Summary: Satan is a con artist. He's the best. The reason people refuse to deny themselves to follow Jesus is because satan deceives them into thinking they don't have to. God and Satan are enemies, and the creation of God is the battlefield
In the beginning of human history God warned Adam and Eve about a certain tree in the Garden and that they were forbidden to eat the fruit of this tree. Why did God put this dumb tree in the Garden? GRRRR....We believe God to be all powerful. We believe God to be the ultimate power in the universe, every and all universes. There is no power greater that God. So we believe God knew what Adam and Eve would choose to do. Even before Eve was deceived by satan to pick the fruit of the forbidden tree and take a bite, God knew this would be the choice she and Adam would make, and because of the inevitable choice to sin Jesus was briefed that the cross was his destiny. So why?
This is one of those questions we struggle with. Why did God create the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil? Why is there evil in the world?
My best answer through my understanding of Scripture is because God wanted his creation to possess the power of choice. The whole point to the book of Job is that this guy chooses to be faithful in spite of all the evil things that happen to him. His choice to be faithful in face of intense suffering brings more glory and honor to God than his obedience to God when his life was going great. Does this remind you of someone else? Just like Jesus, who in heaven, ruled as the Son of God and yet chose to give up the throne room to live among us, and in the face of intense suffering he brings glory and honor to God through his obedience.
You have a choice. The same kind choice that was placed in the Garden of Eden. You have the choice to obey God. You have the choice to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. You have the choice to pick up your cross, deny your selfish nature and follow Him.
There are a lot of folks who just can't believe this. They'll say things like, "this is like saying war is good because it gives us military heroes. We'll take a world that has no heroes if we can have a world without any war." So the fact that God would make evil so that Jesus could make himself into some kind of super-spiritual hero seems inhumane. I don't understand what God gets out of a human being choosing to believe His Son is the Savior of the world. I don't understand what God gets out of a human being living out a lifestyle of obedience to His Word even in the face of intense persecution or suffering. I don't get it. I'm not God.
For God, though, it must be some kind of AWESOME. So, I choose Jesus. I say, God if choosing Jesus is what gives you joy, if choosing Jesus is what brings you honor, if this is what you want from me, then I choose Jesus. For those of you who struggle with the idea that you don't want to be considered an idiot, or foolish because you believe in God, because you believe in the Cross, because you believe in your rescue from hell, read this:
So now let's take a moment and talk about the nature of evil, the nature of Satan.
In the hours before Jesus was arrested he was nervously praying in the Garden of Gethsamane. I wonder if in his mind He was reflecting on memories from the original Garden. When he walked with Adam and Eve as friends with no shame, no guilt, and no sin. When I read the prayer His best friend John summarized, with the idea that He was reflecting on his walks in Eden, I feel loved by God. Deeply and intensely loved by God. One line from this prayer of Jesus is, "I'm not asking you to take them out of the world” Jesus prayed, “but to keep them safe from the evil one.” Apparently Jesus is concerned about this thing He calls, the "evil one." From one Garden encounter to another, what exactly is Jesus concerned about?
We're going to look at one thing, the most significant thing about Satan. He's a con-artist. Satan sells death and he makes it look good. Jesus said it this way, "Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies." You want to know who Jesus is talking to here? He's talking to a group of folks who won't allow themselves to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.