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Satan – Charles Stanley

This Bible Study was taught by John Green in Sunday School.  It is based on the book, “When the Enemy Attacks” written by Charles Stanley.

Satan – Week 1

Satan has been given a number of names over the years.  The word satan in Hebrew translates as ‘the Adversary’.  Other names for Satan include:

1 Peter 5:8 –            The devil

Genesis 3:1 –           The serpent that led Eve astray

2 Kings 1:3 –           Beelzebub or Baal-Zebub

Isaiah 14:12 –          Lucifer

Eph. 6:12 (NKJV) –  Prince of Darkness

Eph. 2:2 –                 Prince of the power of the air

Rev. 12:7-9 –           the Dragon

You may have heard the name, Mephistopheles.  This  was a name used by Faust in his tragedy about making a deal with the devil.

Lucifer is the Bible name for one of God’s archangels who rebelled against God and was cast to the earth where he does his work as Satan or the devil.  (Isaiah 14:12-17)  In Isaiah 14:3, Isaiah appears to be talking about the king of Babylon.  By verse 12, he has transitioned to be speaking of Satan.

“It is true that the king of literal Babylon shined brightly among the men of his day, and fell as hard and as completely as if a man were to fall from heaven. But there was a far more brightly shining being who inhabited heaven, and fell even more dramatically – the king of spiritual Babylon, Satan.  (Guzik)

Years ago in our study of Daniel (10:13), the archangel Michael was the protector or prince of Israel.  Isaiah refers to Lucifer was the protector or prince of Babylon.  Later in Chapter 10 of Daniel we are reminded that even though there are physical battles going on here on earth, there are also spiritual battles also happening.  Verses 20-21 of Daniel 10 tell us that there are more of these archangels battling in the spiritual realm.

The name ‘devil’ comes from the Greek “diabolos” meaning ‘slanderer’.  It is also the root from which we get our English word ‘diabolical’.

All of the evil that we have seen since the beginning of man has a name, or many names as we have seen, it is Satan.  He is completely evil.  As righteous as God is, Satan is that evil.  He seeks to rule as God in the spiritual realm.  We see this desire in Isaiah 14:14, where Satan has said that “I will make myself like the Most High.’”.

When you first read Ezekiel 28:11-19, it sounds like Ezekiel is talking about the king of Tyre but as we look further into these verses, we realize that it could also be about Satan.  Tyre was a vile place known for getting rich and then exploiting its neighbors. Ancient writers say that Tyre was a “city filled with unscrupulous merchants”.  It was filled with religious idolatry and sexual immorality.  By verse 13, you realize that the king of Tyre is being compared to Satan.  The king would not have been in the Garden of Eden.  He was not a Cherub standing guard.  He could not have been booted out of Heaven.  Ezekiel had to be talking about Satan.

Isaiah 45:7 says “The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity;  I am the Lord who does all these.”  It sounds like God pours out evil.

Guzik on Isaiah 45:7 – “But God has no opposite. Satan is not and has never been God’s opposite. There is one God. God is not the author of evil; evil is never “original,” but always a perversion of an existing good. Yet God is the allower of evil, and He uses it to accomplish His eternal purpose of bringing together all things in Jesus (Ephesians 3:8-11 and 1:9-10). If God could further His eternal purpose by allowing His Son to die a wicked, unjust death on a cross, then He knows how to use what He allows for His eternal purpose.”

So the Bible teaches two things about evil.  First, evil has a name and it is Satan.  Second, our battle against evil is a spiritual one.  Paul had realized we are in a spiritual battle before he wrote the letter to the Ephesians.  He warned us and the Ephesians.  He said in Ephesians 6:12 that our battle wasn’t against flesh and blood but it was against “the rulers of this darkness, the powers of this darkness, the world forces of this darkness and the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

“He can and will attempt to drag you down into such deep bondage that you will lose your joy in living. Some may call this bondage oppression, depression, or addiction. If the devil can pull you into bondage, you will have no peace, no zest for living, and perhaps even no will to continue living. You will struggle continually with desires that are not met, drives that are not satisfied, dreams that are not realized, and a destiny that is unfulfilled. The devil will do his utmost to completely destroy anything that is essential for abundant life. “ (Stanley)

Chapter 2 – The Nature of the Enemy

I have often said that it would be easier for us if Satan wore a red suit and walked around with a pitchfork.  This picture causes us to either think that Satan is weak or that he is not real.  He is real because the Bible tells us so.

Peter warned us of the devil in 1 Peter 5:8.  He calls the devil a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  He is not talking about a physical attack, he is referring to a spiritual one.  Besides getting us to do all sorts of wrong, Satan has vile motives for attacking us.

