Angelology 016 (Satanology 12)1 Corinthians 7:5 • Dr. Andy Woods • November 3, 2019 • Angelology
The Works of Satan
1 Corinthians 7:5
November 3, 2019
Dr. Andy Woods
“Father, we’re thankful for today, thankful for the cool weather, thankful for the holiday season that we’re entering into, and we’re grateful for the time on the calendar when we’re supposed to be thankful. We really should be thankful all year round, but this is a special time of the year where we reflect on our many blessings. Help us to be people of thanksgiving; not so much looking at what we don’t have, but what we do have.
I pray that You’ll be with Bible study this morning, the main service that follows, our time of honoring Your table—the Lord’s table—and the time of fellowship afterwards. I ask in all things that You be glorified and that Your people would be built up in Your truth. 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.”
Open your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 7:5. We continue to march through our material here on the doctrine of the angels—angelology—having already covered the good angels.
We’ve been looking at satanology—the bad angel that fell. We’ve looked at his existence, his personhood, his names and titles, his original state and first sin.
Wrapping up our material on satanology, we’re currently looking at his works. We have looked at the things he’s done in the past. There are an awful lot of things done in the past, aren’t there? It’s amazing how much Scripture is devoted to recording what Satan has done. From there we began to look at things that he’s doing now—as I’m speaking—in the present. That is some of the terrain that we’ve covered, and that’s where we left off last time.
One of the things Satan does is he tempts God’s people to sin. A temptation is a solicitation to sin. That’s why Satan—one of his names is “the tempter.” There’s a lot of confusion on this. A lot of people think being tempted to sin is actually a sin.
That couldn’t be true, because Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Simply experiencing an invitation to sin is not the equivalent of a sin. Yielding to the temptation? Obviously, then it does become a sin.
You see Satan at work in the life of God’s people, and most people are shocked to discover this. God is at work in our lives, but the Bible tells us that Satan is at work in our lives as well. As he works in our lives, he seeks to entice us to sin.
When you look at 1 Corinthians 7:5, he’s talking there about marriage—the marital bed—the sexual relationship between the husband and the wife. In the process of talking about this, Paul says something that’s very interesting. He says, “Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
Paul is dealing with a scenario whereby people—in chapter 6 anyway—are going into the pagan temples in Corinth and they’re having sexual relationships with prostitutes. And they’re doing this as Christians. Paul never says, “You’re not saved because a Christian would never do that.” He doesn’t say, “You lost your salvation.”
He says in 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” When you move into what we would call the Corinthian red-light district—that’s how they practice pagan religions in that time period—it involved prostitution. It involved sexual experiences with prostitutes (called priestesses) in the temple. No wonder Greco-Roman religion was so popular; it was tied to sexual looseness—sexual licentiousness.
So, in the process of confronting the Corinthians, who were Christians apparently involved in this practice, he says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” In other words, when you commit that particular sin, you drag the Holy Spirit—Who is inside of you—into that sin.
One of the things I like about the Bible is that it’s not just a book of don’ts—don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t—because chapter 7 follows chapter 6. He condemns the wrong practice of sexuality.
Sexuality of course—the sex drive—is something that God gave; so, it’s not to be condemned. He condemns the wrong practice of it in chapter 6. Then you get into chapter 7, and he says, “Here’s what not to do, and here’s what to do.” In other words, here’s the proper channel for the God-given sex drive. And he gives this long discussion about marriage—about how the marriage bed is undefiled.
The wife’s body belongs to the husband, and the husband’s body belongs to the wife. He talks about the duty to sexually satisfy your partner within the context of marriage. Some of you are looking at me saying, “Oh my goodness. Does the Bible talk about all that stuff?” Well, read it for yourself! Its right there in chapter 7.
Right in the middle of it he says, “Stop depriving one another…” When he says that, he’s saying stop denying one another sexually, except in those circumstances where the two of you agree that you’re going to mutually abstain from sex with each other—within marriage—and devote yourself to prayer. Unless there’s some kind of mutual agreement in the marriage for that, make sure you do that time of prayer for a short period of time. Because if you go beyond proper bounds, what’s going to happen is that you’re going to have in your marriage unmet sexual needs.
If you have unmet sexual needs in your marriage that aren’t being fulfilled, you’re going to be tempted to go right back into the prostitutes that are condemned in chapter 6. In the process of doing all of this description, he says, “Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again…” And then he says, “…so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” If you go beyond the biblical boundaries and abstain for an abnormally long amount of time of sex within marriage, what’s going to happen is that Satan is going to come and tempt you to go right back to the temple prostitutes.
We have a lot of problems in our society today related to pornography, internet pornography, adultery, and—God forbid—in some cases, pedophilia. The list goes on and on about abnormal sexuality. A lot of it is related to the fact that people don’t respect the blueprint of God within marriage.
If you’re not going to respect the blueprint of God within marriage, and if you’re not going to give your mind to the study, as a couple, of all of the passages dealing with the subject of marriage, then you’re going to have unmet sexual needs. You’re going to be tempted to go back to the temple prostitutes and Satan is going to be right there tempting you and enticing you to go back.
It’s astounding to me how practical the Bible is on every single matter of life, including human sexuality itself. And in the process of this description, you get a very clear indicator, particularly in verse 5, of Satan, who is the one who tempts God’s people in all ways. Satan takes advantage of every single situation he could take advantage of, including this issue of sexuality.
What else does Satan do? Satan uses the carnality of Christians. Does Satan use unbelievers? Of course he does! But he also uses Christians. I think Satan would be happier using a Christian than he would be using an unbeliever. Because if he can use your life in some way—and you’ve already been given a sphere of influence of some kind, because God has used you in someone else’s life—there would be nothing more delightful for Satan than to use you to tear it down.
You already have a platform to tear down; God has given you a platform, because he’s already used you. The sphere of influence that God is giving you for good? Satan wants to work in your life to use that same sphere of influence for his purposes.
A lot of the problem with the Calvinistic view that everybody’s being taught today from people like John MacArthur, John Piper, and all these kinds of guys, is that they’re all arguing that we are single natured as Christians. In other words, “When you get saved, the old nature is totally gone.” They have these funny terms they use to describe the old nature in the Christian. They say it’s some kind of “past residue of sin” or some kind of “past reservoir of sin.”
The reality of the situation is that the old nature did not disappear in your life just because you got saved. We are dual natured—can anyone give me an “Amen” on that? Is anybody here ever tempted to sin as a Christian? See, all of you are a bunch of liars, because nobody put their hands up.
The reality of the situation is that the old nature is alive and well. You say, “Well, can you prove that to me?” I’m glad you asked! Look at Romans 13:14, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” He throws this in at the very end of the Book of Romans after he’s already described who we are in Christ.
He’s described the fact that we’re saved from the slave market of sin, Romans 1-3. He’s described our justification, Romans 3:21-5:21. He’s described the provisions that God has given us to overcome the sin nature, Romans 6-8. He’s described that the promises God has given us are ironclad, Romans 9-11.
You don’t get a greater treatment on who we are in Christ than you find in the Book of Romans. A lot of people think that because we have all of these blessings the old nature just withered away and died. You see very clearly there in verse 14, at the end of the book after he’s described all of these majestic blessings, he says, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” Well, that must mean that as a new creature in Christ—a born-again believer as I’m living in this body—that the sin nature is still alive and well.
Now clearly—chapter 6 and chapter 8—there are provisions that God has given us so that we do not have to go back to the sin nature. But that doesn’t change the fact that the invitation to return to the sin nature is always there. It’s always going to be there until your dying day!
That’s the benefit of the Rapture. Because when the Rapture occurs, you’ll be placed in a glorified body which won’t have that old nature anymore. Until that point in time or until death—whichever comes first—the Christian is dual-natured.
You don’t have to be dominated by the old nature because of the provisions that we have in Christ that are described in Romans 6 and 8. But that doesn’t mean that the old nature somehow is deactivated. It’s very much alive and well, and it has not been annihilated at all.
In fact, Paul says, in Romans 6:6, “…knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin…” When he says that the old body of sin has been done away with, people that promote a single natured view of man in the Christian camp on this verse. They say, “Well there it is…the old nature is done away with.”
