Lucia's Blog: February 2016
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Monday, February 29, 2016

THE HARVEST THROUGH THE EYES OF JESUS

 "And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.  When He saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to his disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.'"
(Matthew 9:35-38)


How do you describe a "search and rescue" mission?  A child disappears from the home.  Mother calls the police and family members. The community goes into high gear to find and save the child. The insanity of sin makes "search and rescue" much more challenging because supposed rational, mature adults don't realize the danger they are in. The Son of God knew exactly what He was doing when He began the daunting task of "search and rescue" of those lost in sin.  Let's try to see through the eyes of Jesus just what He saw.

As I read the words of Matt. 9:35-38 and John 10:7-11, I cannot help but be moved by Jesus' compassion for the multitudes since they were distressed and scattered, like sheep without a shepherd.  They were perhaps also harassed by fears and anxieties.  Jesus is the good Shepherd of the flock (John 10:1-18) who came down to earth to gather the fold and give them rest from the heavy burdens of sin, laying down His life for them.  Indeed, the good Shepherd genuinely cares and is moved to compassion for the souls of men (Matt.11:28-29).   Even though He was saddened by the foolishness, the sins of men, He never loathed them or spoke contentiously about them.  And though He was the King of kings and Lord of lords, He loved the sinners with all His heart. 

Our Lord and Savior looked upon the multitudes in a manner worthy of our imitation.  Since He was a man of great feeling (emotion, love, affection, tenderness, compassion, sympathy, empathy), He was "moved with compassion."  His heart yearned.  His compassion for the people, among whom He walked, was awakened.  He couldn't be indifferent to the mass of men who were shepherdless sheep, whose souls were fainting and ready to die.  Rather than moaning, He enthusiastically began to take action, being stirred up in His heart to help those He pitied.  Jesus was never discouraged in laboring for the sake of people.  He never said it was useless to preach to the wicked and sinful multitudes.  He chose to persevere until His work was done.

The problem is not the fields but the laborers.  Jesus, Our Lord, is trying to say something:
  1. Jesus saw the pitiful state of the harvest through merciful eyes.   
  2. Jesus saw the potential of the harvest.  
  3. Jesus saw the problem of the harvest.
  4. Jesus commands His disciples to pray for laborers to be sent into His vineyard.  
We will discuss this further in my study.

Because of Jesus' great compassion for the souls of the crowd, He turned to His disciples saying, 
"The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few."  
Here, Jesus compares the world of that time to a harvest because many were ready and thirsty for knowledge and eager to become His disciples.  Sadly, the only thing that was lacking was teachers. Therefore, they were instructed to "pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."  


I.   JESUS SAW THE  PITIFUL STATE OF THE HARVEST:   

"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."


When our Lord Jesus looked at the multitudes, He realized they were lost and saw them as who they were.  He was able to look beyond the facade of self-sufficiency, self-righteousness, and self-confidence.  He saw the pain, the helplessness, the hopelessness, the anguish and lonesomeness caused by the burden of their sins.  Likewise, Jesus was aware of the unreasonable and unrealistic expectations their religious leaders (teachers) forced upon them.  They were people that were literally "scattered" and slated to be cast down or thrown out; people who were walking the path of life aimlessly with no direction whatsoever.  Jesus knew that these religious leaders were leading them into error and that they were shamefully neglecting their duties.  He was aware that they were performing their duties without heart, zeal or sincerity.  That is why He looked at the crowds with compassion.  

Today, we live under the same conditions.   Though many would out of a good heart preach the pure Gospel of Christ earnestly, many don't.  Sadly, many preach some measure of Truth but often do not preach or teach it boldly as they should.  Neither is there enough concern for the souls of men among them.  How many of those who know the Truth lack the zeal, love, and faith concerning Jesus and the power of His glorious Gospel to save souls?  

Jesus declared,
"My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’?  There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.  Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together.  For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’  I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.  Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, 'He told me all that I ever did.' So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days.  And many more believed because of his word.  They said to the woman, 'It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.'"  (John 4:34-42)

Oh, how we need to see the multitudes through the eyes of Jesus!  The way He saw them.  Sadly, many of us, Christians, sit on our beds of comfort ignoring those souls who are on their way to hell. Oh, Christian open your eyes to the world around you!  There must be more to this world than the things that surround us.  Arise and open your eyes!  Let us seriously take Jesus' words to heart.  Jesus never intended for us to be this way.  Jesus says that His food is to do the will of the One who sent Him.  Can we say that too?  Are we partaking of the same food He ate?  Are we living on what He lived?  What is the food Jesus was talking about?  
  • Soul-winning.
  • Seeking and saving that which is lost.
  • Saving the world that is full of darkness from the bondage of sin.
  • Finding the lost sheep.  
Christian, this is the work the Father wants us to do for Him; a work that we are neglecting to do!!

Indeed, the fields are white for the harvest.  We cannot afford to be idle, sit back and say it is the world's fault since they are too sinful and are not willing to obey and come to Jesus.  No! It is our obligation to teach them through the Gospel how to be saved from sin and condemnation.  If we don't, we are going to be accountable on the Day of Judgment.  

Knowing the immediate need and how serious it is to preach the Gospel of salvation to every man that they may not perish eternally, it is hard for me to observe how some who profess to be followers of Christ see the souls of those who are made in the image of God.  Why do I say this?  Simply, because they fail to lift up their eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest!!  Spiritual harvests to be reaped.  

There are so many good souls out there that are desperately searching and seeking the Truth. Souls that are waiting to be sown with the seeds of God's Word and righteousness.  Souls that are thirsty for the living water like the Samaritan woman who shared her faith with great joy to bring others to Christ.  Oh, complacent Christian, there is no time for us to waste in the salvation of men!  They are not going to live forever.  They will be buried perhaps without the hope of salvation.  You must reap at once, or they will be destroyed.  They are crying out, "We are perishing, will you let us perish?"  "Will you teach us the Gospel of salvation now?"  "Will you delay?"

I see many who confess to be followers of Christ but refuse to see the harvest as precious, as weary and scattered, like sheep without a shepherd; as perishing even though they are ripe for harvest; as a crop to be reaped and ready to be saved by the blood of Jesus.  They refuse to see the harvest through the eyes of Jesus.  I grieve because many souls die without knowing Jesus "and the power of his resurrection" that they may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death.


II.    JESUS SAW THE POTENTIAL OF THE HARVEST:  

"The harvest is plentiful."

When Jesus looked at the harvest (the world), He acknowledged that it was plentiful and pitiful.  Why?  Because He saw a multitude of lost souls all around Him.  He also recognized the main problem:  few laborers were working in His Father's fields!  

Jesus our Lord, who "ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.  He has given us the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."  (Eph. 4:11-13).  

Jesus saw souls that needed to be saved through His glorious Gospel of grace.  He saw a harvest that was ripe for the picking!  He saw the potential of the crop:  He saw souls that could be delivered from the bondage of sin; changed and regenerated beyond their lost condition; He focused not on the problem but the potential of the harvest.

Every day we see lost souls, sinners, all around us.  Lost in filthiness and lawlessness like lost sheep. Jesus saw them as lost sheep who needed a Shepherd to direct them; as sick souls who needed a Great Physician.  Therefore, we need to see the harvest through the eyes of Jesus.  Jesus wants laborers who will go down into the wheat.  One cannot reap wheat without standing close to the stalks.  He wants men who can move people's hearts, bringing them to Him.  Laborers who will walk among the stalks of wheat.  Workers who will cut the wheat down, casting it to the ground.  God wants workers who don't come with soft and delicate words, flattering doctrines, self-help, and earnest endeavors.  He curses such laborers.  God's servants must call a sin a sin as one would call a spade a spade.  The gospel is intended to wound the hearers, hurt their conscience, cut through the heart of men so that the soul might be separated from sin and self as the wheat is divided from the soil.  The sickle is made sharp so that it can cut. The Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword.

