sermon: Satan (Part 3)
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 26-Sep-92; Sermon #040; 62 minutes
The spirit in man God has given us is initially good, but capable of being molded, influenced by the spirit of this world, and surcharged with Satan's negative attitudes. Consequently, God makes available His Holy Spirit to discern those things we cannot detect by our five senses. Angels are continually working within our environment, stirring up the human spirit, and making sure God's purposes are being established. By God's Spirit, we can detect the subtle influences of Satan, who concentrates on the lusts of our flesh, broadcasting self-indulgent impulses to those who are tuned in. The only way to block this signal is to tune him out (Galatians 5:19-21), discerning the bitter, sullen fruits of his thinking.
We are going to continue in our series regarding Satan the Devil, and from the first two sermons, we have found that we have powerful enemies in positions of rulership on the earth at this time. We also found, though, that the struggle we have against them is heavily weighted in our favor. I gave you four reasons why that is so:
1. The good angels—the ministering spirits; the "flames of fire," as the apostle Paul called them—far outnumber the bad demons. If we can get any kind of general figure from the Scriptures, we find that they outnumber the bad ones at least 2-to-1.
2. The demons are hopelessly divided and a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. They cannot really get their act together because they are operating out of self-centeredness, self-indulgence—it is every man for himself. Once in a while they will get their act together for a little while, they will cooperate, but only because there is a commonality they want to accomplish. But most of the time they are hopelessly divided.
3. They know God exists and they tremble. Tremble actually means terrified. They are terrified of God, not like men who shake their fists at God. The demons are afraid of God and that has a tendency to keep them in line.
4. God has set limits on what they are permitted to do. We found that this is highly individualistic—that a demon might be able to do one thing to one person and not the same thing to another. God is considerate of our strengths and weaknesses. He tells us He will not allow us to be tempted by anything that is more or greater than we are able to bear. We have this going for us and it should give us assurance. God, though He is permitting us to go through these things, has not cut Himself off from us and there really is no need to be terrified of the demons. Deeply respectful, yes, but to be afraid of them, no.
In this sermon, I feel that it is necessary at this point to understand at least the basics of what we are and how Satan gets his persuasions into our minds, and what he is trying to lead us to.
We are going to begin in Genesis. At the end of the recreation week, it says that:
Genesis 1:31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
I think it is good to note that mankind was not perfect, but we were very good. It does say in the context that mankind was created very good for the purpose—this has to be understood—God was going to carry out. This also tends to indicate something about Satan as well, and that is that he is not necessary to God's purpose. He is here—we have to deal with him—but he is not necessary to God's purpose.
Since we know that he is going to be confined to the abyss, to the pit—he is symbolically chained during the Millennium and God's purpose is going to be carried out during the Millennium—we then understand that God is able to carry through with His purpose of reproducing Himself without Satan around. You might say it is an added bonus for us to have to deal with Satan. Because this added bonus is here, I think the rewards are going to be greater as well.
We find in Genesis 3 that Satan intruded himself into the scene. He is here and therefore we must deal with him. God permitted it. He did not chase him away. He permitted Adam and Eve to be tested by Satan and we understand then that He is going to permit Satan to test us.
Let us go to I Corinthians 2 and we will go through a series of scriptures that Mr. Armstrong went through many, many times.
I Corinthians 2:6 However, we [the "we" undoubtedly speaks in its broadest sense to all of the people who are part of God's church, but in its narrowest sense it is the ministry he is talking about] speak wisdom among those who are mature [those who are mature are the church members], yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.
He is setting the stage for something here. He is going to make a comparison between one group of people and another group of people—those who are mature and those who are not, those who are converted and those who are not converted.
I Corinthians 2:7-8 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers [meaning the leaders] of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
They did not realize He was the God of creation. They did not realize He was the Savior. They could not discern the things that He was saying and doing. They did not put them in the right context. They did not understand what He was doing and saying from the right perspective.
