Satan's Strategy to Defeat Us – Dr. Charles Stanley

♪♪♪ Dr. Charles Stanley: Many people will live their whole life and wonder why things don't go too well. They trusted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, and yet they suffer one defeat after the other. Can't quite figure out why. Do not realize they have an enemy, an enemy that's very real, an enemy that's laughed at, criticized, disbelieved, but very, very real, whose goal is three-fold. To draw us away from God: to thwart God’s purpose in our life and divide us. Satan is a very real person. And so, what I want us to talk about in this message, it's "Satan's Strategy to Defeat Us." All of us, every one of us. He hasn't left any of us alone. When somebody tells me, "I don't believe in the devil," I think that's like being in a ring with a bunch of lions and you say, "No, I don't believe in animals." I'm telling you, Satan is real. He's a liar. He's a deceiver. And many, many, many people are very deceived. And their deception is very evident when they say, "I don't believe in such a person as the devil." So, I want us to read a passage of Scripture from Romans, chapter eight, if you will. And then I want us to talk about his strategy. How does Satan defeat us? What is his strategy? But Romans, chapter eight, and let's slip down to verse five to start with, "For those who are according to the flesh." That is, they're living in sin, have never trusted Christ as their Savior, maybe, "According to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh." So, let me define flesh. We're not talking about flesh and bones and skin and blood. We're talking about that drive within us, that drive within us that opposes God. There's something in every one of us that opposes God. And Paul called it the flesh. "For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit." That is, we have the Holy Spirit living within us, trusting Him, "The things of the Spirit." Watch this, "For the mind." And remember this. The mind is Satan's playground and his battlefield. Listen, all of his work is done in the mind. It may follow down to the feet, but Satan’s works on your mind. He’s there. "For the mind set on the flesh," that is, a mind that set on the things that the devil wants, listen, "is death." Look at that. "For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit," that is, the Holy Spirit, "is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God." You think about about your thinking, your thoughts, how much time of your day is given to thinking things maybe you shouldn't. Or thinking about people, whatever it might be. He said, "Mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God." You can't think holy things and hostile things at the same time. "For it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so." That is, the mind that's controlled by the devil is not going to be controlled by God at the same time, "And those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God in dwells you. That is, when you trust in Christ as your Savior, you're a child of God. And the Spirit of God is in your life to rule and reign, but if you choose, you can disobey God. You can listen to the voice of the devil-- disobey God. Does that mean your lost? No. But you'll think you are. You'll find your self acting like you are. "However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him." Now get that verse, "If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ," living within them, they don't, "belong to Him." So, when you ask somebody, "Are you a Christian?" They say, "Sure I am." "Well, on what basis would you say that you're a Christian?" "Well, I grew up in a Christian home. I went to Sunday School when I was a kid. I got baptized and I've tried to do the best I can all these years, and so yeah, I am one." Not necessarily. There are people who've done all of that and who've never trusted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. And so, when we talk about the work of the devil, his primary work is that of deception, lying. He is a liar from the very beginning. The Word of God says he is. Jesus said he was. He's a liar. Whenever you are listening to the devil speak to you, you are listening to a liar. And so, with that passage in mind, I want us to think about it. And that is, every single one of us who's a follower of Jesus Christ, our mind is a battlefield. And we're battling every day. You wake up in the morning, everything may seem to go right, but all may seem to go wrong. But whatever it might be, you have an enemy with one sole purpose: to deceive you; ultimately to destroy you; and certainly to keep you from walking in obedience to Almighty God. And so, when I look at all these passages, in Second Corinthians, for example. I want you to look at Second Corinthians, just a verse or two here. And what Paul says in this fourth verse. He says, "In whose case the god of this world," Who's the god of this world? Satan, "Has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." What's he do? Satan is a liar. He's the source of lying. He is a liar, misleading and causing people to distrust Almighty God. So, the truth is every single one of us, we're a battlefield. There's something going on in our mind, and that is, we are in constant conflict. That doesn’t mean we always feel it, but the truth is we live in a world of conflict. We live amidst conflict because Satan is always lying. And if you’ll look at American society today, if we’ve ever been a society of conflict, lying, of misleading, of cheating, of adultery, of adultery, of all kinds of sin--but such wholesale giving over to Satan and convincing other people that sin’s not sin after all. When you vote to kill children, born or unborn, you vote to agree with the devil. The Bible says-- [congregation applauding] The Bible says, “Thou shall not kill.” The Bible says, “Thou shall not commit adultery, thou shall not steal, shall not bear false witness.” When you are violating the laws of God, you become the enemy of God. And what you’ve done, you