In Matt. 9:35-38,  Jesus' disciples failed to see the people of Samaria as fields that were white for harvest.  By nature, harvesting is a slow process.  The Samaritans were pouring forth to come and see Jesus.  Jesus saw them as a harvest of souls who were thirsty and hungry.  Likewise, He saw them as souls planted with the seeds of Truth that were sown by the Samaritan woman. They were ready to develop and ripen and bear fruit by the power of the Gospel.  

So often, rapid harvests happen when one is sowing spiritual seeds.  Joy, satisfaction, and profit are the result of a good crop.  Those who sow and reap the fruit of the harvest receive everlasting wages according to their labor.  They will rejoice together as well (I Cor. 3:5-15).  Those who reap are blessed by those who have sown before them.  In John 4:35-42, Jesus’ disciples were about to benefit from those who had labored before them:  the prophets, John the Baptizer and all others who proclaimed God's message.

You see, the Jews of Jesus' day despised the Samaritans.  The Samaritans were the product of intermarriage between the Jews with the Babylonians, who were living in Israel during the time of captivity.  When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman (a sinful woman), He saw her not as she was but as a soul that needed to be saved; as a soul that was hungry for the food, He was offering her. Jesus' disciples were about to notice a rapid harvest of seeds of Truth which they had not sown themselves.  They would reap where they had not sown before and, of course, this was seen when the church was first established.  So often, we get discouraged by the lack of active and visible results. Jesus sowed with little results but later the apostles, as reapers, on the day of Pentecost gathered many souls in just one day; more than Jesus did throughout His ministry (Acts 2:41).  

Yet, those who obeyed were His and the work His disciples did in reaping the harvest was His as well.  An evidence of this if found in John 4:39 of those who believed in Jesus because of the woman's testimony.   Although Jesus came to His own people, the Jews, they did not receive Him (John 1:11), but the Samaritans did!  When Philip and the apostles preached the message of salvation in Acts 8:5, they were ready!  Jesus reached the heart of the Samaritan woman because she was hungry for the food He had to offer her.  And as a result of this woman's receptive heart, multitudes of people hungered for the same Truth.  Isn't this an incredible joy!  May our Lord help us to see the harvest through His loving eyes.


III.   JESUS SAW THE PROBLEM OF THE HARVEST:  

"But the laborers are few."

Few laborers were working in His Father's vineyard!  We have the same problem today!  Reaping the soul harvest is hard work indeed, and few are willing to do it.  Jesus in Matt. 4:18-22 called His disciples to follow Him and promised to make them "fishers of men."  Of course, this would require the fisherman to go and gather the fish.  Farmers know well that the harvest does not collect itself. They need laborers to gather in the harvest; doing the arduous and dirty work of collecting it.  The same is true in bringing souls to Jesus.  We cannot sit in our beds of comfort and wait for the harvest to reap itself. We must reach out to those who are lost.  We cannot sit and wait!  It is hard and dirty work, but it must be done if we want the harvest to be reaped.   

The harvest indeed is great, but because so few laborers are willing to work, the work will not get done that God wants to be done.  Oh, unconcerned Christian, this ought to shake us to our core! Have you no tears for the lost souls of men?  Are you not concerned that we are going to give an account of what we have been doing with our lives?  Surely, we are going to stand before the greatest Judge of all as wicked and slothful servants who are not worthy of Him.  Even more fearful, He will take away our crown of life and cast us into the lake of fire.  Take heed and think on this!!

So, if indeed we are true followers of Christ, we must desire to preach and teach His Gospel of grace to the lost.  If we don't, then we don't love the glorious Gospel of Christ since we are not passing it along.  Right?  Since we have the Good News to proclaim, we must desire to share it.  We must make mention of Him and His words of salvation to the lost.  How can we who possess the seeds of the Truth, the Gospel of salvation, be at ease while souls are dying without hope and going to hell? My heart is heavy and burdened!  My fervent prayer is for the Lord to send into the fields, sincere laborers who may yield a great harvest of souls for His glory.

As I look around me, I see scores of people, both men and women, going to hell without their Savior, our Lord Jesus.  It grieves me!!   And until we see our neighbors as souls that are scattered, distressed and weary because of sin with eyes of compassion like Jesus did, we are not going to lead them to the good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.  It is vital for those who love our Lord and Savior to understand the significance of seeing everyone as a being made in the image of God; those who have an eternal soul that one day will have to give an account to their Creator for their deeds.  That is why it is crucial to commit oneself to plant the seeds of Truth when we speak to our neighbors regarding their relationship to Jesus our Lord.  Jesus did not look upon men as things to be despised but rather as precious souls even as wheat is valuable to the farmer.   

The fields are just ripe and ready for the crescent sickle.  Precious souls are decaying and perishing. It grieves the Great Farmer that it should be so.  God, our Father, loves the souls of men so much that He gave His only begotten Son to bleed and die that they might not perish, but have everlasting life. Therefore, lift up your eyes and see!  There is a mighty work to be done.  Preach the Good News of Jesus and His precious blood and teach men that whoever believes in Christ shall be saved.  I suspect many will hear you gladly!  Let not the grain perish.  The fields of standing grain are begging to be reaped.  Sadly, there are not enough reapers even though many lost souls may be approachable. What country in this world is not approachable to hear the Gospel preached by Christians with enough gumption, faith, and courage?  Countries in Asia, in Africa, in South America, in North America, all over the world are eager to listen to the Gospel with an open heart today more than ever. It moves me deeply!!!  The entire world lies open before the reapers of our Almighty God, but where are they?

Jesus wants workers who will labor intensely and not live a comfortable life of idleness or laziness.  An idle or lazy person has no right to the kingdom of our Lord, in His vineyard.  Why?  Because he is Satan's instrument in damning the souls of men. Laziness is a form of rebellion and selfish, self-centeredness.  The one who labors must proclaim the Good News of salvation.  But he must read and study to keep his mind sound.  He is to tell the Truth in a profitable manner.  Above all the laborer must put his whole soul into what he teaches that he may be able to stir up men unto good works.  We need such workers!  Laborers who will awaken the one who is asleep because of sin; laborers who will not promote creeds, doctrines of men, philosophies, and human reasoning but rather prick people's consciences with the Word of God, (Heb. 4:12).  

We need laborers who will make the lost aware of their dangerous condition before their Creator. We need workers, not idlers!  The kingdom of Christ is in desperate need of workers who are on fire. Therefore, we must pray for such workers to be sent to work the fields.  The harvest is indeed in need of good laborers who are willing to reap.  Laborers who will do Christ's work and not be ashamed.  Laborers willing to sweat at their job since nothing can be done in the harvest fields without hard work and the sweat of the soul. 

So, God sends laborers into the fields to gather more laborers, Christians who will edify others in the faith.  Alas, so many laborers (preachers) are scatterers, rending churches and souls to pieces.  Alas, many are lost because they are not taught the Truth, the message of the saving Gospel of grace. Many laborers seem to be more concerned about politics, the presidential elections, sports, our economics, complaining and being ungrateful for everything, slandering the authorities, refusing to give due honor to them, disobeying the Lord as well as displeasing Him, complaining about the mistreatment of their rights being violated and so on.   Why not preach Jesus and the power of His Gospel of grace to save souls? Go to the lost sheep and show genuine compassion!  Work together with zeal and enthusiasm in the kingdom of God.  When we focus on the salvation of souls, we will face ridicule and persecution. Accept it and embrace it!  After all, we are here to please God and not men (Gal. 1:10).  Oh, how we need laborers who will use sharp cutting sickles upon ungodly hearts!

