In this sermon Pastor Babij continues teaching from 1 Peter 5:9 on the Christian’s obligation to resist Satan and his attacks. To stand, the Christian must continually fill his mind with Scripture and actively resist Satan’s various temptations and encumbrances.
Last week and this week, I’m parking on a passage of Scripture of 1 Peter 5:6-9, and I will focus in on 1 Peter 5:9:
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 8Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.
Father, as we come before the word of God, we know that the word of God has been given to us by You. It is the revelation that You’ve given about Yourself, about Your plan, about what Christ has done, and about what the spirit of God is doing in our lives. Lord, it also teaches us about the enemy, who is against and is alive and well on this Earth. I pray, Lord, as we live as Christians, we would realize that we are in a struggle. We are in a place where we have to resist and know how to do it. Lord, don’t let us be comfortable in knowing what we know. Don’t allow us to be ignorant about what the Scripture say but allow us to grow to the place where we realize we’re soldiers in Christ, not somebody who just sits on a bench or in the background. Rather, as someone who knows how to use his weapon to fight the enemy both defensively and offensively. Lord, as we look at this passage, give us a sense and understanding of how that works out in our life. I pray this in Christ’s name, Amen.
In this last section, Peter has been laying out three exhortations in the area of suffering, which has been an exhortation for humility and vigilance. Last week, we discussed the Christians obligation for resistance in which we have an obligation to resist.
First, it is the exhortation of humility in light of God’s constant care for us We cast our care upon the Lord because he cares for us. Second, is the exhortation of balanced vigilance, which is to be vigilant in the backdrop of Satan’s dubious character. Today, we will continue in looking at this obligation of resistance.
If you grasp the logic of the first and second exhortation, victory will be obtained over Satan’s strategies and tactics. If you ever observe animals, they’re always cautious. Have you ever looked at a squirrel? They are popping their head up every few seconds to look around. They know they have enemies, so they are listening for every little thing.
When an African gazelle stops at the wilderness watering hole to take a quick drink of water, they listen and then they drink. One in particular seems to appear to be an outlook or somebody was looking out for the rest of them. Then, comes the sound of a twig snapping. Now, the presence of a potential enemy is known, so the herd moves like a shot and fleas like the wind.
Because of their quick response, lives are saved. They were sober and alert, and they remain that way. Thus, all animals have enemies from mice to large elephants. Christians also have enemies in which they need to be alert and sober.
The church has to know its enemies, especially the enemy, and not be ignorant of the unseen spiritual realm. Remember, things that are unseen are more real than the things that are seen. Pastor Steve Lawson, who concerned about the Christian faith under Satan’s relentless fire rightly cautions believers:
Every Christian has a real enemy. Satan hates you and has a terrible plan for your life. He is constantly attacking and accusing you with the intent on destroying your life. Spiritual warfare is a fact of life for as long as this enemy is alive and well on planet earth.
Remember, though Satan is against us, he is not all knowing, and he cannot be present everywhere. He is stronger than us, but he is not God. He is nowhere near who God is even though he wants to make himself that way. He’s a created being in which God has full authority over. He is under judgment and is heading towards his final demise.
Satan is looking upon his various plans to carry out his dominion in the world. He has his sights on anything and anyone who will get in his way. Anyone who honors God most and is serious about serving Him, Satan will struggle with that person.
In other words, Satan views God’s people as a hindrance to his reign, so he contrives methods by which he may remove them out of his way or get them to work on his behalf. He and his whole host of inferior spirits, under his control, are trying to get the faithful ones to fail. He cannot get your soul anymore, but he can get you to fail.
Therefore, all the servants of God will more or less come under the direct or indirect assaults of the enemy. From our text, the devil is a slanderer, and deliberately advances false charges against God and his people. What are Christians to do when they’re confronted by the enemy? Are they to cast him out? Are they to rebuke him? Are they to exercise him? Are they to bind him?
No; believers are not exhorted to do any of these things in this passage. However, they are exhorted, in 1 Peter 5:9, to do something:
But resist him…
We are to resist him in the faith. In fact, Peter, James, and Paul are all in agreement on this issue of what to do with him. James 4:7 says:
Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Then, Paul says in Ephesians 6:13:
Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
The Christian must have a definite plan for resisting the enemy of their soul. They must learn and then practice resisting. Again, Pastor Lawson comments on James 4:
The word resist is a military word, which means to stop or to hinder the progress of the adversary. If we are to resist Satan, we must stop his attempts to destroy us before we are harmed.
