The Great Forgotten War
by Dennis Michelson
Ephesians 4:27 and 6:11-12
Introduction: Earlier today, one of my sons called and told me that the Marines will be deploying him to a war zone in a few days. As you might imagine, everyone who knows and loves my son have reacted with various degrees of concern and anxiety.
The Scriptures teach us that believers are already deployed in a war zone but most do not seem to believe it. We understandably fear those who may do great harm to our bodies but Christ warned us to fear even more those who can damage the soul.
Satan will always highlight the bait in order to hide the hook. His method is to make sin look good to us. He studies his prey and can read your actions even if he cannot read your mind. My son will be going to a part of the world where many people would simply love to kill him.
We need to remember that Satan is extremely angry and will direct his wrath toward anyone who would don the uniform of his arch-enemy who is God. Satan makes sin look good to us by obscuring the unintended consequences and he works through the sins of the flesh when we "give place" to them.
1. Satan's Ultimate Goal Is Control
He wants to establish a stronghold which is a mindset impregnated with hopelessness that causes us to accept as unchangeable something we know is contrary to the will of God. Our enemy seeks to establish a beachhead for further operations in our life. These "places" given to the Devil may result in three levels of defeat -
2. Seats Which Can Become Strongholds
- Temptation -Planting thoughts in our minds (Acts 5:3). A bird can land on your head but cannot build a nest unless you cooperate with him to some degree.
- Obsession - One thought begins to predominate above all others. The seat begun by temptation now becomes a stronghold. The bird has been allowed to remain on your head and has started building a nest!
- Possession - There is now some measure of control over the body. Of course there is debate over this terminology and the degree to which the enemy may possess a believer. Suffice it to say that even though a believer may not be actually possessed; he is oppressed to the point where his life has become so distorted that he actually does more "good" for the enemy than for God.
Call it what you will but the person who formerly was a soldier of the cross is now shooting at other believers as he shoots himself. God will bring him back - dead or alive - but he is definitely AWOL for a time. Satan is a fairly good Calvinist and knows he cannot have your soul but he sure does derive great pleasure in destroying your life.
Sometimes we give "a seat to Satan" when we give place to the Devil, contrary to the command of our text. These are doors we leave open which become fulcrums for Satanic leverage.
3. Closing the Door on the Devil
- Rebellion/Self-Will - I Samuel 15:23 explains that this may be at the root of all sin.
- Anger - Ephesians 4:26-27 tells us that this can become a definite wedge in the door to welcome the enemy.
- Hatred/Murder - I John 3:15 warns us that there may be a lot of murderers already in the church!
- Guilt - Which is more dangerous: 40 days without food; 3 days without water; 4 minutes without air; or 1 minute without hope?
- False religions - I Timothy 4:1 warns that many depart the faith for feelings and foolishness. They forsake a T-Bone steak for a "Happy Meal" and only wind up with a toy!
- Fear - There is no fear in love (I John 4:18)
- Sexual immorality/perversions - Romans 6:19; Proverbs 5:21-23. With pastors falling like flies from the pulpit should we expect anything less in the pews?
- Stop and give thanks to God for the test (James 1 and Matthew 4:1)
- Learn the meaning of "resist" (I Peter 5:8-9 and James 4:7)
- Be convinced - once and for all - that sin is ALWAYS your enemy.
- Use Scripture against Satan (Matthew 4 compared with Acts 19:14-16) Guess which method worked?
Satan will leave you alone for a while when he is convinced he can no longer get you to believe a lie.