I Corinthians 2:9-10 But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
You see now the comparison. The reason the rulers of the world did not understand—did not put into the proper perspective; did not grasp what they saw in the Lord of glory—was because God had not revealed to them who Jesus was, what He was doing, or why He was doing what He was doing. The reason is because those things cannot be discerned by physical means—eye, ear, nose, mouth, the senses—but rather these things have to be revealed. There has to be a spiritual miracle that takes place for a person to understand and to see these spiritual things.
I Corinthians 2:11-12 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
God created us physical and mortal. He created us very good, but He also placed within us a spirit. That is really the key to this entire sermon. We are building on the understanding that we have been given a spirit. That spirit is not an immortal soul. It is not the man. It is a non-material element within the man that imparts to the man the power of intellect so that he is able to grasp, to understand, the physical things of this world. It is what separates man from an animal. Though an animal may have a brain similar to men, yet the animal does not have a spirit. It did not have imparted to it a spirit giving it the intelligence, the intellectual capacity, which a man has. Man is different from those other physical beings that also have life.
This non-material element does not possess life of itself. The Bible very clearly says that our life is in the blood. (It says that a couple of different times.) The spirit did not impart life to us—the spirit is dependent upon the body for use or for carrying out its functions.
The spirit cannot see on its own. It cannot hear on its own. It needs the eyes, it needs the ears, and it needs the brain to sort all of these signals out in order to make use of them.
There is a very simple way this can be proved. If a person's eyes do not work, the spirit cannot see. If a person's ears do not work, the spirit cannot hear. This is necessary in order to carry out the other functions of the spirit as well as we are able to understand it.
The illustrations that I use here may not be entirely adequate to the situation, but the spirit does impart to the human brain the power of intellect, but it needs the brain. It cannot function without it. But it has an additional capacity in that it is able to use the brain to be a receptacle for the information that it processes—and apparently also be of use to draw upon that information that is our memory and then use it.
I have read in news magazines, other publications—things entirely apart from the church of God—that seem to indicate (at least this was the conclusion that these experimenters reached) that by prodding different areas of the brain with small charges of electricity they were able to induce the person to recall things that were stored in the person's memory. Their conclusion was that the brain never forgets a single thing that ever happened in your life.
We see two clear functions that apparently are functions of the spirit in man. One is to impart the power of intellect using the human brain and the other organs of the body; and the second is to facilitate the brain in recording the experiences of life so that they can be recalled. We need desperately to be able to recall. If we cannot recall, what good is information? Both functions are absolutely necessary.
God therefore not only created us mortal, but He also created us with a spiritual capacity. In fact, understanding this in the light of Genesis 1, we can begin to understand another angle why He used the term "very good" and that is that we were incomplete. We were good as far as we went, but there was much more to come. We were incomplete because we understand from other parts of the Bible that man needs another spirit joining with his spirit so that he can then have the capacity to make use of, to see, to comprehend spiritual things as well as the things of a man.
This is what I Corinthians 2 is explaining as causes of separation, a difference between those who are unconverted, those who are converted, those who are the immature, and those who are the mature. The only difference is those who are mature, those who are converted, have this second spirit that has joined with their spirit in order to impart to them what we might call a spiritual, intellectual capacity. That then becomes a part of their life and they can use it when others (for whatever God's purpose) have been denied the use of that.
I think we want to go back to verse 7, because this verse is important in understanding this concept.
I Corinthians 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory. ["Our glory" is the Christian's glory.]
The word "mystery" is not the same as our English usage of the word mystery. (Remember this was written in the Greek.) Mystery to the Greek meant not a puzzle that was difficult to solve, but a secret impossible to penetrate. Mystery to them was something that was hidden; it was unintelligible to those who were not initiated, as into a secret society or as into a religion.
Most of you have heard of the mystery religions. What they did was unintelligible to those who were on the outside, but to those who were on the inside, it made clear sense to them—what was being said or enacted in their ritual or whatever it was they were doing.
That is what we are dealing with here. It was a secret impossible to penetrate, not a puzzle that was difficult to solve. What is crystal clear to those who were on the inside was unintelligible to those who were on the outside.
In like manner, to those who have received the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit has joined with the spirit in man and it has added a dimension to man's life that he previously did not have. So then, things that are crystal clear to him are unintelligible to those who do not have this added dimension. We find that it (meaning the things of the Spirit) have been revealed by God.
Now back to verses 10-12. We see three things here:
1. There is a spirit in man that enables him to understand physical things.
2. God reveals to man through His Spirit that which enables man to penetrate the deep spiritual things of God.
3. We have received the Spirit that is from God, and there is a spirit of this world. (Very sobering, as we shall see.)
We are warned. We see here clearly, at least three different spirits—the spirit in man, the Spirit of God, and the spirit of this world.
Again remember Genesis 1:31—God Himself said that we were very good. This is an expression of pleasure. He was pleased with what He had accomplished. If we were very good when He created us, then that must include the nature He created us with.
Does God take pleasure in a nature that is enmity against Him (Romans 8:7)? I do not think He would take pleasure in that at all, which indicates very strongly that as He created us and as we are born, we do not have the nature that we later come to have that is enmity against Him. It is something that develops. And it develops because God put a spirit in us that other spirits, either God Himself or the spirit of this world, is able to communicate with.
If the spirit that He is talking about in Genesis 1:31 was very good, then why has human history been a recording of violence, disease, anguish of spirit? Why is there so much bitterness, anger, prejudice, resentment, doubt, self-pity, vanity, envy, greed, jealousy, pride, and lust? Can you find anywhere in God's Word that these are called good or even acceptable?
Those things did not come from God. He did not create us that way. God is love. God is kind. God is generous. God is good. God is merciful. I think that we can honestly conclude that they did not come from man either as he was created by God, because God judged man to be very good. Yet, mankind expresses these very attributes.
Again, would something God pronounced very good produce what we see? I think then that we can reach the conclusion that they must have come from the spirit of this world; they must have come from Satan who is invisible, soundless, but is able to communicate with us.
Let us begin to pursue this and go to Ezra 1.
Ezra 1:1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying. . . .
We need not go any further there because it says very clearly that God was able to stir the spirit of Cyrus. There is no indication that Cyrus was aware that God was stirring him up. He just somehow was motivated to issue this proclamation. He may have thought the idea really came from him. He may have thought the idea came from one of his advisors. But for some reason, he all of a sudden had this inclination that he wanted to give the Jews the opportunity to go back to their own homeland.
It is very clear from this verse that our spirit can be communicated with without our being aware of what is going on. I want to make sure you understand that I do not say that we will not always be blind to this or insensitive to it. I think that it is God's intention that we become very sensitive to the fact that something, someone, is trying to communicate with us on a level that is not discernable by the eye or the ear. Nonetheless, our spirit is being stirred to go in a certain direction for good or for bad. I think that is where we need to begin to realize that we may or may not be aware that (we all have to agree at this time) our spirit can be communicated with.
Let us go to II Kings to see some examples of times when the human spirit was being communicated to by spirit beings. The first one we are going to look at is not one where there was necessarily a communication, but I am using this series of scriptures because I want to show that there is an awful lot of activity going on on earth that we are not able to physically discern. God shows us in His word that these things are happening and He wants us to be well aware that this activity is going on.
II Kings 6:8-10 Now the king of Syria was making war against Israel; and he consulted with his servants, saying, "My camp will be in such and such a place." And the man of God [who was Elisha] sent to the king of Israel, saying, "Beware that you do not pass this place, for the Syrians are coming down there." Then the king of Israel sent someone to the place of which the man of God had told him. Thus he warned him, and he was watchful there, not just once or twice.
What we see here is that the king of Syria wanted to do some dirty deeds against Israel, but God was stirring up the spirit of His prophet Elisha (this was in the northern ten tribes) so that he would understand what was going on in the secret councils of the king of Syria. Elisha would send a message to the king of Israel and say, "Don't go here, don't go there, because if you do you're going to run into this huge army and they're going to attack you."
The king of Syria became totally frustrated because he could not spring any kind of surprise. He got his advisors together and asked what was going on. "We've got a spy in the ranks. Who is it?" His advisors said, "No, there are no spies here. Nobody is being disloyal to you, it's just that the king of Israel has this prophet that keeps telling him what you're saying in your bedroom."
They decide to lay a trap to catch Elisha. They surround the city that Elisha is in, the city of Dothan. (Dothan is about ten miles from Samaria.) Elisha's servant gets up in the morning and he goes out to do whatever he was going to do and he sees this huge army of Syrians who are surrounding the city. That is where we come into the story.
II Kings 6:14-17 Therefore he sent horses and chariots and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city. And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?" So he answered, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." And Elisha prayed, and said, "Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
Elisha could not literally see with his eyes all of these spirit beings that were out there on the mountain. But by faith, through the eyes of faith, because he knew God, because he was close to God, he understood that God was with Him always, and here was this tremendous army of angelic beings protecting His servant Elisha.
Whether that army was always there is a moot point. They may have been there simply because the Syrian army was there. It did not matter whether there was one or many; it was really an indication of God through Elisha, through the vision to this young man, that wherever God is, it is weighted in your favor. We have no need to fear the many who may come against us.
I used this situation so you will understand that there is more for us than there is against us and that there is a great deal of spiritual activity that is taking place where we are that we are not physically able to discern, but it is there. God is showing us that it is there. This is intended by God to give us some encouragement.
From this we ought to be able to understand that God is greater than any emergency we might find ourselves in. That is the lesson—that there is more for us than there is against us. He tells us in Psalm 34:7 that, "The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them."
We find here a man of God who understood by spiritual discernment that things were going on around him and by the same token, because we have the Spirit of God, we should also be sensitive to this because God's Word shows that this is what is occurring.
To most people, they only see what is human. In fact, physically, that is all we are going to be able to see. But we have to know—it has to be part and parcel of the way or the means, the wherewithal, by which we act—that Jesus Christ, a divine Spirit, is the guiding force of His church. He tells us He will never leave us or forsake us. The other side of this is that just as sure as there are spirit beings that rule and guide the church, there are also spirit beings that rule and guide the world. We see both sides of it here.
In II Kings 19, this scripture reinforces what we just saw in II Kings 6, but it takes us into a more specific situation. The Assyrians had put together a very great army. Nothing was standing before them. If you can, in your mind's eye, visualize where Assyria is in relation to Palestine or Jerusalem, it is almost directly north (maybe just a little bit to the east), quite a number of hundreds of miles away—across the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. We are not talking about the nation of Syria, but the nation of Assyria.
At the time that this occurred, they were at the peak of their power, anciently, under King Sennacherib. They started on a policy of invasion and conquering. They began to sweep south and undoubtedly went through what was Medo-Persia, crossed the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, entered into what is today Iran and Iraq, and on into Syria. They had gotten with their army as far as the city of Jerusalem and were on their way to Egypt. They were sweeping everything before them, conquering left and right.
You can imagine what that must of done to the Assyrians. "Nobody can stand before us." We can see this in the kind of attitude that Sennacherib had whenever they got to Jerusalem. We will pick it up in verse 21, because now God is speaking and He has heard the proud words of Sennacherib as he has surrounded Jerusalem, he has put the siege on, and he is now getting ready to sack the city.
II Kings 19:21 'The virgin, the daughter of Zion, has despised you [Sennacherib], laughed you to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem has shaken her head behind your back! Whom have you reproached and blasphemed?'
This is a question from God. "Do you realize, Sennacherib, who it is that you are blaspheming when you speak those words against My city, Jerusalem?"
II Kings 19:22 'Against whom have you raised your voice, and lifted up your eyes on high? Against the Holy One of Israel. By your messengers you have reproached the Lord. . .
Anything attached to God, if it is attacked, if it is impugned, if it is blasphemed, it is the same as attacking God. He is showing the attachment, the relationship, is that close.
II Kings 19:23-24 "By the multitude of my chariots I have come up to the height of the mountains, to the limits of Lebanon; I will cut down its tall cedars and its choice cypress trees; I will enter the extremity of its borders, to its fruitful forest. I have dug and drunk strange water, and with the soles of my feet I have dried up all the brooks of defense.'"
It is flowery language, picturesque, in order to show us, to understand, that nothing stood in Sennacherib's way. He mowed everything down. The problem is that Sennacherib got all puffed up and he thought he was doing this by his own military brilliance, by his strategy, and by the power of his armaments.
II Kings 19:25 'Did you not hear long ago how I made it, from ancient times that I formed it? Now I have brought it to pass, that you should be for crushing fortified cities.'
"Hey Sennacherib," says God, "I was the one who gave you the victories. I was the one who raised you up and decided that these other cities needed to be spanked; they needed to be humbled. I was the one who enabled you to be able to do these things. You didn't do this by your own power. It wasn't your military brilliance; it wasn't the power of your armaments. It was because I made it possible for you to do that."
II Kings 19:26 'Therefore their inhabitants had little power; they were dismayed and confounded; they were as the grass of the field and the green herb.'
He just trampled them all down. In short, what God says, "Sennacherib, because you didn't give Me credit, I am now going to smash you."
It is interesting how He did it. We will pick that up in verse 35. Picture Sennacherib's armies surrounding Jerusalem; all of their tents out there—tens of thousands of tents—almost two hundred thousand men in his army with all of their mechanisms that they might have used in launching boulders against the walls of the city of Jerusalem; all of their arrows sharpened; all of them covered with pitch so they could fire these things into the city and set it on fire; all ready to attack.
II Kings 19:35-36 And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away, returned home, and remained at Nineveh.
We find in verse 37 that he was assassinated after he got back there.
I used this because I want you see that there is spiritual activity going on in the affairs of men; that God is not sitting idly by just letting things happen. He has His ministering spirits working with Him to govern this creation. God was deciding the issue.
We can look in other areas. The city of Jericho took a great deal of pride in their powerful walls, but God, a Spirit being, made them fall down. Belshazzar took a great of pride in the might and power of Babylon, yet he fell in one night when God deemed that it was time for another nation to rise in the place of Babylon.
Spirit beings are at work, they are working within our environment (mankind's environment), and they are ensuring that the purpose of God is being carried out.
Let us go to another example in I Kings 22 (this one gets even more specific) where we see an alliance has been made between Ahab, the king of Israel (a bad king), and Jehoshaphat, king of Judah (a good king).
I Kings 22:4 So he [Ahab] said to Jehoshaphat, "Will you go with me to fight at Ramoth Gilead?" Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, "I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses." ["I'm with you all the way, Ahab."]
Then, Jehoshaphat had second thoughts. "Maybe I spoke too soon."
I Kings 22:5-6 Also Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, "Please inquire for the word of the Lord today." Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, "Shall I go against Ramoth Gilead to fight, or shall I refrain?" So they said, "Go up, for the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the king."
Jehoshaphat smelled something rotten here because he did not see any prophet of God. He knew these four hundred were not to be trusted.
I Kings 22:7 And Jehoshaphat said, "Is there not still a prophet of the Lord here [meaning in Israel], that we may inquire of Him?"
Ahab replies, "Yes, there's this one, but I don't like him because he's always prophesying bad things about me." But he decides, at Jehoshaphat's prodding, that he needed to go get him.
I Kings 22:19-23 Then Micaiah [the good prophet] said, "Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left. And the Lord said, 'Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?' So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, and said, 'I will persuade him.' [Is it a good spirit or a bad spirit? We will know in a moment.] The Lord said to him, 'In what way?' So he said, 'I will go out and be a lying spirit [It is a bad one. It is going to tell fibs.] in the mouth of all the prophets.' And the Lord said, 'You shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so.' Therefore look! The Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the Lord has declared disaster against you."
