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Know Your Enemy Sermon

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There are some topics we in the contemporary church tend to shy away from.  People don't like to hear about sin or want to feel convicted.  They want to come to church and feel good.  They want to be encouraged to continue doing just what they're doing.  They don't want to be stretched. They want to grow, they just don't want any growing pains.  The average Christian is content to sit in the pew, put in their two hours a week, and leave the same as they came in the door.

This morning were going to tackle one of those controversial subjects.  I personally have never heard this topic addressed inside a Sunday school classroom.  The arguments against it say that this topic does not bring glory to God.  Don't waste your time on this subject.  I disagree.  I feel that Sunday school is all about equipping the Saints and every time believers discover the truth, God is glorified.

I rarely have a title for my lesson before I begin my research.  For this week's lesson, not only did I have a title, but bullet points as well.

The title of this week's lesson is: Know Your Enemy.

And our course of study will take this route:

1.   Who is he?

2.   What are his strategies?

3.   How do we overcome them and live victoriously?

One of the enemy's most successful tricks is to get people to believe that he does not exist.  A recent survey found that only 24% of Americans believe that Satan is a real spiritual being.  That means that 76% of Americans feel that Satan is an imaginary being.  The analogy that came to mind when I was meditating on that fact was a person with cancer.  They have this disease running through their body, wreaking havoc on their organs and tissues and denying that it exists.

But I'm getting ahead of myself here.  Let's back up.  Who is Satan? Nelson’s Bible dictionary calls him the adversary, the great oppressor, or enemy, of God and humankind;

So where did Satan come from?

Because the subject of the Bible is God and his relationship to his people, we only have limited information about his enemies.  The word is intended to glorify God and not those who would oppose him.  Unlike man, who was created on the third day, we don't know when the Angels were created.  We don't know how long they existed before the earth took form.  What we know about Satan comes primarily from the profits.  It is an inspired revelation.

Turn with me to Ezekiel 28:11-19

11 The word of the Lord came to me: 

12 “Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:

Tyre was a prosperous seaport with a strong defense. It was noted for its glass works, textiles, and skilled workers who engraved gemstones. Because of his wealth and his fortress, the king of Tyre set himself up as a god. Its people were condemned by the prophets for their idolatry.

Although Ezekiel uses the term “king of Tyre” he is actually addressing the spirit behind the king’s pride and lack of regard for God Almighty.

He says this about Satan,

“‘You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.

13 You were in Eden, the garden of God;

Again, this confirms Ezekiel is talking about Satan and not the actual king of Tyre. There were only 4 in the Garden: God, Adam, Eve & the serpent.

every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared.

In other words, Satan was created very beautiful.

14 You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones.

15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you.

Satan was not created with evil, he became evil. How?

16 Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned.

What are we talking about here?  If you go back up to verse 14.  You will see that Satan was a guardian cherub.  That means that his job was to guard God's throne.  As such, he had to continue as an unrestricted access to God himself.  His position went to his head and that pride led him to sin.

16b So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God,

and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones.

            17 Your heart became proud on account of your beauty,

and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor.

So I threw you to the earth;

To pick up the rest of the story, we need to turn to Isaiah 14:12-15. This time, although the context of the passage indicates the king of Babylon, Isaiah is detailing the spirit, who is controlling the king’s actions = Satan.

12 How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn!

In some translations, you'll see the name “Lucifer” here.  “Lucifer” means “shining one” but most translators used the term “Morning Star”.  In Middle Eastern literature, the stars often represented the gods battling among themselves.

13 You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven;

I will raise my throne above the stars of God;

I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,

on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.

14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;

I will make myself like the Most High.”

I will, I will, I will, I will, and I will emphasizes the enemies will over God's will. We know this is the sin of pride.

Quick recap: Satan was an anointed angel who fell into pride and exalted himself above God Almighty and was cast from heaven to the earth. What else do we know about him?

1. He is also called “the devil,” which means a false witness or malicious accuser. (This terms occurs thirty-five times in the Bible, always in the New Testament). Satan regularly accuses believers before God, seeking to tear down their sense of well-being and wear down their strength through guilt (Job 1:6–11; Eph. 4:27; 6:11; Rev. 12:10).

2. He specializes in deceit (Gen. 3:1–7), sometimes masquerading as an “angel of light,” as though he were representing God (2 Cor. 11:14). Jesus called him the father of lies (John 8:44). Satan has high intelligence.  Satan is subtle. He often sabotages the truth by mixing it with error. He was able to deceive Adam & Eve into giving him their authority over creation.

3. He is a tempter, seeking to draw people into activities that are disobedient to God and destructive to them (Matt. 4:1–11; 1 Cor. 10:13; 1 Thess. 3:5).

4. He has a great deal of influence on this world. Three times Jesus described him in Scripture as the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11).

St. Paul calls him “the god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4); and “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2).

5. He is not alone in his activities. Revelations 12:3-4 tell us that when he was cast from heaven.  He took a third of the Angels with him in his rebellion. And if “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light,” it shouldn’t surprise us when his servants “disguise themselves as servants of righteousness”. Everything labeled Christian is not true.  I have several Christian television stations on my TV. Many of them carry a disclaimer – a little warning at the beginning of each program that says “ the content of the following program may not necessarily represent the views of this network.”

