Robert Jeffress - Satan's Four Favorite Lies
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Jesus once said that satan "Is a liar and the father of lies. There is no truth in him". After all, didn't satan ultimately trick Adam and Eve into disobeying God by telling them a lie? Well, satan is still using that very same tactic on Christians today and he's doing it by planting lies within our thoughts. Today, I'll expose four falsehoods that satan spreads through outside influences, such as other people, other mediums and even direction communication. My message is titled, "Satan's Four Favorite Lies" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
John Gardener once said, "Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bear bad fruit, and each man is his own gardener". It's true, we're responsible for the thoughts we cultivate in our minds, thoughts that lead to choices, choices that shape our life and our eternity. But it's also true that there's another force at work in the garden of our minds. As we saw last time, satan, either through other people, through neutral medium, even through his own voice, satan tries to slither into our minds and plant wrong thoughts that lead us away from the God we love. Every wrong thought that satan tries to place in your mind is built upon a lie. And that shouldn't surprise us, John 8:44, "Jesus said, 'satan is a liar, he is the father of all lies'". And if we're going to be successful and winning the spirit wars that every one of us is engaged in, it's important for us to be able to recognize the lies of the evil one. And that's what we're going to today.
Today we're going to look at four of satan's favorite lies, and all four of them are found in Genesis 3. If you have your Bibles, turn to Genesis 3. And what we're going to see today is how each of these lies build upon one another, and ultimately lead us away from God. The first lie you find in Genesis 3 is the foundational lie that led to the first sin in the universe and to every other sin since that time. It is a lie that is built on the feeling of discontent. It is the lie that says, "You don't have what you really need to be happy in life. You do not yet have what you really need to be happy in life".
Famed basketball superstar David Robinson tells about watching superstar Michael Jordan catch the championship trophy when he played for the Chicago Bulls, and Robinson writes about watching that experience. He says, "Here I am, with five cars, two houses, more money than I ever thought I would have. What more could I ask for? And yet here's Michael Jordan. He has more than me, and boy, I'd like to have some of the things he has. But is the world setting a trap for us? What I had should have been plenty, but no matter how much I had, it didn't seem like enough, because material things cannot satisfy your deepest needs".
David Robinson is right, except in one point. It's not the world that is setting a trap for us, it is the God of this world who is setting the trap for us, who is baiting us with the thought that God has not yet given us what we really need to be happy in life. In fact, it was that lie that he used to entice the first woman into the first sin. Look at Genesis 3, beginning with verse 1. "Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field, which the Lord God had made, and he said to the woman, 'indeed has God said, "You shall not eat from any tree of the garden"'? And the woman said to the serpent, 'from the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat, but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, "You shall not eat from it, or touch it, or you will die"'".
Now think about this, God had planted Adam and Eve in this beautiful garden, he had planted perhaps thousands of trees, he had said, "You can eat of any and all of these trees, except one". And what does satan do? He says to , "Do you want to be happy in life? Do you want to be fulfilled in life? All of those thousands of trees are not enough. What you need is that fruit, from that tree, the one thing you do not have, and then you will experience happiness to the greatest degree ever". And satan says the same thing to us. Satan tempts us, he baits us with this lie, "Do you really want to be happy in life? You don't have what it takes yet to be happy. Instead, if only you could live in that size of a home, if only you could drive that kind of car, if only you can earn that amount of income, if only you had that mate, then you could truly be happy. God has not yet given you what you need".
What happens when we fall into that deception of "We don't have enough yet"? I want you to hold your place here, and turn over to James 3. James 3, beginning with verse 16. And James is going to trace what happens when we fail to be grateful for what we have, when our hearts are filled with discontent, he's going to discuss the obvious fallout of discontent in our life. Now look at James 3:16. James says, "For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing".
Now then go to chapter 4:1-2, remember there were no chapter divisions in the original text, so this is all one thought. "What is the source of quarrels and conflict among you? Is not the source your own pleasures, that wage war in your members? You lust, and do not have, you commit murder, you are envious and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask". And then look at verse 4, "You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God". And then verse 7, "Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you".
Now to understand what James is saying here, you actually have to start with verse 7 of chapter 4, and work your way back. Let me give you the Jeffress paraphrase of what James is saying here. Starting with verse 7 and working your way back, James is saying, "Flee the devil", run from him with everything you have, because satan is promoting a false value system, a worldly value system that equates money with success, sex with love, power with purpose. And when you fall for that worldly value system, all it does is increase your cravings for more and more and more. And those increased cravings for more and more and more not only promote turmoil in your own life, but they promote dissension and chaos in your relationships with other people, because you will clamor for what other people have, and it will destroy every relationship you have.
