Escaping The Devil’s Deception

“Not only does he choose when he will tempt, satan also chooses the best methods for displaying his temptations. One strategy is to hang out false colors. He comes up to the Christian disguised as a friend, so that the gates are open to him before his true identity is discovered. Paul says we should not be shocked to find false teachers masquerading as apostles of Christ, ‘…satan himself is transformed into an angel of light’ (2 Corinthians 11:13-14). Of all his plots, this is perhaps the most dangerous to the saints; when he appears in the mantle of a prophet and silver-plates his corroded tongue with fair-sounding language. In this manner he corrupts some in their judgment by interpreting gospel truth in such a way that God appears to condone questionable behavior. These Christians get caught up in the world’s morality under the guise of Christian liberty. … How we need to study the Scriptures, our hearts, and satan’s wiles, that we may not bid this enemy welcome and all the while think it is Christ who is our guest!” —William Gurnall, in The Christian In Complete Armor (emphasis mine) 

Thursdays With Oswald—What Is Mammon?

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

What Is Mammon?

     You cannot serve God and Mammon [Matthew 6:24]. A man of the world says we can; with a little subtlety and wisdom and compromise (it is called diplomacy or tact), we can serve both. The devil’s temptation to our Lord to fall down and worship him, i.e., to compromise, is repeated over and over again in Christian experience. We have to realize that there is a division as high as heaven and as deep as hell between the Christian and the world. ‘Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God’ [James 4:4]. … 

     Never compromise with the spirit of Mammon. When you are right with God, you become contemptible in the eyes of the world. Put into practice any of the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount and you will be treated with amusement at first; then if you persist, the world will get annoyed and will detest you. … What is Mammon? The system of civilized life which organizes itself without considering God. … 

     When we become mature in godliness God trusts His own honor to us by placing us where the world, the flesh, and the devil may try us, knowing that ‘greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world’ [1 John 4:4].

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

Mammon wants to get what it wants to get, without considering God and without regard to the long-term consequences. Mammon wants satisfaction right now! 

Mammon is the system of the world. People are constantly driven by what they can get for themselves right now, with little—if any—thought to what God thinks or to what the inevitable outcome is going to be. 

A Christian is different. 

A Christian is focused on something which cannot be seen right now. But just because the rewards cannot be seen doesn’t make them any less real. In fact, Jesus teaches that the rewards He gives are Reality itself. 

When a Christian insists on doing things God’s way, the devil will sneer and people will laugh. But God’s Spirit in you is greater than all of that, and He will help you to stand firm in Him, not compromising with the lure of Mammon. 

10 More Quotes From “The Christian In Complete Armour”

The Christian In Complete Armour is a classic work about a Christian’s spiritual warfare. Check out my review of this amazingly insightful book by clicking here, and check out other quotes I’ve shared from this book by clicking here. 

“When you see men of power and intellect using their talents against God, weep for their souls.”

“God permits satan’s temporary reign in order to increase the saint’s eternal joy.”

“If you see someone taking along, treacherous journey alone and unprotected, you conclude he expects no thieves on the road and you might well question his wisdom. Many pretenders to Christianity travel in a similar fashion. They tell you they are on their way to heaven, yet they show little inclination to travel in the company of the saints—as if they had no need of fellowship on the journey! Most of them go unfortified, without anything even resembling armor. Others brandish some vain, flighty hopes of the mercy of God, without so much as a single Scripture for ammunition. Such ‘hope’ is a rusty pistol and will fly in the fool’s face when he tries to use it.”

“Do you think for a moment your Heavenly Father would give His archenemy a sword too mighty for you, His own child, to overcome?”

“Let this encourage those of you who belong to Christ: The storm may be tempestuous, but it is only temporary the clouds that are presently rolling over your head will pass, and then you will have fair weather, an eternal sunshine of glory.”

“Trusting in your own goodness will eventually destroy it. Inherent grace is weak. Force it to endure the yoke of the law, and sooner or later it will faint by the wayside, unequal to the task of pulling the heavy load of your old nature. What you need is Christ’s yoke, but you cannot take it until you shed the one that harnesses you to works.” 

“How we would ridicule the man who, when the sun shines in at his window, tries to trap the sunbeams indoors by closing the shutters. But we are just as foolish to take our present joy, then turn away from God’s presence, supposing that we have all we need. You can feel the heat from the sun only when you stand beneath its rays; you can feel God’s comfort only as you keep your face turned toward Him.”

