Friday, 28 September 2012

Satan - The Ruler

The third chapter of Warren Wiersbe's book, The Strategy of Satan, summarized.

C The Ruler

Satan is described in the Bible as a ruler.

Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. (John 12:31)

We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. (1 John 5:19)

What was David's greatest sin? You might say, "Committing adultery with Bathsheba and then having her husband killed in battle." But David committed another sin that had even greater consequences.

Because of David's adultery, just a few people died including Uriah and the baby that was born. But because of David's other sin, 70,000 people died! When David confessed his sins of adultery and murder, he said, "I have sinned." But when he confessed this other sin, he said, "I have sinned greatly."

Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. So David said to Joab and the commanders of the troops, "Go and count the Israelites from Beersheba to Dan. Then report back to me so that I may know how many there are."

But Joab replied, "May the Lord multiply his troops a hundred times over. My lord the king, are they not all my lord’s subjects? Why does my lord want to do this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?" 

The king’s word, however, overruled Joab; so Joab left and went throughout Israel and then came back to Jerusalem. Joab reported the number of the fighting men to David: In all Israel there were one million one hundred thousand men who could handle a sword, including four hundred and seventy thousand in Judah. But Joab did not include Levi and Benjamin in the numbering, because the king’s command was repulsive to him.

This command was also evil in the sight of God; so he punished Israel.  Then David said to God, "I have sinned greatly by doing this. Now, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing."

The Lord said to Gad, David’s seer, "Go and tell David, 'This is what the Lord says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.’" So Gad went to David and said to him, "This is what the Lord says: 'Take your choice: three years of famine, three months of being swept away before your enemies, with their swords overtaking you, or three days of the sword of the Lord—days of plague in the land, with the angel of the Lord ravaging every part of Israel.’ Now then, decide how I should answer the one who sent me."

David said to Gad, "I am in deep distress. Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men." So the Lord sent a plague on Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell dead.

And God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem. But as the angel was doing so, the Lord saw it and was grieved because of the calamity and said to the angel who was destroying the people, "Enough! Withdraw your hand." The angel of the Lord was then standing at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. David looked up and saw the angel of the Lord standing between heaven and earth, with a drawn sword in his hand extended over Jerusalem.

Then David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell facedown. David said to God, "Was it not I who ordered the fighting men to be counted? I am the one who has sinned and done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? O Lord my God, let your hand fall upon me and my family, but do not let this plague remain on your people." 

Then the angel of the Lord ordered Gad to tell David to go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. So David went up in obedience to the word that Gad had spoken in the name of the Lord.
(1 Chronicles 21:1-19)

1 Satan's target – your will

Satan's goal is to control the will. David was not deceived; he had his eyes wide open when he rebelled against God. David was not suffering; in fact, his kingdom was in great shape. Had David been deceived or had he been suffering, we might have had reason to sympathize with his decision; but this was not the case. Satan attacked David's will directly and won.

Your will is important because it helps to determine your character. Decisions mould your character, and decisions chart the directions of your life. We may want to blame circumstances or feelings, or even other people; but this is only an excuse. It is our will that directs our life.

The Christian life is basically a matter of the will. The Holy Spirit wants to instruct our minds through his word, inspire our hearts with true holy emotions, and then strengthen our will to do the will of God. You grow and serve God by praying, "Your will be done."

A dedicated Christian prays whether he feels like it or not. He obeys the word of God regardless of his own feelings. He has a consistent Christian life and a steady ministry that is not threatened by changing circumstances or feelings.

For example, we are commanded to love one another. Christian love simply means that we treat others the way God treats us, and this is primarily a matter of the will as we try to do that with the Spirit's help.

Satan is "the ruler of this world," and you and I are rebellious aliens living in his territory. Because we are citizens of heaven, we obey heaven's laws and submit to heaven's Lord. Satan wants us to worship and serve him; he wants our will submitted to his will. What weapon does he use to tempt us?

2 Satan's weapon – pride

David was feeling important when Satan approached him with the suggestion that he number the people. The previous chapter records a number of great victories that appear to have inflated his ego and enticed him to rebel against God.

When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness he also tried to appeal to human pride.

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me." (Matthew 4:8-9)

Pride glorifies man and robs God of the glory that only he deserves. It's a weapon that Satan wields with great skill. It's one of his chief weapons. Even in the church, if he can get a pastor proud of his preaching, or a church member proud of their experience and skills, then he has a foothold from which to launch an attack. Let's remember Peter's words:

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (1 Peter 5:5-6)

3 Satan's purpose – to make you independent of God's will

God made man to be dependent. We depend on God and even our fellow man just to stay alive.

The essence of sin is to seek to be independent of God. It is to make ourselves the Creator instead of his creatures. It is to believe Satan's lie: "You will be like God."

If Satan can get you to act and think independently of God's will, he can then control your will and control your life! You will think that you just are acting freely, which is part of Satan's deception, but actually you will be acting under orders from the ruler of this world. You will be under his control.

Whenever you or I act in disobedience to God's will, we are displaying pride. It might seem to be trivial and unimportant, but everything in our lives is important to God.

So how can we learn to be totally dependent on God?

4 Our defence – the indwelling Holy Spirit

Pride is such a strong weapon and Satan is such a strong adversary that only the stronger power of the indwelling Holy Spirit can make victory ours.

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:12-13)

Working out our salvation means to bring the Christian life to completion, to accomplish in character and conduct what God has planned for us. God has a definite plan for our lives and the challenge for us is to cooperate with him in fulfilling that plan.

Finally, remember that in the battle against Satan, the only way to conquer is to surrender – to surrender to God.

That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:6-7)