We are in week four of an in-depth study about Satan—his origin and his most successful tactics used against us as disciples of Christ today, as he strives to hurt an unbeatable God by hurting His Bride—making her as miserable, ineffective and broken as possible. Thus far, we have looked closely at his attacks by way of guilt and worthlessness; doubt in God's character or existence; anger and unforgiveness; and how most of us have become so busy and distracted that we have left the world to die and burn this war as most of us remain unaware of the real enemy. Today, because of the severity and influence of this next strategy of Satan, we will cover only this one: acceptance and reputation. And it is a guarantee that every person in this room is affected by this one tactic because we all have an inherent desire—a need to be accepted, wanted and admired by others.
Unfortunately, when that desire is combined with a selfish heart, it can drive us to attitudes and actions we never dreamed we'd possess. The desire to gain the acceptance of others or keep a certain reputation very often becomes the conscious or subconscious driving force for one's life; affecting every thought, decision and action until even the best of actions are completely sinful because they are selfishly and pridefully done. And it does not take someone who is seemingly prideful or smug to be controlled by this sin. Sometimes the lowliest, confidence-lacking people are the most susceptible because they feel desperate and unlovable making them obsess even more about what others think. How many here right now obsess over your image on social media? You have to post everything about your life in order to get feedback on what others think about you? Your emotions hinge on how many views, likes and comments you can get about every post? How many people must be the center of attention in conversation? You are annoyed and impatient when anyone else is getting the attention. You have to show how your situation is more dramatic or important than anyone else. How many people must feel they are seen as the smartest, best looking, funniest, most important, toughest, or most talented person in the crowd. Or you are threatened and angry? Jealous? Becoming critical of others, controlling showy? How many people are driven to do the majority of the things they do—good or bad—solely upon the attention and praise they will get from others, or in order not to lose attention and popularity? Often not wanting to do anything at all unless you can be recognized or seen as the best at it? How many people who say they despise dishonesty will stretch a truth or hide a fact in a heartbeat if it means they would have to look bad or admit they were wrong or imperfect? Or you will fight to win an argument you know is wrong rather than let anyone look right over you? How many people here will completely change in personality, demeanor, habit, and even morals when around a different group of people because you don't have the courage and confidence to be who you are if it means offending someone or losing attention, respect or fellowship with others? How many people refuse to take a stand on your Faith, on your true stance towards sin, on politically incorrect truths, on your love and obedience towards Christ? You will do, act, talk, drink, and entertain like everyone else because you feel keeping their friendship, maintaining peace and acceptance is more important than holding to your truths? Making a "god" out of acceptance and reputation is one of Satan's most powerful tools to create liars and manipulators, sexual immorality, jealous division, hatred and unforgiveness, passive and completely ineffective Christians, obsessive attitudes and anxiety filled depressed lives. Never will we draw closer to Christ—be usable by Christ, have His mindset or hear His voice—until we learn to care more for what Jesus Christ thinks of us than we do what any man or woman thinks of us. If you find yourself more worried about acceptance from others than Christ, you should seriously consider that you may not even know Him.
Let me tell you why this strategy of Satan is absolutely crucial to recognize in your life right now: all across this nation today, people are being intimidated in schools, universities and workplaces for not holding to progressive, anti-biblical views. The very fabric of our families are being uprooted. Crime, hate, racism, division, immorality in our culture has exploded. Opposition to Christian views is becoming more hateful and aggressive daily. Many of you have heard much talk and seen recent commercials promoting the "Equality Act". A bill which is trying to make its way into law with the endorsement of several very large corporations such as Amazon, Apple, AT&T, Cocoa-Cola, eBay, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, PepsiCo, UPS, Verizon and others. The Bill is said to be designed to "prohibit discrimination” on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. But this Act frightfully reaches into private schools, businesses and churches with overwhelming consequences. And worse, is designed to prohibit the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act” from even being used as a basis for defending against the legal application of this provision. In other words, removing the right to even challenge the enforcement of it's requirements under religious beliefs. The Gospel Coalition made this statement concerning the bill: “The bill represents the most invasive threat to religious liberty ever proposed in America. Given that it touches areas of education, public accommodation, employment, and federal funding, were it to pass, its sweeping effects on religious liberty, free speech, and freedom of conscience would be both historic and also chilling... Virtually no area of American life would emerge unscathed from the Equality Act’s reach." I do not bring these points to our focus in order to rally a cultural or political fight. Actually, just the opposite—the world needs to see Christ's real love in us. I simply bring these facts to light in order to prove the point we introduced last week: governmental restrictions and social pressures on our faith in Jesus Christ in this country are no longer "in danger" of becoming repressive—those repressions have arrived and are at the door of becoming much more severe soon. The social, educational and even legal pressures of what we hold as true about evolution, gender, family, abortion, marriage, and even sin in general have become all too real and threatening every day. And faith in Christ is fast becoming a mark of bigotry, stupidity and hate—which is harder and harder to live out in the public eye. So, or those Christians who are so worried, so influenced, so passive about their love for Christ and their trust in His Word—your faith will become nonexistent or real very soon.