6. He is not finished and his time is running out. I’ve heard Christians say that they’ve read the book and Satan loses. Now that’s true, but the book also says that he’s not going down without a fight. Read Revelations to see the details his activities in the last days.

I once heard Oral Roberts say that God is a good God, and that Satan is a good devil.  Not that Satan's work was good, but rather that he was good at doing his job.  Let's look at a couple ways that he does that job.

One of Satan's most effective methods in carrying out his work is his use of temptation.  Satan leads people to sin.  Satan does not cause them to sin, he just places sin before them in such an attractive way that they have to have it.

·       Sometimes he does it by direct suggestion.  He made a suggestion to Eve and she ate the fruit. He made a suggestion to Judas Iscariot, and he betrayed Jesus.

·       Sometimes, he or his agents disguised themselves as messengers of God.  The jails and mental wards are full of people who committed horrible crimes, because an Angel or God told them to do it.

·       Sometimes Satan tempts people by exploiting their weaknesses.  Our society calls them addicts. We have people addicted to alcohol, drugs, pornography, food, power... the list goes on.

·       We know that Satan even tempted Jesus in the wilderness when he was physically weak and emotionally drained after a 40 day fast.

How does temptation work? Why is it so effective?

Temptation wants to overtake us, to ambush us when we are not prepared, and dominate us.

It seeks control of us. Once it does, once it becomes sin and it places a barricade between us and God and Satan has won the battle. He has separated us from God.

On a side note here, I need to point out that temptation only comes from the enemy.

Turn to James 1:13-16

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.                     15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers.

God himself is never responsible for the solicitation to do evil.

So how do we overcome temptation?

First we have to understand it.

Turn to 1 Corinthians 10:13

13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.

Temptation is a human trap. It is not supernatural. It is not so powerful that we can’t overcome it. Remember I said early that the enemy can not force you to do something. The only thing he can do is place the sin before you. It is up to you to accept or reject it.

The other thing I want to point out here is that the temptations you face are the very same ones everyone else faces. The Devil uses the same snares all the time. Why shouldn’t he, they have worked before, they will work again. The bottom line is they don’t have to work on you.

There’s more to the verse.

13b And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.

God will never allow you to face any temptation that is more than you can handle not matter where you are on your spiritual journey.

13c But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Now that’s good news. Because God loves us, because we are his children, , there is a way out of every temptation the believer faces.

So how then, should believers respond to temptation?

1. We need to remind ourselves that Satan has been defeated because Jesus conquered sin and death on the cross, once and for all time. We do not need to submit to or fear Satan.

2. We need to remember that Satan’s power is limited by God. He is not free to do whatever he wants. 2 Thess 2:7 assures us that God is holding him back until Jesus comes for his church in the rapture.

3. We are to stand opposed to Satan at all times. He will flee when we do. What does James 4:7 say? “Submit yourselves to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you.

4. We are to equip ourselves for this constant battle.

Eph 6:11-12 says,

11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

5. We need to lean on God, who gives us the power to escape Satan’s various temptations and enticements.

That means we need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us,

to give us wisdom,

to open our spiritual ears to hear his direction,

to stir up that scripture that has already been deposited in us, to call it to memory, and give us confidence in Jesus.

6. We must maintain a healthy respect for the power of the evil one. No soldier goes into battle thinking that the enemy is going to lie down and surrender without a fight.

Our battle with the devil is not a game. It is a life-and-death struggle. He wants nothing more than to kill you, physically, emotionally, spiritually. He wants to discredit your testimony. He wants to prevent you from sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He wants to use you to bring shame to Jesus and glory to himself.

So how do we fight the Devil?

The enemy is a spiritual being. Although he may take human form he is not human. Therefore, we can’t fight him or his minions on a human level. There aren’t any fleshly techniques or words that can win a spiritual war. We must depend on spiritual weaponry and a spiritual battle plan.

You know what Ephesians 6 says; go there.

14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,

Use the truth

with the breastplate of righteousness in place,

Live the truth

15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

Speak the truth

16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith,

Pursue a holy lifestyle

with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Disentangle yourself from worldly ways

17 Take the helmet of salvation

Do the will of God

and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 

Scripture does not tell believers to speak to demons, cast them out, bind them, tie them up, stomp on their heads, or send them to the pit. When Jesus was tempted by the devil He simply said, “It is written,” then quoted a portion of Scripture that specifically addressed each temptation (Matt. 4:1–11; Luke 4:1–13). He withstood the devil simply through the power and authority of God’s Word. That was the only means Jesus used to conquer Satan.

OK before you stone me, let me point out that when Jesus and the Apostles cast demons out of people, the people who possessed the demon were NOT believers. You will not find one instance in scripture where a believer is possessed by demons. Demons cannot possess a believer. They can oppress, but they cannot possess and that is another message all together, so we won’t go there.

The point I want to make is that we all need to be ready to do battle with the enemy. After all we are still in this world and the final battle of Armageddon has not yet begun.

What does James 4:7 say?

“Submit yourselves to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

Know the truth, Speak the truth, Live the truth

Pursue a holy lifestyle, Disentangle yourself from worldly ways

And you will have submitted yourself to God.

Stand firm, speaking only God’s word – resisting the Devil and he will flee from you.

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