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912. Knowing Our Enemy

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
The Truth Network Radio
January 26, 2021 7:00 pm

912. Knowing Our Enemy

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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January 26, 2021 7:00 pm

Dr. Layton Talbert continues the series entitled “Our Ancient Foe,” from Revelation 12.

The post 912. Knowing Our Enemy appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

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Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Today on The Daily Platform, we're continuing a study series entitled, Our Ancient Foe, which is a study of Satan, the reality of his presence, and how Christians can be victorious against him. Today's message is entitled, Knowing Our Enemy, preached by seminary professor, Dr. Leighton Talbert. Dr. Talbert is a professor at the University of Washington State University. Dr. Sam Horn will introduce him.

His biblically faithful scholarship, his desire to communicate clearly the Word of God, and his heart to build up people through the message that we're going to hear today on Our Ancient Foe, Knowing Our Enemy. Would you please turn in your Bible to Revelation chapter 12. Revelation 12, and I just want to ask you to begin with, how does the image on that slide strike you?

It has kind of a fantastical science fiction feel to it, does it not? The problem is, imagery like this is pretty much all we have when we're dealing with trying to image things that we can't actually see. And things that we've never seen.

We don't have many photographs that I know of, of dragons. But the fact is, you're open to one of the passages that I'm pretty sure inspired and informed this image that was created for this series. Revelation 12 verse 3 says, There appeared another wonder in heaven, and behold, a great red dragon. The word wonder in Greek is the word for sign, signaling that this passage is symbolic. This description is symbolic. It's presenting truth under that kind of an image. Look at verse 7, And there was war in heaven.

Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven. Symbols are designed to illustrate abstract ideas and to magnify specific characteristics of whatever it is that's being symbolized. And yet, behind every symbol in scripture is a very real, literal reality.

That image that you're looking at is not how Satan actually looks, I don't think, but it does magnify his character in a way that no other image really could. As fierce and powerful and deadly and destructive. This passage introduces us to our ancient Phil. How ancient is he? Let's talk a little bit about his history. He's older than we are.

He's older than man. He's powerful, but he is not omnipotent. This is God's arch nemesis, but this is not God's opposite. Don't ever think of Satan as God's opposite. God has no opposite. There is no evil parallel, no evil parallel or counterpart to God. It's not God and Satan. It's God and the angelic creatures and man. Or, you could make an argument for, I have made an argument for God and man and angels.

That's a separate discussion. But the point is, he may be Michael's opposite, he might be Gabriel's opposite, he may be their superior in terms of his original angelic rank and power, but he is not God's opposite. He is infinitely inferior to God. He is a creature. We could say he's a fellow creature, created like we were.

So what's his story? Well, the details of his rebellion and fall are really just hinted at indirectly in passages like Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28. They're passages that appear to be addressed to human kings, and yet they include descriptions that most interpreters believe transcend merely human rulers and apply to the being behind those human rulers who empowers them. These passages describe a creature of unparalleled beauty and wisdom and privilege who became so infatuated with his own created glory that he aspired to be independent of God and equal to God. Some have speculated that when God created this spectacular world in all of its pristine newness, Satan expected that it would be given to him as his domain to rule over. And instead, God created this new, what Milton calls, race of upstart creatures.

Rival beings, a fragile, pathetic, weak, naked little biped to inherit all this, to rule all this. And Satan was incensed and revolted and determined to spoil whatever he couldn't have. No way to prove or disprove that part of the story.

We're not told that part of the story. But where the record that God has given us is quite clear begins in Genesis 3 with his infiltration of the pristine and sinless creation to drive out, again as Milton describes it, the puny inhabitants, or if not drive, seduce them to our part that their God may prove their foe and with repenting hand abolish his own works, seeking that way to effect their revenge on God. And yet never understanding God well enough to even dream that though God would justly become our foe as a result of this, he would turn all of his righteous wrath on himself to make us his friends again.

Never entered Satan's darkest dreams that that is what God had in mind. But having deceived and seduced the woman, ruined man, wrecked the world as God had created it, he has remained at war with God ever since. How do you war against God? You vent your hatred and your hostility on anything and everything that belongs to him, that delights him, that bears his image.

And there's only one thing in the entire universe that is described as being in God's image and that's you. We just memorialized the 15th anniversary of 9-11. And whether all our leaders recognize it or not or simply wish for political purposes not to publicly acknowledge it, radical Islam has declared war on the West, on America. And the most recent expression has come in the form of an enemy that has identified himself by a variety of names, ISIS, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIL, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or more simply IS, the Islamic State, which claims to have re-established the caliphate that ended with the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire in 1924 and claims to have worldwide influence over all, worldwide claim over all Muslims. And if you have a self-identified enemy who was sworn to destroy you, you would be a fool not to make yourself aware of the character and the strategies of that enemy. So what can we know about our ancient foe?

Let's talk a little bit about his character. In ancient historical biblical context, names are significant. Names mean something. God's names reveal aspects of his being and highlight dimensions of his character. And the names and titles and descriptions of Satan are significant in the same way, for the same reason. What are some of them and what do they reveal to us about him?

The passage that you're looking at in Revelation 12 gives us six distinct titles and descriptions if you jump ahead to verse 9. He is a huge, depicted as a huge, cruel, destructive, devouring dragon. He is called that ancient serpent, linking him back to the events in the Garden of Eden. He's called the devil.

You know that means slanderer. His modus operandi, his basic strategy is to slander the character of God to you. Satan, he's called here in this passage, adversary, nemesis, enemy, foe, deceiver of the whole world, accuser of the saints, the brethren. Revelation 9-11 describes him as Apollyon in Greek, Abaddon in Hebrew, the destroyer. That tells you something about his character.

He's also called the tempter, the evil one, he is evil personified, the wicked one, a roaring lion, constantly stalking prey to kill. Jesus in John 8-44 says that he was a murderer from the beginning. He abandoned truth long ago, as a result there is no truth in him. He will find none, none. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own, Jesus said. When he tells a lie, in other words, he's speaking his native tongue. He's a liar by nature.

Deception is his native environment. God is invariably, unfailingly speaking the truth, it's his nature. Satan is the ultimate pathological liar. How can you tell when Satan's lying?

Whenever his lips are moving. Whenever he's speaking, he's lying. Lies come out of him like water out of a faucet when you turn the handle. And in fact, he's not just a liar, he's the father of lying.

He invented it. You say, but doesn't Satan deal in half-truths? Yeah, usually.

That's exactly what he did with Eve in the Garden. Well then, doesn't that mean that there's at least some truth in him, that he sometimes does speak truth? Well let me ask you this. Doesn't the bait that's put out to kill rats have a lot of good food in it?

Not really. It's all tainted because the whole purpose of it is to kill. His half-truths are complete lies.

Because the whole purpose is to deceive and to destroy, to ruin. That's how he can also be characterized this way in one of the most stunning statements in Scripture about him. He masquerades as an angel of light. That may be the scariest image of him in Scripture. Lions are scary, but you know what to expect from a lion, an angel of light? Error is not always immediately obvious. It's not always apparently evil. Sometimes it is camouflaged in the guise of what seems good and right and beautiful and noble.

And then there's these. Prince of the power of the air. God of this age. Ruler of this world.

How does that work? I thought God was sovereign. I'd have thought that Christ was the ruler of the world and the God of this age. But these are clearly titles with reference to Satan.

One of these comes from the mouth of Jesus himself. And yet Scripture does teach the universal sovereignty of God, so how do we correlate God's sovereignty with these kinds of expressions and titles of domain, power, rule, authority? So let's talk about his power. We've been talking about him as our ancient foe, kind of as though he's present everywhere. But it would be a serious mistake to ever think of him as able to read your thoughts. He's not omniscient. And in the same way, it would be a mistake to think of him as being everywhere like God is. He's not omnipresent. Theologians use the term ubiquity to describe Satan.

What is ubiquity? Well, air is omnipresent. It's everywhere. Even in LA, there is air there. Air is omnipresent. McDonald's is just ubiquitous.

It seems to be everywhere, but it's technically not. Satan is ubiquitous. He is helped by the fact that he is an angelic spirit, but also by the fact that Scripture informs us he has a host of demons on his side as well. But he's not a force.

