Summary: Satan and his demons may appear to be gentle, but they are out to destroy your effectiveness in the Kingdom of God.
Maneuvering Spiritual Warfare
1. We were shocked by the tragic death of Steve Irwin.
2. Stingrays, normally friendly, bear a deadly sting.
3. We have an enemy that can appear graceful and good, Satan.
4. 2 Corinthians 11:13-14 reads, "…. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness…"
5. To those of you who do not yet know Christ, Satan is attempting to blind your mind to the Gospel….
6. To those of us who have made a commitment to Jesus Christ, Satan’s goal is to minimize our impact and take us down
7. So we are engaged in the battle; we choose whether we fight it by default and take our losses or whether we are active and minimize our losses.
Main Idea: Satan and his demons may appear to be gentle, but they are out to destroy your effectiveness in the Kingdom of God.
I. Our M.O. (Mode of Operation) (8a)
• Good habits make a BIG difference, but this is more about our minds (unlike the English expression, Self-controlled, which is more about restraint)
• The word implies having a sound mind (and often translated that way), in contrast to being oblivious or drunk; being in a stupor
• William Hendricksen defines it , "self-control is man’s ability to look at reality with a clear mind"
• Mentally sharp and prepared (one reason we offer so many educational opportunities here; it implies an educated mind)
• This is like boot camp and basic training; we prepare our minds!
Peter had given in to Satan on several occasions; was not alert…
1. -discouraged Christ from fulfilling His mission after his great confession of faith
2. Peter Himself had failed to be watchful (Luke 22:31-34) the night of the Last Supper. Jesus said:
"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."
But he replied, "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death."
Jesus answered, "I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me."
Peter had failed to watch and pray in Gethsemane (Matt. 26:36-45 passim)
Jesus said: "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."
"…Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation… He went away a second time … When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time…Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners."
3. Peter calls Satan "your enemy the devil" and likens him to a lion in search of prey. The word "enemy" ( antidikos , "adversary") meant an opponent in a lawsuit (BAG, p. 73; cf. Job 1:6 ff.; Zech 3:1; Rev 12:10).
• This takes us back to an anchor chapter of the Old Testament, Zechariah 3
C. Helps NIP attacks in the bud
Pretty much the same sort of activity we pursue to help us grow also defends us against Satan’s attacks, with these exceptions: we need to pray against Satan (for God to bind him), and we need to realize that temptations are not always random, but sometimes insidiously orchestrated…we need to perceive patterns that alert us, then, to pray.
II. The ACTIVITY of the Devil (8b)
a. The New York Times reported a study about the diminishing belief in the devil among Americans. Two-thirds of Americans do not believe in the devil as a living entity. In a randomly selected survey of over 1,000 Americans, pollsters asked whether they agreed that Satan is “not a living being, but a symbol of evil.” Sixty-two percent agreed with the statement. That means nearly 149 million Americans believe that Satan has no influence but that Satan is just a symbol of evil. We should know and understand that Satan is real and evil is real and that this is our number 1 enemy as believers in Jesus Christ. (Christopher Roberts, Sermon Central)