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Dealing with the Devil, Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
March 16, 2023 12:00 am

Dealing with the Devil, Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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March 16, 2023 12:00 am

Satan is our adversary, our accuser. He accuses us to God and accuses God to us. In this lesson, Stephen highlights some of Satan’s favorite tactics to destroy us, and also reminds us that Satan’s power is Providentially delegated and limited. We also learn from 1 Peter 5:9 how we can resist the enemy’s attacks. But, above all, we must remember that our only hope for triumph is by standing in the Victory already won for us by Jesus Christ.


For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh.

They're divinely powerful. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God. We're taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

2nd Corinthians 10, 3-5. In other words, the battle of the believer against the schemes of the devil is first and foremost a battle in your mind. It's a battle of ideas.

It's a battle of truth against lies. Over the last several broadcasts, Stephen has been teaching from 1st Peter chapter 5, helping you understand the tactics Satan uses against you. Today on Wisdom for the Heart, you're going to learn some of Satan's favorite tactics that are designed to trip you up and ultimately destroy you. But more importantly, you'll see that Satan's power is delegated and limited by our all-powerful God.

How can we successfully resist his attacks? Stay tuned. Stephen continues through this series from 1st Peter chapter 5 with this lesson he's calling, Dealing with the Devil. More movies came later, including Monsters Inc., which the book sort of plays off of. By the way, if it seems to you that Toy Story came out just not too long ago, that means you're actually getting old. It was 23 years ago.

He made this interesting comment about his own life. He said when he was 12 years old, the Soviets launched the first satellite into Earth's orbit. It was 1957. The Russians called it Sputnik 1.

I looked it up and Russian, Sputnik means traveling companion. And they named it number one because that was their way of saying there's more to come. The author writes, this was huge news, not just in the scientific and political realms, but in my sixth grade classroom at school.

The morning routine was interrupted by a visit from the principal whose grim expression told us that our lives had changed forever. Since we've been taught that nuclear war could be waged at the touch of a button, the fact that the Russians had beaten us into space seemed proof they now had the upper hand. The United States was now at a tremendous disadvantage in offensive and defensive warfare. It was time to practice getting underneath your desk. He continued, he said, the US government's response to being surpassed was to create a secretive special research agency buried in the Defense Department whose mission was to begin research at an accelerated pace in the hopes of preventing what it called technological surprise.

In other words, we don't want to be surprised again. He writes, looking back, I still admire this kind of reaction to a serious threat that said, we're just going to have to get smarter. I found it interesting to learn, by the way, that this agency was largely responsible for the computer revolution, the internet, many innovations, inventions, including the GPS system, which was designed originally to be able to track Sputnik 1 as it orbited Earth. Now we use it, you know, for everything, find our way home. I found it especially helpful to locate the nearest Cracker Barrel when I'm traveling.

Dunkin' Donuts, places of spiritual refreshment, you know, I use it for that. But I found this response fascinating. We're going to study harder. We're going to get a little smarter. We don't want to be surprised. I find that to be the approach of Peter. Let's study the enemy.

Let's get smarter. We don't want to be surprised spiritually. In fact, I couldn't help but think of taking the Apostle Peter's words and easily titling them, not Creativity Inc., but Christianity Inc. And the subtitle could remain the same, overcoming the unseen forces that stand in the way of true inspiration.

We're not talking, however, about inspiration to make movies, but inspiration in making progress spiritually, learning to walk by inspired truth, learning to wage war by it, learning to live by it, learning to battle our unseen enemy, the devil himself and his demons. Let's go back to 1 Peter, chapter 5. We wrap up a three-part series within this series on framing the flock. These are portraits of Christianity that Peter delivers to us in rapid fashion, and we've sort of slowed down to study this a little bit more detail. We've arrived at verse 9. We'll cover that verse today.

The text reads, but resist him firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. Now, right away, let me make a couple of very quick observations. I want you to notice that Peter is essentially telling us not to be surprised. It's going to happen.

It's going to happen. Expect the devil to show up. Don't be spiritually caught by surprise. Don't be caught off guard. You're going to need to resist him. Don't be surprised.

That's the first thing that struck me. Number two, don't be self-confident. If I can go back into last Lord's Day, that lesson we learned that described him as an intimidating lion, remember he wants the believer for lunch, right?

Don't be self-confident. He can't have your soul, but he does want to muzzle your worship. He hates what we just did together as a great choir. He wants to tempt you to set aside your integrity, your purity. He wants your joy and worship. Now, Peter wants us to have a proper respect for him, kind of like how you respect electricity. You want to keep your distance to a certain degree.

You don't want to self-confidently run around and stick your finger on a mouse. You don't stick out your chest in false teaching, brags about their approach to the devil. We got these incantations, we got these great statements, and we're going to be like some Pixar animated hero, or maybe some other computer-generated special effects superhero. It works like that when you're four years old, running around the house, wearing your little superhero costume, and all the adults kind of play along. For the past year, every time I see my four-year-old grandson, he's wearing a superhero outfit. He's either Iron Man, or he's got Captain America's shield, or a little later on at night, he's changed into his Power Ranger pajamas, and he's always wanting to engage me in some kind of mortal combat, and I don't stand a chance against him, just so you know.

That doesn't work in the real world. In fact, we're not only facing a roaring lion, we're facing an invisible lion. We need to study when and where he'll try to pounce.

Next, there's simply no place in Christianity for self-confidence. I enjoyed hearing the story of the great boxer Muhammad Ali during his reign as the heavyweight champion of the world. He was quite a showman, if you're old enough you remember that. On one occasion, he took a seat on a plane, and that giant 747 was starting to taxi toward the runway when the flight attendant walked by, you know as they do, making last checks, and noticed Ali had fastened his seat belt. She said, please fasten your seat belt, sir. And he looked up at her and said, Superman don't need a seat belt. Don't need a seat belt.

And just as quickly, she leaned down and whispered, Superman don't need an airplane. So buckle up, which he did. Don't be surprised, don't be self-confident. Third, beloved, don't be scared. Peter doesn't tell the believer, back in verse eight, the devil is a roaring lion roaming around seeking somebody to devour, so you'd better run.

You better learn how to get under your desk. No, resist him. It means getting smarter about him. Now we allow the Bible to provide commentary on this text as we've been building a biblical framework on this theology of the demonic world. We know at least three truths about the devil. Quickly, first we know the power of Satan is providentially delegated. He has power, but it's been delegated to him. He can only demonstrate his power in accord with the purposes of God, which leads me secondly to know the influence of Satan is personally limited. He doesn't have free reign. We've referenced this. He's a dog on a leash, and the leash is held by the hand of God. That's not a new thought, by the way.

In fact, I came across a Puritan author by the name of William Gurnell who wrote a classic work in the mid-1600s entitled The Christian Incomplete Armor, taken from Ephesians 6, about 400 pages. He wrote this interesting analogy. When God says to Satan, stay, Satan must stand like a dog by the table while you, the believer, feasts on God's comfort. Satan dares not snatch a tidbit, for the master's eye is always on him. Do you ever do that with your dog? Put a little treat down there on the floor and say, stay, and it just watches you, waiting, right?

We used to balance it on our dog's snout, our dog's snout, stay, and it would just wait and watch. Third, the judgment of Satan is prophetically determined. Again, we kind of sang it, the traditional lyrics, for lo, his doom is what?

Sure. Revelation 19 and 20 spell it out. You don't think Satan's read that far? He knows his power has been broken, and we belong to Christ.

The battle has been won by Christ. We fight from that vantage point, but he still refuses to lay down his arms. As long as he's allowed to roam around, he's going to tempt and allure and intimidate.

He will do his worst, but he's really like a lion with broken teeth. Don't be surprised, don't be self-confident, don't be scared. That's just sort of an introduction to the text, so what exactly do we do? He's going to give us in this verse three action steps.

Three action steps. First, refuse to flee. Notice the opening words again in verse nine, but resist him. The word resist means to take a stand against him. In other words, you're not going to run away You're going to resist. That's a military metaphor, by the way, the Greek language. It means that the Christian digs his heels in and takes a stand in opposition to the lies of the devil.

You're not battling some physical creature. You're battling his deceptions, his thoughts, you're battling his deceptions, his false doctrines, his false teaching by which he has captivated the world. Paul talks of the doctrines of demons. So you dig your heels in when it comes to his deceptions. You resist him when it comes to keeping your integrity and your purity. You take your stand on the truth of God's word. Resisting the devil means you're not going to back down. You're not going to slack up.

