Summary: Much has changed in 2,000 years, but the most important things are still true.
Sermon by Rick Crandall
McClendon Baptist Church - July 25, 2007
*Mary and I had a good time visiting her family last week in West Virginia, and while we were there, we made a visit to her daddy’s grave. The cemetery moves up a beautiful, steep hill behind a little country church that was founded in the late 1700s. Mary’s dad lies near the top of that hill, maybe 4 or 5 stories above the roof of the church. It’s the kind of setting that makes you feel connected to our past.
*One thing that made me feel more connected to the past was seeing the headstone on her grandfather’s grave. Mary’s grandfather was born in 1868 -- Not her great-grandfather, her grandfather was born in 1868. (He was actually 50 when Mary’s dad was born.)
*Tonight we will take a look at a story that seems long ago and far away, but the past is not nearly as far away as it seems. Much has changed in 2,000 years, but the most important things are still true.
1. First, we still have an invisible enemy.
*We still have the same enemy at who was work in vs. 16-17. Luke wrote:
16. Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling.
17. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, "These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.’’
*We still have an invisible enemy. How does he work? Well, he can still possess nonbelievers -- (especially those who seek him). And he can still pretend to be a believer’s friend. The devil can pretend to be your friend. And he still promotes his lies by linking them to the truth.
*We have an invisible enemy, but most Americans don’t believe that today. According to the 2007 Barna Group Tracking Survey, only 24% strongly believe that Satan is a real spiritual being. (1)
*Satan is a real spiritual being whether we believe it or not! D.W. Whittle told the old story of a man who didn’t believe in the devil. Years ago he went to revival preacher Charles Finney and said: “I don’t believe in the existence of a devil.”
*The preacher answered, “Don’t you? -- Well, you resist him for a while and you will believe in it.” (2)
*David Holwick says:
-Your devil is too small if he is merely a personification. Satan is more than a symbol. Jesus believed in him.
-Your devil is too small if he is consigned to long-ago times and faraway places. Job 1:7 tells us that Satan roams over the whole earth. John 12:31 and John 14:30 call him “the ruler of this world. . .”
-Your devil is too small if you decide he is not capable of performing miracles. The Bible says he can in 2 Thess 2:9 and Rev 13:13
-Your devil is too small if you assume he leaves Christians alone. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us to “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” The Devil tried to tempt Jesus, and he will try to tempt you. He cannot steal your salvation, but he can ruin your spiritual effectiveness. (3)
*And he will try. As Priscilla Shirer says, “The enemy knows he can’t destroy you, but he will spend the rest of your life trying to distract you.” (4)
*We have an invisible enemy -- But the good news is that he can still be defeated by the power of God! In vs. 17&18, “This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, ‘These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.’ And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, ‘I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’ And he came out that very hour.”
*Most of us might not feel too confident commanding an evil spirit to come out in the name of Jesus. But if the need ever arises, God will give you all the confidence you need! And here is some rock-solid truth for you from the Word of God: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:6-7)
*That’s what we have to do, because we still have an invisible enemy.
2. The 2nd truth for today is that greed is still an insidious problem.
*Greed -- It’s insidious, sinister and dangerous. We see some of its bitter fruit in vs. 19-22: