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The Enemy, Part 4

"Satan, the God of all dissension, stirreth up daily new sects, and last of all, which of all other I should never have foreseen or once suspected, he has raised up a sect such as teach ... that men should not be terrified by the Law, but gently exhorted by the preaching of the grace of Christ."

Martin Luther

 

Our enemy has many names. The devil is called the god and prince of this world, and the ruler of darkness (2 Corinthians 4:4; John 12:31; Acts 26:18; Ephesians 6:12). He is the promoter of pride (Genesis 3:5; 1 Timothy 3:6), the stimulator of lust (Ephesians 2:2, 3), and the tempter (Luke 4:1-13). Satan seeks to hinder God's work and suppress His Word (Matthew 13:38, 39; 1 Thessalonians 2:18).

The Scriptures speak of the gospel as being light, and the sinner as being in darkness. Second Corinthians 4:3, 4 says that "the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them." The Bible tells us that the lost have their "understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart" (Ephesians 4:18).

This is why it is so vital to use the Law of God when witnessing: "For by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20). Remember that Paul said, "I had not known sin, but by the Law" (Romans 7:7). As the sinner begins to see himself according to the Law of God, it gives him something by which to measure himself. He begins to understand what sin is. He will only call for mercy when he understands that he needs to call for mercy. Satan hates for Christians to grasp the reason why God gave His Law. He knows that when they work with the Holy Spirit and use the Law to convince and convict men of sin, there will be more soldiers enlisted in the army of God. A sinner's decision to follow Jesus will then not be made in blindness, nor from an emotional response, but from a clear understanding of the issues of salvation. That why the god of this world so hates the Law and particularly its use in reaching the lost.

Those who preach judgment, but fail to use the Law to give the sinner something to measure himself by, will produce either a spurious convert or one who lacks gratitude. If hell alone is preached, those who come to a decision do so solely out of fear, and not out of repentance. They flee from the wrath to come but deep in their heart they consider God to be unjust. They don't see themselves worthy of hell because they haven't seen sin as being "exceedingly sinful," which comes only by the Commandment (see Romans 7:13). This state of deception hides from sinners the true nature of Calvary's cross. They fail to truly see it as an expression of God's love for undeserving sinners.

Our enemy, Satan, is also a counterfeiter. He has created a massive religious system that masquerades as God's representative on earth: "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works" (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

Because Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light, it is vital for us to exercise godly discernment. We are to judge prophecy, test the spirits, walk in wisdom, watch for wolves, mark those causing division in the ranks, and look for the fruit of genuine conversion.

The enemy is also called a devourer and our adversary (1 Peter 5:8). The Greek word for "adversary" is antidikos, which primarily means an opponent in a lawsuit (accuser). We are exhorted to resist him steadfast in the faith, taking consolation that other Christians are involved in the very same battle.

Satan is a liar, the father of lies, and a murderer (John 8:44). Fear is perhaps the most subtle of his lies. It is a continual hindrance to us doing what we know we should. For instance, would you find it difficult to preach in the open air? Could you give a tract to the person behind you in a supermarket line? Do you fight fear? Most of us do. The thought of front-line (or even back-line) battle paralyzes us. We are therefore going to cut away the lies so that we have a clear path to do God's will.

Here are some more questions. Would you like to try bungee jumping? Many Christians would. Ask any congregation how many would like to try skydiving. Hands will shoot up. How many like roller coasters? Most love them. What it is that they like? It's the fear, the adrenaline rush. There have been cases where people have bungee jumped and the bungee cord has come untied. A teenager from a youth group tried the thrill of skydiving, and her parachute twisted. She fell to her death at the age of 17. She was the one in every 100,000 who fall to their deaths. You may have seen on television an incident where a 13-year-old boy tried skydiving. He became so paralyzed by fear that he didn't pull the ripcord, and for some unknown reason, his automatic emergency chute didn't open. He fell 2,000 feet to his death. Between 1973 and 1996 there were 45 deaths in the U.S. from roller-coaster-type rides, and over 6,000 injuries.

Think of it. We are prepared to put our lives on the line-to risk death-for the love of fear. But for the fear of fear, we are prepared to let sinners go the hell forever.

What then is the difference between the two fears? One we love, one we hate. One is a thrill, the other a torment. The tormenting fear that we feel is very real, yet the reason for this fear is irrational. You will experience it almost every time you give out a tract, or when you strike up a conversation with a stranger with the objective of sharing your faith. Yet when you rationalize the feeling, it is totally unfounded fear. There is nothing to fear, but the next time it manifests, it is just as strong.

How then do we overcome it? Simply by realizing that the fear we feel in our hearts is a barometer of the truth we hold in our hands. God has not given us the spirit of fear, so it is obvious where the "tormenting" fear is coming from. It is enemy propaganda. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness (see Ephesians 6:12). The origin of our fear is not from within our hearts, it is from the hosts of hell. So don't listen to it. Become deaf to the enemy's whispering and blind to his will. Set your thoughts on the welfare of the sinner and the will of the Father, and let love swallow your fear.[1]



[1] Cameron, K., & Comfort, R. (2004). The school of biblical evangelism: 101 lessons: how to share your faith simply, effectively, biblically-the way Jesus did (pp. 271-274). Gainesville, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers.