Summary: This sermon addresses our need to be watchful during times of Revival and Renewal.
INTRODUCTION: READ Acts 8:1-25
NEED: Realize Satan Counter Attacks when God is moving through His people to effect revival and spiritual renewal.
DIVISION I: Persecution - Acts 8: 1-3
Explain: Satan can’t attack God so he attacks His people. And he is always in the counter attack mode, always reacting to what God has already done. Often, he targets God’s people for persecution to give him time to get his forces into position for action. Satan and the fallen angels have been around a long time and have seen much. But they are bound by time and space and have no physical form. Therefore, they have no more influence than you choose to give them. But they will take what ever you give them and do much with it. Also, remember Satan isn‘t strong enough to attack God, so expect trouble when God is moving in our midst. For many of you that is happening today. I dare say the pain of persecution may be the very thing that drove you to the sanctuary this morning. You will find the peace and comfort of being among God’s people will free you of that pain.
Application 1: If you want that freedom to continue once you leave our presence there are a few steps you need to consider:
A. Identify your pain.
B. Get motivated to change.
C. Believe God and His family can help.
Application 2: Now if your persecution is coming from not knowing Jesus, I have other advise for you right now.
A. Admit your pain is coming from being separated from God.
B. Believe Jesus paid a price you cannot so you can be right with God.
C. Confess to God your need for Him and your willingness to follow Jesus.
Application 3: If you let us know your concerns, this family will see you through them. We will listen and help you see your situation as our Father and His Word describes it. We will pray for with you. We will pray for you. When you have triumphed over your circumstances we will rejoice with you and help you share your joy with others.
Illustration: Persecution is intended to keep you from trusting God. If you doubt you will be powerless. But this is the greatest of all opportunities to build trust in God. Most forms of satanic persecution attempt to get you to the point where you see your circumstances as a huge flaming monster, a Balrog if you like, towering over you. There seems to be no chance of escaping the evil pursuing you. Let me elaborate by explaining my comment about the Balrog. The Balrog is an enormous monster from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. In appearance, his seems far greater in statue and power than the travelers he pursues. He looks as though he is made of fire and his outer shell can hardly contain the power and heat that makes up his hideous existence. In the story, you find out the source of his strength, no matter how large it makes him appear is no match for the power available to those he chases. The leader of the small band stops midway across a footbridge suspended over a vast emptiness. As he turns and faces his pursuer, he announces “You cannot pass … I am a servant of the Secret Fire … the Dark Fire will not avail you”. Quite simply folks that is Tolkien’s reference to the power of the Holy Spirit that equips us to overcome Satan.
Reasoning: No matter how great our suffering may appear, no matter how large our enemy seems, his power is nothing compared to that of the Living God. You must not address persecution in your own power. You are as small as that tiny figure standing firm on that bridge when compared to the powers of darkness. But as a child of God you posses a spiritual nature that has more potential than you will ever know in this life. Trust God to grow you in the knowledge of that potential. When He returns you will have learned much and be ready for new revelations about Him, and you, and your relationship.
Transition: Our next block of text introduces Simon the Sorcerer and shows us another Counter Attack by Satan:
DIVISION II: Deception - READ Acts 8: 9-17
Explain: Satan uses deception to confuse us and get our attention off God.
Reasoning: This story doesn’t portray Simon as an evil wizard casting destructive spells over people. He was clearly deceived by Satan. It seems he was using dark spiritual influences for the appearance of good. We read that he amazed the people. They all listened to him as he boasted that he was someone great, representing the Divine and His Great Power. He didn’t claim to have or be the Deity. But he obviously used his sorcery to gain influence and allegiance even though it does not appear that he used it to instill fear and chaos. Simon was great misguided and deceived, maybe even by his own heart.