Likewise, we have many laborers who seem to be more focused on being patriotic than being faithful to the kingdom of heaven. They appear to forget that patriotism does not equate to spirituality and the furthering of the glorious Gospel of Christ.  Many confuse our nation with the kingdom of heaven. American patriotism does not equate to godliness.  As Christians, we are not seeking after an earthly kingdom, but a heavenly one; one that has already been established and we must be willing to be in subjection to Christ.  Our love for Christ and His kingdom and the souls of men must move us to set our minds on things above (Col. 3:2) rather than being concerned about our earthly and temporal leaders.

Such laborers seem to forget God's Law that teaches that the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ surpasses all other civil authorities. God, the Father, has given Him all authority in heaven and earth (John 17:2; Matt. 28:18).  Therefore, Jesus is our Supreme Ruler.  He is greater than any authority here on earth (Eph. 1:21).  He is "far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come."  All authorities have been created by and for Jesus and He sustains them all! (Col. 1:16-17).  Therefore, Jesus is above every emperor, king, queen, president, and prime minister.  We Christians must submit to the authority of the earthly rulers in this present age especially since Christ is the ultimate authority (Romans 13:1-7).

We must understand that there is no authority given except from God and that those authorities that exist are appointed by Him whether we like it or not.  God has a role in establishing them.  God uses all nations as instruments to accomplish His will whether they are good or bad.  All civil authorities are God's servants, and we see it throughout the Old Testament when He used pagan nations to humble His people, the Israelites.  Today, God demands that each Christian submit to whatever government he finds himself under.  We are commanded to obey civil authorities rather than resist them.  To resist them (God's ministers) is to oppose God!  We owe this to our earthly authorities even when they are wicked.  Our love for Christ must move us to bow before Caesar, the civil authority established over us by God.  Our good works must shine before men that they may glorify our Father in heaven.

In other words, God alone is due our worship, love, and obedience, yet Caesar is God's established ruler over all things of a civil nature for us Christians.  It is easier to submit and honor a civil leader who is righteous, but Jesus commands us to submit to them and honor them.  We can disagree respectfully without being slanderous!  We do not have to like or approve of their political agendas to honor their office, but we must honor them since God has appointed them in that charge.  Honoring them does not mean to engage in their evil behavior even if they try to force us to commit sin (Acts 5:29).  Most Christians don't have a problem with obeying when it comes to paying taxes and complying with the government regulations.  Where they have a problem is with showing respect. Their attitudes and speech often communicate bitterness and slander toward their civil authorities.

Our brethren back in the first century had to endure severe persecutions from unbelievers and civil authorities, yet Peter exhorts them to submit and give honor to them (I Peter 2:13-17).  Nero, the Emperor of those days, murdered Peter and a great number of Christians by setting them on fire as torches, feeding them to the lions for sport.  If anyone understood the price of submitting to and honoring wicked civil authorities, it was Peter.   To reject or despise authority is ungodly (II Peter 2:10; Jude 8).  Jesus is another good example who did not despise authority when He was being beaten brutally and unjustly crucified by the Romans (Acts 8:32).  So, Christians must not speak evil of others.  Period!  Let the words of Ephesians 4:29-31 sink deeply into your heart.

I am perplexed to see the behavior of many Christians on Facebook.  They utter all kinds of indiscreet foolishness about politics.  Instead of praying to God to give the earthly rulers wisdom in their judgments so they can govern with all righteousness, in effect, they slander and dishonor God.  Yes, when they complain and slander they are mocking God, who is the one who appointed them.  Why not pray for them that we may live in peace that we may have many doors to proclaim the Gospel of Christ unto all men?  This is agreeable to the Gospel rule:  "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,  for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way."

Truly, there is a great need for God's divine help for those who rule that they govern piously and that they seek Him.  It is such a tragedy when our government is godless, proud of heart and does not seek after God to direct their paths.  How can we expect a man to be guided, helped and blessed if he does not acknowledge God by whom "kings reign,  and rulers decree what is just."?  (Prov, 8:15).  

So, instead of being so occupied with railing against the authorities, talking politics, and complaining, why not get busy in teaching the Gospel to the lost? Such things distract from the kingdom of Christ and His vineyard, sowing and watering the seed of God's Word, leaving the results to God (I Cor. 3:6-7). Why not try our best to save souls?  The need to save souls is what ought to govern us.  Their needs are paramount. Our bitter behavior toward civil authorities angers God and brings reproach on us.  Let us be careful!  Some will not see heaven because of such conduct. 

Our Lord Jesus desires to employ laborers for His vineyard rather than forcing them to work for Him (Rev. 22:17).  He wants faithful, humble and sincere workers rather than lukewarm, proud, indifferent and selfish ones (Rev. 3:15-17).  Many souls are called through the Gospel (II Thess, 2:13-14) to come and enter God's vineyard as laborers, but unfortunately, few are chosen.  What does that mean?  It means that many are not willing to sincerely labor for the Lord and enter His vineyard under His conditions.  And although many might reject the Gospel message as foolishness, that still does not change the fact that God is long-suffering and compassionate and is seeking sinners who are eager, hungry and thirsty for righteousness to come to Him.

The Master of the vineyard is commanding His laborers to work in the field all day (Matt. 20:14). Our service is what counts with God and nothing else!  So let us labor faithfully and stop being complainers, "without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world," (Phil. 2:14-18).  Let us always remember that no one will be saved without God's Gospel of Grace.  Therefore, we must proclaim it!  Lest we forget, we could have done more!  And let us also remember that the laborer's work is never done in harvest until he sees the wheat housed and ready to be stacked and be put into a barn.  His toil is never over.  He never stops caring for the souls until they are saved. 


IV.   JESUS COMMANDS HIS DISCIPLES TO PRAY FOR LABORERS TO BE SENT OUT TO HIS HARVEST, VINEYARD:  

"Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”  


Since the laborers are few, Jesus commanded His disciples to pray for laborers.  We are also commanded to pray for the Lord to send them.  Our Lord Jesus cares a lot about the souls of men.  He does not want any soul to perish, but that all should come to repentance that they might be saved (2 Peter 3:9).  That is why we must labor hard to bring in the harvest.  Eternal souls are at stake. Jesus' heart is in the souls of men with love and grace (mercy, compassion).  

"The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made."  (Psalm 145:8-9).

The workers are called to labor at various times as in the parable of the workers of the Vineyard in Matthew 20:1-16. Throughout the Bible, the LORD refers to His people as a Vineyard.  He tended, pruned and watched it with love and delight. 

"For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness,  but behold, an outcry!"  (Isaiah 5:7)

The Landlord in this parable is the LORD of all creation, the God, and Father of our Lord and Savior.  He loves His harvest zealously.  God above everything is seeking us out in the slave market of sin.  Jesus said, 
"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."   (Luke 19:10).  

God cares greatly about His harvest and desires that all His servants (those who have been redeemed) go to work in His vineyard.  Therefore, workers are indeed needed to do this service:  

"And He said to them, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."'  (Luke 10:2).

Once we hear and obey the calling of our Lord, God's servants are commissioned to work in His fields.  Our Lord needs men and women who are willing to bring in the harvest.  We must see the souls of men like Jesus did:  plentiful, precious, perplexed and perishing.  He will reward us with eternal life according to what we have done in His kingdom (Rev. 22:12).  Jesus has well established the needs of the harvest, and He has told us what to do:  Pray!  Why pray?  Because God will not supply us with laborers, who will work for Him in His vineyard if we neglect to pray for them.  So who is to blame?

There are too many precious souls who are perishing every day because we are not praying, "Thy kingdom come."  It is vital that we start praying for God to send forth laborers for His harvest.  Yes, we are to pray to God because it is the LORD'S business!  Only He can send the right laborers to work in His vineyard.  It is His harvest, and He has every right to send whom He wills to work in His field.  Therefore, we are to pray continually to Him (the Lord of the harvest) for a supply of earnest laborers.  Take heed that the harvest be not ours but His!  And if the harvest perishes, it is our heavenly Father's harvest that perishes.  This ought to put a heavy weight on our soul!! 

