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Satan’s Flaming Arrows
The Battle is Raging Today
We All Are Targets for Attack
This morning, if you want to open your Bibles to Ephesians 6:16, what we’re looking at is the shield of faith. What’s amazing about that, I want you to single out in your mind as you look at verse 16, it says, “above all,” Ephesians 6:16, “taking the shield of faith.” There is a choice here. “With which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” Learning how to quench or extinguish all of Satan’s fiery attacks, but it’s by faith. It’s the shield, which is faith.
This morning, we need to look at what God’s word is so good at. God’s word doesn’t throw something out there and leave us to try and figure out what God means. God always illustrates the truth He wants us to respond to. That’s why the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness. That was an illustration to the children of Israel that the only remedy to the serpent’s bite was for God to lift up that remedy, which was the brazen serpent lifted up in the wilderness, and they had to believe. God illustrated the belief. By the way, they couldn’t look at just anything in the wilderness. They had to look at one pole. That was the only hope. If someone said, I don’t like snakes, I’m going to look at a cow. They were dying. If someone else said ah, I don’t think it will work, they died. It was very specific. It was very direct. It was very simple. Either you believed God’s word and God said look, or you didn’t.
That’s the same with this. It’s very simple. If you notice what it says, “taking the shield of faith.” What is faith? We defined it two weeks ago. I’ll define it again. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by word of God.” Faith is believing what God says. It’s not just believing anything. It’s not just believing truth. Faith, biblically defined, is believing truth that God has spoken, that God has revealed. It’s not encyclopedic faith, it’s biblical faith. Which is supernatural faith. Which invokes, or causes, or unleashes the work of God. He extinguishes these fiery darts.
Let me give you an example. Since you are in Ephesians, let’s go to the Gospel of John. I’m going to show you one person in the Gospel by John. I’d like to show you the shield of faith happening in someone’s life. Gospel of John, last chapter, chapter 21. What we’re going to do is look at how Peter resisted Satan devouring him, by faith. You say ah, he didn’t do very well when he was tempted that night to deny the Lord. You’re right, but boy he learned his lesson. Look how Jesus, in chapter 21 in verses 18 and 19, how Jesus laid on Peter a lifelong burden. I don’t know if I could go through this but all of us in one sense go through it. Jesus told Peter he was going to die, and He implied how he was going to die. All of us are going to die, “the wages of sin is death.” We’re all going to die, but Peter knew he was going to go through an un-willing form of death. We all know that Peter died a martyr.
Look at verses 18 and 19, Jesus speaking, “Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” That could mean almost anything. Look at verse 19. “This He,” that’s Jesus, “spoke, signifying by what death he,” that’s Peter, “would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, ‘Follow me.’ “ Jesus said, you’re going to die a death that you wouldn’t really want to happen to you, you are going to be a martyr. We know from church history, almost universally, the Church historians through all the people’s accounts, this isn’t in the Bible it’s just in Eusebius’ book of Church history and Foxe’s book of martyrs, that Peter was led out to be crucified. He said, I don’t want to be crucified like Jesus was, would you crucify me upside down? The Romans thought that would be fun. And they did. Peter had his hands stretched and he was taken where he wasn’t willing to go.
Look at the last part of verse 19, Jesus “said to him, ‘Follow me.’ “ Jesus made two choices for Peter to live by. He gave him a simple twofold option. Either to follow Me or not. You understand how simple that is? That simplicity. Jesus said, you’re going to die this awful, probably martyr’s death, probably crucified upside down. That’s the fact. Now, you have two choices. Are you going to follow me? Which means go by faith which negates fear, or are you going to throw your life fearing that event? Peter had two choices. So do we.
The shield of faith is constantly one of two choices we have in life. Either we can by faith, take God at His word. You say, which part? Did you know, the Bible says that the sword of the Spirit is the word of God. It doesn’t say which part of it is to be the sword of the Spirit to you. Any part of it is the sword of the Spirit. Jesus completely decimated the devil with three obscure verses from Deuteronomy 8. Satan is felled when we believe the word of God, that’s faith. Either we can follow Jesus, notice what it says in verse 19, Jesus “said to Peter, ‘follow me.’ ” That’s faith. Following Jesus requires faith because it goes against everything everyone else is doing in this world more and more. Follow Jesus by listening to Him.
How do we listen to Him? Through His word. He calls this, His word. He calls this, Him speaking to us by His Spirit through His word. We follow Him by listening to Him in the word, believing what He said, that is constituting the life of faith, which is following Him. It’s always hard. It’s walking in the Spirit. It’s paddling against the current of the world. We’ve talked about that so many times. You and I were launched into life going down a river where everyone else is going the same direction and no paddles are needed. The current takes you the right direction toward destruction, toward death, towards separation from God eternally, toward eternal punishment. That’s where the river is flowing, and everyone is going over the end in that cascade into a chasm of blackness of darkness. That’s life for everyone that’s ever lived, including us.
When we received Jesus Christ by faith, we start paddling against the stream and it gets really hard. People say, what are you doing? Your lifestyle makes me feel bad. You act like what I’m doing is wrong because you don’t do it. That’s why the world hates us. When we don’t go along with them we condemn them, and they hate us for that. They don’t want any lights on, they just want to float and have their life-long float until they crash into the chasm. We go against the world, and we deny our own flesh. By the way, in the canoe with us as we’re paddling is a trader, it’s our flesh and it doesn’t want to paddle. That’s why it’s so hard. It’s always hard to follow Christ. It’s always hard to live by faith. It’s always hard to take the word of God to resist the devil and my own fleshly desires. Here’s choice number one for Peter.
Choice number two, is to live by fear. Immediately we’re devoured by Satan because we listened to his lies and we doubt what God says. The real essence of the shield of faith is either we’re going to doubt what God says and immediately that doubt opens a way for Satan to devour us. He will keep giving us more lies. Then we will end up doubting God’s word, which is the only remedy to all of our prayers, the only source of hope. It’s always simple, by the way, to do this. This is our default setting; fear is a default setting. Why do you think the most repeated negative prohibition in the Bible is fear not? Fear is the opposite of faith and faith overcomes fear. Satan’s realm is fear and God’s realm is faith. The shield of faith is standing with God and believing any part of His revelation. That opens the way of us defeating the attack, the fiery darts, and all that Satan is doing. This is our default setting, fear is. It’s always simple, we just do nothing. We just float.
Did you know this morning, if in your Christian life you’re not doing anything, you’re floating and Satan is winning because if you’re not actively, aggressively, by choice, volitionally going into, feeding your soul the words, allowing you and me to hear His voice to know Him and to follow Him, then you’re floating. Whenever you float, the current takes you away from God. That’s the choice, every day. Faith, going against the world, my flesh, and the devil. Or fear, doing nothing, paralyzed, floating.
What did Peter do? Let’s go to the book of Peter really quick, because Peter is amazing. Look at 1 & 2 Peter. I just want to show you one verse in 1 Peter, and a couple of verses in 2 Peter. You’re in John and then Acts, Romans, and all of Paul’s epistles. Then, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter. There we go. 1 Peter. What did Peter do? When Peter was on death row, he was such a target for the devil. Remember Jesus said, you’re going to die a death you don’t want to die. They’re going to stretch out your arms, are going to take you where you don’t want to go. Peter became the most well-known Christian in the world. He became known as the rock upon which Christ was building His Church. People got all mixed up about that. He was considered the chief of the apostles. He was considered to be Christ’s right-hand man. He became a real target, so they hunted him down.
Here he is on death row. Think of being hunted down, arrested, and imprisoned. Then, think of all those days of waiting in prison wondering. Sleepless nights. Endless days. Think of separation from your family and friends, with no contact with anyone. Then, think of the day and being led out to execution. To be led out, to be nailed, and to actually say, I’d like to be nailed upside. Wow. What was it that we see in Peter’s life?