So, how are we to stand against our enemy? There are five ways to resist the enemy. The first way is to resist by being firm in your faith. In other words, God has given us a detection system making it possible for us to be aware of Satan’s evil methods, his schemes, and his lies. To resist means nothing less than to fight him.
Submit is God-ward and resist is Satan-ward. One comes before the other, and you can’t reverse that. A Christian who resists the devil must do so in the spirit and with the word of God. One should never think that they can approach Satan in the flesh and expect him to flee.
In our text, in Greek, it actually says to resist him in the face. The definite articles connected there, which indicates a body of doctrine or a belief, to which the Christian ought to adhere. This faith also includes the Christians trust and confidence in God, in Christ, and the system of teaching that has been given to us by God in the Bible.
Christians are to resist the enemy by standing in this body of true doctrine and beliefs, which really leads the believer to strong convictions and a continual desire to want to know more of what the word of God says until we are trusting God more and more every single day of our lives. In this way, believers are not led away into apostasy despite the temptations and persecutions brought against them by the enemy. He knows how to beat someone down. He knows how to trap someone, and he spends much time trying to do that to believers. He has everyone else.
Again, this alarm system is the faith, which is the system of teaching given to the Christian by God in the Scriptures. Many Scriptures support the idea of using the faith to resist Satan. Jude 1:3 says:
…that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.
There’s a struggle of contending with something like a fighter contends with his opponent. Then, in Philippians 1:27, it says:
…that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel
Colossians 1:23 continues:
If indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast…
Then, Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:7:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.
In some translations, it will say your faith. Remember, your italicized is not in the original. They’re trying to make an interpretive point here. I believe the reason why they leave *your* in the passage is because the faith is the body of truth given to the church, but it must become our faith. We must believe it. We must internalize it. It must be ours to fight the enemy with. It must be transforming our minds. It must be showing us how to be holy and godly. It must be driving out all the old sin and the remaining corruption we had and replacing it with righteous behavior.
From these passages of Scripture, we see the faith means that system of doctrine, which comes out of God’s revealed word. As Christian’s learn Scriptural truth, they become stronger in the faith and in the conviction that God will never leave them or forsake them, and that God is true. Everyone else is a liar, especially the enemy.
God’s truth is light, which will expose Satan’s dark mixture of lies and half-truths. Because Satan is the master Scripture twister, the Christian must fill his mind with the word of God so that it bends his or her thinking away from the worldly thinking and their own thinking they are used to and move it toward the way God wants us to think. Like Paul in Romans 12:2:
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
By developing convictions based on the study of God’s word, the believer is able to cling to the truth in the face of spiritual attack. If one is going to resist the devil, the resistance will be in and because of a well-grounded faith based on Scripture. Daniel Arichea mentions that the term resist can be expressed as:
Don’t give into the devil, or don’t do as the devil suggest.
Martyn Lloyd Jones additionally warns believers:
The devil often changes his methods.
For us to be grounded in Scripture, we must be ready to detect when he does changes methods. Thus, we resist him only in the truth as we submit to God and stand in His strength. Then, the devil flees from us for a season. He’ll be back with a different temptation, different twist of truth, at your strongest, or at your weakest, which will become a test of how well we can detect when he is back.
Until then, get ready by growing in the truth, so that you can be more skillful with the Sword of the Spirit to resist his attempts of getting you to doubt God’s word, lay it aside, or ignore it.
Don’t ever forget, believers, you are no longer under the dominion of Satan. He’s no longer your supposed master. Christ is and greater He who is in you than he who is in the world. Robert spiny said:
God’s recipe for right living begins with right thinking. We are better equipped to fort the adversary when we are nourished by sound doctrine.
Today, sound doctrine seems like a bad word, but it is a good word. That means healthy doctrine, and it means doctrine that rises up from Scripture and is taught to His people as good food that can nourish our soul and make us spiritually healthy.
