Our Ancient Foe

  We have taken a pause from our study in Colossians on Sunday mornings in order to reflect upon the advent season. So I decided to start a short advent sermon series that centers on the theme of “The Coming of the King”. I know, I know, the title is not terribly original, but this is not supposed to be a topic or theme that basks in originality. It’s of utmost importance to recognize and understand our pressing need for a King… who He is, and what He has done. This great need for a king goes back to the fall of creation, to the sin of Adam and Eve. That is why I began the series by looking at Genesis 3…. The temptation of Eve in the garden. In studying that chapter again, and preaching through it, I was struck by the tactics of that ancient serpent, Satan. One of the truths that stood out to me about the devil’s attack on Eve is that he really hasn’t changed in all these years. 
     Now, I’m not a guy that sees the devil behind every case of the sniffles, but I do think that Christians today neglect to see his powerful influence in the world. There is a tendency to overemphasize his personal influence, while minimizing the size and influence of his followers.  Satan is a created being.  He is not omnipresent like God.  It is very likely that we have never personally been confronted by Satan. But his followers are many and they are organized. His attack against Eve is informative for today because he still attacks in the same manner.

  He Doubts God’s Word

       His first words to Eve were, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”(Genesis 3:1). He immediately tried to get Eve to question whether she could trust the faithfulness of God’s Word to her. It is not that surprising that he attempted the same tact against Jesus in the wilderness in Matthew 4. After being baptized, the voice of God the Father affirmed that Jesus was His beloved Son. The Spirit then immediately led Jesus to the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. The first words of the enemy to Jesus were, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread” (Matthew 4:3). Isn’t it interesting that God had just declared Jesus to be His beloved son, and the first words from the enemy are …”if you are the Son of God”? The enemy tries to have people question the reliability and validity of the Word of God. Is there any wonder why we sometimes struggle to trust in the promises of God? 
     Jesus supplies the perfect answer to Satan’s attacks. The devil wanted to have Jesus question God’s Word and misuse His divine power. Jesus responds by actually quoting Scripture, and by affirming, not just the reliability of God’s Word, but its essential nature. But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’
Satan always claims that God lies to us.  That is part of his character (John 8:44).

  He Distorts God’s Word

       I also think it is significant to note how Satan uses God’s Word to Eve in the garden. He places a negative emphasis on God’s Word. He asks “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”(Genesis 3:1). But that is not what God told the man and the woman in the garden. God said, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden,  but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” 
     Satan claims God said they could not eat from any tree in the garden.  God said they could eat from every tree in the garden, with one exception. It is not surprising that the world has such a negative view of the Bible and of God’s commands in general.  The world says the Bible is irrelevant, too harsh, and outdated.  This viewpoint makes perfect sense once we consider that the ancient serpent is also the ruler of this world.  The enemy loves to drape God’s Word in negative light.

He Dilutes God’s Word

     After the devil successfully got Eve to begin to question God’s Word through his seemingly innocuous question, he now moves on to flat out deception. He says, “You will not surely die.  For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5).
     It should not surprise us that the enemy blatantly lies to the woman, claiming that she would not die.  This too was a direct attack against God’s Word. If that were not bad enough, Satan then mixes some truth in with his lies.  He said, “their eyes would be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil”.  Their eyes would be opened….he’s right! Their eyes were opened and they now knew good and evil. But he neglected to mention how this new knowledge would lead them to feel guilt and shame for the first time, or how this new-found knowledge would cause separation between them and God.
     Satan is a strong and dangerous enemy.  He knows the Bible and he mixes some truth in with all of his lies. This testifies to his craftiness.  Our only hope to stand against his lies is to so immerse ourselves in the truth of God’s Word. Only then will those diluted lies stick out to us.  We must be calibrated to the Scriptures, so that any variation from God’s truth will become immediately obvious to us. 
      We can’t afford to sleep.  We can’t afford to think that the enemy is not real, or that he is not interested in our fall. He is real, and he disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). We need to be devoting our time to learning, knowing, and practicing God’s Word, so that we won’t fall prey to his attacks.


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