The Works of Satan
October 20, 2019
Dr. Andy Woods
“Father, we’re grateful for today, grateful for this morning, grateful for another opportunity to fellowship and look into Your Word. I just ask that You bless our time together this morning, both in Sunday school and the main service that follows.
I pray for a great day in You. I specifically ask that people would leave our church today eternally changed in some way because of Your Word. We will be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name.” God’s people said, “Amen.”
Let’s open our Bibles this morning to John 13:27. As you know, we are continuing our study of angelology, looking at satanology. We’ve looked at Satan’s existence, personhood, names and titles, original state, and first sin. In other words, “How did Satan become Satan?” We are finishing up the tail end of satanology as we take a look at his works (or his methods).
Paul the apostle, in 2 Corinthians 2:11, says that he was not unaware of Satan’s schemes, methods, or devices. This is the whole blessing of getting into the subject of Satan. How would you advertise this out to the community? “Hey! Come to Sugar Land Bible Church. We’re going to teach you about Satan!”
Probably won’t pack them in, necessarily. But at the same time, it’s an extremely valuable study for the Christian because unless you give yourself to this area of theology, you really don’t understand your adversary, the devil.
One of my professors in seminary, J. Dwight Pentecost, wrote a book. I love the title of it; it’s called Your Adversary, the Devil. It’s a book on satanology. Most Christians, quite frankly, don’t even know they have an adversary. They have a vague recollection of it somewhere, “somebody mentioned it” kind of thing. Let alone, “Have they ever given themselves to a specific study of their adversary?” That’s what we’re trying to do here in satanology.
When we look at Satan’s works, we’re looking at his past works, his present works (because he’s working right now even as I’m talking) and then his future. We’re going to see that there’s a whole eschatology (study of the end) concerning Satan. The Bible has a lot to say about all these things.
This is some of the ground we covered. We left off at John 13:27; open your Bible there. One of the things that Satan did in the past is that he actually entered into Judas. It says in John 13:27, in the Upper Room, “After the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Jesus said to him, ‘What you do, do quickly.’” One of the things Satan did in the past is he actually entered into a human being. There are basically two people in the Bible that I think Satan specifically does this with. Both of them have the name Son of Perdition, or Son of Destruction.
You’ll find Judas called the Son of Destruction in John 17:12. Jesus says, “‘While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition [sometimes called the Son of Destruction], so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.’”
Judas is given that name Son of Perdition (Son of Destruction). Anybody know the other person in the Bible called the Son of Destruction? The Antichrist! I know it was right on the tip of your tongue. He is also called the Son of Destruction in 2 Thessalonians 2:3.
You’ll notice that when Satan gets down to the big projects (in Judas’s case, betraying Christ; in the Antichrist’s case, eradicating the chosen people) he actually steps in for the big jobs and actually goes inside of people—enters people. That’s what we call possession.
Now there’s a question I wasn’t planning on dealing with today, but it’s coming. When we get to demonology, we’re going to be getting into the subject of demon possession. Does it occur today? What can we do about it if does occur today? Those kinds of issues.
Unfortunately, most people get their theology from the movie The Exorcist, and they really haven’t investigated what the Bible says about these particular subjects. We’ll get into that subject and I’ll try to make the case that I don’t think a born-again Christian can be possessed. You say, “Well, you don’t know my high school kids very well do you?”
A born-again Christian—I don’t think—can be possessed by Satan or one of his minions (a demon). Oppressed? Yes. Influenced? Yes. Possessed? No! For the simple reason that I don’t think God and Satan can be roommates! Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit… more on that later. But that is something Satan did in the past; he actually possessed Judas to fulfill the final aspect of Christ’s betrayal.
Something else Satan did in the past is he hindered Paul. Look at 1 Thessalonians 2:18 just for a moment. Paul says something very interesting to the Thessalonians. He says, “For we wanted to come to you…” In other words, “I had the right motives.” “—I, Paul, more than once…” In other words, “More than once I wanted to come to you.”
Then he says, “…—and yet Satan hindered us.” One of the things Satan did with Paul’s ministry is that he tried to throw so many monkey wrenches into the wheels that the thing wouldn’t work right. There’s a lot of people out there who think that if they step out and do something for God and if everything doesn’t go right—or if they experience any opposition—they must be outside of God’s will.
But you’ll notice that Paul himself was directly in the will of God. I don’t know if there could be a man on the earth, other than Christ himself, more in the will than Paul. Yet Paul the apostle specifically said that, “There are multiple times in my ministry where I wanted to come, but Satan threw up a roadblock.”
I very much appreciate what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 16:9 where he says, “for a wide door for effective service has opened to me…” He trusted God to open doors and close doors for effective ministry. I’m so glad the verse doesn’t stop there, “for a wide door…” this isn’t a small door, this is a wide door that God opened. Paul was being very effective.
Most of us stop reading the verse right there. But if you keep reading, he says, “…and there are many adversaries.” “There’s not one adversary. There are a bunch of opponents, and they’re harassing me despite the fact that God has opened a wide door for effective service to me.”
Just because God opens a door for you—or for any of us—it doesn’t mean that there are not problems and there is not opposition. In fact, the level of opposition you face could very well be indicative of the fact of the door that God has opened! Do you think the adversary is just going to sit there and let you do whatever you want?
It’s like when I played basketball. (I know you’re tired of all these basketball stories, but my 5 second claim to fame is basketball. And even then, it wasn’t much—I was basically coming off the bench, at best. But you don’t need to know about that, do you?) The coach always told you, “You don’t let the other team do what they want to do!” If one guy likes to shoot from this corner and he’s good at it, you don’t let them get the ball over there!
This is how Satan operates—he’s not going to let you do what you want to do. He’s not going to let you do what you’re good at because he’s trying to thwart the plan and program of God. He opposed Paul.
Beyond that, he did something else to Paul. He actually afflicted him. Second Corinthians 12:7-10 is a tremendous passage on suffering (our doctrine of suffering). Paul says, “Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations…” In other words, Paul, earlier in the chapter having been caught up to the third heaven, heard things that other people don’t hear. That would no doubt go to his ego, wouldn’t it? God can’t use an egotistical person.
What did God allow to happen because of this problem of pride? He allowed Satan—temporarily—to have his way with Paul in a certain area. He says, “Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh…” Now, doesn’t that sound like it hurts, whatever it is? People speculate as to what the thorn in the flesh was. I don’t really know; I just know it hurt.
It could’ve been something physical, emotional, relational. I have a tendency to think it was the whole Corinthian church that was his thorn in the flesh because these people rose up against Paul all the time. “…a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan…” See that? Satan didn’t even harass Paul himself—in this instance anyway—he used one of his underlings to do it.
Satan steps in for the big projects, and the smaller projects he delegates to others. You hear a lot of Christians today narrate their stories—how they were fighting Satan and all this stuff. Not to deflate anybody’s ego, but I think Satan probably has more important things to do. He’s probably doing something big on the earth and he assigns the yapping dogs (chihuahuas) to us.
You’ll notice that Paul said, “…there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.”
Obviously, Paul didn’t go to a health and wealth church, right? They teach that if you have any problems financially or in your physical body, you just speak it away and it goes away. Obviously, Paul didn’t embrace that theology even though he implored the Lord three times to take it away.
Verse 9, “And He [that’s God or Christ] has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’” Aren’t you glad about that? I feel very weak many times. And when we’re weakest, that’s when we’re actually strongest.
“Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties…” Notice how all of these words are in the plural. It wasn’t just an ongoing issue; these were perpetual conflicts that he was facing. “…for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” That’s something Satan did in the past—at least indirectly—he harassed the Apostle Paul.
Something else Satan did in the past is he influenced—go over to Acts 5 if you could—Ananias and Sapphira to lie to the Holy Spirit. In Acts 5:3-4 Peter is rebuking Ananias and Sapphire. “But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”
The social justice people who are trying to mix communism with the Bible like to quote Acts 2:41-47, where the Christians had all things in common. And they try to argue that to be Christlike we should bring Marxism to the United States. That’s basically what they’re trying to say.
They never quote Acts 5:3-4 because Peter (when he rebukes Ananias and Sapphira) specifically tells them, “While the land was yours, you were free to do whatever you wanted with it. After you sold it, you were free to do whatever you wanted with the proceeds of the land.” The sin of Ananias and Sapphira was not so much the fact that they kept back property from the church. They could do whatever they wanted with the property.
The reality of the situation is the Bible is actually (when you study it out) a pro-private property book. It’s anti-communism and is far more pro-capitalistic and pro-ownership of private property. God has no problem with owning private property.