Living in and for the truth has a jagged edge to it. God does not promise us, on this Earth, health, wealth, and that everything will be fine, well, and dandy. You don’t find that in Scripture. Just because we’re kingdom kids, it doesn’t mean we deserve those things. Rather, living for and proclaiming the truth will put the world, the flesh, and the demonic realm against the disciples of Jesus Christ. However, we are armed. We can be armed with the word of God, and with the with the ways that we can resist him.
As we come to the end of 1 Peter, I would like to be more on the practical end of things about the second particular point on how to resist. We resist me the truth, which is the over whelming point. However, the second way we resist the adversary is by discerning strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies towards sin. Meaning, you and I are to be discerning our own strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies towards sin.
In other words, when you become a believer, God really does turn the light bulb on. He allows you to turn around, look at yourself, and observe what you’re doing and how your thinking to make appropriate changes based on Scripture concerning the things that do not please God or things that do please God. Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:16.
Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.
If the enemy knows how to tempt the person according to that person’s remaining corruption, and if Satan understands thoughts, imaginations, secret ambitions, intentions, and even motives, then the believer must remain specifically alert about their own unique makeup. How did God make you? Every one of us is different.
Even when a parent is raising a child, you quickly realize and observe that each one of your children are different and they are bent different to sin. One child will sin this way, another child will not sin in that way at all but sin a completely different way. So, we’re to observe the bent or the way of our children, so we can steer them away from their natural bents to sin, which is part of the job of the parent.
When we do that, and we become Christians, we have to look at our own life and our own makeup on how God made us. In other words, we have to be more self-aware. If Satan can suggest ideas to the Christians mind and inflame the believer’s affections and desires that stand in opposition to Godliness, Holiness, and spiritual growth, then, while taking the devil seriously, you must understand what parts of your life deserve special attention and caution.
One thing that struck me as I was growing in Christ likeness and understanding of Scripture was how much a sinner I was. It was appalling to me that the things I thought were not sin, I saw now as sin because of the word of God. Every believer comes to that place. Instead of them pointing the finger at somebody else, there is something going wrong in their life. They start pointing the finger at themselves and saying the reason I have these problems in my life is because of me.
Because of the way I’ve been dealing with things the sinful way, the dishonoring way, not listening to the word of God, then, as a believer, I must lay aside those things, so that God and His spirit can transform me and make me what he wants me to be.
Believers, as they grow in their knowledge and wisdom of Jesus Christ, they also become more self-aware. As they are exposed to more and more of the Scripture, one area they become aware of is their own pattern of sin. They want to live a life pleasing to the Lord, so they begin to struggle with their sin in order to lay it aside and replace it with righteous behavior. That’s where God brings us.
If I asked you today this question: raise your hand if you want to please God in your life. I would say that most Christians would raise their hand. At the same time, you know there’s conflict in your life. You know there’s remaining sin. You know somethings you’re not doing right in your life. You know very clearly you need to lay something aside and you haven’t done it yet.
God will stop everything in your life until you take care of that, and often, that’s where trials and suffering come in. Trials and suffering seem to bring those things that remain in our life to the surface of our heart, so we can scoop it off and throw it away as not being good for any kind of spiritual, nutritious value. We throw it off and we put on Christ and righteousness.
Concerning the enemy, he is going to tempt us. He cannot make us sin, but he surely can tempt us to sin. This becomes something a believer needs to think about and that’s temptation. Temptation is one of the most familiar experiences of the child of God. No one can escape from temptation. In fact, some saints think they must be so wicked because they are tempted to sin, so they think they are wicked because they are always being tempted.
Remember, to be tempted is not sin. Sin is yielding to the temptation. When it comes to this subject of temptation, this must be clear in your mind. We cannot stop birds flying over our heads, but we surely can stop them from making a nest in our in our hair. Likewise, we cannot stop evil thoughts from passing through our minds, but we need to not entertain them, accept them, or dwell upon them.
Temptation will come. From this day to the day you die, there will be some temptation that’s going to come your way. However, as a believer, you learn how to deal with it and you know that you cannot entertain these thoughts anymore.
You cannot accept these thoughts anymore, and you cannot dwell upon them anymore. You cannot let them get to the point where you’re imagining things in your mind and playing with it within your mind. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says:
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
In this passage, there is a load limit to the temptation. We live in an area where we see signs on bridges that say, "Load limit 10 tons." Now, that sign really means that heavier vehicles must take a detour, go another way, find a stronger bridge, or lighten your load to passover safely. Thank the Lord, He knows our load limit. He knows how much we can take and how much pressure or strain we can actually withstand.
Just when we think we will weaken in sin, He removes the pressure and makes a way of escape. He gives us a way out. Someone asked a little girl what she would do when temptation comes. she replied:
Temptations are like Satan knocking at my heart. When I see him there, I ask Jesus to answer the door.
That’s not bad advice. In other words, you’re going to the Scripture and to what God requires to be able to fight against the temptation, which is why it starts with that body of truth given to us.
We must know God’s word. Then, when we know God’s word, we can actually resist temptation. When we do fall into sin, we know what to do with that too. We can fix it and we can forsake it. Of course, we know God, by the power of the Cross, cleanses us from all our sin.
There are two general areas to pay attention to when it comes to dealing with temptation and spiritual attacks, which is found in Hebrews 12:1:
…let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
In this passage, the context is that a Christian is growing and understanding that the Christian life is like a marathon race. In that race, you must be prepared, so you can not necessarily be first in the race, but just finish the race. You want to finish the race.
In finishing the race, we consider two things in our passage. First, it is weights or encumbrances. This is not necessarily sin, but it is something that holds you down from running the race.
It’s this extra body weight that somebody who’s in some kind of rigorous training needs to remove so they can move faster, especially a runner. As a believer, you must strip off everything that impedes performance. If you are to travel far, you must travel light.
Before you were a Christian, these are the things you did that didn’t necessarily hinder you. However, now in this Christian race, they hinder you, and they need to be discarded. A hindrance is something, otherwise good, that weighs you down spiritually that needs to be put off.
These that you need to discard could be simply things like bad habits or habits. It could be your desire just to want to be have leisurely fun all the time. Then, you’re spending too much time on Facebook, blogging, or on the internet. Maybe you crave certain entertainment that is no longer appropriate for a believer. Maybe you desire prosperity and gain secretly in your heart, and your motor for living is to get more money, more power, and more gain.
Of course, these things would be sinful too. Maybe, you just desire worldly ease, and to take the path of least resistance. Maybe your associations with certain groups, clubs, friendships, or other people need to be put off from your life. These are all weights that may keep us back from being the best we can in the race, so we must shed them as an athlete sheds his tracksuit when he goes to the starting mark.
However, there’s another thing in this passage, and it’s that of laying aside sins. Notice what it says in Hebrews 12:1:
…and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us
What must we do here? We must put off every sin that hampers and easily entangles. This could be any sin in particular to you. Any sin that easily entangles, so we have to ask ourselves this question: what is the sin that so easily ensnares me? What is that one thing that I know that as soon as temptation pops up, I’m considering it and I’m thinking about it?
It could be that of anger, hatred, or just being lazy. It could be that of covetousness, envy, lust, complaining, grumbling, slander, gossip, hypocrisy, pride, thankfulness, or greed. Believe me, the list goes on. In all these passages, I want you to notice one thing. What are we to do? We are to lay aside and leave behind these particular sins. Romans 13:12-13 says:
The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.
Then, in Colossians 3:8-10 says:
But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. 9Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, 10and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him.
We are to lay aside and put aside. Meaning, a Christian has the ability to do that, and God’s given us the ability to do that. He’s giving us the strength, in the Spirit, to put all these old sins aside. That sin that so easily will ruin our race when tempted.
This race that we’re in is far more important than you think because it has eternal consequences. Everything that handicaps you must be cast off and laid aside so that you are not needlessly hinder to run at peak performance. We are to be Christians who are running at peak performance. You are to identify your patterns of sin.
Now, let me just give some examples of each one. A pattern of sin is one you habitually are drawn to, and it’s the one area where you are weakened and easily tempted. As the book of Hebrews calls them: what are the sins that so easily trip you up? Can you name them right now in your mind? Tomorrow, you’re to get up and you’re going to be tempted with that.
