Robert Jeffress - Blueprint For Your Destruction
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Have you ever felt like everything in life was working against you? Every person? Every circumstance? Maybe even God? Well, according the Bible, that's exactly how satan wants you to feel! Today, as we continue our series called the divine defense, we'll look at the first two strategies in satan's three-fold plan to ruin your life. My message is titled, "Blueprint for your destruction" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
You may not recognize the name Muhammad al-Sahhaf but you probably know him or remember him by his nickname, Baghdad Bob. Remember Baghdad Bob from the Iraqi conflict a few years ago? He was the minister of information, more like the minister of disinformation, for the nation of Iraq during the final days of Saddam Hussein's rule, and his job was to keep the people's spirits up even though Iraq was facing defeat by American troops. And so he spewed out all kind of lies to bolster the spirits of the Iraqi people.
On April 6, 2003, after American forces had seized control of Baghdad's international airport, Baghdad Bob got on television and said, "We butchered the American troops at the airport and we remain victorious". The next day when American troops stormed one of Saddam's palaces, again Baghdad Bob came on television and he said, "We have looked and there are no Americans in sight anywhere". Baghdad Bob became the fodder for late night comics on television. President Bush was asked by an interview, "What do you think about Baghdad Bob"? He chuckled and he said, "He's quite a character, isn't he"?
You know satan is a lot like Baghdad Bob. Even though satan was soundly defeated at the cross of Jesus Christ, even though the date of his execution is on God's calendar right now, he still is spewing out the lies that he is still in control of this universe. But unlike Baghdad Bob, there's nothing funny about satan at all. His lies are blinding unbelievers to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so that they will spend eternity separated from God in hell. But unbelievers are not the only victims of satan's propaganda. He also assaults Christians with lies as well. He is intent on depriving you of the benefits of living as a child of God. He wants to destroy your influence for the Kingdom of God. He wants to deny you the rewards God has planned for you in heaven. That is satan's devious objective for your life.
And not only does satan have a devious objective to destroy everything valuable to you, he also has a strategy to fulfill those objectives. Remember the words of Ephesians 6:11. Paul said, "Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil". That word "Schemes" in Greek is the word methodeia. It refers to an animal, a predatory animal that is stalking its prey. You know a predator doesn't necessarily pounce on its victim immediately. It may stalk its prey for days and then finally attack when the moment is just right. And a predator doesn't use the same strategy on every animal either. Different victims require different strategies.
So it is with satan. The Bible says he has a method. He has a strategy to destroy everything important in your life. He has developed a unique plan to divide your family, to not only that but disrupt you relationship with God and to destroy your eternal destiny. And that's why the Bible says, "Be on guard. Be on the alert for your adversary. The devil prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour". Think about this for a moment. Do you realize that in the pit of hell right now, there's a blueprint. It's a blueprint that has your name at the top of it. It is satan's personalized, unique plan to destroy you. And today and next week we're going to look at satan's three-pronged strategy to destroy your faith, your family, and your future.
If you have your Bibles today, turn to Job 1. Job 1. Satan's first strategy for Christians, to destroy a Christian's family, faith, and future, is to discourage you from worshipping God. Write that down on your outline. He wants to discourage you from worshipping God. You and I are bit players in an eternal drama that began many years ago. Remember my story about being an extra on the television show "Dallas"? I was a bit player in a great drama. In a very real sense, you and I are bit players in a very real eternal drama that began eons ago. It's when satan, who was at one time God's chief of staff, chose to rebel against the Creator, and right now that drama continues.
Now if this whole idea that you and I are in a play, a production, and the vast unseen audience is watching this, if that seems a little far-fetched to you, consider the story of Job. Look at Job 1:1, for we see satan using discouragement to humiliate God before all of his creation. Job 1:1 says, "There was man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God, and turning away from evil". And then we get a glimpse of the drama behind the drama that's going on in heaven. God pointing to earth directed satan's attention to this main character on the stage named Job. Look at verse eight, "Then the Lord said to satan, 'have you considered my servant Job for there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless, an upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil'"?
Satan wasn't about to let God be proud of his creation, and so satan says, "Well of course he worships you. Who wouldn't worship you after all the things you've done for Job? But you let me have a few rounds with him and I can turn him against you". So God granted satan limited permission to attack his servant Job. Look at verse 12. "Then the Lord said to satan, 'behold all that Job has is now in your power. Only do not put forth your hands on him'", that is, don't kill him. So satan departed from the presence of the Lord, and for the next two chapters we see satan's relentless attacks against God's servant Job.