In fact, when you study the Ten Commandments, what you’ll see is each commandment is designed as a negative to protect the positive. When God says, “Don’t lie,” He is basically promoting truth. When He says, “Don’t murder,” He is protecting the sanctity of life. When He says, “Don’t commit adultery,” He is protecting the sanctity of marriage.
There is not just one, but there are two commandments protecting private property. Those are which commandments? “Don’t steal” and “Don’t covet.” Which is basically where communism has made inroads, “The rich guy down the street obviously got his money because he stole it from somebody else or oppressed someone to get it. He didn’t get that money through industry, or hard work, or creativity. What you need to do is vote someone into power that’s going to take his money and recycle it back to you so all of your student loans can get paid off.” What is that? That’s institutionalized theft. That’s basically what I would call stealing.
Communism itself goes against God’s Word. The ownership of private property does not. Ananias and Sapphira are free to do whatever they wanted with that property. The problem though with Ananias and Sapphira is not that they held back part of the proceeds for themselves (when you study Acts 5); it’s that they lied about it!
They misrepresented their level of generosity. They stood up in front of the whole church and said, “Hey! We just took a piece of property, sold it, and gave all of our proceeds to the church.” But they didn’t! They kept back part of the proceeds for themselves. Which really wouldn’t have been a problem, as I’ve tried to explain, but they misrepresented their level of generosity. “We gave all of the proceeds to the church.” When, in fact, they hadn’t.
And it’s for that sin that they were what we call “slain in the Holy Spirit.” I bring that up because a lot of people today are trying to get slain in the Holy Spirit, and I don’t really see that as a particularly good thing. It looks to me like a negative thing to get slain in the Holy Spirit. In other words, they experience what we would call maximum divine discipline.
I have every conviction that Ananias and Sapphira were Christians. The Calvinists’ way of handling these types of passages (because they think every Christian has to persevere in good works to the end of their life or they’re not saved) will make people like this unbelievers. So, “They really weren’t believers.”
Verse 11 says, “And great fear came over the whole church…” Would the church be afraid if an unbeliever was struck dead? Maybe so, but there’s much more fear in the church when one of their own just got taken home to the Lord early. The fact that the church fell into a state of fear, and the fact that all these things are taking place inside the church, to me is indicative of the fact that Ananias and Sapphira were, in fact, Christians.
When you look at verse 8, you see exactly who it was that was exploiting this fleshly issue in the life of Ananias and Sapphira. What you have to understand about a new infant is that an infant is vulnerable to all kinds of diseases and all kinds of physical problems. That’s what the early church is here; it’s a brand-new infant that was just birthed a few chapters earlier.
You’re always protective of the newborn. God is protective of His newborn—the newborn church—and He wasn’t going to allow a sin of this magnitude to take place within the church. Does God work in this way (exactly) today? Maybe in some cases He does. I think if He worked this way all the time, we wouldn’t have many church members anymore.
When you look at verse 8, you see very clearly who the problem is as Peter is rebuking Ananias and Sapphira. “And Peter responded to her, ‘Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?’ And she said, ‘Yes…’”
Verse 3, “But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?’” The Greek there is PLEROO. It’s actually the same Greek verb used in Ephesians 5:18. We are told to be filled [PLEROO] with what? The Holy Spirit. Just as we are to be dominated by the Holy Spirit, apparently Ananias and Sapphire were filled with Satan and Satan’s devices here. (It doesn’t say they were possessed.) This becomes a key passage that you can point to that Satan can and does use Christians.
Can Satan possess a Christian? No! Can a demon possess a Christian? No! Can Satan influence a Christian? Yes! Can Satan oppress a Christian? Yes! It largely is related to the ground that we give him by surrendering back to the old nature.
I have an ability as a Christian to return to my old nature anytime I want to. Does anyone else have that problem in here? Or am I the only one? The people who didn’t put up their hands are in their old nature right now because they’re lying, right?
The problem is that when we go back to the old nature, we give Satan influence in our lives. Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “…do not let the sun go down on your anger…” When I read that the first time I said, “Well, I need to move to Alaska because I could stay angry all the time!” No, that’s not the point. “…do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” There’s a perfect example! If I’m going to satisfy my old nature by being bitter towards people—that bitterness is not designed to stay inside of us.
God did not design us to hold bitterness inside of us. If you’re angry at somebody, eventually what’s going to happen is that you’re going to vomit that out. Sadly, what happens is nine times out of ten it comes out on some innocent party who doesn’t even have any idea why you’re upset in the first place. Your husband, your wife, your spouse; it can come out on our kids, even our grandkids.