As we begin to see the souls of men as Jesus sees them,  then:
  • We will start praying for the harvest. 
  • We will pray for the salvation of the lost.
  • For the church to be trainers of reapers.
  • For men and women to go into the harvest.  
  • Likewise, we will pray for workers, laborers, servants, and givers.  

But we must do more than pray.  We must take full responsibility for the harvest.  Think of all the souls with whom you come in contact every day:  family members, friends, neighbors, work associates, the woman behind the cash register, the school teacher, the guy at the car wash and dealer, our gym, our crafts and sewing class, facebook and all internet media.  The list is endless!!  The harvest must be our priority.  There is a great urgency to bring in the harvest.  Remember that the Gospel can only be Good News if it arrives on time.  It demands urgent action!  Our job is to tell all those lost souls the Good News of the Lord of the harvest, the Gospel.  If we don't go, who will?  Let us not be a people of silence.  It is a sin.  Let us not make the Great Commission into a significant omission.  There is so much to do; the harvest is so vast; the needs are overwhelming!  What can you do?

Hence, we must keep praying as often as our prayer is in our heart; as often as we see the need, that the fields may not rot before our eyes.  Let us pray for boldness to share the Gospel and reach out to the souls of men that they may know the goodness of God.  Let us compel men through the gospel to come to repentance.  The world is dying!  Hell is boasting, and yet we have the Gospel that is "the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes."!  
  • Can it be that we do not care to win souls for the Landlord of the Vineyard?  
  • Can it be that we don't care whether men are damned or saved?  

May the Lord awaken us from our slumber, from our stony heart and make us care for them, pray for them and work for them until He sends forth laborers into His harvest!  May we never have to regret that we could have done more for God's harvest.


CONCLUSION:

We must see the harvest as Jesus saw it so that we may win souls to Christ effectively.  Jesus saw the harvest as lost souls dying and facing judgment (condemnation) eternally.  Jesus saw the harvest as plentiful, precious, harassed, helpless, hopeless, perishing and as a priority.  

Every day we see people dying, without Jesus and the hope of salvation.  Until we see their souls as precious, we are not going to lead them to Christ.  Why not commit ourselves to speak with at least one soul each day regarding their salvation?  Why not start being more focused on personal evangelism day after day, week after week, year after year?  What do you see when you see souls (friends, relatives, co-workers, classmates, etc.), crowds of people?  We must learn to see souls like Jesus does: souls made in God's image with an eternal soul who will one day give an account to the Judge of all.  Therefore, let us have eyes to see!  There are many sincere souls out there seeking and searching for the Truth.  Our focus must be on sowing and watering the seed of God's Word (wherever we can), letting God give the increase (I Cor. 3:6-7).  Are we doing that?  Are we trying to speak with someone about their soul?  It will help us to see people's souls as God sees them.  We are here to please God and do His will.

There are many lost souls everywhere.  Are you able to see them?  Are you doing anything today to teach them the Good News of salvation?  Are you wasting your time on something else rather than proclaiming the Gospel to the lost?

So let us start plowing in hope that we may be able to share in the crop (I Cor. 9:10).  The farmer that plows and threshes in hope will one day have the joy of reaping and partaking of his hope.  It is hope that moves the farmer to work the soil while he can.  Let us also sow in faith trusting our Lord to give us "rains from heaven and fruitful seasons" to produce a good crop.  "Faith sees a beautiful garden blossom in a bulb, a lovely garden in a seed, and a giant oak in an acorn."  Our faith is vital for our harvesting.  Faith is needed to plant a seed in the soil so that the Lord may multiply it (II Cor. 9:10-11).  Sowing the seed demands hard work and diligence.  Farming is not for the lazy or idler because it is hard work.  It requires the sweat of one's brow (Gen. 3:19).  Daily work is required "for it is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops."  Sowing also requires vigilance.  Not only does the farmer plow the ground to sow the seed but he also guards the crop, the harvest.  Many things can destroy the crop.  The farmer must carefully guard what he has planted. Otherwise, the harvest may be lost.  We must also sow in patience.  Farming requires patience, lots of patience.  And so is the harvest of souls.  Finally, we must sow in joy.  The farmer plants, plows, labors, watches, and waits so that he may reap.  When the farmer finally reaps or harvests his crop, there is great joy indeed.  The Psalmist says, 
"Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!   He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him." (Psalm 126:5-6).  
Let these precious words sink into your hearts!!

As spiritual farmers today, we must plow in hope, sow in faith, work with diligence, guard in vigilance, and wait in patience. If we do this, we will reap in joy.  The fields are white for harvest and laborers to work it but the laborers are few.  Praise be to God for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, the harvest!  The giver of eternal life and living water.  

We must pray to the Lord for open doors to present His Gospel of grace to the lost.  There are too many people and souls lost because we are not aggressive enough to offer them the saving Gospel message.  Many souls are seeking the Lord. They need to be encouraged to seek the right way.  I was one of those souls!  They need to be taught why they need forgiveness and what it means to be saved.  They need to be taught about heaven, hell and eternity.  They need to be taught the will of God.  We must pray fervently that we find such seekers.  What a joy it is when we find someone who is sincerely seeking to know the will of God!  Jesus said, 
"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."  (Matt. 7:7).  

The one who is a sincere seeker will want to believe and obey the Truth and is able to understand it.

It is a tragedy that so many souls are being deceived by lies and that many souls will be lost as a result of all this.  That is why we must pray for the good laborers to be sent to work in the harvest of the Lord.  Laborers who will share the simple Truth about Jesus (the Messiah as the  Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world) and His requirements for salvation.

Therefore, we must pray for laborers who will preach Jesus, sin, condemnation and eternity rather than something else (false teaching, interpretations of prophecies, human philosophies, emotional experiences, etc.).  God has already done His part by making redemption accessible and possible.  He is inviting all sinners into His grace.  God in His providence makes every opportunity possible for each soul to be saved.  God provides all we need to be saved by sending our laborers to work in His vineyard. 

May we be like the Samaritans who developed a genuine faith in Jesus.  May we also be like the Samaritan woman sharing our faith with the lost, bringing them to Christ, the Owner of the vineyard. May we show commitment to His cause rather than complaining and disobeying Him.  May we live for Christ and learn that our chief goal in life is not self-gratification but the total commitment of one's whole being to do His will.  May we hold fast to the Word of life so that in the day of Christ we may rejoice that we did not run in vain or labor in vain, (Phil. 2:14-16).  Finally, may we pray for the harvest that He send forth laborers into His harvest to yield a great and mighty harvest of souls for His glory.


Luci

Send the Light by Charles H. Gabriel

There's a call comes ringing o'er the restless wave, "Send the light! Send the light"
There are souls to rescue, there are souls to save,
Send the light! 
Send the light!

Chorus:

Send the light the blessed gospel light;
Let it shine from shore to shore!
Send the light the blessed gospel light;
Let it shine forevermore!

We have heard the Macedonian call today,"Send the light! Send the light!"
And a golden off'ring at the cross we lay,
Send the light!
Send the light!

Let us pray that grace may ev'rywhere abound, "Send the light! Send the light!" 
And a Christ-like spirit ev'rywhere be found,
Send the light!
Send the light!

Let us not grow weary in the work of love, "Send the light! Send the light!"
Let us gather jewels for a crown above,
Send the light!
Send the light!
[Chorus]

Monday, February 15, 2016

OUR ADVERSARY THE DEVIL

"Be sober, be watchful: your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour, whom withstand stedfast in your faith, knowing that the same sufferings are accomplished in your brethren who are in the world."
I Peter 5:8-9


The early Reformers in Europe, as well as the pioneers of the American churches, prayed fervently for God's help against the invisible hosts of evil. They believed unabashedly in the devil and lived their lives as a battle against his evil influences. Just because they are invisible does not make them imaginary nor does it make us superstitious to acknowledge their existence. Let's have a serious Bible discussion of Satan and his activities.

Recently, someone hacked into my computer.  They were able to get hold of my secured passwords from Facebook and my blog.  It is unclear to me how the attackers altered my passwords and found unrestricted access to some of my accounts, especially Facebook.  Once they had access, they did as they pleased, publishing all kinds of foul language and pornography.  Believe me, this has been a very traumatic, degrading, humiliating and terrifying experience for me.  I am still grieving but with God's grace, I will recover soon.  I was determined to close my Facebook account and all other accounts and even stop writing for my blog which is what I enjoy the most.  With a lot of prayer and support from my family and my friends, I decided to continue doing what I love to do, writing for the glory of God.  

This awful incident reminded me and alerted me as well to the fact that Satan is at war with Christians.  It is an ugly spiritual war!  Why do I say that?  Simply because Satan fiercely seeks to accuse us of wrong, bringing shame upon us.  He seeks us out like a roaring lion to destroy us, his weak prey.  Satan, our adversary, wants to destroy those who are doing a good work for Christ's sake; those who are faithful and are being used in service to God for His glory.  He hates them and wages war against those who are striving to live their lives for Christ, walking in righteousness.  Indeed, his primary purpose is to discourage us, and he uses all of his evil weapons against God's people.  He wants to destroy us utterly!  

That is why we must become aware, being on guard, standing firm in Christ with all prayer to resist him.  However, I am confident that he can do nothing to us other than what God allows him.  He still has the power to prowl and attack us fiercely.  His goal is to take us away from God's Law and love.  He can do that only if we give him an open door.  He will do everything in his power to discourage and sway us away from God and His ways.  He is eager to persecute all those who desire to live godly (2 Tim. 3:12).  His mission is to attack our faith and our joy. Therefore, let us take heed and be on the alert!!

Undoubtedly, we have an enemy who is real, and we need to be watchful!  We cannot afford to be careless or lazy.  Satan is the author of all our troubles and persecutions and cares.  Even so, we must not allow him to intimidate us.  I am determined that I will not!!  

This enemy is like an outside force always working against God and us.  In the Bible, he is referred to by different names but is commonly known as Satan.  In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for “Satan” is used 19 times.  The word “Satan” makes reference to one who lies in wait or one who opposes.  In the New Testament, the Greek word for Satan is used 36 times which means adversary, opponent or enemy.  Another term to refer to him is “the devil” (used 33 times in the NT), the slanderer or traitor.

All this being said, we come to the following questions:  
  • Who is Satan?  
  • Is he real?  
  • Why has he established himself as God's archenemy?  
  • Why is he the enemy or opponent of mankind?  
  • What is his origin?  
  • Why has he placed himself against God and man?  
  • Why has God allowed Satan to continue to exist?  
  • What is his primary goal?  
  • What are his powers?  
  • What can Christians do to defend themselves against Satan?  
  • And finally, what is Satan's final destiny?

Thankfully, God's Word provides us with the answers to all these questions.  In our study, I want to provide some Bible answers so that we may better understand who our enemy is.  The better one knows this enemy, the more successful he will be in defending himself and defeating this enemy completely.  It is vital that we not quit. We must keep pressing on even when we feel like giving up. Lest we forget, life is a ceaseless battle where we must strive to serve God with all of our life, energy, and enthusiasm.  Remember that victory is just around the corner.  Let us treasure Paul's inspiring words that keep us motivated and keep us going so that we may win the prize of the high calling of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude.”  (Phil. 3:13-15)

I.    IS SATAN REAL?

Many reject the existence of Satan as a real, personal, and spiritual being.  They instead speak of him as a myth (which pleases Satan!) that was invented to teach us moral values and scare us into obeying God and the Bible.  There is nothing strange about such disbelief coming from the world.  After all, if they choose not to believe in God and His Word, why should they believe in a spiritual being known as Satan, the Bible speaks of?  Sadly, there are those who profess to be followers of Christ who likewise reject the existence of Satan. To them, Satan is some kind of evil personified.  They discard the idea that there really is a spiritual being out there whose aim is to ruin the souls of men.  I don't understand this way of thinking.  The same Bible that asserts the existence of God also tells us of the existence of Satan!  I can’t fathom how one may consistently believe the Bible and the existence of God but reject the existence of Satan.

It is crystal clear that Satan exists and is real. It is documented in both the Old and the New Testaments.  From beginning to end (the first book of the Bible to the last), his existence is affirmed as our adversary.  In Genesis 3, we are first introduced to Satan (as he arrives on the scene) in the form of a serpent to tempt Eve.  In the last book of the Bible, we read "And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan... "  (Rev. 20:2).  We see him again in I Chronicles 21:1 where he stood against Israel, trying to tempt King David to sin.  

Did you know that in the book of Job, the word Satan is used 14 times?  In fact, the entire book of Job explores the dilemmas caused by the existence of Satan, especially the first two chapters.  In them, we see him acting against God and mankind as our adversary.  However, we also see God's ultimate authority and superiority over him.  Moreover, he is also mentioned in Zechariah 3 where he accuses and opposes the high priest.  He shows up ready to challenge God's authority and power to forgive men's sins.  He seeks to overthrow God's throne of grace, turning it into a seat of judgment and condemnation without any hope of redemption for mankind.

In the New Testament, his existence is reaffirmed as cunning, deceitful and hypocritical.  In Matthew 4:1-11, he enters the scene to tempt our Lord Jesus in the wilderness as a literal and distinct being.  A few chapters later (Matt. 12:27), Jesus referred to him as "Beelzebub" which means the lord of refuse or the lord of the flies.  This is a term that expresses contempt. He is everything that is opposed to holiness and purity.  This was not just a term that our Lord used to apply to some kind of harmless, mythical character or fable.  No, Jesus used this term to refer to Satan as a being that was dangerous, overflowing with wickedness!!

Jesus' apostles were aware of Satan as their bitter and worst enemy.  Take for example what Jesus told Peter:  "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat." (Matt. 22:31).  Notice that the pronoun, “you” in the Greek, is plural indicating that Satan wanted all of the apostles.  In Ephesians 2:2, the apostle Paul speaks of Satan as "prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience."  He has his "devices" (II Cor. 2:11) and his servants (ministers) who "disguise themselves as servants of righteousness" (II Cor. 11:15).  The apostle John also mentioned him as the one who has sinned from the beginning (I John 3:8).  John also noted, "that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one"  (I John 5:19).  Paul's thorn in the flesh was "a messenger of Satan" to torment him (II Cor. 12:7).  Perhaps the most troublesome fact is that it was Satan who "put into the heart of Judas Iscariot" to betray Jesus. (John 13:2).  

Moreover, Satan is called the author of sin (I John 3:8), sickness (Acts 10:38), death (Heb. 2:14) and the one who leads men to be deceived and go astray (II Thess. 2:9-10).  It is a fact that Satan is real and not figurative!!


II.   WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF SATAN?

Although the Bible does not tell us much about the origin of Satan, there is enough evidence and information in the Word of God that we may draw some reasonable conclusions as to how Satan came into existence.  Is Satan a created being or is he eternal?  Even though he is quite powerful, he does not share the status of deity.  Why?  Because deity is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient and righteous (Psalm 139).  Satan does not have these qualities!  He is not “all-powerful” for God is greater and stronger than he is (I John 4:4).  God allows him to do certain things.  God also limits him (Job 1:12; 2:6; Rev. 20:2).  
  • He is not omnipresent (all present) since he is restrained to a particular place.  Though he is the god (ruler) of this world (II Cor. 4:4), God will throw him into the "lake of fire" one day (Rev. 20:10).  
  • He is not all-knowing (omniscient).  In Job, he thought that all men forsake God sooner or later when they are faced with severe trials.  Indeed, he was wrong and does not know everything! (Job 1:11; 2:5; James 5:11).  
  • He is not all that smart nor is he powerful enough to "snatch" the disciples of the Lord from His hand (John 10:28).  
Therefore, Satan is not a deity in any sense nor does he possess an eternal nature.  He has not always existed like our Creator, but instead he was created.

