Hey there. Thanks for listening to the Greg Laurie Podcast, a ministry supported by Harvest Partners. I'm Greg Laurie, encouraging you.
If you want to find out more about Harvest Ministries and learn more about how to become a Harvest Partner, just go to Harvest.org. This world that coexists with our natural world, that you will give us insight. Help us to understand our role in all of this. Speak to us from Scripture, we pray. In Jesus' name, we ask this.
Amen. So I heard a story about God up in heaven, and He knew things were bad on earth, but He decided to dispatch an angel to see just how bad things were. It was a top angel. So the angel spent some time on planet earth checking things out. He returned to heaven. He said, Lord, things are really bad down there.
Basically, mankind is 95% bad, and only 5% of them are good. So the Lord wanted a second opinion. He sent another angel down. That angel returned after a time and said, Lord, it says the other angel said 95% of the people are bad, and only 5% are good. So the Lord thought, well, I want to encourage the 5% that are good. You know, at least let them know that I appreciate what they're doing. So to the 5% that were good, He sent them all a text. You want to know what the text said?
Oh, you didn't get one either? Now, that's a silly joke. But actually, angels are real, and they're actively involved in the life of the follower of Jesus Christ. We live in the natural world, but coexisting is the supernatural world. You and I live in the visible world, but then there is the invisible world.
And this world is just as real as the world you and I are living in right now. The story is told in the book of 2 Kings about the prophet Elisha and his servant Gehazi. So one night, they were surrounded by enemy armies, and Elisha was trying to get a little shut-eye. But Gehazi was freaking out, and he woke up the sleeping prophet, and he said, Master, Master, we're surrounded by our enemies.
What are we going to do? And Elisha, probably a little irritated that his nap was interrupted, said, Lord, just open his eyes up and help him to see that those that are with us are more than those that are with them. And the eyes of this servant, Gehazi, were opened to this supernatural world, and the Bible tells us in 2 Kings 6, Behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. See, he saw into that other dimension, the next dimension, the dimension of angelic creatures. Now, I pray that the Lord will open our eyes as we take a biblical look at what is going on behind the scenes. We're not only going to look at angels, we're going to look at demons. We'll look at the work that angels want to do and do in the life of the Christian, and we'll look at the work of demons and what they attempt to do in the life of the Christian. Let's just start with a few questions.
How about this one? How many angels are there? Simple answer, a lot. Thousands and thousands and thousands of angels are in heaven and working on earth, serving the Lord. Most of these angels are holy.
Some of them are fallen. You find them in the Old and the New Testament. In fact, there are references to angels in the Old and New Testament about 300 different times, but there are so many misconceptions about the angels.
So hopefully we can clear some of these things up. Let me start by saying the angels primarily work undercover. It is not the job or the nature of an angel to draw attention to himself. They're just doing God's work. You might describe them as God's secret agents, or another way to put it, they're sort of like Navy Seals. You know, we hear later about things that the Navy Seals have done, like Seal Team 6 and what they did in finding Osama bin Laden and other things that they do. But there's a lot of things that are done behind the scenes by the Seal Team and other special op groups that we never hear about, but that's not their job to draw attention to themselves.
Their job, well, is to get the job done. It's a very similar thing with angels. They're doing the work of God, but we don't necessarily know that's an angel that intervened. There are times that angels have stopped us from doing the wrong things. There are times when the angels have gotten us out of tight situations or protected us by harm. There are times when an angel has prompted you.
There are times when an angel has probably spoken directly to you. So angels are all over the book of Acts. In fact, the book of Acts begins with angels.
In Acts chapter 1 verse 11, where after Jesus ascended, we read these words. Men stood by them in white robes, those were angels. Men of Galilee, they said, Why do you stand looking into heaven?
The same Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven. So often, when we read of angels making appearances where they are at least temporarily visible, they appear as men. I was having a conversation with my granddaughters the other day, and we're talking about angels. And they said, Papa, what do angels look like? And I said, Well, when they appear, they appear as men. And all the girls were not happy.
They said, That's not fair, Papa. I'm just telling you what the Bible says. I know we often think of an angel as feminine, like she's as pretty as an angel, we might say. We would not necessarily say he's as handsome as an angel. But in reality, when angels do appear visibly, they do appear as men. After Christ rose again from the dead, we read in Luke 24, for two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. And I want you to know that they're actively involved in your life, these angels.
