Chapter OneCAN THE DEVIL MAKE YOU DO IT?
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. -Ephesians 6:10-11
WHY KNOW IT?
* 59% of people currently believe that "Satan is not a living being but is just a symbol of evil."
* A recent Gallup survey shows that just about three in four Americans hold some paranormal belief. There are no significant differences in belief by age, gender, education, or region of the country.
transfuse (trans FYOOZ): to cause to pass from one To another; transmit
America's fascination with the supernatural is ever-growing as evidenced by the immense popularity of TV shows, movies, and video games such as:
TV: Charmed, The Ghost Whisperer, Point Pleasant, Supernatural, Medium MOVIES: The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Exorcist, The Sixth Sense, The Grudge VIDEO GAMES: The Suffering, Temujin: A Super natural Adventure, Fatal Frame III, Phantom Dust
And the list goes on....
Far from falling out of style, TV shows, video games, and movies that deal with the supernatural are becoming increasingly popular. For many people, Satan and demonic powers have become a source of entertainment rather than a reality spoken of in the Bible. The excuse, "The devil made me do it!" was first coined by a comedian some thirty years ago, and it has continued to be used as a comedic cop-out that is anything but funny.
Make no mistake: Satan is real. But how do you overcome him? How do you make the right choices?
* 47% of young people cite that attending church does not give them enough understanding of the Bible to base all their decisions on biblical principles.
The Bible emphatically warns that there is warfare against the wicked ones-namely, Satan and his demons. The purpose of this study guide, The Covering, is to show you that the key to victory in the invisible war with Satan is found in consistent discipleship and not in instant "deliverance" claims.
The "covering" described in Scripture is the full armor of God found in Ephesians 6. It is an impenetrable barrier against which the fiery darts of the evil one are impotent. When we are clothed in the covering, we are invincible. When we are not clothed in the armor of God, we are pawns in the devil's evil schemes.
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For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple [innocent] concerning evil. -Romans 16:19
Is it dangerous to study about Satan? Some people believe that by informing students about these issues, we are exposing them to spiritual danger. Such a view is willingly ignorant of what is plainly taught in Scripture and of what is happening in today's culture. Scripture teaches the reality of Satan but discourages fascination with or worship of him; it assures us of Jesus's victory over Satan and discourages fear of him.
In his classic The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis talks of the devil: "There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils [demons]. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight."
* Do you think that movies and TV give an accurate picture of who Satan is? ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________
* Do you believe that Satan is real? ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________
* Is Satan powerful? ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________
* Is it dangerous to study about Satan? Why or why not? ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________
The New Testament repeatedly affirms the reality of both demons and a personal, malignant being who is referred to by various names: Satan, the serpent, and the devil, to name a few. But while the Bible does present Satan and demons as powerful spiritual beings, God's Word is also clear that Satan is no match for God.
A central message of both the Old and New Testaments is God's triumph over the evil one. First John 3:8 says, "He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil."
To illustrate God's rule and reign and how that translates into victory for His children in spiritual warfare, let's deal head-on with one of the questions about demons that Christian teenagers often ask.
infuse (in FYOOZ): to cause to be permeated with something (as a principle or quality) that alters usually for the better
Can Christians Be Possessed or Inhabited by Demons? For the answer to this question, let's go straight to the words of Christ Himself: "How can one enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man?" (Matthew 12:29). Who is "the strong man"? * To a demon-possessed person-the strong man is the devil. * To a Spirit-indwelt believer-the strong man is God. Christ asks a straightforward question, one that concludes with an obvious answer. In order for demons to possess believers, they first have to bind the strong man who occupies them-namely, Christ Himself! * Then He explains, "When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first" (Matthew 12:43-45). Once again, Jesus teaches with precision and leaves us no guesswork. * If we are unoccupied by the Holy Spirit, we subject ourselves to the possibility of being inhabited by demons. * If our house (a body/soul unity) is Christ's home, then the devil finds no place to dwell in us. Let's look at a few other Scriptures: * "Jesus answered and said to him, 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him'" (John 14:23). * "But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His" (Romans 8:9). * "But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you" (Romans 8:11). The consistent teaching of Scripture is that Christians cannot be controlled against their wills through demonic inhabitation. The principle is foolproof. If you are a follower of Christ, the King Himself dwells in you. * Is it possible that your lack of faith in God's power over Satan in your life is rooted in a disobedience to God's Word? ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ * To love Jesus is to obey Him. Commit to living out your love for Christ by filling in the blanks with five specific choices you can make to obey Christ this week: Because I love Him, I will __________________________. Because I love Him, I will __________________________. Because I love Him, I will __________________________. Because I love Him, I will __________________________. Because I love Him, I will __________________________.
[(1)] What is ONE THING you can change about the choices you are making this week that will help you to love and obey Christ? ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ We have looked at specific teachings of Christ. These alone are enough to confirm that Satan cannot live where Christ rules. But for the skeptic, there is still more! Rest yourself completely assured with this statement: "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4). * Are you looking for strength in daily living? Remember and rehearse 1 John 4:4. No dispute-no argument-no worries: Greater is He [the Holy Spirit] who lives in _______ ______________ [your name] than he [the devil] who is in the world. To deny the truth of these scriptures because of some people's alleged experiences or stories is to greatly overestimate the power and realm of Satan.
diffuse (di FYOOZ): to pour out and permit or cause to spread freely; to extend, scatter
There are two common misunderstandings that appear to give Satan more power than he truthfully has. These must be examined in the light of Scripture.
Healing the Body Is Not the Same As Casting Out Demons
Some people say that every illness is caused by a demon. Therefore, they proclaim that every healing of the body is in reality an exorcism. Get this: Jesus did not teach that anywhere!
* Jesus spoke of divine healing as the opportunity to show the glory of God. In John 9:2-3, His disciples asked Him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him." * Jesus spoke separately of casting out unclean spirits and of healing disease. "When He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease" (Matthew 10:1). * Jesus's acts of healing lacked all the common features of an exorcism account. "Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, 'Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.' And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath" (Luke 13:10-14).
* Jesus addressed the woman rather than addressing a demon; * Satan did not speak through the crippled woman; * the synagogue ruler referred to the instance as a healing and not an exorcism; * being in the synagogue is not synonymous with being an indwelt believer. Christ does refer to her as "a daughter of Abraham" (v. 16), but not all descendants of Abraham have the faith of Abraham (Romans 9:7-8; Matthew 3:9).
The Devil Does Not Make Anyone Sin Against His or Her Will
The "devil made me do it" is little more than a convenient cop-out for sin. Satan can work to tempt you, but he cannot force you to act upon that temptation.
The Bible says, "Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren" (James 1:14-16).
* Jesus spoke of temptation and not demonization as the means by which Satan entices us. He specifically taught the disciples to pray, "Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one" (Matthew 6:13). * Jesus taught that the heart of man, not demon possession, is responsible for evil acts . "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies" (Matthew 15:19).
* If you hear a story of a Christian who was supposedly indwelled by a demon, how would you lovingly correct the misunderstanding? List at least three reasons and give the Scripture reference for each:
1. __________________________________________ 2. __________________________________________ 3. __________________________________________
What excuses do I give for my sin? (For example, parents, friends, culture, TV, movies, etc.). ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________
How does making excuses affect my ability to influence others? ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________
We have thoroughly examined and understood that Satan cannot control you against your will. No Christian can be indwelled by him, but we are forewarned to "be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8). Satan is a roaring lion, but the length of his leash is determined by the Lord.
Satan wants nothing more than to destroy your testimony before others and to disrupt your fellowship with God. He cannot have you, but he can and will do whatever he can to keep you from bringing others to Christ. You must understand this.
* Do visible, public stands for Christ make a strong impact on your school and your peers? (For example, a See You at the Pole rally, wearing a Christian T-shirt, carrying your Bible, inviting others to Christian clubs, etc.). ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________
In the next seven weeks, we will thoroughly examine every part of spiritual armor given to us by the Lord to soundly defeat Satan's attempts to stop our influence for the kingdom of God. For this reason, Paul urges us to "put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles [schemes] of the devil" (Ephesians 6:11).
It will be an amazing time in your life-one of testing, proving, and great victory.
To understand spiritual warfare and to overcome temptation, the Christian must focus on the power of God rather than on the schemes of the devil.