NEVER GIVE THE DEVIL A CHANCE!
By Pastor Paulus Budiono
Lemah Putro, Sunday, September 9, 2018
Do we still take pleasure in hearing the Word of God preached over and over again? Are we tired of it because we know it? The Apostle Paul reminds us that if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet he ought to know (1 Corinthians 8: 2). It will be better if we know nothing but want to know something. If we think we know the Word of God, we will find ourselves in a dangerous condition since our spiritual lives will stay static / immobile, and chances are that we will back away in the long run.
What is the Apostle Paul’s advice in regard to our following the Lord? Ephesians 4: 25-28 states, ”Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another. ‘Be angry, and do not sin’: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.”
All the restoration that God has been working on to make us new men will get devastated if we give the devil a chance to infiltrate and ravage all God’s programs. Stay on guard because the devil has not been cast into the lake of fire and brimstone yet (Revelation 20: 10). So, the devil along with his accomplices is still actively going underground, looking forward to “turning adversity into opportunity” so as to snare us, making us fall into sin again.
Indeed, God reminded the church in Thyatira (and us) neither to follow the teaching / doctrine of the devil nor to study it in detail (Revelation 2: 24). This is to say that we do not have to know the devil’s actions from misleading books. Instead, we should find them out from the Bible.
According to the Bible:
The (Holy) Spirit firmly says that some infidels follow seducing spirits and doctrines of the devil that forbid to marry and eat foods which God has created (1 Timothy 4: 1-3).
The Bible recorded the Devil’s activities, among others: The devil put Job’s godliness on the test with God’s permission (Old Testament). The devil did the same thing to Jesus (New Testament). Did Jesus get scared and His hair stand on end? No. Instead, He confronted the devil and beat his temptation (Matthew 4: 1-11). Never think that the devil is easy to give up. He did step back only to wait for a good momentum (Luke 4: 13). And don’t get it wrong. The devil is not afraid to step into the church (because he has been dismissed in prayer). Didn’t the devil take the Spirit-filled Jesus up to the highest point of the Temple to be tempted (Matthew 4: 1, 5-7)?
As long as the verdict is not yet “due,” the devil still has the freedom to tempt anyone, including God’s chosen people (cf. Matthew 24: 24). When Jesus cast the devil out of a demon-
possessed in Gergesenes, the devil even had the courage to demand that Jesus not judge him before the time (Matthew 8: 29).
When does the devil “re-enter” a person to overpower their life? At the time when he finds a person without faith. Judas, for example, lived with Jesus day in, day out. He heard His teaching and saw Him performing miracles. However, Judas did not believe. Then the devil entered him and later he sold his own Master (Luke 22: 3-4).
Similarly, no sooner had Jesus praised Peter for His appropriate answer, admitting who He was than Jesus rebuked him, saying,”Get behind me, satan!” when He was talking about the cross He would have to bear but Peter tried to prevent it from happening (Matthew 16:13-19, 21-23). The devil also took control of Annanias’ and Saphhira’s hearts. This led them to greed for money and cost them both a tragic death (Acts 5: 1-10).
From this episode we should learn not to judge someone by his look because of his superb ministry or because he acts as if he were spiritual. Only God can search someone’s heart.
The devil knows best when we are weak, ready to be tempted. How come?
- After 40 days of fasting, Jesus, as a human, got hungry. Then came the devil tempting Him with food. Filled with the Holy Spirit and God’s Word, Jesus turned his offer down and won the temptation.
We must be filled with God’s Word and the Holy Spirit so that we can turn down the devil’s enticing offer at the point when we desire it. Remember that the Holy Spirit within us is way greater than the spirits in this world (1 John 4: 4). After all, the Holy Spirit never forces anyone’s will. But He will grieve if we stay hard-hearted, doing what the devil says as he deceives us with his imposing appearance like an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11: 14)
- Besides tempting Him with food, the devil took Jesus up onto a high mountain, offering all the kingdoms of the world alongside their glory. But He firmly said no to the devil’s offer (Luke 4: 5-8).
We are not to get fascinated by the grandeur of material world. Nor are we supposed to consecrate things as this may lead to idolatry. For example, God left the magnificent Temple of Solomon which ended up with ruins; the Philistines seized the Ark of Covenant, causing the Israelites to suffer their great defeat (1 Samuel 4: 17). Stay alert because the devil likes manipulating our material needs to make us fall into sin.
- The devil also set Jesus on the highest point of the Temple. This time the devil used God’s Word to tempt Jesus. However, it was not that easy for the devil to trap Jesus with his deceiful tricks and all kinds of lies.
