Long before we were born a war began that directly involves our lives on a daily basis. But this war is so old that we are very accustomed to it. In fact, we think this war is a part of "normal" existence. We are not afraid of the war. Why? Because we think this war is just a part of life, and it really cannot hurt us.

"David, get real! There is no way that we are in the middle of a war! You can't seriously expect us to believe that we would accept a war as normal existence."

Really? Will you be honest with me? More people took drugs for recreation yesterday in Fort Smith than will take communion today. Does that trouble you, or is that just a fact of life?

More people drank alcoholic to excess yesterday in Fort Smith than will attend Bible classes today. Does that cause you any anxiety, or is that just the way that the "real world" is?

This weekend, in our nation, in our state, and perhaps in our city more people will commit acts of fornication, adultery, or homosexuality than will worship Jesus Christ as Lord. Does that truly disturb you, or is that just the way things are?

At times this war irritates or angers us. But rarely does it trouble us. The only time the war grieves us is when it claims someone that we care about as a casualty.

  1. Satan hates God; Satan wars against God; Satan never stops making war against God.
    1. Satan is obsessed--he will oppose God in every possible way regardless of the cost to himself.
      1. Satan has lost the war, and he knows it.
      2. Hebrews 2:14-18 states this regarding Jesus Christ's victory.
        1. Jesus was a human who lived the true flesh and blood experience.
        2. He so completely lived the human experience that he died.
        3. Jesus' death accomplished two irreversible things.
        4. First, he destroyed Satan's power--Satan's power was death.
          1. Death was Satan's control.
          2. The power of resurrection destroyed the death's control.
        5. Second, Jesus became our perfect high priest.
          1. He created the perfect solution for our guilt.
          2. He is also merciful and faithful.
          3. Because he endured suffering and temptation, he knows how to help those who are tempted.
      3. Even though Jesus won the war, Satan is determined to do as much destructive damage as possible to the works of God.
      4. Satan cannot hurt God, but Satan can hurt people.
        1. God loves people.
        2. Satan can grieve God by turning people against God or by stealing people away from God.
    2. If you do not regard Satan to be a deadly enemy, consider just one evidence of his effectiveness.
      1. Satan's greatest accomplishment was the execution of Jesus.
      2. While God used Jesus' death to destroy Satan's power, Jesus' death was Satan's most cunning, vicious victory.
      3. Satan motivated God's people to kill God's Son.
        1. The people responsible for Jesus' execution were Abraham's direct descendants.
        2. They were the descendants of the people that God led across the Red Sea.
        3. They were the descendants of the people to whom God gave the law.
        4. They were the people who were blessed by such men of great faith and devotion as Moses, David, Elijah.
        5. It was the people that God claimed as His own that killed God's Son.
      4. Satan not only used the people who did not believe, but he also used the people who did believe.
        1. He used Judas, one of Jesus' twelve disciples, to betray Jesus.
        2. He used Peter to deny that he ever knew Jesus.
        3. He caused all twelve to desert Jesus temporarily at a very critical moment.
        4. The masses who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem as King one week before his death were the angry mob who demanded his execution.
      5. To me the most chilling evidence of how deceitful and effective Satan can be is found in John 11:49,50.
        1. Consider the context of the situation:
          1. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead in Bethany very near Jerusalem.
          2. Many people witnessed this miracle, and as a result the number of people who believed in Jesus grew enormously.
          3. The chief priests (those priests who were in charge of God's temple) and the Pharisees (the people who were experts in God's teachings) were deeply afraid of Jesus' popularity.
          4. This was their fear: Jesus' was so popular that the people would accept him as King; the Roman governor would declare that to be an act of treason; the Roman army would destroy the nation of Israel; and their positions as leaders in the nation would be destroyed.
        2. Do you know what the high priest said? The high priest was the man that God declared would be the mediator between God and the people of Israel. He said:
          1. "You are so ignorant that you don't see the obvious solution."
          2. "You don't understand that it is better for one man to be killed than for the whole nation be destroyed."
        3. Do you want to see the cunning and deceitfulness of Satan?
          1. God's representative to God's people said that the leaders should save God's nation by killing God's Son.
          2. For Satan that had to be a moment of incredible triumph.
          3. God brought the nation of Israel into existence to bring Jesus to this world.
          4. For Satan to deceive and manipulate that very nation into killing Jesus must have seemed an enormous achievement.