“Watchfulness is more important for the Christian soldier than any other. In temporal battles soldiers fight against men who need sleep the same as themselves, but the saint’s enemy, satan, is always awake and walking his rounds. Since the devil never sleeps, the Christian puts himself in grave danger by falling asleep spiritually—that is, by becoming secure and careless. … The weakest temptation is strong enough to foil a Christian who is napping in security.”

“A thief is just getting up when honest men are going to bed. The devil, I am sure, begins to tempt when saints cease to watch.”

“While the Holy Spirit is a comforter, He is also a convincer: He comforts us by teaching us.”

Battle Ready

The Bible says that satan prowls around like a lion, looking for an opening to devour Christians. Are you battle ready? The Apostle Peter gives us all of the battle preparation that we will need to be victorious!

One of the most important things we need to do is prepare ourselves before the battle even begins. Peter lists two key components: (1) self-control and (2) alertness (1 Peter 5:8-11). 

This Greek word for self-control is only used six times in all of the New Testament. Peter uses it three times in his first epistle, and the Apostle Paul also uses the word three times. It’s amazing to see the similarity in uses between the two of them. 

Both apostles use self-control in the context of the value of prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:6, 8; 1 Peter 4:7). In other words, Christians don’t wear armor to fight; they wear armor to pray. We have to be self-controlled enough to stick to the business of prayer. 

Restraining prayer, we cease to fight 
Prayer makes the Christian’s armor bright 
And satan trembles when he sees 
The weakest saint upon his knees. —William Cowper

Then both apostles use the Greek word for self-control in the context of using God’s Word as a spiritual weapon (2 Timothy 4:1-5; 1 Peter 1:10-13). Jesus used this same strategy in his battle in the desert against satan (Matthew 4:1-10)—Jesus was praying before the devil came to tempt Him, and then He defeated the devil’s temptations by quoting Scripture. 

Peter says the devil “prowls around like a roaring lion.” Notice that important word: like. The devil has always been an imitator—trying to be like God, he was expelled from Heaven, and then he deceived Adam and Eve by telling them they could be like God too. He’s using the same strategy now. 

Augustine pointed out, “Christ is called a Lion because of His courage; the devil because of his ferocity. The Lion comes to conquer, the other to hurt.” 

So Peter encourages us to “resist him, standing firm in the faith.” You resist the devil when you… 

  • …stay submitted to God 
  • …remember the blood of the Jesus—THE Lion of Judah—that won your victory 
  • …stay self-controlled in prayer
  • …remain alert in the Scriptures

Ask the Holy Spirit to keep you battle ready by helping you to develop the self-control and alertness you need. 

Yea Or Nay

“One of the greatest curses of the modern evangelical movement, in my opinion, is that we are somehow becoming ‘popular.’ Just as soon as you become popular, something goes out of your life, or more accurately, something has gone out of your life before you get popular.

“Historically, the Christian had to be emphatic. He had two words: yea or nay. When God was talking to him, he said yes, and when the devil was talking to him he said no. When God said, ‘Do this,’ he said, ‘Yes, Lord.’ When sinners tempted him to stray, he said an emphatic no.

“The trouble with us now is that we are double-minded. That is why we are weak. Scripture speaks of the double-minded man. He is ‘unstable in all his ways’ (James 1:8). Elijah illustrated this when he said, ‘How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him’ (1 Kings 18:21). We need to be on one side or the other. Wholly committed to our high calling in Christ Jesus.” —A.W. Tozer, in The Wisdom Of God

11 Quotes From “The Way Of Abundance”

Ann Voskamp speaks lovingly to the hurting and broken. She never condemns them for their brokenness, nor does she encourage them to stay in their difficult place. Instead, Ann brings a new perspective to the path of healing; a path that allows our brokenness to become our givenness to other broken and hurting people. This is The Way Of Abundance. Be sure to check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“Go fall in love with grace and mercy and the only One who has ever loved you to death—and back to the realest, abundant life. Because the world is begging us all to get out of bed and live given, get out of bed and sacrifice for someone hurting, for someone different, for someone forgotten or marginalized, to hold the hand of someone who doesn’t look like a us, to lean in and listen to someone angry and grieving and doubting the likes of us, to give a bit of ourselves to those who feel like they aren’t given much real space at the table.” 

“The real Jesus turns our questions of why—why this brokenness, why this darkness?—and says, ‘You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here.’ ‘This happened so the power of God could be seen in him’ [John 9:3]. There’s brokenness that’s not about blame. There’s brokenness that makes a canvas for God’s light to be lavishly splashed across the darkness. There’s brokenness that carves windows straight into our souls. Brokenness cracks open a soul so the power of God can crack the darkness in the world.” 

“When you aren’t afraid of being afraid, you transform fear into friend. … Feelings can accompany you, but they don’t get to control you. Feelings get to inform you, but they don’t get to form you. Feelings get to keep you company, but they don’t get to keep you in bondage. Only God keeps you.” 

“We are always lost until our heart makes its home inside of someone else. Our lives are unfulfilling if we only let our hearts fill us instead of filling other people’s broken places. The art of living is believing there is enough love in you, that you are loved enough by Him, to be made into love to give. Fulfilling lives happen when we give our hearts to fill other people’s empty spaces.” 

“There are really only two choices when begging temptation looks you square in your twitching eye: there is either the pain of self-denial, or the pain of self-destruction. … They’ll tell you there’s no such thing called temptation anymore, only repressed self-limitation. They’ll tell you temptation isn’t an issue for the sophisticated. And all I want to say: just don’t say you’re a follower of Christ if you’re actually following your own heart.” 

“Shame dies when stories are told in safe places. … Shame gets unspeakable power only if it’s unspeakable.” 

“The only way to live a truly remarkable life is not to get everyone to notice you, but to leave noticeable marks of His love everywhere you go.” 

“When you feel basically respectable, you want religion. And when you know you feel the brokenness of rejection, you want the gospel. In religion, it’s the ‘respectable’ who search for a God to impress. But in the Gospel, it’s God who searches for the brokenhearted rejected to save.” 

“Never fear the moments you imagine will freeze you: unexpected blasts of cold can be what draws you nearer to the flame of His love.” 

“The body of Christ must recapture its vision as the only collective in the world that exists for its nonmembers. … We are a community that will not dish out condemnation but courage, that will lean in and listen long and love large.” 

“You love as much as you are willing to be inconvenienced. … The brokenness of people is never truly an intrusion. Loving the broken people when it is inconvenient is the way to have fuller inclusion in the life of Christ.” 

Thursdays With Oswald—Jeremiah 4

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Jeremiah 4

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lectures on Jeremiah 4.]

     The great truth underlying calamity is that the truth and way of God is seen but abandoned because it is too difficult. Unless we understand this we shall misjudge God in His dealings with His people and imagine that He is too stern. … Abandon is not rebellion yet; abandon simply means—“That is a nice vision, but it is not for me.” … 

     The battle is lost or won in the secret places of the will with God alone, never first in external circumstances. … When that is done we can go forth with the smiling certainty that our battle is won, nothing will ever again enthrall us on that line. The world, the flesh and the devil have not the slightest power over the man who can rule his own spirit, who has fought the battle out before God and won there. …

     When the secret places of our will before God are revealed you know exactly what you have to do. Let the Word of God bore a hole in your self-complacency about the particular thing He has hauled you up about and then put in another Word that He brings to you, and you will soon find His dynamite at work. … 

     We are choked by a little thing that has not its root in God, which God condemned and we pathetically wept over but left there. … Never put a thing off and say, “It does not matter, no one sees.” No, but they will see you go down like standing corn before the scythe in external circumstances, because you played the traitor to God in secret. If God has revealed anything to you for the tiniest glimmer of a second and you don’t obey Him and cultivate that territory for Him, you will go down when the crisis comes. … 

     The basis of life on earth apart from God is chaos. … No whining and no shirking will ever help us to escape the utter confusion that is at the basis of every bit of human life that has ignored God. … 

From Notes On Jeremiah 

Our battles are won or lost in secret long before they are ever fought externally. 

God’s Holy Spirit wants to dynamite the areas of our life that would cause us to falter in the day of battle. If we will allow Him to deal with these things in private, we will be more than conquerors when that day of external temptation finally comes. 

If we maintain the “It’s no big deal” attitude with God in private, we shall surely be defeated by the temptations when they do come. 

The choice is yours…

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