His motives include:

  1. He wants us to reject Jesus as our savior.

By accepting the salvation that comes from Jesus, John 3:16 tells us that we will not perish but have everlasting life.  Satan does not want us to claim that salvation.

  1. He wants us to refuse to believe in him (Satan).

People believe that if we deny the existence of God then we are not accountable to Him.  If we deny the existence of Satan then we are likely to fall into all of his traps and deceptions.

  1. He wants us to end up where he ends up, in the Lake of fire.

Satan’s end is set.  John tells us that Satan will end up in the Lake of fire along with those that have not accepted the grace of God through Jesus.

  1. He wants the opposite of everything that God wants for us.

2 Peter 3:9 tells us that God is not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.  So Satan wants us to perish with him and for no one to come to repentance.

If a person does not believe in the devil, he’ll never seek to understand the traps he continues to fall into. He’ll never seek to understand how to conquer the negative, debilitating, addictive, downward spiral of temptation.

The Bible and even Jesus tells us that Satan is real.  Since Satan is real we should be asking ourselves, “How do I withstand his attacks?”

The first way is to realize that Satan in not omnipresent.  He cannot be everywhere at once like God.  Satan has an army of evil helpers, spirits (demons).  These helpers are as committed to evil as Satan is.  These minions follow Satan and have the same goals as Satan.  They were willing to leave Heaven to serve Satan in his battle against man and God.

Ephesians 6:12 tells us “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

We are not battling someone that we can see, Satan is invisible.  He is fully spirit and not flesh and blood.  Satan is not alone, he has his minions to serve him.

In John 8:44, Jesus tells us that the devil is a murderer and a liar.

 

John 8:44 “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks [a]a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies”.

In John 10:10, Jesus tells us that the devil is a thief.

John 10:10 – “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and [a]have it abundantly.”

2 Corinthians 11:3, Paul says that the devil (the serpent in Eden) is deceiving, crafty, leads us astray or away from God (corrupted).

2 Corinthians 11:3 – “But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”

“The person who is corrupted or seduced by a temptation follows the passions and desires of his own self rather than the will and commands of God. “ (Stanley)

The devil strikes at our weaknesses and not our strengths.  The devil is completely evil.   Even when he uses good things to lure us, his final intent is evil.  He is trying to lead us away from God.

Luke 15:10 tells us that “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  We have to assume that there is similar celebration among Satan and his minions when someone chooses to reject Christ.

Satan never gives up on his pursuit of us.  Always remember what 1 Peter 5:8, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  Just because Peter wrote it more than 2000 years ago, it doesn’t make it any less true.

“You will never fully eliminate the devil’s temptation from your life. No matter how mature you may become spiritually, he still has access to you. . .  There will never be a point at which you cease to be attacked. “ (Stanley)

Consider that Satan tempted Eve in the Garden, God had a conversation with Satan about Job, then he showed up to tempt Jesus and now he is constantly attacking us today.

Romans 8:38-39 says “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Satan can do nothing to remove the Holy Spirit from our lives once we claim the power of Jesus as savior in our lives.  We cannot lose our salvation.

Satan knows that God is in control and that he cannot take what God will not allow.  Consider what went on with God and Satan regarding Job.  God had to allow Satan to attack Job.  We cannot lose our salvation but that doesn’t stop Satan.  He continues to attack us in order to undermine our dedication to Jesus.  He wants our service of Christ to be weakened or ineffective.  By doing so, our voice about grace through faith will be softened or not heard.  If we live our lives discouraged or ineffective, our lives will be miserable and less fulfilling.  Satan will fill your mind with doubts, and all manner of sickness, tragedy, and crises.

THE DEVIL HAS A PLAN OF ATTACK

Satan wants to destroy our body, mind, or spirit, or all three.

Remember he wants to keep us from seeking and doing God’s will.  God has a plan for our lives and if we fail then God is not glorified.  Satan seeks to replace God in your life. Unlike God, he is good with any havoc that he can bring into our lives.  He will even accept us denying Satan’s or God’s existence.

“The devil desires not only to destroy your possessions, your career, your family, your reputation in the community. He seeks to destroy who you are. He wants to demolish your character. He seeks to destroy your peace, joy, happiness, contentment, enthusiasm for life, willingness to take godly risks, generosity, and all other emotional states that are healthy or good.” (Stanley)

Satan’s attack is not a single event.  “As long as you are alive and the devil exists, you will experience spiritual attacks.” (Stanley)

THE NATURE OF A SPIRITUAL ATTACK

What is a satanic attack? Charles Stanley defines a satanic attack as: “ A satanic attack is a deliberate, willful, intentional, and well-designed act intended to bring harm to a person in any way—physical, mental, economic, relational, or spiritual.”

