Summary: The sermon takes a look at the cosmic struggle between evil and good - between Satan and Eve (and Adam) (Round 1), Satan and Jesus (Round 2), and finally Round 3...Satan vs. YOU... Special attention is paid on 1 John 2:15-17 concerning Satan's 3 weapons.
Think of Satan…
What comes to your mind immediately? Did an image of an angry-looking red being holding a pitch fork come to your mind? Or maybe you see a plump guy with horns and a fanatical smirk on his face? Whatever it is, we have to ask ourselves: Is our mental picture of Satan fuelled by popular culture?
Maybe it is good time for us to check the Bible – what it does say to us about Satan. In Isaiah 14: 12-14, the Bible teaches us about the origin and ‘fall’ of Satan - how he wanted to scale the heaven, place His throne above God, and replace God as the one worshipped. Our Bible also teaches us that Satan was a murderer from the beginning and he is the father of lies (John 8:44). In addition, he is likened to a thief who comes only to steal from us, kill us, and ultimately destroy us (John 10:10).
Now let us get into what we are going to talk about today. The sermon is entitled: ‘One Win, One Lose: Your Turn’.
Let us pray. ***PRAYER***
What comes to mind when you hear the sermon title? The younger – all right, probably not so young – members around us might think of video games such as Street Fighter? You know that feeling when you have won one round, your opponent has won one round as well, and you both are now into the third decisive round? Or maybe this sensation is more apparent when we watch the final round of World Badminton Championship of China’s Lin Dan versus our (Malaysia's) Dato’ Lee Chong Wei!
In the cosmic struggle between evil and good, we first see Satan challenging humanity in the first ‘act of war’ in Genesis 3. Satan, who does not fight fair and possesses wisdom of the angels, came to the unsuspecting and innocent Eve, and tempted her in ways that seem almost irresistible. We will return to Genesis 3 later.
Let us look at today’s Scripture passage in 1 John 2:15-17:
“15Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world. 17The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives for ever.”
First of all, let us look at the middle verse: 1 John 2:16. Here, we see that Satan, who is in charge of the world system (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4), uses three devices to trap Christians: The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (v16). Let’s take some time to dissect these three lusts. The first one, the lust of the flesh, includes anything that appeals to man’s fallen nature. You see, a Christian possesses both the old nature (flesh) and the new nature (Spirit) in him. Now God has given man certain desires, such as, hunger, thirst, weariness, and sex – and they are not at all evil in themselves. There is nothing wrong in them but when the flesh nature controls them, they become sinful ‘lusts’. Hunger is not evil, but gluttony is sinful. Thirst is not a vice, but drunkenness is a sin. Sleep is a gift of God, but laziness dishonours God. Sex is God's precious gift when used rightly within the marriage covenant, but when used wrongly it becomes immorality.
The second device that Satan uses to trap the Christian is called the lust of the eyes. We sometimes forget that the eyes can have an appetite! Case in point: Have you ever said or heard, "Feast your eyes on this"? According to Warren Wiersbe (1981, 71), the lust of the flesh appeals to the lower appetites of the old nature – tempting us to indulge them in sinful ways. The lust of the eyes, however, operates in a more refined way. The so-called pleasures here are the ones that indulge the sight and the mind. Hence, they might even be sophisticated and intellectual pleasures such as academic pursuits that are contrary to God's Word. There is pressure to make Christians think the way the world thinks.
The third trap is the pride of life. What is pride? I would define it was having ‘I’ in the middle – you think everything should revolve around you. Try recall earlier how we mentioned Satan was described by Isaiah to have fallen – what is the cause? It is pride! Satan thinks that he can replace God and be God. When we humans try to ‘be God’ and take over God’s role in our lives, we are following the footsteps of this father of lies. People have always tried to outdo others in their getting and spending, thirst for approval, and boast of what they have accomplished – thinking that they have done it all by themselves. Have you heard about the clever salesman who closed hundreds of sales with this line: "Let me show you something several of your neighbours said you couldn't afford". The pride of life – it has ensnared many.