Now, understand this. We don't become angels. And I say this because sometimes when someone dies, people will say, Well, they've become an angel. Or another way I've heard it said is, Well, God just needed another angel in heaven.
Okay, that's wrong. You don't become angels. Angels are angels. They're created beings. They are spoken of in Scripture.
There's the cherubim, and there's the seraphim. There's rankings of angels. We find them worshiping the Lord, and we also see God using angels to dispatch judgment and justice on the earth on different occasions, like the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah and much more. But angels are created beings. People don't become angels. But angels do have a special work that they do in the life of the Christian. Hebrews 1 14 says, Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to minister to or serve those who are the heirs of salvation?
We don't always know what they're doing or when they're doing it, but they're active in our lives. Psalm 34 verse 7 says, The angel of the Lord guards all those that fear Him and rescues them. So let me share with you now 10 takeaway truths about angels and demons.
Okay, so if you're taking notes, here's point number one. Angels sometimes deliver us from difficult situations. Again, angels sometimes deliver us from difficult situations. Going back to the book of Acts, in Acts chapter 5, you remember the story of when the angels busted the apostles out of jail. And the angels said, Go and tell all the people about this new life. We recently looked at the story of Peter, who was in prison in Acts chapter 12. And we read constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. And so the Lord heard that prayer and answered that prayer by dispatching an angel to walk into the cell. The light filled the dark place, so angels definitely emanate light. And then the little chains, they weren't little, probably big chains, around the ankles and the arms of Peter came off. And then the door opened automatically, and the angel accompanied Peter out of the jail. And then when he was outside, the angel just left, suddenly left, is what the Bible says.
I find that interesting. The angel did his job. Okay, I gotta get you out of prison. That's my assignment.
You're on your own now, buddy. And then Peter went over to that prayer meeting and tried to convince everyone that God had actually delivered him. So that was an angel that was actively involved.
The best known story probably of angelic deliverance in the Bible is the story of Daniel and the lion's den. You remember that the king, Darius, gave a decree that no man could pray to any god but him. So basically, in the kingdom of Babylon, it was against the law to pray. So what did Daniel do? Well, he did what he always did. He prayed.
And he didn't do it in secret. He opened up his windows so you could see and he got down on his knees and he offered his prayers to God. And he was summarily arrested and sent to a lion's pit where he would meet a certain death. And the king did not want Daniel to spend the night in the pit or the den of lions, but he had unwittingly signed this decree not realizing he was condemning one of his top counselors, Daniel, to death. And so all night, the king was up, worried, concerned, and Daniel slept like a baby. So when the king comes to the lion's den to see if his friend is still alive, Daniel says, I'm still here.
Everything's fine. And then Daniel says these words. The Lord sent his angel to protect me. Coming back to that story about this decree that was given out by Darius that no man could pray. Look, as Christians, we should be good citizens. As Christians, we should have a respect for those that are ruling over us. We certainly should be involved in the process of voting and trying to elect people that share values similar to ours as followers of Jesus.
But having said that, let me also add this. If the government ever passes a law that's a direct contradiction to the Bible, we'll be God, not government. Let's say that a law was passed tomorrow. You can no longer pray. We're still going to pray. Let's say government passed a law tomorrow saying you can no longer proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. You can no longer quote the Bible because we think that's hate speech. We will still quote the Bible and we will still proclaim the gospel. After the angel sprung the apostles from the jail, the apostles said, we will obey God and not man. Because they were forbidden to preach. They said, no, we're going to keep preaching. We're going to obey God, not man.
Here's point number two. Sometimes angels stop us and other times they prompt us. Sometimes angels stop us and other times they prompt us. In Acts chapter eight, we read that an angel prompted Philip to go to the desert.
It's interesting. The angel didn't give him any details. He didn't tell him what he was supposed to do when he got to the desert, which actually was to ultimately share the gospel with a visiting dignitary from Ethiopia and lead the man to the Lord. The angel's job was to tell Philip to go to the desert and that's exactly what the angel did. So he was prompted by the angel. I wonder if there have been times when an angel has prompted me. I can think of times where I've felt directly led to do something like, right now, I need to do this thing.
There's no doubt about it. I need to go to this person and talk to them. I need to take this step of faith.
I need to do this other thing. That may have been an angel, of course, doing the bidding of the Lord. The classic example of an angel stopping someone is a story of Balaam and his donkey.
One of the more humorous stories in the Bible, I have to say. So there was this guy named Balaam. He was sort of a prophet for hire.
He was kind of more of a prophet, P-R-O-F-I-T, than he was at P-R-O-P-H-E-T. So he was hired to curse the children of Israel and he was on his way to do the very thing that God did not want him to do. So God dispatched an angel.
The job of the angel was stop Balaam from cursing the people of Israel. So the interesting thing is the angel goes and appears in a way that the donkey saw him, but the prophet did not. So the donkey's walking along with Balaam riding him and suddenly the donkey sees this angel standing in his path with his sword drawn.
Hey, this jackass wasn't stupid. And he looked and saw that powerful being and just stopped and Balaam became frustrated and started to beat the donkey. And then the angel positioned himself in a way where the donkey could not get by.
They're in this little path where there's a wall there. So the donkey sort of hits the wall and the prophet's leg is hit. Now Balaam is really angry and he starts beating the donkey.
An amazing scene. And then the Bible says the Lord opens the donkey's mouth. And the donkey says to Balaam, why are you beating me? And the prophet, without missing a beat, says, because you're making me look like a fool.
If I had a sword with thee, I'd kill you, Balaam says to the prophet. The donkey says, hold on. Now, haven't I been a good donkey?
Have I ever done anything like this before? Balaam's like, no, you have a good point there. You've actually been a very good donkey. And the angel's thinking, what is with this guy? Does he normally talk to a donkey?
I mean, this isn't Shrek here. I mean, what is happening? And Balaam is so blinded by what? His ambition or whatever it is he was about to do that he doesn't realize he's having an in-depth conversation with the donkey. And then finally the angel of the Lord appears. And Balaam now, for the first time, sees the angel of the Lord standing there. And the angel says, why did you beat your donkey three times?
I came to stop you because you were headed for destruction. So what are the takeaway lessons from this? Number one, don't talk to donkeys. Number two, people do talk to their animals all the time, don't they? And you ever talk to a dog, you know, you'll say something to a dog, sometimes they'll kind of cock their head over to the side like they understand you. Say a dog's name, they'll come running to you.
You talk to a cat, they just look at you like what? And they may know their name, they just don't care basically, but that's one takeaway lesson. But the real takeaway lesson is when God's trying to stop you, don't keep going in that same direction. I wonder how many times we've been headed for destruction and God changed our course by directing an angel to stop us from where we were going.
So angels, they're actively involved in our lives. Like okay, if we could like sort of peel away the veil and see into the spiritual world, I think it would blow our minds. You know, something that's very popular right now is virtual reality. In fact, Facebook has changed the name of their company from Facebook to Meta. Because it's all about the meta world, the metaverse, and you know, you can put on these special glasses, the AR glasses, augmented reality, like brands like Oculus and others, and see a whole nother world that actually doesn't exist.
I've done this a few times and one thing I've determined is there's no way you can look cool or normal wearing those things. You know, you're like this, you're fighting imaginary battles or whatever. And so they want to help us to enter into this virtual reality. That's not real, but the supernatural world actually is real. If an angel of the Lord were to appear to you right now, I can tell you, you'd be blown away.
Whereas the Australians say you'd be gobsmacked. Whoa. In fact, you might even be tempted to worship the angel. This actually happened to the apostle John when an angel was revealing to him what was happening in the end times in the book of Revelation. In Revelation 22, 8, we read John say, when I saw this and heard this, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel. And the angel said to me, don't do that, I'm your fellow servant, worship God. Here's a question that pops up every now and then, do we have guardian angels? Here's my definitive answer, maybe.
And I would even add, I think there's a good chance that we do. Jesus made an interesting statement in Matthew 18, 10, speaking of children. He said, make sure you don't look down on these little ones for I tell you their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. Interesting, he said, their angels in heaven. So maybe we don't all have guardian angels, maybe only children have guardian angels. And by that I mean a special angel assigned to you. I'm sure that some of these kids really wear their angels out and they have to dispatch even another, I don't know.
But maybe adults have them as well. Going back to a story we looked at recently in Acts 12, after Peter was released from the prison, he went to the home where they were having a prayer meeting and he knocked at the front door. A girl named Rhoda answered, saw Peter, and then went and told the apostles and they said, you're crazy. And one of them said to Rhoda, maybe it's his angel, his angel. So does that mean that Peter had a personal guardian angel?