You're not going to run away. By the way, it's interesting to me as I dug into this that the Bible often tells the believer to flee from sin. Verses probably come to your mind if you're older in the faith. Paul wrote to the believers to flee immorality. 1 Corinthians 6 18. Flee from idolatry.

That is worshiping something other than the true living God. 1 Corinthians 10 14. Paul wrote to Timothy and told him to flee from these things. He just described all kinds of evil practices. 1 Timothy 6 11. He wrote again to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2 22. Flee youthful lusts. But has it ever occurred to you that while the Bible often tells the believer to flee from sin, it never once tells the believer to flee from the devil? It's an interesting thought.

Never once. In fact, the apostle James uses the same expression for resist, and he says it this way. Submit yourselves to God, resist the devil, and what happens? And he will flee from you. The one doing the running away is the devil. Now he's not running away because he's afraid of you. The devil isn't afraid of you. He wants you for lunch. But he's afraid of God. And when you draw near to God that as you walk in communion and fellowship with God, he can't stand the presence of God and he takes off.

He would rather be as far away as he can. I remember getting caught one afternoon by the neighborhood bully. I may have told you about this. I was about 10 years old. You know, he was bigger, badder, meaner, uglier. And I think I told him that on one occasion, and he caught me in my neighbor's backyard and began to make me suffer for my faith.

Actually, that wasn't my faith, my foolishness. My two brothers, younger brothers, got up on the fence there in the backyard to watch. It was like front row seats. And he's just pummeling me. But my mother heard the commotion. My mother ran out the back door, leapt over that fence without touching it. The bully saw her coming, and he ran away. He was afraid of my mother. I was afraid of my mother, actually.

She saved my life. Imagine this ferocious, demonic creature who comes against us can actually be sent running away. How? Because he's afraid of us? Because we're wearing, you know, you know, our favorite Iron Man suit. We've got our chest all puffed out with self-confidence.

No. He's running away because we're in communion with the one who is within us, and greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world, 1 John 4. He's terrified of our sovereign Lord. So the first action point is to adopt a defensive stance in confidence of our indwelling Savior, which is what James meant when he said to draw near to God. Secondly, and even more specifically, rehearse the faith, notice, but resist the devil firm in your faith. You can render that firm as regards your faith.

Your, as italicized, is supplied by the translator, and I think not properly. Peter isn't telling you to get your faith as big as it can be. He isn't telling you to muster up the greatest possible faith you can have, and then you can stand firmly against the wiles of the devil.

No, he's not talking about that. He's talking about the faith. This is the faith. This is the body of the truth. So you get to know this. This is what Luther meant when he said, one little word shall fell him. This is the little word.

Just one word from this, what he's talking about. The devil is going to tempt you, and your resistance looks exactly like Jesus' resistance, where Jesus answered all three temptations by quoting scripture. In fact, all three verses came from the book of Deuteronomy.

I've often wondered how I'd do if all I had to face him was the book of Deuteronomy. The apostle Paul describes our warfare with the devil as a war of words, a war of ideas, a war of false speculations, which is why Luther said, I fought the devil with ink, with words, truth. We resist him by the truth. Paul wrote it this way, for though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. We're not fighting some physically seen enemy. Behind it all is what? The enemy, the spiritual enemy. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh.

They're divinely powerful. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God. That's what we're doing. We're taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 2 Corinthians 10, 3 to 5. In other words, the battle of the believer against the schemes of the devil is first and foremost a battle in your mind. It's a battle of ideas. It's a battle of truth against lies.

That's how we fight. A woman in our church, to whom I'm grateful, introduced me to a book. She had heard me reference Puritans. She's new to the church. She came up after her service and she asked me if I had ever come across Thomas Brooke's book entitled Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices.

And I said, I don't know. Let me look. So I checked it out, looked it up.

I don't have it. And she actually gave me her copy, which I have read. And I would encourage every believer to read it. She warned me, you know, it's by a Puritan. It's hard to read.

And they all are. In fact, it was interesting. Yesterday, I received in the mail a journal I subscribed to, a Christian journal. And in that magazine, as I sat to read it, was an article written by a guy who, in that article, quoted Thomas Brooks from this book, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices. And I thought, well, the Lord's obviously wanting me to read a little Thomas Brooks along with everything else. So I read this book by Brooks.

And he catalogs literally dozens and dozens of devices. And I've sort of reworked some of his, and I've added a few of my own. But I want to give you seven of them. I could literally spend another session on this and give you 20. But I'm going to give you seven.

And I think within these seven, you could use these as categorical headings for all of them. Number one, Satan reveals the bait but hides the hook. Reveals the bait and hides the hook. None of this is going to be really new, but I just love the way this is expressed by this Puritan.

Another author illustrates this same point, Lutzer, on his wonderful little paperback on the devil. He says, if you want to catch a bear, you lay a trap with fresh meat. If you want to catch a fish, you use a worm. If you want to catch a mouse, you use cheese. If you want to catch a cat, you use a mouse. I added that one, actually, into the text. The trick is to tempt your prey with something they like. That's the hook hidden within the bait. Now, as we learned in our last session, demons and the devil can't read your mind, but they can watch you blink.

Remember? They can watch the pupils of your eyes dilate or constrict. They can hear your heart beating.

They can check your blood pressure. They see your actions and your reactions, and they take notes. They see what you watch on television. They look over your shoulder and see what you're reading.

They listen on your way to work or school to what you're listening to on the radio. They watch what you click with your mouse on the computer and custom make the bait. I think it's a telling illustration, even with the computer, it seems to remember where you've been. I've only learned recently, I know I'm slow and I don't spend my life on it, but it's called cookies.

You go somewhere and the computer remembers. I ordered a necktie a few weeks online and this is where I figured it out. Now, every time I opened a program on my computer, on the right-hand side are all these neckties.

I'm thinking, where in the world? This is amazing. It's cookies. Some of you don't know what neckties are. They're strips of cloth hung around the neck by truly spiritual people.

I mean, older people. All right, let's keep going. Secondly, he paints sin with virtuous colors. Another author wrote that Satan's method is to make sin look good to us. So he's got to rework the terminology, right? He's not going to come up to you and say, look, I'm going to attempt you to do the dumbest thing you've ever done in your entire life. How does that sound? No, he says, I would attempt you with the fulfillment that your life seems to be missing.

You can't live without this. That's how he does it. He renames things so that they sound, as the Puritan wrote, virtuous. We might say, so they sound right.

They're more appealing. You don't have a bad temper. It's personal conviction. It isn't stealing.

It's something you deserved. It isn't materialism. It's good taste. It isn't pornography. It's an appreciation of God's created beauty.

I've actually heard that in my office. It isn't drunkenness. It's Christian liberty. It isn't lying. It's discreetly withholding the truth.

And on and on and on and on. Satan's a master artist and he can paint temptation with the brightest and most beautiful colors. Third, Satan downplays the consequences of sin. He tells you it isn't going to hurt anybody.

It's not going to entangle you. Come on, this is not the end of the world. And then he gets his foot in the door. One early church father wrote that if the devil can claim one hair of your head, he will soon make a braid of it. He's constantly offering excuses as he renames things.

D.L. Moody, the great evangelist from a century ago said it this way often, excuses are the cradle that Satan rocks people to sleep in. This wicked whisperer, Brooks called him, whispers excuses. Fourth, he maximizes God's compassion and minimizes God's commandments. The only time the devil is ever going to whisper in your ear or mine anything positive about God is going to be when he waxes eloquent on the love and the mercy and the compassion of God. And then he misapplies it to mean God isn't going to care if you do whatever you want to do. He's compassionate, which is why you go out on the street and you talk to people about the gospel.

And as soon as you start talking about sin or conviction, they're going to say, hey, my God, you know, the God I know is out there. He's loving. He's all love. He's compassionate. See, that's the enemy who's spreading his false doctrine that this is all there is of God. Compassion. Oh, don't worry about his commandment.

God certainly demonstrates compassion toward us, but he also has commands that he expects us to follow. Well, there is more truth for us to explore as we seek to resist the schemes of Satan, but we're going to have to stop here and finish up on our next broadcast. This is Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. Stephen is the pastor of the Shepherd's Church in Cary, North Carolina. You can learn more about our ministry at our website, Thanks for listening and join us next time for more Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-16 04:00:35 / 2023-03-16 04:10:07 / 10

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