Satan


Not only is the gospel, the good news of God, about a moment in time, but it is about a man.  A God-man who came down to earth wrapped in flesh to save us rebels from the wrath of God.  This man is Jesus Christ!  Colossians 1:15 says, “He is the image of the invisible God.”  Jesus came to earth to show us who were lost, blind, and spiritually dead what God was like. 

I work primarlilly with 6-12 year old kids and they have some really good questions about God.  A frequent one is “if God is real why can’t we see him.”  I tell them well, he visited us around 2,000 years ago and his name is Jesus.  People could see him, touch him, talk to him, listen to him, and eat with him.  He is still alive!  Jesus is “the image of the invisible God.” 

Jesus is God-man.  He is fully God, but came to take on human flesh, so that he migt save us.  Colossians 1:19 says, “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.”  In Jesus Christ, all of who God is dwelt bodily.  He knows all things, see all things, creates all things, is able to forgive all things, is in everyplace, has existed before all things, and can do all things! Colossians 1:17, “in him all things hold together.”  Jesus is the one sustains the universe and keeps it from flying into choas.  He is the one who keeps you alive today giving “to all mankind life and breath and everything (Acts 17:25).”  He is the Maker and Creator of all!  

Part of my job is distrubuting medications to the guys where I work and last week I went to give some guys their meds and one said, “How does it feel to be the kingpin of Brooklawn?” Then based on previous conversation with these guys, I said, “It’s better to know the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ.”  The another kid said, “Why are you always talking about Jesus?”  So, I responded, “Because he is the most amazing person in the entire universe!” 

This Jesus, this God-man came to save sinners.  “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst (I Timothy 1:15).” He came to deviver us from hell, sin, ourselves, and Satan.  He did this by his death on a wooden cross and his resurection from the dead.  You see, death was necessary for sin from the beginning, because God said if you chose to rebel, then you would surely die.  The word of God tells us that the wages of sin is death. All die and all will face judgment and hell apart from Jesus.  So, Jesus comes as the only one who is able to take our sin upon himself and die our death, so that we might not face the ultimate death, hell. 

Colossians 1:19, 20, “ For in him (Jesus) all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”  At the right time and on the right man, the God-man, Jesus Christ, God placed all of our sin on the cross and poured out all of his hatred for sin.  The God who hates evil in this moment, punished his son instead of us, so he might “reconcile” us to himself.  God did this so that in bruising and piercing his own son he would be, “making peace by the blood of his cross.”             

Colossians 2:13-15, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”  The Romans, when they would crucify a man, would drive nails through his hands and feet and nail a “record of debt,” above the criminal’s head, indicating why they were being punished.  The Spirit of God in this text tell us that we all have a record of debt we owe to God that we cannot pay.  This debt stands against us testifying to our breaking the laws of God and it will follow us to judgment, unless.

Jesus took this “record of debt” and nailed it to the cross.  He set it aside.  He cancelled it.  It’s gone.  To all who are in Christ there is no more guilt, no more shame, no more accusations that can damn us by Satan.  It’s been forgiven!  Jesus paid it all!  This is good news!  Jesus has died for my sins that I could not wash away, for my shame that plagaued me, for my burdern which was to heavy for me to carry and he nailed the whole load to the cross.  He cancelled all my debt and rose again, defeating death, hell, and the armies of Satan that stand against me.  God, “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”

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Satan wants to destroy your life! Especially, if God has called and gifted you to be a leader in the church. What greater wound could he cause to the body of Christ then to bring down one to whom others look to for strength and guidance? When Satan ambushes the unsuspecting servant of Christ, there will be many clinging to him who also go down.

At least this seems to be the case. It seems to be what Peter was getting at, when he was speaking to leaders within the church “So I exhort the elders among you…Likewise, you who are younger…Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:1, 5, 8).

It has been my experience that Satan uses two very powerful temptations after someone has committed sin: 1) after falling into some sin, he tempts us to not believe the gospel and 2) after sinning, he tempts us to quite serving!  It is the second one of these temptations that I want to warn you about and encourage you to fight against with all your might.

It is this temptation that I have went through many times, since God by his grace saved me. When we have sinned against God and dishonored his name, our hearts and minds are flooded with guilt and shame. This is when the lion comes roaring with all his might and growls and snarls at us, telling us “How can you preach or teach about sin, against sin? Look, you suck! You’re a sinner! What right do you have to think you’re better or more spiritual than other people. You better just take some time off to get your life right or better yet just give up all together. You’ll never get back to where you were! You’ll never be able to conquer this sin!”

So what do we do about these temptations?  How should we fight in this situation? This semester at Southern Seminary, I am taking a class on the Puritans and I have recently come across some help in this area. One of our assignments was to read through The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes. I would like to share with you some of the helpful things Sibbes says to those who are being tempted to give up on service, because of sin in their lives.

 WE SHOULD PERSIST IN DUTIES

“1. Our hearts of themselves are reluctant to give up their liberty, and are only with difficulty brought under the yoke of duty. The more spiritual the duty is, the more reluctance there is. Corruption gains ground, for the most part, in every neglect. It is as in rowing against the tide, one stroke neglected will not be gained in three; and therefore it is good to keep our hearts close to duty, and not to listen to the excuses they are ready to frame.

2. As we set about duty, God strengthens the influence that he has in us. We find a warmness of heart and increase of strength, the Spirit going along with us and raising us up by degrees, until he leaves us as it were in heaven. God often delights to take advantage of our averseness (Having a feeling of opposition), that he may manifest his work the more clearly, and that all the glory of the work may be his, as all the strength is his.

3. Obedience is most direct when there a nothing else to sweeten the action. Although the sacrifice is imperfect, yet the obedience with which it is offered is accepted.

4. What is won as a spoil from our corruptions will have as great a degree of comfort afterwards as it has of obstruction for the present. Feeling and freeness of spirit are often reserved until duty is discharged. Reward follows work. In and after duty we find that experience of God’s presence which, without obedience, we may long wait for, and yet go without. This does not hinder the Spirit’s freedom in blowing upon our souls when he pleases (John 3:8), for we speak only of such a state of soul as is becalmed and must row, as it were, against the stream. As in sailing the hand must be to the helm and the eye to the star, so here we must put forth that little strength we have to duty and look up for assistance, which the Spirit, as freely as seasonably, will afford.

 

Yet in these duties that require the body as well as the soul there may be a cessation till strength is restored. Whetting a tool does not hinder, but prepares. In sudden passions, also, there should be a time to compose and calm the soul, and to put the strings in tune. The prophet asked for a minstrel to bring his soul into frame (2 Kings 3:15).”      

If your interested in hearing more about Richard Sibbes, pastor Mark Dever gave an excellent lecture at Southern in 2002 for the Gheens Lecture. His topic was “The Evangelical Church, Richard Sibbes and the Sufficiency of the Gospel.” You can listen to it here.