That was not happy news to Ahab. We do not need to go any further. We just need to see this little view into the councils of heaven where God had drawn into His government spirit beings, even enemies of His, to counsel Him on how some portion of His governance of the earth would be handled.
God then gave the assignment to a spirit being who went out and convinced the false prophets that this was the way to go. Now, did the false prophets see a ghost? Did something cause them to have a dream? There is no indication of that. The indication is to me (at least because so many of them were involved—four hundred) that the spirit somehow stirred up the spirit that was in the men and put the thoughts into their minds and made them think it was theirs. When they all came up with the same answer, surely it must have been right. But alas, they were unanimously wrong, being led by a lying spirit.
We can see by these indications that spirit beings are influencing mankind. It is not enough for us just to understand that they are capable of it. God's Word shows very clearly that they are actively doing it—good ones and bad ones—and there are some people who are so unaware of what is going on that they give themselves over to the bad ones and actually become possessed—the slave, the tool, of a spirit being that is going to use them to its own ends. We are beginning to see clearly established proof that the manipulation of Satan is on our minds.
Let us go to Matthew 4 to the temptation of Jesus. I want to interject this—it is something we are familiar with, but just to reestablish it because we want to see that the authority and influence of, specifically, Satan is very great indeed.
Matthew 4:8-9 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me."
Satan's power is over all the nations of the earth. In a way, that could be very frightening when we realize he is able to influence men and he is able to do it in such a way that they are not even aware that they are being influenced toward evil. His power is so extensive that he is over all the nations of the earth. Jesus called him the ruler of this world (John 14:30). He affects people's attitudes by moving our reasoning processes toward satisfaction of the self.
In this sermon we are going to be moving in this direction so we can begin to see how his influence—we have already seen how it comes. Now we are going to begin to see the direction that it is going to come. He gives disinformation and he stirs up our spirit. I have already told you that he does this by influencing us toward satisfaction of the self.
Here is what is so perverse about this: it is not evil for one to take care of himself. What is evil is to put the satisfaction of the self before, or preceding, or greater, or more important than God or others. We are to serve God (the great commandment) before all else and the second is like unto it—we are on par with others physically. Nowhere are we given the right or privilege (if I can put it that way) by God to make ourselves greater than—more important—than God, or other human beings.
You can begin to see very clearly the direction Satan is going to move us toward—to where the satisfaction of the self becomes more important to us than conforming to what God said was the limit of our authority. Another way of putting it would be toward the satisfaction or putting ourselves as greater or more important than righteousness or truth.
Ephesians 2:1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.
Dead meaning "as good as dead" because of sin. The wages of sin is death. When God forgave us He in effect gave us life because the death penalty was hanging over us.
Ephesians 2:2 In which you once walked [conducted your life] according to the course of this world [the spirit of the world, I Corinthians 2], according to the prince of the power of the air. . .
Matthew 4:8-9—he is the ruler. Jesus called Satan the ruler of this world. Now we find he is the prince of the power of the air.
Ephesians 2:2 . . . the spirit [we are talking about a specific individual] who now works in the sons of disobedience. . .
You might recall from another sermon that the word "son" does not necessarily mean "directly from." It means at times "showing the characteristics of." A son of disobedience would be a disobedient person. They are showing the characteristics of disobedience.
Ephesians 2:3 . . . among whom also we [Christians] all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh...
Connect this with verse 2—according to the prince of the power of the air, according to the course of this world, and he is explaining what the course of this world is—according to the lusts of the flesh. Connect this with I John 2:15—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, and we are beginning to see very, very clearly, very specifically, where the conduct that man shows is coming from. Man shows, reflects in his life, all these evil things, these bad things that I gave to you at the beginning of the sermon, and they are coming from Satan the Devil. He is communicating them to us and we are acting what he tells us, what he communicates to us to do.
