Sermons About or Influenced by C.S. Lewis

"Standing Against the Wiles of the Devil"

Last week we saw how Jesus could be with us and see us through the great storms of life. He helps us face loneliness, discouragement and fear, sickness and loss, temptation and even death. He's there with us when it seems like the whole world is against us. He promises to be with us always. 

Immediately following the story of Jesus' crossing the stormy Sea of Galilee, we see Jesus and the disciples meeting a man, in Mark 5, who is literally possessed by demons; so much so that he tells Jesus that his name is Legion, meaning that over 6000 evil spirits have taken control of his life. For some twenty verses Jesus ministers to this one who is demon-possessed, this man who has lost control of his own personality. In the end the evil spirits are cast out and the man becomes whole and is in his right mind again, ready to follow Jesus and go back home and tell his family and friends what God has done for him. (5:1-20)

Here is a marvelous story of someone whose personality had been overwhelmed by the power of evil and then, set free by Jesus. What are we to make of such things in our own day? Are demons and evil spirits real today? What about Satan? What about a personal Devil, ghosts, and witches? What are we to do with such evil beings that are mentioned in the Bible, but are often seen in our culture as merely entertaining amusements for Halloween or either symbols of fear? So, as I prepared for my message on Mark 5 about the man possessed by demons, I realized that maybe we might first need to backtrack and review exactly what the Bible does say about the reality of evil and the spiritual warfare in which we each find ourselves, even today. To make it easier for you to study this later, I have printed at the end of  this message an outline which lists all of the scripture that I am going to use. I hope that you will continue on after my printed sermon and use it to study further.

I personally do not think that the Devil and his demons should get more attention than they deserve. But neither should they be ignored. The Bible, by encouraging us to believe in the reality of Satan and his evil spirits, never describes for us some little red dwarf with a pointed tail, horns on his head and a pitchfork in his hand. No the Bible describes the Devil as an angel of light who is deceitful and cunning. (2 Corinthians 11:14) C.S. Lewis in his book, The Screwtape Letters, claims that there are two equal and opposite errors into which we can fall about Satan and demons. "One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them"(p.3). The Devil is equally pleased by either error. One gives him no credit, and the other gives him too much credit. Both of these mistakes take the easy way out. "They avoid the necessity for 'discernment'," - which implies the need of making a moral decision between right and wrong. Some would rather lump all spiritual power together and stick one label on it - either all good or all bad. But real life is not that simple.

Satan plays a very prominent part in the ministry and life of Christ. Plus every New Testament writer makes some reference to the demonic spiritual powers. Look at what our first scripture from the First Letter of John tells us:

For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8b)

- Do we not remember that the first thing that happened to Jesus after his baptism was a period of 40 days of being tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13)?

- Out of the thirty individual miracles found in the first three Gospels, nine have to do with demon possession, that's 30% of Jesus' miracles that expressly relate to expelling evil spirits. (Matthew 9:32-34; 12:22-24; Mark 1:21-27; 3:11-12; 5:1-20; 7:24-30; 9:14-29; Luke 8:2-3; 13:10-17)

- The first chapter of Mark gives us this general description of Jesus' early ministry in Galilee:

"And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons." (Mark 1:39)

- And just two chapters later, guess what three assignments Jesus gives to his first disciples in Mark 3, verses 14 and 15?

"Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, {15} and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons." (Mark 3:14-15)

If the Bible tells us that Satan and his demons are real and also that they play an important role in Jesus' ministry, what are they like and what do they do?

- First of all, Satan is described in Revelation, chapter 12, as a deceiver and an accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:9-10). He is therefore our adversary and enemy. He hates God and his creation. 

- In John 8, Jesus calls him the "father of lies" (John 8:44)

- In Luke 4, he is also called the tempter (Luke 4:2).

- Acts 10, tells us he oppressed people both physically and morally (Acts 10:38).

- Moreover, Ephesians explains that he is the systemic source of all wickedness and evil in this world (Ephesians 2:2-3; 6:11-12).

How do the wiles of the Devil, his cunning and deceptiveness affect us?

- Well, God has given to each of us free will. The Bible tells us that we are always responsible for every thought we think, for every word speak and for every deed we do. (2 Corinthians 10:5; Matthew 12:36; Romans 2:6)

- We can never say that the "Devil made me do it", no matter how difficult the situation because God has promised us that we will not be tempted beyond what we are able to overcome. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

- But once we have given in to his deceptions, enticements and accusations and we do not come to Christ to repent, confess our sin and be forgiven, we become enslaved to him in that part of our life (John 8:34)

The Bible does not say that the devil is not the cause of all of our problems. We each have natural weaknesses and infirmities which are common to all humanity. On this earth we will never be free from all hardships and testing. But in each person's life there also might be some areas in which Satan may have gained a foothold, and then a stronghold, over which we cannot seem to be victorious by our own self-discipline.

