Know Your Enemy (Part 2)
[ Preached by Pastor Kenneth Chin at Acts Church Malaysia – 18 June 2017 ]
Deception is what appears to be right but is actually wrong, and vice versa. Satan is a deceiver (Genesis 3:11-13) and our minds are his workshop, which is why we need to constantly renew our minds. We should stop meditating on the fears and lies, or speaking them into being. Instead, we need to fill our mind with God’s truth and confess them with our mouth.
1 Timothy 4:1 says that some believers will depart from the faith as they follow deceiving spirits. Even though we are in the world, we are not to be of the world which is under the sway of the enemy (1 John 5:19). When we have a close friendship with the world, it will compromise our relationship with God.
We need to remember we are of God and not of the world in order to avoid being under the sway of the enemy.
In Matthew 4:1-11, it reveals the devil’s three stage plan when tempting Jesus in the wilderness:
Temptation of the flesh
The devil began by tempting Jesus to turn stones into bread.
The strategy of the enemy is always to attack us first in the flesh because our flesh is weak. So be careful with the things you desire and with your appetite because we can be drawn away from God by our desires.
James 1:13-14 | 13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.
Temptation of the mind and emotions
The devil then challenged Jesus to throw Himself from the highest point in the city in order to prove He is the Son of God.
Insecurity is rooted in our sense of identity. The enemy can smell insecurity and he will keep pushing you to prove yourself, but you do not have to prove anything. Instead, find our identity and worth in Christ and to be secure in our dependence on Him.
Also watch our emotions. We need to guard our hearts so that we do not become too hung up on worldly things such as titles and promotions.
Temptation of the spirit
Finally, the devil tempted Jesus with all the kingdoms of the world in exchange for Jesus worshipping him.
This hit straight at Jesus’ desire to win the world and the enemy was offering an easy way to do so. The devil ultimately is after our worship. But, as Jesus’ reply reminds us, God is the only One we should worship.
We should not compromise our loyalty to God in exchange for a shortcut to our God-given desires.
Five ways the devil can work in our lives if we allow him to:
Wrong perception of the devil
The devil plays with our mind and causes us to see what he wants us to, which is that he is bigger and stronger than he actually is. But like Elisha’s servant, may our eyes be opened to see that there are more for us than against us (2 Kings 6:16-17).
The devil can influence people who hold onto things that belong to this world
The devil is the ruler of this world and can use things and places to influence us. If we hold anything belonging to the devil such as amulets, charms, puppets or statues, we are giving him authority to come back.
Even a good thing can be an idol in our lives because the enemy is using the fact that we cannot let go of the thing to control us. If you are struggling to let something go, it shows that it is an idol and it has a hold on your life.
There is danger in any activity that involves meditation on anything other than God and His Word. Yoga, for example, requires that you open up your mind which gives the devil the opportunity to have a foothold – many have needed deliverance from being involved in this seemingly harmless exercise.
We should also realise that feng shui is not biblical – God is the Creator of all things, so why do we have to put our trust in things such as the positioning of our houses and the trickling of water?
Let us also be careful with the places we visit because the enemy has spiritual authority over some places such as temples which can remain even though the place may no longer be used for demon worship. Why would we want to bring home something that is of the enemy, such as a photograph of us at that place?
Some areas in our life can be affected because we have unknowingly opened a door and we need to ask God for wisdom on how to close these doors. If we are unsure about something, it is better to err on the side of caution.
Satan can influence people to be his agents, even Jesus’ disciples
At Matthew 16:23, Jesus rebuked Peter saying, “Get behind me, Satan!”, It seems harsh but Jesus explained that it is because Peter was “not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men”. Anyone, including believers, can be used by the enemy when our minds are not at the right place. That is why we are to love God with all our mind, not just part of it.
Ephesians 4:27 warns us against giving the devil a foothold in our mind. Our mind belongs to us and the enemy must not be allowed to even have a “room” in it. If you have doubt in your mind, the devil will have a room called “doubt”. You need to kick him out, do not give him any chance. Otherwise, from a foothold, the enemy will have a stronghold and then a stranglehold on us – in other words, he will steal, kill and destroy us.
God allows Satan to test us
Just like for Job and Peter, God sometimes allows Satan to test us because He wants something out of the test. He hopes we will be able to use what He taught us and be more than overcomers. Jesus told Peter he prayed for him that his strength would not fail (Luke 22:32), and He similarly prays for us.
When we go through testing, we will find out what we are really made of.
While the devil is sifting us like wheat in order to expose all the dirty, ugly things left in the sift, God wants to see what’s sifted out into the bowl because that’s what He wants to use to accomplish greater things through us.
Satan focuses on the negative, on sin, on our past, so that we would feel ashamed, but God focuses on the positive, on our righteousness in Christ, and on our present and future.
When it has nothing to do with Satan, but things happen because we break God’s laws
We could be breaking a natural law that is causing something to break down in our lives. For example, it could be breaking a dietary law by eating certain food we are not supposed to eat, or we could be treating our spouse badly or having a bad attitude at work. The enemy can use this as an opportunity to come in, following us closely to watch us destroy our own life.
If we leave the physical broken for too long, it will become an emotional issue and then spiritual. For example, if we break dietary laws and put on weight, it can lead to depression and that is when the enemy comes in.
Satan is an accuser who accuses us of our sin and ugliness day and night.
Revelations 12:10-11 tells us that Satan will be cast down and we will overcome him by Jesus’ blood and our testimony. 1 John 2:1 tells us Jesus is our Advocate before God. We are guilty as charged and deserve punishment but Jesus has already paid the price for us.
Having learned more about how the enemy works, let’s not be careless in what we think, say and do but instead be watchful even in the small things that seem harmless. And in doing so, let’s not forget that the enemy has been defeated and Jesus has won the ultimate victory for us, hallelujah!
Written by: Acts Writer’s Ink
Edited by: Hailey Chung