Tuesday, March 27, 2012

BELIEVE IT OR NOT - YOU HAVE A REAL ENEMY

Whether you are a believer in Jesus Christ or not, there is a being who has a never-ending agenda that comprises, among other agenda items, three main goals - to steal from you, to kill you if possible, but ultimately to destroy you, spiritually as well as physically (John 10:10).  However, right away, I want it known he is not equatable with God (Romans 8:37, 1 John 4:4).  This was a created being, NOT the Creator.  

Many Christian believers know this enemy from personal experience.  Many know him by one of the many names he goes by - tempter (Matthew 4:3), deceiver (2 John 1:7) and accuser of the brothers/sisters (Revelation 12:10).  The name "Satan" is referenced in the Old Testament when he incited David to take a census (1 Chronicles 21:1), tested, tempted, and accused Job in his faith journey (Book of Job), and was an accuser of Joshua in Zechariah 3:1.  In Genesis 3:1, he is introduced as "the serpent".  However, our enemy, as we will see in a moment, is not a snake.  He is much more than an animal that was created by God, which the Bible says was more crafty than any other animal. The "serpent" is used here as a vessel to communicate verbally with Eve before The Fall.  The two names most everyone knows and calls him by are the Devil or Satan.  Lucifer, meaning light bearer, seems to have been his original name and should NOT to be confused with The Everlasting Light/Life - Jesus. 

I personally look at the devil as the end-all-end-all of disgruntled employees.  This being did not get his way at a certain time eons ago and he has been trying to exact revenge through hurting humanity ever since.   A significant amount of this once holy angel's story is found in Ezekiel 28:12-19.
The word of the LORD came to me:  "Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: " 'You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.  You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared.  You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones.  You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you.  Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones.  Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.  By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries. So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching.  All the nations who knew you are appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more.' "   

His mission to kill, steal, and destroy started the day he fell.  And as stated before, he channels his hatred through these kinds of acts on humanity in order to steal away those who would know eternity with Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit.  One of his strong attempts in fulfilling his agenda came when Jesus arrived on the scene some 2,000 plus years ago.  The other part to his story can be found in Revelation chapters 12, 13, 16, and 20 as the dragon.

Sun Tzu, a sixth century general, said, "know your enemy".  Jesus knew our enemy personally.  Just one instance was what the Bible entitles The Temptation(s) (Matthew 4:1-11).  However, at almost every major turn in Christ's life the fallen cherub attacked Jesus, His disciples (Matthew 16:21-23; Luke 22:3-4), and the people He loved (Matthew 14:13; John 11).  God The Father had a script for Jesus' life.  This included everything, even the way in which Jesus must die - The Cross.  For Jesus to die any other way would NOT be according to the plan/script (Numbers 21:4-9, Deuteronomy 21:23).  This thwarting or stopage of God the Father's plan for salvation was what Satan was all about for a long time.  In Luke 20:9-18 we read a summary about God the Father's attempts (throughout the Old Testament) to reach humanity through the nation Israel by the sending of His prophets and eventually His own Son, Jesus - the Parable of the Tenants.  It has been magnified to me that Satan knew the prophecies as well as anyone if not better than anybody else.  He tried to keep Christ FROM dying on The Cross.  He had efforts to get Christ OFF The Cross.  Plus, he even tried to distort the Resurrection story by having the guards spread the rumor that the disciples came and stole the body and claimed that Jesus had risen (Matthew 27:54).  

There are many times our sinful nature is the mentality or spirit that leads us instead of the devil.  I wonder just how many times it really wasn't that "the devil made me do it", but that it was our natural inclination all along.  I believe several of the verses that pertain to the Pharisees, teachers of the law, and the Jewish leaders of that time can be diagnosed as associated with humanity's sinful nature.  One glaring example, to me, is John 11:48 -  "If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation." These guys were more concerned about their position in society than their position relationally with God.  However, in addition to our sinful nature coming into play, there seems to be two majors ways Satan approached his "Jesus Situation" - talk Jesus out of it and/or get physical with Jesus.  


Talking Jesus Out of It (Going Through With Plan of Salvation)
  • In Matthew 4:1-11 Satan tempts Jesus.  In verses 8-10 the real kicker comes - "Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.  "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."  Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'It is here that Satan tries to get Jesus to not only drop God the Father's plan of salvation but try his own on for size.  By the way, it didn't work!  Praise God!
  • In Matthew 16:21-23 Peter was used to try to misdirect Jesus.  "From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!"  Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."  I loved how Jesus could see and hear who was really speaking to Him.  We can too if we practice His presence on a daily basis!
  • Pilate's wife had a supernatural dream in Matthew 27:19 - While Pilate was sitting on the judge's seat, his wife sent him this message: "Don't have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him."  Do you hear Satan's voice coming through that wife?  The Holy Plan is for Jesus to die on The Cross for our sins, Satan intervenes via a dream and tries this route.  It didn't work!  Praise God!
  • So, Jesus makes it to The Cross.  Satan's next plan of action is to somehow get Him off the tree.  Matthew 27:39-44 records those verbal attempts - "Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, "You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself ! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!"  In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him.  "He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself ! He's the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.  He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, 'I am the Son of God.' "In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him."  Weak attempt in my book and Jesus did not come down off The Cross - Hallelujah!  
  • Jesus was pressured to go public with His full intentions in John 7:2-10 - "But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus' brothers said to him, "You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do.  No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world."  For even his own brothers did not believe in him.  Therefore Jesus told them, "The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right.  The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil.  You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come."  Having said this, he stayed in Galilee.  However, after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret."  
  • There was social pressure not to believe Jesus was the Christ (John 9:22) - "His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue."
  • Heord was used as a "scare tactic" by the Pharisees according to Luke 13:31 - "At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, "Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you."   
    Get Physical 
  • Matthew 2:1-18 (especially 3, 13b, 16) - Herod's attempt at baby Jesus' life.
  • Matthew 2:21-23 - Herod's replacement, Archelaus, not any better!
  • Luke 4:28-30 - Synagogue people try to throw Jesus OFF a Cliff!
  • Luke 19:47-48 - It is an everyday affair by Chief Priests, Teachers of the Law, and Leaders to try to kill Jesus.
  • John 5:16-18 - Sabbath healing + Equating yourself with God = "Jews tried all the harder to kill him".
  • John 7:1 - Jesus avoids Judea "because the Jews were waiting to take his life".
  • John 7:30 - An attempt to seize Jesus seems to supernaturally FAIL! 
  • John 7:32 - Before Gethsemane, Temple Guards sent to arrest Jesus but cannot because they too were amazed at His teaching!
  • John 8:57-59 - Jesus escapes a stoning because He says, "before Abraham was, I AM!"
  • John 10:31, 39 - Jesus escapes another stoning and seizing - "He escaped their grasp" (sounds possibly close this time).
  • John 11:49-53 - Caiaphas (High Priest) puts a "hit" out on Jesus.
  • John 12:9-11 - Extra!  Chief Priests plan to kill Lazarus too on account of Jesus' mass following since the resurrection of Lazarus.  An attack of a loved one and the attempt at stifling an event by Satan.
All this research done and presented to you humbly in order to teach - not only does there exist an enemy of our body and souls.  Not only do we know our enemy by name.  Not only do we know that our sinful nature is always at war wanting us to resume that old lifestyle.  Not only do we know that God the Father's plan for Jesus was "shot at" verbally and physically by Satan.  But you should know that "If they persecute me, they will persecute you also." (John 15:20)   "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted," (2 Timothy 3:12)  It is a fact - Jesus did not promise a perfect, "rose garden" life by following Him and becoming a Christian.  According to the verses above and I'm sure you can think of others I have missed - the opposite is true.  However, Jesus does supply a light at the end of the tunnel - Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.(Matthew 5:10-12)   
 
So, believe it or not, you have a real enemy.  However, here is a two-fold promise you can take to the bank - "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)  Take courage by brothers and sisters in Christ and those yet to be in Christ because Satan is defeated and Jesus is The Champion! (thank you Carman)


P.S. - This study was all me this time.  I say that to encourage all of us to get in and stay in the Word!  My time with the Holy Spirit as I studied this topic was precious and He obviously lead me into All Truth!  You and the Holy Spirit and The Word have a date - don't miss it!  Many blessings!  -Chad