Charles Stanley - Facing a Satanic Attack
When is the last time you found yourself feeling very vulnerable? In fact, the temptation was so strong that you just think, "I can't handle this". And you found yourself very, very puzzled maybe because of why you're being tempted. Or, you found yourself thinking this is the same old temptation I've faced over and over and over again. Or, you might say, "Well, this was so alluring, so enticing, so inviting, how could I possibly resist this"? That's the devil's line. That's the way he talks.
So, I would ask you this question, when's the last time you found yourself facing something that you really had to struggle with, turn away from, turning away from? Or saying no to? You felt great pressure, you wanted to walk away, you debated about whether you could or not, or should or not. Or, you know, you should. But whether you would or not. And, maybe, finally, you walked away, but maybe finally you thought, "Well, God understands". And have I ever heard this, God understands, and you yielded to whatever that temptation was.
So, we can think all kind of things, but the truth is this, if you're alive, you're going to get tempted. And we're living in a day when it's everywhere. Whether you hear it on the radio or the television or see it on the television or signs or in stores, whatever it might be, we're living in a sensual age and temptation is everywhere. And, people respond in several different ways. They just yield or they fight against it and survive, or they fight against it and still yield and then, they have an excuse that they've used with God before. "Now, Lord, you know, this is not fair. Everybody doesn't feel what I feel," on and on and on we go.
The truth is, that was the beginning of sin in the world, the temptation of Adam and Eve. It hadn't changed. I mean, when Satan got through telling Eve how fantastic it was going to be to have a bite of this fruit, this, it's the same story. It's just different elements involved. And so, when you find yourself in that position, what do you think? Do you stop to think, where is this coming from? Is this in my heart? Where is this coming from? I can tell you, it is a satanic attack. The devil knows exactly when you and I are the weakest. He knows at what point and he knows exactly what it takes to get our attention and to make us think, "I've just got to have that. Got to have one of those. Forget the price, I'm going to have one of those".
Satan has a whole line of excuses to persuade us of what we deserve and nobody's perfect and God loves us, and He'll forgive us, and on and on and on he goes to set us up, to position ourselves to miss out on God's best blessings in our life. So, I want to talk about facing a satanic attack. And, if you'll turn to Ephesians for a moment, and the first three chapters of Ephesians are three of the most beautiful, encouraging chapters in the Bible because it talks about a believer's wealth. What we have as a result of knowing Christ as our Savior. And then, beginning in the fourth chapter and the fifth, here is our walk.
This is the way we should walk, following the Lord, Jesus Christ. Then, we come to the last chapter and we see there's a battlefield. And that is a battlefield with Satan. God is so good to us, He walks with us and yet, there are times when we are tempted and tried. And so, I want us to look, if you will, at the tenth verse and as he concludes this epistle, listen to what he says, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might". He didn't say be strong in yourself, he said, "Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers. Against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places".
All of us are going to face temptation. Now, when you think about it, I would just ask you this question, think about what is the strongest temptation you face in your life today? I don't mean just this particular day, but in your daily life today? What's the strongest temptation? Why do you think the devil has used that to tempt you? To turn you away from God? To walk in a different path? To ignore God's warnings? To ignore His blessings? His awesome blessings in your life? But, somehow, you find yourself being tempted and getting in a position where the blessings God wants to give you, He can no longer give you. Paul says, we're to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. He certainly has schemes.
So, the first thing I want to do is define what is a satanic attack? A satanic attack is a deliberate, willful assault by Satan upon an individual with the purpose of doing them harm either in their spirit, soul, or body, or all three. Look at that, a deliberate, willful assault by Satan upon an individual with the purpose of doing them harm either in their spirit, soul, or body, or all three. And, when is that? Anytime, anywhere. Satan knows exactly when you and I are the weakest. He knows exactly what it takes to trip us up. He may know who is the best to trip us up or what it is we are allured by. What does it take to trip us up? Every single believer is faced with temptation.
