Summary: Part 9 of this series examines the fall of mankind and how Satan is still using the same strategies (sin) today as he did in the Garden of Eden to separate mankind for our loving, heavenly Father.

Stronghold Beliefs Part 8

Scriptures: 2 Corinthians 2:11; Psalm 119:105; 1 John 2:15-17

Last week I gave you the definitions of the words persuasion and influence. As you recall, 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.” As I shared last week, everyone has been persuaded and/or influenced by someone at some point in their life. This morning I want to add one additional phrase to these definitions as it will add some clarity to the message this morning. The phrase is, “peer pressure.” Peer pressure is defined as “influence from members of one's peer group.” Peer pressure can come in the form of individuals applying pressure on someone to believe or behave in a certain manner or it can come through a group. For example, when pressure is put on someone to adopt a type of behavior, dress, or attitude in order to be accepted as part of a group is social group peer pressure. Let me give you a couple of examples from the news this week pertaining to peer pressure.

Two years ago a former member of the U.S. World Cup team declined a call-up to the U.S. Women’s National Team because she didn’t want to wear a Pride-themed jersey in support of LGBTQ rights. She said “I just felt so convicted in my spirit that it wasn’t my job to wear this jersey.’ She also stated that she was ‘essentially giving up the one dream little girls dream about their entire lives….I knew in my spirit I was doing the right thing. I knew I was being obedient.” The fallout was immediate. One of the current USWNT members responded and said the following, “our team is about inclusion. Your religion was never the problem. The problem is your intolerance and you are homophobic” Another person wrote, “The players have an inclusive bible study, they pray before and after the WC games, and they are open to whatever faith you follow. Not all Christians are bigots.…..(name removed), on the other hand, hides her bigotry behind her faith.” The point that these people were saying is that a true Christian does not have a problem with how others choose to live and will accept the lifestyles of others regardless without being “judgmental.” That’s their definition, not the Bible’s definition. I looked up the definition of bigot because we often hear that word in relationship to race relations. But when you look at the definition of bigot it actually means “a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions.” If that is true then I guess most Christians who believe sin is sin, who believe what the Bible says about sin, is one – including me. By the way, this also makes God a bigot because He has no tolerance for sin or for opinions that goes against His word.

There was another story that was in the news this week about the Bachelorette' star who sent one of the contestant home after having an argument about having sex before marriage. The contestant said he was saving himself for marriage while the bachelorette, who claimed to be a Christian, boasted of having sex with another contestant on the show and stated that even though she was having sex “Jesus still loved her.” Then she turned the tables on him and said based on his comments he was acting with pride which equally was a sin. In her words she believed that regardless of what she did, Jesus still loved her and therefore it was not a problem. She was right on one point: Jesus does love her. But I want you see how Satan has twisted the knowledge of Jesus’ love for us into granting us permission to sin. Jesus truly loves each and every one of us, those who belong to Him and those who don’t. But hear me closely on this next point: it was NEVER about Jesus’ love for us! It was ALWAYS about our love for Him. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15) If we love Jesus we will keep His commandments, and yes, even those commandments pertaining to separating ourselves from sin. His love for us will not keep us out of hell if we choose to go there! I was happy to see that the contestant stood his ground; he was not yielding to the pressure of how the others on the show were choosing to live.

These are just two examples of what is happening in the world around us today. Christianity is under attack, not by the world, but by those who are proclaiming to be Christians, and this is what our enemy wants. In part seven, I shared with you how Satan rebelled against God with a third of God’s angels joining him. This was the beginning of sin. I shared with you last week that Satan knows his end and his only goal right now is to take as many of God’s children to the lake of fire with him. And what I want you to understand this morning in part 8 of this series is that his greatest weapon is persuasion and influence, especially when used by our peers who already belong to him and may not know it. This morning we are going to examine the fall of man and how Satan continues to use sin to separate us from God. Please pay extra attention to “how” he uses others to lead us astray because our peers are much less threatening than if we were dealing with a “known” demonic spirit. But regardless of how he approaches us, if we will keep our minds focused on what the Bible says we will see him exposed. Second Corinthians 2:11 says “So that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” As children of God, we have the capability of seeing through the darkness as Satan attempts to seduce us. Again the Bible says in Psalms 119:105 that “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” The more “light” we put on, the more Bible we put on, the more we’ll see his attempts to lead us astray for what they truly are – feeble.

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