During our lives as Christians, we will probably
hear a sermon on the passage we just read, no less than five times! Preachers
will always insist that you "..put on the whole Armour of God, that ye
may be able to withstand in the evil day." They will tell you that you
1. Girt your loins with truth,
2. Put on the breastplate of righteousness
3. Shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace,
4. Above all, take the shield of faith to quench the fiery darts of the wicked,
5. Wear the helmet of salvation,
6. Carry the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God,
7. Pray always, and,
8. Watch with all perseverance.
Some Preachers will take each one of those directives,
and make a sermon of each one. They will then preach to you a series of
sermons on how to arm yourself against the evil day. But, just like the
Army, whose motto is "hurry up and wait," these directives sometimes fall
on deaf ears because we have not been told anything about our enemy! It
would be nice to know if our/your enemy likes to dig underground tunnels,
wear civilian clothing, set booby traps, and isn't afraid to die! Hey!
The art of war has changed. ALL is fair in war.
Well, Saints, I tell you now that our topic for discussion is not about the armour; it's about our enemy. And, the enemy is the devil! And, according to John 8:44, the devil is a liar, and the father of lies. And, since all is fair in war, the devil will lie to get what he wants: Your SOUL. So, what we have to do before we can fight against this liar, is to know and understand his lies! Our topic for today, then, is "Satan's Biggest Lies." And, although he can disguise each lie in a million different ways to suit the situation, he generally will attempt to penetrate your armour with these five. If we hope to withstand this liar, we, first of all, must realize that our enemy does not fight fair. REMEMBER: ALL is fair -- even if WE think it's unfair! Huh? I said that Satan doesn't play by the rules. He has no rules!
Get out your paper and pencils; write down these lies; know them when you hear them; and, then, use the power of the Word of God to defend yourself against them. Know also that our sins are a direct result of one of these three avenues: Lust of the eyes; lust of the flesh; and pride of life [ambition]. Okay?
Satan's 1st Lie: God is Holding Out on You!
That's right, Saints. The devil, and/or his little demons, will tell you that God is holding out on you. This lie started over six thousand years ago, in the Garden of Eden. Look at Genesis 3:4-5. "And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." Those three avenues of sin just reared their ugly heads. And she, and Adam, took the bait. They couldn't wait! They wanted immediate satisfaction!
And, we, as Christians today, often think that God is denying those things we so desperately need, when it usually isn't anything we "need," but something we "want." God already woke you up this morning, fed you, and put clothes on your back; but you want a million dollars in the bank, a car like your next door neighbor's, and a body like the muscle builder on TV! And, since you don't have those things, you think God is holding out on you!
How do you defeat this lie? You'd best remember, Saints, that God is not looking at your short-term gratification. He is looking at your long-term salvation. Know that God will protect you to the end. Then, you can tell Satan, as Jesus told him in Luke 4:4, Even though I'm hungry, don't tempt my flesh; or, in Luke 4:8, My Daddy already owns everything, so don't tempt my eyes. I'll eventually get it anyway; or, in Luke 4:12, Yes, God will protect me, but don't tempt my pride of life. What all this amounts to is, God already gave you the money for the gas and electric bill, but you listen to your girlfriend and buy some nail extensions and a pedicure. "Aw, come on girl. You can pay that bill next month." Don't be tempted so easily!
Satan's 2nd Lie: Trust YOURSELF!
This, Children, is the lie of self-reliance. Satan will tell you that you can do it on your own. "You don't need no help from no body. You been doin' for yourself all your life. Why change now?" How could any Christian believe that he/she did anything on his/her own? First, look at Psalm 20:7, where David writes, "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God." David sternly says that he will trust only in the Lord! We do the same thing, don't we? Now, look what could happen. David is tempted, in 1 Chronicles 21:1, to take a census of Israel, thinking that his strength, and victories, were a direct result of the number of soldiers he had. He had forgotten that God was the General of that army. He had forgotten that prior to each battle, he would pray to God and then follow God's directions in order to win that battle! And, we, too, begin to think that all of our success is directly related to our own inner strength. We forget that our success in life is a direct result of God's grace, and God's grace only. The Lord in response to Paul's plea for removal of a thorn in his flesh, said, in 2 Corinthians 12:9, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness."
