Have you seen or experienced any Satanic attacks lately? I believe you probably have whether or not you recognized them. That isn’t to say you actually saw Satan or even a demon, but you have been affected by them. And Satan himself is probably so busy that he really doesn’t directly come to tempt or trouble any of us. But he has his minions – his demons. In fact there may be one or two assigned to each of us, or at least to groups of us, like our church. And it isn’t that Satan doesn’t use his other allies – like the world or our own flesh to besiege us. But he is just as diligent today in attacking the Kingdom and people of God as he has ever been.
Are you sure that when Brother Silver’s trailer was burglarized and the sound equipment for the Spokane evangelistic meetings was stolen that was not a Satanic attempt to disrupt or discourage those meetings? How can you explain that Sunday morning depression that struck you a few weeks ago, when there wasn’t any real cause for it? Have there been any recent attacks on our church membership or our doctrines? Have we had any visitors who showed interest for a while but then simply disappeared? Can you say for sure it wasn’t Satan who encouraged those people to walk away? If we stopped and asked the Lord to open our eyes, we might see an army of Satanic servants surrounding us and looking for an opportunity to disrupt our service of God. “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.”
Peter tells us to be alert and circumspect, because we have an adversary out to destroy us – to eat us. Notice that the apostle uses a metaphor to point out the devil’s desire and methods. “As a roaring lion, (Satan) walketh about SEEKING whom he may DEVOUR.” I’d like to pursue that thought – “as a roaring lion” or more particularly simply “as a lion.” What can we learn from the so-called “king of beasts” in order to protect ourselves from Satanic attacks?
But first, a couple of words about the “roaring” of the lion. I have heard preachers wax bold on that roaring, using only their wild imaginations for their declarations. Here is the truth – both lions and lionesses roar, but the male’s voice is far louder and more fierce. In fact, the stronger and bigger the male, the greater is his roar. And the roar has nothing to do with scaring their prey; actually they are quite stealthy when hunting. Most lion vocalizing is done early in the morning and early in the evening. And they roar to declare their presence and to declare their ownership of a particular patch of territory. Males roar to tell other males to stay away, and often, the louder the roar the more successful they are. And they don’t roar after a kill; they have no intention of sharing their meal with others; they simply eat.
Why then does Peter say, “the devil, as a ROARING lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”? Because lions do roar; it is one of their native characteristics – they are known for their thunderous voice. But both Satan and the lion are more deadly when they work silently in the shadows than when they are out in the open growling and roaring. And yet, when Peter points to the lion and makes his comparison, it opens several doors for consideration. Roaring or not, lions are predators. They chase down and eat whatever prey they can find. Are there things we can take from lions to teach us about the Devil’s attacks? I believe there are.
Generally speaking, predators attack the weak, the sick and the young.
It doesn’t matter if you are talking about cheetahs, wolves, lions or microscopic bacteria. When the predators attack a herd of buffalo, elk, or zebras, if they are successful it is usually with one of the weaker members of the herd. I won’t try to tell you that Satan isn’t interested in bringing King David, Daniel or even the Apostle Peter down, but he is usually more successful with others. For example, with the permission of the Lord the devil came at Job, and he severely wounded that godly man, but it was the man’s wife that he devoured. Why didn’t Satan attack Adam? Because, generally, it isn’t his style to openly attack the man of God. And besides, Adam’s Achilles heel – his Achilles rib – was his wife. Victory over Eve, meant victory over Adam, so why not go for the weaker vessel? Of course, every one of us need to regularly work out at the spiritual gym and visit the spiritual clinic. We also need to feed the spiritual young among us. Satan has no qualms about attacking anyone, especially when he can see an opening or a weakness. We all need to do our best to stay strong in the Lord. But it’s when we are spiritually sick or weak that he attacks – he loves weakness.
If I was asked to summarize the number one reason why visitors have attended this church for a few weeks and then walked away, my answer would have to be the doctrine of sovereign grace. Following that would be a handful of other Baptist doctrines, including our emphasis on the local church. We have even had long-time members who eventually left, citing election as their reason. For many of us those are precious doctrines and the reasons why we are here rather than somewhere else. But admittedly, in the context of modern religious thought, some of these are difficult doctrines. Satan may even call them “satanic doctrines” in order to distract the babes in Christ. The spiritually young haven’t had the opportunity to learn the truth and enjoy the beauty of those truths. In this, our enemy has hindered the growth and usefulness of our church over the years. This is one of his never-ending attacks.