The Bible is very clear that we’re not to be people of bitterness. The only way to not be a bitter person is to learn to forgive—Ephesians 4:32—as you have been forgiven. “I demand justice from this person!” That’s what bitterness is—you want justice. We forget the fact that the Lord hasn’t treated us with justice. God has obligated Himself to treat us with grace. “If that’s how the Lord has treated me, maybe I should extend that grace (as I grow in Christ) to other people.”
There’s a whole parable about this in Matthew 18, where one guy owed another guy. I forgot the exact figure (it’s a vast sum of money which is unpayable). And that guy forgave the debt. The guy who was forgiven of the debt found someone that owed him a couple of bucks and demanded that the last penny be paid, “Throw him in prison if he doesn’t pay it back!”
The whole parable is designed to get us to see how ridiculous we look when we demand justice in personal relationships. When God—who has forgiven us everything—has not treated us with justice; He’s treated us with grace. To the extent that I don’t do that is the extent I give Satan a foothold—you see that? That would be an example of how Satan uses the carnality of people.
I think Satan is much happier using a Christian to do his work than he is a non-Christian. The non-Christian he owns completely. They’re in the slave market of sin. They have, I would say, no choice in the matter. If he can get a Christian—particularly a Christian that God has used in the past—to tear down, or have jealousy, or whatever it is, then he’s actually won a huge victory. That’s something he did in the past; he influenced Ananias and Sapphira to lie (Acts 5).
Let’s move on to, “What is Satan doing right now?” Look at Luke 8:12. Lots of things Satan is doing right now; even as I am speaking, he’s doing it. Luke 8:12. What does he say here in one of the parables? I think this is the parable of the sower. “Those beside the road are those who have heard; [that would be the Word of God] then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved.”
One of the things Satan does is that he snatches the Word of God away from people. Those who founded the United States of America clearly understood this at the beginning of America’s public-school system. The very first public school was established in America in Massachusetts in 1642, a century and a half, roughly, before our American revolution.
It’s really funny to me to watch all these people on TV—these cable type people—saying religion and Christianity have no place in the public schools. Those who founded America didn’t believe that. They wrote this law into effect in 1642, “It being one chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures, as in former time…” That’s 1642. What former time are they talking about? These were the children of the Protestant Reformation. The Protestant Reformation took place in Europe. These are those within the spiritual heritage or lineage of those who launched the Protestant Reformation.
What was the Protestant Reformation about? It was a reaction against the Dark Ages—or the Middle Ages—when the Scripture was inaccessible. Before the Protestant reformers started to teach the priesthood of all believers, the Bibles were on pulpits all over Europe chained to the pulpit. You were not allowed to own a Bible. (Luther’s the one who really started to translate the Bible into the common language.)
You were told, “Even if you own a Bible, you can’t understand what it says.” Beyond that, they didn’t even have a Bible in their own language. The only thing available was what’s called the Latin Vulgate. You would go to church, hear a bunch of stuff, and you’d have no understanding of what it is that was being communicated.
Did Satan have a field day during that time period when people were ignorant of the knowledge of God? You bet! And the religious leaders loved it; because as long as the people were kept ignorant, they could be manipulated. They could be told, “You know your uncle Joe? He’s in purgatory right now, and he’s paying off some of his sins. Unless the coin and the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory won’t spring.” Right? This was a moneymaking operation.
We’ve been to Vatican City and seen the absolute beauty of that establishment there in Rome. Unbelievable architecture, paintings—and on and on it goes. How do they get all that money? They basically stole it from the people over centuries through what is called the sale of indulgences.
If you don’t have a Bible where you can say, “Can you, Mr. Roman Catholic priest, show me purgatory in the Bible?” If you don’t have a Bible, how can you check the abuses? See that? When those who came from Europe to America established the American Republic, they said, “We’re not going to go back to that former time again—the Dark Ages (the Middle Ages). We’re going to set up a public school where we’re going to teach people to read and write.”
That’s what you call grammar schools. Why do we have to study grammar? Because God has revealed Himself linguistically. If God has revealed Himself linguistically, then you have to understand the rules of language, right?
They set up these schools. Not to have their kids pick the best stocks and retire early, not to get the best STEM jobs, right? That’s why we send our kids to school. We want to see our kids get ahead, and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. But these people set up schools so we don’t return to the Dark Ages.
