The AccuserBut let's move on to the next topic as Peter winds down this letter.ÿ He is spilling out some of his final concernsÿ.ÿ.ÿ.
His existenceHe refers to that strange character, "the devil."ÿ I was reading an article recently where a professor was tracing the recent rise in religious ferment on campuses to an increase in movies about the devil, like the Exorcist.ÿ He said it is a short leap from believing in a devil to becoming a Fundamentalist. Of course, in saying this he was insinuating that the narrow, simple views of fundamentalism were one in the same with a belief in the Devil. Well, I hate stereotypes.ÿ And so, someone asks me, "Are you a fundamentalist?"ÿ No.ÿ "Do you have black and white answers for everything?"ÿ Maybe, Maybe not. "Do you believe in a Devil?"ÿ Now what am I supposed to say?ÿ Wonder if I do?ÿ Does that make me a raving fundamentalist?ÿ Or is it just possible that people have carefully thought about where they stand and why they believe what they believe, and they still hold that there is such a thing as an evil spiritual force? I don't consider the belief in a devil, or whatever you want to call him, any more stupid or incredible than a belief in a God.ÿ How can I?ÿ They're both the same class of being, spiritual.ÿ And experientially there's just as much evidence for a bad spiritual being as a good one.ÿ So, really, this thought, which the Bible affirms, is not such a hard pill to swallow.ÿ And I feel a little put off when belief in such a spiritual being automatically slots you in with some silly stereotype.
An adversaryWell, Peter describes him here as an adversary.ÿ And the word he uses is one they used in the courts, of your opponent in court.ÿ Peter is trying to convey here a picture of the Devil which is pretty common in the Bible--that of an accuser.ÿ He is an adversary in the sense that he brings charges against people.ÿ He brings accusations against people. There is a great ennactment of this idea in the book of Job.ÿ Here Satan, the Devil, comes before God and says, "What do you think of that Job character, you think he's pretty righteous don't you?ÿ Well, let me tell you what I think.ÿ I think he's a patsy.ÿ I think you buy him off with good gifts.ÿ Who wouldn't be faithful with all the stuff you've given him?!" So the Devil brings charges against Job.ÿ And then he preceeded to persecute him and try to wreck his faith. The Bible records this story because it so perfectly portrays the kind of attitude this character has.ÿ Seething with hatred.ÿ Overflowing with hatred for human beings and especially God's followers. You have to understand, this guy didn't just get raised on the wrong side of the tracks.ÿ He began his career in paradise, the Bible tells us in Ez.ÿ28.ÿ And the reason he left was that he became so arrogant, so puffed up with himself that he was outraged anyone else could be on the throne besides himself. "How come God is sitting up there like he's God?ÿ I can't stand it.ÿ I'm gonna be God!" So the Bible tells us he is pretty much bent on destruction all the time.ÿ And he likes nothing more than to find a weak spot in a Christian and exploit it.ÿ This is why he is called the accuser. Example: I remember a few years back, in fact quite a few years back now, I was about to give a teaching on the whole matter of suffering.ÿ And someone suggested to me that I was a young pup, wet behind the ears, and knew nothing of the topic I was going to teach on.ÿ Well, I don't want to suggest that the Devil was speaking through that person because it was just an affectionate teasing.ÿ But over the next few days I couldn't forget that idea.ÿ "Yea, you really don't know anything about suffering, or anything for that matter."ÿ This became an obsessive thought.ÿ It became an obsession to the point that I could not carry off that teaching and at the last minute had to call someone else in to cover me. Well, I'm convinced that there were spiritual forces involved in that exchange.ÿ Nothing could be more typical of these spiritual beings than to take pleasure in rattling us, making us feel inadequate, or even evil, so we can't carry on with the Lord's work. Example: Here I was talking with a friend of mine recently, and he had been having some problems with drinking, some use of drugs, etc.ÿ So he says, "I have been realizing that I'm just a loser!ÿ It looks like that's just the way I am with God.ÿ I'm made to be someone who can't get it together."ÿ Then he went on to cite the number of failures he had over the past few months, "See?! I never change!" I wonder where he got that idea from?ÿ I don't think any Christians had been telling him that.ÿ In fact, I said, "I know that five years from now these problems you have are going to be a distant memory!ÿ You're going to be stable, probably happily married, etc."ÿ He said, "How can you say that!ÿ What evidence do you have to say that kind of thing?!" I have all the evidence I need.ÿ God's word says this: "I am confident that He who began a good work in you will perfect itÿ.ÿ.ÿ."ÿ "God is the one who is at work in youÿ.ÿ.ÿ." This is what the Accuser tries to do.ÿ He tries to get us to say, "I don't think that's true in my case!"ÿ He tries to get us to admit defeat. He can also work in our minds to accuse others. Example: Every time, before my home church on Thursday nights and cell group on Friday nights, I start to think about some of the jerks in my home church!ÿ Now this has been going on for years.ÿ I'll start to think of things people have done to me.ÿ I'll start to think of what a loser so and so is. I don't know if all of you realize this.