have consented to doing what Satan wants you to do. So, think about this. Your mind, even when you're a believer, your mind is also a battlefield for the devil. Who is it that causes you in a moment to lie about something you know better? Or to look with lust or to take advantage of, or whatever it might be. Satan is very much alive. Now, he cannot overpower a child of God unless we give him permission, because we have the Holy Spirit living within us who reminds us that Christ died on the cross, shed His blood to forgive us of our sins. Who lives within us, who has sealed us, watch this, we have been sealed by the Spirit of God, as a child of God we cannot be lost. Live in sin? Yes. Disobey God? Yes. Suffer the consequences? Yes. Just because you're a believer does not mean you can sin against God without any consequences. There are always consequences to sin. It is Satan's lies that convince people they can do this, that and the other, disobey God and think, "Well, it's not too bad and nobody's perfect." Listen. Satan has a bag full of tricks. That he's willing to show us how to get by, how to do this, how to do that, all oftentimes lying against what we know is the absolute truth. Think in your own life how often you're tempted to do something that you know is not right, that you think, "Well it's not too bad. I am saved." And I've heard people argue this. Say, "Well, I know, I know that I don't live a godly life, but the Bible says my name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life and I'm saved." Yes, it does, if you are. It also says God will chastise you. Now, not because He doesn't love you but because He does. Because He wants to get your attention to remember who you're listening to. Do you listen to the devil or do you listen to God? You either listen to God or you listen to the devil. And this is a warning, a warning that Satan is committed to our destruction. So, what I want us to think about for a few moments is his strategy. This is how he works. He’s always working to do anything in His power to mislead us; to destroy us because we bear witness of the Son of God and His love and graciousness to us. So, let’s think about it a moment. This is how Satan operates. Are you interested in that? This is how he operates. He directs our attention towards a need or a desire. That's the way he always gets in. He starts out with that. For example, here's Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Everything is absolutely perfect, could not be better. They have everything. They have each other. Everything's perfect. The one thing that they didn't have is fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Look at everything else is perfect. And so, what does Satan do? He points them to the one thing they don't have. How many men and women point to some other person lustfully because they have everything else in life they need but him or her? And how many decisions are made not because people don't have certain things, but they don't have a particular one. Satan is a liar. Satan is a deceiver. And one of the first things he does is to point out something that we should not have. This is the way the devil operates. He points out something in your life that you don't have. He does not remind you of how much you do have, how blessed you are, how healthy you are, what you drive, where you live, what you wear. He points out the one thing you don't have. "What about, suppose you had that? Now, if you really want to be complete, you need this. If you really want to feel sufficient and adequate; if you want to be accepted." Or, "Look how much money he makes. Well you, you work as hard as he does--you need to quit your job. You just need to get your--" In other words, if you can’t-- listen, "You can always lie, steal, and cheat. They seem to get by with it." No, they don’t. He's a liar. He's a deceiver. And he uses the same tactics he used in the garden. You'd think by now we'd have caught on. How does he operate? He points out the thing you don't have, so that if you want to be complete, you'll have it. Did it satisfy her? No. And it doesn't satisfy people today. He creates this desire in order to get people off base, off track. If you only had that. Listen carefully, you can’t ever have enough of anything that is not the will of God for your life to ever make you happy, ever make you feel complete, ever make you feel content. You’ll just go from one thing to the other believing one lie after the other. You’ll find yourself in self-destruction. One of his tactics, get our attention on something we think we need. A second one is this. Watch this carefully. Satan chooses his timing. He knows when we're the most vulnerable. When Jesus had fasted forty days and forty nights, what did the devil say to Him? "Oh, been fasting. Glorifying the Father. Well, all You have to do is turn that stone into a piece of bread. You'll be satisfied," which would have been a violation of the Father's will and purpose and plan for His life. And so, the devil does the same thing. That is, he knows the timing in our life. And so, when you get hungry, angry, lonely or tired, you're vulnerable. Hungry, angry, lonely tired, think about it. Think about the times in your life when that's what you felt. Very, very hungry or very, very angry or very, very lonely or very, very tired. H-A-L-T, remember that, halt. When you start feeling hungry, angry, lonely or tired, H-A-L-T, stop and think, "I am now vulnerable to a satanic attack." Did you get that? A satanic attack is an attack by Satan in one of those areas of your life where you're the most vulnerable. When you get hungry, how do you feel? When you get angry, how do you feel? When you're lonely, how do you feel? And when you're tired and worn out? We're the most vulnerable, and that's when Satan will attack. He knows exactly when to attack us, how to attack us. He knows our weakest points. Everybody has a weakness, at least one or more. That's the way he operates. A third thing he does is this. He creates doubt in our mind. This book from Genesis to Revelation is the Word of the Living God. It's all true, not part true, all true. The devil will attack you in those areas that you are the weakest. And he creates doubt in our minds. And so, what I've noticed is, when I talk to people who are really under temptation about something--it's amazing how they can bring up other Scriptures that have nothing to do with that, and try to interpret that verse of Scripture to say, "Well, nobody's perfect and you know, he had this problem, she had that problem and," and so what happens? The next thing you know, they've rationalized themselves right into sin. That's his tactic, create doubt in your mind. So, if I should ask you, do you believe the Word of God? What would you say? Well, do you believe all of it? You mean you believe all the Word of God? Well what about this one? My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Do you believe that? Well, why do you sin to get your needs met? Listen, the devil's a liar. He's a deceiver. He will cheat you, deceive you any way he can to get you to follow him rather than Jesus. And so, if he can create doubt in your mind about the Word of God, that's a dangerous doubt. If he can create a doubt in your mind about His Word, listen, he doesn't have a toehold. he's got a stronghold and a grip in your life. Because when you get tempted, here's what you'll do. You'll say, "Well I believe, I believe the Bible, but some of it's not relevant." Which part is that? Or, this is it--"That's just your interpretation." Well, let me ask you this. How do you interpret, "Thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not bear false witness"? How do you interpret those? There's only one way to interpret--thou shalt not do it. That's very simple is it not? Very simple. And yet I've, I've seen people come and say, "Well, that's your interpretation." Well how, what's the interpretation of "Thou shalt not"? And what I want to say is "You shall not doubt the Word of God." This is how Satan operates. He works on our desires, he works on our spots that are most vulnerable, creates doubt in our mind. And then he loves this, he wants to get us in a debate. And to debate with him is disastrous. Jesus said, "It is written. It is written. It is written. It is written. Here's what the Father has said. When somebody wants to debate with you about what's right and wrong, just give them God's Word. You say, "Well, I don't know God's Word." That's why you need to be reading God's Word. You can't, you can't just come to church and listen to a sermon once in a while and think you're fit to deal with the devil. Listen. You're not fit to deal with the devil unless you know the Word of God. It doesn't mean that you have to know all of it, but listen. You can deal with him if you know the basics. Thou shalt not. And when you, listen. When you start trying to re-reason "Thou shalt not" to say well, "Thou should not." That's not what it said, thou should--thou shalt not. Now, is God trying to keep us from something good? No! He's trying to keep us from self-destruction. The Ten Commandments are protection. And when I think about stripping the schools of the Ten Commandments, no matter what else you teach, if you don't teach morality; if you don't teach godly ethics; if you don't teach the truth, what else have you taught? What else have you taught? And so, Satan wants to get us in arguments. And if he can get you to say, "Well I know." If he gets you to say, "Well I know, I believe all the Bible but some of it I don't understand so I just don't read that part." But--listen, everybody should have some favorite passages--something that God keeps bringing you back to. It can be the Old Testament or the New Testament, but certainly some passages that you live by. That have become a compass in your life. And so, what does Satan do? He wants to engage us in a debate, and Jesus simply said, "It is written." That settles it. It's what the Father said. Then of course, he uses deception as his key weapon. If he can deceive you about anything, he has you. Think about it. To deceive simply means to mislead by making something appear other than what it really is. And Jesus said Satan is a deceiver. And this is how he operates. He'd like to deceive us to make bad things good, lying not so bad, or telling a story. And so, there are all kinds of ways Satan attempts to deceive us. And he knows when we are the most vulnerable in whatever area of life he chooses to attack us. And then he wants to create division. And Satan's going to say to young people, "Oh that's okay for your parents, but you know what, they're old fogies." Or, "that was true a long time ago but not now." Which part of the Word of God is outdated? Not any of it. The New Testament interprets for us the Old Testament. We understand the truth of the Word of God. But if I don't--listen-- wherever you remove the Word of God, you're going to have division and strife, unbelief and distrust. The Word of God harmonizes us together. We know what the truth is. We know the truth from error, from lying. We want to follow the Lord God. That gives us harmony and peace and joy. We don't have to have everything in life we would like to have maybe. Satan will tell you, "Well, you're not complete without this, that, and the other." On the same side, we could say, "Well, the Bible says my God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Is it true or not the truth? It all boils down to this. Is this the Word of God or is it not? Is it the truth or is it not? If it's not the truth, then what is it? And if part of it's not the truth, what is it? And if some of it is not the truth, what is it? It is the Word of the Living God true from cover to cover. And God intends for us to live by it. If we want to have peace and harmony and joy and fullness and completeness and security and all the rest, we live by the Word of God. You notice I didn't say happy, because happiness comes and goes. But truth and joy, godliness, God wants the best for us. He's given the best for us, but we have an enemy in the devil and he lies. He does his best to get us to be divided. Entraps us with lies, tells us that the Word of God is outdated, we don't need that any longer. So, we either believe him or we don't believe him. But Satan creates division because ultimately his goal is to destroy us. If Satan can get you to doubt a verse of Scripture, a verse of Scripture, he's got a toehold into your life, because here's what happens. If he can get you to doubt, watch this carefully, if he can get you to doubt one verse, he will lead you to some other area of your life in which you would like to disobey God, and get you to possibly consider, "Well, that's not true." Well, maybe this is not all that true after all and here's what he does. Step by step he gets you to doubt this. Before long you're doubting this. Before long you're doubting the Word of God. That's how treacherous he is. He's a liar, a deceiver. And all he wants you to do is to start doubting the Word of God. And if you'll doubt a little of His Word, you'll doubt more. And then here's what happens. You'll find yourself doing what? You'll find yourself picking out the verses of Scripture that you want to doubt. And I can tell you which ones they'll be. The one area in which you want to sin are the areas in which you want to doubt the truth of God's Word. He's treacherous. He's a liar. He's a deceiver. And many people who name the name Jesus, who call themselves Christians are living in sin because they have chosen they've decided they will believe whichever part of the Bible they want to believe. The Word of God is simple and plain and clear. And there are not mistakes in the Bible. There are some things that are hard to explain--I agree. Even Paul admitted that when he wrote and when he explained many things in the Scriptures. But the truth is this-- watch this-- Satan is a liar and a deceiver. Whenever he prompts you to do something that is not true in the Word of God, he he has a foothold. And that foothold is big enough, if you'll do this, you'll maybe--you'll do that. Next thing you know, the Word of God you'll close. I've seen some people that I thought were really truly committed Christians--begin to doubt one or one single part of the Scriptures. Maybe a couple of verses here and there. Next thing you know, I don't see them anymore. They're gone. They decided that it didn't all apply to them; and therefore, they just forget it. Which part of this does not apply to me? The question is this, Do I believe the Word of God or don't I? We have an enemy. Watch this. We all have the same enemy. He works the same way in our mind. He works in our mind, how we think. If we are saved by the grace of God and we're thinking the way God thinks, we'll live a godly life. When we chose to think other than the way God thinks, we find ourselves in trouble, disobeying God. When you read the Word of God, it's crystal clear. I either believe it or I don't believe it. If I don't believe it, I must assume responsibility for unbelief in all the wonderful, absolutely awesome promises of God found in the Scripture. This is a sacred book, holy book, God's book. I either believe it or I don't. Believing part of it is not it. Believe all of it. Genesis one, one to the last verse of the Revelation. It talks about Heaven and Hell. It talks about good and evil. Talks about Satan and angels. Talks about all the things we need to talk about. The issue is not anything specific. Do I believe it or do I not believe it? And the devil will say to you, "You don't believe all of that. It was written in Hebrew; written in Greek. It's been many, many thousands of years. Everybody doesn't agree. That's not the issue. Do I believe it? So, let me ask you this question. If you're not living by the Word of God, the Bible, what are you living by? Something. What are you living by? You're living by some principles. You're living by some ideas. What promises do you have by the ideas that you're following? More money? More people? More this, more that? What's the basis of your whole belief system if you don't believe in the truth of the Word of God? What do you believe? And one last question: What are you going to die by? "It is appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgement." You'll notice there are no paragraphs between that. Appointed unto man once to die--not and this and that and-- "Appointed unto man once to die, and after this death, the judgement." If you don't believe that's true, what are you going to die by? Satan will lie to you. He'll bear false witness to you. He'll mislead you. He'll do everything in his power to get you to doubt the Word of God. But one thing for certain, you're going to die and you're going to be judged by the Word of God. Where would you say you stand? Have you trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? Maybe you don't understand it all. Maybe you don't understand everything that happened at the cross. Maybe you don't understand everything that happened at the empty tomb. But do you believe the truth of God's Word? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, giving yourself to Him, and you'll have the gift of eternal life. Do you believe it enough to live by it? That's the key. Do you believe the Word of God enough to live by it? When you answer that question, you'll know whether you believe the Word of God or not. Amen? And Father, we thank You that You made the Word of God crystal clear. You've exposed the devil to be the liar that he is. You've shown us the Lord Jesus Christ to show us the truth that He is and He embodies. And that all of our hope and help, and our way of living is to be found in Him. And Lord, I pray that every person who hears this message will recognize that one day they'll stand before You and then for sure they'll know that You were telling the truth. But for some people too late. Thank You for Your Word. Thank You for Your promise and thank You for the power to live by it every day, is our prayer in Jesus's name, amen.