Summary: This message focuses on Satan, his rebellion and the creation of hell. As you read this message you will discover that there are Christians who do not believe in hell and some are not sure if God exists. This message answers that question biblically.
Stronghold Beliefs Part 7
This morning I want you to think about two words, persuasion and influence. Persuasion is defined as “the act or fact of persuading someone or being persuaded to do or believe something.” Influence is defined as “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone.” Everyone under the sound of my voice has been persuaded and/or influenced at some point in your life. I want you to remember these two definitions because as you will hear this morning and in my message next week we must be on guard because the tools of persuasion and influence are powerful tools in the arsenal of our enemy. Let me give you an example that will become even clearer in my message next week.
Most of you may not remember the date November 18, 1978 as some of you were not even born at that time. I was seventeen years old when I heard the news account of what happened on this day in 1978. On November 16, 1978, two days earlier, a Congressional delegation, led by California representative Leo Ryan, had arrived in the Guyana jungle to a commune in Jonestown. The delegation was on a fact-finding mission to investigate allegations of human rights abuses against the People’s Temple and its leader, Jim Jones, a charismatic ordained minister, civil rights activist and documented faith healer. As members of the delegation were leaving, Jones’ armed guards, called the Red Brigade, opened fire and killed five members of the delegation, including Ryan. Later that day, 909 inhabitants of Jonestown, 304 of them children, died of cyanide poisoning. This was the single greatest loss of American civilian life in a deliberate act until the attacks of 9-11. After ambushing the delegation, in the 45-minute audio of the murder-suicide in progress recovered by the FBI, Jones is heard convincing the people that hostile forces would invade the commune and shoot innocent babies and torture the children and the old people. Jones argued that the group should commit “revolutionary suicide” by drinking cyanide-laced grape flavored Kool-Aid. When members cried, Jones said, “Stop these hysterics. This is not the way for people who are socialists or communists to die. No way for us to die. We must die with some dignity.” According to Temple members who escaped, children were given the drink first by their own parents (which was murder, not suicide) and families were told to lie down together. Jones was later found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Do you see how persuasive this man was? Do you see the influence he carried with those under his control? He was able to persuade over 600 adults, with their children, to leave their jobs and homes in California and move to the jungle of Guyana. He was able to persuade and influence people to do something that many of us today would consider utterly foolish. He deceived a lot of people and led them to their deaths. This is a prime example of how persuasion and influence is used by our enemy! But the mass murder-suicide at Jonestown does not compare to the mass spiritual suicide that took place before there was a planet called earth. What I am talking about is how Satan persuaded, influence and thus deceived a third of God’s angels into following him and leading them to their eternal death and separation from God.
This is the seventh message in my series on Stronghold Beliefs. Today we’re going to spend some time looking at Satan, his downfall and how he is the reason that there is hell and the lake of fire. Next week we will examine the fall of man and how Satan continues to use sin to separate man from God. The stronghold belief that we as Christians must have is a belief that Satan exists; that he is fighting against us; and that hell was initially created for him and his angels. Having this belief is important because it impacts how we choose to live and serve God on this earth. And while this may sound basic Christianity 101, you will hear later that this belief is not so basic after all. The Bible tells us that, “The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8) If Jesus came to destroy the works of Satan then it is crucial for all believers to understand what those “works” are so we can ensure that we are not participating in his works which I will explain in more depth later.
Long before he appears in Genesis 3, Lucifer had rejected God’s love. The hands of love had created him as an angel like no other, second only to God in wisdom and perfect in beauty. He was the only angel the Bible says had been in “Eden the garden of God” (Ezekiel 28:13) and was the anointed cherub who was on ‘the holy mountain of God” (verse 14). Based on his position, Lucifer probably had spent more time with God than any of the other angels. The angels – millions and millions of them – knew him. They believed he was God’s “right hand man” and that only God was greater than Lucifer. That’s how they treated him and he let it go to his head. Lucifer, over time, came to believe that he could rule heaven as well or better than God. Can you envision him saying to himself, “I can do this? I should be in charge, not God. The angels will follow me. I’m sure of it.” So he plotted his rebellion. (Let me point out that this is the same spirit we witness when people rebel against authority God has placed over them in Church or even those in authority over them on their jobs.)