Monday, March 31, 2014


We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
(Ephesians 2:10)

Solomon sent word to Hiram, saying,
“You know that David my father was unable to build a house for the name of Yahweh (his God) because of the wars which surrounded him, until Yahweh put them under the soles of his feet. But now Yahweh (my God) has given me rest on every side; there is neither adversary nor misfortune. Behold, I intend to build a house for the name of Yahweh (my God), as Yahweh spoke to David my father, saying,
‘Your son, whom I will set on your throne in your place, he will build the house for My Name.’  
(1 Kings 5:2–5)

If you’ve followed carefully the last several posts about “seeing” the world differently, you now have a clearer understanding on your place in the world and the spiritual warfare of which we’re a part. 

Each of us who are baptized, committed disciples – we are like the prodigal son (Luke 15) who has come home.  Like the prodigal was washed, so we were bathed in the waters of baptism, and welcomed home with a party…. 

…Now it’s the next morning, and time to get to work, or (if you prefer) go to battle. 
Israel was led from slavery, baptized in the sea, received their instructions, and then went off to conquer their promised land. 
After Jesus was baptized, he was also led to the wilderness and tempted, and then his ministry began. 
So it is with us.  Baptism is when we are cleaned, when we are possessed by the Holy Spirit, and from that moment on, we have been saved (past tense).  Now we are part of God’s kingdom.  Now we are His children.  Now we have agreed to become His slaves and servants.  

Having been saved by the blood of God’s son, how can we not now live every moment in God’s service?  After He has done so much for us, how can we just say “thank you,” and then zip along and think that all we need to do is “be good” and go to church?  It’s absurd.  After what God has done for us, we should surely be compelled to serve Him, love Him with all our heart.  This is true spiritual worship. 
“I urge you, brothers (by the mercies of God) to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and teleios.
(Romans 12:1–2)

How do we do this? 
What is next? 
What direction should we go?

Just as the devil has schemes, so we also must make sure we make some plans and employ a wise strategy.  We need to be ready to resist Satan and obey God.  We should develop a plan for which things to do first, and which things are for later.  There is a time to plant and a time to sow (Ecclesiastes 3), and a time for every purpose.  So what next? 

For the next several posts we’ll take a look at strategy and planning and work for our Father and Master.  Please consider them and apply each to your own life. 

God’s Plan?

These days it’s popular for Christians to say things like “God has a plan.”  Sometimes they ask it as a question, like: “What’s God’s plan for my life”? 

This is not wise

God doesn’t have a plan for your life.  God cannot plan, for He already knows what you will do, and He does not force us to do otherwise.  Planning is for those who don’t know the future – us.  Again: it is OUR job to make plans to serve God – God has done enough! 

Think of God as a King of a Kingdom with aspirations for His kingdom. 
  • We are servants of that kingdom, and He has work for us to do (Matthew 25.14-30; Luke 12.40-48 + many others). 
  • We are His messengers, and He wants us to deliver the message reliably (Matthew 5.16; 22.1-14; Luke 14.16-24).
  • Some of us are shepherds, teachers, and protectors (Matthew 24.44-51, etc.)

Or … think of God as the Head of His household, and His household includes a large farm and lots of commerce taking place, filled with slaves and His children who are also slaves. A good example of this is the famous “parable of the talents” from Matthew 25.14-30.  In this case, the servants know what the Boss wants … and it’s up to them to be productive while He is away.  The only one who is a failure is the one who doesn’t even try. 

There are many other examples and metaphors (Romans 12.3-8), but the point is simple.  God doesn’t have a plan for us.  Rather, He has work for us to do, as in the first scripture above from Ephesians 2.10. 

God has prepared work for you, and given you the talents/gifts/abilities to do it. 
The better question is, will you? 
If so, when?
And if so, will you do it well or poorly? 
Will you serve wisely or foolishly? 
And how often and how severely will the enemy distract and mislead you?
And when he does get the better of you, how will you respond to that?   

God’s House

Let’s learn about our work by using an example from the bible.  Let’s consider some of the history of God’s house. 

While King David was alive, God’s house was a tent, just as it had been since the days of Moses.  David wanted to build God a permanent, nice home, but God had other work for Dave to do: namely, to unify the kingdom and destroy their enemies.  So that’s what Dave did.  Then, as we read above, God assigned Solomon the job of building the Temple.  Do you see that God didn’t have a plan for them … rather He just had work for them to do.  And when they did so with wisdom and zeal, God was pleased.  (And note that the work God has for us to do is based on our abilities – not on our interests!  David wanted to build God’s house, but God had other work for him.  Challenge yourself: are you doing the work you WANT to do, or the work GOD wants you to do?)

After the exile, the Jews who returned also had work to do.  They had to rebuild the temple, rebuild their homes and farms and establish their land, and rebuild Jerusalem.  But in order to do all of that, they had to make a plan … have a strategy.  They decided to do things in a certain order, to cooperate (or not) do so with wisdom and zeal (or not) as they went along.  And they faced lots of challenges!  As soon as reconstruction began on the temple, the northern immigrants to their land (precursors to Samaritans) became frightened and appealed to the Persian Emperor to stop them.  Reading over the stories of Ezra & Nehemiah is very enlightening about these activities and their problems. 

For us today the kingdom is not physical, but spiritual.  Also God’s house (the temple) is now in its perfect form as a heavenly/spiritual temple (Hebrews 9).  The earthly part of this temple is Jesus’ church (1 Corinthians 3.9-17; 1 Peter 2.4-5; etc.) 

We have also been given the task of building the temple (church) as in 1 Corinthians 3.9-17.  But instead of hard rock, the stones of God’s eternal temple is people – it’s us.  So to “build-up” or “edify” our edifice, we must help our brothers and sisters to be stronger and more productive. 

The question is, will we do a good job or a poor one? 
Will you plan, or fail to plan? 
Will we recognize the attacks of Satan for what they are, and work around that, or not? 

Going Forward

In the next few posts I hope to encourage you to see yourself as the servant of God you claim to be, and to make His work your top priority.  If you do, you’ll discover that there are many stories in the bible that are like your own. 

We all need to grow in wisdom, stature and favor with God.  And until we’re mature spiritually (teleios), there is much we will not be able to do.  Some, sadly, will try to do too much too soon, and some will never work to get strong enough to do the hard things. 

As we grow, we will also have setbacks.  Satan will get us.  The question is: will we learn from our setbacks, accept grace, and move forward, or will we quit?  Fact is, most “Christians” neither quit nor grow … instead many make excuses and justify and/or rationalize their behavior.  Even if these people are still saved, how can they avoid the deep shame they will feel when they face the Father of a son crucified to purchase their pardons? 

Eventually we become wiser, stronger, more loving and more durable.  Then new temptations come along, including pride and arrogance.  The world has no lack of condescending “Christians.” 

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself:
‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’”
(Luke 18:10–12)

If you’re still working on the hard parts of the SOM, perhaps you’re stuck on one or two things, like having mercy, going the extra mile, or turning the other cheek.  I know very few who consistently turn the other cheek or overlook a wrong.  Instead they retaliate or run away.  And even those who are pretty good at it, do they teach others to overlook a wrong?  Do they teach their children how to master this?  No way!  These are those I mention above who rationalize/justify themselves.  They teach their kids: “Don’t let people walk on you.”  They have rationalizations for this, of course, because it’s more than people can handle. 
                But some are committed to try and keep trying until they grow to this point, and then be able to teach and SHOW their children how it’s done.  Rationalize, quit, or persistently grow.  These are the choices.

We will also find that as we make plans, they’ll be interrupted.  Plans are great.  Plans are right – but – when you’re on the road to Jericho to do the Lord’s work and you see a man beaten on the side of the road, you need to stop and help.  Rigid plans without flexibility are little better than flexibility without a plan. 

because we can

One reason we need to plan is because we can. 

Our Lord once said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required.” (Luke 12.48)  For most of human history, people are locked-in to situations over which they have little control.  Many have been born slaves.  Others led off to concentration camps, or had physical or mental disabilities or were illiterate or thousands of other things.  But most of you reading this … you can read, you can serve, and you can choose how and when.  You can choose to watch TV or read the bible.  You can choose to buy a new doo-dad, or support a ministry or a poor person.  You can choose to serve (or not). 