It pains me to say it, and it might even anger one or two, but it needs to be said. Last week, through a former member, the Devil attacked our church once again. I am not saying that person is satanic, but I believe he is being used by Satan. This time it wasn’t an attack upon me – in fact he avoided me – I had to be informed about it. Satan was looking for some of the younger, perhaps weaker members of our church. It is “as a roaring lion, (Satan) walketh about seeking whom he may devour.”
On the other hand, sometimes a pride of lions may entice the sentries away from the herd.
There may be a dominant wildebeest or water buffalo, whose job it is to protect the herd. Sometimes two or three lions will feign an attack, drawing his attention away from the calves and females. Then while he is successfully defending himself from attack, other lions are bringing down a newborn calf.
This is a common problem and could come up in any church at any time – distraction, diversion, defeat. Early in the Book of Acts, the Lord was blessing the church in Jerusalem – hundreds – thousands of people were being saved. They were being baptized and beginning to serve the Lord. If that continued the entire city might have been won to Christ Jesus. Satan couldn’t permit that to continue unopposed, so in he stepped – into the heart of the church of God. Acts 6:1 – “And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.” Murmuring in the house of God and the church of God. This murmuring and complaining wasn’t about doctrine. It wasn’t about the church’s work of evangelism; it wasn’t about the baptism of the newly saved. It was about the perceived inconsistent care of the Greek-speaking widows in the congregation. I am not going to imply that it wasn’t a real issue, but it was used by Satan to hinder the work of the Lord. The Grecian saints apparently wanted the Apostles to take time away from prayer, Bible study and their evangelistic efforts to serve the tables of the widows and orphans. The problem was wisely solved with the institution of the Office of Deacon. But the point is, Satan tried to draw the Apostles away from the important work of evangelism and the preaching of the Word – and he used some of the Lord’s own people.
How often have churches split over incidental things – unimportant things – or less important things? I know that the flesh is usually involved – personal preferences and past experiences. But in case after case the pot has been stirred by Satanic influence. For example, most often a community is better served by a strong, stable, godly church, than with ten struggling congregations which can barely pay the rent. If Satan can get the saints into quarreling about non-essentials and then to split, he has a victory. Divide and conquer is the predatory method – whether by animal or demonic angel.
Another diversionary tactic of the predator is to feign injury. This takes us back again to the Grecian widows and orphans. There were genuine needs among those people. There were hurting people, and their cries were drawing the attentions of other saints. Certain kinds of predators, pretend to be hurt drawing the curious out of the crowd, and when they are alone and most vulnerable, they attack. Maybe you haven’t noticed, but many TV channels channel specific kinds of advertizing to their special viewers. The beer commercials are most often on the sports or otherwise men’s channels. The animal channels may have tear-jerking ads about abused and neglected pets – pleading for money. And the channels replaying the old TV shows direct their ads toward the elderly. Besides selling hearing aids, back braces and pain meds, they beseech support for the orphans of Somalia or something like that. Religious programing and religious magazines play upon human weaknesses as well. Satan would love to have God’s people support religious internet programs rather than their local churches. The poor wounded TV preacher needs a new jet plane to fly from luxury resort to luxury resort, while the true churches iof God struggle from a lack of financial support. That may be a simplification, but it is not unrealistic.
Another predatory technique is to chase the herd – or a single victim – into exhaustion.
Perhaps this is more wolf-like than lion-like – more lupine than leonine. Some predators are relentless – they will not give up until they are victorious or forced to quit.
In a recent message, someone asked a question – was it Brother Fulton or Brother Hunter? The question was, “Who or what was Paul’s greatest enemy?” I thought it might be a trick question, so I was ready to say, “His flesh.” But wasn’t the appropriate answer – “The Jews”? By Paul’s second missionary journey, the Jews were on to him like a pack of wolves. Everywhere he went, they quickly showed up nipping at his heals and howling at his preaching. Even before that, in Damascus shortly after his conversion – the Jews forced him to escape over the wall of the city. If it wasn’t the unbelieving Jews it was the Christ-professing Judaisers who were wreaking havoc among the true believers. Almost everywhere Paul went Satan’s religious minions were there to wear him down. The heathen enemy were bad enough, but the enemy from his own nation, were particularly galling.
And the devil will do the same to you, if nothing else to keep you distracted and away from serving Christ. This is where a close fellowship with the Lord is important. I think it was Bro. Fulton who was telling us a couple weeks ago that we need not fear Satan. He is absolutely right. But in ourselves we are incapable of defeating or withstanding him. We need the panoply of God – the full armor. It must be God’s armor, not Saul’s or any other of the fleshly variety. And we particularly need the sword of the Spirit. “(We) CAN do all things through Christ which strengtheneth (us).” But remember what Jesus said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without ME ye can do NOTHING.“ Paul told both the Galatians and the Thessalonians that growing weary in the work of God is a danger. “BUT thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through the Lord Jesus Christ ” “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
Predators have a number of tricks they can use to catch their prey.
