Last week we took an in-depth look at the origin of Satan and his battle plan through the ages of mankind. We determined that after all of his foiled attempts to separate us from the love of God in history, and after his dismal failure of stopping Christ's plan of Salvation through His own tortured death in our place, he knows he is completely defeated now. Today in his fury and hopelessness, he is lashing out at God's creation with one purpose against those who have held true to Jesus Christ. That objective being to make us as miserable, ineffective and as broken as possible. And to turn the world as hatefully and violently against us and our message of hope as possible; to break God's heart by hurting His beloved and destroying His Kingdom.
Today, we will look at Satan's goals and tactics in doing just that because he has used these tactics very successfully against every one of us here today. And we all know that his foothold in our present world has grown ever stronger, larger and more aggressive. Most American battles have been fought with clear borders—identifiable enemies, and known battlefronts—where the enemy engages, on understood lines represented on a war map somewhere at HQs. Until Vietnam. You never knew where the enemy truly was working around you. How differently do you think he walked, rested, played? And this is exactly how Satan works in our lives today—hidden, deceptive, posing as a friendly—even appealing—all the while setting us up for the kill as we are oblivious and distracted, enjoying life. That is why we must learn to recognize the true enemy in our lives as Disciples of Christ because the majority of people in this very room are probably under attacks in Satan's guerilla warfare even as we speak—if the enemy has even targeted you as a potential threat at all: Acts 19:15-16. Actually, I pray the enemy does know your name because that would mean it is listed in the Book of soldiers names who have been accepted into the Army. Satan attains his objective of bringing misery, brokenness and spiritual paralysis to Christians by attacking two major weaknesses in our walls—selfishness and pride and ignorance of truth. Let's look at just a few of his more popular tactics together and how Scriptures teach us we can stand against him.
One: Guilt. So, so many Christians are broken and completely paralyzed today, keeping themselves unnecessarily apart from intimacy with God because they have done something which makes them feel undeserving, unusable and unwanted. Or something has happened to them to make them feel dirty and broken, or they just feel they have nothing to give like everyone else because they are simply not as good or special as others. They have no will to try, no will to grow, no will to touch others because they feel hopeless and unwanted. Understand this first though you may feel humble and meek in your pain, the actual truth is that you are prideful because all of your focus is on self, and what you have or have not done and how you could never amount to anything. This thought process takes away everything that your King died horribly to give back to you. In case you haven't heard, Jesus is looking for a few simple, broken and sinful disciples just like you: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31. If we could do it, if we hadn't failed, He would not have paid such a price for all of us. He never intended for it to be about you, but what He has done for you in total love and commitment. Get your mind off of your failures and your weaknesses and let it be all about what He can do through you. Trust Him, adore Him for what He has done in your life and then step out in boldness for Him in return. You have reason to be proud even in your failures because you are loved that much and made whole again: 1 Timothy 1:15. I believe Paul may have gone on to do a few good things for God don't you? How might He be waiting to use you if you let your love for Him overshadow thoughts of self.
Two: Doubting God's Character. Another powerful tactic of Satan is to step into your life at one of your most tragic or difficult moments and whisper to your soul, "How could a Truly Loving God let this happen to you?" "You are following Him and this is the thanks you get?" "You deserve better than this!" Just as Satan caused Adam and Eve to doubt God's goodness and motives with the very first lie ever told to mankind. If this is where you are in your heart today, God understands. He is not angry with you; He just desperately wants you to see the Truth of the situation. And as we take a candid look at this attack, you may even become a bit offended at first—but hold on until the end. This attack from Satan hits us in both areas of weakness—pride and ignorance of God's true Character because in our pain and shock of a terrible event. We feel as though we are more righteous, just or loving than even Him because we would never let something like this happen. We feel we are smarter than Him because we know how the future should unfold to benefit everyone best. We feel that God is cold, calculating and selfish in His ways because of this terrible thing which He has allowed, and we put God on trial because we deserve better. Listen with all your heart here—God hates the tragedies that Satan and sin have brought into our lives. He hates what it does to us, hates the pain and suffering that it brings. And if you could see Jesus for who He truly is, you would see that He literally is broken with you because He loves you that much. When your heart breaks, His breaks with you: John 11:33-35. This pain which we feel that God throws at us callously, Jesus actually hates so much that He gave up all that He owned, all that He ruled and became a worm under men's feet, was beaten until you couldn't recognize Him, tortured by having His flesh literally torn from His body until you could see His bones and organs, and He hung naked and ridiculed with the mucous-filled spit of haters dripping from His face; left in His last moments to believe, even in His sweet mind that He would die hated and forsaken by God, and He had done nothing wrong. This He did to take away the pain of sin and death we brought into this world. He did it so that we might have a perfect life away from all of this; so that we might be with our loved ones again, together forever, as this pain-filled life becomes a faded memory. He died lost and alone, having done nothing wrong, to take away the sting and pain you are feeling right now. That is how much He hates how sin has hurt you. God the Father goes deeper than just understanding our pain of complete and utter loss caused by the horrors of sin and death—He has joined with us in the midst of them. God the Father loved Jesus more deeply and for an eternally longer time than we have ever loved one another—but He loves us just as deeply. And He suffered through the death of His Son to make a way for us; watched the horrors unfold interrupting His joyful, loving world. How must this have felt to a God of love? Are we more deserving than our precious sacrificial God? Yet, that is what we think when we question our pain. Can we not trust a heart that loving, pure and sacrificial? When we don't understand why He has worked in ways we don't understand. Because for whatever reason God has chosen to work in ways we can’t understand we must comprehend this fact: the worth and the impact of one life has nothing to do with how long or how easy and blessed it was, but in how it glorified Him and how it affected others in their eternal destiny. Realize that a terrible tragedy, a sickness or death, a financial loss, moments we dread, moments that even He hates in our lives will always serve this one purpose whatever other reasons He has seen fit to allow them. They will reveal what our true heart and attitude have been towards Him all along. Because in these moments, it is the only true revealing of whether we have ever really trusted and loved Him, and it has taken a moment like this one to make us see our true heart all along. If a difficult event comes into our life for no other reason than to show us that our heart had never truly been His all along, would it not be worth it in light of eternity?
If we are angry with God because of something we lost or did not receive from Him, we have already proven our darkness and His goodness because He has lost far more than us on our behalf and He is still here by our side. He loves more deeply than any of us. He hurts deeply with us. He hates the pain and death of our lives so much that He suffered and died to destroy it's hold. HE is trustworthy. He is loving. He is working in everything; He only asks that we trust and love Him. Have you found yourself already as a victim of one of these attacks of Satan? Don't allow Satan to win the war for your mind and heart by breaking your intimacy with Jesus because you doubt Him as the cold culprit for the destruction and pain Satan introduced into our world. Trust His heart; know He shares your pain; know He has given all to take it away. Don't let Satan paralyze and isolate you in grief, guilt and hopelessness because you feel are not special, or because you have been broken, or because you have failed Him horribly even if the world tries to label you. It is, and always has been about what He did for you, not what you could do. Forget about self and worship in thanks. Then come back to Him. Get in the game again. Scripturally speaking, He may be even quicker to use the broken. Stand firm in humbleness and in truth rather than pride and ignorance. Some people know Satan is real and would literally choose him over God today. My friend, God and Satan are not equal opposites. Satan was created by God. Satan serves God, and the war is already won. We will continue next week.
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