The shield of faith is trusting God’s word. Did Peter learn something after Jesus told him he was going to have this horrific, protracted, un-willing, murder’s kind of death? How did Peter do? Look at 1 Peter 1, verse 4. I love this. Actually, I’ll start in 3 and read verse 4. The words Peter used means so much to me that I distilled down, what I think the whole book of Revelation is about in the two words that are in verse 3. Look what it says. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a,” what? “Living hope.” Did you know that totally distills down what you and I are to be living out every day of our life? We’re supposed to be a living picture of hope in God. That we know God is working everything together for good. Everything around us, everything in our nation, everything in our life, everything in our health, everything in our family. God is actively, supernaturally, sovereignly orchestrating every event and we live in hope. He says, “to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
Look at his preparation, his shield of faith, his trusting God. Look what he says in verse 4, “to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in Heaven for you.” You know what Peter said? It doesn’t matter how they kill me; I have reservations. Peter had a shield of faith. He trusted God’s word. He knew when Jesus told him, don’t be afraid. I’m going “to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself.” I’m going to take you home. Peter believed that. It became in him, a shield of faith. Did you know, if we could have seen Peter walking out to be crucified the way God saw him it would’ve been a little different than what the Roman soldiers saw. They saw wizened, old, weathered, leather skinned fishermen man who was in his sixties.
Most people in the biblical times only live to be in their fifties. We know that because they’ve done an extensive archeology of the tombs, through the teeth, and found out the average age of most people in Christ time, lived into their fifties. If you were in your sixties, you were really old. If you were like Barzillai of Gilead and 80, you are really old. Peter was old and he looked old. When he walked out to be crucified, if you could have seen him, what you would have seen is a man that still had those shoes, those feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. He had those shoes of peace still on and he walked peacefully to his death. You would’ve seen a man who had his waist girded and truth was keeping his mind from going every direction. He was not thinking all kinds of crazy things. He still had on that breastplate of righteousness. There was a lot of marks of battle, of close-up battle, of him getting whacked and shot, but that breast plate was still shiny there. You would’ve seen that helmet on and there were many clear blows to that helmet where Satan had done his best to come up from behind and try to short circuit his assurance of salvation. I think the most amazing thing to have seen, as he walked to that cross, would have been to have seen that shield of faith. It would have been deeply scarred and filled with arrows because I’m sure that Satan was shooting him with many fiery darts. How could the Lord do this to you after you were the one right there? You were on the mount of transfiguration. You’re the one, oh boy, remember you’re the one that denied him. He was just shooting every kind of arrow of doubt and despair.
Peter said, in fact look what he said 2 Peter. Remember I told you there’s two passages. Look at 2 Peter chapter 1. This is just before this event. Peter is writing his very last words of his life as he is getting ready to become a prisoner of the emperor until he was executed. Look what he says in 2 Peter 1, it’s even clearer than in 1 Peter. He says in verse 12, “For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth.” He said, I’m just repeating stuff to you. “Yes, I think it’s right, as long as I am in this tent,” what does verse 13 say? What did he consider he was in? This what? Tent.
You know what Peter said? Life is camping, Heaven is home. Life is camping, Heaven is home. I’m just camping. I’m in a tent. The tent is wearing out. The tent is soon going to get pierced with nails, he is going to be crucified. He said, this is just my tent, Heaven is home. “As long as I’m in this tent,” verse 13, “to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent.”
I could talk about tents for a long time. My father used to lead expeditions. My father took groups by the dozens to the furthest north reaches of Canada. They would go two weeks solid, tracking northward, toward Hudson’s Bay. He would feed them all. He knew how to live off the land with large groups. They portaged, and hiked, and carried. When I got old enough, his rule was when I was old enough to see over grass that was knee-high about as high as this little this little bench right here. When I could see over, he said you’re old enough to come with me. I used to sleep at night with my toes on the bottom of the mattress and I would hold the headboard. I would try and go to sleep stretched out, hoping I would grow a little bit at night so I could be tall enough to see over the grass. No matter how much I would stretch, I never got any taller. I just got a backache. When I finally got to be this tall, he let me come on the first trip. I never wanted to go back, it was awful to live in that old tent and it was so uncomfortable. You couldn’t find a comfortable spot to lay in that tent because we just put it out in the Canadian Wilderness. He got up in the dark at four o’clock to go fishing and woke me up. Dragged me into the canoe with him because he had to catch enough fish to feed the two dozen, or 18, or however many he was feeding that day. He would fish starting at 4:00 AM. When it rained the tent dripped. Of course it dripped because I touched it and he told me not to touch it, but I touched it anyway, and it dripped on me all night long. I didn’t like camping. When my dad finally says hey, we’re going home. Oh man, you couldn’t hold me back. Who likes that old drippy, rough, painful, uncomfortable tent?
Look back. You know that shortly, verse 14, “I must put off my tent, just as the Lord Jesus Christ showed me.” He said, Jesus told me long ago I was going to have my tent taken off and I was going to stretch out my arms in a way I didn’t want to go. I was going to be carried somewhere I didn’t want to go. He said that’s soon to happen to me, but the shield of faith, I’m trusting God’s word. Earthly life is camping. It’s unpleasant. It’s uncomfortable. It’s hard. It’s very insecure. Anything comes through that tent. But Heaven is home and that’s where I’m going.
Peter, believe what Jesus said. Peter had that shield of faith. What we see from the Bible is that Satan has always wanted, from the original sin onward, to make us not trust God. The shield of faith was what? Believing God at His word is what God’s always wanted. What Satan has always wanted is for us to doubt God.
Real quick, let’s go back to Genesis 3. I want to talk about original sin and the shield of faith. I think you’ll see where we’re going. Peter overcame the devil, resisting him, by faith. What does the Bible say?
From the beginning, this is what Satan has done. Genesis 3. I’m going to go through the original four temptations that came to Eve in Genesis 3. Original sin was the first time the shield of faith was neglected. It’s the only way to resist Satan’s attack from the beginning. Have you ever noticed what led up to the original sin? It was Eve distrusting, mistrusting, and doubting God’s word that led all of us into disaster. Remember that. Doubting mistrusting, distrusting, God brought the whole human race through Eve sin and Adam joining in, went to all of us. We’re all sinners. Just as Satan’s temptation targeted Eve’s trusting God, so every fiery dart that comes our way follows the same course.
Look at Genesis 3:1-5. The first thing that the devil says in 3:1, “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field.” You might say, how do we know who this is? Revelation 12 and Revelation 20, both of them say that the serpent in the garden was Satan. This was not an amazing snake. It was an amazing creature that Satan used. “The serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said,’ “ Temptation number one, and it will be this way until Heaven. The primary thing Satan wants to do in every one of our lives by any means possible, whether it’s a professor, whether it’s a news article, whether it’s a disaster in our life, or whether it’s just something so enticing that we want it more than what God’s word says, we will doubt God’s word. What will happen is, we will start wondering, did God really say? Is His word really accurate? It might have a mistake. It might mean something different than it plainly says. Doubting God’s word. What Satan wants is for us to doubt God’s word. We doubt God’s word when we doubt God.
Satan wants us to believe God’s word is just like any other book, it’s nice, it’s helpful, it’s not absolute. Satan wants us to question God. If he can’t get us to do that, he wants us to avoid God’s word, or neglect God’s word, or whatever it takes to get us out of regular contact with God. The word is the truth about God. We only grow, we only commune, we’re only strengthened, the only thing that operates us is truth about God. This is His truth. It’s not general truth that only can take us so far. General revelation can only bring you up to the doorway, it can’t get you in. Specific, written, inspired revelation is all that gets us in. It’s all that keeps us going. Satan will do anything to get us distanced.
Do you know, what’s between the Bible and some people? Their hobby. What’s between the Bible and other people? Their athletics, maybe it’s their workout. Maybe it’s their social life. It’s what comes first, before God. Whatever is first on your list is most important and you will not neglect. I know people, that there are things in their life, they will not neglect. You know that about them. They are fastidious. They are religious about those things. God says this, you can either actively doubt God or passively doubt Him. Actively as, I don’t think it’s true, it’s historically wrong, it’s morally wrong, it’s whatever. That’s active disbelief. That’s not for most of us. Most of us, it’s passive disbelief. We don’t believe this is more important than anything else. We would rather do many other things. Think, in the last 168 hours of the last week, since we were last here, last Sunday, what has pushed God out of the way? Whatever, it is Satan’s tool to make you doubt God. Satan wants us to doubt. Whatever it takes to get us out of regular contact with God’s word.
Secondly, doubt God’s goodness. Notice what it says in verse 1. Not only he said, “Has God indeed said,” but he says did God really say, “You shall not eat of every tree?” Do you know what? This is a direct attack on whether God is good, whether God knows best. Whether God really has my best intentions. What Satan wants us to do is doubt God’s goodness. We doubt God when we doubt He’s good. Satan wants us to believe that God is trying to hold out on us. Satan wants us to believe God is robbing us of some good times or God’s out of touch with our needs. He is from a long time ago, needs have changed, and my needs are paramount. God isn’t good if He doesn’t want me to have that, or to do that, or that God missed that disaster we just went through. God isn’t good, He doesn’t know what I just went through. He wasn’t there. He messed up on how He made us. Many people feel that they, down deep, dislike who they are. They desperately want to be something or someone else. That’s this whole gender fluidity. Did you know, God designed us to the very basic DNA levels to be a specific person. We’re living in a culture where people don’t want to be what the God of the universe designed them to be. It’s just another, a new current, manifestation of rebellion against God’s goodness. He messed up on how He made us, or He means well, but He doesn’t quite have everything under control. Whatever it is, those are direct attacks on the character of God.
One of the greatest truths about God’s is the moral attribute we know as His goodness, that God is good. Satan said… he doesn’t say God isn’t good, he said… are you sure God is good? Did God really say that? Doubt His word, doubt His goodness.
Look at the next thing, in verse 4, His authority. Doubt God’s authority. He says in verse 4, “Then the serpent said to the woman,” Genesis 3:4, “You will not surely die.” This is doubting God’s authority. What Satan wants us to do is to doubt that God has authority. We doubt God when we doubt His authority. Satan wants us to believe God is not in charge. That’s where our culture’s going. Public opinion, polling, and finding what the majority say is what is becoming the new basis for authority. What the masses want, what the majority wants. God says, no. Even if everybody doesn’t agree, it’s true because I said it. God says you’re not in charge, I am. We doubt God’s authority when we say God isn’t interested in our choice, we’re in charge. No, you’re in charge when you’re driven by the sin and lust the flesh. God says you’re walking according to the course of this world, but when I save you, and you are bought at a price, then you’re supposed to obey Me. That’s what surrender is about, we keep going back.
In fact, I just did a wedding down at the other end of the building yesterday afternoon, it was really an amazing wedding. Many of you were there and it was so neat. I looked at the groom and I said, I want all of you to hold him accountable for this. He has got to start practicing the nine most important words in any relationship. They’re the same nine words that affects us with God. Did you know, I break fellowship with God and the only way back is to say, I was wrong. In other words, I sinned. I am sorry, I repent. Please forgive me. Those are the nine words they work in every marriage. I was wrong. I am sorry. Please forgive me.
If we’re in charge, we’re never wrong. We never have to say I was wrong; we never say I’m sorry, and we never need forgiveness. We’re in charge. We do it our way. God says, I’m going to make you accountable for your deeds. People who are in charge say, no, you’re not. I’m going to doubt your authority and then doubt your plan.