I know there’s something you’re thinking, and that’s the thing you take care of. Of course, once you take care of that, you learn to put it aside. Then, there will be something else that pops up in your heart, and then something else. God doesn’t give us the whole horror story at once or what is going on in your heart. If He just presented the wickedness that you have in your heart, it would probably be the worst horror flick you ever saw.
Also, it is important to be aware and sensitive to your own proclivities to that sin, so that you can take the first steps in building a defense against your particular area of vulnerability. Human beings have a staggering capacity for self-deception and self-justification. We should take, for example, the prophet Amos and use the plumb line to show how far we have fallen short of God’s standards.
A plumb line has a weight at the end, and once you drop it, it will show you whether that next item is crooked or straight. How far we have moved away from God standards will show our crookedness, so be self-aware to identify your strengths and your weaknesses. For every strength god gives us, there is a corresponding weakness.
I used to say to the young guys when they would go off to Bible College and Ministry, to be careful about your strengths and your weaknesses because you’re going to be tempted on both ends. Either one could be destructive if you give into it and not balance it out by the word of God.
For example, you have the gift of service. Servers love to help people. They often work in social settings where they support other people. They’re most comfortable when they have something to do. Now, sin that so easily can trip them up, which is usually underneath the surface, is a great fear to be needed. In a fear of not being needed, it is impossible for them to discern if they are actually helping people or draining people. They’re actually helping people or manipulating others to get what they want.
They give the appearance that they are caring for people when, in reality, they are filling their own selfish needs and they don’t really care for people. These are subtle things that could be a strength that someone has to serve yet at the same time there’s this temptation to slip into something that is going to take you and move you off balance. There is this drift to sin.
How do we balance these subtle things that come into our life when we recognize them? Well, we have to go back to the clarity of Scripture. For example, Philippians 2:14-15 can help in that area:
Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.
If you are someone who is a server, make sure your first priority is serving God and not people. Also, understand that your reward comes from God and not others. You may never get the reward or the response from people that you may want. Matter of fact, you usually don’t.
Then, don’t complain that things aren’t going your way because I don’t remember if complaining is a fruit of the Spirit. I don’t remember if I saw that in Scripture, have you? Why is there so much complaining?
In other words, if you are easily tempted to complain, then you better take care of that because that is a fleshly response to the things going on in your life, not a Godly response. This should be put to death and laid aside.
Let’s again consider someone who is in an achiever. Achievers love to overcome challenges and perform for others. At best, they’re motivated to grow too, be stretched, and learn. Achievers want to make an impact. They can be tempted to live for the image that they portray and end up idolizing their own performance while craving a pause and recognition.
Then, the sin the tends to trip them up is the sin of pride. They become preoccupied with their own image and success. The reason why they’re achievers is because they are very motivated. They have a lot of good ideas. They are in the central leaders, so people follow them. However, what happens is that they crave more of the applause in the following, which fills their pride and they don’t recognize that. Thus, they end up going off balance, which becomes that sin that so easily entangles them.
So, how does one hedge against such a strong desire to accomplish great things without falling into the sin of pride? Again, we come back to the clarity of Scripture and we consider a passage like Philippians 2:3-5:
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.
There’s a Scriptural clarity. This is how this person prevents themselves from slipping in, getting caught, and entangled in the sin of pride. Maybe the Lord endowed you with a good intellect, and you tend to be a good thinker. On the Spectrum, you’re a thinker.
Thinkers want to know things, and sometimes everything. They tend to be the investigators, the scientist, or the inventors. They love to learn and discover. There is nothing wrong with those things, especially if those are their strengths, right?
However, most of the time, thinkers tend to be introverts. They don’t need to be around others. They like their own space. They enjoy long hours of solitude, and sometimes days or maybe even months of solitude. They love to win arguments, so the sin, which is very subtle, that can easily trip them up is lack of love. They don’t love people. They’re insensitive to others and they tend to have a low need of community or connection with people. They don’t need those things to do to survive.
The problem is we weren’t created to fly solo as Christians. Have you noticed that? Living in America even feeds that kind of thinking in the worst way. God has designed this church as a community, and part of growing spiritually is the mutual interaction of giving to others and receiving from others.
It’s the back and forth thing within the community, which is part of the means of grace that God has given us to actually grow us. We cannot grow spiritually or in a healthy way without being connected with other people. That’s not God’s plan. Jesus says in John 13:35:
By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
He doesn’t say there if you love one another. Rather, He says if you have love for one another and if you are showing that love for one another. Again, this subtle shift from having a strength with corresponding weakness to it, which is the subtle part of being pulled into this sin that so easily entangles you.
Also, thinkers struggle with the concept of faith. Thinkers like to reason things out. However, reason has a stopping point because reason cannot resolve everything, and if it doesn’t, then one can’t go any further, which results in frustration. So, thinkers tend to have a hard time practicing prayer.
However, faith in God can take another step, and consistency in prayer expresses one’s dependence on God, who is sovereign over all things, trustworthy, and deeply cares for His children. Those are the things that need to be examined. Did you ever think that praylessness is a sin?
It is a sin wasting the 168 hours God gives us in a week. How much of that is wasted time? Sitting behind media and wasting your time when you haven’t read the word that day or when you haven’t meditated upon truth that you’ve been learning that day. You’ve done none of those things. See, God’s going to convict us of those things because they are important for us, so that we don’t get pulled into these things that entangle and trap us.
Maybe the Lord made you a loyalist. Loyalist love to be part of a great team. When the chips are down, you can depend on them. If anything, they help everyone else become better. The downside of the loyalist is that they can become cynical when they feel let down. Sometimes, they perceive God to be hard to please. Then, the sin that easily besets them is the sin of fear. They’re afraid to do something for the Lord. In Matthew 25:14-18, Jesus told three servants:
For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. 15To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. 16Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. 17In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. 18But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
The lesson learned from the Lord’s parable is that God reserves His harshest judgement not for those who try and fail, but for those who fail to try because they give into fear. They don’t understand the way God has made them, so they’re afraid to do things and then they don’t do things.
Fear is a great motivator to stop you in your tracks. It’s got a good sense to it, but it also has a bad sense to it. Someone estimated that there are 365 "fear nots" in Scripture, which is one for each day. Isaiah 41:10 is one of them:
Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
This passage is dispelling the fear that a lot of us would have, not just somebody who would be a loyalist. A lot of us are afraid of things. Because we’re afraid of things we don’t do things that God may want us to do. When it comes to evangelism and we go to the Mall Ministry to talk to people, we don’t know who’s going to walk up to the table and talk to us. I guarantee that some people do not go to the Mall Ministry because they’re afraid to talk to someone.
I understand that fear, and every time I go, I’m afraid, but the only way to do evangelism is to dive in. Don’t think about it, just obey it. God uses what you know, and you will actually amaze yourself. You come to the place where you say:
I didn’t know I can actually communicate the Gospel to someone, share Christ with somebody, and they listen to me.
Then, you walk away amazed, and that begins to dispel the fear. So, these subtle shifts from someone’s strength leading into their weakness becomes a sin that entangles them. Then, they begin to recognize that, lay it aside, and put it to death.
The last thing is that maybe you’re a peacemaker. We need peacemakers in the church because they like to reconcile people in order to maintain harmonious relationships. However, they tend to suffer from terminal niceness. At times, they are inclined to seek peace at any price to avoid taking the necessary risk in order to accomplish true unity. Their slide into a sinful pattern is usually because of their undo attachment to comfort and security.
They don’t like the resistance, so the sin that easily besets them so close to them that sometimes they can’t even see what it is, which can be the sin of presumption. This is one sin that David asked God to point out to him because it is so difficult at times to detect presuming something is or is not what it ought to be or what God actually said. David said in Psalm 19:12-13:
Who can discern his errors?
Acquit me of hidden faults.
13Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins;
Let them not rule over me;
Then I will be blameless,
And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.
Of course, he went to the Lord asking the Lord:
When this happens in my life, when I’m entrapped by this, point it out to me. Let me see it so I don’t go down this road of presumptuous sin.
It is a dangerous road to be on to presuming you’re doing what God wants you to do when it’s not what God wants you to do.
In all these things, Christians must learn to recognize their own pattern of sin because each category of sin has its own hidden temptations. Recognizing your particular pattern of sin will let you know what you need to work on.
