There are many today who doubt the existence of the devil. Many who believe in God but not the evil one. Believe that the bible is true, but do not accept the existence of the prince of darkness.
There are those who believe there is no such thing as the tempter, the deceiver, Satan.
Yet, we talk about him all the time.
We say, “The devil made me do it.” or “Oh, you devil.” We claim to be the devil’s advocate. And even in anger tell people to do straight to ……that place the devil rules over.
We even eat deviled eggs, and devil’s food cake.
All for a being that doesn’t exist.
With not much effort, the reasons for this are easy to discover.
We live in a modern scientific age where technology reigns supreme, and medieval visions of the devil dressed in red with horns and carrying a pitchfork seem to most people, well, ….medieval.
A recent episode of Nightline sponsored a debate on the topic “Does Satan Exist?” in which New Age author Deepak Chopra asserted that “healthy people do not have any need for Satan.”
And I think that that more or less expresses the modern point of view.
For many people, science and psychology have relegated the devil to the pages of ancient mythology.
But the bible states that Satan exists, as does hell, and the power of evil and the judgment that comes with it.
And the world closing it’s eyes and hoping it doesn’t exist, doesn’t make it so.
But that is exactly what a lot of people do when they have a fear of something. It’s something I do. I have been terrified much of my life of extreme heights. Not so much a roof or a ladder, although I’d prefer to avoid those as well.
But instead, skyscrapers, tall bridges, winding cliff side mountain passes with no guardrails.
I remember a number of years back going on a trip with Tonya to Yellowstone park, and really enjoying myself…to a point.
We got up to see Old Faithful, and then it was time to go. We asked direction on how to get out. There was a long way, and a short way.
And here’s a hint.
Take the long way.
The short way winds for several miles about a mile straight up over huge rocky canyon passable only on narrow two laned roads with no guard rail and, even in July, it sometimes snows. And for us it did.
A mile straight up, snow coming down with no snow tires, no chains, no guardrails, no way to turn around.
And safe to say, it was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.
But, I had a solution.
My solution was pull over carefully, get in the back seat, put a pillow over my face, and let Tonya drive the rest of the way now.
Now I was still afraid, but if I didn’t have to look at it, or interact with it, I could calm down a bit.
But there was a problem.
If the car was going to slip off the edge into the canyon, in the ice and snow, one mile up, I was still going to die, whether of not I saw it coming or not. Whether I was driving or not.
I was in no less danger because I covered my head than I was with my eyes wide open.
And there lies the problem with our modern ignoring of the prince of darkness.
If he’s real, and the bible says he is, and a person pretends he isn’t, that person only has the illusion of safety.
And it actually makes the devils work all the easier.
Because Satan’s greatest triumph may be in causing people not to take him seriously.
” If people don’t believe you exist, they won’t try to stop you.”
In the modern day, we fail to take the devil seriously. As a result, we rarely hear Satan talked about or preached about. And as a result, it can be argued that we are ignorant of his strategy, his power, his vast army, and his plans.
That said, although I think it’s important to study what the bible says about the devil, and be aware of the threat, it’s also important that we do not hand him the pulpit. And I don’t. Not in this church, not in my life.
As much as it is dangerous to ignore the devil. We can also spend too much time focusing on the devil as well, and I’m sure he enjoys when we do that. I believe that the devil actually gets hold of some congregations when week after week they emphasize how powerful Satan is and lay out the fire and brimstone.
Giving the devil TOO MUCH attention is just as wrong as denying his existence.
When we read the bible we see that tells us that the devil is real, and he CAN cause a lot of destruction and meyhem.
But the bible also tells us, for all of his causing havoc, he is easily defeat-able.
It takes only one word, said with faith and conviction.
The devil is defeated soundly and completely by Jesus, in our lives in the present moment, and in the end days and into eternity.
We call someone a fool who fails repeatedly but never learns. We call someone insane, when they try the same things over and over expecting different results.
The devil must be the biggest of fools and completely insane.
Because although he’s giving it his best shot, now. He loses. And he knows it.
And he can easily be defeated, and IS, in our lives now, and he knows it. But he keeps at it anyway.
Today we’re going read about how he is easily defeated in our reading from Ephesians as we finish the book with Chapter 6.
I say he is defeated easily, but you shouldn’t hear that I mean WE are powerful to defeat him.
That would be wrong.
If it was a face-to-face showdown between any of us, and Satan. We would be toast. There is no contest. He would defeat every last one of us in seconds flat, if it took that long.
No, when we read from Ephesians today, we see that he’s not defeat-able by us. But he’s already defeated by WHO Jesus is, and what he did for us on the cross.
Ephesians 6 [From the NLT – New Living Translation]
1 Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do.
2″Honor your father and mother.” This is the first of the Ten Commandments that ends with a promise.
3 And this is the promise: If you honor your father and mother, “you will live a long life, full of blessing.”
4 And now a word to you fathers. Don’t make your children angry by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction approved by the Lord.
5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.
6 Work hard, but not just to please your masters when they are watching. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart.
7 Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.
8 Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.
9 And in the same way, you masters must treat your slaves right. Don’t threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and he has no favorites.
10 A final word: Be strong with the Lord’s mighty power.
11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil.
12 For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.
13 Use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm.
14 Stand your ground, putting on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.
15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that you will be fully prepared.
16 In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan.
17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere.
19 And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words as I boldly explain God’s secret plan that the Good News is for the Gentiles, too.
20 I am in chains now for preaching this message as God’s ambassador. But pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.
21 Tychicus, a much loved brother and faithful helper in the Lord’s work, will tell you all about how I am getting along.
22 I am sending him to you for just this purpose. He will let you know how we are, and he will encourage you.
23 May God give you peace, dear brothers and sisters, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
24 May God’s grace be upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.
So all the people who do not believe in the devil.
It is amazing how much the Bible says about the him.
He appears the first time in Genesis 3 and the last time in Revelation 20. Among his many titles, he is called Satan, the devil, the serpent, the deceiver, the evil one, and the accuser of the brethren. Every New Testament writer mentions him. Jesus encountered him at the beginning and end of his ministry and spoke of him often.
And a curious thing about this is if you ask the average person on the street if they believe in the devil, a significant majority will say. “NO”
But ask them about Heaven, most will say “Yes, there is an afterlife, and a heaven”
But what does the bible say about heaven?
Not very much. It is rarely mentioned. Not at all specifically in the Old Testament, and rather obscurely a number of places in the New.
There is quite a bit of talk of the Kingdom of Heaven, and God’s thrown in heaven, and the coming of the Kingdom.
But as for what heaven is, or any specific details. Not many.
But again the bible, and Jesus himself speak of the devil as matter of fact, and often.
The bible tells is In the beginning he was an angel of God. Lifted up with pride, he attempted to overthrow the Lord himself. Being cast out of heaven, one-third of the angels followed him, and his fallen angels we call demons.
But where is he? Where does he call home?
Actually, according to the bible, he is NOT to be found in hell. At least not yet.
According to 1 Peter 5:8, the devil prowls around the world looking for someone to devour. Ephesians 2:2 he’s called the”ruler of the kingdom of the air.” The NLT calls him “the commander of the powers of the unseen world.”
Where is the devil’s home and proving ground. Right here … on earth.
We live on a planet controlled by the devil himself.
And as followers of Jesus Christ, we are thrown into a spiritual conflict that rages all around us. In a conflict that puts every believer on the front lines.
And what should we know about this battle.
1) In it, Satan’s goal is to discourage all beleivers so that they feel like giving up.
2) In it, Satan doesn’t fight fair.
In other words, do not expect the devil to observe the traditional rules of warfare.
He uses anything and everything that he can to bring the faithful down. This is part of what Paul meant when he spoke about the “schemes of the devil” in Ephesians 6:11. The word “schemes” might also be translated as “traps” or “tricks” or “tactics.”
There was Texas politician who was asked why a certain candidate had lost an election. He replied “It happened because he forgot the first rule of knife fighting. There are no rules.”
That the devil. He doesn’t fight fair. He’s not going to give anyone an even break. He is a liar, a deceiver, a diabolical “angel of light” who comes to you in a thousand disguises, tempting you to disobey the Lord.
And beyond that he’s a lot smarter than you are. He knows your weak points better than you do. And he can attack you any time of the day or night.
He’ll hit you from behind. He’ll hit you below the belt. He will do it just because it amuses him. And until he is finally defeated, he will never stop attacking. He will never stop trying.
AND you cannot beat him on your own.
But fortunately for us, in Christ we have an arsonal to battle him and hold him off.
And full suit of armor that cannot be cracked by the devil.
God tells of this armor in Ephesians 6 and he lists them in the exact order a soldier would put them on.
1. The Belt of Truth
The belt holds the soldier’s uniform in place.
Without the belt he could not move quickly, and if he could not move, he could not fight. The “belt of truth” refers to the truth God has revealed in his Word. So when we are discouraged and under attack, we have the underlying and solid truth of Christ’s gospel to supports us.
2. The Breastplate of Righteousness
The breastplate covered the vital organs of the chest, especially the heart. It was like an ancient bulletproof vest.
And this righteousness Paul has in mind comes, doesn’t come to us by our own actions, but comes to us by virtue of our right standing with God.
So…having been declared righteous (justified) by God through Jesus Christ, we now, in our lives, pursue righteousness in the choices we make and the lives we live.
And new breastplate of rightoeusness takes of the brunt of the attack. In Christ, we are covered by His righteousness and his righteousness is perfect and indestructable.
3. The Shoes of Gospel Peace
In battle the soldier must have good shoes so he can fight without slipping. The shoes give him a solid foundation.
When Paul speaks of the “gospel of peace,” he means that the gospel itself is the only true source of peace.
Because of Jesus Christ, we now have peace with God (Romans 5:1) and we have the peace of God (Philippians 4:7). And we have peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
The truth is Satan wants war. But Christ brings peace.
4. The Shield of Faith
The shield of faith describes what we might call dependent living. It means calling on the Lord for help in the time of trouble. So the shield of faith is the opposite of doing it your own way.
A shield is something we must hold on to tightly.
When the day begins, sometimes we feel strong and confident and we’re just sailing along, checking things off our list, doing what needs to be done, handling the problems as they arise, but thenout of nowhere something happens.
Anger, lust, bitterness, greed, doubt, despair, or any of a hundred negative emotions. Husbands and wives may fight about the tiniest troubles. Parents may blow up at their children for the slightest provocation. Festering anger, hidden unforgiveness, envy, fear.
Theses are the”fiery darts” of the enemy.
But as followers of Christ we can hold up the shield and call out “Lord, I can’t handle this alone. Help me!”
When we pick and the shield and hold it firmly, the Lord is there for us. Everything, and the fiery darts cannot injure us.
5. The Helmet of Salvation
The helmet protects the soldier’s head. And woe to the soldier who goes into battle without his helmet.
He won’t last long when the enemy begins firing from the other side.
The helmet of salvation speaks of the assurance of salvation. It is the calm confidence that comes from knowing that because we have been purchased by the Lord Jesus Christ, we now belong to him past, present and future.
It is what Paul meant when he said that nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).
When the soldier knows that the Captain of his salvation watches over him, he will not fear to enter the fiercest battle.
6. The Sword of the Spirit
Finally, the Bible tells us to take up the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. That’s the only weapon the soldier of Christ carries.
All the other armor is meant to protect him.
But the Word of God cuts and cuts like a double-edged sword, laying everything bare so that nothing is hidden (Hebrews 4:12-13).
That’s why, when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, he responded to the devil by quoting Scripture (Luke 4:1-13).
And Yes, the devil knows scripture, and will try to twist it against us.
But those who trust Christ not only have the Word of God, put the power of the Holy Spirit behind it.
The believer who arms himself with it will never lack for a weapon in the battle.
It answers all our doubts and all our discouragement.
It is ultimately all we need. To stand on the promises.
No believer is more secure than he who goes into battle wearing the whole armor of God.
But again notice who’s armor it is?
It is God’s armor, not ours. God does not say, “Put on your own armor” because that’s a good way to get defeated.
Everything Christians need we already have in Jesus Christ.
But if you don’t have Jesus, you don’t got nothing.
For you, the devil should be terrifying. If you don’t have Jesus, you might just find yourself in backseat with a pillow over your face, but it won’t help won’t help.
The only real protection is accepting the danger is real, and facing it head on, wearing the full armor of God.
(c)2013 Timothy Henry