I don't know the answer to that, but even if we don't have personal angels, you can be sure that we do have angels assigned to us that are involved in our lives. All right, the title of this message is Angels and Demons. So let's talk a little bit about demons in the book of Acts and in our life in general. There are many instances in the Acts of the Apostles where we see demons at work, opposing the work of God, trying to stop the work of God. Demons are fallen angels. They're not created as demons, they are angels that rebelled against God, following Satan, and now they're part of his world. Now listen, when there was this angelic rebellion, two-third of the angels stayed on God's side, and one-third of the angels went on the devil's side or Lucifer's side. And don't underestimate the power of demons.
They have great power. We read in the Bible of people being demon-possessed and snapping chains and having supernatural strength. I think of one story in the book of Acts of a group of guys called the Sons of Sceva. They're described as exorcists. And by the way, there is no biblical office of being an exorcist. That is someone that has a spiritual gift for casting demons out. Having said that, there are many instances of demons being cast out of people in the Bible, but there is no instance of someone being specifically called to that.
In fact, the only instance of someone being called an exorcist, well, they were a dismal failure. So these exorcists, the Sons of Sceva, found a man that was demon-possessed, and they commanded the demon to come out of the person, come out in the name of Jesus, they said, whom Paul preaches. See, they didn't have a relationship with God. They thought there was some magic in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches. Well, the guy who was possessed by demons attacked him and tore off all of their clothes.
So they ran away scared, as they should. And we're no match for the devil. That's why we need to stand in the Lord and in the power of His might. You know, when police officers are answering a call and there's some kind of danger, the first thing they usually do is call for backup. You're in a spiritual battle, and you need to call for backup. You need the Lord's strength in your life. Well, anyway, let's go back to where the devil came from and where demons come from.
I already touched on it. You see, Satan was not created as Satan. The question is sometimes asked, why would God create the devil?
God did not create the devil as we know him. Satan, also known as Lucifer, was once a very high-ranking angel. Now, we only know of one archangel in the Bible, so-called.
That would be Michael. He's the one that shouts at the rapture with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God. Michael is a mega angel. He's a five-star general angel. But then there's Gabriel. Now, I don't know if he's officially an archangel, but he's way up there, too.
Special assignments were given to him. And I think at one time, Lucifer, known as the son of the morning, was also a high-ranking angel. We read about this in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28.
I would encourage you to go back and read those verses. It will tell you a lot about Lucifer before he fell. Well, Lucifer was obsessed with himself. He did not want to worship God. He wanted to be worshiped himself, and so he was brought down because of his pride. In fact, Jesus said, I beheld Satan fall his lightning from heaven. So this exalted, powerful angel lost the position he once had, though he still has access to the presence of God, as we'll see in just a moment. But he no longer has that powerful position.
He wants help. Coming back to what I already said, when Lucifer rebelled against God and became Satan, or the devil, he led one-third of the angels with him. So good news and bad news. The bad news is thousands of angels are now serving the devil as demon powers. But the good news is thousands more angels, thousands of more angels, are serving God, protecting us, guiding us, and doing all the things that they do for us. Here's an example of what the devil is up to right now. In the book of Job, we read that the angels of the Lord came to present themselves before God, and Satan was among them. So the Lord was probably getting a report of what was happening, and he asked the devil, what have you been up to? The devil replies, I've been going back and forth across the earth watching everything that's going on.
How creepy is that? Basically, he's looking for trouble. The Bible describes Satan as a roaring lion walking about seeking whom he may devour. I've had the privilege of seeing lions in the wild. Once on a trip I took to Africa, we went on a little safari outing, and there we saw lions out in their natural element, a pride of lions, magnificent creatures.
But you've seen them hunting their prey and going after what they're gonna have for lunch or dinner and so forth. They're a powerful creature. But believe it or not, they're not the most dangerous animal in Africa. The most dangerous animal in Africa is the zebra. No, not really, not the zebra.
The most dangerous one might surprise you. The most dangerous animal in Africa that kills more people. It's not a lion, it's not a rhino, it's not a leopard, it's not a zebra.
You ready for it? It's a hippo. Yeah, that's right.
The hippopotamus. They're kind of cartoony looking almost, aren't they? I mean, you look at them and that thing couldn't possibly be a threat. You know, you go on the jungle cruise at Disneyland, and their heads come out of the water and their ears kind of turn around.
That's what they're like in real life. But they're predatory animals and they attack. So the devil, oh yeah, he's like a lion, but sometimes he can be like a hippo. Why? Who would ever be afraid of a hippo?
