Craig Groeschel - The Deceiver

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Hey, and welcome today to all of our churches. I wonder, did anybody come ready to help me preach and hear the word of God today? It's great to have you guys with us. We are in part one of a three-part message series called When the Devil Knocks. Incredibly important, I believe, in our spiritual journey to learn how we do spiritual battle. Let me just say upfront, some people have said, why do we talk about the devil? What I want you to understand is that this is not a devil-glorifying teaching whatsoever. What we wanna do is we wanna better understand our enemy so that we can better fight against the forces of darkness. I'll start with something that I think is kind of interesting. If you had asked me what is the greatest deception of the devil, what is the greatest trick that our enemy has actually convinced so many people of, I would say the greatest trick the devil ever pulled off is convincing so many people that he does not exist, is literally convincing people that he doesn't exist. We may believe in God, but certainly there's no forces of darkness.

I hope you'll understand that the devil is real, and the devil is not some little guy in a red suit with, you know, a tail and a pitchfork and horns and such. There is a spiritual battle going on every single day between the forces of good and the forces of evil. Our God is the God of light. The devil is the god, little god, or darkness. Our God is truth. The devil is the father of lies. Jesus came that we may have life and life more abundantly. The devil came to bring death, to steal, kill, and destroy. Scripture actually teaches us that our battle is not against flesh and blood. In other words, you're not in a battle with your mother-in-law. It may seem like that, but it's not the case. You're not just in a battle against the boss that drives you crazy. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities of this dark world. And that's why we're going to dive in for three weeks and learn how to fight against the evil one. Let me give you a little backstory about this force of darkness, and that'll help set this up for today.

A lot of people don't realize, but before the foundation of the world, we know that God created archangels. He created Gabriel, Michael, and he created Lucifer. Lucifer was actually kind of like a worship angel, beautiful, full of wisdom and glory. The problem is, Lucifer actually became very jealous of God. God was getting the glory, and Lucifer wanted the glory. And so he fell into pride, essentially pitted himself against God because God says, I will not share my glory with anyone else. When Lucifer wanted the attention, God cast him down from heaven. And Lucifer took one-third of the angels with him. Those would be known as the demons that we do battle with even today. What does this matter to you? Well, what you need to understand is because you are created in the image of God, and because the devil hates God, the devil will continually come after you. It's not if he attacks. It's that he's already attacking right now. And this message series is designed to help arm you, to equip you when the devil knocks.

I believe with all my heart that the devil will try to keep you from hearing this. You watch. Next week, there'll be something that'll come up to distract you. I believe even moreso that the evil one will try to keep us from living this, and that's why it's so important, I believe, that we don't just hear God's word, but we live it every single day. This is what C.S. Lewis said. He said this. He said, "There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square inch, every split second is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan". When the devil knocks. I got this idea for these three weeks of teaching from a book called The Strategy of Satan. If you wanna read more, it's a little book by Dr. Warren Wiersbe. Let me just tell you about Warren Wiersbe. He's 88 years old. He is one of the best writers and teachers on the Bible I think ever. If you're a brand-new believer, he's easy enough to understand. If you've been studying the Bible for decades, he's deep enough to push you. Anything by Warren Wiersbe is something I would recommend, and I wanna give him credit for his work in that book that inspired this message series.

Let me show you where we're going to go in the next three weeks. We're going to look at today. I'll show you what we're talking about next week, and then we'll look at the third week. Today, we're going to talk about the quality of the evil one. We're going to call him the deceiver. The Bible says he's a deceiver. Satan is the deceiver who attacks your mind with lies. He lies to us and tries to take us away from God's truth. I think next week is my favorite of the three messages. We're going to talk about Satan is the accuser. What does he do? He attacks your heart with accusations. You're not and you never will be, and you're not good enough for God, and he accuses you on and on and on. The third week I'm going to teach on a text that the vast majority probably have never ever heard a message from in church before. I'm so excited about it. We're going to talk about the destroyer. Satan is the destroyer who attacks your will with pride. He is the deceiver who attacks your mind with lies, the accuser who attacks your heart with accusations, and the destroyer who attacks your will with pride. Let's start with the deceiver. Satan is the deceiver.

This is what Jesus said about Satan in John 8:44. He said, "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". Any time he speaks, he is lying. Someone said, how do you know if the devil's lying? You know he's lying if his lips are moving. He cannot speak the truth. He always lies. And this was his first strategy, attacking Eve in the garden of Eden. We're going to see that he actually attacked the authority of God's word with lies. Crazy interesting to me when you think about this. There are so many different ways that the serpent. Now, who was the serpent? That was a physical from of Lucifer or the evil one. The serpent came and deceived Eve. How did he do it? He did it by attacking the word of God.

Think about it. There are so many different ways that the serpent could have tried to take Eve away from God. He could have preyed on her insecurity. He could have said, That's the best snake I've got. Just work with me, okay. I've been practicing all weekend. I think I've actually improved, so you should have seen it on Saturday. Adam doesn't really love you. He's sick of hearing about your feelings all the time. He wants to go in his man cave. Like, literally. And stay there forever. He liked it better when it was just him and the animals. He wants his rib back. You know. There are so many different ways that the serpent could have tried to create questions. But what did the serpent do? The serpent actually attacked God's word. He did it two different ways, if you're taking notes. The first thing the deceiver did is the deceiver questioned God's word. He questioned God's word. Genesis 3:1, "The serpent said to the woman, did God really say, you must not eat from the tree in the garden"? Did God really say? Notice, the deceiver did not deny that God had spoken. Instead, he questioned that God had spoken.

And this is what the deceiver does today. He'll try to question, plant seeds of doubt. Do you really believe the Bible is a book from God? Surely you're smarter than that. I mean, you're not naive enough to think there was a creator that just spoke and created everything. Surely you're intellectual enough to believe that everything went boom, and everything worked together by some explosion. You wouldn't be that naive. Hey, God didn't really mean that. Not for you. Not for now. I mean, maybe hundreds of years ago, but this is two-thousand-and-whatever, and this year, we've evolved past that. Besides, God loves you so much. If he really loved you, he'd let you do whatever you want. God didn't tell you not to. He didn't mean that not for you. He questions God's word. He gets you to question God's word. And evidently, Eve apparently started to question God's word.

Let me show you why I believe this is true. Because God told her that she may eat freely. Everybody say freely. Say it again: Freely. God said, you may eat freely from all of these trees. Eat that, eat that, eat that. Just not this one, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Eat freely from everything else, just not from that very one. I love you. You're blessed. There's freedom. Just not that one. But then, when Eve got into a dialog with the devil, she left out one key word. See if you can notice what she left out. The woman said to the serpent, we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but what word did she leave out? She left out the word freely, right, implying, perhaps, that God was holding back on her. Oh, there was more. That which God said no to must be the very thing that I want that will bring me fulfillment and satisfaction.

What happened? The moment Eve started to question the goodness of God, the moment she started questioning the goodness of God, that was when it was easier to disobey the will of God. In fact, you can write that down. When you start to question the goodness of God, it's easier to disobey the will of God. The moment Satan started to question God's word, she started to wonder, is God really good? The deceiver questioned God's word. The second thing the deceiver did is he twisted God's word. He twisted God's word. Eve said, we can eat from any tree except that one, or we're gonna die. And then the serpent says in verses four and five, you won't surely die, "the serpent said to the woman, for God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you'll be like God, knowing God and evil". You'll be like God. Do you know that that's exactly what Lucifer wanted. He wanted to be just like God. What's interesting, the way he twisted the word, is that Eve was already created in the image of God. She was already a reflection of the heart of God. And yet the serpent says, twist, twist, twist, did God really say you could be like God.

And this is exactly what the evil one does today. Over and over and over again, he twists God's word. Oh, God is love. That's true. Then he twists it. God is love. He'll understand. Do whatever you want. Besides, scripture says, thou shalt not judge. Nobody can judge you for what you're doing. It's your life. You can do whatever you want with your life. He'll forgive you anyway. He's gonna forgive... God wants you happy. Do whatever makes you happy. He attacks the authority of God's word. Here's what I hope some of you will understand. You're under attack. You're under attack. The evil one is coming after your family, coming after your finances, perhaps coming after you physically, maybe even coming after your children. You're under attack. You're under attack. You're under attack. Let me just say this. If someone breaks into my house and comes after my family, what do you think I'm going to do?

Let me tell you what I'm not going to do. I'm not going to sit in my bedroom and go, oh, I hope they don't go down my kids' hallway. Oh, Amy, quick, do something. Right? What am I gonna do? In a moment, I am transformed into some combination of Rambo, Jackie Chan, Jason Bourne, and Popeye the Sailor Man. Right? Work with me. And I will fight to the... Can't keep a straight face. Fight to the finish, 'cause I eats my spinach. And I'm not kidding, man. I will turn a lamp into a martial art weapon. I may be in my boxers, but you will see fierce like you've never seen before. You better bring 10 guys and automatic weapons, because I will fight to the death. You hurt me, you take me out, you kill me, I'm your worst horror movie. I'm coming back from the dead to fight you and say, you will not touch my family. Every now and then you have to recognize, oh my gosh, I was like, spiritually dull. I didn't realize this. We're under attack. Devil, not today. Not my house, not my family, not my finances, not my health. No, devil, you have no place here. I fight back in the name of Jesus. I fight back, in the name that is above every name, the name at which every demon must flee. I fight in the name of Jesus.

I'm not sitting back tolerating this and hoping for the best and just wishing, is it ever gonna get better? Is it ever gonna get better? No, not today. Not my house, not this time, not this Jesus follower. I know who I am in Christ. I know what I have in Christ. I have the same power that raised Christ from the dead dwelling in me. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. You're in a battle. You're in a battle. Recognize it. The good news is that we battle not against flesh and blood. We also don't use earthly weapons. We have spiritual weapons. Paul talked about this in Ephesians chapter six. He said, you've got the armor of God. You've got the helmet of salvation. I like that. You've got the breastplate of righteousness. You've got the shield of faith to quench the fiery darts of the evil one. You've got the belt of truth. You've got the shoes prepared with the gospel, the readiness of peace, and you have one offensive weapon. Do you know what that weapon is? It is called the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. You have the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Your only offensive weapon is the word of God.

What you hope you'll understand is the Bible is not just some little book to teach you how to be nice and kind. The word of God is your greatest offensive weapon, wielded against the forces of darkness in every spiritual battle that you fight. It is the sword of the Spirit. It is the word of God. There are two different types of swords that were actually used in battle during the time that this was written. There was a really big sword that you would swing with both hands. After David killed Goliath, he took this big sword and took Goliath's head off. That's cocky. Just saying. There was another type of sword that was shorter that was sharp on both edges. It was known as the gladius, the gladius. It was used in hand-to-hand combat. When your enemy got close, you'd draw the gladius, which I just have to say, the gladius makes me think about The Gladiator, which makes me think about, what is your name? And he responds, Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the armies of the north, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant of the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius, father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife, and I will have my vengeance in this life or the next.

Come on, men, where are you? Come on, men, where are you? Come on men, where are you? Come on, men. I know you feel it. I know you feel it. I know you feel it. Ladies, I know you're confused, but men, I know you feel it. What we do on earth echoes in eternity. May we pause for a moment to honor God for the greatest movie ever made? Gladius. Gladius. Sharper than any two-edged sword. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that. For the word of God is alive. It's active. It's sharper than any two-edged sword. It's how we do battle against the evil one. It's how we fight back, with the spoken word of God, the sword of the Spirit. That's how Jesus did battle against Satan in the wilderness after 40 days and 40 nights of fasting. 40 days and 40 nights, Jesus is communing with his father. He's seeking God and denying himself physical nutrition. You know he's weak. Man, if I skip lunch, I get grumpy and weak. 40 days, 40 nights. It's probably his most vulnerable physical moment, and what does the devil do? He attacks when Jesus is weak. He attacks. He attacks.

Some of you may say, well, I haven't been attacked in a long time. Maybe it's 'cause you're not doing anything. 'Cause, listen, 'cause when you do something, the devil attacks. When you're bold for your faith, the devil attacks. When you're generous with what you have, the devil attacks. When you're glorifying God with worship, the devil attacks. When you don't just go to church but you are the church, the devil attacks. When you're using your gifts to serve and make a difference somewhere, the devil attacks. Jesus was glorifying God. The devil comes in waves. Wave one, wave two, wave three. Wave number one, the devil says, hey, Jesus, you look hungry. You look hungry. God loves you. He's a miraculous God. Why don't you turn these stones into biscuits and gravy? It's the New Craig version. Into Krispy Kreme donuts. He says, turn these stones into bread. And what did Jesus do? Drew his sword and said, it is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of my God. Attack wave number two came. The demons and Satan says, Jesus, why don't you throw yourself off of this cliff, because scripture says, watch him twist it, the angels will give charge over you, and they will come, and they will rescue you. And Jesus, again, draws his sword and says, it is written, do not put the Lord your God to test.

And the devil comes at him again and says, oh, no, no, no, no, no, no. How about this, Jesus? Look over all of that, the kingdoms of this world. I will give them to you if you'll only bow down and simply worship me. You can have all of this. It can be all about you. And Jesus says, get away from me, devil, and draws the living sword, the word of God, and says, it is written, worship the Lord your God and him alone. And the devil fled. And the angels of God came and ministered to Jesus. It's the sword of the Spirit, the sword of the Spirit. Psalm 119 says this. David said, I've hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. In other words, your words is a part of me. It dwells within me. How do you get the word hidden in your heart? You daily study and enjoy the spiritual nourishment of the word of God. If I can be really honest, the problem for so many of you is you don't even know where your sword is. You don't know where it is. I got it somewhere in here. It's in my bedroom. It's in a drawer. Maybe it's on a bookshelf. I saw it, back when we got someone dedicated at church.

You know, it's somewhere in here. I got it somewhere. Or now, it's actually on your mobile device, which is really cool. If it's not on your mobile device, it should be, but someone of you, you know exactly where Instagram is, and you know where your news app is, and you know where Snapchat is, and the Bible app, it's, where is it? It's in a folder somewhere. You don't even know where your sword is. You don't even know where your offensive weapon is. Listen. Before the word can come out of your mouth, it's gotta be hidden in your heart. It's gotta be hidden in your heart. It's gotta be hidden in your heart. What do we do? First day of the week, we worship God. First of the year, we fast to seek God. First of every financial increase, we worship God with a tithe, and the first of the day, every day, we seek God first, and then everything else will be added unto us. We open our hearts up to God in prayer, and we open the word up, and we let it spiritually nourish us.

What does the word do? The word convicts us when we stray. The word directs us into God's will. The word comforts us when we're hurting. The word encourages us to become who we are in Christ. The word equips us to do the perfect will of God. The word reminds us it's not about us. It's all about him. It is living bread. It is spiritual nourishment. We feed on God's word. It strengthens us. It washes over us. It changes us to become who God wants us to be. I would beg you, beg you, plead with you to make this a part of your daily life. Every single morning, before you do anything, click on the Bible app. Do a plan. Do another plan. I'm reading through the whole Bible on the app. I've got two other plans active. If, you know, I'm not good at reading, let it read to you. Wow, can you believe that? It reads to you. Let it speak to you. Let it speak to you. The word, sharper than any double-edged sword.

Tell you about my week. I was in several cities this week. On Friday, I was in Washington, D.C. for a very important historic event at the Museum of the Bible. Our dear friends the Greens that we love and many others partnered together to create a museum for the Bible that I promise you, if you can get your family there, it's completely, completely worth the journey. And Pastor Bobby from our team and I were there, and I got to dedicate a portion of the facility known as illuminations. And there were people from all over the world gathered together who have a heart to translate the Bible into the 1700 remaining languages on earth today that do not yet have the word of God in their heart language. This is what's fascinating. It took about 2,000 years, about 2,000 years to translate half the world's languages into Bibles for people. We have a goal partnering with others to do the second half. The first half took 2,000 years. Our goal is in the next 16 years, by the year 2033, to do the second half.

It must have been my delivery, because there are some excited, but I must have delivered it wrong, Pastor Chris. It took 2,000 years to translate the first half of the languages. We have a goal that our church is a part of in the next 16 years to translate the second half of the languages on planet earth into the word of God. And where do you think we're going to transport that word? Through the YouVersion Bible app, which is already on 292 million devices, born out of this house, because of your generosity, because of your giving, because of your faithfulness. Our little church is helping bring the Bible to people all over the world. In fact, not only are we giving the YouVersion Bible app away but we're pretty passionate about language translation. So our church committed over a four-year period one million dollars to Bible translation to get the word of God out. Why? Because it is living. It is powerful. it is active. It is sharper than any two-edged sword. It is alive. The word is alive. The word is alive.

And so what do we do? When we're in battle, we fight back with the word. Whenever you feel a little bit depressed, what do you do? You quote the word. Why so downcast, o my soul? I put my hope in the living God. When your family is under attack, what do you say? No weapon formed against us will prosper. As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. When you think I can't make it another day, I will not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time, I will reap a harvest. If I do not give up, I can do all things through Christ who dwells within me. When the diagnosis is not good, I believe that all things are possible with my God. I believe that by the stripes of Jesus, we are healed. When you're not sure what you're gonna do, I trust in the Lord with all my heart. I lean not on my own understanding, but in all my ways, I acknowledge him, and he alone will make my paths straight. If I feel ashamed after what I did, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

When I confess my sins, God is faithful and just. He will forgive my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. When your marriage is under attack, you draw the sword. You draw the sword. Love is patient. Love is kind. It doesn't envy. It doesn't boast. It is not proud. It's not rude. It's not self-seeking. It's not easily angered. It doesn't delight in evil, but it rejoices in the truth. Love always hopes. Love always trusts. Love always protects. And now, these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is the love of my Savior Jesus Christ, which dwells within me. Not today, devil. Not today. You are not going to rob what God blessed me with, not today.

If you think for a moment the devil is some cute little guy in a Halloween costume, then you probably also think Jesus is a tender little hippie carrying a staff with a lamb around his shoulders. While he is love, he is also righteous. While he is full of grace, he also comes back in judgment. When he returns according to Revelation one, John says this. "His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were polished like bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean weaves. He held seven stars in his right hand". Say it with me, all of our different churches. "A sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth". Say it again. "A sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth". One more time. "A sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth, and his face was like the sun in all its brilliance". A sharp two edged sword came from his mouth.

What was he doing? He was speaking the word. He was doing spiritual battle. He was speaking the word, just like his Father did in the beginning. God spoke and created the world. In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God, and the word became flesh and dwelt among us. The word is Jesus. The devil is a liar. Jesus is the truth. The devil is a liar. Jesus is the truth. Every time you sin against God, it's because you believe one of the devil's lies. But when you know the truth, the truth will set you free. When you know the truth, the truth will set you free. So whenever the devil tries to lie, say, get behind me. I know God's word. It's written. This is who I am in Christ. This is what I have in Christ. You are defeated. I'm not fighting for victory, devil. I'm fighting from victory. You get behind me. You are a defeated foe, because greater is the one who dwells within me than he who is in this world.

Father, I pray that you would empower your church, God, to be full of your word, speaking truth, doing battle against the forces of darkness, that we may glorify you in all we do.

All of our churches, as you're praying today, those of you who would say, yes, I am a follower of Jesus, but I wanna become even more passionately engaged in God's word, would you lift up your hands right now? All of our churches, lift them up right now.

Father, I thank you that at life groups this week we're talking about it. If we're not yet in a life group, we're getting in a life group. God, I thank you our church got to be a part of the greatest tool in the world today to get the word of God out. We, God, will use that. We seek you first and worship you first of the week. We honor you with the fast first of the year. We honor you with the first of any financial increase back as a gift of worship, and we honor you first in every day, God, seeking you through your word. Strengthen us. God, for those who are in a battle right now, I pray that your living word dwelling within them would give them the faith to fight back, believing, God, that all things are possible with you. Thank you that the word became flesh and he dwells with us.

As you keep praying today, all of our different churches, there are those of you, you may recognize. I'm not even sure where I stand with God. If we had a conversation and I asked you, what would happen to you, you know, after this life, because this life does not last forever. You may hem-haw around. You may kind of have some hopes, but you're not sure. Let me just tell you what scripture says. Scripture is very, very clear. God is holy, and we are not. We have all sinned. Don't let anybody tell you we're good people. The truth is, we lie, we cheat, we lust, we steal, we criticize, we envy, we're full of pride. We are sinful people, but God is so good that he loved us so much the word became flesh. This is what the Bible says. For God so loved the world, you, that he sent his one and only son Jesus that whosoever believes in him would not perish but have eternal life.

Who is Jesus? The sinless son of God. He was without sin. That's why he was the perfect sacrifice. Died in our place for the forgiveness of our sins. At all of our churches, there are those of you, you're hearing it for the first time. You're not hearing it with your ears, but you're hearing it with your heart. You recognize you need him. You need his grace. You need his forgiveness. You're not here by accident. God brought you here for this moment. All the churches, those of you who say, I need Christ, I need his grace, I need his forgiveness. I turn from my sin. I turn toward him. That's you.

Lift your hand high right now. All of our churches, lift them up. Right back there, God bless you. Up here close to me, right back over there, over on this side as well. Over here. Leave 'em up. Let me just find you. Both of you right back here. Church, I hope you're more excited than that. Right back over here. God bless you right here sweetheart. Others of you today who say yes, Jesus, I need your grace. Both of you here in the middle section say yes. Over here on this far side. Others. Jesus, I surrender to you. I surrender to you. Church online, you click right below me, and everybody pray together.

Heavenly Father, I give you my life. Jesus, save me from all my sins. Make me brand-new. Fill me with your spirit, so I can follow you. Teach me your word so I can know you. Direct my steps so I can live for you in all that I do. Thank you for new life. I give you mine. In Jesus's name I pray.

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