We must have the intact Word of God and live in Him. This way, we can ward off the twisted Word of God even preached from the pulpit. Watch out for false prophets and evangelists! Do not delight in sermons that are pleasing to hear. We must cross-check the truth with the Bible!
The devil is the murderer of men and father of lies (John 8: 44). Who is our father? Our Heavenly Father or the the devil? Jesus harsly rebuked the Jews,”The devil is your father.” Why? Because they did not believe in Him sent by the Father and even tried to kill Him (John 8: 42-44).
What the devil says is always contrary to the Bible. We must keep the Heavenly Father in the right position since the devil seriously desires to drag people to eternal judgement. While the Bible stresses sanctification, the godless do not honor holiness by any means. If we do not like the Word of God, the devil sees this as golden opportunity to present sexual desires, positions and wealth / money that we need.
Admittedly, we are not able to resist the devil’s tempting offer in our own strength. Having had fun with the devil, Judas Iscariot, Annanias and Saphira lost their lives. But Peter kicked the temptation out when he was filled with the Holy Spirit. He knew the truth of the Word and rebuked Annanias and Saphira whose hearts were possessed by the devil.
The Lord has given five offices (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) to equip the holy saints for the ministry and the building up of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4: 11-12). Being filled with the Spirit and the Word of God, Peter (an apostle and a pastor in Jerusalem) and Paul (a teacher, an evangelist and an apostle for the gentiles) won victory after victory.
Paul was not easily trapped with praise because he knew that those praising him kept the Word with their lips while the spirit of witchcraft, instead of the Holy Spirit, took possession of their hearts (Acts 16: 16-18).
When it comes to money, a servant of God must have the courage to tell the truth. Do not step away from eternal life for fear of loss! The congregation should hear the Word of life instead of the preacher’s words as the preacher himself is in need of eternal life. The right servant of God has no interest in reputation or praise. Rather, he returns glory to God.
In addition, the Bible teaches us how to face and fight the devil:
By staying humble since God resists the proud. By submitting ourselves to God, we fight the devil and he will flee in no time (James 4: 6-7).
Why does God hate the arrogant? Because the devil always wants to feel superior and the proud crave praise and honor.
Submission to God displays humility (not physically bowing and even bending over) and fights against pride. Didn’t the Holy Spirit leave King Saul and evil spirit possess him due to his disobedience (1 Samuel 15: 22-23; 16:14)?
Stay on your guard because we still have evil spirits in the air to face. We must dismiss the spirit of arrogance attached to us. When it comes to humility, Jesus, the Word, is the perfect model.
By turning our anxiety over to God and maintaing rock solid faith in times of hardships. Apart from that, we should stay alert since the devil is like a roaring lion seeking anyone to devour. God who has called us will equip, establish and strengthen us (1 Peter 5: 6-10).
Do not get frightened and shy away from suffering for a short while, because in times of suffering, we have the guarantee for God’s support and protection. Someday, He will exchange our suffering for eternal life.
By the blood of the Lamb and by our testimony, we can overcome the devil (Revelation 12: 11).
Let the blood of Jesus coat our hearts and every aspect of our lives so that the devil has no opportunity to pester us.
The living testimony by the blood of Jesus manifests life transformation that can defeat the devil. However, we should remain watchful since the devil, while he is still free, is always making every effort to trouble and defeat us. The time will come when he will give power to a beast with seven heads and ten horns – the antichrist – to fight against the saints. And all people on earth whose names have not been written in the Book of Life will worship him (Revelation 13).
By treading cautiously in order not to easily get shaken and restless, particularly misled by the hoax regarding the Lord’s coming. His return is preceeded by the death of the wicked who exhalts himself and even sits in the Temple of God showing himself as God. The coming of the wicked is the work of the devil alongside various signs and fake miracles. Those who do not believe the truth and delight in evil will be easy victims to this wicked being (2 Thessalonians 2: 1-12).
Please note that the devil works in one way or another. His work can be something scary, but mostly something amazing which those who do not truly love the Word of God are carzy about. We can ward off the devil’s working strategies with all his lies – another Jesus, another spirit, another gospel, another apostle, another teacher, another prophet (2 Corinthians 11: 4,13; 2 Peter 2: 1) – if we have pleasure in reading the Bible which helps us to detect all kinds of deceptions by the devil and his collaborators.
The Bible exposes detailed descriptions of the devil and provides the way how to confront and defeat him. If we are filled with the Holy Spirit and earnestly read the Bible, we will not quickly get shaken. Nor will we easily get trapped by the devil’s deceptions because the Holy Spirit will aid us to get into all His truth. Amen.