PRAY OR BE PREY 11-17-19
Pray, or Be Prey
November 17, 2019
Last Sunday I spoke about the importance of prayer in battling our enemies – those who belong to the kingdom of darkness. So why am I speaking on that subject yet again? Same reason I preach what I preach every Sunday. Not because it is in the lectionary, or because it is part of a sermon series, or because it is the “in topic” right now, or for whatever other reason that some pastors might decide to preach what they do - but because it is what the Lord has directed me to preach about. This time he showed me something as I went for my usual run through Mazonia State Park. Fishing season is now over there, and hunting season has begun. As I ran past several small lakes, in each of them I could see the same thing – a dozen or more duck decoys floating on the water. And as I stopped to look at them, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and said, “See, that is what the devil does. He puts out his decoys. They look like the real thing. They sound like the real thing. And my people don’t even notice the hunter sitting in the weeds, watching and waiting.”
Let’s think about that for a minute… The hunter doesn’t stand out in the middle of the lake waiting for a duck to drop at his feet. He conceals himself so the ducks won’t notice him, or his weapon. Satan never shows himself for who he really is. He camouflages himself and uses decoys that look and sound like Christians to lure real Christians away from the truth, away from the foundation of their faith - the Word of God, and entice them off the right path. These decoys are often so well-constructed that they not only easily fool those seeking Christ, and new Christians, but long-time Christians as well - those who should be well-grounded and have their spiritual senses heightened to such a degree that they are no longer easy targets for the enemy’s deceptions. The apostle Paul dealt with this when he wrote, “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:11-14) It is vitally important that we are able to distinguish good from evil, because remember the verse, also written by the apostle Paul, that I quoted last week, “For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness”. (2 Corinthians 11:13-14). And the apostle John also warned us when he wrote, “Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.” (1 John 4:1)
These ‘many false prophets’ are the devil’s decoys. They appear to be led by the Holy Spirit, but upon close examination they omit, corrupt, or speak in opposition to God’s Word, and no one speaking by the Holy Spirit would do so. Let me give you just one example. How often in this day and age do you still hear the word “repentance”? Grace, yes. Love, yes. But repentance? Not so much. Now don’t get me wrong. Grace and love are what Christ is all about. But remember, it was Jesus himself who said, not once but twice, in Luke chapter 13, “unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Yes, even though it is a vital part of our salvation, many Christians don’t understand, or grasp the depth of meaning in, the word “repentance”. To be truly repentant means you genuinely have remorse over sins you have committed, AND you want to STOP sinning. Those who think that just saying a prayer asking Jesus to save them, while still planning to keep on doing all of their favorite sins, is going to get them into heaven, are believing a lie. Because in heaven there is no sin. So if you still willfully intend to sin, if you have absolutely no desire to overcome the flesh, then you obviously do not want to go to heaven! And if you don’t want to go to heaven, why even bother pretending to be a Christian? You will be much happier spending eternity with the rest of the folks that eagerly continue in sin – hating, lying, stealing, and killing. Selfishness and pride are welcomed there as well. Of course, you can forget about love. And peace. And real joy. And I hope you like complete darkness as well.
But those of us who truly love the Lord, who have put their faith in him and truly repented of their sin, must be knowledgeable in God’s Word. We must listen to the Holy Spirit. We must be able to distinguish between real and false, good and evil. The apostle Jude wrote, “But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ predicted. They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires. These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them. But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love. And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.” (Jude 1:17-23)
In conclusion, the apostle Peter calls us to stay alert and watch out for our great enemy, the devil, because he prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. He urges us to stand firm against him, and be strong in our faith. (1 Peter 5:8-9). Yes, the Bible says that Satan is a hunter, a predator; and predators are always looking for prey. But when we pray for discernment, and pray for faith, and pray for strength, we cease to be prey, and become warriors instead. The old adage still applies – the best defense is a good offense. George Washington wrote in 1799: "Offensive operations, often times, is the surest, if not the only (in some cases) means of defense." King David knew that. When faced with the giant Goliath, he hurled the first stone, the death blow, while Goliath was too busy making fun of the young boy that challenged him. So remember, we have the upper hand against the enemy, for God’s Word says, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4). The apostle James urges us to submit ourselves to God and resist the devil – saying that if we do, he will flee from us. (James 4:7).
So run, devil, run! Amen.
"The Devil is a Liar" (We Are Messengers) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5mLxFsXe_c
"Run, Devil, Run" (Crowder) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=US1-R-R9lYQ