Ephesians 2:3 . . . the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
By the mercy of God in understanding I Corinthians 2, because we have been converted, because we have been given this Spirit that all of mankind needs, we have been put into another category called in the Bible sanctified, sanctification, set apart. We are now (using different terminology) called the sons of God. We are called the mature. We are called those who are perfect. It depends on the context; it depends on the word the apostle Paul or Peter happened to use.
He wants us to see that we are in a different category than others and because of this there should be in us sensitivity to the communication that is going on from spirit beings to human beings. With this gift of sensitivity also goes the responsibility for obligation to use it. It makes us, for the very first time in our lives, capable of truly making choices to go in the direction that God's Spirit is leading us.
That is where the liberty comes from—the liberty in Christ Jesus that we never had before. We have been released from the bondage of being a tool of spirit beings who could use it (practically) at their whim.
This verse also tells us how Satan does this—at least it gives us an illustration. Again, I do not say that this is a perfect illustration, but with our limited capability it seems to be as good as an illustration that we can come up with, and that is, in his being called the prince of the power of the air.
We all understand that air seemingly is weightless. We move through it without resistance. We are aware that it is there, but it is something that is kind of ethereal, ephemeral, it is part of our environment. But we also understand that this substance that is there and seemingly has no weight also has the capability (if one understands the laws) of performing awesome things in man's behalf.
We understand that when the molecules of air are jammed together real close to one another that they are capable of lifting an airplane that weighs many, many, many tons right off the ground. You see the airplane go up but you do not see the force that is actually lifting it up.
There is awesome power in a tornado or in a hurricane. It was air that collapsed all those buildings in Southern Florida—air in which all the molecules were jammed together so closely it was almost like a baseball bat was hitting those buildings.
By the same token, air also has the power, the inherent ability, to carry vibrations, signals, through it. All of us are aware that there are a multitude of radio stations and television stations that are broadcasting signals in a variety of frequencies in which every one of them is a little bit different from the other. They are in the room in which you are right now. The only reason you cannot see them or cannot hear them is because you are not tuned into the frequency. But if one has a radio or television set that is capable of capturing the frequency (the broadcast), it will then change it into a form that is audible to our ears or visible to our eyes.
From this we can understand (at least the basics) of how Satan is able to communicate to human beings. He is somehow, always, on our wavelength because our wavelength (apparently) is always tuned into him if (and this is a big if) we will it or allow it to be so. I am getting to the important part here.
The only way to block that signal from Satan is to tune it out. Sometimes that requires quite an exercise of will to do combined with our faith. Nonetheless it can be done. We can actually tune him out.
Let us go to Galatians 5 because I want to pick something up here in regard to what Satan is broadcasting.
Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Satan not only can put thoughts directly into a person's mind, but his spirit or his attitude permeates, or radiates out, or is broadcast from him. I want you to look at how many of these works of the flesh involve feelings, attitudes—things like outbursts of wrath, dissensions, heresies, envy, hatred. In addition to that, many of the other things that may not be directly feelings usually, very frequently, begin with a feeling, such as murder. It begins with a feeling and develops into a direct act.
How does this work? Just pretend you work in an office or shop of some kind and you have a clear view of the boss, the manager, the supervisor, because he sits in a corner office and he has glass in front of it so he is able to look out over the rest of the office or the rest of the shop. You are in a pretty good attitude, a pretty good frame of mind, and you are working away but somehow or another you look up (as you frequently do) and you see the boss. You can tell by the look on his face that something is bothering him. Maybe his face is a little bit flushed. Maybe he is running his fingers through his hair. Maybe you catch him with both of these combinations and he slams the door shut. Maybe he spins around in his chair and he gets up and steams around the office a little bit, pacing.
Just then he looks out and you make eye contact with him and he holds that eye contact for just a little bit. I can almost guarantee you that almost immediately your attitude is going to change to one that is defensive and fearful. "What have I done?" He has not said a word to you. All you did was pick up from him his spirit—the attitude that was emanating out from him, but in this case you could clearly see it and your attitude began to change commensurate with this other person's attitude.
It happens all the time. You come home from work, you are in a good attitude, you meet your wife at the door, she is in a bad attitude, and immediately you are in a bad attitude. It could be vice versa. Your attitude can change in a moment without a word being said simply because you discern the mood that somebody is in.
On the other hand, it works the other way just as well. If you are in the room with somebody who is up, happy, a joy to be around, they always have a smile on their face, they always seem to have the right thing to say that builds you up—their spirit begins to encompass you, and you are lifted by the fact that they are in a good attitude.
Let us apply this to Satan. He is always in a bad attitude, but he is slick. With his attitude, there is also deception, deviousness, those kind of negative things that hide what he is eventually going to accomplish or hopes to accomplish through you.
We are dealing with somebody who is always deceitful. Remember what Jesus said in John 8:44? It is as impossible (I am paraphrasing) for Satan to tell the truth as it is for God to lie. Satan is the father of lies and what he does comes naturally to him. He speaks from himself. He has gotten to the place where he is so twisted, so perverted, so twisted in his thinking that he cannot think what we would consider to be a straight thought. What is always emanating from him ultimately comes to hate.
When I put this sermon together I was in Charlotte. There are some twenty radio stations in Charlotte and, in addition to that, there are at least three television channels, plus all of the television channels that come in on the cable, and even now the sound of every one of those kinds of things are coming into this room. The only reason we do not hear them is that we lack the capability to be tuned in.
It is the same principle that works with Satan the Devil. He is always capable of tuning in to us. We have to understand that we may have to make effort to tune him out. In a way, there is always somewhat of a defensiveness about our lives. We do not have to be so on guard, worried that we are going to be sinning all the time. But we do have to make this a part of the function of our life all the time, to remember that he is around and he is able to do these things.
They are not always so easily caught because Satan is so slick at putting them across. There are going to be times when he puts things over on us. Brethren, we can always judge where they came from by the fruits they produce.
What will those fruits be? They are pretty well delineated in the Bible. There may be a multitude of what we might call fruits in the terms of actions that are created as a result. They are given in Galatians 5:19—adulteries, fornications, things like that. But I am looking for other things because there will not always necessarily be something that is so obvious a fruit produced by an activity of Satan. But we can still always, nonetheless, count that we are going to be able to find the source of the spirit by the fruit that is produced. The fruit will always be confusion, then after that it will produce division, and then after that will come warfare.
Sometimes he succeeds in producing these things without the benefit of the others. What I am giving you here is a general trajectory. First confusion, next division, and the third will be warfare. These things are clearly delineated in the Bible and we will see them as we go along.
This whole mess began when Satan told himself a lie, which he believed. That lie was—mark this down because it is part of his modus operandi and it is going to be something he will very effectively use on us human beings, and I dare say that much of the trouble we have in getting along with one another will begin with what I am about to tell you. This is where it began with Satan.
It began when he felt that he was not being treated as he deserved. Do we not usually strike out at other people when we begin to feel as though they are not treating us the way we deserve?
Satan felt that God was treating him unfairly. That is impossible. God is love. But it gave rise in him to vanity. Then he lied to himself about the solution. The solution was since he was not being treated fairly he would rise above that by attacking God and knocking Him off the throne. Then he would be boss and have his rightful position—the one he really deserved. There you have it in a nutshell.
You will find that in most cases, the confusion and the division and the warfare that takes place among men almost always follows this trajectory. Someone gets their feelings hurt, and by having their feelings hurt the door is open to Satan the Devil and what happens? We begin thinking, do we not? "I deserve better treatment than that. Boy, they're rats." We begin thinking of all kinds of reasons why we should get even with them, and "the next time they open up their mouth to me, boy am I going to let them have it."
We work ourselves into a state where we become bitter or maybe depressed, but I can guarantee you if it is not brought under control it is going to lead to division and warfare. In a family, what is produced? Divorce. The couple goes to war and they split. The same thing happens on a larger scale in nations, but this principle is very important to understanding what is going to occur in our lives.
We will continue next time in filling in more of the details regarding how Satan gets to our minds.