Pastor Dan gave me permission this week to share one of his sermons with you. This particular sermon was right on and I would like for you to read it and get something from it to use in your own study times. Here it is.
The Deceit of the Devil
11 “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles (schemes) of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
Last week we learned that we need to Be Strong in the Lord. God is the one who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13). In the next weeks we will be learning very specific areas where God wants us to be strong. Why does God want us to be strong? Because the devil and his demons are out to destroy the true reality of this life, God’s perfect design, and the way God wants us to think and live. The devil will deceive us into believing his lies instead of the truth of God. How does the devil work? Remember, he has been mastering his abilities since the beginning of time. First, he is all about lying and deceit. Second, the devil will use all that is in the world along with our own basic nature to pull us away from God and trap us into believing like him and acting like him.
The basic nature of the devil is lying. We learn this from a conversation Jesus had with many Jews. Jesus had been talking with some Pharisees in the temple area (John 8:13, 20). There were many other Jews in the temple listening. As Jesus spoke many Jews believed in Him (8:30). Then He spoke to those who believed in Him (8:31) because He wanted them to believe correctly, without any deception. During this part of the discussion Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God” (John 8:42-47). A person that truly believes in God will listen to what He has to say, believe what He says and follow Him. Since Jesus proceeds from God, He does all that God says and desires. Jesus can live perfectly the will of God because He is God. A persons’ actions, their fruit, will show who their father is, because they will act like their father. Jesus told these Jews their father was the devil because they were believing and acting like the devil. The devil is a murderer. He has no truth in him. He is a liar. That is his basic nature. Some Jews who were listening would not believe Jesus. By the end of the conversation, those Jews who did not believe Jesus wanted to kill Him (8:59). They were acting like the devil. The devil is a murderer and a liar. He is out to deceive us. That is why the starting place for the armor of God is truth (Ephesians 6:14).
We must also realize that the devil will use all that is in the world along with our own basic nature to trap us in unbelief and sin. “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 John 2:16). These are the same temptations that Adam and Eve faced in the garden of Eden. They are the same temptations Jesus faced in the wilderness. And they are the same temptations we face on a daily basis. For Eve, all three areas of temptation were combined together in the devil’s initial scheme. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” (Genesis 3:6). The devil deceived Eve by his craftiness (2 Corinthians 11:3). We must be careful lest we fall into the same trap our ancestor fell into.
Let us look at each one of the temptations of Jesus and see how He deals with the deceitfulness of the devil. We will look at the temptations as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 4. “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (4:1). Jesus had to be tried, tempted and tested in every area and be found without sin so that we could have a High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus knows everything everyone is suffering. He knows the struggles we are facing and He knows how He wants us to deal with it. When He was tempted, He suffered a great deal. Since He remained without sin even through the suffering, He is able to aid us in our temptations (Hebrews 2:18). We must learn to listen, believe and follow the teachings that Jesus gives us.
The first temptation, verses 2-4: Jesus was at a vulnerable place in His life. He had not eaten anything for 40 days. He did drink when He needed to, but after 40 days without food, He was hungry. It is hard for us to go four hours without eating, unless we are sleeping, let alone 40 days. The tempter is the devil. He came to Jesus and said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” In the Greek there are three words for ‘if.’ The first one means, if you are, and I know that you are. The second one means, if you are, and I do not know if you are. The third one means, if you are, and I know that you are not. The devil uses the first one each time. He really says, “if you are the Son of God and I know that You are God, You can make these stones into bread. Now that you have a human body, You need bread.” Jesus could easily make stones into bread. Who would know? No one would miss a few stones in the wilderness. Why not do it. Make the stones into bread. Eat them and move on. Jesus had suffered enough already. He finished the required time. I remember the few times I fasted for seven days. At the end I was watching the minutes so that I could start eating the minute that last 24-hour day was up. No, not Jesus. It was not about ‘time.’ It was about obedience to the Father. Jesus did not live just for this life or for His body’s needs. He answered the devil with the truth from God’s word, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Jesus did not say that people actually live this way. He said we are supposed to live this way. “Man shall not live by bread alone.” All too often people live only for this life without any concept of things beyond this life. Instead, we are to live like Jesus. He lived by every word that proceeds from God. Even Christians seem to be more concerned about all the desires of their body and content with knowing just enough of God’s word to get by. This needs to be reversed in the Christian’s life. We should want to know all of God and His word and how to apply His word in our lives and not be concerned about meeting the needs of our body. Jesus even told us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). If we do not get this correct we open ourselves up to being deceived by the devil. He will work at twisting and distorting our faith so that it may not be a saving faith in Jesus.