SATAN’S OBJECTIVES

He has four objectives:

  1. Satan seeks to draw us away from God. That’s always his ultimate goal.

  2. Satan seeks to prevent us from doing God’s purpose and plan for our lives. He seeks to get us off track and out of the will of God for our lives.

  3. Satan seeks to deny God the glory, honor, and praise due Him as we live godly lives of faith and trust in Him.

  4. Satan seeks to destroy us—literally and eternally.

Another important scripture that we should memorize or keep close to our hearts is John 10:27-30

John 10:27 “My sheep listen to My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give them eternal life, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

Verse 28b tells us that even Satan cannot take away our salvation.  Satan cannot undo the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives once we claim Jesus.

Charles Stanley says “The devil does have the power to attack us and tempt us. He has the power to deceive us and oppress us. In so doing, he has the power to:

  • destroy the quality of our lives. He can send sickness and injury our way, to affect our physical, mental and financial well-being and our relationships.

  • attack our peace and our joy. He can send agitation into the calm waters of our lives. He can stir up trouble for us and cause us to find ourselves in turmoil.

  • use unbelievers or weak believers to harm us physically, but more often, in the things they say and do that undermine our reputations.

  • bring confusion, anger, and frustration into situations and relationships—often for no apparent reason. The devil is a master at causing misunderstandings.

  • decrease our witness for Christ on this earth and diminish our reward in heaven.

WE CANNOT DEFEAT THE DEVIL IN OUR OWN STRENGTH

Matthew 17:14:22 tells us about a demon possessed boy that even the disciples could not help.  Satan is the most powerful of all demons.  What chance do we have against such a powerful being.  James 4:7 tells us to “Submit to God, But resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

“We cannot defeat the devil by human intellect, cleverness, or force of personality. Defeating the devil is the work of Jesus Christ alone, and that work has been accomplished on the cross.” (Stanley)

Remember God / Jesus have no equals.  Satan is not as powerful as Jesus.  Psalm 18:2 tells us where we should go to defeat Satan. “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my savior, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

Jesus defeated Satan when He rose from the death.  God’s “rest of the story” tells us that Satan will lose.  Our stance must always be, “I cannot defeat the devil. But I can resist him and trust Jesus Christ to defeat him.” (Stanley)

My favorite verse in the Bible is Philippians 4:13.  With the power than comes from Christ we are invincible.  Our enemy is strong but our Savior has unimaginable power.

Chapter 3 – The Outcome of the Battle

What “Battle” are we talking about?  It is not some future battle, like the Battle of Armageddon but a daily battle to stay on the right track to reach heaven.

1 Timothy 6:12 says “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (NASB)

It is the battle that we face every day.  It is against Satan.  It is Good vs Evil.  It is a battle to God’s will.

Ultimately, we are on the winning side.  Remember, Satan wants to be in control but from our study of the Book of Revelation, Satan is defeated, Jesus wins.

Each of the following verses tell us about the “Battle” between Good and Evil.

  1. Luke 10:18 – Satan was kicked out of Heaven for the first time. (Jesus speaking)

  2. Matthew 28:7 – The tomb was empty. Jesus had defeated death and sin.

  3. Revelation 12:12 – Satan’s time is short.

  4. Job 1:10-12 – Satan has to ask permission.

  5. Revelation 20:1 – It is an angel that defeats Satan.

  6. Revelation 20:10 – Satan will be thrown into the Lake of Fire

The central question we must ask is always this: “Who is in control?”  If you think that you are in control of your life and what happens to you then you are in trouble.

If you understand that God is in control of all things and that He has a plan for your life, then in every situation, no matter how big or small, you can confidently say “God has got this!”  Paul believed that way.

He says so in Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

 

If we believe this way and believe the outcome of a difficult situation is in God’s hands then there are certain truths that we have:

  1. If we prayed about the problem then we can have peace knowing we gave it to God.

  2. If we enlist the help of other believers who prayed about it and they too will feel peace.

  3. We can know that we had done everything that we can do to ensure success.

  4. We can fully trust in God to be in control and to accomplish His plans and purposes for my life.

Charles Stanley says “If you are living your life in this way—praying about every major decision, walking in the peace of God as you go about your daily routine, doing what you know to do to live safely and with commonsense precautions, and trusting God to be in control always and to accomplish His plan for your life—you are living the way God intends! The attacks that may come your way are not attacks that you could have avoided.”

Your response to Satan’s attacks determines what happens.  The way we respond determines whether:

  1. Our faith will be strengthened or weakened

  2. Our witness of God’s power and presence in our lives will be greater or lesser

  3. God receives greater or lesser glory and praise

  4. Unsaved people are more or less inclined to trust in Jesus

Just as with Adam and Eve in the Garden or Job or every other person that has lived, Satan will attack you.  We live in a fallen age.  The world and man’s history is made up of sinful men and women.  No one can avoid the devil’s external attacks.

External attacks happen. The devil has the power to trip us up, inflict harm upon us, and cause evil to adversely affect our lives.

John 10:10 tells us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

 

1 John 3:8 says, “8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.

 

These verses tell us that Satan comes to steal and kill and destroy.  The one who does what is sinful, is of the devil.  Sin is nothing new to Satan, he has been sinning from the beginning.

On the positive side, these verses tell us that Jesus came to earth so believers may have life, and have it to the full.  They also tell us that Jesus came to destroy the devil’s work.

Satan does not leave anyone out with his attacks.  He even attacks God’s chosen ones.  Each of the Biblical figures had bad things happen to them even though God chose them for a higher purpose.

  1. Joseph, the son of Jacob – He was thrown in a pit, sold as a slave, falsely accused, spent years in a prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

  2. Elijah, the prophet – Jezebel persecuted him.  He hid.

  3. Rahab, the prostitute – All of the people from Jericho were killed except her family

  4. Even Paul – Read 2 Corinthians 11:24-28 endured persecution for Jesus’ sake.

We can and must recognize that no matter how severe the external attack, God is in control; the devil is not. And because God is in control . . .

  1. The attack of the enemy is limited in scope.

  2. The attack of the enemy is limited in duration.

  3. The good that God has planned will be far greater than the results of the attack.

  4. God has planned a benefit that will strike a blow against the devil, bring about eternal blessing to God’s children, and bring God glory.

“Have you considered My servant Job?”  Job’s story was about a man under spiritual attack.  With all that Satan did to Job, what was Job’s response at first (read Job 1:21) “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.”  He praised God.  Even Job’s wife suggested that he curse God and die. Job refused.  Job’s friends weren’t any better.  They accused him of sin, Job 19:2–3.  More intense attack, Satan can use anyone against you.  Yet Job persevered.

Throughout the story of Job, we learn the following things about Satan’s attacks:

  • Job 1:12 – God put limits on what Satan could do. Satan might have been given the ability to destroy Job’s possessions and afflict Job’s body, but he could not lay claim to Job’s life or his spirit.

  • Job 2:13 – God put time limits on Job’s suffering. He did not allow Satan to bring more suffering into Job’s life than Job could endure.

  • Job 14:10-17 – God rewarded Job. God turned the situation for good, rewarding Job with far more than he had lost.

  • God received glory from Job’s life. Thousands of years later, we are still using how Job maintained his faith and trust in God even in the worst of times. Job proved God’s faithfulness and God’s omnipotent, omniscient goodness.

1 Corinthians 10:13 – “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

Often we miss interpret this verse, it is talking about temptation but we associate it with difficulties.  It does not say that God will not give us more strife in our life than we can bear.

“God has promised to supervise all temptation that comes at us through the world, the flesh or the devil. He promises to limit it according to our capability to endure it – according to our capability as we rely on Him, not our capability as we rely only on ourselves.” (Guzik)

Whenever the devil strikes us, we can take heart that God has a purpose in allowing the devil to act. The purpose is a divine one that we may not understand but that, nonetheless, is for our good or the good of others. The grief, suffering, or pain is for a season only. The end result, as we remain faithful to God, will bring glory to Him.

Never lose sight that God is in control of your life—all of your life, all of the time. He has a purpose and a plan that is unfolding as you continue to praise and thank Him, and to trust Him step by step.

You can always count on these things when the enemy attacks you.  You can be certain that:

  1. Isaiah 59:1 – God will help you. God is holy, omnipotent, omniscient, and immutable. The Bible tells us, “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear” (Isa. 59:1). The Lord desires to help you. He is waiting for you to ask Him!

  2. The attack will come to an end. No temptation or crisis lasts forever. A temptation may come again in another form, or come again after a period of time, but every temptation has a time limit put on it.

  3. You will be stronger in your spirit after you have resisted an attack of the enemy.

Never lose sight of the truth that God and Satan are not equals. Satan is not omnipotent (all-powerful). He is not omniscient (all-knowing). He is not infinite. God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is omnipotent, omniscient, and infinite.

Remember Satan is a defeated foe. Rev. 20:10 tells us so.  It says,

And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

God desires for us to choose to love Him, accept Jesus as Savior and follow Jesus as Lord.  But if a person willfully and consciously chooses not to receive Jesus, God will allow that person to make such a choice.

Chapter 4 – The Enemy’s Snares

The apostle Paul referred to the devil as wily or scheming (Eph. 6:11). NASB NIV (Schemes) KJV NKJV (Wiles)  “Wiles are devious or cunning strategies employed in manipulating or persuading someone to do what one wants.”  (Internet definition)

Much of the time the devil ensnares us one small lie at a time. John 8:44 tells us – “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks  a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

The devil sets these schemes or snares against us (All start with D):

  • Debate

  • Division

  • Doubt

  • Deception

  1. THE SNARE OF DEBATE

Debate shows up when we are sharing the Gospel or even discussing the Gospel with a nonbeliever.

Charles Stanley says “If you find that you are in a conversation in which a person continually interjects “but” and “what if ” and “but what about,” recognize that the devil is using that person—not for an honest discussion aimed at getting to the truth of an issue, but a debate solely for the pleasure of disagreement.”

The Devil is the master of debate, you can’t win a debate with the devil. It is best to walk away. Say to the person who attempts to debate with you, “Maybe we can discuss this some other time.”

  1. THE SNARE OF DIVISION

The devil wants to divide people.  Look at the United States today.  The US has become ineffective because of the division.  As a Church we too can become ineffective at reaching people for Christ if we are at odds with each other.  Often because we disagree on a few minor details in theology we can’t get together at all.

The devil seeks to cause division in any ministry outreach.  One organization that is gaining ground in Ohio is Revive Ohio.  It hasn’t come to Licking County but in 2019 it started in Knox County.  Reaching people starts with the basic foundation of Christianity, a prayer.

“It is critically important in defeating the devil that we continually seek to unite with and remain united with believers who truly are seeking to follow and serve Christ Jesus. We must become yoked with those who are joined to Christ.” (Charles Stanley)

Bible Study Fellowship has been successful at breaking down the barriers of religion.  Men and women of all denominations get together and study the Word of God.

Remember brothers and sisters in Christ are not our enemies.  Many of us may even work with Methodists or Catholics.

The real enemy is the devil and his forces, at work behind the scenes in every case of spiritual assault.

One of the things that divides us are accusations. Accusations are a key tool of Satan.  The Bible refers to Satan as “the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night” (Rev. 12:10).  Consider how you feel when someone has falsely or even rightly accused you of something.  You feel backed into a corner, ready to fight back.  Relationships can be destroyed over accusations.  That is division.

WHAT UNITES US? If accusation divides us, what unites us? The love of God.  Read Romans 8:35–39.  Paul tells us that even though there are many things that divide us, we cannot be separated from the love of God.  God loves everyone and we are to love each other.  The love of God is the one place where believers can have common ground.

What do these Scriptures as about showing love?

  1. Matthew 22:37-39 – Love God and love others

  2. Proverbs 25:21-22 – Take care of your enemy

  3. 1 Corinthians 13:2b – Without love we are nothing

Words of love and acceptance in Christ Jesus produce the exact opposite of accusations.

  1. THE SNARE OF DOUBT

I have heard someone that attended this church say, “The Bible is just an old book that is not applicable today.”  That is Satan speaking.  If Satan can get us to doubt or not accept certain scriptures, then he is winning.

What do these verses say about the Word of God?

  1. Hebrews 4:12 – It is sharper than a two-edged sword, able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

  2. Psalm 119:9-11 – A young person can stay pure by obeying your word. (NLT)

  3. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;

    (ESV – God breathed)

“The truth is, the Bible does relate to us today. All of the authors wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t make mistakes, and He is always timely and eternal.” (Charles Stanley)

There’s ultimately only one “different opinion,” and that’s the devil’s opinion.

Even in the Garden, Satan caused doubt in what God said.  He asked Eve, “Indeed, has God said, ‘“You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’? (Genesis 3) Satan made Eve doubt what God had said and we are still paying for it.

Satan’s favorite use of doubt is making us question our salvation.  He puts a thought in our minds, “Are you really saved?, Really?”

A key message of the New Testament is “Christ is in me, and I am in Christ.” The devil will do his utmost to test that central truth of your relationship with Christ Jesus.

When Jesus was baptized, He experienced a strong affirmation from heaven. See Luke 3:21–22.  Immediately after this, Jesus went into the wilderness.  The first seven words out of Satan’s mouth? “If You are the Son of God.”   Satan attacks us the same way.  He tries to get us to doubt our relationship with God.  To do this he tells 3 main lies.

Lie #1: Saved people don’t sin.

They still are human and live in fleshly bodies with natural desires.  If this is true then there are no saved people.

Lie #2: Some sins are beyond forgiveness

1 John 1:9 tell us that if we confess them, then they are forgiven.

God’s mercy and patience with us are beyond measure.

Lie #3: God gets weary of people who sin and repent repeatedly, and He eventually stops forgiving their sins.

Unlike humans, God’s love is perfect.  He may be disappointed at our sin but He will never give up on us.  This is what grace is:

God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.  As the hymn says, “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.”  Even though we are weak, we have to remember what 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”

We can never be perfect, God knows that we will fail and He will be there for us.  John 8:36 tells us the way to be free from our sin.  “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”  There is only one way to get rid of our sin and that is to give it God.  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 

 

We aren’t freed to sin again but we are made right with God.  We are freed to do our best NOT to sin. If we do sin, we are to confess it to the Lord and ask forgiveness.  It wouldn’t hurt to ask Him to strengthen you to not give in to that temptation in the future.  As it says in the Lord’s prayer, “and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” 

Charles Stanley says “Salvation isn’t based upon a feeling, and it isn’t assured on the basis of a feeling. Salvation is based upon an act of your will in receiving what God has graciously offered to you! Salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit—forgiving you, cleansing you, and sealing you in Christ Jesus forever. Emotions come and go. They rise and fall. Salvation isn’t rooted in emotion. Finally you didn’t save yourself, and you can’t unsave yourself. “

If you continually question your salvation or don’t believe you are genuinely saved, you can always go to the Lord today or pray talk to Pastor Brian and make a recommitment of your faith in Jesus.

Doubting your salvation prevents you from being all you can be for Christ.  It makes you question everything in your life.  Will God really take away MY sin?  How can I talk to others about Christ, I’m not that strong of a Christian?

Satan often focuses on baptism.  He will say “Look at the number of ways that other churches baptize.”  We baptize by immersion because that was most likely how Jesus was baptized but John 3:5 says “Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Jesus put no specifications on the baptism, it says baptized of water and the spirit, no other specifications.

Satan will try to get you to doubt the importance of going to church.  He will make you think:

“If I miss today, it is just one week.”

“Sunday is the only day that I get to sleep in.”

. . .

Hebrews 10:25 says that we should NOT forsake getting together.  That means we should do our best to get together every week to encourage and be encourage as we worship.  Everyone is being attacked by Satan.

“Satan ultimately will try to get you to doubt any and every aspect of the Christian life so that you will devalue, dismiss, or diminish the importance of the most basic Christian disciplines: offering thanksgiving, praise, and prayer; reading and studying the Bible; attending church; giving tithes and offerings; witnessing about Christ Jesus; and using your spiritual gifts to bless others.” (Stanley)

If we let Satan get a foothold in our lives, he will weaken our walk with Jesus/God.  I find that if I miss my morning Bible Study, I don’t feel as close to God.  God doesn’t go anywhere, it is Satan getting that foothold.

  1. THE SNARE OF DECEPTION

Charles Stanley says “Deception is a lie about the true reality of something. Deception occurs when we believe things are good, but they aren’t; when we believe things look hopeless, but they aren’t; when we think something is true, but it isn’t; when something looks too good to be true and turns out not to be good at all.”

Deception is probably Satan’s most used snare. Revelation 12:9 tells us that Satan “deceives the whole world”.  Satan not only uses the most obvious lie, he uses the “little” lie.  The one that is just one degree from the truth.

Here are two prominent lies of the devil:

  1. “You don’t have time for that.”

  2. “Don’t think about tomorrow.”

“Sin leads to death, destruction, and a diminishing of every good thing. It destroys relationships, reputations, and the opportunity to reap great blessings. It hinders growth and keeps us from fulfilling our God-given destiny. It destroys inner peace, joy, and feelings of deep satisfaction. It diminishes self-worth and dashes hopes, dreams, and goals. Sin shackles and limits us in ways that cause us to retreat into ourselves and to hide from the world.” (Stanley)

To deceive us, Satan may say, “This might happen to some people, but it won’t happen to you.”

Genesis 3:4 says, “The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!”    The devil told Eve that “Surely you won’t die.”  The death was not immediate.  It was the beginning of death in the world.  At that point her body started down the road to death.  As an older man, I realize what this truly means.  At some point in your life you realize that yesterday your body was better than it is today and tomorrow it will be worse.  The best physical day that you have is today.  Sounds morbid.  But that is what the warning from God to Adam and Eve was.  Death entered the world and eventually we will all pass through death’s portal barring the Rapture.