One day Job was sitting on the ash heap of his incinerated possessions, his dead children, his broken health, and Job's wife came to him, look at 2:9, and said, "Do you still hold fast your integrity? Why not curse God and die"? You see, that was satan's objective, to turn Job away from worshipping God by sending so many tragedies into his life that Job would conclude worshipping God really isn't worthwhile. And satan continues that same strategy in your life today. Even though his power to destroy is considerable, it's also limited.
Like Martin Luther said, "The devil is still God's devil". He is still under God's control, but God for some mysterious reason, has allowed satan to have limited access into your life and into my life. Really it's not a mystery why he has allowed that. You see both Job and God understood that untested faith is really no faith at all. God uses tests to strengthen us, but also to prove before the unseen world that we are really his followers. Satan will do everything he can to bring calamity, to bring financial reversal, to bring sickness, to bring disruption in your family or among your friends. He'll use all of those things to discourage you from worshipping God and therefore discredit the Creator.
Satan's first strategy to destroy everything important to us in life is to discourage us from worshipping God, but he has a second strategy, and that is to distract you from serving God. To distract you from serving God. If satan can't be successful in causing you to all and out reject God, maybe he can just get you to ignore God. And that's what he does through distractions. It is a very subtle strategy but also a very powerful strategy. How can satan cause you to simply neglect God in your everyday life? It's through what a generation ago used to call "Worldliness". Have you heard that term before? "Worldliness"? You know when we think of worldliness we think about overt sins like addictions or sexual immorality. My definition of worldliness is a preoccupation with the details and delights of everyday life. That's exactly what satan is trying to do, is to cause you to be preoccupied with the details and the delights of every day life. So focused on this world that you neglect your relationship with God.
Jesus talked about the power of worldliness in Luke 8. Remember Luke 8 is the parable of the soils. And Jesus was answering the question, "Why is it that not everyone who hears the Word of God responds to the Word of God"? And Jesus used this agricultural analogy. He said it's like seed that is cast onto the soil, and what happens to that seed is determined by what kind of soil the seed falls on. The seed, of course, represented the Word of God. The different kinds of soil represented the different responses, different conditions, of the human heart. But the third kind of soil is the one that's relevant to our discussion today. Look at Luke 8:14. "The seed which fell among the thorns. These are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way, they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life and they bring no fruit to maturity".
Jesus is talking about a seed that falls onto the ground. It penetrates the soil. It begins to grow but underneath the soil there is a vast network of weeds, and those weeds wrap themselves around the root of the plant and they strangle out the life of the plant. Now Jesus uses that analogy to describe the person who receives the Word of God. He begins to grow in his faith but then something chokes out his love, his devotion to God. And Jesus mentions three of those weeds, three of those distractions, that destroy our relationship with God. Notice what they are. First of all, he mentions worry. Worry can be a tremendous distraction to you in your relationship with God.
Somebody has said that worry is a thin stream trickling through the mind, that if left unchecked will cut a deep channel that will drain all of your thoughts and emotions. Now where does that emotion of worry come from? 2 Timothy 1:7 says, "For God has not given us the spirit of fear but of love, power, and of a sound mind". So if it doesn't come from God, where does worry come from? Here's a hint: I read a story recently that said that a study showed that ninety-two percent of all the things we worry about never come true. Did you know that? Ninety-two percent of the things we worry about never come true. They are lies, they are deceptions.
John 8:44 says satan is a liar, and he is the father of all lies. So if he can't cause you to out and out reject God, he wants you to be distracted from God by wrapping his tentacles around your emotions and thoughts through worry. That's what Jesus is talking about. He's talking about a Christian who is choked to death by the worries of this world. He has a second distraction that he uses, and that is riches. Jesus talked about worries and then he talked about riches. Now I know what you're thinking, most of you are thinking, "Phew, at least that doesn't apply to me. Of all the things I worry about, having too much money is not one of them". You might want to think again.
See the fact is, even though you may not have a six figure income or a seven figure net worth, compared with the rest of the world almost every one of us in this room is wealthy. The fact is, if you have a roof over your head tonight, if you know where your next meal is coming from, if you have more than two changes of clothes, you are wealthy by the world's standard. But even if you don't accept that proposition that you're wealthy, what I want you to understand from what Jesus was saying is it's not only having too much money that can be a distraction in life and in your relationship with God. Having two little money can also be a powerful distraction in life, and that we all know the verse, Matthew 6:24, you cannot serve God and money. Have you ever heard that before? You cannot serve God and money.