The second temptation, verses 5-7: Since Jesus has committed Himself to following “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,” the devil uses the word of God to get Jesus to sin. You may ask, ‘Can a person sin by following the word of God?’ Of course we can. What the devil does here is he takes this verse out of context. The devil tells Jesus, ‘If you are the Son of God, and I know that You are, throw Yourself down off of the temple. Your angels shall catch You so that You do not get a scratch. Everyone will see Your stunt and believe in You.’ Should everyone always follow exactly what the Bible says? The devil accurately quotes Psalm 91:11-12. So, what do you do? What is Jesus to do? This is where knowing God and His word is very important. I was once a member of a church in which the pastor took scripture out of context just about every Sunday. After a few weeks I felt compelled to speak to him about his use of scripture. He did not care what I had to say and continued preaching the same way. I could not listen to it anymore and had to leave the church as the pastor avoided speaking to me.
This past week I thought I would listen to Joyce Meyer. I had never listened to her preach and since several of you have, I thought I would see how she preached. She started with Jeremiah 30:17, “‘For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds’, says the LORD.” She went on to preach about personal healing from the Lord, how God would heal you if you just believed. The cameras panned the listeners, who were all shaking their heads in agreement with her. They were believing her twist of scripture. Let me tell you, she took this scripture out of context, just like the devil did. You should read the whole chapter of Jeremiah 30 and see what God is saying and who He is saying it to. Be careful believing God’s word! We must learn to correctly handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). I agree with Paul that what she was preaching was a fable. People will end up with a twisted, corrupted faith. They will believe in a God who does not do what they believe. Will their faith save them? Only God knows the answer to that. Personally, I would not build my faith from her preaching. Jesus responded to the devil with another quote of scripture, “You shall not tempt the LORD your God.” We cannot force God into performing a miracle just to intervene for our good. It is sinful and stupid to believe that God would protect me from harm if I walked in front of a semitruck going 60 miles per hour. Do not be mislead by the false teaching of scripture. The devil uses this on many people.
The third temptation, verses 8-11: This temptation is also common among people today. The devil can give you what you want without all the pain and suffering. People want all the riches without any work. People want all the power without learning through multiple struggles, how to use and control the power. It was God’s plan “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11). All Jesus had to do to avoid all the pain and suffering was to bow down and worship the devil. The devil would provide all Jesus needed. He would not need God the Father. No matter how tempting this may have been, Jesus would keep every word of God. No matter how difficult life would be, God’s plan is always right and best. Jesus answered, “You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.” Too many people worship other gods and they have fooled themselves into believing they do not. The devil has deceived them. There is only one God. We are to “love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). Or have you fallen into the deceit of the devil by believing you can love other things more than God. It is not about what you say. What do your actions show? I will close with 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” Do not let the devil deceive you. Study the scriptures! (Other related verses to study: Mark 7:20-23; 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5; James 1:12-18).
There you have it. I think it was just excellent. Taking the Word out of context is done so often and we really do need to learn “how” to take the Word so we can use it in our lives. We can’t just go to a spot and say okay, this I what I want to memorize for my own usage.
Thanks Pastor for your permission to use it. May my readers be blest by what the Lord gave you for last Sunday.
In His Hands. Marge H.