Merlin Affleck - Satan - Merced, California - October 24, 2004

Sometimes we find it hard to get ready for a meeting. Sometimes you get to thinking about two different unrelated thoughts, and you wonder which one you should speak on, which one will win. The subject that I really didn't want to speak about is the only one that I could have peace with, so I guess we're going to speak about it. I don't speak about it very often, partly because somehow it is negative. It is about the devil. I'd just like to read a verse about the devil. Some of the pictures I was looking at in the Bible are five different animals that sort of depict different sides of the devil. So for a little while we'll speak about the devil. We heard very nicely this morning about the angels, and maybe for the children here we could just say that angels are good, and devils are of the same kingdom, but they're bad. So we are going to go to the other side of the spectrum for a little while and we'll try to talk a little bit about devils and their character.
 
First a little verse in 2 Corinthians 2:11, “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” That's why I have been thinking about these different animals that are pictures of the devil. This verse that we just read, that I keep coming back to, talks about his devices. Your American government has done a lot these last few years, and has been pumping millions and millions of dollars into trying to figure out some of the devices of the enemy. We're talking about Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. They have spent millions trying to figure out where they are going to come from next. Maybe it's good for us to just think a little bit about some of his devices that we will come up against, that are against our soul. I suppose like the angels, like we heard this morning, maybe we hardly believe that they're real. Maybe when you think about the devil, you maybe wonder in your mind if they are real. He would like for you to think that he is not real. There is a title that is attributed to God, and it is “I AM.” The devil would like you to think that his title is “I AM NOT,” and that he's not real. I have been told that 46% of the graduates from seminaries don't believe that there is a devil, and that's the way he wants them to believe, too. When we think about these angels, we know that the devil is of the same kingdom as the angels. Angels are just a part of God's creation. That tells you something right there, that they are just a very small part. You think of the greatness of God's creation, the angels are the greatest, but they are just a small part of God's creation. That's something for us to remember today, too, that the devil, as far as God is concerned, he's just a speck, just a very small part.
 
Maybe you have a question in your mind, Why is there a devil? And where did he come from? Before we look at these animals, we could just look at some verses to help us to know where it is he came from, and why he is. Some may even wonder why God would allow such a thing. Maybe we could just help you to understand some of those things just a little bit. There is a lot in Revelation 12. I don't pretend to be an authority about this, but we'll read some of the verses in Revelations 12 that will help you to understand. Verse 3, ”And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.” Verse 7, “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought, and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Part of verse 12… “for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” Verse 17, “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” So we see that the devil was an angel, and the devil got out of his place. We read about this conflict, and the conflict started in heaven. Satan was cast out and he came down to earth. 

Let's say that I wanted to get at one of you parents. The best way for me to get at one of you parents is to go after one of your children. That's kind of where we're at in this battle, this warfare. Satan has it in for God. So his way to get at God is through you and through me. So we are in a conflict that is real, and it is directed partly at us. We'll read another little verse in Isaiah 14 that helps us to understand why Satan was cast out of heaven. This pretty well describes it. Verse 12, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.' Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” These verses help us to understand the attitude that the devil has, and it helps us to understand that God didn't make the devil. He made himself. He rose up out of his place. He wanted to exalt himself above heaven, he even wanted to take the Lord's place. We can bring this a little bit closer to home. If we get out of our place in God's family, we could make a devil out of ourselves. Sometimes when little children get out of place they are called little devils. Even we as younger workers, we could just get out of our place, and we have just done that to ourselves. This should help us to understand that the devil is self-made, and that the conflict is against God, but we're caught up in the middle of it. One of the little verses that we read out of Revelations 12, just says that he is very angry and that he knows that his time is short. There are not many conflicts where the conclusion is already known before the battle is over. It's a foregone conclusion that he has already lost. Maybe at the end of the meeting we will read a verse that says it is already a foregone conclusion. The end is already predicted. It's like it has already happened. He knows that his time is short, so to get at the children, he knows he has to work hard and fast.
 
