"And when the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time" (Luke 4: 13).
"Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity" (Eph. 4: 26-27).
One of the most ridiculed Scriptural truths in today's society is the concept of the devil. The idea of a malevolent being who goes about fomenting trouble and misery is laughed at as the misguided notion of a previously unenlightened and ignorant generation. Mankind has evolved beyond these archaic notions goes the conventional and accepted wisdom. If the devil is mentioned at all he is popularly portrayed as a red figure with horns carrying a pitchfork and having a long pointed tail.
Sadly, even the church of today oftentimes seems to have bought into this rationale. Rarely, if ever, does one meet with a sermon describing the great enemy of our souls and his tactics. What Paul could so confidently state about the apostolic church; "for we are not ignorant of his devices", can scarcely be spoken of today's church. How can it be when there is such a sinful silence about the devil from our pulpits? Men act, think, and preach as if he were completely non-existent and that the child of God had little or nothing to do with him. Whether this is through sheer ignorance on the part of the ministry or outright deception is not the scope of this brief article. The fact remains that most Christians are woefully ignorant when it comes to understanding the schemes of the devil.
"We don't want to glorify Satan" comes the chorus of voices from the modern church when confronted with this glaring omission. True, we do not; but is it glorifying the devil to warn the people of God against their chief adversary? If our Lord Jesus spoke of him and if the apostles spoke of him why should we not follow their example and also speak of him? If this vile tempter could enter a paradise and deceive our first parents fresh from the hand of God who possessed no fallen, corrupt nature, no sin-darkened mind such as we now do, should we be so foolish as to think that we are immune to his venomous temptations? Only the reckless or those who are hopelessly deceived would entertain such misguided thoughts.
It should be understood by the Christian that the archenemy of his soul is a restless, malevolent spirit. He is a fallen archangel or cherub. As such he is an extremely powerful and wise being. Unlike us therefore, he needs no rest nor does he grow weary. It can be clearly seen from the two previously quoted verses of Holy Writ that this devil is always seeking an opportunity to trip up and to destroy the sons of God. He tempted our Lord Jesus and he also will tempt the Lord's brethren. When repulsed at his first attempt, he will withdraw and patiently bide his time until he has the opening he is looking for. His nets having been laid, the snares having been set, the fowler will then spring his trap, marshal his forces and close in wrecking as much havoc and ruin as he possibly can.
How this knowledge should cause us to be sober and ever vigilant! How it should drive us to prayer! How it should cast us upon our mighty Lord Jesus to keep us safe! Remember the exhortation of the apostle Peter:
"Be sober, be vigilant, your adversary the devil goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1Peter 5:8).
It is only the sleeping watchman that does not see the approach of the enemy. Christian, do not let down your guard. Keep your eyes open to the approach of the evil one in your life. Heed well the instruction of your God:
"Indeed, it is useless to spread the net in the eyes of any bird" (Proverbs 1: 17).
The watching bird sees the snares laid by the fowler and safely avoids them all. The careless, overconfident and reckless one blunders into them and is taken. Learn your own weaknesses and your own besetting sins and be especially cautious in these areas. Rest assured the devil knows these things from observing you and from being a student of human nature over the millennia. These are the places where Satan will concentrate his temptations and lay his snares. If you do not know by now what these areas are, waste no time in learning them. Go to Christ and ask Him to show you what they are. He knows you far more intimately than you can possibly realize. Your safety lies in your learning them.
The fowler is wreaking particular havoc on the marriages of our society. Men, guard carefully your exposure to other women in the workplace. Be on your guard. This evil and perverted society in which we live is full of the cronies of Satan. They are his puppets and unknowingly do his bidding. Many a man of God has been ruined by this sort of snare. The Bible is full of their stories. Women, the same goes for you. How often a lonely and neglected wife has met a man who seemingly is sympathetic and charming and has been led to violate her wedding vows only to later discover that she has been deceived by the devil and caught in one of his nets.
Couples, learn to treasure each other and treat each other as fellow heirs of the grace of life. Spend time talking to each other and enjoying each others company. Make time for yourselves! Pray for your marriages and your families unceasingly and thereby help to diffuse beforehand any of Satan's land mines. "Do not let the sun go down on your anger" is counsel we ignore at our own peril. Resolve your differences before you go to sleep. Do not nurse anger nor hold a grudge. Learn to quickly forgive and to quickly repent and admit wrongdoing. Do not keep score. To do so opens the door to the devil to enter into your life and bring his minions with him.
Encourage and build up each other. Do not tear each other down. Treat each other the way you would treat the Lord Jesus Himself were He present with you, which by the way He is. "To the extent that you did it to the least of these my brethren you did it unto Me'" are the words of Christ Jesus Himself. This holds true for our spouses which we oftentimes seem to forget.
"A prudent man considers his steps. A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is arrogant and careless" (Proverbs 14:15-16).
Learn to love and obey the words of the Lord. Therein lies your peace, safety and eternal well being.
Love in Christ Jesus,
Copyright © 1999 Sovereign Grace Bible Church
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