In the Gospels Jesus healed such physical problems as dumbness, blindness, deafness and physical deformity merely by casting out an evil spirit (Matthew 9:32-33; 12:22; Mark 9:25; Luke 13:10-17). There are also certain spiritual and psychological habits which may put us in bondage to Satan and strengthen a physical habit. For example, when a simple temptation becomes a compulsion or an addiction, then these very likely may be demonic - possibly compulsive gambling, chain smoking, sexual perversion, extreme anger, resentment or fear, alcoholism, drug addiction, obesity and so on. On the spiritual side Christians are also strictly forbidden to participate in psychic and occult activities like witchcraft, ouiji boards, fortune tellers, horoscopes, ESP, palm reading, seances and so on. Galatians 5 gives us some examples of some works of the flesh which may put us into spiritual bondage:

"Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, {20} idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, {21} envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." (Galatians 5:19-21)

And Deuteronomy 18 tells some specific spiritual activities that are forbidden to all believers: "There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, {11} "or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. "(Deuteronomy 18:10-11)

You see, we have no authority on our own initiative to contact anyone who has died except Jesus Christ. How can we stand against the wiles of the Devil? 

How can we overcome him once we have fallen to his deceptions and accusations? The Bible tells us in Colossians 2 that through Christ's death on the cross, the forces of Satan and his demons have been disarmed and made a public example:

Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. (Colossians 2:15)

Based on this victorious foundation we then begin our own battle: 

1. By submitting to God and resisting the Devil according to James 4:7 - "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

2. By putting on the whole armor of God according to Ephesians 6:10-17 - Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. {11} Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles 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. {14} Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, {15}and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; {16} above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. {17} And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 

3. By seeking spiritual guidance from God according to James 1:5 - "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him."

4. By taking power over Satan and his demons according to Luke 10:17 and Revelation 12:11 - through the blood of Christ in the name of Jesus. "Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." (Luke 10:17) "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death." (Revelation 12:11)

Some may feel that we've covered an awful lot of scripture this morning. In some ways we have; but in others ways we have barely scratched the surface. Maybe God has spoken to some of us about areas in our life in which Satan has control. Let's give them over to Jesus Christ and be set free. But whatever you feel right now, take these notes home and read the scriptures again and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart, to give you more wisdom and guidance in "standing against the wiles of the Devil." I also feel led to say that there may some here this morning who think that this message does not apply to them. If so, then you may the one who may need it the most. Let's pray.

Handout for

"Standing Against the Wiles of the Devil"

Richard James

10/26/97

Introduction

"For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light."    (2 Corinthians 11:14)

 

What place does Satan's have in the ministry and life of Christ?

"For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil." (1 John 3:8b)

 

- All New Testament writers mention these demonic spiritual powers

- Do we not remember that the first thing that happened to Jesus after his baptism was a period of 40 days of being tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13)?

- 30% of Jesus' miracles in Matthew, Mark and Luke expressly relate to expelling evil spirits. (Matthew 9:32-34; 12:22-24; Mark 1:21-27; 3:11-12; 5:1-20; 7:24-30; 9:14-29; Luke 8:2-3; 13:10-17)

- General description of Jesus' ministry in Mark 1:

"And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons." (Mark 1:39)

- General description of the first disciples' ministry in Mark 3:

"Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons." (Mark 3:14-15)

 

What is Satan like?

- Satan is a deceiver and an accuser of the brethren

"So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. {10} Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down." (Revelation 12:9-10)

- He is our adversary and enemy. He hates God and his creation. Jesus calls him the "father of lies"

"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." (John 8:44)

- He is called the tempter

"being tempted for forty days by the devil" (Luke 4:2)

- We likewise are told that he oppressed people both physically and morally

"how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him" (Acts 10:38).

- Moreover, he is the systemic source of all wickedness and evil in this world

"you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others." (Ephesians 2:2-3)

"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 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." (Ephesians 6:11-12).

 

"How Can Satan's Ways Affect Us?"

- With the gift of free will the Bible tells us that we are always responsible for every thought we think, for every word speak and for every deed we do.

"casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,"(2 Corinthians 10:5)

"But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment." (Matthew 12:36)

"(God) will render to each one according to his deeds" (Romans 2:6)

- God has promised us that we will not be tempted beyond what we are able to overcome

"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." (1 Corinthians 10:13)

- But once we have given in to his deceptions, enticements and accusations and we do not come to Christ to repent, confess our sin and be forgiven, we become enslaved to him in that part of our life "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin." (John 8:34)

 

"Some Examples of Spiritual Bondage"

When a simple temptation becomes a compulsion or an addiction, then these very likely may be demonic.

- Physical bondages: dumbness, blindness, deafness and physical deformity (Matthew 9:32-33; 12:22; Mark 9:25; Luke 13:10-17).

- Psychological bondages: compulsive gambling, chain smoking, sexual perversion, extreme anger, resentment or fear, alcoholism, drug addiction, obesity and so on

- Spiritual bondages: psychic and occult activities like witchcraft, ouiji boards, fortune tellers, horoscopes, ESP, palm reading, seances and so on.

"Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." (Galatians 5:19-21)

"There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, "or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. "(Deuteronomy 18:10-11)

 

"How To Wrestle Against The Wiles Of The Devil"

Our spiritual foundation: Christ was victorious

Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. (Colossians 2:15) and we can be victorious

1. By submitting to God and resisting the Devil according to James 4:7 - "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

2.By putting on the whole armor of God according to Ephesians 6:10-17 - Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. {11} Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles 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. {14} Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, {15} and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; {16}above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. {17} And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

3. By seeking spiritual guidance from God according to James 1:5 - "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him."

4. By taking power over Satan and his demons according to Luke 10:17 and Revelation 12:11 - through the blood of Christ in the name of Jesus - "Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, 'Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name'." (Luke 10:17) "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death." (Revelation 12:11)

To the glory of God!

 

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