Monday, May 06, 2013

O Church, Beware of Satan and His Schemes

As Christians we are called to live up to the gospel by living out the gospel (Philippians 1:27, Ephesians 4:1). However, this does not happen in a vacuum, or in a laboratory, or in some other sterile environment; but it happens in real time in real life, in the midst of this fallen and broken world.  We the church, the body of Jesus Christ, the spiritual kingdom of God here on earth have an enemy, an adversary who is Satan, the devil.

* Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  I Peter 5:8
* So that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes (trickery, cunning, deceitful craft). II Corinthians 2:11
* Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of he devil.  Ephesians 6:11
* But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.  II Corinthians 11:3
* In Matthew 4:3 and I Thessalonians 3:5 he is called the tempter.
* In John 8:44 we see he is a murderer, a liar, and lying is his very nature as there is no truth in him.
* Genesis 3:1 shows us he is crafty (subtly cunning in an evil way).
* Revelation 12:9 tells us that he is a deceiver.

Quite the resume, isn't it?

Satan's goal is to weaken, subvert, and destroy the work of God; and as you read and study the Scriptures you will see six main schemes, six main tactics, six main battle plans that he follows in his attack on the kingdom of God, and those who belong to God, the citizens of His kingdom. His six main schemes are as follows:

1. He attacks the word of God, its authority, its veracity, and its sufficiency.

Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made, and he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?'"
II Peter 2:1 But false prophets arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying (contradicting, disavowing) the Master who bought them.
In Ephesians 4:4 we are told not to be carried about by every wind of doctrine (false/pseudo doctrine or fads based on partial/incomplete doctrine) Examples would be The Prayer of Jabez, The Purpose Driven Life, Wild at Heart, Crazy Love.
In II Corinthians 4:2 we are told there are those who adulterate (mixing in impurities so as to defile) the word of God.
II Timothy 3:8 speaks about those who oppose the truth.

2. He attacks by planting false teachers in our midst.

II Peter 2:1 (see above)
In Matthew 24:11 Christ tells us the many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.
Acts 20:29-30 I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.
II Corinthians 11:13-15 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.  There it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.
I John 2:26 These things I have written you concerning those who are trying to deceive you.
I John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (Elsewhere in this epistle, John call these people antichrists)
II Timothy 3:5 describes these people as those who hold to a form of godliness, but deny its power.
Galatians 3:1 O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?
To be fair here, let's also give women their due.  We have:
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, which is neither Christian nor science.
Aimee Semple McPherson, an early faith healer/radio personality, who founded the Foursquare Church.
Today we have Joyce Meyer, Paula White, Gloria Copeland, and a host of lesser lights.

3. He attacks by getting us to exchange the sacred for the secular.

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according the elementary principles of the world rather than according to Christ.
Read the entirety of Exodus 32, and what you will see is Israel worshiping the Lord who delivered them in the same manner that they had seen the pagan Egyptians worship their gods; and you will see God's response to being worshiped in that manner.
In modern terms this is called syncretism (the fusion of two or more beliefs or ways of worship).  In its rush to be relevant and to be contextual, the modern church has fallen prey to this scheme.  The lines of distinction between the sacred and the secular, the profane and the holy, have been blurred. The relevant/contextual philosophy and its accompanying methodology have been the Trojan Horse that has brought the leaven of the world into the camp of the kingdom.  Remember, a little leaven leavens the whole lump, and this adulterating of its worship will lead to the church tolerating sin in its midst. (See Leviticus 10:1-7, I Corinthians 5 and 11:1, 23-34, II Corinthians 6:17)  In I Corinthians 11:23-34, the Corinthians, most likely, were practicing the Lord's Supper the same way they practiced pagan feasts, with drunkenness and gluttony.

4. He attacks by using the believers' sin against one another.

Galatians 5:15-16, 19-21a But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.  But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh...Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are:  immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these...
Hebrews 12:15  See to it that on one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.
Ephesians 4:29-31 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you , along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other,just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
I Peter 2:1-2 Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babes long for the pure milk of the word, so by it you may grow in respect to salvation.
James 1:1, 8-9 My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism...If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well.  But if you show partiality, you are committing sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

5. He attacks by internal dissension.

Romans 16:17-18 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.  For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Jesus Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.
I Corinthians 1:10-13 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.  For I have been informed by Chole's people (the I of Chloe faction) that there are quarrels among you.  Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, "I am of Paul," and "I of Apollos," and "I of Cephas," and "I of Christ."  Has Christ been divided?
Titus 3:10-11 Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and sinning, being self-condemned.
Philippians 2:2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.

6. He attacks by external opposition.

Matthew 13:21 speaks about the persecution and affliction that arises because of the word.
Romans 8:35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ?  Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Acts 14:21-22 After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God."
Luke 2:31 Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat.
See I Peter 5:8 above (obviously Peter knew of what he was speaking).
II Timothy 2:3 Suffer hardship with me as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
I Timothy 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
Philippians 1:28-29 in no way alarmed by your opponents--which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.

Satan uses all of these tactics to attack the faith of the gospel, for which we should be striving (Philippians 1:27).  He attacks its doctrine, the salvation which it brings, and the lifestyle it produces...all in order to impede and destroy the work of God.

In spite of his tactics, we are to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel.  We are to live up to the gospel by living out the gospel, and we most effectively do this when we are cognizant of the schemes he will use against us so that we will not fall prey to them.

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