Romans 6:23 tells us that “The wages of sin is death”  We all will die because sin entered into the world and we all sin.  There is a sin debt that is owed and death is the price.

Satan will also tell you lies about Jesus.  What lies about salvation God or Jesus have you heard?

  1. “Jesus isn’t the only way to God.”

  2. “All religions are the same—they all lead to God.”

  3. “Jesus was just a good man who died a martyr’s death.”

  4. “All religions have the same god.”

2 Corinthians 4:3–4 tells us that the devil seeks to keep unbelievers in their condition by blinding their minds to the truth.  It says “3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Satan hates the Word of God, hates the name of Jesus and especially hates those who believe in Jesus and know the Word!

John 8:31-32 tells us how to be free.  Jesus sets us free.  These verses say, “31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

Chapter 5 – Learning to Discern

Charles Stanley defines “Discernment” as “the ability to judge a situation accurately—to see the full reality of a situation, relationship, experience, or circumstance. It is the capacity to understand accurately and clearly what is, to see the truth of things as they are from God’s viewpoint. Discernment for the believer is seeing and understanding as God sees and understands. It is the ability to make godly judgments and right appraisals.”

If we are to judge behavior as believers we must know what is   behavior or bad behavior.  In order to know the difference we must study God’s Word.  Listening to one sermon a week is not enough.

1 Peter 4:17 (NASB) says, “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”

Believers are to have sound judgment based upon accurate discernment.  Ezekiel 44:23–24 tells us that there we are to judge ourselves now.  How can we live godly lives if we do not know what a godly life is.  God’s Word helps us to discern the right path to travel.  Nonbelievers will be judged in the end by God.

Ezekiel 44:23-24 – “23 Moreover, they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. 24 In a dispute they shall take their stand to judge; they shall judge it according to My ordinances. They shall also keep My laws and My statutes in all My appointed feasts and sanctify My sabbaths.

Romans 1:28-32 (Paul) tells us and the Romans that we are not to engage in a long list of improper behaviors or what the NLT translates as “all kinds of wickedness” and most of all we are not  “encourage others to do them.”

Romans 1:28-32 says, “28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

We need recognize four aspects of discernment:

  1. Discernment between good and evil

We need the ability to discern between good and evil.  Satan has the ability to make what is evil seem good. He becomes the wolf that put on sheep’s clothing.

(1 Cor. 15:33–34 says, “Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals. Become sober-minded as you ought (NLT says “Think carefully about what is right”), and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.”

  1. Discernment between what is real and what is illusion

We need to be able to tell if what we are seeing and hearing is fact or fiction.

Some people may come into our lives and give the appearance of good character—only to be shown later to have had very bad motives.

  1. Discernment between what is good and what is best

            What does John 10:10b tell us about what Jesus wants for us?

            “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

“God does not desire that any person live a so-so, average life. He desires for every person to live an excellent life—morally excellent, spiritually excellent, relationally excellent. It isn’t a matter of how much money or material goods a person has—but the degree of love, joy, and peace a person has. (Stanley)

  1. Discernment between our desires and God’s plan

Ask God to reveal His plan to you. Ask Him to show you the talents He has built into your life. Trust Him to show you how to develop those talents and use them to make a difference for Christ Jesus in this world. Don’t settle for your own dead-end goals—get in line with God’s goals and be all that He created you to be!

Discernment is a three-way key—it is a key to understanding God’s will, having good judgment, and knowing God’s voice.

  1. A KEY TO GOD’S WILL

Discernment is key in discovering and understanding God’s will for your life.  There was an old adage that says, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

We can’t trust our feelings because feelings can be very deceptive. They are temporary. What feels good in one minute doesn’t necessarily feel good two hours later.  We have to have discernment.

  1. A KEY TO GOOD JUDGMENT

Have you ever watched those info-mercials.   “If you buy this product, it will make you …”  You wonder who buys those products.  People without discernment do.  Discernment is key to having good judgment.

  1. A KEY TO KNOWING GOD’S VOICE

Discernment helps us determine if God is speaking to us, or if the voice we are hearing is not of God.  Remember, deception is one of Satan’s tools.

The Lord said that He speaks in a still, small voice. (See 1 Kings 19:12.)

The Lord also said that He is our Shepherd, and His sheep, that’s us, we will know His voice. (See John 10:4.)

