“The Work of the Devil Today”Categories: Sermons
These past several weeks, we’ve looked at a number of very encouraging Scriptures that set out the ways that God is not merely active, but powerfully active, in our lives today. How comforting it is to know that God is personally involved with each one of us!
Sadly, God is not the only spiritual being who is involved in our lives. The devil is too, and in every way, His work is the opposite of God’s. God wants to bless us, but the devil wants to ruin and destroy us. God wants us to know about His good works so that we will seek Him, but the devil wants us to forget that he even exists.
Sadly, his diabolical campaign is all too effective. People forget about the devil, even if they don’t outright deny his existence, so they stumble right into his traps and are destroyed. This doesn’t happen merely to people in the world. It happens to Christians too, and if we don’t pay attention, it will happen to us. Let’s spend this morning, then, considering the unpleasant subject of the work of the devil today.
First, we must recognize that the devil SCHEMES. Look at Ephesians 5:11. Sometimes, we get so caught up in thinking of the devil as mean and evil that we forget that he’s smart. The devil’s not like the Joker. He doesn’t run around chaotically smashing things for fun. He’s much more calculating than that. Indeed, he has a plan right now for how he is going to do his level best to get each one of us into hell.
Just like the devil’s not dumb, he’s not lazy either. He will work on us for years, decades, if he has to, luring us away from the path of righteousness step by step, bit by bit, until finally we end up where he wants us. He is industrious and patient.
Obviously, all of us would be dead meat if we were left to face such a cunning, malevolent being on our own. Our only hope for victory is through Jesus. However, even though we must rely on the Lord, neither should we go skipping merrily off into spiritual danger without a clue. We ourselves must be watchful for the ways that the devil is working in our lives.
Seriously. Stop right now. Ask yourself, “What is the devil’s plan for leading me away from the Lord?” I guarantee you that there is a plan, and if you pay careful attention to the temptations and spiritual dangers in your life, you can figure out what it is. The more we see the devil’s designs, the less vulnerable we are to them. Let’s all be watchful and wise!
Second, the devil LIES. Consider the words of our Lord in John 8:44. You know, there are few times in the gospels when we hear as much anger and contempt in Jesus’ voice as we do right here. He and the devil are ancient adversaries. Even when Jesus said this, they had been fighting against each other for millennia, and Jesus recognizes in the devil the very opposite of His holy nature. Jesus said of Himself that He is the way, the truth, and the life. The devil, by contrast, is the father of lies.
When we are tempted, we must remember this. Somewhere, in every temptation, there is a lie. Every single one of them. Sometimes the lie is that we won’t be happy without this sin. Sometimes it’s that people won’t like us unless we sin. Sometimes, it’s that the consequences of righteousness are too hard to bear. Sometimes, it’s that sin won’t have any consequences. Sometimes, it’s several or even all of the above. Regardless, there is always a lie.
Just like a smart fish learns to see the hook behind the worm, we need to learn to see the lie behind the temptation. Where is it that Satan is twisting the truth in order to lead us into evil? Once we spot the lie, the temptation will become less powerful. Once we see that it is possible to be righteous and happy, or possible to be righteous and still have people love us, the pull of the flesh will become much weaker. Sometimes, people walk into sin without being deceived, but usually not, and if we defeat self-deception, Satan will have a much harder time with us.
Third, the devil HINDERS. Paul speaks of this in his life in 1 Thessalonians 2:17-18. This is subtle, but it’s important. Sometimes, the devil isn’t trying directly to get us to quit running the race. Sometimes, he’s only trying to make running the race harder. He’s trying to tangle our feet up to get us to stumble a little bit. He’s trying to weigh us down so that each stride takes more effort. He figures that if he can get us tired out, we’re not likely to try as hard in the cause of righteousness.
Let’s take a poll. I’m not going to ask for a show of hands. I just want you to answer in your own head. Right now, is it true that you have all the time and energy you want to devote to serving God? Or instead, is it true that there are things you’d love to be doing for the Lord, but you’re so busy that you don’t ever get around to doing them? If the latter is where you find yourself, guess what? The hindering work of the devil is evident in your life.
The only way to keep the devil from hindering us is to be absolutely ruthless in managing our time. Distractions in our lives are like weeds in a flowerbed. We don’t have to work to seek them out. Instead, they show up on their own, and before we know it, we have a schedule filled with 1257 different things, none of which are related to godliness. When our schedules look like that, the devil is happy. As far as he is concerned, a distracted and neutralized Christian is the next best thing to an out-of-duty Christian. If we want to maximize our usefulness to the Lord, we have to clear those schedules, and we have to spend the rest of our lives saying “No” to everything but Him.
Finally, the devil DEVOURS. Here, let’s read from the famous text of 1 Peter 5:8. He’ll hinder us if he must, but what he’d really like to do is consume us. As Jesus said in John 8, the devil has been a murderer from the beginning.
One of the most heartbreaking things about being a preacher is having to watch as the devil devours people, especially young people. It gives me no joy to tell this story, but right now, one of the kids I taught in Bible class in Joliet, a kid I had in my home, is on trial for first-degree murder. He was a smart kid, his mom took him to church three times a week, he had all the potential in the world, but he started running with the wrong crowd, and look how he ended up. This is to say nothing of all the Christians I’ve seen end up as drug addicts and single moms and atheists.
It’s tough to say, but from the outside looking in, none of those people seem very happy. That’s the handiwork of Satan too. He wants to ruin our lives and then wreck our eternities along with that. Whatever the path that the devil wants us to walk, that is the path we don’t want to go down!