Friday, 22 June 2012

Satan - The Destroyer

This is a summary of the second chapter of Warren Wiersbe's book, The Strategy of Satan. Again, he discusses (a) his target (b) his weapon (c) his purpose and (d) the Christian's defence.

B The Destroyer

A second way the Bible describes the devil is as the destroyer.

They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon. (Revelation 9:11) [Both Abaddon and Apollyon mean destroyer.]

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

On another day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. And the Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.” “Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.” The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes. His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. (Job 2:1-10)

1 Satan’s target – your body

As the serpent, Satan deceives; as a lion, he devours.

Job is the prime illustration of this kind of attack. Satan did a thorough job of attacking Job’s body and all that related to it. He lost his children, his flock, his herds and his wealth, his health. His friends sat in silence with him for a week, because they saw that he was in great agony. Even Job’s wife suggested, “Curse God and die!”

When we read the Gospels, we learn that Satan, through his demonic helpers, attacked and sought to destroy the bodies of various people. One man was made dumb (Matthew 9:32,33). A woman was bent over and disabled (Luke 13:11-17). He even attacked a child and tried to get him to destroy himself in the water or the fire (Matthew 17:14-18).

Why does Satan want to do this to Christians? Mr Wiersbe suggests several reasons:

To begin with, your body is God’s temple.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

God is invisible; the world cannot see him. Jesus Christ has returned to heaven and cannot be seen. But we Christians can be seen, and it is our conduct in the body that glorifies and exalts the Lord.

Not only is your body God’s temple, but it is also God’s tool.

Romans 6 encourages us offer the parts of [our bodies] to him as instruments of righteousness. (The Greek word translated “instruments” can also be translated “tools” or “weapons”.)

God often uses the various parts of our bodies, empowered by the Spirit of God, to get his work done in this world. And Satan will try to hinder God’s work by attacking God’s worker and putting his “tools” out of commission.

So we mustn’t underestimate the importance of our bodies. We must also take care of them; if we are careless about our health and safety, we are playing right into the hands of the destroyer.

The third reason Satan attacks your body is because your body is God’s treasury or investment.

We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Corinthians 4:7)

When God saved us, he put the treasure of eternal life within our bodies. We have the very life of God within us! God didn’t give us this great treasure simply to protect it – a clay jar is not the safest place for a treasure! He gave it to us so that he might invest it through us in the lives of others. Satan can rob the world of spiritual wealth by attacking the bodies of believers.

Finally, Satan attacks your body because it is God’s testing ground.

Paul says: I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:26-27)

Your body is important to God. We must care of our bodies and use them for God’s glory. Anything in our lives that keeps us from doing our best must be abandoned. Just as a mechanic takes good care of their tools, so the believer takes good care of the tools of his body.

2 Satan’s weapon – suffering

Satan wants to make believers suffer. Again, Job is the obvious example to consider. When Job looked around, his situation was painful. Looking within, it was even more painful. Looking up, it seemed that God had forsaken him, although Job maintained his faith in God and was honoured at the end.

It is important to note that God was always in control. Satan could not go any further than God permitted. This is a great encouragement to us: We know that whatever suffering may come in our lives, God has ordained it and is in complete control.

Bear in mind, though, that there is more than one kind of suffering in the life of the Christian. We experience natural suffering simply because we are human. Romans 8 teaches us that the whole creation is groaning because of its bondage to decay and we Christians are groaning with it.

God sometimes permits his children to suffer that he might discipline them. Our heavenly Father loves us too much to permit us to be rebels, so he disciplines us that we might conform to his will. Hebrews 12:6 tells us that the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.

Then, God uses suffering to test and perfect our faith. In the gospels we read how he sent the disciples across the Sea of Galilee in their boat. When the disciples got away from the land, a fierce storm arose and almost sank the ship. They were not in the storm because they disobeyed the Lord, but because they obeyed him.

So not all suffering is Satanic in origin. But there is a kind of suffering that is Satan’s weapon and that is what Job experienced. It is how we respond to this suffering that determines whether Satan can gain his purpose.

3 Satan’s purpose – to make you impatient with God’s will

The only place in the New Testament where Job is named is James 5:11: We consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

Satan’s purpose was to try to get Job to be impatient and give up. Job did become impatient with himself and his critical friends, but he never lost his faith in God. Though he did not understand what God was doing, Job knew that he could trust God and that God would vindicate him in the end.

Patience is an important Christian virtue. Unless we have patience, we can never learn many of the truths that God wants us to learn, truths that will lead us into a deeper life and a more fruitful ministry.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

Faith and patience go together. If we really trust God, then we will wait on him to accomplish what he has promised.

Satan tempts us that he might bring out the worst in us, but God permits it that he might bring out the best in us. Job knew this; he was able to say [God] knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. (Job 23:10)

4 Our defence – the imparted grace of God

We don’t know Paul’s thorn in the flesh, but whatever it was, it was enough to make him pray three times. There is nothing wrong with praying when difficulties come. God did not answer Paul’s prayer in the way he wanted, but he did meet the need. He said, My grace is sufficient for you. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Only by the grace of God can we have the patience that we need when Satan attacks the body with suffering.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. (1 Peter 5:10)

God’s grace is God’s provision for our every need. God is able to give grace for suffering to us in the same way he did with Paul and Job.

So what should you do when Satan attacks your body with suffering and tries to make you impatient with God’s will? Warren Wiersbe suggests four things:

1. Immediately submit yourself to God. If you rebel, you will give Satan another foothold in your life. Tell God exactly how you feel, but also tell him that you love him and trust him, come what may.

2. Thank God for the trials. This does not mean you enjoy the suffering, but only that you rejoice because you are suffering in the will of God, and you know that he is in control. We can be sure that Satan hates it when believers thank God in their trials.

3. Spend time in the word of God. As it tells us in Acts 20:32, the Bible is the word of his grace. God’s gracious promises will strengthen you and you’ll find the encouragements you need each day.

4. Look for ways to glorify Christ. Remember, Satan wants to use your body to disgrace the Lord; God wants to use your body to glorify him. Patience in suffering always glorifies God.