Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Thursday, May 18th. Satan is opposed to everything that is godly, but through Christ, believers have everything we need for victory. In today's podcast, we take a close look at our enemy.
Well, it's interesting how in the military men study very, very thoroughly their opposing enemy. Well, you and I have an opposing enemy. And he opposes us at every turn in our life. Everywhere we turn, he is there with his demonic powers in some fashion, in some way to cause us to falter and to fall, to step out of God's will and to miss His plan for our life. But isn't it interesting that we can just sort of go through life and somehow never think to realize that it's very important that we understand how the enemy thinks. We have someone who is opposing us, who is against us.
It's very clear in the Scriptures how he thinks. In fact, you and I have a manual called the Bible that gives us several thousands of years of how this opposing general, how this satanic power is going to act, how he responds, how he works in the lives of others, how he has failed and how he has succeeded so often. What is the believer's enemy? And oftentimes the way we believers act and the way Christians act, you would think that our enemy is each other. And yet the truth is the real enemy is none other than Satan himself. But if you'll notice in this passage, it isn't just Satan, because the truth is there's a whole confederacy of opposition. Satan being, of course, the ringleader and the general. But notice what it says. He says, stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
But then he doesn't stop. He says, for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against what? Not just Satan, but rulers, powers, world forces of this darkness against spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. There's a whole host of enemies. And it seems, according to the Scripture, though some things are not as clear as we'd like for them to be, that not only do we have an opposing force here, but there is a whole recognized kingdom of these forces. Of course, Satan being the primary one. Jesus recognized that Satan had a kingdom, that there was more than one enemy here.
There's a whole confederacy of enemies. There is Satan. Then there's all the fallen angels who fell when Satan fell, all the demonic spirits. So he calls them these spiritual forces. Now, the question is, what is it that he's pursuing in the unbeliever's life? Here's what he's up to in the unbeliever's life. For example, first of all, he wants to blind them to the truth. Second Corinthians chapter four, he talks about, listen, I want you to turn to several verses here. You know this from by heart, but I want you to turn anyway if you will. There's something about seeing it with your own eyes, looking at it and reading it.
Listen to what he says. Verse three of chapter four, and even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. He says, if they can't understand it, they can't see it, who is it?
Those who are perishing. In whose case, the God of this world, this world system, has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they may not see the light of the glory of the gospel, the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. But listen, Satan's desire for the unbeliever, of course, is blinding to the truth.
Satan's work in the unbeliever also true in the believer, and that is to steal the Word. And I've learned long time ago, if I wake up in the middle of the night and the Lord lays something on my heart, if I don't write it down, you can bet your life Satan will do his very dead level best to cause me to forget that. When God says something to you, write it down. If you hear something that's worth applying to your life, write it down. I'll tell you why. Satan will steal God's Word out of your heart.
There it is in black and white. Why do you think Jesus gave this parable? He gave this parable to warn us of how Satan operates. Not only does he blind the minds of people to the truth, but he also snatches the Word.
He steals the Word. Satan opposes the gospel. But I want you to look also thinking in terms of this, that he will do everything in his power to keep someone from believing. So what is he doing?
He's blinding people's eyes, snatching the Word from them. And he works through the unbeliever to oppose the preaching and the teaching of the Word of God. But there are many other things he does in the life of the unbeliever. What I want to talk about for a moment is what does he do in the life of the believer? What's Satan's activity in your life and my life?
And we'll talk about his tactics later, but what does he do? Well, he tempts us to sin, for example. He tempts us to sin.
That's one thing he does. Every single child of God needs to develop a spirit of discernment. That is, that we just don't take things on face value.
We don't jump just because something looks good. We look at it from a spiritual point of view. We look at it from God's viewpoint. Listen, everything Satan tempts you and me with, he, listen, he's not going to tempt us with something that is absolutely horrible, something that is very painful. He's going to tempt us with things that look good, smell good, feel good. I mean, you name it, it looks like the right thing.
He always camouflages it that way. And so what we have to do is have enough discerning spirit to say, you know, that sounds good, but the question is does it match up with who I am? Second, does it match up with the Word of God? Thirdly, is it a violation of any principle of God's Word? And so oftentimes people get in financial trouble.
They get in all kinds of difficulty and hardship. Why? Because they have no spiritual discernment. It just looks good.
They trust somebody else and they go on with it. We have to have a discerning spirit. Why? Because Satan, he is laying one snare after the other to trip us up in some fashion to keep us from being the children of God he wants us to be and to be used of Him. Likewise, he's going to do everything he can to stunt our spiritual growth and to keep us from growing. So what happens?
How does he do that? He says, well, you know what, now look, you don't have to read the Bible every night. I mean, after all, to be spiritual you don't have to read the Bible every night. You can skip tonight. It's not going to hurt you. Well, tomorrow night you're real sleeping. You've been tired.
You've been working hard. And what does Satan do? Well, look, Satan's not going to ever tell you you don't have to read the Bible again. He knows better than that. So he says, well, look, just don't worry about it tonight. Besides that, just read one of the Psalms. Read something you've read before.
And so what happens? He's going to do everything in his power to keep you and me busy doing good things to keep us out of the Word and keep us off our knees. And I can tell you as a pastor, I know this is one of his snares, and I could stand here and name you a whole bunch of things that I could do in any given week that are all good, all scriptural, are all part of being a pastor and jam a week so full, absolutely so full, no time to pray, no time to read the Bible.
And you know what, I could defend every one of them. The only problem is, it's not right. Listen, Satan is not going to give you a bunch of bad things to do. He's going to give you enough good things to do, listen, so that you will feel like, well, you know, whew, I just didn't have time. Well, God, you know I just didn't have time. Yes, we do. Every single one of us has time to read the Word of God. Every single one of us has time to talk to God. Every single one of us has time to pray.
What does he do? He does everything in his power to keep us off our knees. We're talking about a warfare that's going on to destroy everything that is godly and people who know the Word should be in the Word, listen, in the church serving Almighty God with their focus on Almighty God and listen, their hands to the plow doing the work of God. That's the plan of God. Well, I think also one of the things he does and the many things he does, he certainly attacks the Bible. Satan attacks the Bible.
He'll do everything in his power. Somebody says, well, you know, and every once in a while somebody says, what about all those mistakes? I'd love for somebody to say that to me. So I just say, just point them out to me.
Can't wait to hear them. Let me ask you something. If God is sovereign, if God is absolutely sovereign, do you think it's a big problem for him to have kept this for us all these years?
No. Now, there are some things I don't always understand as clearly as I'd like, but you know what? I've often thought about that and thought about, well, God, why, why didn't you make it so clear I could just read it, read it, read it, get it, get it, get it. You know why?
I'll tell you why. Because we can't understand it so simply as what does what. It keeps driving us back and driving us back and driving us back and getting our mind into it and searching and seeking.
And what's happening? We're discovering what God's like. If he'd have made it so simple that two or three readings or four or five readings would do it, that's what we would do. That'd be the end of it. That'd be the end of it. But there's enough mystery. There's enough mystique. There's enough things we don't understand.
There are enough questions. There are enough tremendous awesome principles and ideas in the Scripture that we have to keep going back. And the amazing thing is I can come to one passage of Scripture and I can translate it into Greek. I can do everything and come back six months later and think, I never saw that before.
Why? We're talking about the infinite mind of God on a piece of paper. That's what we're talking about. And somebody says, well, but how could the Bible be pure after all these years?
Let me ask you a question. How could God be pure all these years? But we're talking about men who've copied this. Can't God govern? Listen, if God has everything in space as he does, everything so balanced out so beautifully, if he is in absolute control of everything, why can't he not also preserve for us the Word of God down through these years because it's the handbook for battle, it's the instruction book for living.
God Almighty who is absolutely holy can keep it pure. That's the kind of God he is. So naturally Satan is going to attack that.