He's not just an abstract concept. He's a person, created, supernatural, powerful, utterly and irredeemably depraved, always hostile to God, always hostile to God's people, to you, always hostile to God's purposes. In fact, even if you are not one of God's people, he is still intensely hostile to you because you still bear God's image. He hates unbelievers. I guess maybe I can't say just as much as believers, but he hates unbelievers. But Scripture constantly reminds us that he is infinitely inferior, in spite of all that, and subordinate to God, and he can do nothing without permission.

He has zero independent discretionary power. None. And maybe the best way to illustrate this is with a specific example. Dr. Hornhead, you turned back to the book of Job last week.

I'm going to ask you to do that again because there's a couple of other points that I want to call to your attention in connection with this particular aspect. Job chapter 1. A bunch of bad stuff happened to Job, right? But who initiated the conversation? Who was the first one to notice Job?

Who was the first one to bring up Job's name? If your answer is Satan, you need to reread the story. Look at verse 8. The Lord said unto Satan, The Lord said to Satan, Have you considered my servant Job? He's the one who brings it up.

He initiates the conversation and everything that it leads to. He's omniscient. Satan then counters with an accusation that Job's worship is insincere because it's bought and paid for by God. Really, Satan's accusation is not so much aimed at Job as at God. Of course he worships you.

You pay him off. Look at what he says in verse 9. Satan answered the Lord and said, Doth Job fear God for naught? Hast not thou made a hedge about him and about his house and about all that he has on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. You've bought him. Now everybody knows.

You want to bring him up as a great example? Everybody knows now that you just pay for it. It's not sincere. It's not real worship. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. So God grants Satan's permission, but sets the parameters. Verse 12, the Lord said to Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power. When Satan said, Put forth your hand and touch all that he has, God's response is, OK, he's in your hand. Same term.

Except you can't do this. He sets the parameters. And you've got the same exchange that occurs again in chapter 2, and God grants further permission, but sets the parameters again. So who's ultimately responsible for what happens to Job? Who is in charge?

That language has already been used this morning. Well, remember who started the whole thing. Remember who brought up Job's name.

Remember who started the conversation. Who's granting the permission every step of the way? But more than that, look at chapter 2, verse 3. The Lord said to Satan, drop to the end of the verse, until he's holding fast his integrity, although you, Satan, have moved me against him to destroy him without cause. Who does God say has destroyed Job? God claims ultimate, absolute responsibility for everything that Job experienced, and by extension, for all the circumstances in your life. He's not enough to claim responsibility, because he is God. God's claim in 2-3 deserves a whole lot more explanation, because we know he has reasons and purposes. That's a whole other discussion. That's a separate message. But the point here is, for our purposes, one, God is the one who's sovereign and in control, and two, Satan, though powerful and destructive, operates only by permission. In fact, we skipped over one little detail. I want you to look back at chapter 1, verse 7.

This is easily skipped over, but I think there's a wealth of encouragement here for us. God asks Satan for a report, what he's been, what he's been doing. And Satan's reply is, going to and fro, ranging to and fro through the earth. And it describes his untethered roaming throughout the world, and walking up and down in it, he says. Which implies wandering at will.

The whole world is his field for observation and operation. The verb used in the Greek Old Testament in this verse is actually related to the word that Peter uses to describe the devil in 1 Peter 5 as a roaring lion walking around, seeking to devour. These are, I said this is an encouraging passage, these are not very encouraging images.

Because we are a lot like those unarmed natives trying to build a bridge over a river, working in jungle-bounded fields by day and sleeping in very vulnerable grass huts at night, and every night these two lions keep coming in and dragging people out of the huts and eating them or just killing them and leaving them. But did you know that God uses exactly the same terms to describe his ceaseless activity? His angels, Zechariah 1-10, patrol to and fro through the earth. In fact, the eyes of the Lord run, same expression, same Hebrew verb, run to and fro through the whole earth watching over his people, Zechariah 4-10, 2 Chronicles 16-9. And while Satan walks around in search of prey using that same term, God says, the Lord thy God walks, same word, in the midst of your camp to deliver you and to give your enemies over to you, Deuteronomy 23. So a ferocious lion roams loose, unbound but watched.

He is a trespasser temporarily tolerated in the territory of a way bigger lion. Revelation 5. So yeah, he's the head of the demonic principalities and powers. He's the head of the rulers of the darkness of this world that Paul says that we wrestle against in Ephesians 6. He's the little G God of this present age, ruler over fallen humanity in its united opposition to God. The fact is the Bible does not minimize the sinister power of the evil one who is the prince of the demons and the head of a godless world order, a power enhanced by the allegiance, winning or unwitting, of sinful men and accommodated by the corruption of man's heart. In revolt against God, he aligned himself with Satan. In this sense, Satan is his God and prince. Man is captive to the jurisdiction of darkness. This is from a good book on spiritual warfare, by the way.

If you're interested in a book on the topic that we're studying. But all of this is exercised within the strict parameters of God's invisible fence. And that's a boundary that he doesn't just not want to cross because it might give him an electrical jolt.

It's a boundary he can't cross. So how should we feel about our ancient foe? Should we pity him? Respect him?

Fear him? How about this? How about unmixed hatred? That doesn't sound very Christian.

That is extremely Christian. Unmixed hatred toward this enemy of God and Christ and you. How about absolute distrust? How about utter disdain? Why would you want to give this enemy one moment's gratification by listening to his lies or maybe tentatively exploring his suggestions?

While he's standing on the side, grinning. Scripture encourages us, in fact, with these kinds of truths. Through Christ, we have conquered the wicked one.

Because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world. Christ came in the flesh in order to undo the works of the devil. And through his death, he broke the power of the devil. He is powerful, Satan is, but he's resistible.

He's resistible! We overcome him by the blood of the Lamb, to go back to Revelation 12. And he may receive God's permission to sift us like wheat, like he did the disciples. You read that passage, by the way, it wasn't just Peter that got sifted by wheat. Jesus says to Peter, Satan has desired to have y'all.

It's a plural pronoun in Greek. Satan has received permission to sift all of you disciples like wheat. But I have prayed for thee in particular, Peter, because it's going to hit you the hardest. If you have recovered, you strengthen your brethren because they were sifted just like you were. He may receive God's permission to sift us like wheat, but if he receives it, that permission comes with the intercession of Jesus for you. Just like it did for Peter.

You ever thought about this? You are going to judge angels. Paul says this, 1 Corinthians 6. I don't know exactly what all that means or includes, but I'm pretty confident that it at least means that we will participate in his judgment and voice heartily our consent when Christ condemns and consigns Satan and all the other demons to the lake of fire in Revelation 20 verse 10. It's one of those passages, Revelation 12, Revelation 20 are a couple of passages that I really enjoy occasionally reading out loud.

I mean louder than usual. To be sure Satan can hear it, to remind him of where all this is headed, and to remind him that I know where all this is headed. Paul encouraged believers with this promise.

This is remarkable. The God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly or swiftly. Not just under Christ's feet. He will crush Satan under your feet. What does that mean?

I don't know exactly what all that means. But it sounds like I'm going to have a part in Christ's defeat and humiliation of this adversary who blinded me for my first 15 years and who has dogged my heels ever since and so will you. So, the prince of darkness grim. We don't tremble for him. We don't tremble for him. His rage we can endure because his doom is sure.

And I don't feel bad about reminding him of that regularly. One little word shall fail him. One little word.

What's that word? You don't have to shout it. You don't have to say it with bravado. One little word will fail him. Christ.

That's all it takes. So in the face of all of Satan's lies to you, all the doubts that he raises, all the temptations and accusations that he throws at you, Christ is your strong tower. Christ is your mighty fortress against this ancient foe.

And he cannot assail you there. Father, we are so grateful that you are sovereign, that you are wise, that you are gracious, that you are good, that you have revealed yourself and these things to us, that though we have a deadly enemy who hates and despises us, who will do all that he can to take us where he is or failing that to ruin us in the process, that he is under your surveillance. So we rejoice in the confidence that we have in his demise, in his defeat, and in your glory and in our glory with you over that, over him and his defeat. Help us, Lord, to walk in utter confidence, not fearing him, but magnifying you and glorying in you and finding all of our confidence in you. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen. You've been listening to a sermon preached by Bob Jones University Seminary Professor, Dr. Leighton Talbert. This is part of the study series about our ancient foe, Satan. Listen again tomorrow as we continue this series here on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-30 23:54:06 / 2023-12-31 00:03:31 / 9

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