This chapter that we read mentions the
great dragon. I don't know what you think about when you think about a dragon, but I think about something that is very big, and very powerful, and very cruel. There is something that Satan is out there to deceive, real sophisticated things like marriage break ups, and young teen aged lives just getting ruined in this world. He loves that. He loves to see conflict in the church. He loves to see people get discouraged, and lose out in the truth. He helps them to get discouraged. One time, my first year in the work, I went to visit an old lady that I had met with in the little church that I went to before I went into the work. This lady was lying in the hospital with a broken hip, and she was near the end. Her life was there, but it was just skin and bones and a broken hip. She said to me that day, she said, “You know, the enemy is telling me, 'You're just lying here in pain, and you can't do anything any more, and your life is just horrible, you're of no more help to anybody, why don't you just give in? Why don't you just throw in the towel?'” That's what that lady said to me. I thought, "How true." That's the kind of enemy that we have, that would pick on someone so old, and so feeble, and so in pain, and try to discourage her right in the end of life. And sometimes people who are just stepping into eternity, they'll get a little moment of torment from this enemy, telling them that they're not going to make it. You maybe have heard stories like that. That's just how sadistic the great dragon is.
 
Another animal that describes the devil is “
the serpent.” I'll just read a verse about the serpent from 2 Corinthians 11:3, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” The serpent came to Eve in a very charismatic way, just for a nice little visit with Eve about God's word. You know how they twist, and they turn, and that is exactly what the serpent does with God's word. He just puts a little twist to it. He put a little question mark in Eve's mind about God's word. And if God really meant what He said. That is exactly what he would like to do to you. He puts a little twist to God's word. God doesn't really mean what He said. He'll twist it so bad that he'll make, like we had in our studies not long ago, he'll make evil look good, and he'll make good look evil. Like what is called some of the alternate life styles in the world today. Now in the religious world today, they put a little twist to that, that makes something that is so evil, almost look holy. That's the serpent. He twists and he turns. There is something about the serpent's poison, it just hits people, and they can't get rid of it real easy. Think of wrong spirits, and you think of wrong doctrines. And that gets injected into people, and you think, "Why can't they just forget about it?" You know it's just not that easy. It's like a snake bite. It doesn't always kill people, but it will make them very, very sick. There is an account of a serpent in Acts 28. It's just a little story about a serpent. You remember that people were standing around a fire, and Paul was among them. Verse 3, it says, “There came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand.” And it says that everyone was looking at Paul and thought that he would fall dead. And we read about Paul and it says that he shook that serpent into the fire, it calls it a viper. It says that Paul shook it into the fire and it caused him no harm. Paul could have thought, "I can probably handle it," but even Paul didn't play with the serpent naturally, and he certainly wouldn't do it spiritually either. You think about a wrong spirit, that's the best thing to do, just shake it into the fire. I remember a man over in Australia. He had a big sheep ranch. We were driving around on his ranch with him, and he saw one of these brown snakes, and they are a whole lot more poisonous than your rattle snakes. He saw it going across the paddock, so he chased after it. He let it go through the fence, and then he grabbed it by the tail. He swung it around, he kind of wind-milled it, and then swung it on the ground and he killed it. But you know he did something very, very dangerous. His wife found out what he had done. She wasn't happy with him, because he played with a viper, he played with a very poisonous snake. He played with something that could have killed him. He was showing off for the tourists, but it wasn't wise. I have seen people that are not doing very well in God's way. I'll tell you the reason why. It's because they have gotten very close to some other people who have the wrong doctrine. Some of that doctrine has gone into them. It hasn't killed them. They are still coming to meeting, but there is not much joy there anymore. You can tell that the serpent's poison has gotten into them. They have the wrong spirit. So we never want to think that we are a little bit stronger than anybody else, that we can play with the serpent, and with poison. 

Maybe we'll take a little look at
the lion. There is a little verse about the lion in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” His approach is just a little bit different. It says that the lion is a roaring lion. I understand that the lion roars to paralyze his prey with fear, so they'll give up without even running. They'll give up without even fighting, because they are just paralyzed with fear. I wonder if you have heard the roar of the lion. I didn't get a very early start in this work, and part of the reason is because I listened to the lion's roar. Part of his roar is, “You can't do this. You can't do it, so why would you even try?” I think that we come across people who haven't made their choice, or maybe go to meeting but don't take part, because they listen to the lion. The lion is roaring, and he is telling them, “Don't even try, you can't do it.” I was just thinking a little bit about Peter, just before the crucifixion. He was hanging around, warming himself, and the little maid said to him, “You're one of them.” It was like the lion that roared, and it paralyzed him with fear. And he just kind of crumbled under that.  
There's an interesting little proverb in Proverbs 22:13 that says, “The slothful man saith, 'There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.'” A slothful man is just a lazy man and everywhere he looks, he sees a lion, so he's afraid to move. I love to think of men like David, who went out, and he was in God's will. A lion took a little lamb out of the flock, so he stood up to it, and with God's power on his side, he just proved that a lion is nothing. The same thing with Daniel when he was in the lion's den. We heard this morning that an angel came and he just closed the mouth of the lion. With God on our side, the lion is nothing. Samson was another one that encountered a lion, and it was really nothing, because with God's help a lion is nothing. We would want to respect a lion. Like someone said, we would not want to just get into the cage with him, and at the same time we wouldn't want him to just paralyze us with fear. As long as we walk in God's will, like David and Samson and Daniel, then we're not going to say that there's a lion in the streets, and I'm not going to make a move. That's the only safe place when we are in the center of God's will. 

