The Devils Schemes
If you are warned an aware of the trap, you most likely will not fall into it.
[The following material is both inspired and mostly stolen from Rev. Jared Pingleton, Psy.D. (drpingleton.com). Wanting to avoid plagiarism, it’s just easier to assume the following teaching is the work of Dr. Pingleton. But of course, I have inserted what I felt God wanted me to improvise upon]
2 Corinthians 2:11 (MSG) & (NLT)
After all, we don't want to unwittingly give Satan an opening for yet more mischief—we're not oblivious to his sly ways; For we are familiar with his evil schemes.
Today I want to make you aware of how our spiritual enemies attempt to stop us from growing deep, growing up and growing fruit; from living our lives to the full; from engaging, edifying, encouraging and empowering others. The ancient weapons against us are deception, distraction, diversion, doubt, discouragement, defeat, devouring, and destruction. Once you become familiar we are going to speak about the need to maintain unity in the Body of Christ.
If we believe that the Bible reveals the truth to us, then we must accept as fact that there is a spiritual enemy that wants to undo God’s work of salvation within us. We are not about to give the devil his due this morning. Instead awareness of how the battle is waged against disciples of Jesus will help you recognize and defeat these attempts to defeat you.
There is a spiritual enemy. Consider these enemy revealing scriptures:
Ephesians 6:11-12 (NIV)
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 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.
John 8:44 (NIV) & (MSG)
[The devil] 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. When the Liar speaks, he makes it up out of his lying nature and fills the world with lies.
1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
There are two extremes when considering devils, demons and evil spirits. In his very insightful book about spiritual warfare C.S. Lewis writes in The Screwtape Letters: “There are two equal and opposite errors into which we can fall into. One is to disbelieve their existence. The other is to believe, and to develop an excessive interest in them.”
This calls the disciple to caution. Some believers fear these demonic forces. There is no need to fear, but rather be aware. God the Holy Spirit, His mere presence in your life protects you from direct demonic attack.
1 John 4:4 (NLT)
“…because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.
Then there are people who have the Christian religion but are not followers of Jesus, they do not have a vibrant, intimate relationship with God through Christ. They may believe many good and true things about the faith, their theology may be correct, but they stand far off from God. It’s these self-deceived, these dabblers in religion who are in danger.
Acts 19:13-16 (NLT)
A group of Jews was traveling from town to town casting out evil spirits. They tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus in their incantation, saying, “I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out!” Seven sons of Sceva, a leading priest, were doing this. But one time when they tried it, the evil spirit replied, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?” Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered.
Two huge errors the Seven Sons of Sceva made. First, they were obsessed with the demonic. The fancied themselves, exorcists. Second, they invoked the name of Jesus without having a relationship with Jesus. The demonic gave them a smackdown. If you are a believer and a doer, a disciple of Jesus you need not fear, for the scripture says:
James 4:7 (NIV)
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
One of the indications that someone is obsessed with the demonic is that they see demons everywhere, behind everything. They have demons of smoking, drinking, headaches, basically, anything negative is because there is some evil spirit oppressing you. These folks run around rebuking the devil.
Jude 1:8-9 (NLT)
In the same way, these people—who claim authority from their dreams—live immoral lives, defy authority and scoff at supernatural beings. But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels, did not dare accuse the devil of blasphemy, but simply said, “The Lord rebuke you!”
If you ever run into something you discern is demonic in nature just say: “The Lord rebuke you!” A rebuke is a strong word of disapproval, it is a cease and desist order. You need not fear, but you do need to be aware of the traps and snares of the enemy.
The devil seeks to deceive. Recall John 8:44—Jesus said that Satan is the father of lies. The devil and his ally egoism use three things to deceiver you. The devil uses your own pride to deceive you.
Obadiah 1:3 (NIV)
“The pride of your heart has deceived you…”
The devil and his ally egoism use your arrogance to deceive you.
1 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV)
Do not deceive yourselves. If anyone of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise.
The devil and his ally egoism use your self-righteousness to deceive you.
James 1:22 (NIV)
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
Be on guard for pride, arrogance, and self-righteousness. Be wary it’s a trap.
The devil seeks to distract us from the most important things to lesser important things such that we stop growing as disciples of Jesus. In his letter to the church in Ephesus Jesus through John commends the congregation for their hard work, good deeds, and perseverance. Yet goes on to rebuke them telling them that they have forgotten their first love (Revelation 2: 4) In all their work, good work, they have done something wrong.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith
The Ephesian congregation took their eyes off Jesus.
Be on guard for the good things that will pull you away from the best things, good things that get you to move your eyes off Jesus. Guys you know when a particularly attractive lady walks by, you seem to automatically take notice. That’s a distraction. The same idea applies here. Be wary distractions are a trap.
The devil seeks to divert. Diversion is simply getting you off the main point. It’s like getting medicine from the doctor that will deal with the symptom but not cure the cause. Diversion is getting you to look at the minors and inconsequential so that you miss the majors and that which is most important. That’s what persistent anger does. You don’t even know why you’re mad, you’re just angry all the time.
Ephesians 4:26-27 (NLT)
“Don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.
Be on guard for your anger, it can be used by the devil to gain leverage in your life. Unrighteous, inordinate anger, is a trap.
