Sunday Services at 10:00am
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Today’s guest blogger is Jim Quigley. Jim has been a part of NewLife since August, after moving up from New Jersey. He is an engineer who also works with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. As we focus on spiritual warfare with our memory verses for February, Jim will share on “knowing your enemy.”
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1 Peter 5:8-9)
It is a week before the big championship game. What do you think each team is doing in preparation for the big match? Do you think they are just goofing around and have no set game plan? Absolutely not! They are watching video of their opponents, studying their tactics and strategies, and figuring out how their offense and defense works. If the team knows what their opponent will do and how they play, then they will certainly be more prepared and have a greater advantage in the game to come.
In the same way, do you think that the military just goes on raids without strategic planning first? Of course not! Generals and analysts are studying the enemy, how they attack, where they hide, and the tactics and tricks that the enemy has used in the past. In both scenarios, each squad is fully prepared for what the opponent or enemy has in store for them. They know who their enemy is and what to expect when they encounter their opponent. So, as a warrior for Christ, do you know who your enemy is in the spiritual battle that we all face every day? Do you know the tactics that the enemy uses to attack you? Are you aware of the constant battle raging all around you? The enemy is not some dumb, red creature with pointy ears, a mustache, and pitchfork as depicted in many Halloween costumes – far from it. He is a formidable adversary. And if we want to be successful in battling him and fighting in the spiritual realm, then we had better know exactly who our enemy is as well as his malicious tactics. The enemy that we face can be broken down into three main parts: the world, the flesh, and the devil.
1 John 2:15-16 says “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” The world, or society, influences people to live in the flesh, to satisfy selfish desires, to crave efficiency and money above all else, to build and worship man-made idols. The world emphasizes status and the need to put you above everyone else. Contrast that with Philippians 2:3-5, which exhorts us to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”
Society also throws the temptations of lust, flesh, and greed at us everywhere we go. How many TV commercials use scantily clad women or runway models in lingerie? How often does society deem it appropriate to get drunk (underage or not), dress promiscuous, or have random sexual encounters and one-night-stands? Or how about how the world has convinced students that college is a time to experiment with a slew of drugs, alcohol, and sex before they enter “the real world?” Make no doubt about it, the world is out to cripple you with sin. Society wants you to put yourself and your sinful wants and desires above all else. And how does it achieve its goals? Through peer pressure, through the media, through billboards, through stereotypes, through fashion, through just about everything that we interact with on a daily basis. We need to be aware that, as declared in 1 John 5:19, “we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” Be aware that the world is a pawn of the devil and he will use it against you to tear you down.
The flesh, or our sinful nature, is the second part of the enemy. As Galatians 5:19-21 says, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Our flesh completely opposes the Spirit (Gal 5:17, paraphrased). This symbolizes the battle raging between the Spirit and the flesh inside of us. Sin is like cancer. It creates a stronghold in one area, and then it starts spreading and metastasizing in other areas in your life. The enemy’s goal is to keep you in the flesh so that you are a greater slave to sin than in being alive and free in the Spirit. The goal is to get you so bogged down in your sin that you are unable, unwilling, or worse, feel unworthy to serve the Lord. It doesn’t matter to satan how you are taken out. As long as you are sitting on the sidelines, he is happy.
And then there is satan. And yes, he does not deserve the respect by having his name capitalized. He’s filth, he’s dirt, he’s a jerk, and I hate him. But we do need to understand him and his tricks if we are to be courageous warriors for Jesus. Now, quite unfortunately, satan has done a great job of blinding so many to his existence. Even worse, he has blinded many to the light of the Gospel. 2 Corinthians 4:4 states “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” We need to recognize that satan is not stupid. On the contrary, he is incredibly clever and knows exactly how to trip us up. More often than not, he will focus his attacks on the mistakes and sin that we committed in the past.
Another quality of satan is found in John 8:42-44, where Jesus says “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. 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.” We gather from this passage that if one does not call God his Father, then satan is his father, his king. We also learn that satan is a liar and all that he says is lies. He might speak a half truth, but a half truth is still 100% false. We can see this when satan perverts the Word of God as he is tempting Jesus in Matthew 4:6. We must always be on guard because of what we learn from Zechariah 3:1, which says “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him.” This tells us that satan is there at all times and is ready to accuse us when we fall or resist us when we serve the Lord.
So satan uses the world, the temptations of the flesh and lies to attack us in this spiritual battle. He tempts us to give in to the flesh because it directly opposes the Spirit. He uses the world to pressure us and influence us to continue to live a life of sin. And he lies to us and blinds us from the true Light of the Gospel. Three of the biggest lies that he tells are:
He is a very formidable foe that we can not underestimate. He is a “roaring lion looking for someone to devour” and is always on the prowl (1 Peter 5:8). I’ve related the spiritual battle to sports or to human warfare, but there are no time outs in the spiritual battle. No half times or intermissions. No peace treaties, truces, or cease fires. The battle rages on every second of every day. For some the battle continues even in their sleep. It is brutal, it is nonstop, and there will be no peace until Jesus comes again in glory. Until then, we need to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2) and strive to be like the Warrior that He is going to return as. Know your enemy and be a brave, valiant warrior for Jesus.
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