And, if you'll think about today, our whole society is geared toward tempting us for something. You turn on the radio, you hear it, we ought to buy this. You watch the television, you ought to buy this and see this, or have that or have him or have her. And you can look anywhere you want to look, there is the temptation to have, oftentimes, what we do not need, what we should not have, and the result of temptation is division and destruction. And so, if I should ask you, what's Satan's objective in tempting you? You're a fine Christian person, you love God. What's his objective? First of all, to draw us away from God to himself. Satan wants to draw us away from God.
So, he knows exactly what it takes to get our mind off of God, off of spiritual things, onto material things or on to sensual things. He knows exactly what it takes. What does it take? What's his objective? To draw us away from God to himself and to thwart God's purpose in our life. In other words, if the devil can change, thwart God's purpose in your life, he's got you where he wants you because, remember this, God has a will for your life, He has a plan for your life. He's got the best. And so, Satan is not going to say, "Well, I want to destroy you". No, he just wants to move your attention from God, spiritual things to earthly things, material things, sensual things, and then to deny God the worship and glory due to Him. That is, the devil doesn't want you worshiping God.
So, listen, he's given us as a whole plate full of stuff to get our attention away from God because that's his purpose. And then, to destroy us. Satan's ultimate goal for temptation is destruction. Destroy our relationship to God, destroy our interest in Him, destroy our faith in Him, destroy our desire to pray, destroy our sense of eternal security, destroy, destroy, destroy, destroy, destroy. That's his goal. And yet, we know that, and isn't it interesting that in spite of what we know, how many sermons have you heard in your life? You can't even count them. And, I certainly hope you're going to hear a lot more. But the issue is, what are you going to do about the truth that you hear?
Satan knows about the truth that you're listening to. And here's what he does, he shows up to distract you from hearing the truth, so you'll keep moving in a direction that'll take you away from God. All of us face some kind of temptation in life. I didn't say every single day, but listen, everybody has something that they can be tempted by. It may be something that you keep having victory over, time after time after time, or you may feel defeated time after time. But Satan's goal is to get you away from God. So, he'll tell you why you don't have time to read the Bible. He'll say, first of all, you've got to be somewhere at a certain time.
Secondly, he says, you don't need to read, you don't even understand it. You don't understand why read something, what about Deuteronomy and Leviticus and Second Kings and why do you want to read the Bible? Anything he can do to get your mind off of spiritual things is what he'll do. And, he wants to divide relationships. Anything to divide families, anything to bring divorce, any kind of sexual sins, anything that'll take your mind off God. That is, you ought to buy this, ought to buy that. Don't ask God about it, you worked hard, you worked forty hours or fifty and sixty hours a week. You've been working all these years, you deserve it.
So, think about it. You're trying to reach your goals in life and he's working against you. You're trying to live a pure life; he's working against you. You're trying to save your money, he's telling you you ought to buy this. Satan is your enemy. Now, his strategy can be found in three words, just three words. I mean, as complex as we may think the devil is, strategy is three words. The first one is this, his first step is to deceive us, that is to lie to us. If you believe a lie, you've taken the first step toward absolute defeat and siding up with the devil.
And, often times when people want to sin against God, they'll take the truth of God and try to twist it all around and, watch this, I can hear this many times, "But you don't know about my situation". Well, God knows about your situation. "Well, you don't know how long I've suffered". Well, God knows how long you've suffered. "Well, you don't know how long I've been in need". You can come up with all kind of excuses, remember this, God's heard them all. And they didn't come from God, they came from the devil. But the issue is this, God has the best life for every single one of us and the devil has his best to do what? To deceive us and to divide us.
You think about how many churches get divided over somebody disagreeing with this, that, and the other. Nations are divided, churches divided, families divided, friends divided, divided, divided, divided, separate, separate, separate because then you've got chaos. No love, criticism. They say things they would say one day, they wouldn't say the next. Satan is a divider, he's a deceiver. He is a destroyer. That's his purpose, to destroy our testimony, to destroy our life physically, to destroy our finances, destroy our marriage, destroy our families, destroy, destroy, destroy. So, deceive, divide, destroy, that's all he needs. Deceive, divide, destroy.
