*Scripture references are incorrect on slide at 7:06. Second point should list John 12:31; 14:30; and 16:11.
Many people see Satan as a mythical figurehead, created to scare people during the middle ages. Jesus, however, held a being called Satan as central to His worldview. If Jesus’ belief in Satan was central to his worldview, then we if we confess Christ as Lord we have no right to correct His theology. The question becomes, in what way is Satan mythical and it what way is he real?
First, the way we understand Satan today, comes from the way he began to be portrayed in the middle ages. The standard Western depiction of Satan having horns, hooves, a spiked-tail, and a pitchfork is a close resemblance of the Greek god, Pan. They look silly to us now, but there were intended to scare people.
Second, be encouraged not to try and picture what Satan looks like in your mind, because the truth is, he is not picture-able…he isn’t physical at all. Think of him (or it) more along the lines of gravity or radio waves are real. We feel their effects when we stumble to the ground, or we hear the music when we turn on the radio. But we can’t envision what they look like. That’s how it is with Satan and the demonic powers.
This is important, because how we view Satan and the powers effects how we live – if we can know how these powers effect us then we can know how to outwit them.
*Side Note: Greg mentioned a fantastic resource written by a teacher in our congregation (Dan Kent) about understanding and outwitting Satan’s strategies for destroying our lives. Find it here on Amazon:
Greg then took us through a quick review of what the New Testament says about Satan and temptation:
Satan is called:
- the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4)
- the ruler of this world (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11)
- the principle power of the air (Ephesians 2:2)
- the evil one who controls the entire world (1 John 5:19)
- the tempter (Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5)
- the enemy who prowls around like a roaring lion seeking who he may devour (1 Peter 5:8)
- the thief who comes only to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10)
More specifically, Satan and demonic forces influence people to:
- lie (Acts 5:3)
- cheat on their spouses (1 Corinthians 7:5)
- gossip (1 Timothy 5:13-15)
- not forgive others (2 Corinthians 2:6-11)
- become bitter (Ephesians 4:26-27)
- fall in legalism (Galatians 4:7-10; 1 Timothy 4:1-5)
- embrace false teachings (2 Corinthians 11:3-4; 13-14; 1 Thessalonians 3:5; Colossians 2:8; 1 John 4:1-6; 2 John 7)
- become spiritually blind (2 Corinthians 4:4; Acts 26:18; Matthew 13:19)
- taking oaths (Matthew 5:36-37)
The New Testament gives us the picture that Satan and the kingdom of darkness is an ever-present force of temptation in our lives. Like gravity, there is a downward pull on us at all times, so resisting this pull isn’t something we can do on occasion – we must do it constantly; it is something we must live in.
We are hard-wired to act on our greatest want. AND we are hard-wired to want what we envision as most positive in our mind.
So the key to resisting sin and temptation, is NOT by sheer will power – which will fail most of the time.
Rather, the key is to stop envisioning negative things as positive – and see them as the ugly, negative, destructive things that they are in truth.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5: “We are to destroy logismos (reasoning processes) and hypsoma (imaginative image) that conflicts with the knowledge of God and to thereby take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
Our Brain is always “yapping” and it never shuts up. So we must take control over what it produces, in the power of the Spirit of God.
Philippians 4:8-9: “…whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think on these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.”
The Spirit of truth is something that we are to walk in every day. (2 John 1:4; John 15:26; 16:13; 1 John 5:6).
Psychologists tells us that we all live in a story/a narrative – it’s how we make sense of our lives. The stories we tell ourselves determines our values, images, thought processes, and what we want/don’t want and what we do/don’t do in our lives. In short, it forms our identity.
Most of us aren’t aware that we’re living in a story – especially on that we’ve created. How do we understand what story we are living in? Some possible tricks could be to ask yourself:
- What do you think about first thing in the morning when you wake up?
- What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
- What’s the default setting of your brain?
- What do you talk about most when you don’t know what else to talk about?
Greg talked through a few possible narratives, including the “woe is me” narrative, which makes ourselves as perpetual victims, always feeling and noticing how unjust life has been. There’s the “chicken little/sky is falling” narrative, where everything is going down the drain. Often times those living in this narrative see maximum urgency in fixing these perceived emergencies and they must be the ones to fix them. When this narrative gets mixed with politics we get similar situations as we have now. Young people tend to live in the narrative of “how they’re gonna be ‘somebody’ someday” and their grandeur visions for themselves drive and consume them.
There’s the “Did you hear about…” narrative which spews gossip news all the time, and the “I must help” narrative that finds a cause to fight for (guns, animals, environment, equality, etc…) and is consumed by this cause in an unhealthy manner. These people *live* here and rarely talk about anything else.
There’s also the conspiracy narrative that is constantly asking things like, “who’s controlling the banks? Politics? Roswell? Who’s the Antichrist?” and so on. The sports narrative is popular in America, but not as foundationally so as the “I must get more” narrative that pines for a bigger car, better house, more stuff, and a more posh lifestyle. The “I must get more sex” lifestyle is quite dominant in the West as well.
Narratives can be all-consuming. They all tend to spice up our lives, because we feel we’re part of something bigger. And the scary part is that these narratives aren’t something that we’ve chosen…they have chosen us. Yet, Kingdom people cannot let other narratives choose/consume us, we must be intentional about NOT being pulled aside and keeping our minds fixed on the truth of God’s Word.
- What are these truths?
- You are loved in the image of a beautiful God,
- You are surrounded by God’s perfect love every second of every day of your life,
- You are seated far above all things in Christ and blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ,
- We are filled with the Spirit – not that of fear, but power and love and self-control,
- Greater is HE that is in YOU,
- We live in the light of Calvary,
- God has a bear-hug around the world whether they know it or not,
- We are to be an advertisement for God’s self-sacrificial love! To be a part ofHis revolutionary Kingdom-movement on the Earth,
- It wasn’t some politics or pragmatically of law that transformed the world, but rather the all-encompassing self-sacrificial love of Christ on Calvary!!!!
Talk and think and be consumed about THAT!!! Download THAT “app” and – be preoccupied with THESE truths in THIS narrative! Practice being conscious that the presence of God is always with you! If this becomes part of your default background chatter, it will change us and drive us to overcome – it will change what’s between our ears. And I will cause us to not want to do the things that hold us back, and help us overcome.
The biggest issue within this perspective remembering these things.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
Hear the word. Commit to keeping it in your heart. Talk about it all the time. Saturate your life with it. This will only result in a transformed narrative if we KEEP to it, if we speak it to our kids, spouses, family, friends, and so on. Whatever it takes to reinforce that narrative! To remember to live in this story, to think and talk about it and let it renew us. To do this, we must be in Scripture everyday – this is SO important to saturate our minds. It’s also why community is so important, because who we hang out with reinforces our stories.
Greg ended the message with a time of reflection, thinking about the last time we fell into temptation (we were encouraged to resist guilt, as this is so we might learn). What we’re you seeing/hearing/feeling that made you think of that action as positive? Identify THAT THOUGHT PROCESS as the temptation. The act isn’t the temptation…the thought process is. Then learn how to turn your mind and think about what is true about that thing. Ask the Spirit to change the way you think about this to what is true, noble, honorable, and lovely.
This is how we can partner with God to condition our brains, and commit to making the Kingdom of Christ our narrative, and to allow the Kingdom to redeem our background chatter. This is how we resist.
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