They said in 1642, “It being one chief project…” Look at that! Not a little project, a chief project. This is what Satan is trying to do! “It being one chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures, as in former time…” The Dark Ages (Middle Ages) that we’re rescued from via the Protestant Reformation.
“It is therefore ordered…that after the Lord hath increased the settlement…they shall…appoint one within their town, to teach all such children…” Look at the target they’re going after here—and rightfully so! “We’ve got to get these kids literate! Because if these kids aren’t literate, they won’t understand their priests and they won’t be reading the Bible for themselves. We’ll have a generation that just repeats everything that we got saved out of.” Thank you, Protestant Reformation!
We ought to be targeting kids is what we ought to be doing. I think Satan does a much better job targeting children than we do today. There’s a reason why Satan is wanting to take over the public schools—that’s where the kids are!
There’s a reason they’re doing story time in the public libraries all over the country through a transvestite that sits up there in front of the class and reads to the kids. They’re targeting the kids! Do you see that? Because whoever controls the minds of the children controls the next generation.
“…they shall…appoint one within their town, to teach all such children to read… they shall set up a grammar school to instruct the youths…” One of the things Satan works overtime in doing is that he tries to keep people ignorant of the Bible. You see it in the parable of the sower where the Word of God is taught.
Satan obviously knows the Bible can have an effect. Because we know from Isaiah 55:10-11 that when the Scripture is proclaimed, it does not return void. I think it was Jeremiah who describes it as a hammer breaking a rock. That’s what the Word of God will do if you let it germinate in your life. If someone hears the Word of God before it can take any real root, Satan is somehow at work snatching what was originally sown.
After you become a Bible teacher you see very fast how Satan does this. He uses anything to distract. It’s amazing the technical problems or the issues with technology that we’ll have. Technology works fine until you start teaching the Bible, and then all of a sudden you start getting these glitches. Who’s doing all that? It’s Satan!
Here we are on social media. If everything is working right, my voice (and my voice isn’t the important thing; it’s God’s Word) is going out to countless people. I can guarantee, even as I speak and even as we try to get this uploaded on YouTube, there are going to be glitches and problems. That’s just part of the territory because this is how Satan operates.
Satan tries to stop the teaching of God’s Word. That’s why, when you’re sitting in church, it’s very difficult to maintain concentration. Your mind goes everywhere! “Oh yeah, I need to talk to so and so…” You’re thinking about what you’re going to have for lunch later on.
If you go to the movies and you watch Star Wars—unbroken concentration! No problem at all! Everybody today is telling me through these sociological studies that, “You must keep it brief. You must keep it short. Keep it to a sound bite, because the level of concentration in people is not what it used to be.” There may be some truth to that.
They specifically argue this with kids: “Kids can’t concentrate.” Well, when I’m watching the movie Star Wars with a bunch kids, they seem to be concentrating pretty well. Matter of fact, quiz them after the movie about the different characters. I have a 13-year-old at home so I’m learning the new characters. In the old days it was just Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Now there’s all these new characters.
You query kids about the new characters, and they can go on and on and on and on and on about it. My question is, “If they can do that with a movie, why can’t they do that with God’s Word?” There’s a spiritual reason for this. It’s right there in Luke 8:12—Satan snatches the Word from people.
This is one of the reasons why we encourage parents with young children that we have a wonderful nursery for kids. Why? Because if you have little tiny children in here who are screaming and yelling, what’s everybody doing? They’re looking at the little kids saying, “Oh, look at the little cute baby.” They’re not focusing on what they should be focusing on, which is the teaching of God’s Word.
Then we have spiritual warfare related to the contracting bladder where all of a sudden everybody thinks, “Gosh, we’re right in the middle of the sermon, now would be a great time to use the bathroom.” Are we going to lock the doors and say, “Thus saith the Lord, ‘Don’t go to the bathroom’?”
Go and come as you need! Please do that! I just find it interesting that everyone must use the bathroom in the middle of the teaching God’s Word. As you stand up here and teach, it’s interesting to observe people. You guys are observing me? Well, I’m observing you.
A lot of people treat this like it’s an airline. They’re flying and, “Oh, gosh, I need to get up and get a drink of water.” They’ll go get a drink of water, talk to a few friends, come back in. “Ok, I’ll listen for five more minutes.” Not understanding that every single point we make builds on the prior point.
