Standing Firm Against Satan
How Satan Attacks Believers PT.2
Class Session 3
By Pastor Ron Jones, www.titusinstitute.com
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
We have been studying what the Bible says about how we as Christians can stand firm against the attacks of Satan which is given in Eph.6:10-17. Turn there with me.
This passage is divided into five points.
I. The preparation
II. The enemy
III. The battle
IV. The victory
V. The way to victory
We have previously looked at the first two points in depth and started the third point. This morning we will finish up the third point.
We have seen that our enemy is the devil and his demons who continually slander God by spreading lies about him.
They do this through the world, that is, fallen human beings whom they dominate and direct.
We started point III.
III. The Battle – how Satan attacks us.
Last time we studied
A. The Strategy of Satan in the Battle – strategic deception v. 12
B. The Power of Satan in the Battle - Invisible evil spirits dominating and directing the unbelieving world
and began to look at point C.
C. The Attack of Satan in the Battle - external attacks through the unbelieving
How do Satan and his demons attack believers?
We have been focusing on what the Bible clearly reveals about how Satan attacks, what we can be sure about.
When we read a book teaching how to deal with Satan we should be able to see that approach in the NT especially the epistles. If we don’t, we need to seriously question whether that writer has been careful in his interpretation of the Scriptures.
How do Satan and his demons attack us as believers?
The Bible shows four ways:
Last time, we saw the first two ways.
1. He incites our fleshly desires within us through the unbelieving world
Key: The external source of temptation is Satan and his demons through the world and the internal source of temptation are our fleshly desires within us.
2. He attempts to deceive us with lies through the beliefs and values of the unbelieving world around us
Satan attacks our beliefs and values.
When fleshly desires rise up in us, it is our values and our beliefs that cause us to decide whether we will follow those desires.
He attacks our beliefs and values through worldly wisdom. James writes about the “wisdom of the world” which is demonic. The lies of Satan are spread as wisdom in the minds of unbelievers.
Now we come to the third way Satan can attack us.
It is through false doctrine.
Satan not only spreads lies about how to live, but he also spreads lies about Jesus Christ himself.
He spreads false doctrine about who Jesus is, who God is, how to be saved,
and a whole host of other lies to perpetrate a false Christianity.
3. He attempts to deceive us with a false Jesus and a false gospel through false Christians.
The Corinthians had allowed people to rise up in their church who were preaching false doctrine about Jesus Christ. These individuals claimed to be apostles of Jesus Christ and claimed that Paul was in fact, not a true apostle and therefore had no authority to preach the doctrine he had preached to them.
Of course, they said this because they were preaching doctrine different than what Paul preached. Paul preached true Biblical doctrine, the same doctrine of the other 12 apostles.
The Corinthians should have immediately examined what these false teachers were saying and once they realized they were teaching something different than Paul and the other apostles, put them out of the church. But they didn’t. Instead, they endured their teaching, listening to it and wondering about it.
Paul thus writes to them a warning about the danger of what they were doing, a warning we need to heed in this present time of false tolerance and political correctness.
v. 2 Paul tells them that he is righteously jealous for them like a husband whose wife is being persuaded to leave him and turn to another.
v.3 He fears that as Satan deceived Eve, they to would be deceived and led astray from the simplicity and pure devotion to Jesus Christ, which the true gospel has brought to them by teaching faith in Christ.
He fears that they will become confused about Christ and about how to live by faith in him and be fooled into adding other false doctrines and rituals to their life which are not necessary.
Satan has two goals attacking believers with these kinds of lies.
1. He desires for us to add ritual and works to our walk with Christ. This can cause us to become legalistic and burdened in our daily lives as we attempt to please Christ through works. Rather we should live by faith that Christ is already pleased with us and desires to work through us for our blessing and his glory.
2. He desires to confuse us about Christ and get us to doubt our beliefs in the true Jesus and gospel we have committed our lives to.
He can’t get us to turn away from the true Christ and go into a cult,
but he can get us to be confused and doubt our beliefs.
Then Paul gives three deceptions of Satan about Jesus and the gospel.
“For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.”
You “put up with it” or “bear this beautifully”
expresses a rebuke.
What is the matter with you? – you are easily putting up with this false doctrine. Instead of getting rid of it, you endure it and listen to it.
Roman society that the Corinthians were a part of was very similar to our society in terms of tolerance. Everything was pretty much tolerated. This is why the Corinthians did not immediately deal with it. Like so many Christians today, they were fooled by the tolerance of their age.
Paul gives three elements of false doctrine about Christ.
