Archive for the ‘On Grace’ Category

Liar! Liar! Pants on Fire!

August 26, 2010

I’m taking a short break from “On Grace” posts for something slightly different, but definitely intertwined. This entry is my exploration of the originator of the lies.

I covered the four categories of lies in the last entry, and it made me think about our enemy, the Liar. Whole books cover the topic, and I know this isn’t the place to expound to that degree (though, I bet I get a thousand words out of it, since that’s my norm’). Let’s take a look.

Genesis introduces us to the enemy of God and His creation: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made” (3:1). The word “crafty” here is the Hebrew word “`aruwm” (sort of sounds like “ah-r-room”). In this usage, suggests the definition would be “3. (a.) Skillful at deceiving others; characterized by craft; cunning; wily” (Noah Webster’s Dictionary). That’s not normally how I do a word study, but I’m satisfied with the basics of it. The site lists the biblical usage of the word as “subtle, shrewd, crafty, sly, sensible” in its definition of crafty.

The enemy of all God made began his tactical assault in the garden with a simple question: “And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden ‘?””(Genesis 3:1). With so many directions to go with this one question alone, I have to narrow it down to something simple. The Liar opens the door to doubt, pride, and defiance with one question. He’s effective in his offensive, and his little victory in that moment has far-reaching effects.

We have a real enemy. Scriptures warn us: “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). The powers of darkness can have real, observable effects on the people in our world, too. Acts 19 speaks to that.

13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the LORD Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 [One day] the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. (Acts 19: 13-16)

As tempting as it is to be filled with fear of our enemy after reading something like this, we are not left to our own devices (thankfully) at any time! I think this is my favorite part of this whole entry, honestly.

7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:7-11)

What I love about this passage is the honesty of it. Being truthful, each of us might identify a bundle of anxiety we carry around with us every day. What are we to do with that? Throw it to the Lord–literally, to “throw upon or place upon” ( He really genuinely cares for us. There isn’t any skirting the fact that we have an enemy, or that he is real. This passage calls it: we have an enemy with a destructive agenda. Then, as if the Lord intends to lead us through this bitter warfare, there is a command given to us. “Resist him, standing firm in the faith” (verse 9). This isn’t about standing against the enemy in our own feebleness, as you might notice, but in the faith. We are reminded each of us faces this very same enemy, the same pain and suffering. The hope is in the promise that “the God of all grace” will eventually change everything (verse 10). Restoration, strength, and a steadfast position will come (verse 10). He has that power, and we understand, submit to, and praise Him for that (verse 11).

So how do we resist our enemy? We’ve been told to do it. We’ve been told it’s related to standing firm in our faith. Are there any other clues or cues? It’s mentioned in a couple of passages beside 1 Peter 5.

7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. (James 4: 7, 8a)

Note that the above verses contain command verbs in specific order. Submit. Resist. Come. We submit ourselves to God (verse 7). This is our first submission at the point of conversion…and thereafter as we continue to follow His leadership in our lives. Only after we bring ourselves under the leadership and protection of God do we consider resistance to the enemy (verse 7b). Based on what we’ve seen in Acts 19:13-16, I think this is particularly important to our battle plan. It is only when we come as children under the protection and leadership of our heavenly Father that we can resist the enemy and he flees (verse 7c). Verse 8a is a command with a promise: if we come near to Him, He will be near to us. Standing firm in the faith takes on new meaning here. We are standing firm with Him!

Is there more? Yes! When we face our enemy, who is not flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12), we need to prepare for battle.

10 Finally, be strong in the LORD and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:10-11).

See, our strength is not our own. This isn’t new to most of us. Even the larger context (verses 10-18) is probably very familiar to many disciples of Christ. But, do we suit up? I vaguely remember a teaching recording that I listened to a dozen years ago or more. The image the teacher used was of Christians walking around with Satan’s flaming arrows sticking out of their spiritual behinds. His point, I believe, was that none of the armor pieces listed in Ephesians 6 is designed for retreat. Therefore, turning around isn’t really an option, though we take it, and the end result is, well, not surprising that it’s in the end. That’s a bit more opinion than biblical exploration, but I’ll bring it back around. Our strength against the enemy is, plain and simple, in the Lord!

There’s one last thing I felt drawn to mention in this entry: while our enemy will always be the loser in the battle with the Lord, there is something clearly mentioned about how we speak to and about him. I’ve noticed it’s become common in some arenas to speak boldly and directly to the enemy. I’m not sure that’s entirely a problem, but I did find the following passage that brought something to my attention.

8 In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings.9 But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The LORD rebuke you!” 10 Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals–these are the very things that destroy them. 11 Woe to them! (Jude 1:8-11a)

I love Michael’s example to us! “The LORD rebuke you!” he said (verse 9).

From verse 8, we know these “dreamers” are not in submission to the Lord. I don’t want to miss that. As believers in the Lord, we wouldn’t want to be like the “dreamers”. We may tend to want to trash talk with the enemy at times, but it seems that’s out of ignorance. Men who do this are “speaking abusively against whatever they don’t understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals” (verse 10). Friends, I don’t ever want to be considered in the same class as “unreasoning animals” (verse 10)! We are encouraged not to trash talk what we don’t know. That leads to our undoing or destruction (verse 10, 11). Maybe this doubles back to Acts 19 in the end? Clearly, Michael’s example demonstrates submission to the Lord’s power, trusting in His ability and strength to end the dispute. Michael has no scrappy words for the devil. It is simply “The LORD rebuke you!”

These are my thoughts on the enemy. This has taken me much longer to write than I imagined, but I think I feel okay with it for now. Feel free to comment. Let me know if you’ve heard that sermon about arrows in the spiritual butts, too!  😉


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