The stage is set, the battle ready, the players on the field, the stakes high – very high. God created, Satan attacked, humanity failed, God loved and sent, Jesus came and died, believers saved and sealed.
This thing we call “Church” is real. Jesus Christ is building His Church, so it’s very real. And what does Satan do now? He doesn’t stop, he attacks again and again. Satan is relentless. Why? Why would a defeated foe keep attacking? Because he knows what’s coming.
“And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” Revelation 12:7-12
“… because he knows that he has a short time.” Satan is a realist. He messed up and will pay for it with his life. “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Revelation 20:10) Satan knows what he will do for eternity, but he’s not going quietly.
“Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:13-17
Satan is a fighter. He’s defeated, but he won’t stop fighting until God takes the fight out of him forever. I am convinced that until Christians see Satan for who he is and engages him in serious and effective spiritual battle, we will have limited success accomplishing the Lord’s goal for us.
What is that goal? Before you look in your Bible, look around at Christians you know, especially Christians in positions of church leadership. Based on what you see with your eyes and hear with your ears, what do you think is the Lord’s goal for Christians? Personal prosperity? Health and wealth? The “good” life? Getting more “stuff.” Climbing the personal and corporate ladder of success? Getting ahead? Even if it means leaving others behind? Live it out “safe” and “easy”? Get a little involved in helping others, “but not too much”?
You know I’m not making this up. Be honest. Look at how Christians around you walk and talk. Look at how Christians spend their time and money. Based on what you see, what’s their goal in life?
Now, open the Bible and compare what you see around you with what you see God say.
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25
“Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” Mark 10:21
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations …” Matthew 28:19
“… you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-20
Notice anything different between Christ’s goals for Christians and Christians’ goals for themselves? I know you do because it’s the elephant in the room. Everybody knows it, but nobody talks about it. It’s the ugly truth we all know, but we do everything we can to paint it another color or put something over it so no one notices it’s there. We do our best to disguise it and say it’s not really what it is, but no matter how good we are at covering it up it’s still there and anyone with eyes to see can and will see it.
The fact is – we make Jesus sick! Think I’m wrong? Then, why did Jesus say this?
“These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: ‘I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.” Revelation 3:14-19
“But,” you say, “we’re not like the Laodiceans!” Really? Don’t we love our wealth? Don’t we love our position? Don’t we love how we have need of nothing? Yes, that’s exactly what we think and say, and we don’t realize we are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked!
The goals of Christians look nothing like the goals Christ established for His Church – and until we realize that FACT and REPENT, our future will continue to get darker and darker every day. There is only one way out of this mess we’re in and it’s to do what our Lord says DO!
“I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.”
Christians, everyone of us should be embarrassed. Our eyes should fill with tears, our hearts should fill with fear, and our mouths fill with repentance. And let’s be real this time. Enough of the puny stuff that leads us down the aisle during the altar call – after altar call after altar call after altar call.
Do you think that’s what Jesus had in mind when He told John what to write to the churches? Do you think Jesus wants us to repent from 11:55 – 11:58am on Sundays? That’s not repentance – it’s convenience!
Repentance is when God grabs your heart by the throat and you know what He’s telling you is true. Repentance is when you hear Christ Jesus the Lord call you wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked, and it breaks your heart because you realize He wants to vomit you out of His mouth. Repentance is when you fall to your knees and can’t stand up because of the pressure of God’s Hand on your heart, mind, soul and strength. Repentance is when you say to God – “not my will but thine be done.” Repentance is when you say yes to God and no to everything else.
Remember the stage? Remember the battle? Remember the stakes? Satan is the enemy. Don’t let him win the battle for your obedience. Don’t let him win the war for your heart and mind. Don’t let him control your time, your finances, your talents, your gifts. Why? Because your time, your finances, your talents and your gifts belong to God! The Lord has given you all of these things for one purpose – to fulfill His goal for your life. And, as a member of the household of faith, you will find that by fulfilling God’s purpose for your life, your life will have meaning and purpose far beyond anything you could imagine in this world.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6:19-20
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”