Summary: FAITH TO STAND (part 5) Satan knows when to advance and when to retreat. This message presents five opportune times for the enemy to attack. Regardless of the enemy’s schemes we can overcome!
Before you pick a fight you ought to be sure you can win the war. President Roosevelt appeared before a joint session of Congress the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, and declared, “Yesterday, December 7, 1941–a date which will live in infamy–the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”
The Japanese began the war with America just before 8:00a.m. Hawaii time; a swarm of 360 warplanes bearing the red symbol of Japan’s Rising Sun on their wings attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor. The surprise attack struck a critical blow against the U.S. Pacific fleet. Five of eight battleships, three destroyers, and seven other ships were sunk or severely damaged; more than 200 aircraft were destroyed; 2,400 Americans were killed, and 1,200 were wounded in the attack. Japan’s losses that day were minimal: only 30 planes, five midget submarines, and fewer than 100 men.
The war however had only just begun who would stand as the victor when the fighting stopped? Six months after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor the three giant aircraft carriers of the Pacific fleet, which had fortunately been out at sea on training maneuvers, reversed the tide of the war with a spectacular victory against Japan at the Battle of Midway. Then nearly four years after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the U.S. dropped two atomic bombs on the island of Japan. The first was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and then three days later a second was dropped on Nagasaki. More than 100,000 Japanese were killed by these powerful atomic bombs and Japan soon surrendered. The United States of America endured the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor and nearly four years of war standing victorious when the fighting stopped.
Satan attacked Jesus in the wilderness. For forty days and nights the devil hit Jesus with all of hell’s furry, but Jesus would not falter. Satan’s attack concluded with three more temptations; however, Jesus stood strong. When finally the smoke clears in the Judean wilderness Luke lets us know that the war was not over; it had just started!
+ Luke 4:13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. (NIV)
Before you pick a fight you ought to know that you can win the war. Satan thought that he could be victorious over Christ. Three years later the devil believed that as Jesus was nailed to the cross that he had finally won the war; Christ was defeated, or was He? How many of you know the outcome of that battle? Jesus is alive and Satan is defeated!
Although the battles continue, the war has been won because of Christ’s ultimate victory over death, hell and the grave. Do you have the confidence that like Jesus you can face the attack of the enemy and have faith to stand. We don’t have to succumb to the assault of the enemy.
+ 1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (NIV)
Over the last four weeks we have been taking a closer look at Christ’s temptation by Satan in the wilderness. Today we are going to again look Christ’s temptation in order to discover Satan’s OPPORTUNE TIMES. Satan advances and he retreats. Why? Put simply if there are opportune times for Satan’s attack, then there are also inopportune times for an attack. As we look at Jesus’ experience in the wilderness we can uncover Satan’s OPPORTUNE TIMES: five times when the enemy will make his advance, and in turn we can then be ready with faith to stand against the onslaught of the enemy.
Opportune Time # 1: AFTER A SPIRITUAL VICTORY
This my surprise you, but Satan will hit you with a surprise attack almost immediately following a great spiritual victory! Do you remember the timing of Satan’s attack against Jesus in the wilderness? Christ’s temptation in the wilderness immediately follows His baptism at the Jordan (see Luke 3:21-22, 4:1). The devil will hit you too when you think you are the strongest!
Satan knows that after a spiritual victory, in those times when we sense God’s presence all around us, those are also the times when we feel confident and may not be conscious of our need be totally dependent upon the Lord. It’s when we have overcome and feel strong that we may least be aware of our need to continue to pray and study God’s Word.
Often following a spiritual victory are the occasions when we let our guard down and unknowingly put our soul at risk. The devil knows we don’t handle success very well.