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January 29, 2021 7:00 am
The Bible describes an enemy that opposes God's plan and plots against God's people. When you think of that enemy. What comes to mind. You imagine a little red cartoon devil carrying a pitchfork on this broadcast of the Bible study our Dr. James Boyce will offer us a biblical perspective on this topic as he teaches about both the reality and the limitations of Satan's power.
Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly. There is nothing Satan hates more than a Christian who loves God and desires to do his will. And like Joe, we must continue to love and seek God even in the face of temptation and hardship. Let's listen and learn together about how to resist the schemes of the devil. Dr. M. Scott Peck believes in the devil. The devil necessarily, but certainly and highly concentrated personal force of evil that can be extremely destructive. What convinced them was his participation into exorcisms that he describes in detail in a recent best-selling book entitled people of the lie. Dr. Peck is a psychiatrist. The graduated from Harvard University with high honors in 1958. From there he went to Case Western Reserve University school of medicine, where he graduated in 1963 he went into the Army. He served as a consultant in psychiatry and neurology to the Surgeon General of the United States and then since that time he has been practicing psychiatry in his home town in Connecticut is written to best-selling books.
The first is called the road less traveled and sold over 1,000,000 1/2 copies and now he has written the second book entitled people of the lie which is well on its way to matching the first of those two volumes. Dr. Peck is no lightweight as that kind of biographical detail indicates yet he believes in the devil as I said is interesting that when wrote his first book he didn't really believe in the devil but by the time he wrote the second he did and it's an interesting fact. Also, and I think perhaps connected that between the writing of the first of the second books, Dr. Peck not only came to believe in a personal concentration of evil that this extremely destructive but he also became a Christian I was an interesting development. Not many years ago for a medical person. Certainly for a psychiatrist to openly admit belief in the devil.
While that would be a sure ticket to career disaster.
Nobody would take a psychiatrist seriously believes in the devil. And yet, that seems to be changing. It's true that the vast majority of psychiatrist and I must also say the majority of ministers not believe in a personal devil. Yet, that seems to be changing, and Dr. Peck represents it from a medical point of view, we might ask the question why is this particular Outlook changing. Dr. Peck was answering that he would say. I am sure that it is the inescapable reality of evil evil that goes beyond what psychiatry would and the pastor called mirror warping of what would otherwise be good instincts but is actually something evil in itself that needs to be resisted and not merely transformed out anybody who is familiar with the Bible that is not the least bit surprising because no matter where you dip into the Bible whether you begin back in the book of Genesis the very beginning. Where were told of the fall of Adam and Eve or dip into the profits read the Gospels and the epistles or go to the end of the Bible to the book of Revelation you find in a variety of settings and in a variety of books by many different authors.
The existence and activity of the devil presupposed is what Paul is doing in the sixth chapter of Ephesians is talking about the great struggle we have as Christians to live as Christians in the world, but he saying that our struggle is merely against evil people, but will certainly we have to struggle many times on that level.
But he says against the real forces of evil spiritual evil demonic evil that stands behind the evil we see saying that if were to be effective in our struggle. We have to begin to recognize that there is such a thing as evil spiritual forces and draw upon the strength of armor of God in order to resist, and over come them now as Paul begins to talk about the devil in this passage uses a number of significant things about them in the first thing he says is that he is a great and powerful enemy. This is implied in the words that he uses to describe the doubles powers he calls them rulers and authorities powers and spiritual forces of evil and by the fact that he encourages us to resist them and stand against this is not something as Paul writes about our spiritual warfare to be taken lightly when we talk about the devil and the demonic forces that operate with them and when we talk about how powerful they are weak to be careful not to over state our case not to exaggerate, because although the devil is a great and powerful enemy.
He is not to be considered by us or by anyone else as what we would think of as more or less as the spiritual equivalent of God. God good to double evil but nevertheless both in roughly the same level people do think that way even Christian people because the devil is a spiritual being, while escrow that the devil is a spiritual counterpart to the strong unfallen angels. Angels are Gabriel and Michael. It is not true that the devil is a spiritual counterpart to God. God is God. Every other being in the universe is a created being created by God and therefore operates on an entirely different level. This is something it's worth spelling out we talk about the characteristics of God. One thing we say about God is a God's omnipotence means God to do anything. This is not true of the devil. And it certainly not rule us. This is not the devil's universe is not our universe is God's universe, God runs it is God wants to run it is rules determine what happens with things that happen in this universe happen either by God's direct influence or by his permission. So when we talk about the devil and say that is powerful. That is not the same thing as saying that he is all-powerful, because only God is all-powerful and the devil can only do what God permits.
We also talk about God as being omnipresent. David did this when in the 139 Psalm he said. Where can I flee from your presence. If I go up in the heaven you're there. I make my bed and she all your there by flee to the uttermost parts of this even there your right hand shall lead me in your presence. Follow me. There's no escaping God because God's everywhere that is not true of the devil knows a finite being. You see, that means that the devil must be in one place at one time.
And if he's there tempting somebody's dumping one person in one place at one time is not empty. Everybody wants it true that he can extend his influence through the demons that fell with him and he does, but he's not everywhere.
What this probably means is that in our experience, the devil himself, that is Satan is probably never tempted you directly or anybody you know. Oh, there is such a thing as demonic possession certainly demonic influence.
The devil is not omnipresent as God is met again when we speak of the character of God, we speak of God being omniscient means God knows everything is again is not true of the devil.
He knows a lot more than we do is been around a long time. He's undoubtedly increased his wisdom by experience. He is undoubtedly a shrewd guesser can figure out that if you continue along the path you're going certain things are going to happen but he doesn't know everything about all he doesn't know the future is no more certainty about what's going to happen in the future than we do and we certainly have no assurance there at all, except for what is told us in the pages of the word of God. So when we begin to talk about our enemy the devil the first thing we must say is that he is not the equivalent of God.
He is not omnipresent is not omnipotent and is not omniscient on the same time. To say that is not to say there is nothing you still a very great and very powerful flow compared to God, the devil is just a creature compared ourselves.
The devil is immensely strong, terrifying never going to stand against them. It is going to have to be by the power and help of God Almighty alone.
That's the first thing Paul says cycling Paul says about the devil is that he is a wicked and destructive enemy not only powerful but evil. This is also involved in the text says that we struggle against the powers of this dark world he means spiritual darkness, and he says, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. This matter of evil is what got Dr. Scott Peck interested in the devil in the first place and got them studying exorcisms tells about its hidden book I mentioned the people of the lie had to do chiefly with a prolonged series of counseling sessions that he had with a woman that he calls Charlene she came to him to the four times a week for a period of three years 421 sessions to be exact found as he worked with her that he made no progress at all. She never got better and the reason is he came to see it is that she didn't want to only didn't she want to. She was actually enjoying not improving. And as he came to see toying with him in the matter of her psychiatry peers.
The way he describes it.
Charlene's desire to make a conquest of me to toy with me to utterly control our relationship knew no bounds seem to be a desire for power purely for its own sake. She did not want power in order to improve society to care for a family to make herself a more effective person or in any way to accomplish anything creative.
Her thirst for power was on subordinated anything higher than herself and it was toward the end of this prolonged period of counseling sessions with this woman. He calls Charlene the doctor.
Peck began to study exorcisms see this is what Paul is saying he saying it's not merely a matter of our struggling against forces which are somehow misdirected, which if you could turn them around. You'd find everything to be all right.
He said it is rather that we are struggling against evil which is evil, loves evil and practices evil for its own sake John Stott in his study of the passage puts it this way saying that if we are to overcome these powers, we must do this. Bear in mind that they have no moral principles no code of honor, no higher feelings. They recognize no Geneva Convention to restrict or partially civilize the weapons of their warfare. They are utterly unscrupulous and ruthless in the pursuit of their malicious designs. I'm afraid that most of us when we think of the Christian warfare think in somewhat romantic terms. We think of a crusade in which the enemy is well.
Perhaps also on a crusade.
So we meet his soldiers of fortune, are citizens of honor.