In Colossians 1:16, we have further evidence for this conclusion:  
"For by him [i.e., Jesus] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him."  

This text affirms that Jesus created everyone and everything (besides the Godhead)!  So, it is undeniable that God created Satan.  So the question is:  What was Satan like when he was first created?  Was he created "evil"?  The answer is a big NO!  Notice what Genesis 1:31 tells us:  

"And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good... "  

Indeed, everything that God had created was very good!  So whatever Satan might have been originally, he was definitely created good.  God did not create Satan as evil, but rather he became evil later.

According to a couple of New Testament passages, there is evidence that Satan was originally one of the angels that inhabited the heavenly realm.  And that he along with other angels departed from all righteousness and rebelled against God (Job 4:18).  The New Testament explains this truth well in several places:  
  • II Peter 2:4:  "For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment."  
  • Jude 6:  "And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day."

Although one might say that these verses don't specifically say much about Satan, the truth is that they do affirm that angels can and do sin.  This reality blends well with Jesus' statement in Matthew 25:41 and has some powerful implications.  Notice what Jesus says:  
"Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."  

So Satan was good when God created him, and now he is evil with his own angels, whom he leads in rebellion against God.  They were expelled from heaven as a result of their disobedience.  Some of the angels chose to break God's law by not keeping their real domain. They departed from the position God had established for them.  So, why did they do that and when?  Unfortunately, we can't answer these questions because the Bible does not tell us.  We can be sure that this rebellion took place before Adam and Eve were tempted in Genesis 3 since Satan appears to be playing his role as the adversary.


III.   WHY HAS SATAN PLACED HIMSELF AGAINST BOTH GOD AND MAN?

Although the Bible does not explicitly give us the answer to this question, it seems that after Satan rebelled and it became evident that he would be punished for his sin, he became angry and bitter and had an enormous desire for revenge.  You see, Satan lost, and no one likes to lose!   So how was Satan going to get revenge against God?  How could he hurt God the Creator who was stronger and more powerful than he?  Of course, he could not hurt God directly, but maybe he could hurt Him indirectly.  Who could he target?  Mankind!  Why?  Because man is made in the image of God (deity).  He is God's master creation on earth.  Satan and his evil angels realized how pleasant it was going to be to spoil the apple of God's eyes!  Therefore, it is through mankind that Satan was going to get his revenge on God.

Without a doubt, Satan is aware that his case is hopeless and that he cannot overpower God.  But he also knows that he can indirectly hurt God by getting men to sin and forsake their Creator.  That is why he prowls among us, seeking to destroy us as our adversary,  "like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."  (I Peter 5:8).  Satan's great desire is to take as many souls as he can to hell with him.  This is his plan for revenge. It is a war against God. He will do everything in his power to accomplish his diabolic plan.  Indeed, he is our biggest "enemy" (Matt. 13:39).


IV.   WHY HAS GOD ALLOWED SATAN TO CONTINUE TO EXIST?

If Jesus called Satan a "murderer" in John 8:44, one might be wondering why has God not put him to death like other murderers? (Numbers 35:16).  What is God's justification for allowing one like Satan to be so wicked and continue living? In Luke 20:33-36 we might find at least one clue.  In this passage, Jesus spoke of the righteous who one day would be worthy of living in heaven.  Jesus declared:  
"For they cannot die anymore because they are equal to angels... "  
Stop now and think about that.  If the righteous person whose final dwelling will be heaven where he cannot die, and he will be equal to angels, then angels cannot die.  Right?   It is important that we understand that humans and angels are not eternal.  Why?  Because they have not always existed, but once created they were made immortal (i.e., they will live forever:   "for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection").

Surely, if God wanted to eradicate Satan's existence, He would utterly destroy him.  God has all power to do that.  However, the fact that God has allowed Satan to exist might suggest that perhaps God has a reason or purpose for Satan.  Consider what God said to Pharaoh in Exodus 9:15-16
"For by now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth.  But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth."  

Perhaps, God wants to show His power through Satan as He did through Pharaoh.  Do you think this might be a possibility?  Why did God show His power through Pharaoh?  Because of Pharaoh's stubbornness and rebellion, God was able to work many miracles to free His people.  In doing all this, His name was exalted throughout all the earth.

It is evident that God has allowed Satan to retain his power for a limited time only until He is finished with His purpose (using Satan to test us that we might be a purified and undefiled people for God's glory and purposes).  The beauty of all this is that we can overcome our enemy, Satan, through our Lord and Savior that we might glorify our Father in heaven.  I think this is why Satan continues to exist.  I believe that he will continue even after the day of judgment for the sake of justice that he may be punished forever for his wickedness.


IV.   WHAT IS SATAN'S PRIMARY PURPOSE OR GOAL?

As  I said earlier in this study, Satan's primary purpose or goal is to get revenge against God through mankind.  Ultimately his mission is to destroy mankind in hell!  Suffering forever with him in the "lake of fire"  (Rev. 20:10). Consider some of Satan's descriptions in the Bible:  
  • The adversary (Zech. 3:1).
  • The devil (Matt. 4:1).
  • The tempter (Matt. 4:3).
  • Murderer and father of lies (John 8:44).
  • The god of this world (II Cor. 4:4).
  • The prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2).
  • The ruler of demons (Matt. 12:24).
  • The great dragon and the serpent of old (Rev. 12:9).
  • The wicked one (Matt. 13:38).
  • The ruler of darkness (Eph. 6:12).
  • The accuser of the brethren (Rev. 2:10).
  • A roaring lion (I Peter 5:8).
  • Angel of the bottomless pit (Rev. 9:11).  
All these descriptive names indicate Satan's purpose or goal:  to alienate or separate men from God by making men sin.  So how exactly does Satan do this?


VI.   HOW DOES SATAN CARRY OUT HIS PURPOSE OR GOAL?

I would answer this question with just two words:  temptation and deception.  Our enemy will do anything to get us to sin using his toolkit of temptation and deception.  As soldiers of Christ waging a spiritual warfare (II Cor. 10:3-4; Eph. 6:12), we must be wise and know our great enemy.  In II Cor. 2:11, the apostle Paul warns:  
"that no advantage may be gained over us by Satan: for we are not ignorant of his devices." 
Paul makes us aware of Satan's wicked tools and techniques.  He will definitely use them against all righteousness as well as against those who pursue righteousness or godliness.  Let’s consider some of the devices in his toolkit that he uses against those who want to live godly, doing the will of God.

