Ephesians 6:10b

Sermon preached on March 7, 2010 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

Boxing was a very popular sport in the area where I grew up. One of my boyhood heroes was a middleweight boxer called Blair Richardson. He was from South Bar which was just a couple of miles across the harbor from my home. He was the Canadian middleweight champion. He was a really good boxer and we hoped that one day he would become world champion. On September 25, 1965 he fought Gomeo Brennan for the Commonwealth (British Empire) Middleweight championship. I remember listening to the fight on my transistor radio. It was so exciting. Brennan was the reigning champion and Richardson was the challenger. For the few rounds it was a close fight but as the rounds went on it was becoming apparent that Richardson was taking control and that Brennan was in trouble. After the 10
th round I was sure that Richardson was going to win. The radio broke for a commercial break and after the commercial was over they came back to the fight and they announced that the fight was over, that Richardson had been knocked out. I couldn't believe it. I was devastated. It was a shocking turn of events. What happened was that Brennan knew he was in danger of losing. He knew that Richardson was getting stronger and he was getting weaker. How was he going to win? Brennan or someone in his corner saw something about Richardson that they thought they could exploit to their advantage. Thy noticed that when the bell rang to begin the round, that Richardson was slow to get up off his stool. He would slowly stand up, perhaps turn and say something to his corner or get his mouthpiece put in, and then turn and walk to the center of the ring. So when the bell rang to begin the 11th round, Brennan darted from his stool, ran across the ring toward Richardson, and as soon as Richardson turned toward him, before Richardson could get his hands up, Brennan nailed him with a right to the jaw. That punch knocked Richardson out and cost him the crown. He never knew what hit him.

I remember being upset because I didn't think it was fair. But what Brennan did was perfectly legal and within the rules of boxing. When the bell rings the round has started a boxer is supposed to protect himself. So referee Bobby Beaton counted Richardson out and raised Brennan's arm in victory.

Now, I don't think I'd want to win a fight, especially the Commonwealth championship, like that. But obviously Gomeo Brennan didn't mind winning that way. He was going to win any way he could.

For you who are Christians, that's what your enemy is like. The devil and his fellow demons hate you and will exploit any weakness you have and win any way that they can. You're in great danger. That's what the Holy Spirit tells us in our text. The apostle Paul wrote,

"Put on the full armor of God
so that you can take your stand
against the devil's schemes."

The main thing Paul tells us about our enemy is that

your enemy is cunning, deceitful and organized.

Paul refers to,

"the devil's schemes."

This refers to the craftiness, wiles and stratagems of the devil. The Greek word that is used here is the one from which we get our English word, "method'. It tells us that Satan has a plan, a method to try to destroy you. He has an organized strategy. The devil is cunning, he is clever and intelligent. He knows your strengths and weaknesses, he knows your circumstances and he uses that knowledge to prepare attacks against you. He doesn't just come against you and make things up as he goes along. No. He has an organized strategy (Ferguson) to destroy you.

When a team is set to play an opponent in the college basketball playoffs, they scout the opposing team. They plan the match-ups that will be best for them. They devise certain plays to take advantage of the other teams weaknesses. They don't just go in their unprepared. They've practiced and planned their strategy.

It's the same way with Satan. He has a plan that he is using against us. Think of the game of chess. If we could relate this to Satan, I would say that Satan thinks many moves ahead. He's a chess grandmaster. He has set traps for you. He'll feign weakness to get you to let our guard down and that's when he'll get you. At other times he'll be bold and aggressive trying to intimidate you into submission. At other times he will do something very surprising that will leave you bewildered. He is a skilled, resourceful, intelligent, organized and unscrupulous opponent.

Did you ever play a game of chess against someone who doesn't have a plan? They're so easy to beat. When I
was a schoolteacher I helped out in the school chess club and taught some of my students to play chess. At first I'd show them how the pieces moved and the basic rules of the game. And that's how I started them out. They'd just try to take the opponents pieces. But I didn't let me play that way for too long. Just knowing how the pieces moved would never enable them to defeat a skilled opponent. At that point they'd have no conception of the traps that could be laid for them or of the strategies they'd need for victory. So I'd soon start to teach them strategy and how to set up a good defense and how to protect their king.

That's what you need as a Christian—because Satan has clever strategies that he is employing to destroy you. You need to be careful that he doesn't outwit you. (2 Corinthians 2:10–11)

Consider some of the strategies that Satan has used in the past.

