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Greg Laurie - Angels and Demons

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    Greg Laurie - Angels and Demons
TOPICS: Angels, Demons

So, I heard a story about God up in heaven, and he knew things were bad on earth, but he decided to dispatch an angel to see just how bad things were. It was a top angel, so the angel spent some time on planet Earth checking things out. He returned to heaven, he said, "Lord, things are really bad down there. Basically mankind is 95% bad, and only 5% of them are good". So, the Lord wanted a second opinion. He sent another angel down. That angel returned after a time and said, "Lord, it's as the other angel said, 95% of the people are bad and only 5% are good". So, the Lord thought, "Well, I want to encourage the 5% that are good, you know, at least let them know that I appreciate what they're doing". So, to the 5% that were good, he sent them all a text. You want to know what the text said? Oh, you didn't get one either?

Now, that's a silly joke. But actually, angels are real, and they're actively involved in the life of the follower of Jesus Christ. We live in the natural world, but coexisting is the supernatural world. You and I live in the visible world, but then there is the invisible world, and this world is just as real as the world you and I are living in right now. The story is told in the Book of 2 Kings about the prophet Elisha and his servant Gehazi. So, one night they were surrounded by enemy armies. And Elisha was trying to get a little shut-eye, but Gehazi was freaking out. And he woke up the sleeping prophet and he said, "Master, master, we're surrounded by our enemies. What are we gonna do"? And Elisha, probably a little irritated that his nap was interrupted, said, "Lord, just open his eyes up and help him to see that those that are with us are more than those that are with them". And the eyes of this servant Gehazi were opened to the supernatural world.

And the Bible tells us in 2 Kings 6, "Behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha". See, he saw into that other dimension, the next dimension, the dimension of angelic creatures. Now, I pray that the Lord will open our eyes as we take a biblical look at what is going on behind the scenes. We're not only gonna look at angels, we're gonna look at demons. We'll look at the work that angels want to do and do in the life of the Christian. And we'll look at the work of demons and what they attempt to do in the life of the Christian.

So, if you're taking notes, here's point number one. Angels sometimes deliver us from difficult situations. Going back to the Book of Acts in Acts chapter 5, you remember the story of when the angels busted the apostles out of jail. And the angel said, "Go and tell all the people about this new life". We recently looked at the story of Peter who was in prison in Acts chapter 12. And we read constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. And so, the Lord heard that prayer and answered that prayer by dispatching an angel to walk into the cell. The light filled the dark place, so angels definitely emanate light. And then the little chains, they weren't little, probably big chains, around the ankles and the arms of Peter came off. And then the door opened automatically, and the angel accompanied Peter out of the jail. And then when he was outside, the angel just left, suddenly left, is what the Bible says. I find that interesting. The angel did his job. "Okay, I gotta get you out of prison. That's my assignment. You're on your own now, buddy". Peter went over to that prayer meeting and tried to convince everyone that God had actually delivered him. So, that was an angel that was actively involved.

Here's point number two: sometimes angels stop us and other times, they prompt us. Sometimes angels stop us and other times, they prompt us. In Acts chapter 8, we read that an angel prompted Philip to go to the desert. It's interesting the angel didn't give many details. He didn't tell him what he was supposed to do when he got to the desert, which actually was to ultimately share the gospel with a visiting dignitary from Ethiopia and lead the man to the Lord. The angel's job was to tell Philip to go to the desert, and that's exactly what the angel did. So, he was prompted by the angel.

I wonder if there have been times when an angel has prompted me. I can think of times where I've felt directly led to do something, like, right now, I need to do this thing. There's no doubt about it. I need to go to this person and talk to them. I need to take this step of faith. I need to do this other thing. That may have been an angel, of course, doing the bidding of the Lord. The classic example of an angel stopping someone is a story of Balaam and his donkey, one of the more humorous stories in the Bible, I have to say. So, there was this guy named Balaam. He was sort of a prophet for hire. He was kind of more of a profit, P-R-O-F-I-T, than he was a P-R-O-P-H-E-T. So, he was hired to curse the children of Israel, and he was on his way to do the very thing that God did not want him to do. So, God dispatched an angel. The job of the angel was stop Balaam from cursing the people of Israel.

