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29 October 2012

Spiritual Warfare - October 29

Spiritual Warfare. What does it mean to you? A red cartoon guy with a tail and a pitchfork? Do you envision a demon behind every rock? Hidden messages in music played backwards? Conservatively dressed “hill-folk” dancing with snakes? Scary music, thunder/lightning and priests/pastors exorcising demons? While all of these elements have been popularized and trivialized in today’s society, that’s not the purpose of this study.

We’re here to learn more about our enemy, the devil. He’s neither a cartoon nor a power to be fearful of. He’s the ruler of this world, but he is not the ruler of the universe, and in the end, God wins.

Satan’s been around since before the world was made. He was an angel whose pride got in the way. He wanted to be like God and created an insurrection. He and the angels that fought with him were cast out of heaven, and although we see Satan at God’s throne (Job 1), we know that he has a permanent home in hades.

Satan is a liar and a prevaricator. Satan will do anything to get us to turn away from God. Satan is crafty. Our first indication of Satan’s craftiness comes in the first book of the Bible.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” 4  But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman 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. 7  Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. Gen 3:1-7 (ESV)

The serpent was right! Eve ate and she didn’t die. Her eyes were opened.

She didn’t die right away, but her sin caused her death and the death of every other human being.
She shared her good fortune with Adam. He could have said “no”, but he listened to his wife and the serpent.

Her eyes were opened. So were his. She saw that she was naked. So did he. They clothed themselves because they were naked.

WooHOO! They were alive and free. But…

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Gen 3:8-13 (ESV)

For the first time mankind felt afraid because they knew they were naked – and they knew that they had done wrong. It’s interesting to note that even the first sinners did their best to avoid personal responsibility, pointing fingers at each other and at the serpent. Things haven’t changed much! We still point fingers of blame and avoid personal responsibility today.

Was that “bite of the apple” worth the penalty? Is any sin worth the penalty?

Satan doesn’t care much about a person who is living a sinful, lustful life. He already has that person in his net. He does care about those who are doing their best to live pure and righteous lives. He went for Eve because she was holy and pure. Eve didn’t care what God said. Her interests were in the glittery promises of Satan.

Satan told Eve the truth, but he didn’t tell her the whole truth. The ramifications of Eve’s sins reverberate today. Likewise, Satan may tell us that it’s okay to look…just this once, or to try…just this once. Maybe one look, one taste, or one touch won’t hurt this once. But what Satan forgets (conveniently) to tell us is the ultimate ramification of that one look, touch or taste.

God has talked to Adam and Eve and they’ve blamed everyone but themselves. On Wednesday we’ll see what God has to say to the serpent.

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