The next time you feel tempted, ask yourself the question: Is Satan deceiving me? Am I being divided from what I ought to be doing? And am I headed toward destruction? If a child of God, if you are a believer, will stop when you are tempted and ask yourself those questions, am I being deceived? Number one question. Is my mind being divided? Am I headed toward some destruction? Ask yourself the question. So, we need to be alert and watchful. And, as a child of God, none of us can boast of being so strong that we'll never be tempted.
When somebody says, "Well, I may be tempted about some things, but not that". Satan just puts a check by that one. None of us, not any of us can say, "I will never be tempted by this, that, or the other". We think we aren't. We would almost swear we wouldn't be, and we can give you a lot of reasons we wouldn't be, but the devil wants a sense of self-confidence that's based on mush, no foundation, but based on mushy attitudes about what you will or will not do. And, when I think of this great passage of Scripture in First Corinthians ten, thirteen, listen to what Paul says, everybody ought to know this one, "No temptation". Listen to that, "No temptation has taken you," or tempted you or tried you, "but such is common to man". Listen, "common to man". And that being the case, "God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted more than you are able to bear but will with the temptation also make a way of escape that you can bear it".
We have a promise from God, I do not have to do that. I may want to do it, I may want it more than anything else, but I don't have to. If I don't have to, then I'll make the choice, either I will or I will not. And, when I think about the condition our nation is in, and the things that tempt people, and the people who are being destroyed, being destroyed, self-destruction as a result of yielding to temptation. Deceive, divide, destroy. So, whether it's a nation, whether it's a church, whether it's a family, Satan's busy. So, when you feel tempted, what do you do? Do you, watch this carefully, is your first response a sudden desire to find a real good sounding excuse? Or, when you're tempted, did you know it's, you say, "This is of the devil, it's not who I am, doesn't belong in my life. I choose to reject this". We have a choice.
Now, a person who's an unbeliever, they don't that kind of choice, I'll tell you why. Because they have a fallen nature. And so, when Satan comes on with a very, very strong, overpowering event in their life or presentation of something they want, they already have three strikes against them. It's the way they've been living. So, it's sort of easy to just slip into what you've been doing. When you're a child of God, you trusted Him as your Savior. You begin on a platform of strength, you have the Holy Spirit within you to, first of all, identify what you're facing as a sin, that it doesn't fit your life, it isn't of God, and it's destructive. It cannot bring you anything that's good.
You have the Holy Spirit. The person who's not a believer doesn't have that. And the Word of God is our greatest defense against the devil because we don't have to choose sin. We have the Holy Spirit living within us, He promises that. You have the Holy Spirit. What does He do? He makes you aware of the temptation, He reminds you maybe it's with some Scripture or something He's already done in your life, that God will give you victory. He reminds you, you do not have to yield to this. It is a choice you make.
And, we can blame it on other people, "Well, my mother, my father, my sister, my brother, my friend, my friends, this, that, and the other". That's not the issue. If you want to keep living in sin, all you have to do is close this Book and don't open it up, just, you can open it up once a week, it's not going to keep you from sinning. God has given us, watch this, He's given us His written Word and He's given us the Holy Spirit to live inside of us in order to interpret that Word for us, to remind us that the wages of sin is death.
And so, we all have to face temptations, only you know how you handle them. Somebody says, "Well, you know, I think God understands". That is not our excuse for or our explanation for living in sin because God wants the best for us. And the Christian experience does not mean that you'll never sin against God. All of us at some point at times in our life do things or say things or see things or whatever it might be, we know are not of God, what do you do? In other words, you just give up and say, "Well, see, I tried to live a Christian life, I can't, so forget it". No, the Apostle Paul never claimed perfection. The only person who can claim that's Jesus.