When he was in this life, a rich man was not generous to the poor and sick man, Lazarus.  After both were dead, Lazarus was blessed, and the rich man was tortured in flames.  Why?  Because he hadn't been generous.  And now what he wanted most was to be out of the flames.  And what he wanted second-most was to go and warn his family of the horror that was waiting for them if they lived without deliberate generosity.  (Luke 16.19-31)

As we get older and our minds and bodies break downs, our choices are limited.  If we fail to struggle to get stronger and avoid sin, we will progressively get weaker.  If we fail to be generous, gracious, forgiving, serving people … we will lose our choice.  But – if we are faithful with a little, God will grant us even greater strength and more choices/responsibility (Luke 19.17), because He knows we can be trusted to be wise and diligent.  Read Luke 12.42-48, and be SURE you live accordingly!  Here’s my paraphrase:

“Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his Master will put in charge of His servants, to give them their rations at the proper time?  
Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions.  
But if that slave says in his heart,
‘My master will be a long time in coming,’ and neglects the slaves and to eat, drink and get drunk; The Master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers.
And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few.
From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.” 
(Luke 12:42–48)

The Six Words

Those who have been around my teaching usually know what I mean when I refer to “the six words,” but I want to repeat it here. 

In one of Jesus’ last lessons before he was murdered, he told the parable of the talents (pasted below).  To the two slaves who had, by their own initiative, made a “profit” for God, God said: “Well done, good and faithful slave.”  Those are the six words.  I live for those words.  I trust that I’m saved, that’s part of what grace does. 

But one of the other things God’s grace does for us is to empower us to be “fellow workers” with God!  He allows us to participate!  And when we’ve served faithfully for a time, He will increase our responsibility in recognition of our growth of faith, wisdom, and faithfulness.  It’s a cycle that makes us stronger and bolder and wiser every year of our miserable lives on this earth.  The more we plan and work the plan and resist distractions and stay flexible and trust on the power of God … the stronger we get, and then the more we can work.  Wonderful! 

Now I’ll sign off with the Parable of the Talents.  As you read it and study and contemplate it, remember that God is the One who leaves on a journey.  We are one of these slaves below.  So the question is … will you stop waiting for some magic to happen, and go forth and pursue God’s will?  Will you take it upon yourself to be more pro-active and do the work, or will you be passive and bury your talents? 

For it’s just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave 5 talents, to another, 2, and to another, 1, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.
Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents.
In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more.
But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.

The one who had received the 5 talents came up and brought 5 more talents, saying,
‘Master, you entrusted 5 talents to me. See, I have gained 5 more talents.’
His master said to him,
‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said,
‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’

His master said to him,
‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

And the one also who had received the 1 talent came up and said,
‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you didn’t sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’
But his master answered and said to him,
‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I didn’t sow and gather where I scattered no seed. ‘Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.
‘Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the 10 talents.’

For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who doesn’t have, even what he does have shall be taken away. Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 25.14-29

Sunday, March 23, 2014

See Satan

She's coming for your friends

Be sober!
Be alert! 
Your adversary (the devil) prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Resist him, steadfast through faith…

…knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brothers who are in the world.
After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace (Who called you to His eternal glory in Christ) will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen & establish you.  (1 Peter 5:8-10)

Continuing our theme of “seeing” things differently - from God’s perspective, let’s now talk about our enemy, and how we should “see” him. 

Seeing Satan is important.  He hates it when you see him. Satan doesn’t want to come into the light and be seen.  He is a creature of darkness, always hoping to stay hidden and out of your sight and out of your mind.  And if he is seen at all … he wants you to think he’s beautiful, cuddly, safe, and trustworthy.  It’s easier for him to take you and your friends as his prey if you don’t see it coming.

The master deceiver tells us: “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” 
Be alert! 

Your enemy is smarter than you, stronger than you, more experienced than you, and he never rests … he will find a way to get you (and everyone you love) to be his servants if he can. 

Satan is his proper name, and Satan is the devil.  There are lots of misunderstandings about him, lots of crazy teachings and strange ideas.  Some are scary like a horror movie, some things are true, and most are not.  Here I want to use lots of scriptures and a few of my thoughts to focus your attention on the main things you need to know in order to survive this enemy.  This is more about how you should “see” him and understand him in order to combat him.  

Who is he chasing here?

Satan is your worst enemy

First, you need to know that he is real, and he is very bad.  There are no words to describe how awful he is, but we can do some comparisons.  Satan is worse than Hitler, Stalin, the Pope, Osama Ben Laden, Vladimir Putin and Vlad the Impaler combined.   If you added up all rapists and mass murderers, they would not be as sick and terrifying as Satan.  All other bad guys are usually nothing more than Satan’s tools, messengers, angels … he used them to make people suffer, but it is Satan who is behind the curtain, manipulating them.
He is the enemy of God, and he is THE enemy of mankind.  

He wants to devour your children and your friends.  He loves lies, deception, torture and death.  He wants to use you, then kill you and your family and friends.  And while making you suffer or killing your body is (apparently) fun for him, his ultimate goal is to be sure you and your children and everyone you love will spend eternity together with him in the lake of fire. 
Child attacked by a lion

And he will succeed more than he fails, according to Jesus (Matthew 7:13-14). 

Consider that – most people you know will be his meal.

Satan is your “best friend” – your greatest blessing 

Oddly, Satan is not only the cause of suffering, he is also the provider of “great” things.  Satan has given people “wonderful” relationships, hot girlfriends, riches, fine houses and cars.  But these weren’t gifts at all – they all come with strings attached.  You get to be rich and popular and pretty, and he gets your soul. 

Why? Because he doesn’t want to win every battle, he wants to win the war.  But we are so stupid and blind, we often think that if we’re doing well it’s because God loves us.  Remember how Satan tempted Jesus?  With food after a forty day fast.  Yahweh isn’t the only one who offers food to the hungry.  Satan’s very first temptation involved a piece of delicious fruit with a side-order of knowledge.

Sometimes the “good” things we enjoy; like our nation, our family, our friends, our education or material goods – are not blessings at all.  Sometimes they are bait.  Sometimes that yummy looking cheese is our last meal. 

What's your cheese?
The cheese in a mousetrap doesn’t appeal to me at all.  But I’m foolish for other kinds of bait.  The trick to resisting Satan is to know your own “cheese.”  What is irresistible to you?  Remember: it won’t necessarily be evil by itself.  It’s usually something that won’t kill you or destroy you right away, or you’d be too smart to fall for it. 

What’s your cheese
Again: don’t merely read over this to get to the end of the article.  Rather, stop and think about it.  Because one thing’s for sure: Satan knows what your cheese is, and he’s having a blast sucking you in.  All fishermen love finding just the right bait to lure their prey – it’s fun for them.  So – what bait are you foolish for?

Peter’s advice above is personal and perfect.  He tells us exactly how we should “see” Satan … as a hungry lion, and we are the prey.  When he advises us to be sober, he’s not writing merely about us avoiding alcohol, but about us avoiding anything that would make us lazy in our watch for the devil.  Whatever makes you stupid, or forgetful, or sleepy, or lazy or to look the wrong way.  Shoot, sometimes it can even be to make you good at following God!  Soon comes pride, or overwork, and then suddenly you’re vulnerable again. 

“Be watchful” is an expression that means something to anyone who has served in the military and had to stand watch.  I used to stand watch over military aircraft on my base occasionally.  They gave me a flashlight and a white belt.  We used to joke about it.  If the Commies invaded while I was on watch, I was expected to fight them off with a flashlight?  Shoot, there were plenty of guys in my own squadron I couldn't have beaten in a fight with a flashlight as my only weapon. 

On the other hand, the people at NORAD were constantly vigilant.  We had planes in the air, ships and submarines at sea and missile silos on full alert, 24x7.  Our enemy was real, he was very dangerous, and our nation had men and women watching diligently. 

As disciples of Jesus we must be the same.  We must be aware and watchful.  You should go through all of your life with a big flashing CAUTION sign in your mind’s eye! We are at war, and the enemy is not Islam or Al Qaeda.  They are amateurs compared to Satan. 

Satan disrupts our communication

Right now, for example, Satan wants me to mess up this article.  He is doing what he does to all writers, preachers and Christian teachers: he will try to make us lazy so we don’t double-check our facts.  Then if I make a mistake you may doubt me, and you might ignore this message. 