1) They preach a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached…”
This is not another messiah named Jesus. It is a false Jesus. The Jesus of the Bible perverted into someone other than he is.
They preach a Jesus who was Son of God, but not Son of man, or Son of man and not Son of God, one who was crucified, but not risen from the dead.
Today there are many groups that would have us believe that they are Christian, but they do not preach the true Christ.
Jehovah’s Witnesses say”
"I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus Christ is the highest created being Jehovah God created. He is a son of God, but not the same being as Jehovah God."
"I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus, who is called Jehovah in the O.T. is the first-born of the spirit sons and daughters of Elohim. This Jesus is now a god, but not the same God as the father."
"I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe Jesus was the outer man to the spiritual Christ. Because the man Jesus acknowledged God in all his ways, he was lifted up in his physical body into a perfect state and became godlike."
"I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus Christ was a sinless prophet, but he was not nor could he be God come in the flesh. There is only one God, Allah."
All these statements contain claims made by members of groups who claim to be Christian, believe in Jesus Christ, and claim to accept the Bible as sacred.
Yet, they preach a false Jesus, not the true Biblical Jesus.
Any group that does not preach that Jesus was both fully God and fully man, the second person of the Triune God is false.
Don’t look at their sincerity – deceived people are always sincere.
2) They have “a different spirit from the one you received…”
Faith in Jesus Christ brings the Holy Spirit into our lives and it is the Holy Spirit that helps us to grow and mature in Christ on a daily basis.
This is where the real power to live for Christ comes from.
Those who preach a different gospel come with a different spirit, not the Holy Spirit. Only Jesus can give his spirit to those who believe in Him.
Counterfeit “Christian” religions bring another spirit.
This other spirit is a demonic spirit which refers to the Satanic lies behind the false doctrine they bring. This spirit is behind the false Jesus and false gospel.
3) They have “a different gospel from the one you accepted…”
“gospel” – the good news of salvation
A different gospel is a different way of salvation from the true gospel.
This tells us that Satan sets up counterfeit “Christian” religions with Christ involved that have a false way of salvation
Every Counterfeit Christian religion adds works to faith in Christ as the way of salvation. In other words, in order to be saved you need to trust Christ and do good works.
In Corinth, Rome, Galatia, Colossae the churches were facing counterfeit Christian groups claiming to be true, but were teaching Christ plus our own human works to say ourselves.
How can we tell who is right?
Paul says “other than the Jesus we preached.”
The only true Jesus and the only true spirit and the only true gospel is
the one preached by the apostles in the NT.
How can this be? How can false teachers go around looking like Christians and talking about a counterfeit Jesus and a counterfeit way of salvation that is not Biblical?
Paul answers this question in
2 Cor.11: 13-15
“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.”
v. 13 “false apostles…masquerading as apostles of Christ”
They look and act like they come from God and yet they come from the devil himself.
They claimed that they were apostles equal to the true apostles of Christ, with their authority to speak for Jesus Christ.
There were only thirteen apostles- the twelve and Paul. That is all. They are the only ones who had the authority to lay the doctrinal foundation of the church.
A false apostle is anyone who is not one of the thirteen who claims to
be an apostle of Christ or anyone who claims to have the authority of the
apostles when they do not.
Why would they claim to be an apostle or to have apostolic authority?
If Satan wants to thwart the apostolic doctrines of the NT, adding or perverting them, he has to establish authority to speak the Word of God or to add to the Word of God.
There has to be apostolic authority. We should not be surprised that through the centuries there have been Christian religious groups who have been founded by false apostles or those who say they have apostolic authority to add to the Word of God.
No one has apostolic authority to teach truth except the apostles themselves. No bishop, no pope, no pastor, no modern-day so-called prophet, no one.
v. 13 “deceitful workers…”
They were workers, laborers, and doers.
They work and labor and put out great effort in the name of their counterfeit Jesus and their counterfeit way of salvation.
In our age of tolerance, we think that anyone who puts out great effort
and labor and work in the name of Jesus somehow cannot be wrong, even though
they do not teach the truth.
How can they do this?
v. 14 “for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.”
Paul says do not be surprised for this is the way of their leader – Satan.
There is no wonder about it at all. Satan himself masquerades or disguises himself as an angel of light.
He does this over and over again; it is his practice. He makes people think
that they are dealing with an angel of light, rather than who he is the
prince of darkness.
This is primarily talking about Satan’s craftiness, and evil scheming lies. He does not perpetrate his lies by revealing to people that he is the prince of darkness, but rather that he is from God and is from the light.
He makes his false beliefs appear like they are from God.
His servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.
v. 15 “servants of righteousness”
The true servants of God are servants of God’s righteousness, having received righteousness in Christ and desiring to share with others how they can obtain Christ’s righteousness.
Paul writes about the same issue in Galatians, John writes about it in 1 John.
Paul says the same thing to the Galatians who were also being attacked by false teachers.
John says that false believers teach another Jesus, but true believers hold to the true Jesus.
The fourth way that Satan can attack us is through physical illness, crimes, disasters, persecution and the like.
4. Satan can physically afflict us or ones that we love with illness, crimes, disasters, persecution and the like.
This creates great trials in our lives, which in turn pushes us to question what we believe and how we are living.
There are several very important passages in the Scriptures dealing with topic we will begin with Job.
a. Satan tempts us by inflicting upon us crime or war, natural disasters, or physical illness
Job got it all.
Physical and psychological trials - “Squeeze him and he will break”
1: 13-15 crime and war
1:16 “the fire of God” – lightning MHC
1:17 crime and war
1:18 natural disaster – a mighty wind
2: 6-8 physical illness
So Satan has the ability to move unbelievers to action and to cause natural disasters and physical illness.
Notice, several things:
1. God had a hedge around Job – which simply means God’s protective
care which in terms of Job God had by his divine sovereignty chosen to protect
him from all these things.
All believers have God’s hedge around them, that is his protective care, so that only what God allows may affect the believer.
2. Satan had to ask permission to afflict Job and was limited by God’s sovereign will. Nothing is out of God’s control, not even Satan’s activities.
3. This was allowed by God to show the solid character of Job’s faith
and obedience, it was done by Satan to tempt Job to turn away from God.
Job, in fact, did honor God. At first, he was unwavering 1: 10, then he
struggled later in the book, but in the end he held on to his faith and
was taught much truth about suffering.
4. Satan’s goal was not for Job to struggle with his faith. Satan’s
desire was for Job to completely and utterly turn away from God by cursing
God. This is Satan’s goal for us.
5. Notice Job does not focus on the attack of Satan he focuses on wearing
the armor of God – faith and obedience.
Job does not spend time identifying the attacker, “Was this just a natural occurrence or from Satan or what?”
He understands that all things are under God’s sovereign control, and focuses on God. There is no binding of Satan anywhere in Job. There is only faith and obedience. In fact, after these two events, for the rest of the 40 chapters there is not mention or focus on Satan.
This is to be our focus, God and trusting him.
We see this same pattern in 2 Cor.12.
2 Cor.12: 7-10
Paul realizes his physical illness (probably some kind of eye disease – Gal.4:13-16) was God allowance of Satan to attack.
He says this to show that he recognizes that Satan has an evil purpose behind it, but his focus is not on Satan at all. He does not bind Satan or work some spiritual warfare formula. He simply prays to God about it asking God to remove it if it would be his will.
The Lord said no because he wanted it to show Paul just how powerful the Lord is in his life through his working in Paul’s weakness.
b. Satan tempts us through persecution.
v. 31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has demanded to sift you (pl. the disciples) as wheat.”
Just as Satan had asked God to give him permission to afflict Job, Satan had asked God to give him permission to afflict the disciples of Jesus Christ with a severe trial of persecution.
“You” is plural referring to all the disciples.
Remember what Satan said in Job.1, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. “But now, stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!”
Satan probably said something similar to God about the disciples. “Have you not protected them from sword of the Jewish leaders and the Romans? Let me go and threaten them with their very lives and you will see that they will abandon Jesus Christ and curse you.”
“Sift you as wheat…” This is a metaphorical expression regarding the severe testing of their faith they were to undergo by persecution.
Lenski, a Bible commentator writes:
“Grain was agitated or shaken in a kind of fan or sieve. The grain remained in the fan, and the chaff and dust were thrown out. So Christ says that Satan desired to try Peter; to place trials and temptations before him; to agitate him; to see whether anything of faith would remain, or whether all would be found to be chaff – mere natural ardor and mere professions.”
But in saying this, Jesus focuses personally on Peter. Most likely he did this because Jesus knew that Peter would be the special focus of Satan. Peter was the leader of the apostles. Even though we often see Peter fail, we also see him show courage far beyond the others.
It was Peter that was brave enough to step out of the boat and try to walk on water with Jesus. Even though he struggled with his faith, at least he was willing to go for it by faith. The other disciples stayed safely in the boat.
Yes it was Peter that cut off Malchus’ ear in the garden when Jesus was being arrested. But at least Peter was courageous enough to try to fight for Jesus while the others were frozen in their tracks.
