Our Enemy - Buttonwillow II - 1970

In Saskatchewan, our elder brother is not so able in his physical body, but he is very able and active in his mind.  He often sits near the driveway and watches people coming to the convention; he knows some to the fourth generation.  He understands them better than many of us, knows they are coming to receive help, and doubtless he's praying they'll receive the help they need.  We find him often at the close of the convention sitting in the same spot and he's watching the people leave.  He lifts his hand and bids goodbye to God's people as they go home fortified.  We have a Heavenly Father that understands us better than our Willie Smiley.  One who is able to fully understand His flock.  He knows if you are in the right frame of mind, and if you will leave here refreshed.  Someone's testimony at a convention's close, "There is no more spirit in me - I am going home with a 'new' one!"  (1 Kings 10:5)
 
If you can prepare your hearts for this convention, and if we can help you just a little to know yourselves better, and to know the enemy better, and to know the Lord better, this is what we would like to draw your attention to.  In Revelation 3:7, it speaks of the Lord as "He had openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth and no man openeth."  We are gathering in the presence of One who wants to shut the door to our past, which no man can open.  No man has the right, or the key to open it.  That same One has the power to open, and no man can shut-to open the possibilities of our future lives that you and I might gain eternally.  The enemy says, "You might just as well end it."  Our Father, who has made every provision in Christ for you, says, "Mend it, don't end it."
 
I remember once going from a convention meeting, finding myself exhausted, and flinging myself down upon my bed, feeling like Isaiah who said, "Woe is me for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell among a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King."  (Isaiah 6:5)  It is good to get a picture of ourselves.  Eldon had spoken that day from, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus."  I went back to my room and said, "I cannot measure up to that," but it moved me to cry out to God, to the source of help.
 
The Scripture leaves on record what man is like.  "The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand and seek God.  They are all gone aside, they are altogether become filthy.  There is none that doeth good, no not one." (Psalm 14)  "We were all without understanding, and we are inclined to take our own way. His thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways.  'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.'"  (Isaiah 55:9)   "It is not in man that walketh to direct his own steps."  (Jeremiah 10:23)   Man in his best state is altogether vanity.  (Psalm 39:5)  Paul seemed to understand human nature so well.  You will find a list in Romans 3 where he was quoting from the Psalms and Isaiah.  People have wrong thinking, wrong spirits, wrong acts, wrong walk, and their hearts are wrong.  It doesn't present a very beautiful picture.  If we understood ourselves better, then we would know better how to come to God for the help that we need.  Paul said, "The carnal mind is enmity against God, it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."  (Romans 8:7)  He said, "I know that in me, that is in my flesh dwelleth no good thing."  (Romans 7:18)  He said we were "by nature the children of wrath, even as others."  (Ephesians 2:3)  The roots of every one of those vices and things we read about in Romans 1 are in us by nature.  We have the sentence of death upon us as a result.  We groan in our spirit and are conscious of no hope without Christ.  As we look in ourselves, we can see no hope of change.  Every child of God, every one who has cried out in despair, is thankful for what the Lord has provided in Christ, that we can become a new creation, that we might have a new mind, a new heart, and so change our actions and change our speech and change our walk.

But we have an enemy.  Can we believe there is a devil?  Can a duck swim? We don't see him.  He does not draw near and tell us who he is.  He comes veiled - some thinking it might even be the Lord.  If we can only understand our enemy better, and our Lord better than we have even this past year! "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."  (Revelation 12:9)  "And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years."  (Revelation 20:2)  He is called by four names: dragon, serpent, devil, Satan.  I have enjoyed looking into these four sides of his character.

1. Dragon - murderer.  It simply signifies one side of the character of the devil.  He stood ready to devour the child as soon as it was born.  That spirit of the murderer was manifest in Cain who was "of the wicked one" and slew his brother.  The very same spirit was found in Joseph's brethren, when they had sought to kill him.  Likewise was it seen in Saul when he so often sought the life of David.  The chief priests and elders of Jesus' day were of the same spirit of the murderer.  The enemy of our soul wants to destroy the Christ life in us, if he can, no matter how young or old we might be, or how long we have been serving God.  We must understand this, and with the help of God, we will be able to cope with him.

Now turn your eyes to the Lamb of God, the Redeemer, which brought us back from the wrong course.  Let me tell this story.  You know, when something becomes a priceless possession, you can hardly keep from telling about it. You don't have to be around anyone long until you know what they love.  The thing that obsesses you is what you talk about - Micah 6:6-7.  Micah wondered what he could do to change the "picture."  How can I come before the Lord and bow myself before the High God?  Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?  Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil?  Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? No amount of burnt offerings of rams or the oil of ten thousands of rivers is enough to atone for the sins of even one person.  The firstborn, the fruit of the body (the whole family) even suggests greater sacrifice, and is not sufficient, nor could it be accepted to atone for the sins of even one person.  People of old used to offer their children, burning them in the fire to a false god.  I have known in our day of children, not offered, but accidentally lost by fire, and oh, the cost.  A sister of one of our sister workers has had the awful experience of seeing her three sons wiped out in an instant by a plane accident, and oh the cost!  But only the sacrifice of the Lamb of God on Calvary can atone for our sins.  We can sing the song of our Redeemer, who gave us life, in contrast to the enemy as murderer who wants to take our life.

2. Serpent - deceiver.  There are no doubt some here that know what it is to have been deceived.  In Adam and Eve's story, the serpent came to the garden.  He was their deceiver.  Some of you know what it is to have been deceived by a man-arranged church, a man-made religion.  For a time you did not know you were deceived.  Recently we talked to a man and his wife.  They have tried many things.  She said, "In all my searching, and in all my reading, I still feel there is something yet to get."  Is that how you feel? I told her we are no longer looking for, but now we are looking deeper in. There is still something to look deeper into the Way and Will of God, but the search for was over when we found the Truth of God.  You are rejoicing because the fig leaf apron profession did not satisfy, the deception did not really justify, and you looked for something more.  Now your eyes have been anointed; you have seen the way of God. 

The deceiver has another way of deceiving, even after we have been clothed with the skin of the lamb slain, the Righteousness of Christ - if he can get your spirit wrong, and make you feel justified even in having a wrong spirit.  Before we ever professed, we came to convention meetings like this. Once I was sitting about halfway back from the platform when a meeting was tested.  A 12-year-old boy sitting beside me stood up.  That little boy went home.  He had three brothers not professing, but his parents were.  They were overtaken by a wrong spirit and stopped going to meetings, but asked their little boy to continue on alone.  Less than thirteen months after he decided, he came home from a meeting and said, "I can't go back to another meeting unless you go with me."  They didn't, so he stopped as well.  Eight years passed by.  This you would understand, when children are 15 years and under, they would need the help and guidance of their parents so vitally, to help them through those trying years.  After those eight years the parents reconsidered and got right with God again.  That was twenty-one years ago, and as yet none of the boys are inside God's family, even though they know and respect it.  They have wives from different religious backgrounds which complicate the matter.  Every time you hear that father pray, you well know what he prays for. 

The Lord is anxious to help us in our condition, should we even be wrong in our spirits and help us to overcome this kind of deception by the enemy.  He knows and wants to help us consider the awful consequences. 

3. Devil - accuser.  This is another side of the enemy's character.  One of the things he seems very able to do is convince people who are outside God's Way that they are all right, and to convince those on the inside you are all wrong!  You are not right and you never were right!  How could you be right?  He is standing night and day before God accusing the brethren. While you are kneeling to pray he may make you feel you have done something that you can never be forgiven of, he can go back into your past, and take you to things that you might have done, before you came into the Truth.  He can take and dig up these things, remember all your failings and with whatever you did at that time, he can accuse you before God.  This is the accuser side of the devil. 

I wonder if, in contrast, we can get a better picture of our Great High Priest, which came and took upon Himself our nature, so He can fully understand us and intercede before God for us.  He is the One and only Redeemer who first of all brought us back from a wrong course, and the One who can keep us on the right course.  Notice Romans 3:25.  The remission of sins that is past.  We don't need to grieve over those sins of the past, before we decided, that have been forgiven and forgotten.  Nor do we have to, but it is possible to grieve over sins which we have committed since we came into the Truth.  We are thankful that we are able to point you to help even in this.  Numbers 14:19, Moses prayed and asked God to "pardon the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of His mercy, and as He had forgiven them from Egypt until now" - their present sins.  Because of our Great High Priest, our Intercessor, we can turn to the Old Accuser, and say we can overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of our testimony.        

A little incident happened to me when we were up in the Yukon.  We were invited to live with a young man, the manager of a store, in return for fixing his meals.  In the spring of the year, when the snow was not yet all gone, and the paths were mucky and muddy, I had just finished scrubbing the kitchen floor, when without removing his dripping rubbers he marched right across my clean floor with an armload of groceries!  For the first time in my life, I understood that morning just how my Mother must have felt when we would come bounding in over her floors in such a manner. Friends, when Jesus lived in the world and was tempted in all points like as we are yet without sin, it was so He could understand and fully enter into our experiences and feelings.  You do not need to worry about the Accuser! 

4. Satan - opposer.  This is still another side of his character and he tempts everyone.  There are many, many angles when I think of him as Satan, the opposer.  We have the world, and the flesh, and he seems to cooperate with such so well to hinder us from progress.  One way is if he can just get you busy enough - if he can just do anything, anything to hinder.  One old brother said, "As far as I'm concerned, I feel this enemy will give a big bid at the last."  I've seen some on their death-bed, still plagued by this enemy.  I would call him merciless. 

But now take a look in contrast to the Lord as our Helper.  You remember Peter when he was walking on the water.  When he saw the wind boisterous, and beginning to sink he cried, "Lord save me."  The Lord reached out a helping hand.  There was a Gentile woman who came to Jesus and said, "Lord help me."  The first commission of the apostles was to the Jews only and not to the Gentiles.  They said to Jesus, "Send her away."  Even Jesus at first said, "Let the children first be filled for it is not fit to take the children's bread and cast it to dogs."  But she said, "The dogs can eat the crumbs that fall from the children's table."  Jesus said, "O, Woman, great is thy faith, be it unto thee even as thou wilt."  He helped her!  Now we are outside the nation of the Jews.  What can He do for us?  You remember the man's son who had an evil spirit.  He was often cast into the fire and into the waters.  The man said to Jesus, "Have compassion on us and help us." Jesus said, "All things are possible to him that believeth."  He said, "Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief."  I have been plagued by doubting the very existence of Christ.  I have doubted and wondered about God.  The besetting sin of God's people is unbelief.  I don't doubt God's mercy and care for you, and I don't doubt a place in Heaven for you, and the reservation of that wonderful inheritance for you, but I have doubted it for myself.  Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief! 

Help us to see our own condition.  Help us to understand the murderer, the deceiver, the accuser, the opposer side of our enemy, but in contrast help us see our Great Redeemer, our Great Intercessor, and remember the Lord would like to help us.