So, the interesting thing is the angel goes and appears in a way that the donkey saw him, but the prophet did not. So, the donkey's walking along with Balaam riding them and suddenly the donkey sees this angel standing in this path with a sword drawn. Hey, this jackass wasn't stupid. And he looked and saw that powerful being and just stopped. And Balaam became frustrated and started to beat the donkey. And then the angel positioned himself in a way where the donkey could not get by. They're in this little path where there's a wall there. So, the donkey sort of hits the wall, and the prophet's leg is hit. Now Balaam is really angry and he starts beating the donkey. It's an amazing scene.

And then the Bible says the Lord opens the donkey's mouth. And the donkey says to Balaam, "Why are you beating me"? And the prophet, without missing a beat, says, "Because you're making me look like a fool. If I had a sword with me, I'd kill you," Balaam says to the prophet. The donkey says, "Hold on now, haven't I been a good donkey? Have I ever done anything like this before"? Balaam's like, "No, you have a good point there. You've actually been a very good donkey". Wonder what the angel's thinking. "What is with this guy? Does he normally talk to a donkey? I mean, this isn't 'Shrek' here. I mean, what is happening"?

And Balaam is so blinded by, what, his ambition or whatever it is he was about to do, that he doesn't realize he's having an in-depth conversation with a donkey. And then finally, the angel of the Lord appears, and Balaam now for the first time, sees the angel of the Lord standing there. And the angel says, "Why did you beat your donkey three times? I came to stop you because you were headed for destruction". When God's trying to stop you, don't keep going in that same direction. I wonder how many times we've been headed for destruction and God changed our course by directing an angel to stop us from where we were going.

Angels, they're actively involved in the life of the believer. You could call them God's secret agents or maybe God's Navy SEALs. You know, the Navy SEALs, they go around the world and they do these amazing operations. A lot of times we don't even know they were there, but they get the job done. Angels are the same. They do the bidding of God. The Bible says that they protect us. The Bible says the angel of the Lord encamps round about those that fear him. That means if you're a believer, you have angels watching over you.

Now, do Christians have guardian angels? I don't know. There is a reference in Scripture where Jesus spoke of the children's angels, "their angels," he said. So, maybe kids have guardian angels; some kids need guardian angels. But if we have personalized angels or not, this much we know: angels are involved in our lives, protecting us; also, they're ministering to us. We read that they're ministering spirits sent to minister to those who are the heirs of salvation, that's us. And finally, they escort us, because one day when our life on earth is done, the angels will escort us to glory. So, they protect us until God is done with us. And then when our work is completed in this world, we're escorted into God's glory by angelic beings. So, it's so great to know that the Lord has us covered, and we have angels all around us.

All right, the title of this message is "Angels and Demons". So, let's talk a little bit about demons in the Book of Acts and in our life in general. There are many instances in the acts of the apostles where we see demons at work, opposing the work of God, trying to stop the work of God. Demons are fallen angels. They're not created as demons. They are angels that rebelled against God following Satan, and now they're part of his world. Now listen, when there was this angelic rebellion, two-third of the angels stayed on God's side, but one-third of the angels went on the devil's side or Lucifer's side. And don't underestimate the power of demons. They have great power.

Here's point number four, the devil is not alone. He's not alone. I've already alluded to this, he has a well-organized network of demon powers doing his bidding. What is their objective? It would appear that the purpose of demons are twofold, to hinder the purposes of God, and extend the power of Satan. Again, to hinder the purposes of God, to stop God and his people from doing what the Lord wants us to do, and then to extend the reign and power and influence of Satan. Jesus summed up Satan's agenda very simply in John 10:10 when he said, "The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy". All right, so let's read now some verses together out of Revelation chapter 12. We'll look at how the enemy attacks us and how we can overcome him. Revelation 12, starting in verse 7, we read these words, "Then a war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought with the dragon".

