“Satan, the Deceiver”

Pt. 1 of the Series: “When the Devil Knocks”

March 10, 2019[1]

 

Genesis 3:1-7

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”  The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”  “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

 

Ever since 9/11, Americans have lived under the threat of terrorist attacks. Anyone who has flown in the last 17 years knows about the added security screening they have to go through.  We hear of possible threats to shopping malls and sporting events.  We are told to be on the alert and report anything that seems suspicious.  The threat of terrorist attacks is real.  But, this should not be anything new to Christians.  A couple of thousand years ago, Paul warned about a different kind of terrorist attack, not a physical attack, but a spiritual one.  Christians have had to go up against an enemy that is intent on capturing our very soul.  Christians have been attacked and continue to be attacked daily by the devil.

 

A lot of people think of the devil as a guy in a red suit with a little goatee and a pitchfork.  A whole lot of people think that the devil isn’t real, that it is on the line of Flip Wilson saying, “The devil made me do it.”  But, the devil is real and his attacks are real and we need to take him incredibly seriously.  The devil was one of 3 arch angels that God created.  There was Gabriel, Michael and Lucifer, the devil.  In eternity, Lucifer became jealous of God.  God was getting the glory and Lucifer wanted the glory.  So, he pitted himself against God and engaged in an uprising against God and was defeated.  He and his minions, 1/3 of all the angels, were thrown out of heaven into hell.  From the creation of the world onward, Lucifer and his followers, the demons, have done all they possibly can to drag as many people into hell with them.  There was a spiritual battle in heaven that gave rise to a spiritual battle on earth.  Paul tells us about it in Ephesians 6;

 

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  Ephesians 6:12 

 

When I say that we are in a battle with the devil, I am not talking about your mother-in-law, although I have heard some say that their mother-in-law is the devil incarnate.  It is not so much against your boss.  This battle is a spiritual battle and goes on in every single person’s life.  I think Pastor John Piper had it right when he wrote; “One of the most sobering facts about life is that all humans have a supernatural enemy whose aim is to use pain and pleasure to make us blind, stupid and miserable—forever.”  [2]  This battle goes on in every person’s life but is especially prevalent in the lives of Christians.  There was a “Far Side” cartoon that showed two deer standing upright.  One had a huge target on his chest.  The other one says, “Bummer of a birthmark, Ernie.”  It is a bummer, but Christians have a target painted right on their souls.  The devil doesn’t have to work very hard on people who aren’t Christians.  They are already in the devil’s realm.   But, that is not so for Christians.  Christians do not belong to the devil.  They belong to Christ.  We belong to Christ, which means the devil is going to work all the harder to take us from God’s Kingdom to his hellish kingdom.  It is not IF you are under attack by the devil.  You ARE under attack.  C.S. Lewis said, “There is no neutral ground in the universe.  Every square inch, every split second is claimed by God, and counterclaimed by Satan.” [3]  Again, John Piper said, “God intends that part of our preparation for heaven be a life of warfare with hell.” [4] 

 

So, coinciding with Lent, we will be doing a 3 session series on the devil, called, “When the Devil Knocks” the seminal thoughts of which are from a series from pastor Craig Groeschel.    We will be looking at 3 strategies the devil uses to claim souls, and how we can resist the devil’s evil schemes.  Today, we will look at Satan, the Deceiver.  Next Sunday, we will see that the devil is an accuser and the last week, that the devil is a destroyer.  So, today, we will look at Satan the Deceiver.  Here is a kind of theme verse for our series;

 

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”  John 8:44

 

Notice what this verse says. 

 

  1.  The Devil is a Liar

 

He is the father of lies.  Lying is his native language.  How can you tell when the devil is lying?  His lips are moving. 

 

  1.  The devil’s first lie

 

And, the devil got into the act right from the beginning, way back in the Garden of Eden.  You know the story.  You heard it read today, how the devil came and tempted Eve.  Now, think about this; the devil could have chosen any number of ways to attack Eve.  The devil could have preyed on Eve’s insecurity.  The devil could have said to Eve that Adam doesn’t really love her, that he’s sick of hearing about her feelings all of the time, that he wants to go into his man cave and stay there forever, that he liked it better when it was just him and the animals, that he wants his rib back.  There are so many ways the devil could have attacked Eve but he chose a different way.  Listen;

 

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”  Genesis 3:1

 

The serpent was crafty and he went for the jugular.  The serpent,   

 

  1.  The deceiver questioned God’s Word

 

Notice how the devil framed it; “Did God really say…?”  The devil questioned if God had really said what He said.  The devil still questions that today.  We hear that today, “Did God really say that?”  Today people question whether the Bible is really God’s Word.  The devil drills this into their spirits and has people say that the Bible is only a storybook, that it is just an ancient document about on the same level as the Iliad and the Odyssey.  The devil has people today think that the Bible was only valid a long time ago, that it is not applicable to today.   The devil has people today throw the Bible out, get rid of it, much the same as they throw God out.  “Why do you believe in the Bible?  Why do you believe in God?  Faith in God is just the opiate of the masses.  Today we hear the devil say, “Do you really believe the Bible is a book from God?  Do you really believe that?!”  Today we hear the devil say, “Are you naïve enough to think that a creator spoke the world and everything in it into existence?  Are you?”  Today, we hear the devil say, “Surely you are intelligent enough to know that the way the universe came into existence is that there was a giant boom and it all came into being.  Maybe 100 years ago people believed that, but you don’t believe that, do you?”  Today, we hear the devil say, “You don’t believe that a baby is a baby at the moment of conception, that when you abort a child in the womb, you are just getting rid of an unwanted pregnancy.”  Today, we hear the devil say, “Even if that baby is born alive, it is okay to kill it.’  That comes straight from the devil.  Today, we hear the devil say, “You don’t believe you should deny anyone their happiness, do you?  Do you really believe that God created Adam and Eve and not Adam and Steve?”  Today, we hear the devil say, “You don’t believe that there is only one way to the Father, do you, that with all of the religions of the world, only those who believe in Jesus will go to heaven.  You don’t believe that, do you?”  You see, the serpent questioned God’s Word and the devil has people today question His Word, too.  The devil, the deceiver, questioned God’s Word and then, Eve started to question God’s Word, too.   

 

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”  Genesis 3:2-3

 

Eve left out a word.  She left out the word, “free.”  Here is what God really said;

 

“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”  Genesis 2:16-17

 

Eve omitted the word, free, as if she was thinking that God was holding back something.  She began to question the goodness of God.  Listen to this;

 

“When you start questioning the goodness of God, it is easier to disobey the will of God.”

 

So, today, what we hear the devil say is, “If God loved you, He would let you do whatever you wanted.”  Today, what we hear the devil say is, “If God loved you, He would let you live according to any lifestyle you might choose.”  Today, what we hear the devil say is, “If God loved you, He would let you live by any system of ethics that is expedient for you.”   

 

“When you start questioning the goodness of God, it is easier to disobey the will of God.”

 

Christians have great big targets on their souls that the devil is aiming at.  It is not IF you are under attack, you ARE under attack.  Paul was so concerned about that that Paul said;

 

“But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”  2 Corinthians 11:3

     

So, the devil questioned God’s Word.  One more thing;

 

  1.  The deceiver twisted God’s Word

 

“’You will not certainly die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’”  Genesis 3:4-5

 

The devil twisted God’s Word.  Even though God clearly said that disobeying God would result in death, the devil twisted God’s Word.  He said that Eve and Adam would be like God, knowing good and evil.  I have to ask, if all you knew was goodness, why in the world would you want to know evil?  But, the devil, that crafty one, twisted God’s Word.  The Bible says, “Don’t judge,’ so the devil twists this to mean, “Don’t judge anything I do.  I’m not hurting anyone.  Don’t judge me.  Anyway, He’ll forgive me so I can do whatever I want.”  The Bible says that Jesus came to give abundant life,” so the devil twists this to mean, “Do whatever makes you happy.”  The Bible says to love your enemy, so the devil twists this, “Not my enemy.  You don’t know my enemy, that backstabber at work, the neighbor who keeps blaring their music so loud, my spouse in the heat of an argument.  Surely you don’t mean for me to love my enemy and pray for them, do you?”  The Bible says we are to forgive, so the devil twists this, “But, you don’t know what they did to me.  Surely you don’t mean that I should forgive them, do you?”  The Bible says to give 10% to the Lord.  The devil twists this, “Wait, you don’t know what my bills are.  Surely that doesn’t apply to me.”  The devil twists.  The devil twists the word of God.  The devil is a deceiver, questioning God’s Word.  The devil, the deceiver, twisting God’s Word.  It is a spiritual battle. A battle for your very soul.  So,

 

II.  What To Do to Combat the Deceiver

 

  1. Realize you ARE under attack

 

Again, it is not IF you are under attack.  You ARE under attack by that deceiver and you need to fight back.  If someone breaks into your home and threatens your kids and your spouse, what are you going to do?  You are not going to sit in your bedroom and hope that they don’t mess with your kids.  You are not going to say, “Here, take my wife.  Just leave me alone.”  No, you are going to be transformed into Rambo, Jackie Chan, Jason Borne and Popeye the Sailor Man all rolled up into one and you are going to fight back.  Some of you might have a baseball bat under your bed.  Some of you 2nd Amendment types might have a gun.  You are going to fight back.

 

This is a spiritual battle for so much more than some belongings in your house.  This is a battle for your very soul.  You are under attack.  Don’t just sit there.  Fight back.  Say to that devil, that deceiver, “Not today, devil.  Not today.  Not my house, not my family, not my finances, not my health.  No, devil, you have no place here.”  One time when Martin Luther was under attack by the devil, he threw an inkwell at the devil.  He cried out, “I am baptized.  I belong to Jesus.  You have no place in my life.”  Don’t sit back and let the devil do what he will.  Fight back.  Fight back in the name of Jesus.  Fight back in the One whose name is above every other name, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords.  Fight back with the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.  Don’t just sit there, fight back.   

 

  1. Know you have a weapon with which to fight

 

Paul tells us about the spiritual armor that we have;

 

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  Ephesians 6:10-17

 

Did you hear the armor at your disposal?  The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation.  These are all defensive pieces of armor.  But, we have one more, the only offensive weapon listed here.  We have the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  You see, the Bible isn’t just some nice storybook of ancient tales.  The Bible is your greatest weapon to be wielded against the deceiver, the devil. 

 

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12

 

The Word is your greatest offensive weapon against the devil.  Jesus used the Word to do battle with the devil when He was tempted in the wilderness.  You use the Word to fight the devil.  What does the Word do?

 

  1.  The Bible shows you right from wrong

 

Here, let me give you a little fill in the blank test.  Fill in these blanks; If the Bible says it is right, then it is (what?) right.  If the Bible says it is wrong, it is (what?) wrong.  Don’t twist the Bible.  Don’t make the Bible say what you want it to say.  Don’t be like Eve and later Adam who questioned God’s Word or twisted God’s Word.  If the Bible says something you don’t like, don’t re-do the Bible.  Don’t make it say what you want it to say.  That is the devil deceiving you.  Take the Bible for what it is; God’s inerrant Word.  And, don’t ignore the Bible.  Don’t think it has nothing to say for you today.  It does.  The Bible shows you right from wrong.

 

  1.  The Bible shows you when you have done wrong

 

To use a good Baptist word, the Bible convicts you.  It convicts you when you have done wrong.  It tells you when you haven’t forgiven when you should have, when you have lusted, when you are envious.  It convicts you when you have let anything—I mean, anything--get in the way of your relationship with God.  The Bible shows you when you have done wrong. 

 

  1.  The Bible shows you the goodness of God

 

The Bible shows you God’s goodness, His love.  The world is all about reward and punishment.  Your worth to the world is all about doing enough to be found worthy, to be found of value, to be found good enough.  If you do something wrong, according to the world, you’d better do stuff to make up for it.  God’s grace is so different.  God’s grace is all about God being the iniator, God looking on you, sinner that you are, and loving you, not on the basis of what you have done, actually in spite of what you have done.  The goodness of God is all bout loving sinners and sending Jesus to die for sinners.  You won’t find that in the world.  You will only hear it and experience it in the Bible.  You won’t hear this from the world;

 

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

 

So, to combat the deceiver, first, realize you are under attack, and second, know you have a weapon with which to fight.  Then,

 

  1.  Put your weapon to use

 

Use the weapon God has given you.  If someone did break into your house and you did have a baseball bat or a gun, it will do you no good if you don’t use it.  Use the weapon God has given you to do spiritual battle against that deceiver. 

 

Whenever the devil comes at you and makes you feel depressed, you quote the word; “Why so downcast, O my soul? I put my hope in the living God.”  Whenever the devil attacks your family, what do you say?  “No weapon formed against us will prosper.”  “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”  When the devil makes you think you can't make it another day, you come back with your sword of the Spirit, “I will not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time, I will reap a harvest.”  “I can do all things through Christ who dwells within me.”  When the diagnosis is not good, and the devil wants you to despair, you open your Word and you rebuke the devil; “I believe that all things are possible with my God.”  “I believe that by the stripes of Jesus, we are healed.”  When you're not sure what you're going to do and the devil revels in your confusion, you scream at the devil, “I trust in the Lord with all my heart. I lean not on my own understanding, but in all my ways, I acknowledge him, and he alone will make my paths straight.”  If you feel ashamed after what you did and you bring it to Jesus and He forgives you, but the devil still makes you feel guilty, the devil just piles on that guilt, he just piles on that guilt, what do you do?  You open the Word and quote; “God is faithful and just. He will forgive my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness.”  When the devil attacks your marriage, you draw the sword; “Love is patient. Love is kind. It doesn't envy. It doesn't boast. It is not proud. It's not rude. It's not self-seeking. It's not easily angered. It doesn't delight in evil, but it rejoices in the truth. Love always hopes. Love always trusts. Love always protects. And now, these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is the love of my Savior Jesus Christ, which dwells within me.”  When the devil, the deceiver, attacks, use your weapon.  Use the Word of God.   Don’t question the Word.  Don’t twist the Word.  Use the Word as your offensive weapon.  Tell that devil, that deceiver, not today, devil. Not today!  Here; juxtaposition these two verses;

 

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”  John 8:44

 

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  John 10:10

 

What do you hear in these two verses?  In the first, you hear that the devil is a liar.  Every time you sin, it is because you believe one of the devil’s lies.  Whenever the devil lies to you, say, “Get behind me, Satan.”  Tell that devil what Martin Luther told the devil; “I do not belong to you.  I belong to Jesus.”  In the second verse, you hear that Jesus is the truth.  The devil lies, but Jesus is the truth and when you know the truth, the truth will set you free.  Don’t believe the devil’s lies.  Hold onto the truth.  Don’t be shackled to a lie.  Hold to the truth.  Be free.   

 

It is not IF you are under attack.  You ARE under attack.  The spiritual terrorist, the devil, the deceiver, is seeking to destroy you.  He wants your soul.  Could I just encourage you with all I have in me to take your sword, the Word of God, and fight back.  Take your sword and fight.

 

In Jesus’ name,

Amen. 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Seminal thoughts for this series is from the sermon series of the same title by Pastor Craig Groeschel found at Livechurchtv.com.

[2] From the sermon, Satan’s Ten Strategies Against You,” by John Piper found at Desiring God.com

[3] From the sermon, “When the Devil Knocks,” by Craig Groeschel, found at https://open.life.church/resources/3365-when-the-devil-knocks

[4] Ibid, Piper.