Freedom From #1: Satan

 

Freedom From #1: Satan

 July 4th, Independence Day Celebration, a day we commemorate our quest for freedom from the tyranny and oppression of King George and British rule.  The founding fathers declared our independence and then war was fought.  Consider this:  Jesus makes it possible for you to throw off the chains of slavery that bind you in a world, Satan’s kingdom.  Once you believe, there is a spiritual war to be fought, to secure your declaration of belief. We are going to explore some of the ways Satan tries to defeat every believer, to bring disaster to their faith, leaving them worse off than before they came to a saving relationship in Christ Jesus. We are going to discover the strategies of the enemy and how to overcome them so we can live lives of righteousness, joy, and peace (Romans 14:16-17).

 The New Testament reveals that there is a spiritual war going on.  

Revelation 12:17

Then the dragon … went off to wage war against …those who keep God's commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.

 In John’s Revelation of Jesus, Satan is symbolized as a dragon.  From the Old Testament, we know that Satan was a high-ranking angel who because of pride (Ezek 28:11-18), rebelled against God (Isa 14:12-14).  The very name Satan means  “adversary, opponent…accuser, opposing party…[or] the one who hinders a purpose” [Ludwig Koehler et al., The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994–2000), 1317.] In the New Testament Satan is called “the evil one” (1 John 5:19), the devil (Matthew 4:1), and the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Jesus called Satan a murder and liar (John 8:44); the Apostle Peter likened Satan to a lion on the prowl for a meal ( 1 Peter 5:8), and the Apostle Paul wrote that Satan disguises itself as something good (2 Corinthians 11:14). Three times Jesus referred to Satan as “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11).  

 The Bible paints the picture of Satan holding humanity captive in prisons of their own making. Worse is that people do not recognize their predicament.

 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 (NLT)

If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing.4 Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

 Jesus told us that part of his mission is giving sight to the blind and setting prisoners free (Luke 4:18).

1 John 3:8 (NLT)

“…the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil.”

Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, His presenting Himself as an atoning sacrifice for every person’s sin, for every time a person did not love God, did not love others, the One Jesus called the Father makes it possible to bestow upon you forgiveness and reconciliation. Forgiveness for sins committed; reconciliation of the estrangement in your relationship with God because of the sin of our Genesis parent.

 A person actualizes this possibility when they “repent and believe in the good news” (Mark 1:15). 

 “As Christians, we have victory in Christ. At the moment we trusted Christ as Savior, God “rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col 1:13-14). As Christians, we have been gifted with God’s righteousness (Rom 5:17; 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 3:9), and will never face condemnation (Rom 8:1). Furthermore, God “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph 1:3), and called us to serve as “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor 5:20), sharing the gospel message with others.” Satan as the Ruler of this World | Thinking on Scripture

 “’ The inward kingdom … that God establishes in the hearts of all who “repent and believe in the good news” is nothing other than “righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:15,  Romans 14:7). Every new convert to Christ understands that we are made partakers of these blessings at the very moment we believe in Jesus.  But these blessings constitute only the first fruits of his Spirit.  The full harvest is yet to come.  Although these blessings are inconceivably grand, we expect to see even greater ones. We expect to “love the Lord our God” more than we do now, which is with sincere affection, although it is presently weak.  We also expect to love Him with “all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind, and with all our strength” (Luke 10:27).  We anticipate power to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances” knowing that it is “the will of God in Christ Jesus for us”  (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).’” (John Wesley, Satan Devices, introduction paragraph 2)

“’ We expect to be “made perfect” (Hebrews 1014) in the love that casts out all painful fear as well as every desire except to glorify the God we adore, and to love and serve Him more and more.  We anticipate the kind of growth in the experiential knowledge and love of God our Savior that will enable us always to “walk in the light as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7).  We believe “the same mind will be in us that was in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). We expect to love all people to the extent that we will be ready “to lay down our life for their sakes” (John 15:13).  We anticipate being freed from anger, pride, and every unkind affection.  We expect to be cleansed from our idols and from every defilement of body and spirit and to be saved from an inward and outward uncleanness and to be “purified as he is pure” (1 John 3:3).’” (John Wesley, Satan Devices, introduction paragraph 3)

 “’ We trust the promise of God that the time will surely come when in every word and work we will do his will on earth as it is done in heaven.  We anticipate that time when our speech with be “seasoned with salt,” or whatever we do, to do everything for the glory of God.”  We look forward to when “whatever we do, in word or deed, we will do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.’” (John Wesley, Satan Devices, introduction paragraph 4)

 Because a person repents and believes the gospel, that Jesus is the only way, acknowledging that they need a guide, believing that Jesus is that guide, committing to follow Jesus where and how He leads, they have asked God to accept their faith, all those anticipations and desires become their expectations.  That person is freed from the clutches of Satan, now emancipated with those expectations being realized within, that person can live their life to the full (John 10:10).  Are you that person, one who has asked God to deliver them out of the prison of Satan and into His Kingdom?  If not, don’t wait any longer.  It’s time you were free to become the person God created you to be.  Seek God, He will find you and set you free.

 We can sum up all those anticipations and desires in the word holy. When we first believe all these treasures are ours.  But we have to fight the good fight (1 Timothy 6:12), take off the old and put on the new (Ephesians 4:22-24), having our minds transformed (Romans 12:2) all through the sanctifying work of the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:24). 

 1 Thessalonians 4:3 (NIV)

It is God's will that you should be sanctified

 Sanctified is just a fancy name for the journey of holiness. Sanctification is to be made holy. In this journey, we slowly actualize all those anticipations and desires.  We become more and more like Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18). Satan is going to do everything it can to stop that from happening. Satan is going to do everything it can to put you back under its control.  Satan is going to do everything it can to recapture the escapee.

 If you would like to read the secret correspondence between a major demon in charge of supervising minor demons as they do the will of their leader Satan, pick up a copy of the novel “The Screwtape Letters.”  It is a good read concerning how the enemy uses different strategies to take you out.  You can read it free online The Screwtape Letters read online free by C. S. Lewis (novel12.com) or buy at Barnes and Noble The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis, Paperback | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com) Definitely food for thought, it may even be an eye-opener for you.

 In the 14th chapter in his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul is addressing a concern about not getting into fights over cultural practices, specifically dealing with the food sacrificed to idols and drinking wine in honor of a local god. 

 Romans 14:17-18 (NIV)

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

 One of the very first benefits from bending your knee to Christ is righteousness, peace, and joy.  Righteousness means you have a right relationship with God and are empowered to establish right relationships with others and yourself.  Peace is not so much the absence of trouble and conflict but rather an inner sense of everything is going to be OK in Christ. Joy is neither happiness nor is it elation, it is based on the sure knowledge that God loves you and saves you now. God gifts you with righteousness, peace, and joy, and that is exactly where Satan directs its attacks.

 The first strategy of Satan is to get you to focus on how far you are from where the scriptures point.  Take your eyes off Jesus who is the author and finisher of your faith and put them on yourself.  See how messed up you still are?  Are you sure you're even saved?  Look at all the times you have failed even doing the simplest of things like being kind, being encouraging, being generous. This attack is designed to steal your joy.  Yes you have a lot of changing to do, yes you have a long way to go, no you’re not perfect (Philippians 3:13-14).  You look at how far you need to go, forgetting how far you’ve already come.  But that is no reason to doubt that you are on the highway of holiness, the road of righteousness, doing all that God has thus far enabled you to do.  You see a shortcoming, some deficiency, even a sin you need to redeem, then work on it.  Satan wants you to feel miserable at your lack of growth in the faith.  Keep your eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2).

 The second strategy of Satan is to get you to think you need more to be good with God.  Remember the feeling of now being ok with God once you committed yourself to follow Jesus?  Now Satan suggests that faith is not enough.  “No, you need to do more, be more, bear much fruit. Work harder so God will like you more, stay very busy doing religious things.  No fruit and you get thrown into the fire, and that’s where you are headed.”  This attack is designed to steal your peace. Friends if you need the peace that comes from knowing that you are safe in the arms of God look for two things, two assurances in your life. The first assurance is a deep conviction that you are God’s child, that He has saved you and made you His own. The second assurance is that you see the fruit of the spirit springing up in your life. “…Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal 5:22-23 (NIV) are becoming the way you live. “…Much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity [are growing inside of you]. You develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. You find yourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force your way in life, able to marshal and direct your energies wisely” (Gal 5:22-23 (MSG). Remember you have been saved by faith, not by what you do afterward.

 The third strategy of Satan is an attack on your righteousness, your standing in a right relationship to God.  Jesus said that in this world we will have trouble, so we should expect it, instead, we are often surprised by it (John 16:33). That’s when Satan tempts you to question the love and goodness of God.  Why?  Why God did you allow this to happen? Why haven’t you intervened God? Why don’t you do what you are famous for? Trust is the foundation and glue for great relationships.  If Satan can attack your trust in God then you will by default move towards a weakened relationship with God, from growth and fruitfulness to stagnation, and eventually die on the vine. Do you sense a little irritability with God, a lack of patience with God?  Doubt destroys holiness.  It will stop the sanctification process dead in its tracks.  God is the same as when you got into the boat as He is in the midst of the storm.  Regardless of the preponderance of the evidence, don’t doubt in the dark what you believed in the light.

 The attacks of Satan are aimed first at your righteousness, joy, and peace that swept up into your soul as the Holy Spirit took up residence within when you first believed. When you first believed God delivered you from the clutches of the evil one. The day God accepted your faith was your spiritual independence day.  Now Satan is trying to get you back into its grip.  Satan is waging a war against you, attacking the very foundations of God’s great gifts to you.  Those attacks are vicious and relentless, but remember God “who is in you is greater than [Satan] who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Remember to keep your eyes on Jesus, nowhere else, no one else. Remember you have been saved by faith, not by what you do afterward. Remember don’t doubt in the dark what you believed in the light. Remember and you will overcome the schemes of Satan.

 The Apostle Paul wrote:

Philippians 3:10-14 (NIV)

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.


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