Then we'll talk a little bit about
the wolf. That's another animal that's compared to the devil. There's a little about the wolf in Matthew 7:15. It just says, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.” This is something we don't see in real life, in natural life, that a wolf is dressed up like a sheep. That would be hard to figure out, wouldn't it? But that is the way he wants it to be. Someone said one time, "If you're wondering if it's a wolf in sheep's clothing, just give it a poke, and you'll know by its reaction, if it's a wolf. You'll also notice by its diet, what it's eating." We know that the wolf is a flesh eater, and I suppose that the more of flesh that we have showing, the bigger target we make of ourselves, don't we? There's a little verse about the wolf in Acts 20. There is some advice that Paul was giving to a group of elders in verse 28, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” So it says that one of the things that the wolf will do is, he will draw away disciples after him. I remember a man telling us not too long ago about their dog. It was a nice dog. They lived away up north near Alaska, where the wolves are. This dog kind of got lured away by the wolves. The wolves kind of just played with the dog, and lured him into the woods. Once they got him out there, they tore the dog in pieces. This verse is a little bit different, because it says that some of these wolves are in among us. A lot of times we think maybe the pressure comes from outside of the Kingdom, but this one looks like it is just a little bit different. Some of this we can even expect to come from inside the Kingdom. The thing about the wolf is that the ones that they will attack are the ones that are on the fringes, they are the weak ones, the ones that are a little bit sickly, and the ones that are hanging back a little bit. The ones that are on the edge. That's why we need to just ask ourselves, “Where am I? Am I right in the center of the flock? Am I as close to the Shepherd as I can be?” The safest place from the wolf is to be within the radius of the Shepherd's voice. That's the safest place to be. We are the most susceptible to the wolf when we're on the fringe. So it's good for us just to ask where we are. A brother worker was telling us a while ago about driving along the highway. They came to a flock of sheep being moved, and what he noticed was that in their moving and confusion and a car going through the flock, that an ewe got kind of confused and turned around and she was running exactly in the wrong direction. The flock was moving this way and the ewe was running the other way. It was confused. But right beside it was this little lamb, they were both going the wrong way. He said that they drove over the knoll, and they noticed the wolf hiding, coming to meet them. It would have had that ewe and that little lamb. They didn't stick around to see how that happened, how that turned out, but I would venture to guess that the ewe would probably have been able to escape, but I think that the little lamb would have gotten it. Sometimes storms can come through the Kingdom, can't they? Things can happen that could maybe make a person just a little bit confused, and could make you run the wrong way. I think especially about our parents that are here, and your little lambs that are with you. If you just make a little trip, a little journey the wrong direction. You might escape, but you might not bring your little lambs back to the Kingdom again. It's very sad to see parents leave the fellowship and take the little ones with them, because we know that maybe some day those parents could get straightened around, but they probably won't bring their little lambs back because the wolf, the wolves are there for them.

One other animal is
the fowl. When Jesus spoke the parable about the sower and the seed, there is one condition of the soil that the fowls enjoyed. I'll just read it out of Mark 4:4. “And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.” Verse 15, an explanation to this, “And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.” Today you have had a few hours of meetings. He doesn't care that you're here, but he does care if you take something home from this meeting, or from this day. He doesn't want you to take anything with you. He wants to take it from you before you get home. Maybe a little test that you can give yourself. It has happened to me. You'll sit in meeting, and someone will say, “What did so and so share in the meeting today? What did so and so speak about?” And you'll say, Well, yes, that was a really good meeting. We had a very good special meeting today. I really enjoyed the messages. They spoke on.. (your testimony, I think it was). It was really good. And you feel really bad, don't you? And you wonder if the fowls didn't get it. And the reason for that is that the soil was hard. I grew up on a farm, and the last years that I was there, my job in the spring time was planting the seed, and it was quite usual that the fowls, a big flock of them, would just follow the seed. They would watch for an opportunity, they would watch for any time that there was a little trail in the field, and the seed couldn't penetrate, and they would go to those spots and there wouldn't be any seed in there. It's just a little warning to us that if there is just a little hardness in our heart, we'll probably leave the meeting and not retain very much, because Satan, just like the fowls of the air, has taken it from us.
 