The devil wants you to doubt. This is the oldest trick in the book. Genesis 3:1 the serpent asks these sly questions of the Woman and she begins to doubt that God has her best intentions at heart.
Doubt causes double-mindedness.
James 1:6-7 (NCV)
But when you ask God, you must believe and not doubt. Anyone who doubts is like a wave in the sea, blown up and down by the wind. Such doubters are thinking of two different things at the same time, and they cannot decide about anything they do. They should not think they will receive anything from the Lord.
Be on guard against doubt. Whom you trusted in the light, you can trust in the darkness. Doubt is a trap.
The devil desires to discourage you. When those frustrating setbacks come, when you can’t seem to get a break, when things are going from bad to worse, when there is more opposition than allies, we can become discouraged. Discouraged we think about quitting, about giving up and giving in. There’s no progress, why continue the fight? That’s another lie.
Hebrews 12:3 (NIV) & Galatians 6:9 (MSG)
Consider [Jesus] who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time, we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up, or quit.
Be on guard against discouragement. It’s a trap.
There are three more schemes of the devil to stop the work God is doing in you and through you. Defeat (Psalm 60:12), Devouring (1 Peter 5:8), and Destroying (John 10:10). We’ll have to save our consideration of these at a later time. We need to spend these last few minutes revealing the devil’s scheme of disunity.
Denominations and non-denominations are nothing but a compromise with the devil. Believers, saints of God, his children, with minor disagreements on fine points of doctrine, divide because they can’t accept that someone has a differing opinion than theirs on how to understand scripture and live a devout and holy life.
Disunity in the body of Christ is sin.
I Corinthians 1:10 –let there be no divisions among you
Colossians 3:13-14 –love binds in perfect unity
John 17:23 –complete unity is a sign to the world
Romans 12:16 –live in harmony with one another
Philippians 2:1 –be lovers, one in spirit.
The scripture references just continue urging us to be united as one. Differing opinions are fine, differing doctrine is just opinions anyway, be one with each other. The Holy Spirit empowers unity, harmony, and peace amongst us. Forgiveness and compassion are the Spirits gifts to us.
So the devil sends his agents into our ranks to create disunity, division, schism, and internal conflict. What is truly sad is the devil exploits you and uses you to create disunity.
“Since the primary motive of evil is disguise, one of the places evil people are most likely to be found is within the church. What better way to conceals one’s evil from oneself as well as from others than to be some highly visible form of Christian within our culture.” (M. Scott Peck, People of the Life)
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 (NLT)
These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. But, I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So, it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.
Don’t be a servant of the devil. “But God told me!” That line is the biggest spiritual cop-out to cover just doing what you want to do. God will never tell you to destroy the unity of the church. “But they are so wrong!” Disciples of Jesus in your bulletin and it will be on the webpages also are to ancient creeds of the faith that proclaim what is right. Beyond these statements of belief is all human opinion. “But they were not nice to me!” Were they nice to Jesus?
John Wesley taught “think and let think.” Beyond the truth of the creeds, it’s all opinion.
Hostility between you and another believer, that’s sin. Read Mathew 5:23-26, Matthew 18:15-17, James 4:11. If you are prone to gossip, you are being used by the devil to destroy the unity of the church (2 Corinthians 12:20; Ephesians 4:29; Proverbs 16:28). If it’s got to be your way or the highway, you are being used by the devil to destroy the unity of the church (James 2:19).
Bottom line is that when there is disagreement that turns into animosity everyone involved has fallen for the devil’s trap. Disagreement is healthy but when it turns into sides when it becomes us verse them, that’s sin. Don’t be an agent of the devil.
If there is sin in the camp; abusive leadership, heresy, sexual misconduct that’s another story that we need to talk about some other time. We want unity and purity. What I want you to walk away with today is to be aware of the devil’s schemes and don’t be a source of disunity in the Body of Christ.
Ephesians 4:1-3 (NIV)
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
THE CREEDS OF THE CHURCH
(Note catholic does not mean Roman Catholic, catholic refers to the Church universal consisting of all those who have put their faith in Christ for salvation)
The Apostle’s Creed
We believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. We believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come again to judge the living and the dead. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. AMEN.
The Nicene Creed
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. AMEN.
Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith unless every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this: that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Essence. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated; the Son uncreated; and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. The Father eternal; the Son eternal; and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals; but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated; nor three infinites, but one uncreated; and one infinite. So likewise the Father is Almighty; the Son Almighty; and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties; but one Almighty. So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity; to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the catholic religion; to say, There are three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none; neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created; but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten; but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before, or after another; none is greater, or less than another. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as aforesaid; the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, let him thus think of the Trinity.
Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation; that he also believe faithfully the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess; that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God, of the Substance [Essence] of the Father; begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the Substance [Essence] of his Mother, born in the world. Perfect God; and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father as touching his Manhood. Who although he is God and Man; yet he is not two, but one Christ. One; not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh; but by assumption of the Manhood into God. One altogether; not by confusion of Substance [Essence]; but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man; so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell; rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty, from whence he will come to judge the living and the dead. At whose coming all men will rise again with their bodies; And shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire. This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe truly and firmly, he cannot be saved.