Please listen: the increasing problem with many Christians in how they view and respond to this social pressure and persecution is that Satan has tainted our very understanding of what it means for a Christian to even think of resisting or speaking out about their beliefs. Somehow, most Christians think the right and biblical response is to stay quiet, not make any waves, keep peace so we can influence them with love. It's like the 11th Commandment of God that "Thou Shall Not Speak Out Against Anything." Many Christians have even been duped into believing that to speak out is to be unloving and uncaring of others (FYI: it’s how we speak). We end up in total fear of persecution, because it means bringing harm to selves. and not showing love to others. Get these facts straight in your heads: 1) you are not standing against people, but against the sin and ideology destroying those people and taking their salvation. 2) to be expected to simply stay quiet while everyone around us is free to speak their beliefs—free to offend anyone in any way, no matter who agrees—is already showing the bigotry and lack of love we are accused of as Christians in the first place 3) how can you claim to have real love for people and not answer in truth about how they are hurting themselves? Not tell them what they are giving up when Christ is at the door? In complete honesty, that is a fear for your approval and reputation over God. That is a fear of hurting others over hurting God. That is a fear of persecution over fear of God. Listen closely: if you have accepted Christ, your number one priority in life is to love Christ more than the world; to show Christ and His truth to the world at any cost because they are lost and separated from God in their sins, and to show the world its’ lost condition in total, genuine love and acceptance of them but not their sin: 1 Peter 3:15-16. It is not your goal to disrespect, or hurt someone Christ showed real love for the worst of sinners, but to lovingly speak what you know to be true in that real concern for them. If you think that Jesus called you to be silent and passive, embarrassed by Him and His Words while the world gloats in pride, while His people die all around you: Matthew 10:34-39. If you think that God understands your hesitancy to be inconvenienced or rejected for His Word's sake: Luke 9:26; Galatians 1:10. Our Creator, our King, our reason for existence was persecuted, tortured and died naked on a Cross to save our souls in complete shame and selflessness—do we not have the same love for Him that He had for us? Let me tell you how strongly God feels about our passive, self-preserving ways—about our embarrassment of His Son and His Word after all He did for us: Luke 12:8-9; Matthew 10:27-28. The world is unashamed to stand for the vilest and horrid things yet we are ashamed of the most sacrificial and loving Being in the universe. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, there seems to be loss and rejection. But the truth is this: you are not called to do this alone. In those moments of confrontation—when you need resolve—you need to realize He is literally with us. He will guide us in word, strength and love if we simply acknowledge and lean on Him: Luke 12:11-12. And we are in that very moment of conflict worshiping Him like no other time in our lives: Philippians 1:29; Philippians 3:10.
Why is suffering for Christ considered Worship and Fellowship? Have you ever stood completely alone in something? Or been in an embarrassing situation? And someone came alongside you, stood with you? Bore the weight and shame with you? Have you ever been in a conflict or fight—maybe for your very life and someone came to your side, fought the battle with you, shared in the fear, pain and risk with you? There is no greater bond; no greater show of worth. Our Savior is being hated, mocked, ridiculed and rejected by the very world He created and loves. What greater honor, what greater chance to show our love and thanks than to step beside our beloved King and say, "If you hate Him, you hate me!" "If you reject Him, you've rejected me!" "If you hurt Him, you might as well hurt me!" When does what He thinks and He feels become more important than others around us? We are literally called to stand by Him! to be Jesus' brother-in-arms, His "ezer" to share in all He faces from this world; in order to show the world He is real and He is worth it. He's already done that for us, now it's our turn. While the world fights proudly for it's sins, we should stand proudly, willingly beside our Savior considering it an honor; grateful for the chance to be able to show worship like no other time: 1 Peter 4:12-14.
In your times of confrontation for Christ and His Word, Jesus said this is the very reason we are here. Once you become His Disciple, you become the salt of the earth. In other words, it is our job to assure that the world is preserved and seasoned with His love and truth: Matthew 5:13. If we become too ashamed, too self-preserving, too worried about pleasing the world to actually speak truth in love and save it when we are the only hope—what good are we in this world at all? And, what is left to awaken us or anyone else? We have become like the rot of sin that is killing it. Worse, because we know the truth and are hiding it.
Stop fearing rejection and persecution. It is a given, an honor. One of your greatest moments of intimacy and worship for God. Stop thinking you were just called to remain passive and quiet, you were called to bring truth at any expense in concern and love. Stop thinking that any discomfort or division your beliefs cause are bad or un-Christian. Jesus said He has called us to draw the line for His sake above all—whatever the cost. Stop thinking it is unloving to be honest with a world miserable in sin and destined for damnation. It is the only real loving option. Stop loving your own popularity and comfort in life more than you love Jesus Christ. Embrace the times in which we find ourselves living, and realize we have been given the chance to show Christ to others—to stand beside your King as the world rejects Him—in fellowship like no other: a brother-in-arms, an Ezer—to receive great rewards in Heaven far beyond what is lost. The world says Christianity is for the weak, a crutch. True Christianity is the hardest, but sweetest life you could ever walk. They have tried for 2000yrs. to stop His Word and love from advancing; yet here it is—still. It is our time. Don't let Satan put fear in your heart. Stand by Him; let the world see His worth.
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