  • Desires:  This is a powerful weapon that Satan uses against us and we must realize this.  We must examine our hearts to know where we come short here!  Even though one may not want to steal, get drunk and commit fornication, one can still have the desire to lie, cheat, gossip, fight, or be proud.  James is very specific when he describes how sin starts with each of us and how it enters our heart:  "But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death."  (James 1:14-15).  We must remember the three B's:  beckon, bait, and bend.  Take heed, Satan cannot enter our heart and have power over us if we are walking in the Light.  So what does he try to do instead?  He will draw us away from the Light, playing off our desires.  Once one responds to the beckoning of one's desires, the bait is laid in the form of temptation.  It is at that point that the one who is being tempted is in a critical position but still can have control.  He/she can still use the "the way of escape"  provided to endure the temptation (I Cor. 10:13).  Therefore, sin can only be committed when one bends and yields (submit, surrender, give in) to the temptation.  Sadly, it is here that our enemy the devil scores a tragic victory.  Let us take heed and be mindful of our desires!
  • Evil Company:  This is another powerful tool used by our enemy.  This is Satan's right tool for the job and he knows the importance of such tool.  It is here that our young must be careful and pay attention since evil company is one of Satan's best weapons or devices against them.  The devil knows how powerful this tool is, the pressure of one's peers.  It is good to remember Paul's warning to the Corinthians:  "Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals."  (I Cor. 15:33).  So, what is evil company?  It is merely the company that encourages to commit evil, sinful behavior.  Do not make the mistake of equating evil company with the company of strangers.  Why?  Because one might think of evil company as only those who are criminals, drug dealers, gang members, but such is not this case.  Evil company can take many forms such as friends, family, and even "religious" people!  And of course, those who we know that have the most influence on us.  It is sad, but many adopt the wicked and immoral behavior of our age from total strangers.  Let us be careful about the company we keep! Be wise.  Satan wants to lure us away from the path of righteousness.  Let this sink deep into your heart!
  • Vanity (Pride):  Another tool in Satan's toolkit of devices.  Vanity is the excessive pride of one's appearance and accomplishments.  In other words, vanity is a wicked form of self-centeredness.  It could easily be divided into two categories:  vanity of position and vanity of possession.  Vanity of position is primarily fed by conceit and arrogance.  Vanity of possession is fueled mainly by greed, covetousness, and carnal desires.  Surely, Satan knows how to use both against us.  In Genesis 3, the devil appealed to Eve's vanity of position by enticing her to be "like God" if she ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And when Eve "saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate."  You see, Eve's vanity of position was awakened and stimulated.  Moreover, the devil tried to use this kind of vanity against the Son of God to tempt Him in the wilderness.  It was vanity that led Judas to betray our Lord Jesus for thirty pieces of silver (Matt. 26:14-15).   Vanity also directed Ananias and Saphira to lie and eventually to cause their death  (Acts 5).  Sadly, vanity has caused many to "stray from the faith" (I Tim. 6:10).  It was vanity that led many of the Pharisees, Sadducees, chief priests and elders to reject and dishonor Jesus (Rom. 1:21).  Vanity caused Diotrephes to seek to "have the pre-eminence among" other Christians (III John 1:9).   No wonder the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes wrote many times saying that "all is vanity"!
  • Ignorance:  Satan uses ignorance in his work against man since he does not want him to know God's Word that will set him free from the bondage of sin (John 8:32).  Indeed, ignorance is what keeps us captive from believing the Truth to set us free from sin.  Sadly, many people will be "destroyed for lack of knowledge" since they chose to reject it (Hosea 4:6).  Why then do you suppose the devil works so strenuously at snatching the Word, the Truth, away from man's heart?  In the parable of the sower in Luke 8:11 Jesus explains:
    • " The seed is the word of God" (Luke 8:11). 
    • "The birds of the air" who devoured the seed that "fell along the path " (Luke 8:5) represents the devil.
    • Who "comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved" (Luke 8:12).

Satan's game is to steal away the seed of the Word of God before it can take root in the hearts of those who hear it.  The faster our adversary can do this, the easier his work becomes.  Therefore, it is crucial that we take heed to this warning and make a vigorous effort to guard and protect the Word of God against our adversary.  Likewise, we must hide God's Word in our heart that we might not sin against Him (Psalm 119:11).

It is tragic for one to be ignorant of the Word of God since he will not be able to defend the Truth and confront error or false teaching.  Alas, he will not even know the difference!   Consider what Paul wrote to the Corinthian church regarding such ignorance:  
"Awake to soberness righteously, and sin not; for some have no knowledge of God: I speak this to move you to shame."  (I Cor. 15:34).  
What a shame is the ignorance of the Word of God!!

  • Lies:  We all know that a lie is a false statement that is deliberately presented as being true.  But are we aware that it is a lie when our words are meant to deceive or give a mistaken impression?  Indeed, it is true, and Satan knows this better than any human being since "he is a liar and the father of lies" (John 8:44).  "There is no truth in him."  Satan lied to Even back in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3.  God had explicitly commanded man saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17).  In Genesis 3:4, Satan deliberately lied using a false statement saying, “You will not surely die.” You see, the devil was astute repeating God's exact words of warning but added one more word, the word NOT.  In like manner, the devil lied to our Lord Jesus by twisting the Word of God when he tried to tempt Jesus, the Son of God.  Notice what Satan said, "Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and 'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” (Matt. 4:5-6).   Satan misused and twisted the Word of God to tempt Christ and make Him sin!

Today, we are surrounded by many false teachers, purveyors of lies and false doctrines, who will do everything possible to misuse and twist the Word of God for their own purposes and conveniences "which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures."  (2 Peter 3:16).  And although they often appear to use Scriptures to back up their teachings, they are lying because they are not teaching the whole truth of God's Word.  They are deceiving because they are leaving the wrong impression, with their lies.  These false teachers (the devil's instruments of lies here on earth) are merely "untaught and unstable" people who distort God's infallible Word to their destruction.  Among our enemy's powerful tools, lies are among the most harmful!!

Undoubtedly, our adversary the devil uses five devices (desires, evil company, vanity, ignorance, and lies) to lure us away from the path of righteousness.  If were are ignorant of all his devices, he will take advantage of us (II Cor. 2:11).  That is why it is vital that we arm ourselves well to "stand against the wiles of the devil" (Eph. 6:11).  Satan’s most powerful tool is deceit.  He is truth-less, dishonest and fraudulent.  He has deceptive devices and wiles which he uses to trick us.  Indeed, he is very skilled in the art of deception, but we must equip ourselves with the whole armor of God to fight back!!


VII.  WHAT ARE THE DEVIL'S POWERS?

Satan is not omnipotent and is not all powerful, but that doesn't mean he is weak!  So what exactly are his powers?  The Bible tells us that he is the "god of this world," the lord of this earth, (II Cor. 4:4).  What does that mean?  It means that God has allowed him to rule this world but with limitations, and we surely see his evil ways in this world.  The book of Job illustrates this truth well. God allowed Satan to get his way and do as he pleased with Job but with limitations, conditions that Satan had to follow.  Satan is powerful enough to rule the earth. Even Jesus acknowledged this in Matthew 4 when the devil was tempting Him.  The devil offered our Lord Jesus all the kingdoms of this world if He would bow down and worship him.  Indeed, we see that Satan has power since he dared to offer Jesus all the kingdoms of this world to tempt Him.  If Satan didn't have any power, he would not have tempted the Son of God, and the Lord could have just rebuked him and said, "you don't have the power to give Me those kingdoms, Satan"!  But our Lord Jesus didn't say that since He knew that Satan did have that power.  Jesus could have surrendered to Satan's temptation of accepting his offer and forget about dying on the cross for the redemption of mankind.  Jesus could have easily enjoyed this life as an earthly ruler and not have to endure the agony of crucifixion.  But Jesus did not give in to the devil's temptation.  He chose to die for our sins rather than to enjoy the pleasures of this world.  Jesus just said "NO" because He loved mankind and wanted to make accessible a way of salvation.  This moves me deeply!!

The Bible reveals that the devil is able to make suggestions in the hearts of men.  John 13:2 tells us, "During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him."  Isn't it scary that our adversary had the power to suggest thoughts into Judas' mind (heart)!  Indeed, this is how he deceives and tempts us today.  It is important to stress that just because the devil had the power to suggest ideas into the heart of Judas, Judas did not have to surrender or act upon that suggestion.  The same is true for us today!  We must become fully aware that although Satan can put sinful suggestions into our hearts, they are merely suggestions and we must not yield or give in.  We all have to face these illicit suggestions, but we must be wise about what to do with them.  We must choose wisely and meditate on the Word of God, on what to do with those suggestions rather than make plans to do evil.  We must try to get those evil thoughts or suggestions out of our mind and not act upon them at all!

