DEALING WITH THE ADVERSARY
Introduction: In Part Two of this series, we will continue to learn more about the adversary and how he operates. First, we will clear up a major point by rightly dividing Godís Word to explain one of Satanís devices often used to hinder or buffet the Christian. Throughout this teaching, we will go to various sections of the Bible to learn how to deal with and defeat the adversary.
II Corinthians 12: 7 -- And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
Paul's thorn in the flesh was people. People were the thorns in the flesh; the people were the messengers of Satan; they were the ones who buffeted Paul's ministry.
Numbers 33: 55 -- But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be †pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.
This is how the Bible interprets itself. That is why we should never guess at the meaning of a Scripture. People have guessed at what Paulís thorn in the flesh was for years. Now you know the truth of the Word. There is no greater hindrance when it comes to learning and moving the Word of God than people.
II Corinthians 11: 3 -- But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
In the adversary's use of situations and conditions, he gets to people's minds. The mind is what gets corrupted. That is how he lays his groundwork. How does he do this? He does not come out and say, "Well, I'm taking over today". If he did, he would be rejected. He organizes the world, situations, and circumstances so that as people walk day by day, they are walking right into his traps. Instead of following the simplicity that is in Christ, the minds of Christians can become confused and also possessed if they choose to walk by the five senses instead of by the spirit of God.
Matthew 16: 23 -- But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
Jesus said to Peter, "Get thee behind me, Satan", for you are "an offence unto me", and yet Peter was one of his right-hand men. It was Peter, James and John whom he took along on the Mount of Transfiguration when he went in to raise the young girl mentioned in the Gospels. And yet, to that same Peter at another time, he said, "Get thee behind me, Satan."
The adversary operates through people, circumstances, the environment, or situations which, in turn, influence people. The reason that he organizes people, circumstances, the environment, or situations is to influence people to his way of thinking. Jesus had to say to Peter, "Get thee behind me, Satan!" Who influenced Peter at that time? The adversary.
I Thessalonians 2: 18 -- Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.
Paul wanted to go, but the adversary obstructed him through people, situations, or the environment.
Acts 5: 3 -- But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
"Why did the adversary fill your mind?" How did the adversary do that? Everybody was bringing their plurality and laying it at the apostles' feet. Joses, the Levite, had sold his single possession and laid the money at the apostles' feet. The adversary organized things in such a way that Ananias was influenced.
Matthew 13: 19 -- When anyone heareth the word of the kingdom and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
If a man listens to the teaching of the Word and it is sown in his mind, but he does not understand it to the end that he applies it, then the adversary comes and he catches it away. This is a description of the Word and how it is reacted to differently by different people. There is only one thing that ever keeps any of us from not being controlled by the adversary, and that is the accurate knowledge of God's Word that we have and that we apply. A person can have a tremendous knowledge of God's Word, but if he does not apply it, he will still faint in his or her mind. The adversary cannot get into the spirit of one who is born again, for it is eternal life, incorruptible seed. But, the adversary is the god of this world and so he influences people, circumstances, the environment or situations. The born-again believer still has body and soul and is in this world. He lives in this world. If he is not taught God's Word, or if he does not believe it, the adversary will get an advantage of him and operate by affecting his thinking. Man has freedom of will to believe the adversary's deception or not to believe his deception. If he chooses to believe his deception, the adversary sees to it that more deception is presented. That is the way his vicious cycle operates. If you do not understand formed, made and created -- body, soul and spirit, you will get lost in the shuffle [See teaching -- Body, Soul, Spirit].
After the new birth, the mind is still the same, but we have the privilege of putting on the mind of Christ. To the end that we put on the mind of Christ, we become more than conquerors. We are not automatically immunized simply because we are Christians, but because we as Christians have the potential power to renew the mind and this is a continuous process. Many Christians are still powerless because they are as much in the world and the world is in them. They live for what they want. They are concerned with: "How can I get ahead"? "This is my life, I can do with it as I please." That is how the door is opened. And, all of this is so human; it is just so natural, isn't it? It is just what all of us have done at one time or another, to a lesser or a greater degree.
James 4: 7 -- Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Do what? Resist him. You are never going to get rid of him by simply saying to him: "Now look here, I'm a Christian. Please don't do that to me." The only way you can get rid of him is to submit yourself to God and to resist the Devil. You have got to take a very sharp stand, like Jesus Christ did. Do you think Christ enjoyed saying to Peter, one of his best friends, "Get thee behind me, Satan"?
II Corinthians 10: 4 -- (For the weapons of our warfare are† not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
You cannot stop the adversary from giving you wrong thoughts, at times, because you are living in the world in which he is temporarily in charge. He uses people, places, circumstances and the environment. You can surely stop him from controlling your mind, because you can pull down the strongholds and deliberately bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ IF you renew your mind.
II Corinthians 10: 5 -- Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
We need a center of reference for truth outside of the individual and we have come to the conclusion that there is only one center of reference for us, and that is the integrity and accuracy of God's Word, for it means what it says and it says what it means. The Word of God is our only rule of faith and practice, so we do not go by what people say, by circumstances, by the environment or situations. We can only go by the Word, and to the end that we go into the depth of this Word and base every thought and decision on Biblical principles, we will not be able to defeat the enemy.
I John 5: 4 -- For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even† our faith.
II Corinthians 2: 11 -- Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.