Answer, you should be because they could kill you. I read about a South African farmer who actually had a hippo as a pet. He took the five-month-old calf and raised him as his own little pet hippo, even gave him a name, Humphrey the Hippo. And the farmer was quoted in an article to say, you know, Humphrey's like a son to me. He's just like a human.
People think that you can only have a relationship with a dog or a cat or a domestic animal, but I have a relationship with the most dangerous animal in Africa. End quote. Said the farmer. Famous last words.
I think you can figure out what happened. One day Humphrey the Hippo killed his owner. So what's the takeaway truth from that? Don't keep a hippo as a pet and don't make deals with the devil. Here's point number four. The devil is not alone.
He's not alone. I've already alluded to this. He has a well-organized network of demon powers doing his bidding. What is their objective? It would appear that the purpose of demons are twofold, to hinder the purposes of God and extend the power of Satan. Again, to hinder the purposes of God, to stop God and his people from doing what the Lord wants us to do and then to extend the reign and power and influence of Satan.
Jesus summed up Satan's agenda very simply in John 10-10 when he said the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. All right, so let's read now some verses together out of Revelation chapter 12. We'll look at how the enemy attacks us and how we can overcome him. Revelation 12 starting in verse seven.
We read these words. Then a war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought with the dragon. By the way, the dragon is just another word for Satan. And the dragon and his angels, that would be the devil and his demons, fought, but they did not prevail, nor was there a place found in heaven for them any longer. But the great dragon was cast out. That serpent of old called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world, he is cast to the earth and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say, now salvation and strength and the kingdom of our God and the power of his Christ has come for the accuser of the brethren. You might underline that phrase.
I'll come back to it. The accuser of the brethren who accused them before our God day and night has been cast down, and they overcame him by the blood of the lamb, by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore, verse 12 says, rejoice, O heavens, and you that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the seal, for the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he know he has a short time. Wow, powerful words. We learn a lot about the devil and his agenda from these verses. Here's some takeaway truths.
This is my sixth point in this message. The devil knows his days are numbered. The devil knows his days are numbered.
Again, we read there in verse 12, he knows he has a short time, and he's not happy about it. You might be surprised to know that the devil believes the Bible. He hates it.
He opposes it. He's in rebellion against what it says, but he believes the Bible is true. In fact, he even quotes the Bible to Jesus during the temptation in the wilderness, saying, since you are the Son of God, why don't you do thus and so? Not only does the devil believe the Bible is true, the devil knows Jesus Christ is God and he's powerful. You remember that there would be demon-possessed people that would say to Jesus, don't cast us into the pit before our time. James reminds us the demons believe and tremble.
Oh, they're orthodox in their beliefs, meaning they believe the Bible is true, they believe Jesus Christ is God, and they believe Jesus Christ is coming again. So the devil knows his days are numbered. He knows his time is short.
He's like on a wild rampage, trying to destroy as many lives as possible. So the devil knows his days are numbered. And here in Revelation 12, God gives the order for Michael to take out the trash, if you will. Satan is dumped. And it's interesting because the grammatical construction of this phrase in the Greek that Satan starts this fight. So there's a conflict. And let me clarify something. Sometimes he will think that God and Satan are equal.
Not true. Like, look at some of the attributes of God. God is omnipotent, which means he's all powerful. Satan is powerful, but he has limitations to his power. God is omniscient, which means he knows everything. Satan knows a lot, but not nearly as much as God. God is omnipresent, which means he can be everywhere at the same time. Satan can only be in one place at one time. And so God doesn't do this. He dispatches Michael to take care of Satan because Michael is even more powerful than Lucifer. So he says, you're done. But strangely, the devil starts this fight. It can be translated, Michael and his angels had to fight the dragon. Now, why would the devil start a fight with an angel that's more powerful than him?
I don't know the answer. But I know one thing. Sin makes you stupid, right? Think of all the things that people do. Think of things that you and I have done that made no sense, but we came into a temptation.
Why? Because sin makes us stupid. So the devil chooses off Michael, and now he's dumped. The devil and his angels are not strong enough to defeat God, Michael, and the angels. So let's close with just a few thoughts about how to overcome the devil and the demons. And these truths are found right here in Revelation 12, bringing me to point number seven. The devil does not want you to know he attacks with accusation.
One of his main strategies, accusation. Going back to the story in the book of Job. The angels appear before God. Satan is among them. God asks Lucifer what he's been up to. He says walking around, looking at things going on. And then the Lord says, have you considered My servant Job, a perfect and upright man, one that fears God and shuns evil?
The devil immediately begins to oppose and accuse. Oh, you think Job fears you for nothing? Job fears you and follows you because you've blessed him. You've given him a lot of cool stuff. No wonder he follows you. Let me have a little time with Job.
I'll see what he's made of. And the Lord allowed the devil to bring a series of very horrible events into the life of Job. And Job came through all of this with flying colors, never doubting God, but yet at the same time it shows the strategy of Satan, accusing, attacking. And that's what he does to us.
In Revelation 12, 10, it says the accuser of the brethren, that's us, who accuses them before our God day and night has been cast out. This is how it works in your life and mine. We're just going about our business, maybe reading the Bible, maybe sitting in a church service, maybe praying when suddenly a horrible thought comes to your mind.
Do you know what I'm talking about? A horrible thought, a wicked evil thought. And you're thinking, where did this come from?
Boom, comes to your mind. And then immediately the devil says to you, how could you think such a thing when you're praying? How could you have such a thought when you're sitting in church supposedly worshiping?
You see, he sends a thought and then condemns us for having the thought knock at our door. Look, it's not a sin to be tempted. It's only a sin when I invite temptation in for tea, right? It's been said, you can't stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can stop it from building a nest in your hair.
And in my case, the bird better bring some extra materials because there's no hair to work with. But the point is, you know, you can't stop the temptation from coming, but you don't have to open the door. Listen to this, when temptation comes, here's something you need to remember.
The problem is not in the bait, it's in the bite. It's not a sin if the bait is dangled in front of you. It's only a sin if you bite it. It's only a sin if you go for it. If you reject it, well, the Bible says, blessed or happy is the man that endures temptation, for he will receive the crown of life. So there's a reward for that. So there's nothing wrong with being tempted. It's not a bad thing if some horrible thought comes to your mind. If you reject that thought, the problem is when you take that thought into your mind, entertain it, and let it turn into something else. Here's another way the devil comes. He'll come to you and say, why don't you go ahead and do this sin?
No one will ever know. I know you're gonna get away with this. Listen, you can trust me. He's a serpent, remember? So we stupidly say, doh, okay. And we take the bite.
We go after that thing he offers. And then the devil comes right back and says, you miserable hypocrite. You call yourself a Christian after what you just did? Now he's accusing you before God. How do you overcome him?
How do you respond to this? Look at verse 11, Revelation 12. They overcame him by the blood of the lamb, by the word of their testimony.
And they did not love their lives to the death. Number one, they overcame him by the blood of the lamb. Satan comes to you and says, you're not worthy to approach God. Don't even think about praying.
My response, so true. I'm so not worthy to approach God. But I'm not approaching God on the basis of what I've done for God. I'm approaching God on the basis of what he has done for me. It's very easy for us as Christians to get into a little self-righteous works trip. And by that I mean, we think, oh, because I've done X, Y, and Z, I'm worthy to approach God. Oh, I read my Bible today.
I read five chapters. I can approach God and pray. Oh, I've been a good Christian and I haven't sinned, at least that I know of. I can approach God.
No, no. I approach God on the basis of what Jesus has done for me. My access to God is a result of what happened on the cross. Hebrews 10, 19 says, Dear friends, we can boldly enter heaven's holy place because of the blood of Jesus.
This is the new life, giving way that Christ has opened for us to the sacred curtain by means of his death for us. How did they overcome the devil? By the blood of the lamb.
How do we approach God? Through the blood of the lamb. Listen to this, at the cross of Calvary, where Jesus died, he dealt a decisive blow against Satan and his demon forces. Colossians 2, 14 says, He obliterated the handwritten document of ordinances against us and nailed it to the cross, having stripped off and away from himself the principalities and authorities, and he boldly made an example of them.
The principalities and the authorities are the demon rankings, the demon powers. Christ overcame them, and it's through the blood of the lamb that I can approach God. So listen, maybe as you're watching me right now, you're saying, oh, Greg, I'm so unworthy to approach God.
That's true, you're unworthy. Never were worthy, never will be worthy, but you can come to Jesus right now. Through the blood of the lamb, you say, I don't know what that means. It means you say, Lord, I know I'm a sinner.
I know that I fall short of your glory, but I know that Jesus died on the cross and shed his blood for me, and I'm gonna approach you now with my need. Ephesians 2 13 says, you who are sometimes far off have been made near by the blood of Jesus. Over in 1 John we read, if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.
