This morning instead of my normal "Purity" Encouragment, I have decided to launch the next lesson of the Celebrate Freedom Discipleship Course. As I stated previously: "I developed the Celebrate Freedom Discipleship Course in 2020 as part of my master’s thesis in Christian Counseling to “fill in the gaps” of the Christian Twelve Step/ Celebrate Recovery – Teaching Curriculums by introducing concepts of Christian Discipleship that I found important in my walk of faith and in my recovery over alcohol, drugs, sex addiction, and food addiction." We hope it encourages you to follow Jesus and to overcome any hurts, habits, and hang-ups that still persist in your lives.
God Bless You All,
Listen to the podcast: Celebrate Freedom Discipleship Course - Lesson 3 - The Enemy Podcast
Or Watch it on YouTube:
Discipleship Principle 3 – We must know that Satan and demonic entities are real and seek to destroy us by influencing the way we think. We must be aware of their tactics to be victorious over their attempts to deceive, tempt, accuse, or condemn us by knowing who we are in Christ and by living according to our faith.
The Bible documents the existence of Satan and evil spirits on the earth and the following verses show us that the enemy can even influence the thoughts and actions of people who want to follow the Lord, people like:
Judas - John 13:2 And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him,
David -1 Chron 21:1 Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel
Peter - Matt 16:23 But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men."
If Satan could influence these men, Christians must recognize that the battle with the enemy takes place is in our minds, and that the things we think or feel could be caused by the enemy. In our recovery, we can see that the temptations and negative mind states we experience that drive our hurts, habits, or hang-ups may come from very real “personal demons!”
2 Corinthians 2:11 (NIV) 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
Whether negative mind states or demonic oppression, there are common aspects of experience that are present in people who suffer and seek to mask their pain or comfort themselves with unhealthy substances or relationships like:
· Constant temptation
· Low self-esteem
· Tormenting “voices” or thoughts
· Anger – Rage – Hatred – Sarcasm
· Fear – Anxiety – Guilt - Shame
· Distorted thoughts about God
So, are these negative states of mind, just us, or could demons be influencing us to do wrong and make decisions that can harm and potentially kill us? Individual cases vary but the good news is that remedy of faith, Christian living, and spiritual warfare overcome these problems whether they come from the flesh, the world, or the devil.
Enemy Tactics - To defeat the enemy, we must know how he operates. The following are the ways he seeks to lead us into darkness and keep us from being who God made us to be. The battle is in and for the mind.
2 Corinthians 11:3 (NKJV) …. as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
As this scripture tells us, Satan is a liar and has used this attack since the original Fall of man. His deceptions are cunning because they are often partially true.
For those in recovery, the fact of Satan’s lying ways should cause us to do two things:
· Always seek the Truth. To protect ourselves, we test any information we are given by the Bible’s standards for morality and whether it is factual. Also, Christ as the embodiment of Truth is our example and can be called on to deliver us from temptation and to give us strength.
· Always practice the truth. – If we are turning from our old ways to God’s way for our lives, we must make a personal commitment to always be honest.
Ephesians 4:25-27 says 25 Therefore, putting away lying, "Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor," for we are members of one another. 26 "Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil.
=================================================================The enemy’s goal is to use lies to keep us locked in our vicious cycle of temptation, sin, accusation, and condemnation.
Matthew 4:1 tells us that “Jesus was …. tempted by the devil.”
Genesis 3:4-5 tells us that the enemy lied and tempted Eve by saying, "You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
If the devil tempted Jesus, he would certainly tempt you and me. From the first temptation of Eve in the garden, we can discern a few things about his methods. When the enemy tempts us, he:
· contradicts God’s word.
· attempts to convince us to meet legitimate needs in illegitimate ways.
· often exaggerates the desirability of the object of temptation to the exclusion of other aspects of it or from the consequences of giving into temptation.
So, when we are tempted, we need to follow our first principle and seek the truth. If it is against God’s word, we need to stop and refuse. If the immediacy of giving in is being pushed, we need to pause and contemplate the consequences of giving in.
Will giving in go against what you what you want as a follower of Jesus Christ?
Will it result in eventual shame, guilt, or emotional, mental, or physical pain?
1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
If we examine our desires, thoughts, and experiences as they happen, we can:
· see when we are tempted,
· challenge the temptation with the truth, and
· stop the vicious cycle in its tracks.
We take “the way of escape” by changing what we are thinking, and what we are doing, or by physically leaving where we are. Since coming to faith in Christ we have been set free, but we need to believe it and take the “way of escape.”
If we say no to temptation one time, we prove we are free. Sustained victory is just continuing to believe that we are free and repeating that victory, one day at a time. This is how our freedom can be won and maintained: through our faith
That seems simple enough, but can it really work? With God nothing is impossible, but we have to cooperate with Him and understand the sin that so easily besets us.
1 John 5:18-19 We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.
These verses tell us that the whole world is under the sway of the wicked one but the Christian is different. Those who put their faith in Jesus are born of God and have the power to say no to sin. To help us to make that truth a reality, we must understand sin.
Sin is meeting legitimate needs in illegitimate ways. Sin is “missing the mark”, by not living according to the way God’s word instructs us. God does not deny us pleasure, but He does prohibit that which will harm us or lead us into darkness.
