The more I see the great cosmic battle between good and evil play out in our culture, the more I realize the power and the evil that reside in Satan, the great tempter. One of the greatest struggles contemporary culture faces today is the realization of evil. Genesis 3 recounts a conversation that took place between Eve and Satan. Eve recalled the words of God and Satan responded with his own twisted take on God’s commands. Eve replayed for Satan the consequences that would come with disobedience. Satan responded with more lies and empty promises. This has been his method of operation since he was removed from Heaven. It’s the Spirit of Truth versus the spirit of lies, what is authentic versus what is unreal.
A Battle of Worldviews
So if there is a battle of worldviews taking place, and the hearts and minds of people are at stake, then what are we doing to protect our hearts and our spiritual priorities? I believe the answer to that question starts with knowing the enemy. Peter wasted no time dealing with this issue when he wrote his first letter to the early church. At the time he wrote, Christians were facing serious persecution from a hostile world. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Peter admonished every believer to be temperate and on guard. He challenged Christ’s followers to recognize that the tempter is always looking for opportunities to destroy the lives and homes and marriages and relationships of well meaning, conscientious Christians. He did not refer to Satan as one who is simply misdirected or confused. He called him the “enemy, his goal being to destroy or devour followers of Christ.
Preachers and pastors and teachers in our churches must bring to light the severity of living in sin and the relentless approach Satan will take to destroy the lives of God’s people. Know the enemy, recognize his tactics and his wicked schemes.
Postmodernism teaches society that it can live and survive in a healthy environment without objective truth. We are witnessing every day in western civilization a world convinced it can find utopia and purpose without moral consensus found in the truth claims of Christ. This is one of Satan’s greatest weapons in his arsenal against humanity. He promulgates the false narrative that we can find purpose and meaning and clarity in life without submission to moral law and transcendent values. Chuck Colson in his Templeton Address at the University of Chicago stated, “This myth hides the dividing line between good and evil, noble and base. When a society abandons its transcendent values, each individual’s moral vision becomes purely personal and finally equal.”
Truth for Tolerance
Eventually contemporary culture allows truth to be substituted for tolerance. Temptation is no longer seen as something to be taken seriously because truth is now subjective. Naturalistic evolution challenges society to suspend its rational view of evil and good. Our culture has bought into the lies perpetuated by a false narrative coming from modern evolutionary biology which suggests: (1) There is no God or purposeful force; (2) No life after we die; (3) No foundation for ethical standards; and (4) No purpose in life.
Society is struggling for clarity and purpose. Satan has sucked the joy out of the room. Is it any wonder that so many postmodernists have no purpose or clarity in life? They simply cannot find happiness or contentment. It’s a giant vacuum waiting to be filled—but with what? The sole desire of Satan, the great enemy, is to make life as meaningless as possible. His single purpose is to inspire people to say or do whatever they want, to provide whatever temporary happiness they can find. Satan has convinced our fallen world that self-actualization is the primary goal for everyone. Do whatever it takes, yield to whatever temptation comes your way, and never deny yourself any form of pleasure.
Victory over Sin
Recently I preached a sermon series titled, “To Know Christ and Make Him Known.” The motivation behind the series was to bring to light the hope that believers have when they surrender fully to the saving message of Jesus. When it comes to resisting temptation, we have the victory through our Lord. All the hollow and deceptive philosophies coming from a broken world can be challenged by the church of Jesus Christ. When Jesus stood before Pilate and the governor began to question his role and his purpose in life, Jesus responded by saying, I “came into the world . . . to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 18:37). In making that bold statement, Jesus provided victory over sin to everyone who embraces him as Lord and Savior. If we embrace the truth claims of Christ, we will not only declare war on Satan, but gain deliverance from the evil one. Truth sets people free.
James gives us this great hope: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:7, 8). Victory over temptation cannot happen unless we first freely give ourselves over to God—heart, mind, and soul. Only as we make a conscientious decision to follow Christ (and by that, I mean fully surrendering our will to his and adopting a strong, consistent biblical worldview) will we find complete restoration for our soul.
God’s Love and Compassion
When the prophet Isaiah saw a vision of the Lord God seated on a throne, he came face-to-face with his own sinfulness and cried out, “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty” (Isaiah 6:5). That is where many people are today. They live defeated and hopeless lives. They live in the shadow of past failure and sins. Past mistakes haunt them. They cannot imagine what it’s like to wake up every morning and stand on the promise of Jeremiah’s words in Lamentations 3:22, 23. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” But when they, like Isaiah, have their sins removed and realize for the first time in their lives that they don’t have to carry the baggage of yesterday into tomorrow, they can experience what the prophet experienced: “your guilt is taken away and your sin is atoned for” (Isaiah 6:7). This doesn’t mean they won’t mess up and fail God. No, the promise it holds for them is that they are no longer slaves to their past. As Jeremiah stated, God’s great love and compassion are new every morning.
My heart goes out to the existentialist who sees no meaning in life—“a short journey from nothingness to nothingness.” Noting that Christianity is truly the superior worldview in relationship to Satan’s naturalistic viewpoint, Chuck Colson stated, “Christians see things from an eternal perspective. Everything we do now has eternal significance, because one day there will be a judgment, and then it will become evident that the way we have lived has consequences that last into eternity.”
God’s ambassadors know their enemy. We know his tactics and we know that he will be defeated. The cross is a vivid reminder to every Christian that we win! Our faith sustains us. Our hope in Jesus delvers us. The Holy Spirit drives us. We are children of the King!
Jim Book is Senior Minister of Kissimmee Christian Church, Kissimmee, Florida.