I was thinking a little bit about Abraham in Genesis 15. It talks about a time when he had a sacrifice all prepared, to offer unto the Lord. In verse 11 it says, “And when the fowls came down upon the carcasses, Abram drove them away.” It just seems like here he had his offering to the Lord all ready to go, and the fowls were going to take it away, take it off the altar. Maybe that's a little picture of our offering, we want to lay it down. We want it to be completely used by the Lord. But then there are just a lot of, maybe we could say birds, like pride, unwillingness, and un-forgiveness, almost like different kinds of birds. I remember when we were in Australia, some of the birds that the farmers were getting rid of. They were just real pretty. Parrots. They were such nice birds. There could be things that would rob our sacrifice, kind of like a nice bird, but the result is that they could affect our sacrifice. They could take it off of the altar.
 
This isn't an animal, but another name for the
devil. He is a liar. I'll just read you one verse about the liar. John 8:44, Jesus said, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.” He was a murderer (that's another name for him) from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” Sometimes we hear parts of the Scripture quoted. There is a little sign, you often see it on billboards, and it says that the blood of Jesus cleanses you from all sin. That's true, but it's only part. I think that maybe that is one of the devil's cleverest tactics, devices, just to quote all the promises in God's word, but not the conditions. You know that the first part of that verse starts out with But if. “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, then we will have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus will cleanse us.” Sometimes we sit in one of those places, and the minister, he really wants to drill this point into everyone, that Jesus did it all. There isn't a thing that you can do. In fact you are even presumptuous to think that there is anything that you can do. This is a doctrine that everyone wants to hear. They don't want to hear anything about repenting, or believing, or forgiving, or loving. That's all works. They love to hear that there's nothing for you to do. Jesus did it all. But that's a lie. When you only have part of the truth you only have a lie, and that's one of Satan's devices. 

We heard a little this morning about Matthew 4, and in that chapter the devil is called the
tempter. We have a hymn that says, "The tempter now accusing you." So once the devil has tempted you, then the next thing that he will be doing is accusing you. He is the accuser. I like the way that chapter starts out. It says that Jesus was led of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. The Spirit led Jesus and then He was tempted. I hope that none of us ever think that we can just lead ourselves into the possibility of temptation and pull out of it. We won't. Jesus was led of the Spirit. When the Spirit led Jesus through that temptation He had God's power, of course. That's why He never yielded to the temptation. Like we heard this morning, the temptation was, number one, "Just feed the flesh." He didn't yield to that. Another temptation was, "Jump off the pinnacle of the temple and just take a chance. God will look after you. Take a chance, and God will provide." And maybe the third temptation was, "Just be short sighted, just live for today. Don't worry about tomorrow. Just look for glory today, and don't worry about tomorrow." And if Jesus had of, like we heard this morning, we wouldn't be here today. As soon as we fall into temptation, then we see the other side, that he is going to be the accuser. One of those verses in Revelation that we read first. I guess we didn't read it, but in that chapter it talks about the accuser, and of overcoming the accuser. It's just good to remember that the devil is just a very small speck in God's eyes. It's true. I guess that is the reason that I hesitate to even speak about it. We have something that is so much more powerful than we are. It's good to think about the other side. Sometimes we say that we have a three-fold enemy against us, with our flesh, that is very close to us, the devil, like that verse says, he is very subtle, we have the world, and that is very appealing. We won't just leave you there this afternoon, thinking about all that is against us. We like to think about all that is for us, and to remember just how small the truth is in this big creation of God. So we think about God who is for us, we think about Jesus who is interceding for us, and we think about the Holy Spirit that is for us, we think about the angels that we heard about this morning, who are for us, we think about the fellowship, the tremendous support we have that's tangible, we have a ministry that's for us. There is seven-fold help that is for us. In closing I would just like to read you this one little verse about where the devil will end. Revelations 20:10. “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Like I said in the beginning, this is a conflict, and we read about the end of the conflict here. It's a foregone conclusion. May God help us to just stay in the safe place. May we stay within the radius of the Shepherd's voice, right in the center of the flock. May the Lord help us to not explore the fringes. May the Lord help us.