David Jeremiah - The Great Deceiver Who Seeks to Destroy
In our culture today there is an incredible rise of Satanism and demonism all throughout the world. As we look at what is happening in our culture today we should not be surprised to observe the increase of all of these things that are involved in spiritual warfare because 1 Timothy tells us that "the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith," now watch this, "giving heed to deceiving spirits and to doctrines of demons". In the 9th chapter of the book of Revelation, John the revelatory tells us that during the Tribulation there's going to be an outpouring of demonology, of demons in the Tribulation period. I don't know if you've ever read the description of what happens but when you get a chance sometime, read Revelation 9:8 through 11 and there you will find a description of what happens when the demons of hell are let loose on planet Earth during the Tribulation period.
Now today, as we move closer to the Coming of Jesus Christ and the Tribulation period, we are witnessing the rise of demonic activity all around the world. For instance, in Italy according to CBS news commentator, Mark Phillips, there are now 350 trained exorcists working there, where there were only 20 ten years ago. Father Thomas Williams says, "There's an increased interest in the occult, even in Satanism. Where I live in Italy," he wrote, "satanic worship is actually on the rise". And this is true in a lot of places in Europe. Satanism is on the rise, demonism is moving forward, and just like Paul wrote to Timothy in the latter days this is what's going to happen and we're seeing it manifest itself in our culture in ways that many of you know about 'cause you're shaking your heads up and down. You know what I'm talking about. Now the Bible tells us a great deal about the enemy of our souls. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:12, for instance, that "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers and against the rulers of the darkness of this age and against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places".
John Phillips tells us we should remember when we read that, that "our enemies are not people. We must see beyond people. Satan may use people to persecute us. They may use people to lie to us or cheat us or hurt us or even kill us but our real enemy lurks in the shadows of the unseen world, moving people like pawns on the chessboard. And as long as we see people as enemies and wrestle against them, we are spending our time in vain". Now, isn't it true that today in our churches and in our Small Groups and in our communities, we get focused on the people and we lose sight of where the battle is really being fought? And if we continue to do that, we will continue to lose. We will continue to go backward in our Christian experience.
Now, to illustrate how Satan accomplishes what he does in the world today, I paged through the Bible. I remember doing this one day in my office at home and I underlined every verb I could find that described what Satan does. Now you know a verb is an action word. A verb is what says, "This is what he does. This is his action". And I just put them all together in one paragraph and they go like this: "Satan beguiles, he seduces, he opposes, he resists, he deceives, he sows terror, he hinders, he buffets, he tempts, he persecutes, he blasphemes," and a whole lot more that I don't have time to put in the list. All of his activities, every single one of them, are deceitful, they're divisive and they're destructive and they're aimed at diminishing and defacing the glory of God and the effectiveness of his people. And so many of us today are being victimized by it, unaware that it's even happening, but aware that something is wrong.
Now, let me tell you some things that I've learned about Satan. First of all, he is the great deceiver. He's the great deceiver. He is, according to John 8:44, in the words that Jesus gave to a group of Jews who were struggling with his message, he told them that they were "the children of their father the devil and that they had a hard time with truth because their father's native language was lies". A person's native language is what they speak easily and converse in, what they naturally speak. And, ladies and gentlemen, Satan's natural language is lies. Revelation 12:9 refers to him as "the one who deceives the whole world," which he does by counterfeiting and camouflaging. He tries to imitate the work of God and he does it very effectively. He's the great deceiver. He is also the great divider.
Did you know that Satan's purpose is to divide and conquer? Satan has always been a divider. When he was cast out of heaven he divided the angels and he took a third of them with him. He instigated division in the first family, pitting Cain against Abel. In the early church, he entered into the heart of Ananias and motivated him to divide his loyalty between God and money. Wherever you see Satan at work, there's always division. Listen to me carefully. Did you ever wonder why there are so many churches that go through church splits and have all kinds of problems? It's because Satan is at work in the midst of the church. You say, "You mean, Satan goes to church"? Oh, my, yes. He goes to church. I've probably sat next to him a couple of times. And he loves to divide the people of God. If we could only understand that, we would step back from our petty differences and realize that we're just playing into the hand of our enemy whose purpose is to divide. What happens in churches is that Satan gets a hold of the tongues of God's people and he uses their tongues to poison the atmosphere of the church. And he does that in families and he does it in workplaces and he does it in communities. Satan's purpose is to divide. He does not know the meaning of unity. He has no concept of unity. His whole strategy is the strategy of division. He's the great deceiver and he's the great divider.
And thirdly, he's the great destroyer. In his attempt to destroy the work of God in the universe, specifically on planet Earth, Satan will do anything to destroy God's work. He will delay, he will demolish, he'll dismantle. Anything he can do to destroy. People can live their whole life and honor the Lord and if Satan gets an advantage of them for a moment and in their weakness of the flesh they do something that dishonors God, their influence for God is ruined, and Satan is the victor. We ought to pray against him every day. We ought to pray that Satan would have no place in our lives because he comes to deceive, he comes to divide, and he comes to destroy. Well, you say, "Pastor Jeremiah, how does he go about this? What does he do"? Well, he has several strategies and I wanna tell you a little bit about them because if we don't know our enemy, we gonna lose every battle.
So let me tell you what some of his strategies are. Here's his first one. The first strategy Satan has is the strategy of indifference. Satan's cleverest ruse in the modern world is to make us think that he doesn't exist, that he's a figment of the over-active imagination of dreamers and schemers and Hollywood scriptwriters. He wants us to think he is a cartoon character with a cultural role to play as a mischief maker or, at worst, a dark imaginary boogeyman who hides in closets and under beds and inhabits our nightmares; anything, but reality. Never forget that, 1 John 5:19, "The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one". Someone has said, "If Satan goes to and fro on the earth, walking back and forth on it," then he has passed near you more times than you know. Now, the Bible could not be clearer about the existence of the devil and the reality of the spiritual conflict going on all around us. In fact, we're to "put on the whole armor of God and stand against the wiles of the devil". We read: "For we don't wrestle against flesh but against principalities and against powers and against the rulers of the darkness of this age and against spiritual hosts of wickedness".
Did you realize how many times the word "against" is in that paragraph? And you know what the word means? The word "against" is a word which means you're swimming upstream, against the tide. Satan is against us. Say that with me. Satan is against us. He's against you, he's against me. And when we sit back and act like he doesn't exist, and when we are indifferent to what he's doing in this world, we fall into his trap. We become not victors as we were meant to be, but victims in the spiritual war. Strategy number one is indifference. Strategy number two is ignorance. That's not a good word. It's just a true word. Next to our passive indifference to his presence in our lives, Satan depends upon our ignorance of his strategies. So one of the problems that we have and one of the reasons why Satan is being so effective even in Christian circles is not because we're simply indifferent to him, like he doesn't exist. We're ignorant of how he works. Let me give you the third thing that's true about Satan and how he works. Not only does he work through our indifference and through our ignorance, but he also works through infiltration. Satan loves to infiltrate our lives. Here's a verse of Scripture you need to remember. I'll just give you a little phrase out of the verse. It's Ephesians 4:27 and it says: "Don't give place to the devil".
How many of you know what it means to give place to the devil? You say, "Well, why would anybody in their right mind ever give place to the devil"? We don't do it probably on purpose but we do it nonetheless. Christians today run the risk of being confronted by his power by allowing things in their lives that should never be allowed in the front door. Proverbs says: "Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned"? You say, "Well, Pastor Jeremiah, what are you talking about"? Many Christians today build a fire in their lap with their thought life, with their lifestyle chooses, with their harboring of sin, with their dabbling in dark practices like astrology and fortune-telling and then they wonder why they get burned, why Satan gets into their life. All he needs is a little beach head into your life and he'll set up shop as quick as he can. So I say to you, don't give him the tiniest toehold in your life. Do not leave the door to your heart cracked open to the slightest degree. Do not rationalize or excuse any failure to obey the true Lord of your life and when failure or misstep occurs, as they will, confess them immediately and cleanse your own heart from all sin by going to the Lord Jesus Christ. And remember, the one who is in you is more powerful than the one, who is in the world.
Infiltration. Are you getting the picture of how he works? He works through intervention. And what do we mean by intervention? Well, the dictionary defines intervention as, "The interference of a state in the affairs of another state in order to compel it to do certain things or alter its condition". In our culture, we become very familiar with intervention on a personal level. Somebody gets into drugs, they can't break the habit, and so their family with the help of a counselor will do an intervention. They will go in and insert themselves in the situation uninvited and try their very best to break the habit of the person who's involved in the addiction. Now, Satan has his own intervention program and I wanna tell you about it because I think it's one of the most subtle things that he does. He loves to interfere in the lives of Christians so that he can cause him to do his will, instead of the will of God. I am convinced that Satan's intervention plan today is to keep God's people so busy with the things of this world that they have no time to devote to their spiritual lives. And I see that as a pastor. I see it in my church and I see it as I travel around the country.
As I was preparing this message, a friend of mine sent me a devotional that reminded me of the subtlety of his strategy to discourage and defeat Christians. The devotional imagines Satan addressing a worldwide convention of demons and promising them victory in believers' lives if they will faithfully do the following 12 things. Now listen carefully.
01. Keep them busy with non-essentials.
02. Tempt them to overspend and to go into debt.
03. Make them work long hours to maintain empty lifestyles.
04. Discourage them from spending family time, for when homes disintegrate, there's no refuge from work.
05. Over-stimulate their minds with television and computers so they can't hear God speaking to them.
06. Fill their coffee tables and their nightstands with newspapers and magazines so they've no time to read the Bible.
07. Flood their mailboxes with sweepstakes and promotions and get-rich-quick schemes; keep them chasing material things.
08. Put glamorous models on TV and on magazine covers to keep them focused on outward appearances; that way they'll be dissatisfied with themselves and dissatisfied with their mates.
09. Make sure couples are too exhausted for physical intimacy; that way they'll be tempted to look elsewhere.
10. Emphasize Santa and the Easter Bunny; that way you divert them from the real meaning of the holidays.
11. Involve them in good causes so they won't have time for eternal causes.
12. Make them self-sufficient, keep them busy working in their own strength so that they'll never know the joy of God's power working through them.
The devotional concludes: "Have you figured out the difference between being busy and being successful in what God has called you to do? Sometimes being busy, B-U-S-Y, just means, Being Under Satan's Yoke.
Finally, Satan works through intimidation. Some of you are intimidated by Satan. You've heard some bad things about him and, boy, you're scared of him. And I wanna tell you something. You're not to be afraid of Satan. Let me ask you this question. What is the opposite of God? If you say Satan, you're wrong. Satan is not the opposite of God. You know who Satan's opposite is? Michael the Archangel. Satan cannot be God's opposite because God created him. Satan is a creature and he is not in the same universe with the Creator. And we who are Christians, who know Jesus Christ and have the Holy Spirit living within us, Satan cannot defeat us if we walk in the Spirit. We do not need to walk around all afraid.
Now, I've told you some pretty fearful things about him only so you'll be aware of who he is. But you do not need to be cowering before him. You need to respect him. But you don't need to fear him. Because God has given you everything you need to be victorious against everything he brings to the table. Satan does not have freedom to do anything he wants during this time. If you've ever been in a neighborhood where you have a vicious dog, you are always thankful for a piece of equipment called a leash. The dog is on a leash and the dog has freedom until he gets to the end of the leash. Now they have a new thing where they put a thing on the dog's collar and then they have an electronic field around the house, and the dog is coming after you 'til he hits that electric field and all of a sudden he's at the end of his territory. Well, Satan's like that. Satan's on a leash. He has a territory. He cannot go beyond anything God will allow him to do.
So you don't need to be afraid of him, you need to be prepared to deal with him but you don't need to be afraid of him. The story of Job teaches us we do not have to be afraid of what he will do. He cannot do anything unless the Lord allows him that freedom and he only allows that freedom so that we can learn to depend upon Him for victory in our life. The Bible says that, "The Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil". And when we bow our knees before him, first of all to give him our lives and ask for his forgiveness of our sins, he will come and fill us with the strength that we need to meet every challenge of every day. And then, as Christians, as we fight these battles and we become part of the other side and Satan's not on our side anymore, we've joined the other team, we can be sure that the team we have joined and the one who lives within us is so powerful that Satan cannot be victorious over us unless we allow ourselves to get sloppy in the way we live our lives and we become indifferent or ignorant or intimidated by the things of the enemy.
There are people who have been under the bondage of Satan, people who have allowed the enemy of their souls to come and take control of their lives and pull them away from their allegiance to Christ. You have been around the gospel all of your life, your friends have told you about Jesus, your wife has told you about Jesus, your husband has told you about Jesus, and you just keep resisting. You know why you resist? Because Satan doesn't wanna lose you to God's kingdom. And he will fight everything he can to keep you from accepting Jesus Christ because when you accept Jesus Christ he knows that's when life really begins for you.