The verb “done away with” is KATARGEO, which is the identical verb used of the Antichrist being overthrown in 2 Thessalonians 2:8. When Jesus overthrows the Antichrist when He comes back at the end of the Tribulation period, the Antichrist has been defeated. But has he been annihilated? Does he cease to exist? He does not cease to exist. He goes into the Lake of Fire. And a thousand years later he’s still in the Lake of Fire.
Revelation 20:10, “And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” Satan is thrown into the Lake of Fire along with the Antichrist and false prophet. KATARGEO does not mean annihilated; it means disabled.
The old nature that we have is still there, although I don’t have to go back to it. You shouldn’t interpret “done away with” as if now, all of a sudden, as a Christian living in this world, I’m single natured. Because I’m not single-natured; I’m dual-natured.
My identity is that of a new man in Christ. I’m a saint, but I still have to live practically in this world. As long as I am in this body, as long as I haven’t died, and as long as it’s pre-Rapture, the old nature is something you’ve got to wrestle with your whole Christian life. It’s always there to go back to—you can go back to it at will.
The reason we go back to the old nature as Christians is not because we have to. When we were unbelievers, we had to follow the old nature. We were slaves of the old nature. But this time around, as a new creature in Christ, I go back to the old nature not because I have to but because I want to.
Anytime we sin, it’s not because we’re a slave to it—as we were as unbelievers—but now we simply want to go back to it. The point I’m trying to make is that there isn’t anything good to go back to in the old nature. Paul is very clear in Romans 6 that the only thing it ever produced in your life pre-salvation was death. So why would you want to go back to it?
After all of this explanation, Romans 13:14 says, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” Indicating that it’s still there. What’s the big deal of occasionally going back to the sin nature? When you go back to the sin nature you give Satan a foothold in your life. You give him ground! You give him influence that you don’t have to give him. He can’t possess you because your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. But once you begin to give Satan influence, he can heavily influence you as a Christian.
Once you give him ground, he will start to use your life for purposes of tearing down or destruction when God wants to use your life for purposes of building up others and for good. Satan very clearly uses the carnality of Christians.
Let me just show you an example or two of this in the Bible. Remember Matthew 16:13-23. In verse 15 Jesus asked the disciples, “‘But who do you say that I am?’” They were up in the north in Caesarea Philippi, and Peter coughed out the right answer. Remember that? “And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.’” He begins to talk to Peter about how He’s going to give him the keys to the Kingdom, and all of these kinds of things.
Now, if Jesus said all that stuff to you, don’t you think that would create a little bit of pride? I mean, Jesus said, “You’re the rock,” and all these promises. I think at that point Peter started to get a little bit puffed up about himself. “Gee, Lord, what would You do without me? Aren’t you lucky that I’m on Your team? Aren’t you lucky I chose You? I’m a Christian, and You’re so fortunate to have me on Your side.” He probably got a little bit puffed up!
Then, in that same unit of material, Matthew 16:13-23, Jesus begins to talk about how He’s got to go to the Cross, He’s got to die, and that didn’t fit their blueprint of a Messiah. In fact, those kinds of teachings, to the minds of the disciples, were totally new. They didn’t understand the Cross before the crown. They thought He was going to set up His Kingdom immediately.
And when Jesus starts talking about His death, Peter takes Him aside. This is Peter taking God aside! We know that Peter knows He is God, because he just called Him the Messiah.
Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. Now, that would be an example—I think—where pride gave Satan not possession of Peter’s life but influence over Peter’s thoughts, behavior, and thinking. And you know how that paragraph ends. Jesus said to Peter, “…Get behind me…” What? “…Satan!”
He said that to the same guy He just told He was going to give the keys of the Kingdom a little earlier! I think Peter pandered to carnality and gave Satan an inroad—or influence—into his life. That would be an example of Satan using the carnality of Christians.
A lot of people don’t like that example. They say, “Well, that was before the Holy Spirit was given. That was prior to the Day of Pentecost. That kind of thing can’t happen today.” Okay, let me give you some post-Pentecost examples. In Acts 5 there’s a story of Ananias and Sapphira, who I believe were Christians. The reason I think they were Christians is that they were struck dead for lying to the Holy Spirit.
Acts 5:11 says, “And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things.” I’m not sure the church would be fearful if an unbeliever was struck dead through maximum divine discipline. But if one of their own is struck dead through maximum divine discipline, to the point of death, that would be terrifying to the church.
This was God’s way of purifying this new infant that He had created in Acts 2, practically speaking, called the church. As I look at this, I’m fairly confident that Ananias and Sapphira were believers. They just catered to the flesh. As they catered to the flesh, they began to misrepresent to the church their level of generosity.
Acts 5:3 says, “But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan [speaking to Christians—post-Pentecost] filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?’” The word filled there is PLEROO, and is the same verb used in Ephesians 5:18 on how we ought to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We ought to be continuously filled with the Holy Spirit.
Just as we as Christians have the potential to be continuously filled with the Holy Spirit, Satan had the opportunity to come into the lives of Ananias and Sapphira because they misrepresented their level of generosity to the church. Satan filled their hearts so that they committed this terrible act and consequently experienced maximum divine discipline.
That is not a pre-Pentecost example of Satan using the carnality of Christians; that’s a post-Pentecost example. What I’m trying to say is that this can happen in any Christian’s life when they go back to the old nature.
Let me give you one more example. Go to Ephesians 4:26-27. Is there any doubt that the Ephesians he’s addressing were saved? Of course they were saved! He spends chapters 1-3 explaining all of their riches in Christ. In fact, in Ephesians 1:3 Paul says to this audience in Ephesus, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” In other words, just as Paul was saved, so are the Ephesians. “…who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…”
There is no doubt that the audience is a saved, regenerate audience. What does Paul say to this exact same audience in Ephesians 4:26-27? “Be angry…” No, the verse doesn’t stop there. “…and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger…”
As Christians we’re told to not be people of hate, not to be people of venom, not to be people of anger. You say, “Well how do we ever get to that point? Because we’re all abused or mistreated by somebody. We all have pent-up feelings of hostility toward somebody.” Unfortunately, a lot of people come to a church and think it’s going to be this completely sanctified environment. They’re never really told that the guy who taught your Sunday school class, for example, has the same potential to go back to the sin nature as you do.
You expected more from that person—that person was rude to you—or that person insulted you. Then people figure out, “Well, I guess I’m not going to church anymore because they’re a bunch of hypocrites in that church.” To that charge I say, “If you think we’re a bunch of hypocrites in this church, we’ve always got room for one more hypocrite!” Because all of us have this potential of going back to the old nature.
One of the ways we pander to the old nature is that we get very angry or upset with people. How do you prevent yourself from being like that? The answer is in verse 32. It’s very simple, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” There is your solution for bitterness right there.
You should underline it—put a star on it—mark it. Because if we are people of anger, it’s very simple, we’re not people of forgiveness. You say, “I’m not going to forgive that person! They treated me this way and treated me that way! My goodness, I want justice!” That’s the natural reaction of the old nature and we very easily forget the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ has not treated us with justice. He’s treated us with what? Grace! If Jesus has treated me with grace, maybe I ought to extend that grace to somebody else who’s injured me or wounded me. You say, “They don’t deserve that grace!” I know! That’s the point of grace! That’s its meaning. It’s called unmerited favor.
Let me counter this real fast—there’s this teaching floating around, and every time Ann and I hear this we just bristle. There is this view that I’ve heard from some of the best! They say, “You don’t have to forgive somebody unless they come up to you and ask for forgiveness.” They quote this verse in Luke that’s totally out of context and has nothing to do with it! Folks, if you’re going to play that little game and say, “I’m not going to forgive unless they ask to be forgiven,” you’ll stay a bitter person your whole life. Because nine times out of ten, the person who hurt you probably doesn’t even realize it. That’s just part of living in a fallen world.
We’re not people who say, “I’m not going to forgive unless they ask for forgiveness.” Because what did Jesus do hanging there on that cross? He said, “‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’” He’s our example! You forgive people!
I’m not saying put yourself back in harm’s way. But you forgive people, because they don’t even know what they’re doing. If you start doing that, what’s going to happen to the level of anger in your life? What’s going to happen to the level of bitterness in your life? It’s going to start to disappear. Maybe it won’t completely disappear, but it’s not going to have the same foothold that it once had. Do not let the sun go down on your anger. Forgive as you have been forgiven. That doesn’t mean move to Alaska because, “I can stay angry all the time since the sun never goes down.” That’s not the point of it.