What most people don't realize is when Jesus preached that truth, he wasn't preaching to wealthy people. That's part of the sermon on the mount. It was given to the Christ followers, to the multitudes, to the poor people who populated the earth. Jesus said to the poor people, "You cannot serve God and money". And that scene in the next verse, Matthew 6:25 when he said, "For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious about your life as to what you will eat or what you will drink nor for your body as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing"? Jesus wasn't speaking to people who had too much. He was speaking to people who had too little in their minds, and they were worried about where their next meal was coming from, how they were going to feed themselves or clothe their children. And he said, "You need to understand that this over concern about money can strangle out your love for God. No man can serve God and money".
Now, that was two thousand years ago. Two thousand years later, not that much has changed. Most of us in this room today, most of us watching on television, we're not concerned about having too much money. We're concerned that we don't have enough, aren't we? Now, the truth is there is good, sound financial planning that we ought to engage in, but when it is rooted in fear, paralyzing fear that we're not gonna have enough, it becomes a distraction to us from serving God. That's why a concern for money, not just having too much, but having too little is an enemy to our faith. Paul said it this way in 1 Timothy 6:10. Remember what he said? He said, "For the love of money", he didn't say "For money", he said "The love of money", the obsession with money, "is the root of all sorts of evil". And some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many a pain.
Jesus mentions a third distraction from our relationship with God. He talked about worries, he talked about riches, thirdly, he talks about the pleasures of this life. Now hear me very clearly here. Jesus is not condemning pleasure. God meant more for use than just simply to endure this life. He wants us to enjoy life, and pleasure when engaged in in the right way can actually draw us closer to God. Now satan understands that. He understands the power of pleasure to make us love God more and to be more thankful to him, so what satan wants to do is to pervert, to twist God's plan for pleasure, and he does so by having Christians go to one of two extremes when it comes to this topic of pleasure.
One extreme is to abstain from pleasure. And when we do that we don't realize we are playing into the enemy's plan to destroy our life. Remember what Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 2:24-25? He said, "There's nothing better for a man than to eat and to drink and to tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that is from the hand of God, for who can eat and who can have enjoyment without him"? Satan's one strategy with pleasure is to get you to abstain from it, at least for a while. But if he can't succeed there, then the other extreme is to over indulge in pleasure. That is to make it the focus of your life.
Pleasure can be a powerful distraction in your relationship with God, and maybe some of you here today, you don't vacation that much, you don't take out of town trips, you're not involved in that many sports activities, but maybe just maybe you're working yourself to death right now. You don't feel like you have time for the things of God because you're working yourself to death planning for that magical age of 65 when you can enter the golden years known as retirement. A period of time in life when you can spend the final 20 years of your life doing nothing more productive than waking up each day and saying, "How am I going to entertain myself today"?
May I remind you, retirement is not a biblical concept. When you spend any period of time, whether it's six months, a year, or ten years, focus solely on yourself, you are sowing the seeds for spiritual destruction in your life. I'm not saying you have to keep working at the same job you worked at all of your life until the day you drop. What I am saying is God wants every part of your life, every period of your life, to be God focused, others focused, and not self-focused. God wants you to be productive until the day you die.
Now seriously, let me ask you this morning: what has become a distraction for you in your relationship with God? What is it right this very moment that is distracting you from developing your relationship with God? Have you allowed the "What ifs" of worry to strangle out your desire to know God? Has money, an obsession with money, either earning it, spending it, or saving it, has that become the central part of your life? Have you allowed the pursuit of pleasure to become the grand obsession of your life.
You know, if we're going to defeat satan's real plan to destroy our life... By the way, how many of you believe what the Bible says that satan does have a plan to destroy your life? If you believe what God's word says, that he has a scheme, he has a method, it's personalized, to destroy your life. The best way to defeat that plan is to recognize what strategy he's using with you right now.
For some of you he's trying to discourage you from worshipping him by sending trials into your life. For others of you he is trying to distract you from your relationship with him, either through worries, riches, or the pursuit of pleasure. Now at the beginning of the message I said satan's plan is a three-pronged attack. Not only is he trying to discourage you, not only is he trying to distract you, but next week we are going to look at the third and most powerfully dangerous strategy satan has to deprive you of every good thing in life. And I hope you'll be with us next week.