Well, what is his future? There are a lot of other things we could say about that. But let me just say something here about this whole idea of the demon idea. Now we talked about Satan, how he operates. What about this whole idea of demon possession?
Let me say this. When it comes to a believer, you just eliminate this from your category. Demon possession does not exist in the life of a believer. It does not.
Absolutely cannot. Who's living on the inside of us? The Spirit of the living God. The Holy Spirit is on the inside of every single believer. We have a new spirit and we are God's created beings and dwelt with the Holy Spirit.
He that is within you is greater than he that's in the world. No believer can be possessed by the devil. Just scratch that one from your vocabulary.
No such thing. Now, can a believer be harassed? Can we be intimidated? Can a believer who tampers and who is drawn into cultish kind of things, can a person get themselves in so much trouble that demonic powers can have an influence in their life?
Absolutely. This is why you don't mess around with your cult. Somebody says, I'm going to get my fortune told. Then you let God tell it. He's the only one who knows it. He's the only one who knows it.
God and God alone knows our future. And so, yes, a believer, if a believer begins to tamper with that kind of stuff, demonic forces can be, listen, can begin to bear tremendous influence in that person's life. Now, I've heard people say, well, he has a demon of lying. No, he just lied. Or he has a demon of stealing.
No, he just stole. Don't blame it on demons. Now, there's no question in my mind that there are demon forces that can affect a person's life and cause them to cause or do all kind of things if they surrender to it. And this is why I say to you, to go to any kind of counseling, you be absolutely deadly sure that you are listening to someone who is godly, you're listening to someone who is focused on the Word of God, lest they give you evil, vile, wicked, ungodly, unscriptural counsel. You keep listening to that.
You keep listening to that. Satan will take advantage of that. And he will use ungodly counsel and begin to tamper with your life and head you in the wrong direction. And you'll find yourself deep and mired up into sin and disobedience and rebellion toward God. It isn't that you've become demon-possessed. You tampered with something that demons, listen, they control and they like and they will harass you. They will intimidate you.
They will have a tremendous effect upon your life. Now, there'll be people who disagree with that, and I understand that. I do not believe there's a single verse anywhere in the Bible that says a child of God can be possessed by a devil or be possessed by some demonic power. Not possessed, intimidated by, yes, have a tremendous effect upon, yes.
Mess up their lives, yes. But possess them, no, because possession says, listen, if you mean by possession that that demon has such absolute control that that person who is a believer does not have the will to do what's right, that won't even be consistent with who God is. The power that is within us is greater than the power that's in the world. God isn't going to allow some power on the inside of us greater than the power of the Holy Spirit because there isn't any power that exists. Now, as I say, there are people who would disagree with that, and I understand that.
But I cannot even conceive of the idea that any person who is a believer can be so possessed by any force that they no longer have the right or the privilege to do what is right. Now I want to conclude by just mentioning one other thing here. When I think about our relationship to Satan and how we're to respond, I think there are four verses of Scripture that I give you. And the first one is in 1 Peter chapter 5. You'll recall what Peter said here as he was talking about Satan, our adversary.
Here's what he said. He said in verse 8 chapter 5, Be of sober spirit, be serious-minded, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. We need a discerning spirit. So listen, we are to be alert to Satan because he is always there to lay a snare if possible. So my first responsibility when it comes to my relationship to him is to be alert, for example, to his very presence. The second thing is Ephesians chapter 4 verse 27, a very important passage here.
Look at this. He says in our being sensitive to what's going on, verse 27 says, Do not give the devil an opportunity. Don't give him an opportunity. Be alert.
Don't give him an opportunity. Now what does he mean by that? It simply means this, for example, let's say that when you grew up, your parents, they drank and so they always had to be in the refrigerator.
And I'm sorry to say that oftentimes that can be true of even believers. And so that's what you saw. But you knew better and so you didn't tamper with that. You didn't become a part of that. So now your friends invite you out to a party and there's everybody's going to be drinking and carousing and carrying on.
Now you possibly can go and not drink. But you know what he says? He says don't even give him an opportunity. There's some places you don't go. There's just some things you don't do. There's some things you don't look at.
There's some things you don't let your mind think about. Don't even give him an opportunity. Listen, when we head in a direction that we know is not right, you know what we're saying? Well, here's what we're setting ourselves up. He's sitting out there waiting for us. We're giving him an opportunity to snare us. He says, first of all, be very alert. Secondly, he says, he says don't give him an opportunity.
Don't even allow him the privilege. Then of course he says in the sixth chapter, he says, listen, we're to wake up in the morning and dress up. We're to dress up, listen, and we dress up in the clothes that fit whatever we're going to do for the day. But there's one, the one suit we should put on every day and that's the armor of God. And then in James chapter four, look at that if you will, James chapter four, why don't you just notice this verse. He says to him, these two things go together.
That's the reason I want you to look at them. He says in chapter four, verse seven, here's what I'm to do. I'm to be alert, yes. Don't give him any place, yes.
Dress up in the army, yes. But verse seven says, submit therefore to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you, draw near to God and he will draw near to you, cleanse your hands you sinners and purify your hearts you devil-minded. But he says we're to resist him. And that's what we've talked about in the first message in this series and that is standing firm, standing against.
Resisting him. So as a believer, what is my relationship to him? Well, I'm starting to be drawing my strength from my Lord. I am to be standing firm, dressed in the armor.
I am to be alert to Satan. I am not to give him any place and I am to resist him. And so that is our position, that is our relationship to him. Now, if you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you say, well, then what's my relationship to the devil?
It's real simple. He's got you exactly where he wants you. He will tell you that you don't need God. Or he will tell you if you're going through some difficult time in your life, well, God can't help you. You can't pray. He's not going to answer your prayer. Well, he may not answer your prayers about other things, but here's one prayer he will answer.
Because the Bible says it, whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Friend, Almighty God will save you from your sin. The devil will tell you he can't, he's not going to forgive you for what you've done. Look what you've done.
You know what? There's not anything God will not forgive. God will forgive you of your sin no matter what. That's what the cross is all about. The cross is all about Jesus laying down his life at Calvary so that no matter what you've done, no matter where you've been, it's your unbelief.
That's the thing that's made you lost. When you say to him, Father, forgive me of my sins. God, forgive me of my sins. I'm placing my trust in Jesus. I do accept his death at Calvary as payment of my sin.
The moment you by faith receive him as your personal Savior, you become a child of God, sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise. Or it may be that you've been tampering with something. You read your horoscope. Forget it. Don't do it anymore. Or you've been thinking about asking someone to tell you a fortune. You've already got a fortune. God knows what it is.
He'll tell you in due season. Or it may be that you have some area of your life and you've been giving the devil. You've just been giving him one opportunity after the other. You see, it'd be absolutely foolish for a man who has a problem with gambling to take his vacation in Las Vegas. Now, I'm not knocking Las Vegas.
I'm sure it's a nice place. But a man who has that kind of a problem hasn't gotten a business going there. A person who has a problem with drinking shouldn't be going to a nightclub, shouldn't go there anyway. But I'm saying if he has a problem with drinking, then don't go sit down at the bar waiting for your table in the restaurant.
There are all kinds of opportunities you can give him. Don't do it. Now, tomorrow morning when you get up, here's what you do. You put it on. You just read that sixth chapter of Ephesians about the armor of God.
Put it on. Remember that you're going to stand, that you, listen, you're going to draw your strength from God. You're going to stand firm against Him. You're going to resist Him. You're going to be alert to Him. You're going to be in the Word of God. You're going to be on your face before God because you and I live in a world that's at war with Almighty God. And so we want to walk obediently before Him, trusting Him. And you know what? In spite of everything He throws at us, I can't wait to get to that passage, the latter part of that passage about how we'd adjust because everything He throws at us, you know what? If we keep the shield of faith up, nothing He throws at us is going to work.
Not one thing. Thank you for listening to Part 2 of The Enemy, A Close Look. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or InTouch Ministries, stop by InTouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of InTouch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
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