Look what it says in verse 5, the devil says, “For God knows that,” as soon as you start going my way instead of His way, and “you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God.” This is a promise of religion, that if you go religions way you’ll be like God. “Your eyes will be open.” We doubt God when we doubt his plan. Satan wants us to believe that there’s a better way to immortality. By the way, the newest one is, they’re downloading minds and they’re going to put them online, so you can live forever. They’re going to download your mind because the brain is basically electrical impulses. They’re going to put some kind of electrode back there, a matrix in the back. They’re going to suck out all the brain electric parts, and they are going to let people have immortality in cyberspace. Interesting. That’s the newest rendition of Satan’s idea. Satan wants us to believe that there is a better way to immortality than God’s way. An easier way, a quicker way to happiness.
Again, this is an attack on the very word of God and God’s word is sufficient. That’s one of the characteristics God has told us about His word. The sufficiency of God’s word means that everything God wants to tell us about how we should think about a particular doctrinal issue, or a particular moral situation is found in scripture. God has a wonderful and perfect plan revealed in His word. Every time we open His word, we hear His plan. The question is, how often do we open it?
Here’s the last point. God’s word, any part of it, any truth about God in a moment of temptation that we affirm, begins the process of extinguishing every part of Satan’s attack. Do you understand that it disrupts it? It sets Satan off balance when in the moment that we’re attacked in our minds we believe God, any part of His word. It immediately has us exercising faith, which always works. It extinguishes the fiery darts of the wicked one.
Let me just show you where we’re going to pick up next time, because I can’t finish this all. When we face pain God says, trust my wisdom, I’m bringing it into your life. Satan says, God isn’t really good, He shouldn’t make it painful. When we face sorrow God says, trust my love, I love you so much I won’t bring anything into your life not for ultimate good. Satan says, God doesn’t really care. When we face temptation God says, trust my timing. Most temptations are wanting things. We want to satisfy a legitimate desire, but we want to satisfy it in an illegitimate way, usually in a hurried way. We want it on our timing not God’s. Satan says, God doesn’t understand your needs, go ahead and do it. When we have some kind of a loss God says, trust my presence, I’m with you going through there. Satan says, God’s not strong enough to protect you against that loss. When we have sickness God says, trust my power, I’m the one that created your body, I know what’s going on. Satan says, God’s not really in control, he let that sickness come. When we have lust God says, trust my plans, I designed you for a purpose and I know all those desires, I’m the one that invented sexual desires. God says, trust my plans, follow my plans. Satan says, God doesn’t really want me to be happy.
Then we’ll come back to the specific verses. I’m going to share for the seven you’ve heard, of the seven mortal sins. There is a specific verse that addresses each one. We’re going to talk about how to, as Luther said, through one little word just fell him.
For us this morning, the shield of faith is the word of God. God’s word is a shield of faith, it always works. That’s why I wanted the little people, I wanted to see that they had the simplest first memorized. Did you know when you’re facing life and death situations, you can say God so loved me that He gave His only son. I’m never going to perish. That’s believing God’s word, faith in His word shields me from anything that Satan can put at me.
Let’s bow our heads for a word of prayer. As we bow the men are going to prepare the service communion. We’re going to have the most glorious ending to our fellowship Sunday service by celebrating communion together as those who are partaking of the shield of faith, the word of God.
Father in Heaven, we thank you for Peter who had a living hope. We thank you for Your word, which tells us Satan’s plan. He’s always going to be shooting at us, he knows where to shoot. Our pain, and our sorrow, and our loss, and our needs, and our longings. He inflames those to make us doubt Your word, Your goodness, Your plan, Your authority. I pray that we would, by faith, start laying hold of Your word. That we would make our daily time listening to Your voice and Your word a time when we start learning, and absorbing, and holding on to truth. We will see Satan banished from more and more areas that in the past he has inflamed in our lives. I pray this would be a communion of faith, that we would say we want You to increase our faith. Faith comes by hearing the word of God and this might be a communion when we say, I want to hear more of Your word and my life, so that Satan’s attacks will be more and more extinguished. Thank you for the bread, a picture of Your body that opened the door for life for us. May our worship of gratitude and thanksgiving rise before You now. In the precious name of Jesus we pray, Amen.
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