  2. When we think about the future and the development of this congregation that we rarely talk about the Satan factor?
    1. Do you think Satan has a spiritual interest in what we are and what we do?
      1. Do you think that Satan is totally disinterested in what we think or plan?
      2. Do you think that Satan could not care less about what we do--if we want to be dynamic people of faith involved in God's work, he just doesn't care?
    2. The only thing that Satan fears in this world are people of faith who are alive in Christ and are committed to doing God's will.
      1. Satan fears those people because Satan does not own those people.
      2. Satan fears those people because God uses those people to do His work and to fulfill His purposes.
      3. Satan fears those people because he can hurt them, but he cannot destroy them.
    3. For the preservation of his work and his kingdom, Satan must do everything possible with his power and ability to prevent us from being a faith filled community of believers who are genuinely dedicated to God's will and purposes.
      1. Satan's greatest battlefield is in the church among Christians who are devoted to God.
      2. No battlefield has the potential for hurting Satan's work as does this battlefield.
      3. As in any war, battle tactics depend on the situation.
        1. The way Satan fights in the inner city is not the way Satan fights in the suburbs.
        2. The way he fights in government is not the way he fights in business.
        3. His tactics among teenagers are not his tactics among retired people.
        4. The way he wages war among those who belong to Christ is very different to the way he works among people who have no faith.

  3. He has some very special tactics that he uses among Christians in the church.
    1. One of his favorite and most effective tactics is to get Christians arguing, fussing, disagreeing, and dividing among themselves.
      1. As long as Christians waste their time and energy disagreeing and arguing among ourselves, we pose no threat to Satan.
      2. The surest way to stop fighting Satan is to fight among ourselves.
    2. A second tactic that Satan loves to use among Christians is selfishness.
      1. God placed an enormous emphasis in Israel and among Christians on the necessity of God's people existing as an unselfish community.
      2. For Satan, selfishness is a versatile weapon that is powerfully destructive in any situation.
      3. Selfishness comes in many forms and is often hard to recognize.
        1. Selfishness can consume a person with "my rights" so that everything rotates around "what everybody owes me" and "what is best for me."
        2. Selfishness can consume a person with greed--the number one motivation in every situation becomes "me" what "I" want.
        3. Selfishness can consume a person with self-pity--all my thoughts and all my feelings are focused on feeling sorry for me.
        4. In every form, selfishness convinces the Christian that the most important consideration in the church, in the family, or on the job is "me."
      4. Selfishness is the exact opposite of sacrifice; sacrifice achieves God's purposes and selfishness destroys God's purposes.
    3. Religion for religion's sake neither scares nor worries Satan.
      1. He doesn't care how many people attend a worship assembly.
        1. Bodies sitting on pews do not worry Satan.
        2. But hearts and minds that humbly worship God terrify him.
      2. He doesn't care how many members we have.
        1. A membership of 2000 would not disturb Satan.
        2. But when Christians truly begin to care about people, he is terrified.
      3. He doesn't care how much Bible knowledge that we have.
        1. The truth is that Satan loves a good theological fight among Christians.
        2. But Satan knows that he must act swiftly when Christians begin to understand because understanding changes thinking, attitudes, and behavior.

This congregation is moving in good directions, in directions that will bring us closer to God, in directions that will produce growth, in directions that will bring us closer to each other. We have a long way to go, but we have definitely begun the journey.

You must clearly understand this truth. What we are doing is challenging Satan. Satan takes challenges very seriously. He will create every possible difficulty. He will complicate and attack our lives in the congregation, in our families, on our jobs, and in every other arena of life.

The more serious we are about being a community of faith that exists to serve God, the more aggressive Satan will become. But never forget that if we have the courage and the faith to be God's community of servants, Satan cannot defeat us. It may never be easy, but it will never be impossible.

Satan is impossible.
Jesus is possible.
Serve Satan and he will enslave you.
Serve Jesus and He will liberate you.
You won't be completely free of problems if you serve Christ. Satan did not quit working evil. He is just as deceitful as he ever was.
The peace you find in forgiveness will exceed any other joy. God will never desert you. There will be terrifying times, but you can have the assurance that it will be okay, because Jesus will be there. He will be there for eternity.
Enter Christ and be born into the family of God

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 26 July 1998

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