SEVEN "NOTS" IN THE DEVIL'S TAIL
The devil has often been pictured as having two horns and a tail with a pitchfork in his hand. This is the product of someone*s imagination for no such picture of the devil is found in the Bible. Rather he is described as a subtle deceiver who transforms himself into an angel of light. His purpose is to blind the minds of unbelievers and keep the light of the glorious gospel of Christ from shining in unto them. He is called "the accuser of the brethren" and we are commanded to resist him. Peter says, "Be sober, be vigilant (on your guard) because your adversary* the devil, as a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." Jesus said that Satan was murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth. "When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: FOR HE IS A LIAR AND THE FATHER OF IT." (John 8:44).
Satan put it into the hearts of Ananias and Sapphira to lie to the Holy Ghost. He has put lies in peoples* minds and lies on peoples* lips since the days of Adam and Eve in the garden. When I speak now of "nots" in the devil*s "tale" I*m speaking about the lies that Satan has caused men to speak.
The first "not" in the devil*s tale is found in Genesis 3:1. Satan said to Eve, "Hath God said, ye shall NOT eat of every tree of the garden?" No, God had not forbidden Adam and Eve to eat of every tree, only the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden. Satan misquoted God telling Eve this lie. His purpose was to divide man from God, to cast doubt in Eve*s mind concerning God*s goodness. He was saying, in effect, if God was good and loved you, He would permit you to eat anything you want. He would make no restrictions. We must not listen to Satan*s subtle insinuation. God knows what is best for us and He is the author of every good and perfect gift. I oftentimes say to young Christians that if God asks you to give up something in your life, often some habit, it is because it is not good for you and I add that Christ always has something better to give in its place.
The second "not" in the devil*s tale is found three verses later. Adam said unto the woman, "Ye shall not surely die." God said plainly, You may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden but not of the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden. You must not eat that fruit, not even touch it lest ye die. Satan lied again and said to Eve, "Ye shall not surely die." The tempter told her the forbidden fruit was delicious and much to be desired and she should go right ahead and eat regardless of what God said. ‘Why, God won*t keep His Word, you wont die.* So, she took of the fruit and ate and gave some to her husband and he ate and their eyes were opened and they saw themselves naked. Now they* knew they were sinners stripped of all innocency. When the Lord called to them in the cool of the day, they went and hid themselves, trembling in fear. But the sad truth is, God always keeps His Word and they did die, spiritually that very moment and physically* by degrees. God said to Adam, "For out of the dust wast thou taken . . and unto the dust shalt thou return." The New Testament says, "As in Adam all die . ." "For as by one man*s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." (Romans 5:19).
The third "naught" in the devil*s tale is found in Job 1:9. "Then Satan answered the Lord and said, Doth Job fear God for naught?" Satan*s strategy has been and is to throw doubt on God*s goodness and man*s sincerity* in loving the Lord. Satan bates most, men and women who sincerely love the Lord, not just for all the benefits we*ve received from His bountiful hand of mercy, but for who He is, our Lord, our Saviour, our friend. Satan said to the Lord, ‘The only reason Job serves you is because you*ve been so good to him. You*ve prospered and protected him. Take away these blessings and he*ll curse you to your face.* But Satan, praise God, was wrong. Job*s ten children were all wiped out by Satan, his livestock was all destroyed, his wife told him to curse Cod and die, and he was afflicted with sores all over his body. Yet the Bible says that he could say, "The Lord gave and the Lord bath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."
Some of us are tempted as was Job. Sickness, poverty, trouble, friends misunderstand, one blow upon another and we wonder why the test, when we try to do our best, but we*ll understand it better by and by. I pray* that it may be said of you dear Christian friends reading this message today, he loved the Lord more than houses or land, more than fame or fortune, more than loved ones or life itself. When trials come and Satan tempts you sorely, remember Job and his afflictions and remember the precious promise of God*s Word,
The fourth "not" in the devil*s tale was spoken by Jesus* enemies, the Pharisees. When a man who was both blind and dumb was brought to Jesus, He healed him "insomuch that the blind man both spoke and saw and all the people were amazed." And they said, ‘This must be the son of David.* But the Pharisees said, ‘No, this is not David*s son (Messiah) but Beelzebub*s son, the Prince of the devils. Now Jesus knew their wicked thoughts. in their hearts these wicked religionists knew that Jesus was the Christ, they knew that this miracle had been done through the power of the Spirit, not through the wicked one, hut they spoke a lie for now they deliberately, consciously reject Christ, and seal their own doom. They attributed the work of the Holy* Spirit to the devil, even though in their hearts they knew they were lying and blaspheming. This day the author of eternal salvation was in their midst and they knew who He was and yet wickedly, deliberately refused to receive Him as Lord and Saviour. Jesus said their blasphemy of the Holy* Ghost could never be forgiven. (Matthew 12).
In Matthew 16 it is Satan using Peter trying to thwart the plan of God for our redemption. As the time came near for Jesus to go to the cross, he explained to his disciples that he must go up to Jerusalem and suffer many indignities at the hands of the elders, scribes and chief priests and be killed. "Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. saying, Be it far from from thee, Lord: this shall not he unto thee." But the Lord Jesus turned to Simon Peter and said "Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me." How ridiculous for a man to rebuke the Lord and contradict what the Lord has spoken; yet how often Satan tempts us to sin. Abraham was tempted to lie about Sarah and he did. David was tempted to commit adultery and he did. Moses was tempted to smite the rock and he did in anger. All of these were great men of God who sinned. How we who love the Lord need to put on the whole armour of God and keep it on that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Not only did Peter sin in rebuking the Lord but that sin led to his denial of Jesus. We find the story in Luke 22. A certain maid saw Peter warming himself by* the fire while Jesus was being given a mock trial in the high priest*s house. She came up to him and said, "You were with Jesus!" And Peter replied, "I know him not." Three years you*ve been with Jesus, Peter. You went out preaching in His name. It was you who confidently said, Lord Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God. But now you deny Him. You*re afraid of that crowd you*re sitting with. You*re afraid they might take you before the high priest. I*m not condemning Peter. His cowardice, his arrogance beforetime condemns him, but I think. how much I am like Peter. I am weak but Thou art strong. Jesus keep me from all wrong. "Daily walking close to Thee, let it be, dear Lord, let it be."
The final "not" in the devil*s tale is found in John 8:13.
"The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thy record is not true." Satan would have men believe the scientists than believe God. He would rather have you trust your feeling for salvation than trust the word of God. He would rather you believe man*s theory of evolution than God*s word about divine creation. He would lead you to believe there is no burning Hell when God has warned too plainly there is such a horrible place. When the Pharisees told Jesus His record was not true, they made God a liar. When men falsely declare that Jesus is not God come in the flesh, the Bible brands them deceivers whose coming is after the working of Satan.
When Satan comes to tempt us, we must overcome him with God*s Word. Jesus did. Our Saviour was hungry and Satan said, ‘Command these stones be made bread.* Christ*s answer was, "Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Three times in Matthew chapter four Satan tempted Jesus and three times Jesus answered him with Scripture—"It is written." Sin will keep us from the Word, but the Word of God will keep us from sin.
SERMON STARTER FROM DR. BOB BEVINGTON