By the way, the dragon is just another word for Satan. "And the dragon and his angels," that would be the devil and his demons, "fought, but they did not prevail, nor was there a place down in heaven for them any longer. But the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world. He is cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, 'Now salvation and strength and the kingdom of our God and the power of his Christ has come. For the accuser of the brethren'".

You might underline that phrase. I'll come back to it. "The accuser of the brethren who accused them before our God day and night has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore," verse 12 says, "rejoice, O heavens and you that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the seal, for the devil has come down to you having great wrath because he know he has a short time". Wow, powerful words. We learn a lot about the devil and his agenda from these verses.

Here's some takeaway truths. The devil knows his days are numbered. Again, we read there in verse 12, he knows he has a short time, and he's not happy about it. You might be surprised to know that the devil believes the Bible. He hates it, he opposes it, he's in rebellion against what it says, but he believes the Bible is true. In fact, he even quotes the Bible to Jesus during the temptation in the wilderness, saying, "Since you are the Son of God, why don't you do thus and so"? Not only does the devil believe the Bible is true, the devil knows Jesus Christ is God and he's powerful. You remember that there would be demon-possessed people that would say to Jesus, "Don't cast us into the pit before our time". James reminds us, the demons believe and tremble. Oh, they're orthodox in their beliefs, meaning they believe the Bible is true, they believe Jesus Christ is God, and they believe Jesus Christ is coming again. So, the devil knows his days are numbered. He knows this time is short. He's, like, on a wild rampage trying to destroy as many lives as possible. So, let's close with just a few thoughts about how to overcome the devil and the demons. And these truths are found right here in Revelation 12.

This is my sixth point in this message. The devil does not want you to know he attacks with accusation. One of his main strategies, accusation. Going back to the story in the Book of Job, the angels appear before God, Satan is among them. God asks Lucifer what he's been up to. He says, "Walking around, looking at things going on". And then the Lord says, "Have you considered my servant Job, a perfect and upright man, one that fears God and shuns evil"? The devil immediately begins to oppose and accuse. "Oh, you think Job fears you for nothing? Job fears you and follows you because you've blessed him. You've given him a lot of cool stuff, no wonder he follows you. Let me have a little time with Job. I'll see what he's made of".

And the Lord allowed the devil to bring a series of very horrible events into the life of Job. And Job came through all of this with flying colors, never doubting God. But yet at the same time, it shows the strategy of Satan accusing, attacking, and that's what he does to us. In Revelation 12:10 it says, "The accuser of the brethren," that's us, "who accuses them before our God day and night has been cast out". This is how it works in your life and mine. We're just going about our business, maybe reading the Bible, maybe sitting in a church service, maybe praying, when suddenly, a horrible thought comes to your mind. Do you know what I'm talking about? A horrible thought, a wicked, evil thought and you're thinking, "Where did this come from"? Boom, comes to your mind. And then immediately the devil says to you, "How could you think such a thing when you're praying? How could you have such a thought when you're sitting in church supposedly worshiping"?

You see, he sends a thought and then condemns us for having the thought knock on our door. Look, it's not a sin to be tempted. It's only a sin when I invite temptation in for tea, right? It's been said, "You can't stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can stop it from building a nest in your hair". And in my case, the bird better bring some extra materials 'cause there's no hair to work with. But the point is, you know, you can't stop the temptation from coming, but you don't have to open the door. Listen to this. When temptation comes, here's something you need to remember. The problem is not in the bait, it's in the bite. It's not a sin if the bait is dangled in front of you. It's only a sin if you bite it. It's only a sin if you go for it. If you reject it, well, the Bible says, "Blessed, or happy, is the man that endures temptation, for he will receive the crown of life".

