A Smooth Criminal
1 The serpent was the craftiest of all the creatures the Lord God had made. So the serpent came to the woman. "Really?" he asked. "None of the fruit in the garden? God says you mustn't eat any of it?"
2,3 "Of course we may eat it," the woman told him. "It's only the fruit from the tree at the center of the garden that we are not to eat. God says we mustn't eat it or even touch it, or we will die."
4 "That's a lie!" the serpent hissed. "You'll not die!
5 God knows very well that the instant you eat it you will become like him, for your eyes will be opened--you will be able to distinguish good from evil!"
6 The woman was convinced. How lovely and fresh looking it was! And it would make her so wise! So she ate some of the fruit and gave some to her husband, and he ate it too.
Gen 3:1-6 (Living)
The Might of Satan
"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not" (Luke 22:31, 32).
"There is nothing that makes an enemy so dangerous as the fact that he remains hidden or forgotten. Of the three great enemies of the Christian- the world, the flesh, and the devil - the last is the most dangerous, not only because it is he who, strictly speaking, lends to the others what power they have, but also because he is not seen and, therefore, he darkens the eyes so that men do not know him. He surrounds himself with darkness so that he is not observed. He has even the power to appear as an angle of light. It is by the faith that recognizes unseen things that the believer is to endeavor to know Satan even as the Scripture has revealed him.
When the Lord Jesus was living upon earth, His great work was to overcome Satan. When at His baptism He was filled with the spirit, this fullness of the Spirit brought him into contact with Satan as the head of the world of evil spirits, to combat him and to overcome him. After that time the eyes of the Lord were always perceptive to the power and working of Satan. In all sin and misery He was the revelation of the mighty kingdom of the very same superior, the evil one. Not only in demoniacs but also in the sick, He saw the enemy of God and man. In advice of Peter to avoid the cross and in his denial of the Lord, where we would think it simply the revelation of the natural character of Peter, Jesus saw the work of Satan. In His own suffering, where we would speak of the sin of man and the permission of God, Jesus perceived the power of darkness. His whole work in living and dying was to destroy the works of Satan, and he shall also at His second coming utterly destroy Satan.
His word to Peter, compared with the personal experience of the Lord, gives us a fearful insight into the work of the enemy. "Satan hath eagerly desire you," says Jesus. "As a roaring lion, he walketh about, seeking whom he may devour," says Peter himself later on. He does not have unlimited power, but he is always eager to make use of every weak or unguarded moment.
"That he might sift you as wheat": what a picture! This world, yes, even the Church of Christ, is the threshing floor of Satan. The corn belongs to God; the chaff is Satans. He sifts and sifts continually, all that falls through with the chaff he endeavors to take for himself. There are many believers who fall through in a terrible fashion, and who, were it not for the intercession of their Lord, would perish forever. Satan has more than one sieve. The first is generally worldly-mindedness - the love of the world. Many are pious in their time of poverty; but when they become rich, they eagerly strive to win the world. Or in the times of conversion and awakening, they appear very zealous, but through the care of the world they are led astray.
A second sieve is self-love and self-seeking. Whenever anyone does not give himself undividedly to serve his Lord and his neighbor and to love his neighbor in the Lord, it soon appears that the principal characteristic of a disciple is lacking in him. It will be manifest that many, with a fair profession of being devoted to serve of God, fail utterly at this point and must be counted with the chaff. Lovelessness is the sure characteristic of the power of Satan.
Yet another sieve - a very dangerous one - is self-confidence. Under the name of following the Spirit, one may listen to the thoughts of his own heart. He is zealous for the Lord, but with a carnal zeal in which the gentleness of the Lamb of God is not seen. Without being observed, the movements of the flesh mingle with the workings of the Spirit; and while he boasts that he is overcoming Satan, he is actually being secretly ensnared by him.
Oh, it is a serious life here upon earth, where God gives Satan permission to set his threshing floor even in the church. Happy are they who with deep humility, with fear and trembling, distrust themselves. Our only security is in the intercession and guidance of Him who overcame Satan. May the idea that we know all depths of Satan and are a match for all his cunning strategies be far from us. It is in the region of the spirit, in the invisible as well as in the visible, that he works and has power. Let us fear lest, while we have known and overcome him in the visible, he should prevail over us in the spiritual. May our only security be the conviction of our frailty and weakness combined with our confidence in Him who certainly keeps the lowly in heart."
Lord Jesus, open our eyes to know our enemy and his deceptions. Cause us to see him and his realm that we may dread all that is of him. And open our eyes to see how you have overcome him and how in you we are invincible. Oh, teach us what it is to be in you, o mortify all that is simply of ourselves and the will of the flesh, and to be strong in weakness and lowliness. And teach us to bring into prayer the conflict of faith against every stronghold of Satan, because we know that you will bruise him under our feet. Amen.
Matt. 4:6; 2 Cor. 4:4; 11:14; Matt. 4:1, 10; Matt. 12:28; Mark 4:15; Luke 13:16; Acts 10:38; Matt. 16:23; Luke 22:31, 32; Luke 10:18; 22:3, 53; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Rom. 16.20; Col.2:15; 2 Thess. 2:8, 9; 1 John 3:8; 1 Cor. 7:5; 2 Cor. 2:10, 11; 1 Pet. 5:8; 1 Cor. 5:5; 1Tim. 1:20; Matt. 4:9; 13:22; 1 Tim. 6:9, 10; 2 Tim. 4:10; John 8:44; 1 John 3:10, 15; 4:20; Gal. 3:3; 5:13; Eph. 6:10, 12, 16.
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