How do we guard against this self-reliance, then? We remember that God's grace is sufficient. We remember that only through God, can we succeed at anything. God, then, should be relied upon for ALL things.
Satan's 3rd Lie: You Will Never Suffer As A Christian!
What? Satan now tells us that Christians never suffer! What that snake is doing is setting us up, so that when bad times do arise -- and, believe me, they will -- we begin to have a pity party, and can't handle those hard times. Then, we start not to trust God! In James 1:2, James says, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations." James does not say "if," he says "when." God has never instructed any of His 40 biblical authors to say that believers would not suffer. Jesus, Himself, began to show His disciples in Matthew 16:21 that He must suffer many things and be killed, and be risen on the third day. Peter, the 'switch blade' disciple, dared to tell Christ that this thing would NOT happen to Him. But, Jesus, in verse 23, saw through Peter's words. Those words were an attempt by Satan to appeal to Christ's pride of life. But Christ knew that God had already planned for Jesus to suffer.
I tell you now, Saints, that every Christian will suffer! Let no man or woman tell you otherwise. You fight that lie by referring to James 1:2. It is not a question of "if " you suffer. It is a question of "when." And, be of joy, as James suggested! A Christian should feel honored to suffer. How many times have you asked God to make you more like Jesus? Well, Christ suffered -- so will you! Oh, you were asking God to let you be like Christ when He did all that cool stuff, like heal, and walk on water, and disappear?! No, no, no! If you want to be like Christ, you got to take the whole nine yards! You've got to SUFFER! Just be glad that God won't let you suffer the way His Son did. But that's another sermon.
Satan's 4th Lie: Money Is The Key To Happiness!
BIG one! "Just let me have a million dollars, Pastor. Just once! And, I'll let you know if money is the key to happiness! I could get out of debt. I could buy me a house, a car, and a whole new wardrobe. I could take a trip every year! Don't tell me money doesn't buy happiness." Uh, Brother, you didn't mention anything about increasing your tithe to the One who made it possible for you to get that money.
Remember, now, I told you that God was interested in your long-term salvation, not your short-term gratification. The first thing a millionaire does is to hire himself or herself a body guard. Or, they start to watch over their shoulder to see if anybody is about to hit them in the head. They worry about them, or a member of their family being kidnapped. They try to find a way to hide their money so the government doesn't get it. If they invest in stocks and bonds, they worry that the stock market doesn't take a dive. They worry about their health, so that they can spend all the money before they die. They even worry about all of their so-called friends and relatives coming out of the woodwork to help them spend that money. You call that "happy?" "Well, yeah, Pastor. I can live with that. Just give me the money!"
Paul, in 1 Timothy 6:10, said, "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from faith, and pierced themselves through with sorrows." Two men are stranded on an island. The first man says, "We are going to die." The second man calmly replies, "I make a hundred thousand dollars a week. We'll be rescued." Says, the first man, "Money won't get us off this island. I tell you, we are going to die!" The second man responded, "You don't understand. I make a hundred thousand dollars a week, and I tithe 10% -- every week! My Pastor will find me."
Satan is well aware of how greed takes our focus off God. He tempts us through the lottery. He tempts us through the TV game shows [I mean, who ever heard of a TV show where a person of one sex is chained to four persons of another sex, and they have to sleep, and shower, and eat, and do everything else together? That's on TV!]. Satan tempts you through the 50-50 raffles and Bingo contests that CHURCHES put on -- all in the name of Jesus! He tempts you through the card readers and fortune tellers. He tempts you through the office pools and the horse track. And, he tempts you through three-card Monty, pyramid scams, and corner hustles. If there is any "possible" way to get more money, or something for free, Satan will use it to appeal to your lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and your pride of life.
