Hey everybody, you're listening to A New Beginning, which is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners.
If this program has impacted you, I'd love to hear from you. So just send an email to me at greg.harvest.org. Again, it's greg.harvest.org.
You can learn more about becoming a Harvest Partner by going to harvest.org. Our adversary is cunning and crafty, manipulative and merciless. Pastor Greg Laurie warns us. Here's how the devil works. He whispers in your ear, go ahead and do it.
It's not that bad. And then the moment you do it, he comes back to you and says, you're the biggest hypocrite that ever walked the face of the earth. Don't even think of reading the Bible again. Don't even think of showing your ugly face in church again. Now he's the accuser of the brethren.
First he's the tempter. Now he'll become the condemner. This is the day when the lost are found. This is the day for a new beginning. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. Again you hear all the angels are singing.
This is the day, the day when life begins. Ever been the target of a scam? Many of us have, some without even realizing it.
None of the scammers admit they're trying to rip you off. They play upon your fear or your kindness. They find a weakness or a vulnerability. Satan is like that, although he's been practicing a lot longer. And today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie warns us about his tactics and strategies.
We're each in his cross hairs. But as believers, we're under the protection of the cross. The title of this message is Angels and Demons. So this is what kind of perplexes us is, where the heck did demons come from? Why do we even have to have demons?
Well, they're out there for sure. And to simplify it, a demon is a fallen angel. God did not create demons as we know them today. He created angels, but he gave to these angelic creatures a free will and an ability to choose. And as hard as it is to believe, one third of the angels followed a high ranking angel known as Lucifer, the son of the morning, in a rebellion.
Lucifer is also known as Satan and the devil. So Genesis 3, very familiar passage. I'll read verses one to seven. I'm reading from the New Living Translation.
The serpent was the shrewdest of all the creatures the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden? Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, the woman replied. It's only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden we're not allowed to eat. God said, don't eat it or touch it, and if you do, you will die. You won't die, the serpent replied to the woman.
God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God knowing both good and evil. The woman was convinced. She saw the tree was beautiful, and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate, and she gave to her husband with her, and he ate.
We'll stop there. So it's worth noting that in this particular passage, the devil is compared to a serpent or a snake. So sometimes he's compared to a lion, sometimes he's compared to a snake, and this is a fascinating thing because, well, snakes are very interesting creatures in that they're hard to figure out. You know, when I was a boy, for some inexplicable reason, I collected snakes, and I don't know why I liked them so much, but I had quite an exhaustive collection, and I was bitten by many snakes, I might add as well. My grandkids liked to ask me, Papa, tell us all the animals that have bit you, and I've been bitten by so many animals because I had every kind of creature you can imagine. I said, well, I've been bitten by mice. I've been bitten by rats. I've been bitten by guinea pigs. I've even been bitten by a rabbit. I've been bitten by a turtle.
So I went over all the animals that have bit me, but snakes, I was bitten by them a lot, and I had this one snake that almost could sense my fear, and anybody else would reach in, and this little python would not strike, and whenever I put my hand in there, it'd strike, and every time, baby, snake drove me crazy because he just knew, here it comes, Greg, I'm going to bite him, and so we had this very contentious relationship, me and that crazy snake, but, you know, snakes are that way. You can't read a snake. You can read a dog. It's so easy to know where you stand with a dog. You know when a dog's happy. You know when a dog's sad.
You know when a dog, pretty much wherever he's at, you can read it on his face. Cats are far more mysterious. They just sort of look at you with those mystical eyes and walk off, but snakes are even harder to read than cats or dogs because a snake is a reptile, and their brain is very small. They're not intelligent creatures, and people say, well, you can tame snakes.
Sort of you can, but they may bite you in the face, and they may be fine with you for a while. It all depends, but you always want to be aware of the threat of a snake, and another thing about a snake is they can get in and out of the tightest little spots, and that's so much like the devil. You don't know what the devil's going to do next, and he'll kind of worm his way in or snake his way into a given situation, but the thing with the snake also is the venom. I never had any venomous snakes, but you know there are different kinds of snakes that have different strengths of venom. There was a guy I knew of when I was a young boy who used to have a lot of snakes, and he had tiger snakes, which are among the most venomous snakes in existence, and he had been bitten by a tiger snake and survived it because he had taken the venom and used it to build up his immunity, so this is like the guy who survived the tiger snake bite, so he was kind of a legend in the snake world, right, which I happened to be in.
I can't explain it, but I was in it. It's like this herpetologist is what we call ourselves. We were into reptiles, very weird people, okay, but anyway I was into it, and so he survived the bite of a tiger snake, but then one day we heard the tragic news that he died from a cobra bite, and he kept cobras as pets, cobras, and I think he thought because I survived the bite of a tiger snake, a cobra isn't that big of a threat, and one of his cobras that literally would slither around his house bit him.
He wasn't aware of it, and he didn't get treatment quickly enough, and he died from it, so I think that's how we can be sometimes. We have our guard up. Be careful here, but then I lower my guard over there, and all of a sudden I'm vulnerable. Take the bite of this is a whole message on snakes.
You didn't know this was coming. I'm gonna do a brain dump of everything I know about snakes tonight. No, I'm not really, but I'm almost done with snakes. Did you know that the venom of a baby rattler is more toxic than that of an adult rattler, so you know you might see a full-grown rattler say, can you back away from it? Don't get near that thing.
Stay away from it. Then you see a little baby rattler, and you go, look at that. It's so cute, and you pick him up. What did you do, baby rattler? And he's in your hand, you know, what did the little thing? Oh, baby rattler just bit me. It's so cute.
Feeling faint. Oh, yeah, don't mess around, and I bring this up because, you know, we have our guard up against the big sins, but we lower our guard with what we perceive as little sins or areas that we're strong in, and we end up getting defeated in the very areas. Is this making sense to you? So the devil comes like a serpent, and what does he do? Well, with Eve, he questions God's love, effectively.
You know what? If God really loved you, he would let you eat of any tree you want to eat of in the garden, so the fact that he isn't letting you eat of it must be an indication he doesn't really love you at all, and by the way, if you eat of this fruit, you will become like a God. Eve, you'll be a goddess, and you will know the things that only God knows, and she just went for it. That's all she needed to hear.
It appealed to her pride, so the devil is clever. He won't come and just say, you know, the Bible's not the word of God. He'll just say, did you really understand the Bible correctly?
Did God really say what you thought God said? Maybe you just misunderstood, and so he'll come to us and say, you know, it's really not that bad for you to do that. Other people do that. Other people who say there are Christians do that. Why can't you do that?
They say, well, because, you know, I just think that's wrong. Oh, come on, go ahead. Don't be so uptight. Don't be so rigid.
You're being legalistic. Go ahead and just do that thing that everybody else has done. Okay, well, I'll do it one time, and I'll just have a little bit, yeah, the famous last words, and then here's what happens. Then he gets you.
Then you do that thing, and you're sort of hooked. You're pulled in, and then what does the devil do? Right after he deceived you and told you, go ahead and do it, he then condemns you, because the Bible describes Satan as the accuser of the brothers and sisters, and he accuses us before God day and night.
So here's how the devil works. He whispers in your ear, go ahead and do it. Everybody else is doing it. It's not that bad. Do it just once. You'll be fine, or no one will ever know, and then the moment you do it, he comes back to you and says, you're the biggest hypocrite that ever walked the face of the earth. How can you call yourself a Christian? Don't even think of reading the Bible again.
Don't even think of showing your ugly face in church again. Now he's the accuser of the brethren. First he's the tempter, pulling you in, getting you to take his free sample. Now he'll become the condemner and the accuser of the brethren. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. Emails, letters, and phone calls from listeners are so encouraging to us, and they let us know the effectiveness of these studies. Pastor Greg, I wanted to relate an extraordinary experience my Bible study group shared recently. We're studying your Tell Someone online class material and had come to the fifth week called What is the Gospel? Our usual study leader was ill and asked me to lead the group of 15 or 20, which, by the way, includes two very experienced pastors.
I was hesitant and felt very insecure, but agreed to fill in. Just as we were getting started, a young lady walked into the meeting room and sat down to join us. I'd not seen her at church for several years, and to my delight, she participated in the discussions and soaked in the message of the gospel as you presented it. Afterward, while we were enjoying refreshments, I noticed that our pastor and the young lady were talking off to the side. And within a few minutes, he announced to the group that she had accepted Christ right then and there.
We were able to love her, congratulate her, and welcome her. And then we found just the right resources that she might need and began to get her connected with other believers. Pastor Greg, I'm so thankful that you included that chapter as it was exactly what this young lady needed to hear. Thank you and your team at Harvest for all that you do.
What an encouraging story of how God's word touched this young woman's life. If you or someone you know have had their life changed because of the ministry of Harvest, would you let Pastor Greg know? Just drop him an email, greg.harvest.org. Again, that's greg.harvest.org. And check out all of Pastor Greg's free online courses at courses.harvest.org. Well, Pastor Greg's message today is titled Angels and Demons.
It's part of his enlightening series called The Afterlife and the Eternal. Let's continue. You know when you go into Krispy Kreme donuts, and I haven't been there for a while, but the last time I was there, I, of course, overate as I always do. That's why I stay away. But I walk in and what do they do? Would you like a free Krispy Kreme donut? Why do they do that? Because they love us? No, because they know the moment you eat that hot, freshly made donut glistening with sugar, you will eat more.
It's worth it to them. So you take that bite and they're cut. And if you ever notice they're a little smaller than regular donuts. How many of you have had Krispy Kreme donuts?
Okay, not everybody. If you haven't had them, you should go try them. Now I'm like the devil all of a sudden. Just one time, try them.
Just have a little one. Yeah, that's how it works. So I try that first one. I'll have another, I'll have another, I'll have another. And it's so awesome when I'm eating them. And then it just comes up. And then it just becomes all this greasy dough in my stomach. And I'm thinking, why did I just do that?
Then I go into a food coma. You know how it works. That's how sin works.
I'm sorry to use Krispy Kreme in that way, but it fits. You take the bait and then you're hooked. And then he condemns you. So you say, so what do you do?
Well, you just remember that that's his tactic. And no matter what sin you've committed, God can forgive you if you'll admit that sin and repent of it. And say, Lord, I'm sorry for that sin.
And don't forget something else. And we've been talking about this as we're studying the book of Romans together. As a Christian, you've been justified before God. It's not based on anything you've done. It's solely based on what he did when he sent Christ to die on the cross in our place.
And remember, justified means just as if it never had happened. So I stand righteous before God. So I say, Lord, forgive me of my sin.
I stand right before God now with his child. And to the devil, I just say, go to hell. Because that's where he's going.
And trust me, he would like to drag as many people there with him as he possibly could. So it's very important for us to know how the enemy works. I think it was Victor Hugo who said, he was the author of Les Miserables, who said, quote, you must penetrate the brain of your enemy. A good general will penetrate the brain of his enemy. The idea is, know your opponent.
Know what your opponent may do. And be ready for him when he comes. And these are the tactics of the enemy that he uses over and over again. But here's the good news. 2,000 years ago on the cross, Jesus defeated Satan.
He defeated him. Now look, the devil can still tempt you. The devil can still hassle you. The devil can still kind of buffet you or strike at you.
Even the apostle Paul talked about how he was buffeted by the enemy. But the devil can never overcome you. The devil can never overpower you. And the devil can never possess you because you are under new management because you've put your faith in Christ.
And Satan knows that. The Bible says that God puts his ID tag on us. And that ID tag says property of Jesus Christ.
And that ID tag is the work of the Holy Spirit and the life of the Christian. I was traveling recently and my bag came off of the conveyor belt and I'm wheeling it out. And some lady comes chasing after me. You have my bag.
I'm thinking this lady is crazy. This is my bag. She goes you have my bag. I said ma'am I'm sorry this is my bag. She says open it up.
I open it up. It was her bag. We had identical bags. And I'm so glad I didn't keep her bag because I did not want to dress in women's clothing for that trip.
And she had my bag and I mistook it. And the reason was I didn't check the ID tag you see. So God has put his ID tag on you and you're under his protection. So you don't have to be afraid of what the enemy is going to do. You just need to be aware of it.
And you need to keep your guard up. But here's the bottom line and I'll close with this. God wants you to come into a relationship with him and the devil wants to do everything he can to keep you away from a relationship with God. The Bible says the God of this world that Satan has blinded the eyes of those that don't believe lest their eyes should be open and they should see the glorious light of the gospel. So Satan doesn't want you to believe. And the Bible also says he's taken people captive to do his will. So he tries to keep us from coming to Christ. But then when we do come to Christ he'll do everything he can to get us to fall away or to compromise so he can neutralize us. And so we need to be aware of these things.
So let me speak to two people as I close. Number one you may be a person who's joined us who is not sure if your sin is forgiven. In fact the devil has just been having a heyday in your life. Maybe he has you trapped in addiction, drugs, alcohol, pornography. Maybe he has you trapped in some relationship. He has you trapped in something else. And you just feel like I can never get out of this place. You can't.
You can't. But you must ask God for his help and for his forgiveness. And Jesus can pull you out of that pit that you're in and change you literally in moments. So if you've never believed in Jesus I'm going to give you an opportunity to believe in him tonight and have all of your sin forgiven and get a fresh start in life. And most importantly know that when you die you will go to heaven. But there are some of you who have accepted Christ into your life but realistically and honestly you've been kind of trapped by the enemy. He's kind of got you wound up in some compromised situation and and you're not a happy person right now. Because you're trying to live in two worlds. In fact you're even sitting here right now thinking about what you're going to do in that other world you live in the moment you get out of this church service.
That is not a good thing. I'm going to watch this on TV. I'm going to go to this club. I'm going to go.
Yeah really? You're in a bad place. Because I don't think we should want to get out of this place quickly. I think we should want to be here and savor the moment with God's people. I know you have to get home and get to work and things like that but I'm talking about enjoy every moment that we have to worship and learn the word of God.
It's a privilege. Don't live in two worlds. So if you're in that sort of no man's land of compromise I'd really encourage you tonight to make a recommitment to Christ and and really start walking with the Lord as you want to. Don't let the enemy have a foothold in your life. The Bible says don't give place to the devil. Don't give him anything. Don't have tea with him. Don't hang out with him. Don't have a short conversation with him. Don't text him. Don't let him text you. Just stay away from him.
Keep as much distance as you can. The Bible says resist the devil and he will flee from you. So we have to resist him. But before that it says submit to God. So first I submit to God then I resist the devil.
Because as I submit to God I have the power to resist the devil and he'll flee from me. So some of you may need to make that recommitment. I'll give you that opportunity right now as we all close in prayer. Let's pray. Now Father thank you for your word to us. We know there's a devil. We know there are demons. But more importantly we know there's you and we know there are angels and we know you're more powerful than our adversary. So we would just say right now to the enemy and his forces we rebuke you in the name of Jesus Christ. And we would say Lord that there are people here that need to come to you. And I pray that you would take off the blinders.
Help them to see what we've shared tonight is true. These are not fairy tales. These are not myths.
This is hard reality. The supernatural world. And I pray Lord for any person here that doesn't know you yet. I pray you would help them to come to you and believe in you and be forgiven of all of their sin. In Jesus name I pray.
Amen. Pastor Greg Laurie with an important prayer. And if you'd like to make a change today before this edition of A New Beginning wraps up in a moment, Pastor Greg will help you do that.
So please stay with us. You know Pastor Greg I'll admit that I've watched a lot of how-to videos on YouTube. I learned how to poach an egg. Nice. I learned how to solve some software problems.
Excellent. And I learned that there's a lot more to learn. But when it comes to the Christian life we need to be careful where we're getting our instruction don't we?
Yeah we really do. We need a reliable source. An authoritative source. And for the Christian clearly that is the Bible. The Word of God.
The Bible is God's autobiography. Everything you need to know about God is found in the Bible. Everything you effectively need to know for life is also found in the pages of scripture including how to live the Christian life. The Bible tells us how to grow spiritually. How to pray.
How to resist temptation. How to know the will of God and so much more. And to kind of help you get started I've written a book called The New Believer's Guide to Effective Christian Living.
Here's just some of the topics we deal with in this book. How to know God through Bible study. How to know God through prayer. How to know God through fellowship with other believers. I also talked about how to overcome temptation.
How to deal with your problems. How to share your faith and much more. I'd like to send you this little book that you could read in one sitting called The New Believer's Guide to Effective Christian Living. I think it will be just as good as a YouTube video. Why don't you order a copy right now?
Dave will tell you more. Yeah, why not let us put a copy of this in your hands? We're making it available to say thank you for your partnership in helping to keep these daily studies available and in helping us reach out with the gospel as we'll be doing very soon at SoCal Harvest in Southern California.
Again, it's called The New Believer's Guide to Effective Christian Living. Contact us today. You can call us at 1-800-821-3300. Reach us any time. Again, 1-800-821-3300. Or write, A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, California, 92514.
Or just go online to harvest.org. Well, Pastor Greg, as somebody listening right now knows that they need to ask the Lord to forgive them of their sins, could you help them with that right now? You know what, Dave?
I'd love to do that. It's an amazing thing to me that over the years, I've heard so many stories of people who have come to know Christ listening to this broadcast, and they'll say things like, I prayed that prayer with you at the end of the program. One guy wrote me and said, I pulled my car over to the side of the road and prayed that prayer, and Christ came into my life.
Just incredible. And I'd like to lead you in that same prayer. Look, I don't have some super special prayer. It's just a basic prayer based on scriptural principles of what it means to believe in Jesus Christ.
I mean, if we want to get real technical, the only sinner's prayer, if you will, and we often call this prayer a sinner's prayer, the only real sinner's prayer in the Bible is a guy who just prayed, God be merciful to me a sinner. So I'm going to lead you on a prayer similar to that, but this is a prayer where you will be acknowledging your need for Jesus and putting your faith in him. So listen, if you want to go to heaven when you die, if you want to know that you are a child of God, if you want the Lord to forgive you of your sins, just pray these words if you would. Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner, and I'm sorry for my sin, and I turn from that sin.
But I know that you died on the cross of Calvary for my sin and rose again from the dead, so forgive me, Lord. I choose to follow you from this moment forward. I want you to be my Savior.
I want you to be my friend. I want you to be my God. Thank you for hearing my prayer and answering my prayer. In Jesus' name, I ask this.
Amen. Now I want to help you start growing spiritually, so I have something to send you at no charge. It's my gift to you. It's called The New Believer's Packet, and in it is a copy of the New Testament in a very friendly, understandable translation called The New Living Translation. It also has some notes that I wrote, hundreds of notes, actually, that will encourage you in this commitment you've made.
These notes will answer a lot of the questions you probably have right now, and there's some other materials in this packet as well. So order your copy of The New Believer's Packet immediately, and thanks for giving me the opportunity to lead you in that prayer, and I wanted to be the first to say to you, welcome to the family of God. Yeah, let me pass along our contact information so you can get that free New Believer's Growth Packet. Just call us at 1-800-821-3300. We're here 24-7 to take your phone call. That's 1-800-821-3300.
Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or go online to harvest.org and click on Know God. Hey everybody, what are you doing this weekend? I'd like to hang out with you at Harvest at Home. When is Harvest at Home? It is a time of worship and Bible study exclusively designed for people that are viewing in from all over the place, so you can be a part of our extended congregation at Harvest at Home. Join us this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, for Harvest at Home at harvest.org. Well, next time, the finale to Pastor Greg's important series, The Afterlife and the Eternal. Practical help for fighting the spiritual battles we face every day. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Laurie.
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