Consider first how he attacked Adam. It was through Eve. What a brilliant strategy. Satan got Eve to sin first. He approached her when she was alone and took the opportunity to deceive her and lead her into sin. It was after that that she approached Adam with the forbidden fruit. When Eve approached Adam he saw that she had sinned. He must have been devastated that Eve had fallen. Satan placed him in a very difficult situation. Adam was not deceived like Eve was. He was faced with a decision. Was he going to obey God or was he going to join Eve in her sin? Who did he love more, God or Eve?

Satan's strategy was very clever. It was well thought out. He had a terrific and very sinister plan that was executed flawlessly. Adam fell.

We see the same brilliance in his strategy against David. David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then murdered her husband Uriah? It all started so innocently? In 2 Samuel 11:2 we read,

"One evening David got up from his bed
and walked around on the roof of the palace.
From the roof he saw a woman bathing.
The woman was very beautifulÖ"

David couldn't sleep. When you're in a situation like that you're not at your strongest. There's something wrong with your body. You're not wide awake, refreshed and rejuvenated. Instead, you're tired. You're at a low point as far as watchfulness against temptation is concerned. You're vulnerable.

Let me illustrate. I hate waking up like that when I'm on a diet. All day long I've been really good and only had a little food. So I'll wake up in the middle of the night and I won't be able to get back to sleep. And then I'll think that the reason I can't get back to sleep is because my stomach is empty. So I'll go downstairs for a little snack. Of course having just a little bit to eat just makes me hungrier and the next thing I know I've had some chocolate and finished up the carton of ice cream that was in the fridge. And then I'll go back to bed and sleep very soundly. And in the morning I'll be disgusted with myself for breaking my diet. It's like I can't believe I did that. All the previous days I had put so much energy into staying on my diet—and then in a moment of weakness I pigged out. Why did I break my diet? Why did I eat so much bad stuff? It was because at 2 in the morning I was weak and vulnerable.

That's the way it was with David when he couldn't sleep that night. That's when Satan attacked him. David hadn't planned to sin or anything like that. But Satan took him by surprise when he was vulnerable. One look led to adultery.

But even after that, Satan was not finished with David. Satan had another trap for David. He really wanted to destroy David.
Satan had it all arranged so that David would find it very hard to stop at just the sin of adultery. Satan's plan for David was that one sin would lead to another. And so it was.

Bathsheba got pregnant from that encounter. At the time her husband was away with the army. If her adultery was found out she would be put to death. She was in great danger. When David's efforts to get her husband Uriah to go home fail, David was in a very difficult situation. He knew that Bathsheba's adultery would be found out. What was he going to do? Was one sin going to lead him to another? That's what happened. He had Uriah put to death. David's loyalty to Bathsheba and his protection of her led him to murder. What a trap Satan set for David. It was a brilliant and diabolical plan.

Consider the sin of Ananias and Sapphira.

Satan's plan against Ananias and Sapphire was so insidious. The start of it involved a relatively minor sin. The first sin was almost miniscule. It was greed. They kept back part of the money. How much greed was there? It was just a tiny bit. If Ananias was totally filled with greed he never would have sold the property and given most of the proceeds to the apostles. He would have just kept it for himself. So you wouldn't say that he was totally greedy. He was more generous than greedy. It seems that he gave most of the money to the church.

But there was just a tiny bit of greed there. It was even smaller than his generosity so we might not think it could destroy him. But it did.

What happened was that that sin combined with another sin—the sin of pride and wanted to be well thought of. That was a bigger sin. Those two sins combined and led to a much greater third sin—that of lying to the Holy Spirit. Ananias and Sapphire didn't want anyone to know that they were keeping back some of the money so they told the apostles that the amount they were giving them was the full amount. God struck them dead.

Christians, be careful of those little, little sins. Be careful of the sins in your life that are so miniscule that you would think that they would never be able to do you any harm. No. Satan can take the most miniscule sin and use it to destroy you.

There's another lesson for use with Ananias and Sapphira too. Satan planned to destroy not just one of them, but both of the partners in the marriage. Ananias led his wife Sapphira into sin. She agreed with his lie. You who are married or in love need to be careful. Don't let your love for beloved lead you into sin. If you let your guard down Satan can use that to destroy you.

