Calvary Road Baptist Church

“COUNTERING SATAN’S SUGGESTIONS”

 

This morning, I would like to change my approach just a little bit. Instead of you sitting with an open Bible in your lap, let me urge you to close your Bible and set it next to you, so I have your undivided attention during the message from God’s Word. I will, of course, take you to a number of passages in the Bible, but you can access a manuscript of this sermon online in a day or two, where all the scripture references will be available to you. If you prefer not to read the sermon online or to listen to the pod cast, a copy of the sermon manuscript will be provided to anyone who calls the church office and asks for a copy. In this way, you do not have to worry about taking notes, I do not have to worry about any of you missing an important comment, and our youngsters no longer have any reason for distracting themselves by fiddling with the pages of their Bibles. Come in to the message from God’s Word and live in it with me for a few minutes.

According to the Bible, there are three kinds of people in the world. There are Jews, there are Gentiles, and there are Christians.[1] Any lost person who is not Jewish is a Gentile. However, when someone becomes a Christian he becomes an entirely different category of human being, with a completely different eternal destiny, with a completely different relationship with God, and with a completely different outlook on life than that same person had before he became a Christian. Related to how a person becomes a Christian, people frequently mistake the dynamics of a sinner coming to Christ as involving the Lord Jesus Christ, as involving the sinner who is dead in trespasses and sins, and as involving the church member or preacher who is attempting to persuade the sinner to trust Christ. If anyone has ever sought my counsel after one of our services, he might think that there he sits, and there the preacher sits, and then there is the unseen Savior who is involved.

I wish it were that simple. However, the awful fact to face is that there is another unseen participant who is frequently involved whenever a preacher or church member is urging a sinner to come to faith in Christ. That other unseen participant is none other than the devil, Satan. That there is a wicked being known as the devil is not denied by anyone who believes the Bible, and even by many who do not believe the Bible, but who have personal experiences with the destruction caused by the devil. We know he was created by God, that he was originally named Lucifer, that he was a most beautiful and powerful angel, but that he was lifted up with pride and revolted against God’s rule over him, leading one-third of the angelic host of heaven in a failed rebellion.

In the gospel accounts, this fallen angel now referred to as Satan, or the devil, unsuccessfully tempted the Lord Jesus Christ in the wilderness, afflicted numerous people in a variety of ways, and was even successful in tempting Peter to oppose the Lord Jesus Christ’s plan to offer Himself as a sacrifice on the cross.[2] Therefore, there is no doubt the Bible teaches the existence of such a being as Satan. In Luke 10.18, the Lord Jesus Christ told His disciples, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” Therefore, the question is not whether Satan exists, whether there be any devil. What I want to bring before you this morning is his activity in opposing the plan and purpose of God for your life.

Being a spirit being, the devil is, of course, invisible. However, invisible does not mean he is not powerful. Neither does invisible mean that he is not influential in ways most people do not realize. Let me read two passages from the Bible and then illustrate one of the devil’s common tactics: The small epistle of First John is a little letter written by the youngest of the Lord Jesus Christ’s twelve original apostles (he was only a teenager when Christ was crucified), the only one who did not die a martyr’s death, and the one who outlived the other apostles by about a half century. Let me lift a single verse near the end of First John. First John 5.19 reads, “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” If I may be so bold as to offer a literal translation of the last phrase of that verse in the Greek New Testament. “And the whole world lies in the evil one,” meaning the entire world of humanity is under the dominating influence of the evil one, i.e., the devil. Why else do you think there are wars everywhere, so many women murder their unborn children, and drug cartels are fighting for control of whole countries? If that verse is a general description of the devil’s influence over all mankind, let me cite another verse that describes the devil’s precise way of influencing many people.

To a young preacher named Timothy, the Apostle Paul wrote, “that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils,” First Timothy 4.1. From the verse just read we learn that the devil, as well as the demons who serve him, actually seduce people (which is another way of indicating that they employ various means of persuading people to do what they want them to do) and indoctrinate people (which means they cause people to actually believe what they want them to believe).

Think about this for a moment: The Bible teaches us of the existence of spirit beings who actually influence both the behavior and the beliefs of human beings, the chief among them being the devil himself, Satan. He is their leader and the one who sets their strategy. What is his strategy? He has always used the same approach, from that first time Eve was tempted in the Garden of Eden, which is to tell lies. That is why the Lord Jesus Christ referred to Satan with these words: “he is a liar, and the father of it,” John 8.44. So, there is a devil, he can and does influence what people believe and the way they behave, and his tactics have always been to tell lies, to deceive, to mislead, to misrepresent, and to divert people from the truth. Keep in mind that the devil typically tells ninety-nine truths so he can slip in a lie, but there will always be a lie.

Now for an example to illustrate: People are very commonly lonely. We live in a desperately lonely world. Why are people so lonely? Part of the problem is technology. Before there were telephones and air conditioners, people talked to their neighbors out on the front porch or in the back yard. Now, however, most people do not know our neighbors, and we talk to people on the phone. This is hardly satisfying, and certainly contributes to feelings of loneliness. However, the real problem with loneliness is not riding through town in a car with the windows rolled up. Technology only intensifies the problem of loneliness somewhat. The real problem with loneliness is sin. You see, sin separates a man from his God. Isaiah 59.2 declares, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you.” The problem is that God is a jealous God, and He will not allow anyone who has no relationship with Him first to have a satisfying relationship with anyone besides Him.[3] He created you, therefore He has every right to demand your allegiance and your love. When a sinful man ignores God and go his own way as if there is no God, then God properly withholds from him those satisfying blessings and he feels so lonely.

Here is where the father of lies comes in. Satan will seek to persuade a man that his problem is loneliness, when in fact his problem is sin. Satan will work to indoctrinate the man into believing that the solution is to do this or that or the other thing, when the solution is to remedy his sin problems by seeking forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ. So many men and women in this world live unsatisfied lives, lives that are without fulfillment and real meaning. Some think their problem is loneliness. Others think their problem is a low self-esteem. Still others think their problem is not enough money, or something else. The real problem, however, is sin, and Satan has succeeding in focusing so many people’s attention on one of their symptoms instead of the root problem underlying those various symptoms, which is sin. That is where Calvary Road Baptist Church’s task focuses, along with other gospel preaching churches like ours. Our high and holy task, our great privilege, is to engage men and women so that we might point out to them their sinfulness, and then lovingly urge them to come to the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the only remedy for their soul’s sins. In other words, our task is to tell the truth to people who have only heard lies, and to point them to our glorious Savior. However, do not think that just because someone listens attentively to gospel preaching that the devil just gives up and goes away. Do not think when a sinner agrees that he needs to be saved from his sins, and that Jesus is the only one who can save him, that the devil ends his opposition. If anything, the devil’s fiercest struggles are waged against those poor lost folks who know they are damned by their sins.

My friends, here is the entire point of my message this morning. Everything up to this point has been to lay the groundwork and provide background. I am speaking about those of you who admit your sinfulness, who acknowledge your inability to save yourselves, and who are convinced that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of the living God who came by means of the virgin birth to suffer a sacrificial death for our sins, was buried and raised from the dead, is in heaven as I speak, and is preparing to return to this earth in power and great glory. Here you are, a sinner, in need of the Savior. Why will you not come to Christ for salvation full and free? I will tell you why. The devil, that father of lies who has lied from the beginning, has convinced you that you cannot come to Christ the way you are, that you cannot come to Christ now, that you cannot come without delay.

My goal this morning, by God’s grace, is to counter Satan’s wicked suggestion by means of four remedies for your consideration:

 

First, CONSIDER THOSE WHO DID OTHERWISE

 

Satan has persuaded you that you cannot come to Jesus the way you are now, and that you need to delay for some reason that you might prepare or otherwise ready yourself? Let me quickly remind you that what Satan has convinced you of is simply not true, by means of five counter examples:

First, there is the Apostle Matthew. You think it is mandatory that you ponder and wait, that you stew and meditate, that you feel remorse and are burdened down with guilt for a period of time before you can come to Christ? How do you explain Matthew 9.9? “And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.” There he was, sitting at his customs desk, charging people money to walk across the Roman toll bridge, minding his own business, with no evidence whatsoever that he had a spiritual thought of any kind running through his mind. When Jesus walked up to him and said, “Follow me,” he got up from his stool and followed his new Master. Are you telling me you cannot do the same?

Next, there is Zacchaeus. Luke chapter 19 describes the Lord Jesus Christ surrounded by a large crowd, which prompted a curious tax collector of small stature to climb a tree so he could see what was happening. No spiritual concerns, just curiosity. All of a sudden, Jesus looked up into the tree and said, “Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.”[4] No preparation. No forewarning. You cannot respond in the same way?

Third, there is Saul of Tarsus. Perhaps you know the story.[5] A strict young Pharisee named Saul went about opposing Christianity and persecuting Christians, jailing them and even arranging for some to be executed. On his way to Damascus from Jerusalem to persecute Christians in that city, this greatest enemy of Christianity was astonishingly converted to Christ without any advance notice or warning, without any long season of conviction or guilt. Suddenly, astonishingly, surprisingly, and without anything leading up to it, the most strident of Christ’s enemies became a trophy of God’s saving grace through faith in Christ. He then went on to be known as the Apostle Paul, and was the greatest example of God’s grace ever to walk the earth.

Fourth, there was Lydia. One day, in the city of Philippi, a Gentile businesswoman named Lydia heard the Apostle Paul preach the gospel, and the next thing you knew she was a Christian. What happened? Luke indicates that as she heard Paul preach about Jesus, the Lord opened her heart and she trusted Him.[6] Simple. Uncomplicated. A miracle. This cannot happen to you?

Then, there was the Philippian jailor. This guy was a Roman soldier, a brutal and hardened sadist who threw Paul and Silas into the inner prison when they were arrested, and needlessly bound their feet in painful stocks. This guy had no spiritual concerns or thoughts. He was a brutal man doing a brutal job. A short time later, however, God brought him to the place where he was trembling at the feet of Silas and Paul, asking, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.”[7]

How do you explain these unexpected, astonishing conversions to Christ? These people did not experience weeks of conviction, seasons of agony or heartache, or long periods of guilt and remorse. They suddenly and surprisingly came to Christ. Jesus explained it to a man named Nicodemus by saying, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

 

Not Only Did Those Five Do Otherwise, But Also SCRIPTURE DECLARES OTHERWISE

 

In their wilderness wanderings, the children of Israel were once afflicted by poisonous snakebites. To deliver them from their affliction, God told Moses to fashion a bronze serpent to hoist on a pole. Any Israelite who would look at the bronze serpent, just look at it, was immediately healed and his life spared. He did not need to feel bad, or express any sorrow. He simply had to look. It was faith.

In like manner, the Lord Jesus Christ showed that a sinner could be saved just as suddenly and just as easily as the Israelites were healed of their snakebites. Listen to what Jesus told Nicodemus, in John 3.14-18:

 

14     And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

15     That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

16     For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

17     For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

18     He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

 

Has Satan convinced you that you need to feel bad for a certain amount of time, that the intensity of your feelings needs to reach a certain level, or that you have to be weighed down by a certain amount of guilt before you can be saved? Nonsense. Jesus insisted that all that was required was believing in Him.

 

Third, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST DOES NOT REQUIRE PREPARATION

 

One of my favorite verses is Matthew 11.28, where Jesus says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Notice, if you will, that the Lord Jesus Christ specifically calls those who are laboring under the burden of sin, and who are heavy laden with guilt, to come to Him. Those who come to Him, He promises, He will give rest for their soul.

What the devil does with this verse, however, is convince people that since the Lord Jesus Christ was telling those weighed down by guilt to come to Him, that He meant that those who were not so affected by their sins could not come. Folks, that is a lie from the pit, and I have never advanced that error. Consider, if you will, the five examples I just cited to you: Matthew, Zacchaeus, Paul, Lydia, and the jailor, were each sinners who were not laboring and heavy laden, but were received by Christ when they came to Him.

Should this surprise us, in light of what the Lord Jesus Christ said, in John 6.37? “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” Matthew came. Was he cast out? No. Zacchaeus came. Was he cast out? No. Saul of Tarsus came. What he cast out? No. Lydia came. Was she cast out? No. Finally, the jailor came. Was he cast out? No.

Therefore, you see, what the devil persuades people to believe is a lie. What the devil influences people to do, or not do, is deadly. You can come to Jesus the way you are, right now.

 

Finally, UNDERSTAND THAT FAITH IN CHRIST TRUMPS ALL

 

What did the Apostle Paul and Silas tell the jailor when he asked them, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”[8] Did you notice that they did not tell the man that he had to feel badly for a prolonged period, that he had to judge himself sufficiently weighed down by his sins, or that he had to prepare himself? No. The only condition for salvation from your sins is faith in Christ.

“But pastor, you counsel people to strive all the time.” I counsel people to strive because Jesus counseled people to strive. However, striving is not required for a sinner to come to Christ. It is not an indispensable precondition, as though a sinner cannot come to Christ until he strives. Understand that there is a difference between the way people do respond and the way they have to respond, or the way they could respond if only they would. Any sinner can be saved by immediately coming to Christ. Any sinner can only be saved by simply believing on Jesus Christ. This is because sinners are not saved by grace through feeling bad and then having faith, but by grace through faith in Christ and nothing else. That is why I say that faith in Christ trumps all.

 

Don’t you see, my friend, what the devil’s tactic is in lying, and deceiving, and diverting? It is delay, delay, delay. Anything he can do, any means he can employ, is for the sole purpose of delaying your response, to put you off from coming to Christ without hesitation. Why so? Because once you close with Christ, once you come to Christ, once you are justified by faith in Jesus Christ, you are Christ’s and no power on earth or in heaven can part the two of you.

This is why Paul wrote, after telling the Romans that sinners are justified by faith in Christ, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”[9]

The Lord Jesus Christ offers Himself to you right now, without delay. Won’t you set aside the lies and propaganda of the devil and be saved from your sins today? Simply come to Christ and He will save you.



[1] 1 Corinthians 10.32

[2] Matthew 4.1ff; Acts 10.38; Matthew 16.21-23

[3] Exodus 20.2-6

[4] Luke 19.5

[5] Acts 9

[6] Luke 16.14

[7] Acts 16.30-31

[8] Acts 16.30-31

[9] Romans 8.38-39



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org