But a true believer, when you are tempted, you turn to God. "Lord, here's what I'm facing, I don't want this in my life. I feel so, help me, Jesus, help me, help me, help me, Jesus". Whatever it takes. You say, "Well, then suppose I yield anyway"? You ask God to forgive you, to strengthen you to make you aware of that in your life that that's an area of weakness. And, if I should ask you, how many of you know at least one area of weakness in your life? Don't raise your hand, no, please don't. But how many of you know at least one area of weakness in your life? We all do. Anybody who says they don't, is not telling the truth.
You know when, for example, if it's gossip, if it's lust, if it's overeating, if it's the way you spend your money, or if it's your lack of faithfulness in one another, whatever it might be. And, besides that, remember this, God knows it. In other words, you never have to come to Him and say, "God, by the way, let me remind You of something". No, He knows our areas of weakness. I think about how many families are destroyed by somebody falling into temptation, whether it's a teenager or whether it's the parents. I think about people who go to jail because they fell in the temptation of stealing. They could justify it, other people have it, they don't have it, and therefore, they'll just take what they want. You can go right down the list of every sin in the Bible, we could give an excuse for it, but it's not acceptable to God.
Now, here's what I want you to see, you do not have to. Somebody says, "But I just couldn't help myself". You have God who will help you through anything you face. You say, "Well, suppose I sin, then what"? Here's what He says, "If we confess our sins". That is, we agree with God about the nature of our sins, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just," to forgive me for my sins. Why? Because Jesus Christ is my Savior. I've yielded to Him as the Lord of my life and this is a point of failure and I'm asking You, God, to forgive me, not on the basis that I deserve it, but on the basis that Jesus' shed blood atoned for my sin and I have another chance. God wipes away our guilt.
Now, you say, "Well, I've been to God about the same thing over and over and over again". Well, God knows whether you really and truly are committed to Him or not. And some sin, watch this, some sins leave scars that you can't erase. Remember this statement, the scars of sin can last you a lifetime. Only the blood of Jesus can atone for them. But you know what? Scar's still there. And we have to thank God for His awesome power to enable us to overcome them. So, I'm simply saying to you, whatever the weakness is in your life, you need to bring it to God. Will He help you through it? Yes. So, I would just ask you to consider in your own life, "What effect has temptation had on my life? Why have I reasoned that I could excuse myself? Why have I told God over and over again that I'm different? I grew up in a bad situation, I grew up with parents who didn't teach me. I grew up with alcoholic parents. I grew up with parents who'd married three or four times. I did this, I did that, I did that other," God understands.
Listen carefully, God understands, but God doesn't excuse sin. He's willing to deal with it, He's willing to forgive, He's willing to give you the strength that you need. But you have to first come clean with Him. "Lord, here I am and I'm weak in this area, I desperately need You to do something for me in my life in this area, in Jesus's name". Will He answer your prayer? Yes, He will. You say, "Well, are we supposed to be perfect"? No, no, that's why He says, "If we confess our sins," agree with Him about them, "He's faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". And, some sins, we probably have all confessed some things over and over and over again. But we have the Holy Spirit living within us to enable us to be strong enough to say "no". And the more times you say "no," the stronger you become. You always have God enabling you, warning you, and strengthening you to be obedient to God. Amen?
Father, we thank You for Your love for us. We thank you that in the midst of this dark generation which we are living that there is an awesome light that's eternal, that glows within our hearts, that makes it possible for us to live godly and to walk clearly, plainly, lovingly before You day by day. I pray, Lord, this morning that somebody seated here who is going through some terrible temptation or maybe is trapped by it right now, that You'll give them this grace, God, the grace to remember they can be freed and the grace to remember that You love them in spite of all of it, and the grace to remember that Your power is greater than the temptation they face. We love You, we praise You, we thank You, we are trusting You daily to be our Guide, our Savior, our Lord, and Master of our life. Show us how to live above sin, Lord, in every way, in Jesus's name, amen.