Very often Satan will use your spouse or a close friend to try to lead you to sin. They'll ask you to lie for them, to cover up for them. A good friend should not ask you to do such a thing. If you're a good friend to them you'll refuse to do it. Don't let Satan trap you that way.

Satan is very skilled at using circumstances to lead you astray.

Abraham was afraid that they were going to kill him because of his wife Sarah, so he told them that she was his sister. Fear led him to a lie.

the Israelites in the wilderness it was adversity. They'd travel and not find water. When they got to the border of the Promised Land and sent spies out they returned and said that there were giants in the land.

With David it was the continual pressure of Saul chasing him. In 1 Samuel 27:1 we read,

"But David thought to himself,
'One of these days I will be destroyed
by the hand of Saul.
The best thing I can do is to escape
to the land of the Philistines.
Then Saul will give up searching for me
anywhere in Israel, and I will slip out of his hand."

His faith is God became weak. Time had worn him down. Satan can do that to you. He can wear you down. Satan can organize circumstances against us to break down our defenses.

Consider his attacks against
Job. The first messenger came and told him that the Sabeans attacked and killed Job's servants and carried the oxen and donkeys off. We read, (Job 1:16)

"While he was still speaking,
another messenger came and said,
'The fire of God fell from the sky
and burned up the sheep and the servants,
and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!'"

Then we read,

"While he was still speaking,
another messenger came and said,
'The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and carried them off.
They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one
who has escaped to tell you!'
While he was still speaking,
yet another messenger came and said,
'Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine
at the oldest brother's house,
when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house.
It collapsed on them and they are dead,
and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!'"

Blow after blow came down upon Job from Satan. What a brutal and vicious attack. Some would have withstood the first attack, perhaps the second, but the third and fourth? But Satan wasn't finished. After all that he inflicted severe sickness and suffering on Job. Then his wife urged him to curse God and die. His friends, who should have been a great help to him, came and accused him of being a great sinner. They were such a burden to Job in his suffering. Satan can wear you down.

Christians, you need to put on the whole armor of God because the circumstances that Satan can bring against you would be too much for you to bear on your own.

You need to put on the full armor of God because

Satan will even try to use other Christians to try to get you to sin.

In 1 Kings 13 we read about the man of God from Judah who was sent by God to curse the altar that King Jeroboam had set up at Bethel. It's a great story. The man of God did what God said. When King Jeroboam found out what he did he told his soldiers to seize the man. But the hand that he stretched out toward the man of God shriveled up. The king then became subdued and asked that the man of God intercede for him so that his hand would be restored. So the man of God prayed for him and his hand was restored as it was before. The king then invited the man of God to have some food and to take a gift. But the man of God refused, saying that he would not stay even if the king were to give him half of his possessions, for God had commanded him not to eat or drink there and to return by a different way. So the man of God departed, going toward home on a different road.

What happened next is extraordinary. An old prophet was living in Bethel and when his sons came and told him what had happened, he asked his sons which way the man of God went. He then got on his donkey and rode after the man of God. When he caught up to him he invited him to come home with him to eat. When the man of God refused, citing the Lord's command, the old prophet from Bethel replied, (1 Kings 13:18)

"I too am a prophet, as you are.
And an angel said to me by the word of the LORD:
'Bring him back with you to your house
so that he may eat bread and drink water.'"

But he was lying. The man of God went with him and while they were sitting at the table, the word of the Lord came to the old prophet who had brought him back. He cried out to the man of God from Judah, (1 Kings 13:20–22)

"This is what the LORD says:
'You have defied the word of the LORD
and have not kept the command
the LORD your God gave you.
You came back and ate bread and drank water
in the place where he told you not to eat or drink.
Therefore your body will not be buried
in the tomb of your fathers.'"

The prophet then started out for home and on the way a lion met him and killed him.

Isn't that incredible? A prophet of God lied to the man of God from Judah and led him astray. Satan's tactic there was perfect. Riches would have never got the man of God to sin, but he was tricked by a lie.

This means that you Christians need to be very careful that you examine what you hear from other Christians and compare it to what the Scriptures teach. Revelation 3 tells us about Jesus' rebuke to the church at
Thyatira in that a woman there, identified by the name, Jezebel, called herself a prophetess and led Christians into sexual immorality by her teaching. The church at Thyatira should have been like the people of Berea, which Acts 17:11–12 tell us,

"the Bereans were of more noble character
than the Thessalonians,
for they received the message
with great eagerness and examined
the Scriptures every day
to see if what Paul said was true."