This is not true in the spiritual warfare we are up against one who is not only evil but utterly evil, utterly unscrupulous and utterly ruthless in his attempt to bring about our defeat selects the second thing we face a great and powerful enemy, and we face one who is wicked and destructive thing Paul says here is that we face a sly and crafty enemy wordy uses verse 11 is schemes the devil he says has schemes and the King James version of the Bible and the revised standard versions that word is rendered. While this other passages speak of the devil's vices were told in the third chapter of Genesis that the devil was subtle above all the animals of the field and we see how he was subtle in bringing about the fall of Eve Paul says is another place were not ignorant of his devices. What he means by that is that although the devil is crafty where to know how he's crafty in order that we might stand against them. I think here of that book I mentioned last week by William Bernal called the Christian in complete Armour. Far as I know, it's the most extensive treatment of these 11 verses of Ephesians 6, it is ever been written in any language is 1200 pages, double column addition in which this great Puritan Divine writing in the late 1600s ghosts into these verses, phrase by phrase idea by idea has a section in which he talks about the subtlety her craftiness of our great enemy the devil and he says that he is crafty and when he comes the tempests and also in how we suggest a number of the times, the devil, soar one of his demons, swore his influence comes to try and drag us down first of these times is when were newly converted seem strange that should be the case but we know that it's true. When we first come to faith in Jesus Christ. It seems as if the burden of our past is rollaway, all things of genuinely become new before we were dead in trespasses and sins now are made alive before we were creatures of the darkness that we've seen the light before we were confused. Now things are beginning to fall into place before we were discouraged downtrodden that were filled with joy in jubilation and it's in a time like that. The devil comes and catches us offguard before just as when he tempted Eve before we are confirmed in any long-standing practice or path of obedience and then when we fall is there in our shoulder to say well I see you fell in the sin. I see by your sin, you must not be a Christian at all. That was just a temporary phase you went through you send your no Christian, no sense trying to go back now, you might as well come along and follow me is one time which the devil comes the devil also comes and were afflicted as when, where, cast down were discouraged in the first case he comes when our spirits are high in the second case he comes when we are down in the valley of despair. This was the way in which he came to Job were told in the early chapters of that book that God permitted Satan to touch Job to demonstrate before all of the Angels, the unfallen and the fallen angels. The Job God's servant serve them and love them because of who God was and not because of the things he gave Job Satan said all you take care of them.
That's why he served you. God said, I give you permission to take all those things away and you're going to find that he still loves me. And so Satan did that, he took away his possessions. His family eventually took away his health and when Job was utterly afflicted when he was experiencing greater degree of suffering than perhaps any of us have ever known. The devil was right there. This time speaking through the corrupt advice of his friends and even the counsel of his wife to say Job you're not a good man.
You've done something horrible.
This is a moral universe.
Bad things don't happen to good people in the moral universe of bad things are happening to you. Well, you've done something bad. Whether you recognize it or not, his wife, who was even more outspoken than these counselors were used by Satan said to him, are you still holding to your integrity. Why don't you just curse God and die. That's what the devil says the devil says stocks are you suffering of your heart must mean God doesn't care for you have God's a good God, he really loved you like you fought God would let you go through that God letting you go through that must mean that is not really a good God. He's not really a good God, then why are you serving him.
It doesn't matter curse God forgot that person first witness and go on and do whatever it is you want to do the will comes to us in affliction. He also comes to us after some notable success. I think here of Peter. Peter was always saying foolish things and I guess somewhere down underneath the bravado he was sensitive enough to know how foolish he was an occasion. But Jesus said to the disciples once who do you say I am an Peter inspired as Jesus said he was by the Holy Spirit, replied, you are the Christ, the son of the living God. Jesus was pleased by that need. He turned to Peter and he said blessed are you, Peter. Because flesh and blood hasn't revealed this to you that if you can get that from man, but rather my father who is in heaven. And then he went on to talk about what it meant that he was the Christ, the son of the living God, how he was going to die on the cross for our salvation, how he is going to be raised again from the dead. But Peter didn't hear any of that really he was riding so high on Christ complement that when Jesus said I'm going to die. Peter thought, well, now that really is a foolish thing at the dumbest thing ever heard of.
And that's not what the Christ should do. I know what the Christ should do and so he said, far be it from you, Lord, that any such thing should happen and Christ turned on and suddenly and rebuked him the stinging words get behind me Satan you are not speaking the things of God but the things of man, see Peter was riding high in the way of this great spiritual insight but instantly Satan was at work in his life to bring them down and he became actually a stumbling block. He tried to be a stumbling block even to the Lord fourth time, the devil often comes to us as when were idle as when we're just doing nothing worthwhile is an old proverb that says idle hands of the devil spans there's another one that says the devil hides a man with nothing to do will soon find something for them to do, and both of those are true, it's when we are not working that we quite often get into trouble. That was the case with King David. David was a very godly man and he certainly serve God and was close to God through most of his life. The time came in his life is about 50 years old at the time as I add up the years when in the spring time as it says the story when kings went forth to war. David said well you know I'm I'm well in the middle-aged now I should be easing up a little bit Joab's. The general is very competent and he's my friend. I can trust him. Joab you take the troops go out to battle David were told state in Jerusalem and it was while he was there idle in Jerusalem when he should've been leading the troops, but he saw Bathsheba bathing on the roof of a nearby building and he brought her over to the palace and entered upon the worst.
Of his life. I don't misuse it is a time that the devil uses the devil also comes to us when were isolated from others who share the faith when were in the company of Christian brothers and sisters were in the company of those who can encourage us and help us and rebuke us and get us on the right track when we need that.
But when we are off by ourselves.
Well, it's quite different over others. I guess the devil says what is a good time like I can exert my influence elsewhere when he catches us alone. The devil says now here we are. When around those hypocrites that are always telling you what you can't do now and how we can do what we want and if we do it. Nobody is going to know.
Besides, if you do, it is not going to hurt anybody. So God gave us all these if you write it out you put brackets at that point evil] things to enjoy. So the devil says enjoy catches us off guard when we are cut off from Christian Fellowship is also true that he comes often when we're dying. I believe that the Lord himself is especially close to us in the times of our deaths, but the devil is there too often we in Vernal says at the hour of death when the saint is down and prostrated in his bodily strength. Now this coward falls upon them, as they say the natural serpent is never seen. It is length still binding. So this mystical serpents never strains his wit and wiles more than when his time is short.
Saint is stepping into eternity and he treads upon his heel, which if he cannot trip up so as to hinder his arrival in heaven at least he bruises them so they may go there with more pain. Yet as I say Lord is close to his saints in the hour of their death, and those learn to rely upon them in life find it to be true in the final hour also.
I talked about Satan's craftiness in when he tempts us when we say just briefly that he is also crafty and how we comes told in first Peter 5H said he sometimes comes as a roaring lion, I don't think that passage means that the devil is always seen as a roaring lion, but that in whatever disguise uses, he nevertheless is beneath the disguise. A roaring lion, and yet he is sometimes in the guise of a lion.
When he comes.
Sometimes he just tries to terrify as he roars as a lion and we find ourselves trembling in his presence. We can't believe people can be so strong so forceful so destructive or so terrifying sometimes comes like that at times comes as a friend way came he didn't come to terrify, he became as a friend. He said look I want the best for you.
Just as I know you want the best for your husband. I'm here to tell you how you can become like God, knowing good and evil.
See that's really all you have to do is taste that treated taste of that tree.
Your eyes are going to be open and you'll know and experience things that you never knew before came as a friend. Steve sometimes were told. The devil also comes as an angel of light. I find it interesting that the advent of liberalism in the Western world originally went by the name of the Enlightenment. That's the way Satan calms us an angel of Enlightenment's messenger of Enlightenment. He says you know nobody believes those old myths and tales defined in the Bible anymore. They were all right for people in an earlier generation.
An earlier age when people were superstitious and somehow got kicks out of believing such things, but we know better than that today you can take that stuff literally were too smart for that. Now I think it would be fair to say that the place at which we hear this most strongly today is from the pulpits must perhaps we hear it even more strongly in the seminaries and perhaps in the colleges.
Martin Luther said on one occasion when you look for the devil. Don't forget to look in the pulpit and he was a very wise man you say when you find the devil saying to you.
You don't have to believe that anymore. You're too smart for that. That's the time to draw close to Jesus Christ and say Lord Jesus Christ keep me protect me, keep me close to this book.
Give me grace to trust it and provide that true enlightenment which word of God always brings on the bottom line of it is simple and it's the same conclusion that I had as we came to the end of our last study. It's this you and I cannot resist this enemy by ourselves, and we trusted ourselves. We are destined for trouble. We will fall just as Peter felt when Peter said all Lord even of all these other weaklings for sake you yet I won't do it, but I'm not Peter, not the strong one, the devil brought about his fall very night he denied the Lord three times were told at the last even with clothes and persons. You and I can't do it by ourselves, but we distrust ourselves wisely and draw near to God for his strength and avail ourselves of the armor that he provides. Then we can having done all take our stand against the devil. The apostle Paul wrote, submit yourselves to God.
Resist the devil and he will flee from you. And so we will we stand before him in the power of the Almighty God is pray our father we ask for your blessing on our study that it might be applied to our hearts in profitable ways. We pray that where we have been asleep in understanding the nature of our spiritual warfare that by your grace, we might be awakened and realize we are in a life-and-death struggle with nothing less than the incarnate power of evil in the devil the same time. We pray that you give us grace to do just what Paul tells us we should do in this passage, which is to draw near to you and draw upon your power, and avail ourselves of the armor which you provide in order that we might be victorious.
Granted by your grace, we may indeed be victorious so stand our ground and raise high the banner of our Lord and see as you work in our lives, his kingdom come when we pray, Jesus, you are listening to the Bible study hour with a Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview.
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