1 Timothy 3:3 says that we should not be greedy of filthy lucre [money]. Jesus, Himself, said in Matthew 19:23-24, that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Jesus also tells of Dives [Latin for "rich man] and Lazarus, the beggar, in Luke 16:19-31. Dives failed to take notice of the plight of Lazarus at his gate. After death, Lazarus went to Abraham's bosom and Dives went to hell. It was impossible for any contact to be made between them, but rest assured: Dives could look up into heaven from hell! And, as Abraham explained, there wasn't any point in sending Lazarus to tell Dives' brothers of the peril that awaited them, as they [the brothers] had sufficient in Moses and the prophets to bring them to repentance. The story teaches the dangers of wealth in blinding men to the need of their fellows and the irrevocable decision of our eternal destiny in our life on earth. In other words, Children, it does not suggest that poverty is a virtue and wealth a vice, for even Abraham was a rich man. Dives just hadn't learned the lesson suggested in Luke 16:9, that we should use money wisely, never dishonestly, to help win people so that they will welcome us in heaven.
Satan's 5th Lie: You Can Never Forgive Them!
Finally, Satan attempts to derail us with the lie that we can't forgive those who have severely transgressed against us. In 2 Corinthians 2:7, and 11, Paul suggests that we believers should forgive and comfort those who have sinned against us, so that, look at 2 Corinthians 2:11: "Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices."
Let's think about this one. Refusing to forgive allows hatred to enter our hearts. This produces a poison in our lives that causes everything within our reach to rot! Refusing to forgive divides people. And, remember that Jesus said, in Matthew 12:25, that a house, city, or kingdom divided against itself, cannot stand. Satan, then, can use festering grievances to kill fellowship among church members. Failure to forgive will cause us to hate a fellow Christian enough to kill him or her; enough to destroy their reputation; enough to falsely accuse their family. Failure to forgive is telling God that we no longer desire to go to heaven, for ALL is forgiven in heaven; there is no hate in heaven. Truly, Christians, our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against the spiritual wickedness in high places.
The road to forgiveness begins with remembering how many, many times, we ourselves, have been forgiven. When we recognize our own unworthiness before the Lord, the sweet love of God can flow again from our hearts toward others. Matthew 6:14-15 tells you all you need to know about forgiveness, It says that if you forgive men, God forgives you. If you don't forgive men, God does not forgive you. Seems to me like you ought to start making phone calls to those relatives, and ex-friends, you haven't spoken to in 20 years, and forgive, or ask for forgiveness. Seems to me you ought to reach out to your Christian brother and sister after services today, and forgive, or ask for forgiveness. Because God don't like ugly, y'all. Don't die with unforgiveness or hate in your heart.
Saints, Satan...is smarter than you think he is. He is smarter than you, or me. He will lie to you. He will use your wife to lie to you. He will use your husband to lie to you. He will use your children to lie to you. He will use your friends to lie to you. He will use the TV commentator, TV card reader, TV fortune teller, and the TV person who claims he can speak to the dead. He will use anyone that you listen to, or, are willing to believe, to lie to you. He will tell you that God is holding out on you. He will tell you that you should only trust yourself. He will tell you that Christians never suffer. He will tell you that money is the key to happiness. And, he will tell you that you can never, and should never, forgive those who have sinned against you.
Satan is a liar! Say it, Saints! Satan is a liar! Amen.
Rev. Dr. S. Stewart Poullard, Th.D., is pastor of the Angel of the Lord Baptist Church in Passaic, NJ. Pastor Poullard holds a Masters in Theology [Th.M.] from Andersonville Baptist Seminary, Camilla, Georgia, 1999 and a Doctorate in Theology [Th.D.] from Andersonville Baptist Seminary, 2000. He will undertake Masters study in Pastoral Counseling in May 2001. Rev. Poullard formed Angel of the Lord Baptist Church in February 2001. Motto: "We Teach and Preach Christ." Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are those of the author and are used by permission.