In Matthew 7:15 Jesus said,

"Watch out for false prophets.
They come to you in sheep's clothing,
but inwardly they are ferocious wolves."

Satan sometimes uses Christian leaders, pastors and elders, to lead Christians into sin. In Acts 20:30 Paul warned the elders at Ephesus with these words,

"Even from your own number
men will arise and distort the truth
in order to draw away disciples after them."

Christians, be on your guard. It doesn't matter who your pastor or teacher is—you are to check everything according to the Scriptures. If you don't do that, Satan can easily lead you into sin.

It's also worthy of note that Satan sometimes even uses Scripture to get people to sin.

It's incredible but it's true. Satan will use God's Word to try to get you to sin. We see it in his temptation to Jesus in Matthew's gospel. The devil took Jesus to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. Then Satan said, (Matthew 4:5–7)

"If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.
For it is written:
'He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'"

Satan actually used the Holy Scriptures to try to get Jesus to sin. He quoted from Psalm 91:11-12 and quoted them correctly. But of course Satan was misapplying them. He was urging Jesus to be presumptuous. That's not what the Old Testament passage encouraged. The Old Testament passage was properly about a humble person trusting in God and how he could be absolutely confident that God would protect him. Jesus understood the true meaning of Psalm 91 so He replied to Satan,

"It is also written:
'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"

Satan will also use God's promises to try to get people to sin.

We see another example of Satan doing something like that in the life of David. David had been anointed by Samuel to be king over Israel. But King Saul hated David and tried to kill him. David had to flee from him and hide in the mountains. One day Saul was looking for David and went into a cave to use the bathroom and rest. He didn't know that David and his men were further in the cave. When Saul went to sleep and was unprotected, David's men said to him, (1 Samuel 24:4)

"This is the day the LORD spoke of
when he said to you,
'I will give your enemy into your hands
for you to deal with as you wish.'"

David had been given a promise that he would be king over Israel. But he hadn't been given the word that his men put forth. Their interpretation of the promise was far off the mark. Satan was using them to try to get David to sin.

Satan can even use our love of Jesus to lead us astray.

We see that in Matthew 16:23. Jesus told His disciples that He had to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. At that point Peter took Jesus asked and began to rebuke Him. He said, (verse 22)

"Never, Lord!
This shall never happen to you!"

I think the most likely motivation that led Peter to this was his love for Jesus. But what Peter was saying was very sinful. Jesus turned and said to Peter,

"Get behind me, Satan!
You are a stumbling block to me;
you do not have in mind the things of God,
but the things of men."

We have to be very, very careful. Even your love for Jesus can be used to lead you astray. You need to know the Bible.

Satan can also use all your good efforts to lead you into sin. Many people have fought hard against temptation and sin and been successful in resisting many temptations. But then they become proud and look down on other Christians who have not been a successful. When that happens you've been thoroughly defeated.

Satan has so many traps. They are so deadly and well concealed. Indeed, the Bible tells us that, (2 Corinthians 11:14–15)

"Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light."

He'll pretend to be your friend. But he's not your friend. He's trying to destroy you. Put on the whole armor of God so you won't be fooled.

Perhaps he'll even work a miracle for you, trying to deceive you. He can do miracles. As we read in 2 Thessalonians 2:9

"The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance
with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of
counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders,"

So you see, Satan has many traps for you. Many of them are well concealed. He has so many methods to destroy you. I remember someone saying to me that Satan sometimes doesn't attack us at our weakest points, but at our strongest. I've heard Christians who have fallen into great sin say afterwards that they never thought that they would commit the sin that they committed. They thought they were strong in that area.

What's your only hope of standing? You need to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. You need to put on the whole armor of God so that you can stand.

For those of you who are not Christians, what you should understand is that

the devil has deceived you.

In 2 Timothy 2:26 Paul told Timothy to gently instruct those who oppose him, in the hope that God would grant them repentance,

"and that they will come to their senses
and escape from the trap of the devil,
who has taken them captive to do his will."

Satan already has you. And in 2 Corinthians 4:4 Paul wrote,

"The god of this age
has blinded the minds of unbelievers,
so that they cannot see
the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ,
who is the image of God."

You who are not Christians need to pray that God will open your eyes so that you can see the glory of Christ and believe in Him. May God give you grace to do so.