Listen to this, this is an important one. You will never overcome the devil if there's unconfessed sin in your heart. You will never overcome the devil if there's unconfessed sin in your heart.
Look, when sin remains unconfessed, there is a wall between us and God. Again, if we'll confess our sin, 1 John 1 nine, he's faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. You say, well, what does it mean to confess our sin? Does that mean I have to confess every sin I've ever committed? No, because you probably don't even realize how many sins you've committed, but it means that you say, I acknowledge I've sinned, Lord. The word confess means to agree with. And in this case, you're agreeing with God.
So like if you and I went out for a burger and we both said that was an awesome burger, we agree together. So when I'm confessing my sin, I'm agreeing with God. God says sin is bad.
I agree, Lord, it's bad. I confess it, okay? But if I don't confess my sin, the devil can get a foothold in my life. In Ephesians 4 27, we read these words. Don't give the devil an opportunity to lead you into sin.
Another translation puts it this way. Don't let the devil get a foothold in your life. Okay, how could he get a foothold in our life? Listen, now as the verse continues on, by holding a grudge, by nurturing anger, by harboring resentment, and by cultivating bitterness. So if I cultivate bitterness, I can give the devil a foothold in my life. You say, what does that mean to cultivate bitterness? Cultivate, you know, it's like I'm planning something, I'm watering it, I'm tending to it, I'm letting it grow. You know, bitter people are not happy to keep it to themselves.
They wanna go and talk to others. What do you think about this? I think it's wrong.
Do you think it's wrong? Don't cultivate bitterness or harbor bitterness. Another way is harboring resentment. That person hurt me and I refuse to forgive that person.
Now the reality is maybe that person didn't hurt you, but you think they did. Regardless if they did or they did not, harboring resentment can give a foothold to the devil. Nurturing anger, that verse says, you nurture it. Instead of saying, I don't want this anger, I want to extinguish this fire, you nurture it. You're putting gasoline on the fire of anger. You like to keep it going, you like to be mad. You know, some people are perpetually mad about something.
It's not the same thing. They're just always angry about something. By doing that, you give the devil a foothold in your life. And finally, the verse says, holding a grudge. Holding a grudge, you hurt me, I'm not gonna forget. I'm not gonna forget, I'm gonna remember this forever. This is really problematic in marriage, you know, when you're having a disagreement with your spouse and they say, well, I remember the time you said to me, 25 years ago, wait, what?
25 years ago? Don't harbor a grudge, don't give the devil a foothold in your life. These believers overcame the devil by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony. See, when I'm walking with Jesus Christ, I proclaim the gospel to other people. Listen, in the spiritual battle, the way we move forward, the way we gain ground, the way we take enemy territory is by preaching the gospel. Look at the armor of God spoken of in Ephesians six, the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, the breastplate of righteousness, the sword of the spirit which is the word of God. But then it says, having your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.
So footwear that the Roman soldier would wear, they would be boots with cleats in them to give them a firm-footedness, would enable them to move forward. So what is the footwear I wear to gain ground in the battle of life? It's the gospel. I proclaim the gospel.
I tell people I believe in Jesus Christ. You know, Jesus said, we're the church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against us. We quote that often. The gates of hell will not prevail against us. Someone might ask, what does that even mean?
I'm not sure, but I like it. Let me tell you what it means contextually. Back in the days of battle in the first century, when you would go to an enemy fortress, there would be a door. And that would be the door in the fortress or the door in the castle or whatever it would be. You had to break that door down.
You've seen it in so many movies. They have the battering ram. Then they're pouring the heart oil on the people coming in right. And then they set the door on fire and they break through. So the idea of saying the gates of hell will not prevail against us is saying, when we're in spiritual battle, gaining ground by preaching the gospel, the devil will not be able to stop us, see? So they overcame him by the blood of the lamb. But the word of their testimony, they were gaining ground through proclaiming the gospel. And then finally, they loved not their lives to the death.
What does that mean? It means that these folks realize that their lives belong to God. They realize that their times were in his hands and that God was in control. We can overcome the devil, why?
Because greater is he that is in us, Jesus says, than he that is in the world. Let me close with an illustration from the great writer C.S. Lewis. Many people know Lewis for the Chronicles of Narnia and other books that he wrote. But Lewis was in many ways a Christian apologist, which means he was a defender of the faith, but he was such a literary giant.
