Monday, October 8, 2018

Spiritual Conflict Pt 3 - The Assault

The dictionary defines accident as an unforeseen event or an incident without deliberate cause. We call these natural occurrences. Things that happen just because things like this happen.

·       We come in contact with a virus and it wreaks havoc on our body and life.
·       A car pulls out in front of us and with no time to react and we crash.
·       We catch our foot under the rug and take a tumble.
·       We have to have our knee replaced because the old one wore out.

Natural occurrences. Circumstances that come together and leave us with an unwanted but often predictable outcome.

But when it comes to Spiritual Conflict, we know there are no accidents. Satan is deliberate and intentional.

It’s like the cowboy who went to buy life insurance. The agent asked him if he had had any accidents in the past year. The cowboy said “No. But I was kicked by a horse, chased through a fence by a raging bull and bitten by a snake that laid me up for a while.” The agent said, “Those weren’t accidents?” The cowboy answered, “Naw, they all did it on purpose.” 

His mission is to: steal, kill and destroy. When he is involved, simple life issues become complex challenges to our faith. Suddenly we’re doubting whether God is enough when Satan works through those natural occurrences or simply dives in to assault us.

1Pet 5:8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 

Adversary – an opponent whose aim is to defeat us. Peter says this adversary is prowling around with the intent to devour. And as with a real lion, the step right before devouring is attacking.
Now what we know about Satan is, he was an archangel in the beginning. In Isaiah, he called himself the Shining One. KJV translated the word: Lucifer. But that wasn’t his name. It was Shining One. That’s what he called himself. He also said he was the Morning Star. In reality we know the Morning Star was Venus but the people had no concept of planets. It’s that first and last light that rules throughout the darkness and stays into the early morning. But in the Revelation, Jesus is called the Morning Star, the bright and shining One. So here is Satan, dressing himself up as an angel of light to deceive while stealing Jesus’ name.

Now in context, Isaiah is writing against the nation of Babylon and, in particular, their king. He describes him as arrogant and rebellious against God. But because of something Jesus said, there also seems to be a tie-in to Satan. Jesus said: Luke 10:18 "I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning

Here’s what Isaiah wrote: Isa 14:12-15 How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.' "Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit. 

For ages the church has believed these two stories go together. What Jesus saw was what Isaiah described. And what Isaiah described was the moment Satan the archangel became the Devil, our adversary, the deceiver and devourer.

From the attitude Isaiah captured, Satan wanted to overrule the plans and purposes of God. To throw a wrench into God’s intentions. To interfere with the minds and hearts of His People to get them to reject God as Almighty and make himself god instead.

This worked with Israel primarily through Idolatry. Getting the people to replace God with some object of greater interest made God no more important than a chunk of wood.

But from the New Covenant on to today, his strategy has been to get people not to respond in faith toward God. To encourage them to live by their own strength. His primary lie: God is not enough, you need something more.

Look at how he did this to David: 1Chron 21:1-3 Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel. So David said to Joab and to the princes of the people, "Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan, and bring me word that I may know their number." Joab said, "May the LORD add to His people a hundred times as many as they are! But, my lord the king, are they not all my lord's servants? Why does my lord seek this thing? Why should he be a cause of guilt to Israel?" 

What was wrong with knowing how many people you have? It was a subtle temptation to make David think he was great or capable because of what he had accomplished. When a king, or pastor, or anyone for that matter wants to impress himself or others, he throws out the numbers. I have this much money, I have these possessions, I manage this many people.

What was the temptation? To think what he had made him who he was. It was a subtle assault to discount what God had accomplished in his life. A temptation is an opportunity for us to act against the character of who we are as children of God.

Not possession but obsession. It’s turning a subtle suggestion into a taunt. What’s the matter, you chicken? You can do what you want. He is breaking down our resistance.

Can a Christian be possessed? No. He can be obsessed, influenced, tempted, suggested to, driven but not possessed. All the attacks from Satan come from the outside in.

When Jimmy Swaggart defied the orders of the Assemblies of God to refrain from preaching for one year, he suddenly announced that he was free of moral defect, because Oral Roberts had cast out the demons from his body over the phone. Oral Roberts confirmed Swaggart's report, insisting he had demons and their claws were deeply embedded in Swaggart's flesh. Now that the demons were gone, both Jimmy and Oral declared, he could get back to preaching. 

No, unfortunately, Mr. Swaggart can’t blame Satan. He can only blame himself for giving into Satan’s bullying. We never get free from moral defect. It’s in our flesh. There is always something we can be accused of. Which is another tactic of assault.

Zech 3:1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 

Satan accuses us to us. He points out things that agree with a dismal image of failures and weakness we haven’t reconciled under God’s grace. His goal is to condemn us so that we think we are beyond God’s love.

But he also accuses us before God: Rev 12:10-11 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony,

Why would he accuse us before God? To try and undermine God’s good intentions for His children. Can he succeed? Absolutely not. Those accusations fall flat. We stand before God as overcomers because we have been justified before God. We could probably agree with much of what Satan says. But our right to stand there is because of the blood of Jesus and the word of our testimony that we have been cleansed of all unrighteousness through Him. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.

Rom 8:33-38 Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Each pounding attack is trying to drive a wedge between us and our God.

1Pet 5:9-10 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 

Here’s the promise: whenever Satan attacks, we have the right and authority to resist him, to stand firm in our faith. And though we may suffer as he attempts to steal, kill and destroy, our final strength, our ultimate help is Jesus Himself. He will complete, confirm, strengthen and establish us.

James 4:7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Yes to God. No to Satan.

He may want to sift me like wheat as he did Peter, or fill my heart to lie to the Holy Spirit as he did Ananias and Saphira, or take advantage of me as Paul said he would, or try to deceive me by disguising himself as an angel of light, or hinder me as Paul said he did to them on their missionary journeys, but I will resist him.

In his book, How Great Generals Win, Bevin Alexander tells about the General who defeated Hannibal. You will remember Hannibal was known for his use of elephants in battle. No one could stop him until the Roman General Scipio Africanus decided to scare the elephants with trumpets. Men chasing elephants with trumpets sent the elephants running in fear and left the army to be defeated.

Like Hannibal, Satan uses intimidating tools to win spiritual battles against us. But we have the trumpet engraved with: submit ourselves to God, resist the devil and he will flee.

In his book Fuzzy Memories, Jack Handey wrote: There used to be this bully who would demand my lunch money every day. Since I was smaller, I would give it to him. Then I decided to fight back. I started taking karate lessons. But then the karate lesson guy said I had to start paying him five dollars a lesson. So I just went back to paying the bully. He only wanted 50 cents. Too many people feel it is easier just to pay the bully than it is to learn how to defeat him.

The price we pay for giving in to Satan’s attacks if far more than we can afford. So take your trumpet, standing in the power of our God and blast into Satan’s ears: No more Satan! I belong to God Almighty. You have no rights here. The Lord rebuke you!
·       Where Satan is trying to devour your family…
·       Where Satan is trying to devour your health…
·       Where Satan is trying to devour your faith…

  1. The difference between victim and victor is much wider than the similarity of the words’ sound.
  2. A victim is the unwilling recipient of an attack that has damaged them physically, emotionally or spiritually.
  3. A victor is the overcomer who stands against the attacks and assaults and resists the enemy’s intentions.
  4. In God’s perspective, we are always able to overcome.
  5.  In reality, the choice remains for us to decide: How will I live, as a victim or standing as a victor?

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