If you miss something in the middle, you’re going to miss a latter point down the road because we do sequential logical teaching. All that to say, the reason you are here at Sugar Land Bible Church is to concentrate on God’s Word. Satan doesn’t want you to concentrate on God’s Word; he does not want the Word to have its effect on your life.
Because he knows that if you’re a Christian and you’re absorbing God’s Word, understanding God’s Word, applying God’s Word, you’re going to be a double threat—triple threat—to him this week in your life, in your place, in your ministry. Satan is always coming against the teaching of God’s Word. Just try to teach a Bible study and you’ll immediately see it! It’s the outworking of Luke 8:12. Enough said about that. Amen?
Something else Satan does is he rules the world. Look at 1 John 5:19. “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” I like the way Lewis Sperry Chafer described this verse, “It’s like a lullaby rocking a child to sleep.” That’s what Satan is doing right now over this present world. He’s been given authority over this world from Adam; the Bible is very clear on this.
He offered Jesus the kingdoms of this world (Matthew 4:8-9). You can’t offer something unless you control it. He is called the prince of this world (John 12:31; John 14:30; John 16:11). He is called the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). “Your adversary, the devil, prowls around…”
Remember what God said to Satan when he presented himself to God in the Book of Job? In Job 1:7 God says, “‘From where do you come?’” What does Satan say? “‘From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.’”
He is called, “your adversary, the devil.” The one who prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking to have a glass of iced tea with you? No! Seeking to devour you (1 Peter 5:8). That’s the domain he’s been given. And we just read 1 John 5:19.
That’s why all these insurance companies call these catastrophes “acts of God.” I would prefer to call them acts of god (little “g”) rather than acts of God (big “G”), because God is still sovereign—as I’ll show you in just a moment—and a lot of the catastrophes in our world God has nothing to do with. We blame God for a lot of things that God didn’t cause.
God never says all things are good. It says in Romans 8 that He uses all things for good. Don’t blame God for everything that goes wrong in your life or in the world. The Bible is very clear that Satan is ruling the world. That’s why that scenario is not going to change until the events of the Book of Revelation.
There is so much Exodus language in the Book of Revelation because in the Exodus God took His people, Israel, out of Egyptian bondage. In the Book of Revelation God is taking the whole planet out of the bondage it’s been in ever since Genesis 3. Until those end time events take place, we’re living in the devil’s world; we’re playing defense. And the Bible is very clear about this.
Satan is a defeated foe. But we’re living in a time period between his conviction (First Coming) and his sentencing (Second Coming). We’ve got some lawyers in the back, and they know the difference between conviction and sentencing. Sometimes those are two totally different parts of a trial. Is that right in Texas? Are sentencing and conviction different parts of the trial? I know it works that way in California. The lawyer we’ve got in our midst has now divulged himself, so he’s going to need particular prayer. As I like to say, “I fell from law to grace.”
Satan was convicted (First Coming) and sentenced (Second Coming). You see that? He’s a defeated foe—conviction. The jury verdict is in, but he’s not going to be sentenced until the Second Coming. Just because you’re convicted doesn’t mean you’re sentenced.
Until he’s actually sentenced—until the sentence is imposed where he’s bound for a thousand years and then thrown into the Lake of Fire—until the great Exodus occurs—Satan will continue to rule this world. That does not mean that God is not still sovereign. Because He is! In Job 1:12 and Job 2:6, Satan had to request permission of God to get into Job’s life. He requested that the hedge of protection be lowered.
John 17:15 says Jesus is praying for us. Aren’t you glad about that? And He’s keeping us and protecting us. 1 John 4:4 says, “…greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” I just showed you that tough verse, didn’t I, in 1 John 5:19? What about verse 18?
You see the balance in verse 18? “We know that no one who is born of God sins [now I think that’s talking about our new nature—the new nature cannot sin]; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.” God is sovereign and He protects us, but that doesn’t subtract from verse 19 which says that the whole world lies within the lap of the wicked one.
We know from 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 that there’s a Restrainer on the earth right now preventing Satan from doing exactly what he wants to do. This is an area where we need to be balanced. We’re living in the devil’s world, but that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t retain what we would call His Universal Kingdom.
God’s Universal Kingdom is always in effect. Not His Theocratic Kingdom where He rules through a man (that was what was lost in Eden and won’t be restored until the Millennial Kingdom). His Universal Kingdom is always intact.
Yes, Satan runs this world, but God some way, somehow retains His sovereignty. This is why Jesus said to Peter in Luke 22:31, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has [what?] demanded permission to sift you like wheat…” There would be no need for that request if God somehow didn’t retain His sovereignty.
Having said all that Satan (very clearly) is running this world. I’ll tell you what else he’s targeting right now; he is targeting your mind! He blinds the mind. The 9/11 hijackers did not have to get control of every square inch of the airplane. The only thing you have to control is where the pilot sits.
We’ve got some pilots in here that can give probably more accurate statistics, but where the pilot sits represents a very small portion of the airplane. If you can control that—or influence that—you control the whole vehicle, see that?
This is why the target of Satan is always towards the mind. This is why the Bible has so much to say about the mind. Mark 12:30, “and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”
Why the mind? Because you control the mind, you control the whole body. You control the mind—you can control the actions, you can control the destiny, you can influence the behavior, you can influence the emotions. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” See that?
There’s lots and lots of Bible verses dealing with the subject of the mind. Romans 12:2 says, we ought to do what with our minds? Renew our minds. Why is there so much on the mind? Because the mind is the center. And if you allow God to influence your mind, then that will dictate the course of your life.
If you allow Satan to influence your mind, that will dictate the course of your life. If you give Satan 5% of your mind, he’ll take that! Whatever you’re going to give him, he’ll take; because he knows if he can influence you in any way, he can influence your life as a Christian.
This is why Satan targets the mind. Where am I getting this from? I’m getting it from 2 Corinthians 4:4. Let me back up to verse 3. “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing…” There are some people you give them the gospel it’s like talking to a wall—it just doesn’t seem to have any impact. There’s a reason for that. The reason for it is verses 3 and 4. The gospel is veiled to them—they can’t see it.
Why can’t they see it? The answer there is in verse 4, “…in whose case…” What case are we talking about? The person whose mind is veiled to the truth. “…in whose case the god of this world [who would that be? Satan] has blinded the [what?] 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.”
This is the problem with thinking that you can rationalize people into Christianity. Christianity is very rational. It’s logical. There’s a place for apologetics, but sometimes people think, “If I just present these three arguments in airtight fashion, I’m going to have an immediate convert!”
Not necessarily. Because there’s a spiritual interface at work where the person you’re talking to could have their mind blinded. In John 16:7-11 Jesus specifically says the Spirit convicts the world of sin and righteousness and judgment and through the preaching of His Word—which doesn’t return void—can break through that blinding.
You can’t do it through human argumentation. You have to do it through prayer and relying upon the resources God has given—the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit. Also, you have to stick with the Word of God. It’s the Word of God that has power at the end of the day. Not our fine sounding logical apologetic arguments.
I’m pro apologetics and defense of the faith, being articulate, and all that kind of stuff, but that doesn’t pierce the blinding that people are under because of the activity of Satan. Satan targets the mind here because he knows if he can target the mind, he controls the person. See that?
It doesn’t say he’s attacking the gums, the liver, the teeth, or the ribs. It says he’s blinding the mind because of the biblical significance of mind. What else is Satan doing even as I am speaking? Not only is he blinding the mind, he is actually sending into the world false ministers. Say it isn’t so!
You mean to tell me that everybody who stands up behind the pulpit and quotes the Bible is not working for God? Take a look at 2 Corinthians 11:14-15. “No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants [some translate that as ministers] also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.
Let me back up to 2 Corinthians 11:13, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.” You mean to tell me there were people who went by the title “apostle” in New Testament times who really weren’t apostles? Yes! You’ll find an example of them in Revelation 2:2 where Jesus commends the church at Ephesus for testing those who claimed to be apostles, and were not, and found them to be liars.
There are people even today that will tell you they’re apostles. In which case I say, “You look very good for your age, because you ought to be about 2000 years old by now.”
There were people apparently running around in this time period claiming the mantle “apostle.” They weren’t claiming to be pastor, or deacon, or Sunday school teacher. Those are wonderful titles. But they went after the top title itself: apostle. And they weren’t apostles at all.
Verse 14, “No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” Satan wants the title apostle or savior or something spiritually sounding. Verse 15, “Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness…” But Paul says, “…whose end will be according to their deeds.”
I love Revelation 2:9. To the church at Smyrna Jesus says, “I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.”
Do you know what a “synagogue” was in this time period—and still is? It’s a religious meeting place. It’s a place where the spiritual and religious people go to do their religious activities. Jesus—through John—says that what they’re doing there in this case is a synagogue of Satan.