For every need we have, God has a plan to meet it. The need for sustenance is met in nutritious food and drink. The need for intimate love is met in marriage. The need for joy is met with enjoyment, gratitude, and contentment for the things God has provided and for the fellowship we have with Him and others who know and love Him.
The Bible makes it clear that Christians do not make a practice of sinning. To be in harmony with who we are in Christ and God, those in recovery need to embrace their freedom from sin and turn from the old ways that would associate them with the enemy. To do this we need to do two things: We must love the Lord and learn to hate our sin.
John 14:15 (NKJV) 15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments.
· Love - We need to love God and make our obedience to His word an expression of our love for Him./ The way we live and communicate with God is our relationship with Him. Our obedience demonstrates that we understand and love Him.
Psalm 119:104 Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore, I hate every false way.
· Hate – We need to change the way we think about our sin. We need to hate it.
Our substance or sin of choice is something we find pleasure in. We enjoyed the sensations of our sin and that is why walking away can feel so unnatural.
However, if we honestly look at our sin, we will see that there was a good deal of pain, desperation, and suffering involved with it. Our sin’s darkness was revealed by its bad consequences. Our not following God’s ways leads to shame, guilt, loss, and pain.
To hate our sin, we must look at the truth of how bad it truly was and change how we think and feel about our sin. We must remember the consequences and learn to hate our sin for what it is: a lie and a trap of the enemy who seeks to destroy us.
Revelation 12:10 …. the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.
When we sin, the enemy is delighted and uses our sin to accuse us of not being “real Christians” and that we are not free from sin. He claims that our failure proves that sin is a fact of our life that we cannot escape. If we believe him, we stay in bondage.
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
Condemnation is a feeling of “strong disapproval”. While accusations usually cease after sins are committed, the enemy keeps a steady stream of condemnation in the afflicted person’s mind to keep them in chains. What we may think of as negative self-talk could be assisted or created by the enemy’s influences. His condemnations make us feel low, but he is only setting us up.
When we are low enough, the enemy is there to lie and tempt us to sin once again, completing the vicious cycle of deception, temptation, sin, accusation, and condemnation!
But the good news is that when we are in Christ there is hope because the battle has already been won by Jesus. We just must use the authority He has given us and claim our victory.
Matthew 28:18 (NKJV) 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
Luke 10:17 (NKJV) 17 Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name."
Christ’s victory on the cross has been passed on to those who have faith in Him. We have the authority to cast out evil spirits, say no to sin, and live a victorious new life.
Resist Him – Fight
James 4:7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
2 Corinthians 10:3-6 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.
These verses tell us that even though we have authority over the enemy, we must resist him. Our battlefield is the mind. Resisting the enemy involves challenging every thought that would tempt, accuse, or condemn us as untrue. Proclaiming and living according to truth and our identity in Christ is our means of victory. Our tactic is to stand on the truth of God’s word and reject any thoughts that would come against us. When we have the truth of God’s word as our foundation for living, we can break the enemy’s vicious cycle and begin living in the Spirit where God guides us into a virtuous cycle that bears witness of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives.
The Holy Spirit indwells all believers and motivates us to live according to God’s will for our life which results in “good works” such as refusing to sin, reading the Bible, praying, going to church, doing acts of kindness or service, being generous, being loving, forgiving others, sharing the gospel, and seeking to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives. The good works confirm that the word of God is true and that we are new creations, and this encourages us to endure and to continue to follow Christ regardless of circumstances. Living our lives for God confirms our identity in Christ which encourages, and motivates us to progressively follow Him into more freedom.
To break the vicious cycle that has plagued our lives, we must live out our new lives in Christ by renewing our minds to think and act according to God’s way for our lives, replacing our hurts, habits, and hang-ups with the hope, love, and joy that comes from living a life that is infused with meaning and purpose from God.
In this lesson, we presented the fact that as Christians we all have a common enemy in Satan and the forces of darkness. He seeks to destroy us but will settle for making us ineffective by keeping us in bondage to our sin. The enemy’s primary tactic is deception. If we believe the enemy’s lies rather than the truth of who we are in Christ, we make ourselves vulnerable to his attacks.
The battlefield is the mind as scripture has indicated that the enemy can put thoughts into our consciousness to deceive us, tempt us, accuse us, and condemn us. The enemy uses our weaknesses against us and causes us to stay locked in our “vicious cycles” through a cyclical strategy to tempt us into sin only to accuse and condemn us to make us prone to another subsequent fall.
The fact that these are spiritual attacks makes it difficult to discern if we are just battling our flesh or if it is indeed an enemy agent that is continually pulling us into darkness.
The good news is that the remedy for either one is the same. We are to resist the enemy by appealing to the Truth of God’s Word and who we are in Christ. If we continually seek the truth, we will see the enemy’s lies for what they are and reject them. We rely on God to show us His will and ways for our life.
We can further confound the enemy by renewing our minds to hate our sin and grow our relationship with God so our obedience to His will for our lives becomes an expression of our love for Him.
When we live life in the Spirit, we will be guided by Him into good works which will confirm our identity in Christ and encourage and motivate us to continue to live a righteous life. Through our cooperation with God, our vicious cycle is ended, and our virtuous cycle of abundant living can replace it.
------Join us next week for the next Celebrate Freedom Discipleship Course Lesson----
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My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Ask Seek Knock blog (https://tammylynask.blogspot.com/ ), her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship