Sunday, January 31, 2016

The devil's schemes and the God of truth

Somebody recently brought up the question, "What has Satan been hurling at you lately?"

We've been studying Revelation, specifically (over the past two weeks) Revelation 12-13.

I would like to point out that in Revelation 12, it is not Satan who is doing the hurling. It is Satan who is being hurled, hurled down.  This makes him very angry, furious, in fact.  It spurs him on to pursue and attack, because he knows his time is short.

He's a cornered wild animal.  He can't escape his doom, but he's going to chew up everything he can possibly get his teeth into on his way down.  So, although he is not the "hurler," he is a force to beware.

In October, I wrote a couple of posts on spiritual warfare which turned out to be surprisingly fortifying to me.  I'm so squeamish about these things, I guess the Lord had to allow me to write about the subject in my own way, in a way that didn't frighten me, in order for me to learn something about it.  You can go back and read them, if you wish:

Spiritual warfare

Spiritual warfare, part 2

While working through this subject, I noticed that the spiritual armor of Ephesians 6 begins with the Belt of Truth and ends with the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.  At the time, this seemed significant.  After consideration, it seems even more significant.  Our protection from the evil one is the Truth, and we find the Truth in the Word of God.

When we go out to do spiritual battle, we need to be careful about what we attribute to the devil.  We are tempted to attribute to the devil everything we don't like.  Cancer, car accidents, war, marital conflict, debt, hunger, fear, death, loss; we blame it all on Satan.  "Satan is really after me," we say.  "Satan is getting me down."  However, these things are natural results of living in a fallen world.  Many of the "bad" things that happen are either natural results of living in a fallen world, or natural consequences for our own, individual, sinful choices.  Now, obviously it was Satan who ushered sin into the world in the first place.  He jammed the gears so things don't work the way God created them to work.  Hence Murphy's Law.  Weeds.  Uphill battles.  Satan is not necessarily assailing us with trials; he just bent the system so it does these things on its own.

We should expect trials and trouble.  God warns us about this repeatedly. Trials and troubles should not surprise us.

Our spiritual warfare is not necessarily to be carried out in response to trials and troubles.  Our spiritual warfare is to be carried out in response to the devil's schemes.

I'm going to tell you what I think the devil's schemes are, what we need to watch out for, what we need to learn to triumph over:

The devil has one objective or goal, and two tactics that are really one and the same.

Satan's goal is to diminish the glory of God.  He thinks he can do this by hurting God's people, stealing the Shepherd's sheep.  Satan is out to cloud our minds and understanding so that we will not see God's glory or respond to it.

He uses two tactics to do this.  (1)  He uses deception, delusion.  He is the great deceiver.  He is a liar and the father of lies.  (2)  He uses accusation.  He loves to accuse the redeemed of their sins, which are already washed away by the perfect sacrifice of Jesus' shed blood.  Of course he wants to render Jesus' payment for our sins as useless and wasted; it was his ultimate undoing, so he wants to try to undo it back.  But he can't really, because it truly happened, once for all, and the saints stand forgiven.  The only way Satan can accuse us is by going back to his first tactic, and lying to us about what Christ has accomplished and whether God's grace could apply to us.

That stubbed toe you got in the grocery store, the scary result on the CT scan, the car breakdown... those weren't necessarily the devil's work.  God uses pain and suffering to drive us back into His own arms sometimes.  Your illness, your divorce, the termination of your job... these can be used by God to remind us to look to Jesus for our hope.  On the other hand, things we assume are blessings:  the child who is a prodigy at sports or music, the demanding but lucrative job, constantly beeping computers and smartphones, a calender chock full of dates and events... these can be provided and used by Satan to draw our eyes off our heavenly Father, to distract us and fill our time so that we neither pray nor read our Bibles nor fellowship with the community of faith.

I'm going to give you a list of some of the devil's most commonly used lies.  It's good to know what his lies are, because the best way to fight him is to name his lies and say, "That is not the truth!"  And then, of course, we need to review what the truth is, ideally by finding it written in the Word of God.

Lies of the devil:

1.  God doesn't love you.
Truth:  God loves the world.  God loves all people.  And God loves you, specifically, infinitely, unconditionally.

2.  God isn't good.
Truth:  God is good.  He is the very essence of goodness, the definition.  Everything good comes from God and from nowhere else.  God is good.

3.  There is no God.
Truth:  There is a God.  He made the Universe.  He reveals Himself through creation, scripture and Jesus Christ.

4.  God doesn't care.
Truth:  God cares very much about his children.  He invites us to cast our cares on Him because He cares for us.  He is attentive to our prayers and zealous for our salvation.  He cares so much, He fights for us, on our side.

5.  God won't (or can't) help you.
Truth: God is for us, so who can stand against us?  He comes to the aid of His people.  Nothing is impossible for God.  God is sovereign, omnipotent, almighty, attentive and kind.  He has delivered His people from sin, and ultimately He will deliver us from eternal death.  God can and will help His people.

6.  There is nothing to look forward to.
Truth:  There is everything to look forward to.  Home in heaven.  Restoration of everything that is good.  The end of everything that is bad.  A new heaven and a new earth.  A perfect relationship with God.  Perfect relationships with all others who, like you, will also have been perfected in eternity.   Eternal life in paradise.

7.  You are worthless.
Truth:  You are so valuable to God that Jesus was crucified to buy you back from the devil who temporarily owned you.

8.  You are hopeless.
Truth:  All things are possible for God.   Nothing is ever hopeless.  God has infinite power to restore and renew.  God has infinite grace to to pour out on you in forgiveness in response to repentance.  There is hope.

9.  It's too late.
Truth:  Although there will be a point when it will be too late, it is not too late as long as you have life and breath.  Ask Jesus to heal everything that is amiss in you today, while you can.  If you can consider it, it is not too late.

10.  It doesn't matter if you just sin a little bit.  You can always stop when you want to.
Truth:  Sin always hurts you, always robs you of something that would have been better.  Sin takes you farther than you planned to go, and costs you far more than you ever planned to pay.

11.  You have to take care of yourself and put yourself first, because nobody else cares about you.
Truth:  God cares about you.  He works on your behalf, and He takes care of you, protects you.  When you trust God and die to selfishness, you will find that you are the most free you have ever been because you don't have to worry about yourself.

12.  This is way more fulfilling than anything God has to offer.
Truth:  Although Satan works hard to convince you that he has something worthwhile to offer, it is all a sham.  Every good gift and every perfect gift comes from God.  Everything that has real value comes from God.  Everything that that lasts comes from God.  True fulfillment is only found in Christ.

These are some common lies that the devil tells people every day.  If you sense his voice trying to get one of these messages into your head, immediately identify it as a lie and say, "That is not the truth!"  This is the beginning of spiritual warfare.

When you identify the devil's lies and counter them with the truth, you are wearing God's Belt of Truth, His spiritual armor.  When you counter with scripture, you are wielding the Sword of the Spirit and driving the enemy back.  Next time, I will put together a post with scripture references you can use to counter the devil's lies that I listed above, to back up the truths I've outlined.  If you are aware of other lies that you've found the devil using against you, please list them in the comments section, and I'll work on including scriptural truths to counter them in the next post, too.

 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:57 (NIV)

Follow on posts from this series:
Scriptures that expose the devil's lies.
Scriptures that expose the devil's lies, part 2.
Scriptures that expose the devil's lies, part 3.


Priscilla said...

One of the most helpful things that a dear friend of mine gave to me was a list of scriptures with the title of, Who I am in Christ. She gave it to me during my second major depression. I have referred to it over the years when I sense Satan's lies coming at me. Satan kept me in his clutches for many years because I believed some of the lies that he told me. He didn't want me to know the truth and worked to prevent my knowing for 15 years. I touched on that story when I told it on my blog.

Here is a link to a pdf version of what my friend gave me.

Ruthie said...

That's from Neil Anderson. His material has been very helpful to many. The recommended book is "Victory over the Darkness." Around $10 on Amazon. The sequel, "Bondage Breaker" is too scary for me.

Priscilla said...

Yes. I've read the first one.