April 22, 2014 | by: 0 Comments|
From time to time in ministry and in my own life, I try to remind myself that though Satan, sin, and death have already been defeated by virtue of Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and ascension into heavenly glory, that there is still a cosmic battle going on. If the Apostle John’s Revelation proclaims nothing else, it proclaims that. The pronouncement of Satan’s great defeat has been brought forward in time, but it will be announced one last time on the Last Day. There is an already, not-yet aspect to Satan’s defeat. And because this is so, if Satan would have things his way today, he would have us believe that there really is no battle and that he is not of great consequence today. In the words of Verbal Kint, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist.” I am sure that the writers of The Usual Suspects were really paraphrasing the great puritan minister Thomas Adams when he said that “The spiritual foe appears less terrible, because we are less sensible of him.”
Though thoughts of Satan’s work ought not to completely occupy our minds, thoughts of him and his dirty dealings ought not be pushed out of our minds altogether either. The phrase “The devil made me do it,” is simply not true. We are personally responsible before the Lord for what we do, and yet Satan does incite God’s people to do ungodly things. David, “the man after God’s own heart,” was incited by Satan to disobey the Lord (1 Chronicles 21:1). David was responsible and David acted, but Satan was there to prompt him and incite him to act. Satan continues to incite God’s people today. He doesn’t possess God’s people, to be clear, but he does incite them. When you are facing temptation, I wouldn’t encourage you to eliminate the possibility that Satan and his demons are involved and inciting you. Remember that Satan was the one who tempted Jesus, and we follow in the way of our master. Still, if Satan is preying on anything, he is preying on the appetites that are already resident in our hearts.
By now you may very well be wondering, why on earth is Mike talking about all of this? Well, because I do not want you to be caught off guard or overcome by him. If the writers of Scripture thought that it was important to mention him and his activity from time to time, then I’m sure that as a shepherd it is important for me to mention from time to time, if for no other reason that we do not forget that he exists, and is active and involved in this world. Of late, I have felt that some of his tactics are so straightforward that all he is trying to do is surprise us into sin – kind of like when we’re carrying our cup of coffee or hot tea around the blind corner only to spill the coffee or tea on ourselves because we were surprised to find someone standing right there.
How then shall we live? Remember that he exists. We’re told in 1 Peter 5:8 to, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Resist him when tempted. 1 Peter 5:9 says, “Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” Reassure yourself with God’s Word that the outcome is secure. 1 Peter 5:10, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. Why? Because the Righteous One Rules and Reigns over all. 1 Peter 5:10, “To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
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