Now don't you see that all around you? I mean, think about it, what is it that motivates a man to leave his wife and his children for another woman? What is it that motivates an employee to inflate his resume, as he tries to get a leg up on a competitor for a higher position? What is it that, that motivates a businessman to engage in an illegal scheme and risk prison in order to obtain a certain amount of money? It's that drive for more and more and more, and it's all built on the lie, "We don't have enough". If only you had that job, that home, that income, that mate, that relationship, then you truly could be happy in life.
Now what I want you to see is, once you fall for that lie, that God hasn't given you what you really need to be happy, that makes you susceptible to the second lie, and that is, "You are in control of your destiny". And that's built upon the feelings of pride and independence. In other words, when we come to the point that we don't believe God's given us what we need to be happy in life, we determine that we need to take control of our life, we need to set out on our own if our lives are truly going to be fulfilled. And so satan next tempted Eve with that thought. Look at verse 5 of chapter 3, "For God knows that in the day you eat from this tree your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good from evil".
Satan was saying to Eve what he says to so many of us, "The reason you don't have this particular thing you think you need, is because God is withholding something good from your life. God is this cosmic killjoy who doesn't want you to experience happiness in life, and so he's going to withhold from you the things you really need for complete joy. And so if you want to be truly fulfilled, you need to take matters into your own hands. You need to start running your own life". And that's what satan was saying to Eve, he said, "The reason God doesn't want you to eat from this particular tree is, he knows you will be just like God. And that's the one thing you need, you need to start running life on your own. And so God's trying to hide that from you, he doesn't want you to experience the joy of running your own life. God cannot be trusted to give you what you need".
Think about this, what is it that caused satan himself to fall from heaven? It was that same discontent with his present situation that led to his pride and independence from God. Remember his story? Originally, satan was Lucifer, head of the cherubim in heaven? But one day, satan said to himself, "You know what, I'm not content to be second banana the rest of my existence. I want to have the top job, I want to sit in the big chair, I want to be the runner of the universe". And so, because of that discontent, satan said, "I'm going to launch a rebellion against God. I'm going to act independently from God".
Have you ever thought for a moment, what made satan even think he was capable of running the universe? It all came down to pride. In Ezekiel 28:17, God pronounced this judgment against Lucifer. He said, "Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty, you corrupted your wisdom by the reason of your splendor". You see, satan looked at himself and said, "You know, I'm a pretty good-lookin' angel". And he thought about it, he said, "You know, I've got some smarts up here. I can run things better than God can". What satan forgot was, he was not the Creator, he was simply the creature. He forgot that every good thing he possessed was a gift from God. And that's why the Psalmist said, "We are not our own people, we are not ourselves, we are the sheep of God's pasture".
We move, and have our lives within the boundaries of his will for us. Eve did not believe that. She felt like, that to experience happiness in life she had to move out from under God's control of her life. And that led to satan's third lie to Eve, based on the emotion of fear, "You are all alone". Now listen to this, the great irony of acting independently from God is, independence does not produce confidence. Instead, it produces fear. You see, all it takes is a disloyal mate, or a maverick cancer cell, or a random accident, to quickly sober us up to the fact we're not in control of our lives.
You know what the first negative emotion in the Bible is? Fear. Fear, you see it in Genesis 3:10. Adam and Eve decide God can't be counted upon to give them what they needed, and so they act independently of God, and they take that piece of fruit from that forbidden tree. And yet instead of filled with confidence, they become afraid and they hide themselves from the presence of God. And so God comes searching for Adam and Eve, and asks them for an accounting of what they did, look at verse 10 of chapter 3, "And Adam said to God, 'I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid myself'". You realize up to that point Adam and Eve had never experienced fear, but acting independently of God produced fear for the first time. And it continues to today.
Again, here's the irony, as we teach our children, as we teach adults more and more that there is no God, as the new atheism takes hold of the thinking of our culture, the result isn't unbounded confidence, but increasing fear that seizes our culture. Now listen to me this morning, the relationship between society's increasing fear and decreasing belief in the existence of God, that's not coincidental. You see, whenever you free yourself from the notion that there is a sovereign God who is controlling everything from the orbit of the planets to the details of your life, whenever you free yourself from that notion, it's only natural for you to begin calculating everything that can and could go wrong in your life. And you're seized, not with confidence, but by fear.
That's what happened to the first couple, and that makes way for another emotion, and the other lie. A lie that is built on bitterness, a lie that says, "You have been mistreated. You have been mistreated". I mean, it was satan's pride, it was his discontent, it was his independence that led him to be ousted from heaven. And yet, instead of taking the blame for his actions, he had to blame somebody else. And the biggest target for his blame was God. He became filled with bitterness, blaming God for his predicament, and that's why he launched this worldwide assault on the Kingdom of God.
Today, every sin in the world can be traced back to satan's resentment toward God. And so it's no surprise again, that after Adam and Eve started to feel the fallout of their rebellion against God, once again satan comes to the first couple and he teaches them that they need to blame others rather than themselves for the situation they were in. And they learned how to do that very, very quickly. God comes to Adam and Eve and the serpent, calls them together for a meeting, to confront them about their rebellion against him, and so he starts with Adam, asking for an explanation, "Why did you do this thing"?
Now look at verse 12 of Genesis 3, "The man said, the man said to God, 'the woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate'". Do you hear what Adam is saying? "God, I was doing just fine in this garden when I was all alone, enjoying the birds and the bees, and communing with the hippopotami, everything was just great here in the garden. But no, you wouldn't leave me alone here. Instead, you gave me this woman! This woman! And she's the one who made me do this thing. Go talk to her"! God says, "Okay, I'll confront the woman". And she by this time had learned very quickly how to play the blame game. Look at what she says, in verse 13, "Then the Lord God said to the woman, 'what is this you have done?' and the woman said, 'the serpent deceived me, and that's why I ate'".
In other words, "God, if you had not created this slime-ball creature known as the serpent, I never would have, in a thousand years, taken from that tree. It's the serpent's fault". That's satan's trick, to keep us from taking responsibility for our actions. To blame either God or other people. And what I want you to see is, whenever we do that, whenever we blame other people or God, for our business predicament, the loss of our job, for our medical situation, for our divorce, whenever we start blaming other people or God, it blinds us to our own need for forgiveness. And it makes us hostage to those patterns of behavior that led to our predicament to begin with. And that's why satan knows the most effective blindfold to our need for forgiveness and change in our life is the blindfold called "Bitterness".
As long as we are blaming someone else, we can't receive forgiveness, and we won't make the changes we need to make. Satan knew that all too well. Now, it's true that there are times when other people do wrong us. I learned a long time ago, I cannot control what other people do to me. Have you learned that lesson? You cannot control what other people choose to do to you, but you can control your response to those offenses. When somebody wrongs you, you have two choices. You can hold onto that offense, hold it tightly, turn it over and over in your mind and your heart, until it metastasizes into a tumor of bitterness. Or, your second choice is to let go of the offense and the offender, so that you're free to get on with your life. That's what the word "Forget" actually means, it means to "Release", to let go.
I read one time about how Africans catch monkeys in the jungle. Fascinating how they do it. They will take a coconut and they will hollow out the coconut, and then they'll put a hole around the coconut, a tiny hole, and then they'll place peanuts inside that coconut, set it out there in the jungle. The monkeys come by, they can sniff out those peanuts, and they reach their little arms into that hole in the coconut and they grab hold of those peanuts. But when they form that fist, they're unable to extract their hand from the coconut. They're held prisoner by the coconut.
If simply they would let go, they could be free. But they're not about to let go of those peanuts, and because of that, they're entrapped. What a great picture of what happens to us when we fail to forgive. You know, there're a lot of reasons you ought to forgive people who wrong you. There's a spiritual reason. Jesus said it very clearly, "If you won't forgive others, my Heavenly Father will not forgive you". If you've been forgiven by God, you have an obligation to forgive other people.
That's a great motivation to forgive. But there is also a practical reason for forgiving. Why in the world would you want to keep holding on to that person who has already hurt you so much? Why would you want to be enslaved to your offender? You see, the only way we ever experience freedom is by letting go, by removing ourself from that person and what they've done to us. Lewis Smedes said it best when he said, "When we forgive, we set the prisoner free, and the prisoner we set free, is us".
I don't have what I need to be happy in life, therefore I have to take control of my own life. I'm all alone, I alone am responsible for what happens to me. I've been mistreated by God, or by other people. These are four of satan's favorite lies. What can you do to combat these lies, when satan tries to plant them in your mind? Next time we're goin' to look at Ephesians 6, the first of six strategies for winning the spirit wars. Paul says we need to replace destructive thoughts with God's thoughts, or as Paul puts it, "We need to put on the belt of truth". And we'll look at that next time.