And it was Peter along with John who was the only apostles brave enough to follow where the soldiers took Jesus. Had Peter been like the other apostles, he would never have been in the courtyard of the high priest and he would have never been tempted in the deep way he was.
But Peter was brave and willing to risk it all to find out about what was happening to Jesus. Jesus knew this was to happen and that Satan would be given a special opportunity to try to destroy Peter’s faith.
I think too that Jesus said this very warmly. He used Peter’s personal Jewish name, Simon. He was speaking to him in love.
How did Jesus intervene for Peter when Satan asked to sift him and the others like wheat? He prayed for him.
v. 32 “But I have prayed for you, Simon…”
This is Jesus’ ministry in the lives of every believer. He is the divine intercessor for us to the Father. One of the ways that Jesus intercedes for us is when Satan asks permission to tempt or afflict us. Jesus does this here for Peter and the other disciples.
What did Jesus pray for to the Father?
1. That Peter’s faith in Christ would not fail v.32
This failing is complete failing so that he would no longer believe in Christ and would turn away from him.
Remember that this is Satan’s goal for us to turn away from Christ. Satan did not want Peter to deny that he knew Christ; he wanted him to deny Christ, that he was the Son of God and turn away from him.
Because Jesus prayed, Peter would not do that. God would not allow the trial to get that bad and would not allow his faith to fail.
All Satan was able to get out of it was Peter denying that he knew Christ. That was not a denial of Christ Himself.
When Peter denied Christ, he did not actually deny the character and nature of Christ or curse Christ. He denied his relationship with Christ out of fear. That is not the same as cursing Christ or denying the deity of Christ. No Christian can deny the person of Jesus Christ, who he is and what he did on the cross. Peter never did that.
2. That he would strengthen his brothers v.32
The other disciples would be tested as well and would be hiding out from the authorities for fear of death. When Peter turned back, and he would Jesus prayed that God would work in Peter’s heart to strengthen his brothers.
This implies that Jesus knew the other disciples would turn away from knowing him by their hiding and that he prayed for them as well. Notice, Jesus is looking to Peter to strengthen his brothers as their leader.
By the way, Jesus prays this all the time for every believer and that is why a true believer can never turn away from Jesus and deny who he is or turn away from following Christ. Peter may have struggled with his faith, but he never lost it. Not for even a moment.
Just as in Job’s case, God allowed Satan this liberty, but always within bounds – the Evil One has no free and unlimited right to act against the faithful, but must always submit to the overruling and permissive authority of the Lord.
So, the temptation of Satan was the persecution of Peter through the unbelieving world.
The temptation that Peter was to receive was the attention and questions about his relationship with Jesus that the unbelievers in the courtyard of the high priest would thrust upon him in the context of the great physical danger he was in if he were to claim to be Christ’s disciple in the context of a suffering about to be crucified Jesus.
The “sifting of the disciples” was the arrest of Jesus and his crucifixion and the possibility of them being arrested and killed because they were his followers.
There is no internal temptation of Peter by Satan stated. This supports what we said last time, that the internal source of temptation is our fleshly desires and the external source of temptation is Satan through the world, unbelieving mankind.
There is no evidence that Satan put the thought of denying his relationship with Christ into his mind? Satan squeezed him externally and let his natural fleshly fear take over.
It is also very probable based on Job and this passage that Satan has to ask permission from God to directly physically afflict us.
All believers are susceptible to this kind of attack by Satan and we need to watch for it.
1 Pet.5: 8-9
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in your faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
The context of the devil’s temptation as a roaring lion is the suffering of persecution as indicated in this verse.
v.9 “the same kinds of sufferings” refers to the sufferings of persecution.
And this persecution can be subtle as well as strong.
Persecution can come in the form of pressure to compromise the Biblical principles we follow.
Examples at our jobs
We can be pressured to disobey the rules set forth in our company and then criticized for obeying them.
We can be pressured to lie or be dishonest with government agencies or other companies on behalf of our boss
Satan will attempt to put us in many situations where we will be pressured and criticized for holding onto our convictions.
He will do it through unbelieving people around us, family and co-workers, fellow-students, and the like. His goal is to squeeze us so that we will give in and compromise our convictions and ruin our testimony.
Be alert! Stand firm in your faith, in what you know to be true about God and what His Word says is right and good.
Though Satan uses this for evil, God allows it in our lives for good purposes. And this goes for all the trials that we face at the hand of the evil one.
God allows this to show forth the truth of our faith, which will result in praise and honor and glory when Jesus is revealed at the Second Coming.
We will be sitting next to him on white horses showing forth our true faith in Jesus.
Standing firm is holding onto your faith.