Chapter 11 reveals that the contemporary, popular spiritual battle teachers are sending us in the wrong direction. We are battling on the wrong front and for the wrong reasons.
KNOWING WHAT SATAN’S NAME MEANS AND HIS CHARACTER GIVES US A CLUE ABOUT WHERE THE BATTLE IS GOING TO TAKE PLACE; AND KNOWING WHAT THE ISSUE IS GIVES US A CLUE ABOUT WHAT PURPOSE THE BATTLE SERVES IN GOD’S STORY
SATAN’S CHARACTER REVEALS HIS STRATEGY
How is the Battle Going to Unfold?
God’s restoration plan, according to the Biblical story, is to first create a new man, no longer under Satan’s rule and reign, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2Co 5:17 NLT) Then God equips the new man so that he is fit to stand and resist the power of the enemy until he is fully mature “…and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph 4:24 NIV) God finally completes the new man’s restoration by removing sin from man’s presence forever. The Believer is restored to the “image of God” he was in the beginning.
We know that Satan is defeated and was judged at the coming of Jesus; and, as I wrote earlier, he is furious toward those Christians who have rebelled against his illegitimate kingdom. From within the framework of God’s story we know that Satan is not interested in restoring his kingdom, he has already lost that authority. Instead, he is focused on stopping the restoration of God’s crowning creation, mankind. By staying within that same framework we can find clues that will reveal what the battle is focused on. Knowing his strategy and gathering other factors within that same framework will help us to discover the Christian’s roll in the spiritual battle.
For example: In God’s story we learn that Satan was created full of wisdom to rule over all the angels in heaven. But from his name the “Serpent” we learn that he has misused that wisdom to become a very crafty and deceiving being. Knowing this should help us to realize that, with thousands of years of practice, his best weapon against Christians would be to deceive them. He is not going to be up front with Believers about what he is doing. He is going to be sneaking in like a con-man, true to his nature (crafty, shrewd) and lie, lie, lie!
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Gen 3:1 NIV)
“So that huge dragon– the ancient serpent, the one called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world…”(Rev 12:9 NET)
His other name the “Devil” tells us that he is also very good at “pointing the finger.” He is going to try to divide and conquer through “slander” and “accusations” against God, His Word and the people of God. His weapons for this would be selfishness, lust, self-centeredness etc. His goal would be to stop Christians by separating them from God and each other by getting them to “point the finger” (like in the garden); “divide and conquer.”
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down (Rev 12:10 NIV)
Finally, the name Satan tells us that he is the Christian’s adversary or opponent who will be accusing them before God all the time. But Christians also have an adversary who works on their behalf, always interceding for them, Jesus Christ.
“…But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father– Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”(1Joh 1:1 NIV)
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. (Zec 3:1 NIV)
Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. (Rom 8:33 NIV)
One of Satan’s best weapons is to “accuse” and condemn us through our conscience. His goal is to distract us into trying to deal with our own sin and failures our own way. It’s one of his most effective tricks, i.e. “getting us to do a good thing the wrong way;” which is idolatry. Whenever we try to make ourselves a “righteous person” our own way, without God’s guidance, it is idolatry. We end up putting our way and ourselves before God; and we walk right into Satan’s deception. By constantly accusing Believers and deceiving them in this way, Satan distracts them and makes them forget that sin is no longer an issue with Believers.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1Jo 1:7 NIV)
They forget that, for the Christian, the wages of sin have been paid for by Christ. No matter how heinous their offense, they still possess the imputed, perfect “righteousness of Christ.” God looks upon them as righteous because of the righteousness of Christ that has been given to them. They still are purified from every sin in the past and every sin in the future. They still have newness of life, a new heart with God’s Word written on it, and they still have the Presence of God living within them. They can take hold of God’s provision for their sins and move forward.
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, (Phi 3:13 NIV)
Sin is still a part of our lives but we have been born into the family of God. So, like our earthly families, when we have a conflict within the family our fellowship is strained, but we are still family. In the same way sin doesn’t change the Believers relationship with God. When they sin against Him it complicates the relationship but they are still a part of the family. God removes that complication by offering us forgiveness. When we confess our sin we are instantly purified.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1Jo 1:9 NIV)
God Himself wipes out our sin and never remembers them again
“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. (Isa 43:25 NIV)
My cousin use to like to say “Nothing is free, if you want to play you got to pay.” Christians who step out thinking that they are free to sin because sin is no longer an issue should keep this in mind. I am referring to those Believers who think that they are free to do as they please because they are no longer under the law but under grace. Scripture is full of warnings to superficial Christians about playing around with sin. It will finally ruin the Believer so that they become unfit to be in God’s presence. Saying that sin is not an issue for Christians doesn’t mean they are free to sin without consequence. The principle in God’s kingdom for those who continue in their sin is when you break the covenant,“You got to pay!” That’s what the author reveals to us in Hebrews 6:4-8,
4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen1 away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. 7 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. (Heb 6:4-8 NIV)
There are a few good perspectives about this passage, one being that the readers of Hebrews were actually beginning to turn from the foundation of faith in Christ to their old foundation of earning their righteousness by keeping the law of Moses. But let’s look at what the content of the text reveals. First notice that these people have been enlightened, have tasted the gift of righteousness (heavenly gift), have received the Holy Spirit, and they have experienced the good things that comes from obedience to the Word of God and the powers of the coming age. In other words they were fully planted in the Kingdom of God and part of His family, But, they have fallen away, or in other words they have turned back and walked away, back to their old ways.
The context here reveals that this hypothetical “falling away” is not just a simple “backsliding.” These Believers knew Christ, fell into sin and instead of confessing their sin and repenting, they choose to play with it and continued to sin. Eventually they became so infected by their sin that they decided to turn away and “reject the Holy Spirit.” That’s apostasy! The bible text goes on to say that it is impossible for these people to be brought back to repentance. Notice that they do not lose the gift of salvation, but they chose “not to accept it and walked away.” How can a true Believer ever get to that place? The first eleven chapters of Genesis reveal that sin ruined mankind so that he could not have a relationship with God. The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. (Gen 6:5 NIV) Anyone who continues in sin will be gradually “ruined” for any kind of relationship with God.
So, what we see is a person who believed and was a part of God’s kingdom, who then chooses to reject God’s will and begin to live his own way again. By rejecting Christ, he crucified Christ “to himself.” In other words he completely separated himself from Christ just like those people who crucified Him the first time had separated themselves from Christ by rejecting Him. It is impossible to bring that kind of person, ruined for relationship by sin, back to repentance. This kind of sin is known as the “blaspheme of the Holy Spirit.” It is the only sin that will not be forgiven either in this age or the age to come.
Hebrews 6: 7-8 illustrates and confirms this interpretation; and verse nine tells us that this hypothetical behavior is not what we can expect from genuine Believers. Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case– the things that have to do with salvation. (Heb 6:9 NIV). So it is safe to say that sin is no longer a concern for genuine Believers.
Bottom Line: If sin is no longer an issue for Christians, then why does God allow believers TO CONTINUE to struggle with it? Why not remove sin all together? Restoring mankind back to his original glory means he must grow spiritually; learn to sin less and less. This is done by learning to live the Christian lifestyle, i.e. to “be holy.” Satan is going to do all he can to stop that growth from taking place. His great deception is to get believers to think that it is impossible for them to keep from sinning and that they are still under his control. Therefore, the issue in this spiritual battle is spiritual growth, learning to sin less, and not beating ourselves up over past failures. Yes it’s true, we may never be sinless in our lifetime; but we can learn to sin less as we become mature spiritually.