Monday, November 03, 2008

Blast from the Past - Satan the Defeated Foe

I was looking for this last week, but couldn't find it. Now I have, just a few days after Hallowe'en. This was a talk I did at a joint Youth Fellowship meeting of Groomsport and Dromore YFs on 24th October 2004.

Tonight we’re meeting just a week before Hallowe’en, and I want us to think about the spiritual world, and especially Satan. We’re going to find out a wee bit about him, who he is, and what we can do about him.

When I say the word ‘devil’, what images come to your mind? Probably things like a red guy, with horns and a tail, holding a big fork, who lives in hell. But this image isn’t true. The devil, also known as Satan, exists, as surely as God exists, but is God’s sworn enemy.

Satan was one of the chief angels, who was in charge of leading worship in heaven. But that wasn’t enough for him. He didn’t want to be a worshipper… but to be worshipped. So he set himself up as God, in the place of God, and led a rebellion against God. In this he was supported by one third of the angels. These angels became the demons, which affect people even to this day. Thus Satan began a war, which continues even now, between God and Satan.

God cast him out of heaven, and threw him to the earth. Ever since, he has tried to get people to join him in his rebellion, telling lies and seeking to tempt people. He succeeded with Eve and Adam, which meant that we all are sinners.

There are those who are interested in the devil, and even seek to worship him. And at times like Halloween, it seems that they have more power, with so much bad stuff going on. So what can we do about all that? Should we fear Satan, and his demons?

The answer is that we should not. Satan is like a dog on a leash. He can’t do anything without the permission of God, and he can’t do more than God allows. The story of Job shows us this. Job was a rich man, who had a strong faith in God. But Satan argued with God, and said that the only reason he had faith was because God had blessed him with a big family, and money and herds.

But just because he’s on a leash, and has limits doesn’t mean that he can’t still do us harm. Just as he deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden, so he can deceive us, and get us to exchange the glory of God, and his salvation, for a lie.

However, there is hope for us. 1 Peter 5:8-11 shows, if we resist the devil, he will flee from us.

1 Peter 5:8-11
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
10And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Satan may seem powerful, as the prince of his kingdom. But we must not forget that there is a much more powerful kingdom. God controls Satan, and sets limits for him. So if the world seems to be interested in Satan and his power, we should therefore concentrate all the more on God and his kingdom.

Satan’s kingdom is that of darkness and sin. But God’s kingdom is that of light, and life, and Jesus brought light and life to the world. As John 1:1-9 tells us:

John 1:1-9
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.
3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
6There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.

The message for you tonight is that if you think that Satan is attacking you, to stand firm. Just because Satan prowls around like a lion, doesn’t mean he is going to succeed against you- if you trust in God, and are part of his kingdom.

How do we do this? Resist him, standing firm in the faith! As John tells us: ‘Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world’ (1 John 4:4). The Light of Jesus shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. Think about a dark room. If you light one candle, suddenly, it isn’t as dark… light always wins!

Satan has many methods of attack. He might present sins as something attractive, or suggest to you that God doesn’t exist, or that the devil doesn’t exist. Or he might whisper to you that your sins aren’t actually forgiven. But if you are trusting in Jesus, to take away your sins through his death and resurrection, then your sins are forgiven indeed. So if Satan reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.

Hell is not a place that Satan lives in, where there’s a party atmosphere, and where Satan punishes people for their sins. God created hell for Satan and his angels to punish them for their rebellion. Satan isn’t there yet. But he will be sent there one day, for ever, as will those who do not believe in Jesus. Revelation 20:7-10.

Jesus himself tells that that place will be miserable. It is a place of ‘darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’ (Matt 8:12), a ‘fiery furnace’ (Matt 13:42).

So tonight, I want to leave you with a choice. As I said near the start, we’re in a war. In this conflict, there is no neutrality, there is no sitting on the fence. You must choose whether you will serve God or Satan.

Satan may have some power now, and he can deceive you with what looks attractive, but is actually rotten. But his kingdom will come to an end, and will lead to hell. You can, if you want, serve him, and stay in your sins.

But there’s another option. You can join up to the Kingdom of Light, and serve the king of kings, who can take away your sins, and promise you eternity in heaven. It won’t always be easy. Hard times come. The battle is difficult, which is why we need the armour of God, found in Ephesians 6.

Ephes. 6:10-18
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For 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. 13Therefore put on the full armour 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. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Have you ever tried to avoid hearing the result of a football or rugby match? You’re going to watch it later on TV or video, and don’t want to know what happens? Well, the result of this war is already written down. God’s side wins, and Satan is finally and completely defeated. Which side will you be on?

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