Actually, knowing other people’s patterns of sin helps you to empathize with them and aid your fellow Christian in their area of struggle by doing it in a gracious and a nonjudgmental way. Why do you do that? Because you know you’re a sinner too and you’re struggling with some things while they’re struggling with different things, so you help each other out.
That’s why Peter says love covers a multitude of sins, right? We lay those things aside for the sake of the health of the body, so we can enable people to get out from the entanglements of their sin and get on running the race.
I hope you see how the enemy can take advantage of your strengths and weaknesses. The Devil is a slanderer who deliberately advances is false charges against God and His people. He harasses, he hinders, he sifts, he accuses, and he lies.
He knows what works and has many techniques in his bag of tricks. Here are some examples that we should think about:
Sin is what you do when your heart is not satisfied with God. Sin holds out to us some promise, pleasure, or happiness.
Ultimately, these things are leading down the path of lies. So, let’s say his or her fault is love for money. Satan will make available all kinds of opportunities to make money, have your stuff, and then he will turn your heart to love that more than God. Of course, the corresponding Scripture is the Weapon of Truth we use against his lies, trip wires, and potholes.
Then, there is somebody who has a quick temper. He will find you friends to egg you on until your temper gets the best of you, you throw reason to the win, and act under murderous tendencies. Then, we consider Proverbs 14:17:
A quick-tempered man acts foolishly,
And a man of evil devices is hated.
Then, Proverbs 14:29:
He who is slow to anger has great understanding,
But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.
Maybe it is the sin of lust. If it is, he will make available to you enough pictures and images to destroy our mind and warp your view of God’s creation and even that of the institution of marriage. He will do that because he is destroyer. However, the advice that Paul told the church in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5:
For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God.
Maybe someone is giving again to the sin of pride. He will tempt you two to be filled with the sense of your own importance and have people around you flatter you until you see yourself wiser than God and until your ears are closed to any sound advice or counsel. Proverbs 8:13 tells us:
The fear of the LORD is to hate evil;
Pride and arrogance and the evil way
And the perverted mouth, I hate.
Maybe it’s in the weakness of an unguarded tongue where you talk too much. You’ll provide enough people and situations to push your buttons, so you will always have something to say even though you don’t know what you’re saying. Then, your sin will be unavoidable. Proverbs 10:19 says:
When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,
But he who restrains his lips is wise.
If you talk too much, you’re going to sin such as gossip. It could be bitterness. He will tempt you to justify your bitterness until you sufficiently grieve the spirit leaving you controlled by the flesh alone. Paul said in Ephesians 4:30-31:
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
Lastly, there is that of prayerlessness. Maybe your weakness is prayerlessness. He will convince you that prayer accomplishes nothing. James 4:3 says
You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
How important is prayer. I think any Pastor would say that one of the main struggles in the church is to get people to meet for prayer. Maybe I should ask people this: how come you weren’t at prayer meeting this week? When you stand before God someday, and He says to you:
You could have been at prayer meeting. You could have been at that those times of study of the word of God, and you weren’t. Why not? Why weren’t you there?
I pray that our excuses are good ones, but I think most of the time, it’s because Satan has fairly convinced people that it’s really not that important. Let somebody else do it – I don’t have to be part of that equation.
Again, it’s a big lie. In other words, what lie are we believing as believers, or which truth are we shunning? It’s got to be one or the other. This is the way we begin to detect where we are getting tangled with sin. We are self-aware about our strengths and weaknesses, and we begin to identify what is really going on are in our life.
So, the second way of resisting the adversary is by discerning your strengths weaknesses and tendencies towards sin. Then, fighting against him, the tempter, with the word of God. That’s how we do it, and we will look look further into that. Let’s pray:
Lord, I Thank You for looking at the word of God and finding ample Scriptures that address all kinds of sins that we can commit in our life. I pray, Lord, as we consider those and as we consider ourselves, You would make us a people who know how to come up against the enemy by resisting him in the body of truth that has been delivered to us in the word of God. Lord, that we can resist him by looking at ourselves and seeing how You created us, our weaknesses, our strengths, and then our tendencies towards sin. Then, Lord, learning the word of God enough to fight against them, and to lay them aside with the truth until the enemy leaves us. Lord, I pray that you strengthen us in this way, so we can be a people who truly are honoring You in our daily living. I pray this in Christ’s name, Amen.