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Worthy is the Lamb: His Craft and Power are Great

Worthy is the Lamb  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The devil is a real being with real power, but not ultimate power. His doom is sure.

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Text: Revelation 12:9-13
Theme: The devil is a real being with real power, but not ultimate power. His doom is sure.
Date: 08/26/2018 File name: Resurrection28.wpd ID Number:
Martin Luther, the monk who sparked the Protestant Reformation, was a believer who understood Satan to be a very real adversary of believers, and one who sought to lead the whole world astray. In letters to friends Luther wrote that he was often “pestered by the devil.” While in hiding at the Wartburg Castle, one visitation of the Devil was so real to him that Luther flung his inkwell at him. For years afterwards visitors could still seel a large faded smudge on one of the walls where the inkwell hit and smashed.
Luther lived at a time when believers took the devil more seriously than do most modern Christians. Christ and the Devil were equally real to him: one was the perpetual intercessor for Christians, the other a menace to mankind till the end. Luther wrote: “Christ and Satan wage a cosmic war for mastery over church and world. No one can evade involvement in this struggle. Even for the believer there is no refuge — neither monastery nor the seclusion of the wilderness offer him a chance for escape.”
But Luther fully realized that Christians have an advocate against the devil in Christ. He reminds us of these spiritual realities in his hymn, Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott — A Mighty Fortress is Our God. The hymn assures us that Satan’s doom is sure. It is based on Psalm 46, and celebrates the sovereign power of God over all earthly and spiritual forces, and of the sure hope we have in him because of Christ.
In the first stanza, Luther wrote of the Devil, “ ... For still our ancient foe Doth seek to work his woe; His craft and power are great, And armed with cruel hate, On earth is not his equal.”
But the third stanza rings out with our ultimate victory. “And though this world, with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us, We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us. The Prince of Darkness grim,— We tremble not for him; His rage we can endure, For lo! His doom is sure,— One little word shall fell him.”
In the hymn, Luther tells us that the right man is on our side — it is Christ Jesus, ... and he will win the battle.
Last Sunday I introduced Revelation chapter 12 to you. It’s a passage of Scripture that, I believe, gives us a panoramic view of the fall and work of Satan through the ages, and his opposition to God’s redemptive work. This morning I want to look more closely at the Great Red Dragon, that we might understand our adversary all the better. It is important to know our know our enemy, his agenda, and his stratagems if we are to win our battles against him.

I. THE CHARACTER OF SATAN

“And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.” (Revelation 12:7–9, NIV84)
1. in Revelation 12 we find a list of descriptors for our ancient foe
a. in this passage he is called ...
1) the dragon
2) that ancient serpent
3) the devil
4) he is Satan
2. these are all words that describe our ancient foe’s wicked character
a. he is a dragon, implying that he is fearsome and dangerous
1) the dragon is described as having seven heads, ten horns and seven crowns
a) there has been lots of debate over the centuries as to what the multiple heads and horns and crowns mean, and I simply don’t have time to give you all the various and sundry interpretations
2) the simplest explanation is that the horns and crowns have always been symbols of power in ancient, and even modern cultures
3) the number seven is a number that represents completion
4) to describe Satan as a dragon with seven heads, crowns and horns is to tell us that he is powerful and completely evil
5) the Old Testament Hebrew word that we translate as dragon is tannin – [tan-NEEN] and directly translates as monster
a) Satan is like a monstrously evil
b. he is a serpent, meaning he is cunning and sly
1) when John refers to Satan as that ancient serpent he is pointing readers all the way back to the Garden of Eden
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1, NIV84)
2) is Satan an actual serpent?
a) no, he is a spiritual being, but he used a real serpent to deceive Eve
ILLUS. From other bible passages we find an important principle. Satan and demons can enter into people and animals and influence them. For example, in Luke 22:3 Judas was entered by Satan; In Matthew 16:23 we even find Peter being influenced by Satan (to the point that Jesus looks at Peter and says, “Get behind me Satan!”); and in Mark 5 we see demons entering a heard of swine causing them to run into the Sea of Galilee and drown.
3) Satan is like a cunning serpent
c. he is the devil meaning he is "the Accuser"
1) Satan and his angels attack believers every day through discouragement and accusation
2) his best weapon is our secrets — our guilty memories and regrets
3) did you know that Satan and his angels keep careful notes on everything you’ve ever done wrong?
4) he stands as your constant accuser never wanting your memories to heal, and he whispers in your ear that “God could never forgive that”
ILLUS. Martin Luther constantly referred to the devil as the spirit of sadness; writing that Satan hates light, life, and laughter; for he is a spirit of darkness and despair, and he likes to drag man into darkness and despair, telling sinner’s that their case is hopeless.
5) Satan is like a lying accuser
d. he is Satan, which means "the opposer"
1) Satan is the great opposer, or adversary, of God and believers
2) he is primarily opposed to God’s redemptive work in the world whether through the Holy Spirit, the Word of God in any form, the presence of the Church, or the personal witness of believers
ILLUS. When some dictatorial government decides it is illegal for Christians to gather for worship, don’t doubt for a moment that Satan is not the spiritual force behind that decision. When a shopping mall is forced to remove a billboard showing an evangelist holding a bible because it is “offensive” to certain customers, don’t ever doubt that the motivation behind those complaints is Satanically inspired.
3. but there are more names for our ancient foe than those listed in this one verse ... he is also ...
a. ruler of the demons (Matthew 12:24)
b. god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4)
c. prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2)
d. roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8)
e. adversary (Job 1)
f. tempter (Matthew 4:3)
g. the wicked one (Matthew 13:19)
4. all of these titles are ways to describe the character of our ancient foe
a. as we examine the names that the Bible attributes to the Devil, we obtain much insight into his character
b. we discover that he is proud, arrogant, powerful, cruel, fierce, deceitful, and subtle c. in other words, he is total evil

II. THE CONDUCT OF SATAN

1. all of these titles are ways to describe not only the character of our ancient foe, but his conduct
a. Luther was correct — Satan is our ancient foe who seeks to work us woe

A. SATAN IS FULL OF ANIMOSITY FOR THE THINGS OF GOD

1. his warfare has a three-pronged attack
a. He is in rebellion against God
b. He is at war with Christ’s Church
c. He is on the prowl against God’s people
2. he is a master craftsman of evil who plots destruction of the lost and demoralization of the saved
a. in his rebellion against God, Satan uses the human race
b. when the Apostle Paul warns us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rules, against eh authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms, he is reminding us that the evil spiritual powers of Satan are frequently behind the political powers of men who control the agendas of the world’s nations from the national government all the way down to local authorities
3. his most powerful weapon is deception
a. John writes of Satan he leads the whole world astray
b. He accomplishes his deceptions through falsehoods:
False Philosophies (Col. 2:8)
False Religions (1 Cor. 10:19)
False Ministers (2 Cor. 11:14-15)
False Doctrine (1 John 2:18)
False Disciples (Matthew 13)
False Morals (2 Thess. 2:7)
c. the to way combat all these falsehoods and deceptions is with truth
1) Jesus told His disciples, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”
4. as a pastor, I’ve discovered that there are two prevailing falsehoods that people have about the devil
a. most will underestimate him
1) they don’t think he's all that powerful or evil — or that he’s even real — and they frequently fall right into his traps and snares
2) he knows men’s spiritual soft spots and that’s were he zeros in
3) this is why the Apostle Peter writes . . .
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1 Peter 5:8–9, NIV)
b. many will overestimate him
1) even though Satan is powerful, he is not all-powerful
2) event though Satan is cunning, he is not all-knowing
3) Satan is no match or equal to Jesus Christ!
ILLUS. In the third stanza of A Mighty Fortress is Out God, Luther writes: We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph thro’ us:
5. our fight — our spiritual warfare — is against Satan and a well-organized hoard of fallen angels who follow him
a. their 1st objective is to keep the lost in bondage to sin and self, by encouraging lust, greed, hate, fear, self-autonomy, and pride
b. their 2nd objective is to promote spiritual failure in the believer’s life by encouraging disobedience to God

