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Archive for the ‘Satan and demons’ Category

Jonathan Parnell:

In rural America, off a country road, on the soft soil of a weathered field, stands a sobering message for every passer-by: Go to church or the devil will get you!

The words are neatly strewn across a homemade billboard adorned with flood lights and a painted silhouette of a red figure, apparently Satan, holding a sling-blade. Go to church, the warning hisses, or be his victim.

As hokey as it sounds, the warning is right, you know, at least in a sense.

Now to be clear, if the sign means (and it likely does) that you’d better attend a weekly meeting or else Lucifer will eat your lunch, then no, that’s not right. That would be Anglo folk religion — more akin to African animism than anything Christian.

But, more positively, if “go to church” means be part of a gospel-shaped community, and “the devil will get you!” means you’re more susceptible to his schemes apart from such community, then the sign is absolutely right. By all means, if this meaning is the case, go to church or the devil will get you. Here’s why: first, Satan is real and he hates you; second, God designs that Christians persevere in faith by means of one another.

I preached about this recently from 1 Peter 5:8-10 which reminds us to be alert and watchful for our prowling adversary the devil. Though we must do so individually we must do this in biblical community as well.  Parnell goes on to explain:

God has designed our warfare to include one another. We can’t wield the shield of faith alone. We need brothers and sisters to come alongside us to hold up our arms. More specifically, we need brothers and sisters to speak faith-building words to our souls.

After the warning of temptation, Hebrews 3:12 says “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

You see, the household of God is a talking family. We say things to each other, powerful things to each other about the truth of God and the victory of Christ. We exhort one another — be it encouragement, warning, or counsel — and the Holy Spirit breathes upon what is otherwise babbling to effect real devil-defying faith in our lives. This kind of speaking is a glorious staple of gospel-shaped community. And Satan wants you to have no part in it.

Satan wants us isolated from one another. He wants to find us all alone in the thunderstorm of our own thoughts, when we’re stuck in the sounds of our sinful souls. It is the oldest trick in the book, that he’d catch us when we’re perusing the tree by ourselves (2 Corinthians 11:3). We’ve too often repeated that scene of Genesis 3. But then imagine God’s truth crashing into the picture. Imagine that happening today as we gather together.

This is biblical wisdom that we must follow.  Read all of “Watch Out or the Devil’s Gonna Get You.”

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He can only gum you

“If at the cross every sin was covered, Satan’s mouth is shut. He has no weapon. He can gum you but his fangs are gone.” – John Piper

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Kevin DeYoung asks:

Why do Christians die? Why do churches die? Why do Christians go hungry, endure tragedies, get cancer, and face persecution?  Why do pastors fall into great sin and cast shame upon their churches and disgrace upon the gospel?

Why do some churches grow loveless and cold?  Why do other churches forsake the truth of Scripture?  Why do church members fight among themselves? Why are there so many hypocrites in the church?  Why does everything seem to go wrong for good believers even as they try to follow God?

DeYoung asks many more why questions.

Then he provides four answers to all of these “whys.”  1) God is sovereign  2)  We live in a fallen world.  3)  We are sinners and 4)  The devil hates the gospel and all those who love and obey the gospel.  He points us to Revelation 12 to support this final answer.

His article concludes with this timely reminder:

Let us not forget that underneath and behind all the battles in our time is a giant cosmic battle that has been going on for (almost) all time. And, this Christmas season, let us not forget that a child was born to rule the nations with a rod of iron and crush the head of that dastardly dragon.

Read all of “Hell Bent”!

 

 

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Ron Edmonson reminds of some bad news: our adversary the devil seeks to destroy local churches. Here are a few ways

  1. Church conflict
  2. Burnout
  3. Rumors
  4. Busyness
  5. Lies
  6. Scandal
  7. Marriage and family disruptions.

The good news is that “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world!” (1 John 4:4)

Read the whole article.

 

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Ray Ortlund shares four common strategies from the devil’s playbook.

We are not ignorant of his designs.  2 Corinthians 2:11

The Bible reveals to us the devil’s playbook.  How does he aim to defeat us?  To begin with, in these four ways:

One, a judgmental attitude.  In this passage in 2 Corinthians, the devil designs to make a church into a harsh environment, where people are “overwhelmed by excessive sorrow” (verse 7).  Such a church stops feeling like Jesus.  It starts feeling like a scene out of Kafka.  How to defeat this satanic design?  Repent of self-righteous judgments, and eagerly communicate Jesus’ forgiveness, inclusion, honor.

Two, normal human instincts.  In Matthew 16:21-23, Jesus rebukes Peter, through whom Satan is speaking.  How did Peter open up to, of all things, satanic influence?  Not by consciously opening up to satanic influence.  All he did was think in normal human ways (“setting your mind on the things of man”).  All he did was set his heart on survival, making the way of the cross unthinkable.  Another of the devil’s designs.  How to defeat him?  Die to selfish survival.

Three, a spirit of accusation.  In Revelation 12:10 the devil is exposed as “the accuser.”  Another of his designs is to pierce our hearts with accusing thoughts about our sins – or even sins we haven’t necessarily committed, but we fear we have, or others say we have.  He spreads a mist of vague anxiety within ourselves and dark suspicion of others.  How to defeat this defeat?  Run to the cross for all our sins, and refuse to counter-accuse against our accusers.  A calm explanation might help at the interpersonal level.  But if the negative emotions are really intense, the only thing to do is not make the feeding-frenzy worse.  Wait on God to vindicate you.

Four, lying in order to win.  In John 8:44 Jesus calls Satan “the father of lies.”  It is his nature to lie, to deceive, to distort and twist and confuse.  He spreads his trademark behavior to others, especially in scenes of ungodly conflict.  He uses half-truths, self-serving accounts, spin.  How to defeat him?  Admit the plain truth, all of it, however embarrassing it might be.  We won’t die.  We will find it to be freeing.  Our safety and joy are always found in honesty before God and one another.

We have an enemy, and we know his strategies.  As C. S. Lewis taught us in The Screwtape Letters, we should neither ignore him nor obsess about him.  But fixing our eyes on Jesus, we can crush Satan under our feet (Romans 16:20) by humbly staying in, or humbly returning to, the ways of the gospel.

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“When the devil throws our sins up to us and declares we deserve death and hell, we ought to speak thus: ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell. What of it? Does this mean that I shall be sentenced to eternal damnation? By no means. For I know One who suffered and made a satisfaction in my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Where he is, there I shall be also.’”

— Martin Luther

Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel, ed. and trans., Theodore G. Tapper

(Vancouver, BC: Regent College Publishing, 2003), 85 via FI

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Good overview here.

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