Here are a few things to help us know that it is God speaking:

  1. The Lord will never impose on us something that hampers us from using the talents, skills, and resources that He has given to us.

Cults are notorious for this.  They tend to force their will on their followers.  God will never force His Will on us.  When we were created He gave us free will.  Just as a parent wants their children to show and do things because they love them, God desires that we openly voice our praise and thanksgiving to Him.

When we studied Galatians, Paul worked very hard to teach them that God desires that we live in grace, not legalism imposed by the personal preferences of other people.

  1. The Lord will never speak something to us that is contrary to Scripture.

This is another reason that we need to study God’s Word.  If we know what the Bible says then we can check the message against it—and not just against one isolated verse that may seem to verify or confirm what you want the message to be.

Trust the Holy Spirit on a daily basis to guide you in EVERY aspect of your daily lives.  John 14:16 tells us that the Father will send a “another Helper”, that He may be with you “forever”.

A number of times while walking with friends, one of the children walking with the group has reached up and grabbed my hand thinking that I was their dad.  They quickly pull away when they realize it is not Dad.  We can do the same thing if we do not discern God’s voice or God’s will and use good judgment daily, we can end up following Satan.

THE IMPORTANCE OF OBEDIENCE

I read two books written by John MacArthur, “The Gospel According to Jesus” and “The Gospel According to Paul”.  One of the key differences that MacArthur points out between the two messages about the Gospel is that Jesus demands obedience.  Charles Stanley says, “Spiritual discernment works fully only when we desire to obey and actually do obey God’s directives.”

In order to better develop your spiritual discernment we must first recognize that it is something to be desired and sought. Just like knowledge we don’t necessarily get it when accept Jesus Christ as our Savior.

The Holy Spirit fills us with His presence, and He is the Author of spiritual discernment, but the ability to discern comes as part of the process of our minds and hearts being renewed. Ephesians 4:21-24 says “21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”

Psalm 119:66 tells us to pray for spiritual discernment.  It says we should pray “Teach me good judgment and knowledge”.   This verse says, “Teach me good discernment and knowledge,  For I believe in Your commandments.”  (NASB) The word ‘discernment’ and ‘judgment’ are much the same.

Additionally, Charles Stanley says, “we must learn to rely upon the Holy Spirit to be the Source of truth in us.  Jesus taught that the Holy Spirit would be in us, with us, and upon us. The Holy Spirit determines our spiritual gifts, instructs us in the Word of God, empowers and energizes us, and is our Helper in all situations. The Holy Spirit reveals what Jesus would do and say in any given situation, and enables us to discern the truth in all situations.” (See John 14–16.)

1 Corinthians 2:9–12 says, “but just as it is written,

Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,
And which have not entered the heart of man,
All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”

10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God,

Paul is telling us that the Holy Spirit reveals to us the truly important things of life—the things that are of God and that have eternal benefit. As believers, we have God inside us, not a portion of God.  With the Holy Spirit living in us we have the ability to understand God’s Will and God’s Word and we have a perfect connection with God.

Unfortunately, along with the good we get the less desired.  Since the Holy Spirit lives in us, He knows our sinful motivations, attitudes, and beliefs.  He will reveal to you when you sin or are about to sin.

Stanley says, “We must rely on the Holy Spirit if we truly are going to have a renewed heart and mind and be able to develop spiritual maturity so we aren’t led around by the devil as if we were on his leash.”

Finally, we must be willing to study the Word of God. Studying the Bible is the only way to know and understand God.  You must allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in what verses to study and how to interpret them.

Psalm 119:97–105 says, “97 O how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
98 Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies,
For they are ever mine.
99 I have more insight than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the aged,
Because I have observed Your precepts.
101 I have restrained my feet from every evil way,
That I may keep Your word.
102 I have not turned aside from Your ordinances,
For You Yourself have taught me.
103 How sweet are Your words to my taste!
Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 From Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way.

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.

At that time the Law was the Word of God.  The psalmist knew the great value of God’s Word in developing discernment.  We are to study God’s word to get understanding (v 104) and guidance (v 98) which are discernment.

Verse 105 says “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”

John 14:16 tells us that Jesus said “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;.  It told us that the Holy Spirit would be with us forever. The Holy Spirit’s help in our lives is ongoing. We never fully know everything we need to know.

“Discernment is God’s gift made available to every believer, but as is true for all gifts from God, we must actively receive this gift and do so by faith. We must ask God to impart His discernment and then believe that He will give it.” (Stanley)

Just as the Hebrews nation had God as a pillar of fire at night to guide them through the wilderness, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us throughout our lives.  We must ask God to shine His truth on any situation that seems questionable to you.

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