By the way, Jesus, in Matthew 18, told a whole parable about a fellow who owed somebody—I don’t remember the amount—a million dollars, and it was forgiven. And the same guy that had been forgiven a million-dollar debt went and found a guy who owed him a couple of bucks and demanded that the payment be made. And he demanded that he be thrown into prison unless he got paid back the two bucks—when he had just been forgiven a million dollars.
That’s how ridiculous we look when we’re people of unforgiveness. Here God has forgiven us everything, and I’m going to go hold someone accountable with justice for two dollars. It’s absurd! That’s the point of the parable.
What does this have to do with satanology? If you look at verse 6:26 and particularly 27, it explains what happens to a person if they don’t do this in Christ—be a forgiving person. Paul gave the exhortation, verse 26, and then in verse 27 he says, “…and do not give the devil an opportunity.”
That’s post-Cross, post-resurrection, post-Pentecost. The Holy Spirit has been poured out for decades. He’s writing to a Christian audience, and he basically says, “If you guys aren’t going to forgive the way you’ve been forgiven, Satan is going to have an influence in your life and he’s going to use your life for his purposes.”
If Satan can use anybody, it’s bitter people. For the very simple reason that bitterness and anger are not designed—biologically speaking—to stay inside of a person’s emotions and psyche. Bitterness and anger have to come out.
It’s like the illustration of, “How do you know what’s in the cup?” Someone’s drinking from the cup. How do you know what’s in the cup? You know what’s in the cup based on what comes out of the cup naturally when that person is bumped. That’s bitterness in the life of the child of God.
What’s going to happen is that the anger that’s inside of us—because of our refusal to forgive—has to come out on somebody. And nine times out of ten, it comes out on innocent parties—people you never intended to hurt! They become the victim because you’re mad about somebody else and something they said to you. That offending party probably isn’t even aware that they offended you anyway, so it comes out on friends, it comes on relatives, it comes out in your marriage, it comes out on your kids—God forbid!
There have been multiple times in our marriage where I’m ranting about this or ranting about that, and I start to criticize my wife. And then she says, “Well, just hold on a minute. What are you upset about?” When I stop and think, I’m not upset at her; I’m upset about something else that happened—either at work, or wherever.
What’s happening is because I haven’t forgiven that person of that particular situation, I just gave Satan an inroad. And now that bitter spirit is coming out on an innocent party! You see that? This is a strategy of Satan relative to his use of Christians.
That leads us to another strategy that he uses. He uses the carnality of Christians. What else does Satan do? Continuing here with our list. I do have an example of this in history. Martin Luther is a man that I have an awful lot of respect for. We just got finished celebrating Reformation Day, October 31.
It was through the influence of Luther that he gave us the great Solas of Christianity: Christ alone, faith alone, grace alone, Scripture alone, to the glory of God alone. I’ll say something about Luther; he had a dark side—just like I have a dark side and you have a dark side. And if you pander to that dark side, you’re going to die a cranky, bitter old person. That’s what’s going to happen. And Luther let a lot of stuff come out of his mouth at the end of his life that, sadly, is in print and should have never been said.
This is not him misspeaking; this is a pamphlet that goes on over 80 pages called, “Concerning the Jews and Their Lies.” This is something he never said about the Jews earlier in his life. Earlier in his life, he wanted the gospel held out to the Jews. He wanted to see the Jews get saved. But what happened is that the Jews didn’t respond to the message of salvation the way he thought they should have responded. Consequently, a few decades passed, and he developed a very bitter attitude toward the Jewish people.
To the point where, at the end of his life, that bitterness came out. You have probably seen excerpts from this about their synagogues being set on fire, their homes should be broken down and destroyed, they should be deprived of their prayer books and Talmuds. To the point where Encyclopedia Judaica says, “Short of the Auschwitz oven and the extermination, the whole Nazi holocaust is pre-outlined here,” speaking of Martin Luther.
Am I saying that Martin Luther is unsaved? Didn’t say that at all! Am I saying that Martin Luther somehow never made contributions to Christianity? Never said that at all! I’m saying this is an historical example of what Satan wants to do in the life of every child of God. He wants to take a bitter spirit within the child of God and, once that takes a foothold, he wants that bitterness to spill out.
The bigger the platform, the more Satan works overtime on people. Luther had a platform! You don’t have the Protestant Reformation without Martin Luther. I believe Satan over subsequent decades said, “God used him, so I’m going to use him before he dies and goes to heaven!” If it can happen to Luther, it can happen to me, it can happen to you, it can happen to anybody!
We don’t get much teaching on this kind of thing in the body of Christ today, because we’re inundated with this single nature view of the believer where we don’t think anything like this could ever happen to a Christian. I’m trying to teach against that perspective and show you very biblically that Satan can and will use the carnality of Christians.
If you don’t want Satan to use you, then don’t go back to the sin nature. Because when you go back to the sin nature, you make provision for the flesh. That’s what Romans 13:14 is speaking of. What does Satan do? Satan can cause physical problems in the body.
Luke 13:11-12 says, “And there was a woman who for eighteen years had had a sickness caused by a spirit; and she was bent double, and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your sickness.”
Drop down to verse 16, where Jesus is speaking. “And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?”
What is the religious crowd upset about? They’re not upset about the fact that this poor person had been victimized by Satan physically for 18 years; they’re upset that Jesus had the audacity to break their traditions and heal her on the Sabbath! That’s the attitude of religion!
Religion completely misses the grace of God. In fact, it was the religious crowd who nailed Jesus to a cross. People in the secular world say, “Andy, what do you do?” I’ll explain it to them, and they say, “Oh, you’re religious!” And my reaction is, “I’m not religious at all!” I don’t want anything to do with religion! I grew up—the first 16 years of my life—with religion. What I am is a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ! I have a personal relationship with God—by grace through faith—which is the exact opposite of religion.
You’ll notice that the religious crowd is upset that He healed on the Sabbath. And it’s very clear from this passage that Satan had her physically bound for 18 years. Can Satan cause physical problems in the body? Yes, he can! You know the story of Job, how God said to Satan, “Do as you wish. Just don’t take his life.” (Job 2:7-8)
He immediately smote him with a skin condition of some kind that was so severe that Job had to break potshards to scrape himself to alleviate himself. It’s very clear that Satan caused that problem physically in Job’s body.
We’re not entirely sure what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was. Some have speculated it was a physical problem; we don’t know that for sure. If it was a physical problem—and it very well could have been for all we know—you see in 2 Corinthians 12:7 that Paul calls it “a messenger from Satan.” Very clearly, Satan can mess up the body.
You have to be very careful with this one. Because if you don’t teach this in balance, people are going to think that every physical infirmity they ever experience in their life is satanic. And that’s not true either.
I’m going to have problems in my physical body even if Satan has nothing to do with it, because I’m getting older. Can I get an “Amen” from anybody? It’s interesting how the body just deteriorates naturally as you get older. Why is the body even deteriorating? Its deteriorating because of what God said to Adam in Genesis 3:19, “…For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”
Romans 8:19-22 is basically a description of our world that we’re living in, including our bodies. Romans 8:23 talks about how the creation is moaning. It was subjected to futility; it’s in a state of corruption. “For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.”
In other words, the creation is personified as it can’t wait to be redeemed in Christ. Why? Because of original sin. It’s interesting; all the youth today want to talk about eco environmental issues—saving the planet. Do you know when the greatest ecological disaster happened to this world? It happened in Genesis 3.
Genesis 3 destroyed our relationship with God, it destroyed our relationship with each other, and it destroyed the environment. Genesis 3:17-19 talks about thorns and thistles growing up in a cursed world; now earning a living becomes difficult.
You want to talk about ecology? Let’s talk about ecology! But today you can’t do that; you’ve got to blame everything on capitalism ruining the environment when your Bible is saying the greatest ecological disaster in human history happened because of man’s rebellion against the Creator in Genesis 3. When your kids and grandkids come to you with starry eyes about all of their ambitions to save the planet, you might just want to refocus the conversation a little bit and see how that goes, because we have an answer to environmentalism. We don’t think about these things biblically, and yet your Bible is filled with all kinds of ecological issues.
