Trip the Trap (10/14/21)

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National Geographic ran an article about the Alaskan bull moose. The males of the species battle for dominance during the fall breeding season, literally going head-to-head with antlers crunching together as they collide. Often the antlers, their only weapon, are broken. That ensures defeat. The heftiest moose, with the largest and strongest antlers, wins. This means the battle fought in the fall is really won during the summer, when the moose eat continually. The one that consumes the best diet for growing antlers and gaining weight will be the heavyweight in the fight. Those that eat inadequately sport weaker antlers and weigh less. There is a lesson here for us. Spiritual battles await. Satan will choose a season to attack. Will we be ready to fight and achieve victory? Or will we allow him to defeat us?

We’re going to take the next few weeks and look at some of the traps the devil puts in our way and how we can have victory over his tactics. These sermons might be uncomfortable for some of us. Current research shows the majority of Christians in the United States no longer believe Satan is real even though the words “devil” and “Satan” are found in Bible a total of 80 times. This doesn’t include the other references where he isn’t named.

Unbelief is his greatest trap. He doesn’t want the church to believe he’s real. That way we blame his attacks on social and psychological issues. Then we handle them the wrong way. Instead of facing them with the weapons mentioned in the Bible, we try to fight them with group therapy and funding programs. But, as we all know, you can’t cure cancer with Kool-Aid. The foundation of our faith comes from what the Bible says. If the Bible says he’s real, then I’m going to preach he’s real.

We don’t have to cower in fear because of him. The Bible tells us how we can stand firm when he attacks. Let’s look at one thing Jesus has to say about it. Luke 10:1-24 says, “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.”

Jesus knows that in a short time he’s headed to Jerusalem – and the cross. There are people all around him who haven’t heard his message. He sends a group of his followers out to prepare the people to hear it. What is that message?

Luke continues. “5 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.
13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades.
16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

Jesus message is one of peace. He wanted the Jews to accept the peace of God that he offered. The problem was most of them didn’t want peace. They didn’t want to live in harmony with the Romans or even the Samaritans to their north. Jesus knew rejecting his message would be disastrous for them as individuals and as a nation. Even so, he still gave them an opportunity to hear it.

His followers completed their mission and came back. “17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Jesus knows he’s in a cosmic battle between good and evil. Satan appeared as a serpent in the Garden of Eden where he persuaded Adam and Eve to disobey God. He’s been attacking God’s creation ever since. The devil even tried to stop Jesus before he even began his ministry. In Luke 4, Satan tried to tempt Jesus into sinning against God and abandoning his mission. If Jesus gave into these temptations and sinned, he would no longer be the innocent lamb that could die for our sins. Praise God that Jesus resisted the devil.

Now, Jesus’ followers reported that even the demons submitted to Jesus’ name. Jesus tells them, “Yes, I’ve given you authority over them. You can defeat them. I’ll even protect you from their attacks. However, don’t focus on them. Focus on me.”

Jesus’ response is tied to his message that the peace of God was now among them. That’s what overcame the power of evil then. That’s what overcomes the power of evil now. Jesus says to concentrate on this.

Satan wants to distract us and confuse us. He doesn’t want us to focus on Jesus or his kingdom. That’s what he was trying to do with Jesus’ disciples. They came back concentrating on the demons instead of God’s peace.

One of the biggest traps Satan sets for us is distracting our time, thoughts and efforts away from God’s kingdom. If you don’t have time to pray, how much time do you spend on your computer or phone each day? If you don’t have time to meditate on the Bible, how much time do you spend watching TV, listening to music or reading other materials? If you don’t believe what the Bible says about the devil and demons, why do you believe what it says about Jesus and salvation?

The less attention we give to Jesus, the less we follow him. This plays right into the devil’s hands.

After warning his followers, Jesus continues. “21 At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
22 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
23 Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

Jesus was full of joy because he knows the peace he’s bringing to the earth will overcome the hatred and violence of the devil. The kingdom of God is finally here in new and powerful ways. Even though Jesus defeated the powers of darkness on the cross, Satan is alive and well. Revelation tells us he won’t be completely destroyed until the end times.

Until then, we’re caught up in a spiritual battle. And we have to fight. So, how do we achieve victory?

1 – Prepare in advance by eating a healthy spiritual diet. The Alaskan bull moose prepares for battle by eating a healthy diet. We do the same thing. According to this passage, our entrée is the peace God sends us through his Son. The first thing we have to do if we want victory in spiritual warfare is know Jesus as our Savior and then do what he tells us to do.

2 – Believe what the Bible says about the devil. Accept he’s also attacking us and tempting us to turn from God. If we believe what the Bible says about Jesus and salvation, we have to believe the Bible when it says the devil and demons are also real.

3 – Recognize the devil’s traps and trip them. He is a powerful and dangerous entity. John 10:10 says he comes to “steal and kill and destroy.” Yet, many of the traps he sets for us aren’t that dangerous. Their purpose isn’t to kill or destroy us. Their purpose is to take our attention off Jesus. Just like a mouse trap that’s no longer needed, we need to safely trip them and move on.

Satan and demons are real. The battle is real. It’s raging all around us. But we don’t have to fear, especially if our names are written in heaven. Jesus defeated him on the cross. Let’s focus on Him.