A great intellect, but at the same time, he had a way of bringing these great ideas to people in a way that were understandable so even a child could take hold of them. So one of Lewis' books was called The Screwtape Letters. And they're imaginary conversations between the devil and his demons and their strategies. So Lewis writes in The Screwtape Letters, and I quote, there is a legend about Satan and his imps planning their strategy for attacking the world that's hearing the message of salvation.
One of the demons says, I've got the plan, master, speaking to the devil. When I get on earth and take charge of people's thinking, I'll tell them there's no heaven, the devil responds. They will never believe that. The book of truth is full of messages about the hope of heaven through sins forgiven. They won't believe it.
They know there's a glory yet future. On the other side of the room, another demon says, I've got the plan. I'll tell them there's no hell, no good. He says, Jesus, while he was on earth, talked more of hell than he spoke of heaven. They know in their hearts that the wrong will have to be taken care of in some way.
Then Lewis writes, a brilliant little imp in the back stood up and said, I know the answer. I'll tell them there's no hurry. And he's the one Satan chose. No hurry. Oh yeah, the devil comes and says, there's no heaven, there's no hell.
He lies to us all the time, but here's the one that works more effectively. There's no hurry. Oh, you don't need to get right with God today. You can put this off for a week, for a month, for a year, for a decade, for the last part of your life. The devil whispers in your ear tomorrow, but the Holy Spirit says today.
Today is the day of salvation. Listen to this. You can enter into a relationship with God and Christ can come and take residence in your heart so you'll never be alone again. Listen, the devil's real. And if you're not a Christian, you don't have any power to resist the devil.
He can manipulate you, he can control you, he can even possess you. But if Christ is living inside of you, you're under his divine protection. You need Jesus in your life. Yes, the angels of the Lord have been working probably in your life, getting you to hear this message that I'm sharing with you right now. The answer is you need Jesus Christ who died on that cross for your sin and for mine and paid the price for every wrong you have ever done. Let me tell you one more thing about angels before I close. The Bible says that there's joy in the presence of the angels in heaven over one sinner that comes to repentance. So when one person believes in Jesus, a sinner coming to repentance, repentance means realizing I've sinned and turning from that sin and turning toward God. There's a party in heaven.
So you wanna help contribute to the heavenly party and the angelic celebration. Why don't you believe in Jesus right now? Maybe I'm talking to somebody that's been under the control of a vice for a long time. Maybe it's alcohol. Maybe it's drugs.
Maybe it's something else. You've tried to change your life, but you've been unable to. You're not gonna save yourself any more than a person sinking in quicksand could pull themself out. You need help from someone else and that someone is God. You need to say, God, I've come to the end of my rope.
I'm calling out to you right now. Maybe I'm talking to somebody that just has been even more aware of the emptiness in their life. You've chased after all the things this world offers, thinking they'll make you happy and you're just more miserable and sad. In fact, you've even thought, is my life even worth living?
Yes, it's worth living. Let me come back to a statement I made earlier, a quote from Jesus where he says, the thief, speaking of the devil, comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. Then Christ, in contrast, says, but I have come that you might have life and that more abundantly.
Here's your choice. The devil offers death, Jesus offers life. The devil offers misery, Jesus offers fulfillment. The devil, in effect, offers hell, and Jesus offers heaven.
Which one do you want? God loves you. He has a plan for your life. But only you can call out to the Lord and be saved. Only you can ask Jesus Christ to come into your life, to forgive you of your sin.
And here's what I'm gonna do as we close now. I'm gonna just pray a simple prayer. Sometimes we call it the sinner's prayer. It's not an official prayer found on the Bible. It's just a prayer based on biblical principles that a person can pray where they are saying to God, I need you, I want your forgiveness, I want Jesus in my life. I prayed this prayer a long time ago and Christ came into my life and he can come into your life as well. So listen, if you want your sin forgiven, if you wanna know that when you die you will go to heaven, if you wanna fill that big hole in your life, if you want Jesus Christ to be your Savior, Lord and friend, pray this prayer with me right now. You can pray it out loud if you like. You can pray it in the quietness of your heart if you choose but pray this prayer if you would please. Pray these words. Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner but I know that you're the Savior who died on the cross for my sin and rose again from the dead. Jesus, I choose to follow you from this moment forward. Thank you for hearing this prayer and I ask it in Jesus' name, amen. Hey everybody, thanks for listening to this podcast. To learn more about Harvest Ministries, follow this show and consider supporting it. Just go to harvest.org and to find out how to know God personally, go to harvest.org and click on Know God.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-08 22:25:30 / 2023-04-08 22:45:56 / 20