In Ephesians, Paul developed the idea of the armor of God. We need the protection which that armor affords, and we need those tools to serve properly. He says, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the WILES of the devil.” The word “wiles” is interesting. In Greek it is “methodeia” – from which has become a useful English word. But James Strong defines the original word as “trickery.” My computer program says it refers to “cunning arts, deceit, trickery.” I’ve seen the word “schemes” used to describe this word. Satan is not above using guile, deception and particularly DECEIT to bring down his prey. “Yea hath God said, thou shalt surely die?”
Eagles are one of the predators of the avian world. They will eat just about any kind of fish or meat, and they don’t care in what condition they find it. You wouldn’t think that an eagle would be able to kill and eat a mountain goat, and I’d agree. But eagles have been known to pester goats to the point of distraction, causing them to fall to their deaths. Then the birds come in and feast on the splattered remains. That is not a pretty picture.
But neither is the picture of the saint of God who has become so proud of himself that he’s climbed to the top of the mountain, only to be pushed off to his spiritual destruction. As much as God HATES pride, Satan LOVES it because it exposes its host to a great deal of vulnerability. “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” Sometimes the Lord might push that proud man off his ledge, but usually Satan is ready to do it for Him. Just today, Judy pointed out I Corinthians 5:5 to me which speaks about God giving someone over to Satan “for the destruction of the flesh.”
Everyone knows that fish like to eat worms – but they also like bugs. We’ve all seen predatory fish jumping to catch flies out of the air. It is fun to watch because none of us have any real love for those flies. In addition to the jumpers, there are fish who shoot their prey. When certain species of fish see their favorite bug sitting on a branch or reed just over the water, they rise to the surface, poke their mouths out, and spit at the bug, hoping to knock it into the water. Then pouncing on it like a duck on a slug, it becomes a fish supper.
If I might be so bold, I believe Satan has his variety of the same sort of thing. He entices the son in a Christian family with cigarettes or chewing tobacco. That is really close to spitting in the face of that young man. Then from there it is a small step to marijuana and after that there are other drugs. Or perhaps it is the kiss of an ungodly teenage friend, drawing him away from virtue and morality. We could talk about the temptation to shop-lift, or to lying or towards a sassy, disrespectful mouth. Eventually things are said or done to the point that returning to purity is humanly impossible. That boy – that girl – has become the defacto property of Satan – knocked from his perch by the spit of the wicked one.
One of the most interesting predatory hunting techniques belongs to the humpback whale. Some people might say that this is learned behavior, developed over the last million years, but it is clearly something which God created in that creature. Whales can communicate, and through this they can coordinate attacks upon their food. When a pod of whales have located a school of krill or young salmon or herring, they agree among themselves who will do what to prepare the evening meal. One or two whales will surface and pull in enormous amounts of air, before dropping deep into the water. When they locate the school of fish above them, they start exhaling that air in a steady stream of bubbles which surrounds their prey. While other whales start their eery screaming, disorienting the fish, the exhaling whales make a curtain of bubbles which they draw tighter and tighter, until the school is packed together. Then the rest of the whales, deep under fish, open their enormous jaws and start shooting upward until they have their mouths full of the terrified herring. The whales take turns bubbling, sounding and attacking until there hardly remains a single fish.
This too is a technique of the evil one. Not only can those bubbles be interesting, creating curiosity in the fish who have never seen them before. But they can be terrifying – driving the foolish fish into the whale’s net and keeping them there. Only those fish who dare to flee the bubbles will live to tell the tale or to breed more herring. Paul said to Timothy, “But thou, O man of God, FLEE these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” “FLEE also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
One of Satan’s wiles is to become so invisible that his victims forget that he even exists. He’s that same tawny color as the dry grass of the savanna. He wants to be king of that savanna. He wants to “ascend into heaven, (to) exalt (his) throne above the stars of God.” Satan would love to usurp God and steal away His dominion. But he can’t touch the Lord Himself, so the devil must focus on more accessible targets – God’s people – and through them God’s churches. While there is no need for the Spirit-filled saint to fear Satan – because he is Spirit-filled he will see the need to be wary of him. Every Protestant church is memorial to the success of Satan. And thousands of Baptist churches have fallen victim to him as well.
We must stay alert; we must remain sober. “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” We know that “as a roaring lion, (Satan) walketh about seeking whom he may devour.”