TO MAKE YOU IMPATIENT WITH GOD'S WILL,
TO MAKE YOU INDEPENDENT OF GOD'S WILL,
To BRING AN INDICMENT BY GOD'S WILL,
Basically, to make ourlives null and void, to make us useless for the cause of Christ. Satan wants the advantage over you, and over your life, your families, us as a church are we going to give him want he wants? Then we must then not to let Him get the best of us in these areas then!