If that doesn't work, he’ll help me make this long and boring, knowing that you will not read it closely.  Satan loves a short attention span!

Do you think I’m being paranoid? 

Check this out, from Jesus’ parable about the 4 kinds of soil: 
“These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them.”   (Mark 4:15)

Satan is alive and active and he is here as I write this, and with you as you read it (or not). 

Yes, Satan has the power to hide the good news, so that people don’t even see it:
If our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 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.  (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)

Stop!  Don’t merely read over that … go back and think about it for a minute! 

Must we be sexy or angry to be effective?

Let that thought settle in your mind as you try to talk to people about God.  Most people who see their audience isn't listening either start screaming dire warnings, or seek to improve their presentation.  Preachers are always talking about new visual aids, great sound systems, power point multimedia stuff, fancy clothing, or even grungy clothing … whatever it takes to get attention.  We even have “worship” leaders to soften us up with music and make it all tasty and yummy and appealing, so we'll shout praise God - and be happy.  

They forget that it’s not about how skilled a communicator a person is … if Satan blinds the mind of the audience, that’s it.  Shoot, if even the Apostle Paul’s good news could be veiled, should his response be to take a public speaking class, or produce a slicker video?  No – rather we try to be good and clear in order to be effective, but we must also remember that we are not entertainers

We who teach, preach, make disciples, or in any way communicate about God – we are messengers, not entertainers.  It’s our job to deliver God’s message (Luke 14.16-24), not our own.  It’s our job to deliver it accurately and well – but it is not our job to embellish God’s message.  As soon as we start trying to make it “sound good,” then we are playing with fire.  Speak the truth in love, and know that sometimes Satan will interfere.  If/when that happens, ask God for help – don’t try to defeat Satan on your own.  You will fail, believe me.  

In the same way when we communicate with fellow disciples, we are training, equipping, and developing one another to do battle.  We are fellow soldiers (1 Cor. 9:7, Phil 2.25, 2 Tim 2.3-4, Philemon 2), and so our training to be “on watch,” to remain diligent, and to keep watch out for the flock (each other) is too important to be reduced to silly things like entertainment or popularity. 
Trained, armed, watchful and effective
Very few excellent battlefield commanders are popular during the heat of battle, and none are entertaining.  But if they lead their guys to victory and get them out alive – they will be loved more than any silly USO act.

Ask any Marine combat vet about their sergeants who took them into harm’s way.  Do they wish he were nicer?  Better looking?  Meaner?  No – you’ll find most of the time they mostly wanted their sergeant to be effective.  (On the other hand, you’ll often hear different things from military guys who served in peacetime.  Consider that as you think about your brothers at church – most churches have made their peace with the local Philistines.  So it’s pretty easy for them to talk about what they “like” – the style of music and/or preaching … it’s all about what “we like” these days.) 

Yes, Satan is right here, right now, trying to block our communication.  If he can’t mess up the communicator, he’ll mess up the listeners.  If that doesn't work, he’ll help the audience forget quickly.  That’s why God has so many ‘reminders’ and memorials!  If that doesn't work, Satan will introduce fear, confusion, mistrust … or perhaps pure laziness.  He will do whatever it takes to ruin your effectiveness.  
Satan is a handsome, kind lion king.
Surely he won't eat us! 

Satan is Lord

Did you notice in that last passage above (2 Corinthians 4:3-4) that Paul referred to Satan as a “god”?  He is a god, indeed.  Anyone or anything worshiped by people is a god.  

Not only is Satan a god, but he is also a king over a kingdom and a father over a household.  Hopefully this language sounds familiar to you, since it’s the same kind of language we use to talk about Yahweh, the one true God. 

One of his titles is “Beelzebub,” which is (roughly) the lord, boss, or head of the household of demons.  He is the lord of evil, he is the god of this world. 

SEEING Satan as the god of this world is important.  Usually we are tempted to see people as “good” or “bad,” as saved, Christians, disciples, lost people, sinners, or whatever.  But from God’s point of view, there are only two kingdoms: His and Satan’s.  Everyone who ever lived or ever will live – is a part of one kingdom or another.  We are subjects of the king to whom we submit.  Sin is nothing more (or less) than bowing at the throne of Satan. And all of us who are now a part of God's kingdom ... we used to be part of Satan's - ALL of us!  

You were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ….” 
(Ephesians 2:1-5)

Remember: “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel.”  Since that’s true, how can we look down on sinners?  How can we hate or despise a person who sins?  Can you afford to have an attitude problem with someone who is living according to their own god, and who is blind to the truth?  Is it his/her fault? 

How arrogant can we be?!?  We who can see dare to mock the blind man for tripping over a curb? 

This is what love and grace are about.  As the song says, “Why did my Savior come to earth, and to the humble go?  Why on the cross be lifted up?  Because he loved me so.” 

People in Satan’s grasp are not to be feared, admired or hated.  They are to be pitied.  They are blind and don’t know it.  And why?  Because Satan poked out their eyes.

And that’s why God has us as messengers to bring the prodigals home – to seek and save the lost.  He has given us the task of rescue.  Then once we’ve rescued them from Satan’s kingdom and reconciled them to our Father, we help them grow in God’s kingdom until they are strong enough and mature enough to join us in the battle against evil. 

Satan is lord of a kingdom, and most of the people in this world are blindly following him down the road to destruction, while most who call themselves Christians are more concerned with fashion, their hobbies, their earthly nation, their church or even their physical family to care enough to rescue those who are dying. 

And that puts a giant smile on Satan’s face!  Satan loves a lazy, misdirected disciple.  Anything that keeps us from seeing him sneaking up on us is good for him!

Satan’s Magic

Satan is called a liar and the father of lies.  He is the master deceiver.  Let’s use another word for his deception: magic.  He is better than Penn & Teller and Houdini and all magicians put together, but he uses many of the same tricks.  One of their tools is “misdirection.”  Misdirection is when the deceiver gets you to look the wrong way while he does the trick elsewhere.  If you’re checking out the pretty assistant, you’re not seeing what his hands are really doing. 

Consider today’s fascination with ‘demon possession,’ or other “supernatural” things.  Satan loves this stuff, because it’s a perfect misdirection.  While you fret over that – you are not making disciples, you are not strengthening others, you are … well, you’re doing NONE of God’s work.  It’s just idle chatter. 

Speaking of idle chatter, most of what we argue about at church or with the government is much the same.  Scholars spend their lives in idle chatter.  I’ve had several encounters with this.  Well-meaning people get so involved in some issue or another, they refuse to listen to the truth until you’re telling it the way they want, or in the building they want, or from a mouth with the education they want, or…?  They did the same thing to Jesus (Luke 7.31-35). 

Pay Attention!

One more thing: don’t hate Satan.  Don’t fear him.  Don’t curse him.  Satan is to be respected and watched out for.  In Jude (scripture below) some men are mentioned who “revile angelic majesties,” and it’s revealed that they are fools.  Even the archangel Michael didn’t trash talk Satan.  It is not smart to taunt a powerful murderer.  

The only reason we can survive Satan’s attacks and deception is if we stick together under God’s protective umbrella.  If we have good pastors/elders, teachers and brothers and sisters … they aren’t trying to charm us or impress us, but to protect us and guide us.  And they do this best when they keep us close to God.  We should run from Satan, and stick like glue to God.  But we must not hate or disrespect Satan.  That’s just stupid. 

As long as we stay close to God, we have nothing to fear.  Or as David wrote: if Yahweh is your shepherd, you can fear nothing – even death itself. 

As long as we keep watch diligently – expecting an attack – we can fight it off.  But letting down your defenses, getting lazy or inattentive … these are cracks in the walls that Satan can slip through and get access to your soul. 


There’s much more to say about this, but I will stop now.  I hope you will take this as a personal challenge, and ask yourself the simple question: What does Satan do to you – to keep you from being effective?  How might he distract you?  What’s your cheese – How might he lure you? 

Various scriptures & quick thoughts

Below are some more passages about Satan.  As you read over them, I hope you’ll take your time and think and pray on them.  Ask God to show you the truth, and erase some of the ignorance that is rampant among believers. 

For example: These days it’s popular for Christians to say things like “God has a plan,” and “God’s in charge,” and we even sometimes sing a song that claims “this is my father’s world.”  If this is your father’s world, and Paul said “the god of this world” is Satan … maybe you should re-think that song (or your allegiance). 