Satan also has the power to:
  • Pervert the Word of God (Genesis 3:1-4).  
  • He loves to instigate false doctrine (I Tim. 4:1-3).  
  • He corrupts our minds and loves to steer us away from the simplicity and purity of the Gospel of Christ, (II Corinthians 11:3).  
  • He hinders the success of the Gospel by putting obstacles in the way and making the Truth hard to understand.  He snatches the Truth away from man's heart, (Matt. 13:19).  
  • He fights us to defeat whatever progress the Word of God makes in us, (Eph. 6:12).  
  • He loves to blind the eyes of men to the truth of the Gospel by instilling doubt, keeping them from seeing the glory of our Lord Jesus, (II Cor. 4:4).  
  • He hinders many from coming to God in obedience through faith by enslaving them to sin, (Gal. 4:8). 
  • He tries to disable the effectiveness of the Word of God in us through confusion, discouragement, and despair, (II Cor. 4:8-9). 
  • He sows tares through false doctrine and false teachers to create disunity in the church, (Mt. 13:24-39; II Cor. 11:13-15). 
  • He leads many into embracing this false doctrine and compromising what is sound, (I Tim. 4:1-3).  
  • He persecutes those who want to live godly, (Rev. 2:10).   
  • He lays snares for men (II Tim. 2:26; I Tim. 3:7).  
  • He undermines the sanctity of the home (I Cor. 7:3-5).  
  • He hinders the work of God's servants (I Thess. 2:18).  
  • He portrays himself as an angel of light to deceive us (II Cor. 11:14).
Since Satan is powerful, it leads me to the following question:


VIII.   HOW CAN WE AS CHRISTIANS DEFEND OURSELVES AGAINST THIS POWERFUL ENEMY?

Consider the following suggestions from the Word of God that would help us to overcome our adversary the devil:


  • We must put on our battle armor:  We cannot afford to be naive about Satan's wicked devices.  Our conflict with him is a spiritual one indeed.  Therefore, we must consider his evil ways and be equipped with the whole armor of God to fight back.  Ephesians 6:10-18 provides us with a list of these protections and arms for battle:  
    • truth.
    • righteousness.
    • peace.
    • faith.
    • salvation
    • God's infallible Word and
    • prayer.  
If we put on this spiritual armor, we will be able to resist our adversary the devil and he will flee from us (James 4:7).  How do you suppose our Lord and Savior overcame Satan's temptations in Matthew 4?  With the Word of God.  Jesus quoted Scripture on every occasion that Satan tempted Him.  Now, if you are ignorant of the Word of God, you will not be able to overcome Satan's wiles and temptations.  Most likely you will give in to his temptations since you don't know what God expects and demands of you.  When one does not know the Word of God, he won't completely know the difference between right and wrong.  Thus, one will be an easy target for Satan.  On the other hand, if one is fully saturated with the knowledge of the Word of God, taking courage to keep pressing on, Satan will have no chance to defeat us. I guarantee you that!!

  • We must remember that although God will allow Satan to tempt us, He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can endure, (I Cor. 10:13).  "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."  Remember this comforting promise always!  This verse also restates that man is responsible for his actions or choices.  God will never put us (Christians) in a position of temptation which we cannot handle.
  • We must remember that we have an advocate, Jesus Christ our Lord even though we have Satan as the "accuser of the brethren" (Rev. 12:10).  Jesus, our advocate, is standing with us, is pleading our case, is protecting us from all evil and is refusing to forsake us (I John 2:1).  How comforting are these words to my soul!!!  Our Savior understands well what it is like to be tempted by Satan since He Himself was tempted by the enemy.  Therefore, He is interceding for us (Hebrews 7:25).  He is on our side and wants to remain faithful to us if we are faithful to Him, walking in the Light "as He Himself is in the Light."  (I John 1:7)
  • We must never forget, that victory is within our grasp, and we must not let go.  Satan knows that he is going to lose at the end.  Therefore, let us make sure that we keep pressing on, and never give up when the way gets tough and wrong seems so strong.  Let us heed the Lord's words of advice, "Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."  (Matt. 26:41).
So if we faithfully arm ourselves with these four Bible truths, we will surely overcome our adversary, the devil.


IX.  WHAT IS SATAN'S FINAL DESTINY?

On the Final Day of Judgment, the devil will be "thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever."  (Rev. 20:10). Satan knows very well that he has no hope!  In Matthew 25:41 God foretold that Satan will be punished eternally in hell, a place prepared for him and his angels.  Of course, they won't be the only ones in that place of torment.  All those who refused to "know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might."   (II Thess. 1:8-9).

Therefore, let us live faithfully for the Lord, obeying His glorious gospel of grace.


CONCLUSION:
"Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom."  
All Christians are involved in combat with a powerful and deceptive enemy, and we must be alert.   The apostle Peter warns us about this big enemy in I Peter 5:8.  Therefore, we must stand firm and not let him intimidate us.  We must realize who our enemy is and learn his tactics of warfare.  He is dangerous!  We must acknowledge his power and devices.  He is a crafty snake!

Satan is the roaring lion encircling the flock to see if he can make the sheep stray away from the protection of the shepherd and the flock.  He is always prowling about, looking for an open door to attack us and discourage us.  His goal is to devour or destroy us.  Therefore, we must be watchful or vigilant and not be ignorant of his devices.

Today, many characterize Satan as a toothless lion that can only roar but cannot harm.  This is dangerous!  Because Satan does not intend just to scare us.  He means to destroy us and take us to the "lake of fire" with him.  Let us pay attention to the Bible warnings about him.  

Satan and his ministers of evil (those angels who rebelled against God) want to attack our faith and our desire to obey the Lord.  Our struggle is not fleshly but rather spiritual, against spiritual forces of wickedness in high places (Eph. 6:10).  Hence, we must put on our spiritual armor and stand firm to defeat him.  How do we resist him?   By submitting to God, drawing near to him and purifying our hearts with His Word (James 4:7-8).  

We must always consider that Satan is patient and not easily discouraged no matter how many times we turn him down.  He does not give up!  Remember what Luke 4:13 says, "And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time."  Satan attacked Jesus with various temptations during His time in the wilderness.  And although he was not successful, he certainly did not give up on Jesus.  He is back when another opportunity presents itself.  

Remember that Satan and his demons believe in God, heaven, and hell.  Notice what James wrote:  "You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder."  (James 2:19).  They tremble because they know the eternal suffering that awaits them.  Satan is always working (day and night).  He knows his time is limited and that he has much to accomplish with his wicked plans.  We read of this in Job 1:7.

One of the most vital things we need to be aware of is that Satan knows God's Word.  He quoted it to our Lord Jesus in Luke 4.  He is not ignorant of the Scriptures (though it does not stop him from rebelling against God).  The devil knows God's Word well enough to quote them directly as we see in Genesis 3 when he tempted Eve adding the word "not" as in, "you will not surely die."  That is why it is crucial that we know the whole counsel of God by studying it so that we may know the will of God and not sin against Him.  We must know the whole Truth and not remain ignorant. We must combat evil and false teachings as well as obey God.  The devil is taking many souls with him into the lake of fire.  He uses his destructive devices and snares to draw man's soul to sin.  But God gives us all the  "defensive weapons" which are the Truth, Righteousness, the Gospel of Christ, our Faith and our Salvation.  Let's not leave out the "offensive weapons" which are the Sword of the Gospel and Prayer, (Eph. 6:11-18). These are the only measures of war that we can take to stand firmly against him and win.  

May we stand on a firm foundation of faith, the knowledge of God and His Word that we may be saved from Satan's wicked devices.  May we submit to God and resist the devil so that he will flee from us.  May we never surrender to Satan but rather dedicate our lives to God's service with zeal. May we be always vigilant with all prayer that we may not enter into temptation.  May we never forget that victory is within our grasp, and we must not let go.  


Luci