2 Corinthians 4:16 says that our outer man is deteriorating. You say, “Well, how do you know that?” As I like to say, look at your yearbook from high school, then look at your modern-day driver’s license picture, and you’ll see it very clearly. What am I getting at? What I am getting at is that yes, Satan clearly, scripturally causes physical problems in people, but you should not rush to the conclusion that every physical problem is satanically caused.
Some of it is also caused by the simple fact that we are living in a universe that is subject to the second law of thermodynamics which states that things left to themselves go from order to what? Chaos. If you don’t believe me, don’t wash your car for a month or don’t clean your house for a month; you’ll see the second law of thermodynamics in operation! And it includes the physical body.
One of these days the second law of thermodynamics is going to be repealed by God. Won’t that be nice? Therefore, the creation itself is longing for the manifestation of the sons of God—Jesus coming back with the angels—to repeal the curse off this cursed world. My point is that not every physical problem is satanically caused, but some can be satanically caused.
To communicate the point, I have this slide here in the Gospel of Matthew. It mentions several people with physical infirmities. As you go through those references, what you’re going to discover is that Satan is not involved or mentioned in any of them. Can Satan cause physical problems? Yes. Does Satan cause all physical problems in people? Not necessarily. We want to be balanced as we look at these things.
What else does Satan do? He negatively influences governments. we’ve already studied this in this church; over in Daniel 10:13, 20, where we’re told about a fallen angel over Persia. By the way, what country is modern-day Persia? Iran. Now isn’t that interesting? Iran is the leading sponsor of terror in the whole world. If I’m understanding this right, what’s wrong with those people over there? There’s a demon over that country! If I’m understanding this right, the Prince of Persia is still there.
Then, we have another demon over the kingdom of Greece. It was under Greece that Israel’s temple was desecrated, and the Jews were abused by the Greeks, etc. You have a spiritual explanation for that in Daniel 10:13, 21, when it talks about an evil spirit or demon—or maybe even Satan himself—over the kingdom of Greece and over the kingdom of Persia.
Revelation 2:10 is a description about how Satan uses the institution of government to thwart God’s purposes on the earth. Revelation 2:10 is something Jesus said to the suffering church at Smyrna, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison…” Isn’t that what governments do? Don’t they throw people in prison and toss away the key?
“Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Government is going to cause you problems for ten days, and some of you are even going to be thrown into prison. It’s very clear in Revelation 2:10 that it’s Satan inspiring the government to do this work—to counter God’s work—here in Smyrna. These are all examples you can go to which clearly demonstrate that Satan uses the institution of government to accomplish his ends. That’s why we are to do what, relative to government? Pray!
1 Timothy 2:1-4 says we ought to be praying for government so that they can govern in the right way so that the gospel can travel freely. Why would Paul say that? Because he had a little experience with the matter. He, many times in his life, was unfairly thrown into jail by the government. Satan thought he was thwarting Paul’s ministry. When Paul says, “Pray for the government so that the gospel can go out effectively,” you’re dealing with a guy who has a little bit of a resume here. He knows how Satan works.
Satan invades and influences the institution of government. Here is a statement by R.J. Rummel, who wrote a book called Death by Government. He even coined a term to describe governments abusing their own people; the term he came up with is “democide.” He was trying to figure out how the majority of people in world history have died. What he shows, very clearly, is that the majority of people in world history have not died through natural causes—other than old age, of course. It wasn’t in earthquakes. It wasn’t tsunamis. It wasn’t hurricanes. It was people around the world being killed by their own government.
Rummel tried to come up with a figure for the number of people in human history who have been victimized by democide. He came up with 262 million people. We don’t even know how big a number that is! He says to imagine it this way: stack people from head to toe. They can only be 5 feet tall, so that would rule me out. Get a bunch of 5 foot tall people, stack them from head to toe, and the number 262 million would circle the globe 10 times.
That’s the significance of the point that I’m trying to make that Satan influences government. Here we are the United States of America where I, as an evangelical Christian, can show up and do something in casting a vote. And half of the Christians out there won’t even take advantage of the opportunity because they’re too busy.
You have to understand something. Every time you, as a Christian, exercise the right that the founding fathers gave you to vote, you set back the forces of Satan, because the default mode of human governments in human history is totalitarianism. That’s the direction they all go in if left unchecked. Because power corrupts, and absolute power does what? Corrupts absolutely!
You start understanding biblical principle, and you start exercising them in the polling place, you just threw a monkey wrench into Satan schemes. See that? That’s the total tragedy of the statistics. Half of the body of Christ is registered to vote, but only half of that number actually shows up and votes.
We sit around wondering why the country is going to hell in a handbasket. What did Benjamin Franklin say when he came out of the Constitutional Convention? Some lady asked him a question, “Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy?” And he said, “A republic…”
This is in the notes of James Madison. James Madison was the fastidious notetaker at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. This is not some quote that I found on the internet; this is a real quote. To the woman who was questioning what kind of government those in Philadelphia had been given, “A republic replied the Doctor if you can keep it.”
In other words, it’s your responsibility to make sure it stays that way and doesn’t revert to totalitarianism—which is the default mode of every government on planet earth. We have a local and state election Tuesday; you can show up exercise your rights there. You can function as the restrainer, which is your function in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7. You can throw a monkey wrench in Satan’s schemes! Isn’t that amazing? Yet how many pastors do you think talk like this to their congregations? It’s a stewardship issue. What is stewardship? Stewardship is, “I am not an owner; I’m a manager.”
God is going to hold people accountable at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ for their stewardship in all kinds of areas! Marriages, families, businesses, life of the church. If you are an American, I guarantee you that Jesus is going to want to know what you did with this right that you have—that very few people in human history have!
People in Saudi Arabia would die for this kind of opportunity, and yet here we are in the United States, lethargically going to sleep—apathetic about the whole issue. I want you to see voting as a Christian calling! Amen? Well, I better get off that! We don’t tell you how to vote. You’ve got a Bible and a mind; let the Bible inform every single area of life.
One of the other things is that Satan lies. He is the father of lies, which is the superlative, meaning he’s the ultimate liar! When he lies, he speaks his native language; you’ll see that in John 8:44.
Then the last thing Satan does is he deceives. He must be pretty good at it because he deceived Adam and Eve—without a sin nature—into rebelling against God. Well, he deceived Eve. Adam didn’t even have to be deceived.
If he can deceive Adam and Eve into rebelling against God—without a sin nature—what could he do to me? His capacities for deception must be very powerful. Revelation 12:9 says, “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” That’s a lot of people, isn’t it? That’s how effective he is at this art of propaganda—or deception.
Satan is let loose from the abyss at the end of the thousand years. Here everybody can see Jesus face-to-face sitting on the throne of David. They’ve lived in a perfect world for a thousand years, and Satan is given one last hurrah. These would be the descendants of those who survived the Tribulation period and entered the Millennial Kingdom in their mortal bodies.
Satan goes into deception mode one more time, and who does he deceive? It’s astounding to me the way the passage reads in Revelation 20:8. It says that those involved in the rebellion were as numerous as the sand on the seashore. Think of how much sand is on the seashore worldwide; that’s a number that’s so high you probably couldn’t even quantify it. Those are the people who Satan deceives—with Jesus sitting right there in Jerusalem on David’s throne—after living for a thousand years in a total utopia.
And just like that, he is let out of the abyss and he deceives them that quickly—that many of them—to such an extent that the Lord calls down fire from heaven—Revelation 20:7-9—and destroys Satan. My point is, never underestimate the capacity that Satan has for deception.
That’s why we have to put on the full armor of God. That’s why we have to be saturated in God’s Word. If you’re not saturated in God’s Word, what hope do you have of standing up against deception? We’ll stop there. Next time we’re together we’ll do the future of Satan. Let’s pray.
“Father, we’re grateful for satanology, the doctrine of Satan. Help us to be sober about this, not giving Satan too much credit but reminding ourselves through Your Word that we have a very real adversary—the devil. We know from the Scripture how he operates. And I ask that You be with us in the service that follows. We ask these things in Jesus’ name.”
God’s people said, “Amen.”