Satan—you have to understand this—is in the religion business. The biggest problems that Jesus had when He was on the earth were not with the prostitutes, the tax gatherers, the fishermen, and just your average blue-collar people. The problem that He had, with whom He always went toe to toe, was the religious people, the people that would get bent out of shape because He had the audacity to heal someone on the Sabbath. And that went against their religious traditions.
You have to understand that Jesus had six trials: three political; three religious. Three before Rome. But before those three trials occurred, He had three religious trials under the religious leaders, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, who hated each other’s guts. Did you know that?
The Sadducees and the Pharisees disagreed with each on all kinds of things, but when it came to Jesus, they all teamed up. The only Person they hated more than each other was Jesus. “We can get together to rush this Guy through the judicial system to get Him dead. And then, once we kill Him, we can go back to hating each other!” That’s the religious crowd of the first century. That’s the synagogue of Satan. These are the false ministers that Paul is talking about.
Nobody talks like this or tells you about this. People channel surf and they watch a guy that comes on with coat and tie. He looks good, he’s well-mannered, well-kempt, and he uses the Bible a little. Countless people are watching people like that all over this country (even this morning) on so-called Christian television. And they just absorb that, “Whatever the guy says, it’s got to be true.” Not understanding that Satan will deliberately put someone like that into a sphere of influence to deceive the masses. That’s what Paul is talking about here.
What else does Satan do, while we’re in 2 Corinthians 11? He sends a false gospel. 2 Corinthians 11:3-4, “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds [there’s the assault on the mind again] will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” You should underline “simplicity” if you’re an underliner.
What’s he worried about? Eve was beguiled from the very simple commandment in Genesis 2. Easiest job description on planet Earth! No prohibitions placed on them at all other than, “Don’t eat from the tree of knowledge.” Simple! Simple command! He’s basically worried that Satan is going to come into the Corinthian church and deceive them into taking the simplicity of the gospel.
The gospel is so simple anyone can believe it and receive it. A child can receive it! But he’s afraid that what is going to happen is that Satan is going to slither in, just like he did into Eden, and he’s going to take something simple and make it complicated.
Those of you who are parents of young daughters will appreciate this in 2 Corinthians 11:2. He says, “For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.”
Paul puts himself in the role of the dad who’s got the shotgun. (We are in Texas, aren’t we? I don’t need to be arrested for a hate crime; I think what I said was legal.) He is keeping the wrong suitor away from his daughter. Amen? Isn’t that our responsibility as dads?
A father is going to try to keep his daughter away from the wrong guy. When the guy shows up at your door, you look at him and you don’t really envision him as a future marital partner with your daughter. And he says, “I’m here for your daughter.” Then you just say, “No, you’re not!” And you close the door, right? You live in Texas, and you’ve got the shotgun. Come on now, I need to hear “Amen” out there! So, just as a dad is keeping away the wrong guy from his daughter, Paul is trying to keep the Corinthians away from a wrong gospel. See that?
He knows that Satan is going to slither in and do his work, just as he did to Eve. Then he says this in verse 4, “For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel [you should underline that] which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.”
In other words, he uses sarcasm here. Just because the name “Jesus” is in it, doesn’t mean it’s the right gospel! You say, “Well, Pastor, how do you recognize the true gospel from a false gospel?” By the way, jot down Galatians 1:8; he mentions the false gospel there too. How do you recognize the difference? I’ll close with this.
It’s where the spotlight is. The more the spotlight is on Christ and what He did, the closer you are to truth. The spotlight is removed from Christ and placed on man—what man does—how man must sorrow—how man must do this and do that in a false gospel. “Do these three things or these five things,” or “He’s got to do these six things over here to keep himself saved, and if he gets unsaved, he’s got to do five more things to get saved again.”
You see what is happening there with the false gospel? The focus isn’t on Christ anymore—it’s on you. The more you see that—it’s not true. As Paul said earlier in the chapter, the simplicity of the gospel. The moment you turn the gospel into a works-oriented religious system, you know you’re dealing with a false gospel. That’s what Satan is doing here. He’s not just sending false ministers; he’s sending false gospels. Let’s pray.
“Father, we’re grateful for satanology and what it reveals about our adversary, the devil. Make us good stewards of these things as we seek to grow in You. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name.”
God’s people said, “Amen.”