ÿ But when you become active in serving the Lord, you become an excessively attractive target for these vicious spiritual beings. The next time you start really getting down because of all your problems and all your sins, just ask yourself this, "What am I about to do that will benefit God's kingdom?ÿ What is about to happen of spiritual consequence?" I just can't belive how stupid we are sometimes.ÿ I'll be talking to one of my fellow hc leaders and they'll be finally convinced that they shouldn't be a leader or that they can't conquer this problem.ÿ And I'll remind them, "You know you're supposed to teach tommorow night."ÿ And that's enough.ÿ It's like the wake up and remember, "Oh, yea!ÿ Someone might be suggesting these things to me!" I do it myself.ÿ I told you what happens every time something important is coming up.ÿ But do you think I always remember?ÿ Of course not.ÿ I let myself get caught all the time. And that is exactly what Peter's point is here.ÿ Don't get caught!ÿ There's someone so persistent, so vicious, out there he can only be compared to a roaring lion. Example: One thing about lions in those days, you didn't have guns, or anything like that.ÿ If a lion attacked you might be able to get dagger out, or try to club him.ÿ But either way, you'd be in trouble.ÿ So you can bet one thing.ÿ If you even thought you were being stalked by one of these creatures, sobriety and alertness would be the least of your problems.ÿ You wouldn't even have to tell me to be alertÿ.ÿ.ÿ. Well, that is exactly what Peter is saying.ÿ Realize this character is out there and capable of damage. Example: I've told you some light-hearted stories.ÿ But I want to tell you, I've seen fellow brothers and sisters go down in flames spiritually because they didn't weather an accusatory attack by these spiritual beings.ÿ It's a horrible sight.ÿ If you hang around vital Christians very long, you'll see it too.ÿ You won't have any problem comparing it to a ravaging lion.
Resisting himI want to put in some time thinking about this idea of resisting him.ÿ Because I've painted a pretty bleak picture. ÿJohn gives us some insight into what this means to resist him firm in our faith in the book of Revelations. Here, John is seeing kind of a prophetic drama played out for him regarding the Devil.
The accuserÿ.ÿ.ÿ. thrown downSee first he notes that God's kingdom has come.ÿ And he is refering to the time in the future when God will firmly establish his kingdom.ÿ But he says, "The one who is always accusing is cast down, overcome." Then he explains why.
Blood of the LambHe says for one, those who overcame the Devil did so because of the blood of the Lamb.ÿ He is refering to the fact that we are accepted by God on the basis of Christ's death on our behalf.ÿ Christ's death, the Bible says, cleanses us of any wrong. Yes I've got problems.ÿ Yes I make mistakes.ÿ Yes, there are serious flaws in my character.ÿ But Christ has covered all that. That's the idea he is trying to communicate here.ÿ We overcome Satan's accusations, not by saying, "No, that's not true.ÿ There's nothing wrong with me."ÿ His accusations are true!ÿ Often, very often, they are at least based in the facts. You overcome him by saying, "So what? God accepts me in spite of that."ÿ And that response, that attitude on the part of the Christian--appealing to God's grace--is just too much.ÿ He has no reply for this.
GospelBy the way, this is a tactic he uses with people who aren't Christians too.ÿ He tries to convince people that they would never be good enough for God.ÿ Why do people get so guilty when they think about God? And the fact is, once again there is basis in fact!ÿ We have done things wrong.ÿ But these spiritual beings play on that and make you feel like God would never accept someone like you.ÿ And the answer is the Bible's answer, God loves and accepts people who have problemsÿ.ÿ.ÿ.
By their wordSecondly he notes that the Devil is overcome by the word of our testimony.ÿ In other words, the best defense is a good offense. Here I am, frozen in my chair after a home church teaching ora central teaching.ÿ Why?ÿ Because I was stupid again and I've been thinking about myself all day and all my problems.ÿ The accuser go to me. So what do I do?ÿ I get up, go over, and begin encouraging someone about how good God really is.ÿ What he's done in my life.ÿ Or perhaps what he could do in there's.ÿ I start to actually speak forth God's word! What could be worse?!ÿ Again, these spiritual beings have no real weapons when we start to speak God's word to others. All their weapons are preventative, by means of intimidation.ÿ Once a Christian speaks up, once we start to act, they can do nothing. In a lot of ways, you could compare what they do to a bluff.ÿ They try to scare and intimidate.ÿ But they have no real ability to stop us. Example: Need a story here.
Did not love their livesFinally, they didn't love their lives.ÿ John is drawing attention to the selfless Christian.ÿ The one who doesn't even cling to his own life.ÿ What kind of threat do you bring against someone this dedicated? No, the Devil fears this kind of person. I know that there are a number of people right here who have made this kind of comitment to God.ÿ And this is so concerning to the demons.ÿ They could probably safely ignore most of the churches in Columbus because often nobody there would sacrifice anything for God or God's kingdom.ÿ But here, here there are many.ÿ That's why we get so much attention from these characters.ÿ That's what is making your thought life so rugged.ÿ That's what is constantly meddling and making things harder! But here is the gritty and determined attitude that is needed. Example: Story: Battle of Leningrad? How many of us have given our lives to the Lord to this extreme?ÿ I don't know, but may there be many more.
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