III. THE CRUSHING OF SATAN

“So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you ... I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:14–15, NIV84)
1. many of you will immediately know this incident takes place in the Garden of Eden, and is God’s initial promise that a Savior will come into the world, and through his redemptive ministry he will ultimately crush the head of the serpent
2. in our spiritual warfare, God has provided us all the weapons we need to fight the good fight

A. SPIRITUAL WEAPONS AT THE BELIEVER’S DISPOSAL

1. Spiritual Weapon #1—The Whole Armor of God
a. no soldier would think of going into battle unarmed, untrained, and ill-equipped
b. but how many believers face each day without preparing for the spiritual battles that are sure to come their way
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:13–17, NIV)
c. God has given us supernatural weaponry, but the believer must make the conscious decision to arm himself each day
ILLUS. Back in 1986, the contemporary gospel group Acappella, recorded a song entitled, Army of the Lord. Listen to the word . . .
All around us a war's going on between the wrong and the right
We've gotta choose which side we're on—the darkness or the light
Some of the soldiers of the Lord just don't realize
that the captain of the army of darkness has come to blind their eyes
Chorus:
Are we walking into the enemy's camp, laying our weapons down
shedding our armor as we go, leaving it on the ground?
We've gotta be strong in the power of his might and prove to the enemy
We are the army of the Lord and we've won the victory.
Can't you see that we're in a battle and there's no place to hide?
The shields of faith are full of darts and their shooting from every side
Just shake out the darts and run right at em' and remember who you're fighting for
Don't fall asleep cuz' if they catch ya' they'll take you prisoner of war
2. Spiritual Weapon #2—Spiritual Courage
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7, NIV)
a. let me encourage you to join the original Resist moment!
ILLUS. If you follow the news at all, you know that ‘Resist’ has become a one-word battle cry for the anti-Trump forces. The #resist movement has become a world-wide phenomenon that is determined to resist President Trump, his policies, and his agendas. Many who have joined the movement see this President as a menace and a threat, and he must be resisted at all levels and on all political fronts. Now, I’m not terribly concerned with what you think about or how you feel about President Trump. Our fellowship is based on our union with Christ and not our opinion about Trump, and the later should not interfere with the former. That said, there is a #Resist movement believers need to join. Satan is the real menace and the real threat to your life, our Church, and God’s redemptive plan. The Apostle Peter started the original #Resist movement, and believers need to join it! Resist the devil!
3. Spiritual Weapon #3—Be a Prayer Warrior
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:18, NIV)
a. the Apostle Paul reminds us that the way we put on the armor of God is by prayer in the Spirit, done on all occasions and with all kinds of prayers
b. it is prayer that keeps us spiritually alert to the Devil and his snares
c. it is prayer that sends him fleeing
ILLUS. The next time you hear you ancient foe accusing you, say with Luther, “I admit that I deserve death and hell. What of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf.”
4. Spiritual Weapon #4—Be about Kingdom Work
ILLUS. An old adage says, “Idle hands are the Devils workshop.” Christian comedian Grady Nutt used to say that when he was growing up, his parents had him in church so much that he didn’t have time to sin.
a. there is some truth to that — when we are busy doing God’s work, whether it’s Studying God’s Word, or Praying in the Spirit, or Fellowshiping with the Saints, or Ministering to Others — it’s more difficult to fall into the Devil’s snares!
In this passage we learn that our ancient foe is persistent — he’s never going to leave us alone. He is perverse — his tactics are to deceive, accuse, and oppose your spiritual life every step of the way. He is pernicious — his agenda is to corrupt the Church and the people of God any way he can. Satan is the grim Prince. He is deadly. He is a devouring, fearsome dragon. But he is nothing against “the victory that has overcome the world — our faith (1 John 5:4).
Satan can be overcome. We do no have to tremble at his presence. Every day there is a battle going on for the heart of the believer, which of course, is why we need to guard our hearts. The battle can be won when we avail ourselves to the spiritual weapons at our disposal.
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