While mowing the lawn today, I was listening to a couple of sermons from Eastview Christian Church’s Mike Baker. His treatment of Psalm 17 in particular sparked the thoughts I will now share. Satan is the accuser, aka the devil, who is a liar. There are three motives of satan (I NEVER capitalize his name, because I refuse to give him that much respect) that are in stark contrast with motives of God that I want to examine briefly.
There is no doubt that satan wants to dissuade, discourage, and destroy.
1. If satan can dissuade us from following Christ, he will do so. I mean, after all, following Christ means that long list of “do’s and don’ts” and keeping that sour look on your face while yelling at people who disagree with you. Who wants to live like that? He would try to convince us that living for Christ is a dull, milquetoast existence for wimps.
2. If dissuasion doesn’t work, satan will use every opportunity to discourage us. “Following Christ is so HARD. Remember that time you were trying really hard to follow Christ, but still failed anyway, you worthless loser? It doesn’t matter how many times you try to get it right, you will fail.” Yeah, we’ve all heard those whispers from satan before.
3. If we are persistent enough to fight through discouragement, satan will seek to destroy. Please know that satan uses cancer, job loss, death, pain, suffering, whatever he can to make life on this earth as miserable as possible so that we will blame God, and turn our backs on Him. God allows satan free reign this way. Why? Good question. Perhaps it is because God wants us to trust Him even when life doesn’t make sense. The book of Job illustrates this in a powerful manner.
While satan will throw all that junk at us, remember that God’s motives include the desire for His children (that’s all of us, remember? I wrote about that last time.) to engage, to encourage, and to enjoy.
1. We were meant to engage. Ephesians 2:10 reminds us of the good works God prepared in advance for us to do. God wants us engaged in helping others see His abundant love, mercy, and grace. That means we will get involved in people’s lives, getting our hands and feet dirty with the sin that is all around us, but not getting bogged down in that sin while lifting others from that junk introducing them to the One Who can save them from their sins: Jesus. Do not run away from this responsibility, we are not called to “Christian clusters,” we are called to go and make disciples of all the world, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that Christ has commanded (Mt. 28:19-20). Engage people, and love them to Jesus!
While satan wants to throw discouragement and despair at people, we should serve as instruments of encouragement and repair.
2. We are called to encourage. While satan wants to throw discouragement and despair at people, we should serve as instruments of encouragement and repair. While the default setting for humans seems to be to put down others, followers of Christ who are engaging others should do so in a way to lift them up. And all the more as we see the Day (of Christ’s return) approaching according to Hebrews 10:25. God wants us to be instruments of encouragement to people in this world who are constantly beat down and discouraged. We are not to condone sin in anyone’s life, but we are to help them understand that their sin does not have to define them. Through the cleansing power of the Blood of Christ and His death on the cross, our sins are wiped away. If that is not encouraging news, I don’t know what is.
3. God wants us to enjoy the journey with Him. That doesn’t mean everything will always be good, or even enjoyable. It does mean that we don’t have to go through life alone. Our attitude is different. Our source of Joy is Jesus. Our hope is eternal. We can endure the pain, cancer, job loss, suffering, and even death that satan tries to throw at us, because we know that life on this planet is not the be-all, end-all. We have a hope in Christ that far exceeds any fear satan may try to plant in our lives along the way. I can honestly say that as I approach my 30th spiritual birthday (August 27, 1985 is when I was baptized into Christ), I enjoy life much more now than I did even a few years back. Oh, my life isn’t perfect. There is plenty of heartache to go around. But, I surrender that heartache to the One Who loves me more than I could ever imagine: the One Who sent His only Son Jesus to die on the cross taking my sins away so that I could have the hope of eternity in God’s presence…free from sin, hurt, pain, suffering, death.
Given the contrasts between these sets of motives, it only seems logical to follow Christ, and tell satan to take a hike.