I’ll try to keep my comments to a minimum, but just read these, and prayerfully re-think things, asking God to open the eyes of your heart

Satan does not want you to read on.  But if you do, he doesn’t want you to pay attention to details, or commit these to be parts of your life.  He’d much rather you concern yourself with other things.

So – who’s your daddy?

How to resist Satan
Do this stuff. 
In this order. 
It’s simple, but it’s hard work, so work hard:  

1.      Submit to God
2.      Resist the devil (and he will flee from you)
3.      Draw near to God (and He will draw near to you)
4.      Cleanse your hands (you sinners) &
5.      Purify your hearts (you double-minded) 
(James 4:7-8)

Satan’s magic: distract and trap.  How should we react?  Read carefully:

Flee from youthful desires &
Righteousness, faith, love and peace,
With those who call on the Lord …
From a pure heart

But: refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will
2 Timothy 2:22-26

Satan’s people

Make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; 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. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious:
Anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God,
The one who does not love his brother. 
1 John 3:7-10

Satan & the church …
Remember as you read these that the church is an earthly part of God’s eternal kingdom.  We are children of the king, but also we are His servants, slaves and soldiers.  Satan is at work to stop us.  So he has spies among us who are messing-up our communications, leading us in bad directions, and causing us to disdain each other.  Look at how Satan operates within the church:

Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity
Ephesians 4:25-27

But refuse to put younger widows on the list, for when they feel sensual desires in disregard of Christ, they want to get married, thus incurring condemnation, because they have set aside their previous pledge. At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention. Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; for some have already turned aside to follow Satan. 
(1 Timothy 5:11-15)

This next one is about pastors (elders) in a church of Christ.  They were supposedly the leaders of the church.  They ate the Lord’s Supper each week with their church family, and seemed to be good guys.  That’s why they are called “hidden reefs,” because they do to human souls what coral does to a ship: they disembowel her.  They LOOK good … but they are actually evil!  Do you have these at your church?  Would you recognize them if you did? 

…These men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties. But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed. Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.  
(Jude 8-13)
My, he looks like us but strong and handsome

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds. 
(2 Corinthians 11:13-15)    
Look carefully at your “sheep”!!
In this case a brother sinned and was “disfellowshipped” or “shunned” by the church, which was proper.  But he repented, and still the church kept him “locked-out” of their fellowship.  Paul understood that this gave Satan an opportunity.  The lamb that strayed would now be easy prey.  So Paul wrote that they should now let the lamb back into the fold and comfort him.

Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. For to this end also I wrote, so that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes. 
(2 Corinthians 2:6-11)

Remember that Satan is our accuser – Jesus is our savior!
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before Yahweh’s angel, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 
(Zechariah 3:1)

he's king of the world! 
Satan is King

If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand?  If I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? For this reason they will be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 
(Matthew 12:26-28)

 “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.”
(John 12:31)

“Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe. I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in me; but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded me. Get up, let us go from here.
(John 14:29-31)

This is when Jesus appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus.  It’s specifically about Jesus sending Paul to the Gentiles, but it’s also God’s call to you.  Rescue people from the kingdom of Satan!  

“And I said,
‘Who are you, Lord?’
And the Lord said,
‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’ 
(Acts 26:15-18)

Satan fouls up our plans:

But we, brothers, having been taken away from you for a short while—in person, not in spirit—were all the more eager with great desire to see your face. For we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, more than once—and yet Satan hindered us. 
(1 Thessalonians 2:17-18)

No Fear
Since the children share in flesh and blood, [Jesus] likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death (that is, the devil)
…& might
free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. 
Hebrews 2:14-15

Fail & Recovery
We don’t have to fail, but we will.  And when we do, we can recover and be even stronger.  During the last supper Jesus told Pete that Satan was about to take him down.  But then Jesus said that after he had gotten over it, he needed to rise up and help his bros:

 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” 
(Luke 22:31-32)

Soldiers of Christ, arise

Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.
Put on the full armor of God,
…so that…
You will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.

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.
Therefore, take up the full armor of God,
…so that…
You will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness….   

Ephesians 6:10-14