So, there's a reward for that. So, there's nothing wrong with being tempted. It's not a bad thing to have some horrible thought comes to your mind if you reject that thought. The problem is when you take that thought into your mind, entertain it, and let it turn into something else. Here's another way the devil comes, he'll come to you and say, "Why don't you go ahead and do this sin? No one will ever know. I know you're gonna get away with this. Listen, you can trust me". He's a serpent, remember? So, we stupidly say, "Duh, okay," and we take the bite, we go after that thing he offers. And then the devil comes right back and says, "You miserable hypocrite. You call yourself a Christian after what you just did"?

Now he's accusing you before God. How do you overcome him? How do you respond to this? Look at verse 11, Revelation 12. "He overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death". Number one, they overcame them by the blood of the Lamb. Satan comes to you and says, "You're not worthy to approach God. Don't even think about praying". My response: so true, I'm so not worthy to approach God. But I'm not approaching God on the basis of what I've done for God, I'm approaching God on the basis of what he has done for me.

Listen to this. This is an important one. You will never overcome the devil if there's unconfessed sin in your heart. You will never overcome the devil if there's unconfessed sin in your heart. Look, when sin remains unconfessed, there is a wall between us and God. Again, "if we'll confess our sin", 1 John 1:9, "he's faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness". You say, "But what does it mean to confess our sin? Does that mean I have to confess every sin I've ever committed"? No, because you probably don't even realize how many sins you've committed. But it means that you say, "I acknowledge I've sinned, Lord". The word "confess" means to agree with. And in this case, you're agreeing with God.

So, like, if you and I went out for a burger and we both said, "That was an awesome burger," we agreed together. So, when I'm confessing my sin, I'm agreeing with God. God says sin is bad. I agree, Lord, it's bad. I confess it, okay? But if I don't confess my sin, the devil can get a foothold in my life. In Ephesians 4:27 we read these words, "Don't give the devil an opportunity to lead you into sin". Another translation puts it this way, "Don't let the devil get a foothold in your life". Okay, how could he get a foothold in our life? Listen, now as the verse continues on, "by holding a grudge, by nurturing anger, by harboring resentment, and by cultivating bitterness".

So, if I cultivate bitterness, I can give the devil a foothold on my life. You say, what does that mean to cultivate bitterness? Cultivate, you know, it's like I'm planting something, I'm watering it, I'm tending to it, I'm letting it grow. You know, bitter people are not happy to keep it to themselves. They want to go and talk to others. "What do you think about this? I think it's wrong. Do you think it's wrong"? Don't cultivate bitterness or harbor bitterness. Another way is harboring resentment. "That person hurt me, and I refuse to forgive that person". Now, the reality is maybe that person didn't hurt you, but you think they did. Regardless if they did or they did not, harboring resentment can give a foothold to the devil. Nurturing anger, that verse says, you nurture it. Instead of saying, "I don't want this anger, I want to extinguish this fire," you nurture it. You're putting gasoline on the fire of anger. You like to keep it going. You like to be mad.

You know, some people are perpetually mad about something. It's not the same thing. They're just always angry about something. By doing that, you give the devil a foothold in your life. And finally, that verse says holding a grudge, holding a grudge. "You hurt me, I'm not gonna forget. I'm not gonna forget. I'm gonna remember this forever". This is really problematic in marriage, you know, when you're having a disagreement with your spouse and they say, "Well, I remember the time you said to me 25 years ago"... Wait, what, 25 years ago? Don't harbor a grudge. Don't give the devil a foothold in your life. These believers overcame the devil by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.

See, when I'm walking with Jesus Christ, I proclaim the gospel to other people. Listen, in the spiritual battle, the way we move forward, the way we gain ground, the way we take enemy territory, is by preaching the gospel. The devil will not be able to stop us, see? So, they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of their testimony. They were gaining ground through proclaiming the gospel. And then finally, they loved not their lives to the death. What does that mean? It means that these folks realized that their lives belong to God. They realized that their times were in his hands and that God was in control. We can overcome the devil, why? Because greater is he that is in us, Jesus says, that he that is in the world.
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