Seen On a Church Sign
When the Devil Brings Up the Past, Bring Up His Future
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
As we learn in 1 Peter 5:8:
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
Satan is prowling the earth, not only seeking to stand in the way of non believers coming to a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, but also seeking to devour and destroy those who do possess a saving relationship with Him. We know this is true, as we see warning after warning directed towards believers by the inspired writers of Scripture. Besides Peter above, the Apostle Paul had some warnings for us too.
2 Corinthians 2:11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
What is Satan hoping to accomplish? Why does he attack believers? Well, we know clearly he does not come after us in order that we might lost our saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ; we are secure in that eternally and nothing can take if from us if it is really ours. Here is a pretty good list of things which can never separate us from the love of Jesus Christ, and His salvation:
Romans 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
That’s pretty comprehensive, right? What can take our salvation away? Nothing can! But Satan wants us to think we can forfeit it. When Paul speaks of the helmet of salvation in Ephesians 6:17, he is likely referring to the assurance of our salvation. That helmet of assurance protects us from Satan’s tactic of making us want to doubt our salvation.
Satan’s primary tool is guilt. Now, understand that guilt is not a bad thing. We all feel guilt arising out of the conscience which God gave us. It is guilt, or conviction, of our transgressions which is the first step in our coming to faith. It is our understanding of our need for a Savior that brings us to the Savior in the first place. So, guilt in and of itself is not a bad thing.
Do we feel guilt, and should we once we are saved? Well, that depends! We certainly do not bear any guilt in terms of concern for impending eternal punishment for the things we have done, or even the things we will do in the future. We are not on, as one writer put it, on “eternal probation” with God, constantly striving to prove ourselves to Him. This mindset might be termed false guilt. Is there true guilt? Sure there is. We call that conviction. On one hand, as we covered, conviction may ultimately lead to salvation. Conviction also matters in our daily walk with The Lord as well. We don’t become sinless, perfect people upon our salvation; our complete sanctification is a lifelong project. We will sin. Our sins, however, are between us and God. Honest confession and repentance for our sins likely will be part of our daily lives until Jesus comes back or we are called home.
If Satan cannot wrest us away from God in terms our permanent relationship with Him, then what is his goal? Why bother? It’s really very simple. While our sin will never separate us from God’s permanent forgiveness of our sins, that sin can certainly interfere with our daily fellowship with God, our connection to Him, and our work for Him. The solution to even that, however is simple. When we sin, we must confess it to God and seek His forgiveness; He will then restore us to full fellowship with Him:
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The key here is that this is between us and God, not us and The Devil. Satan desperately wants us to believe he is some how involved in this process, but he is not. Satan hates God, and he hates God’s people. Even though he knows he can never snatch us from the hands of God, Satan will do anything in his power to hinder God’s work on this earth.
How does he accomplish this? It’s fairly easy to explain really. Satan want us to dwell on our past sins, and doubt our standing with God because he wants us to remain fixated on ourselves. He wants us to forget about Grace and concentrate on works. And there is nothing wrong with works, as they should be the natural outflow of a born again person. God expects us to work, but we are not expected to work to save ourselves or keep ourselves saved. Our works should be the plan God has for us, and not the things we, or some other person, think we have to do to stay in God’s grace. The plan is God’s plan. It is not ours, the churches, some pastor’s, or any plan created by any person.
Why is Satan so angry and why does he want to interfere so much? Surely he knows how this all works out, right? Of course he does! Satan has the same information we have, and that is God’s Word as revealed in Scripture. We often like to say we have read the end of the book, and God wins. Well, Satan has read the end of the Book, and he loses.
It has been said that it doesn’t matter so much how one starts the race, but how one finishes. That is certainly a true statement, and one the Devil would love for us all to forget. The past is the past. If we are saved believers, then God has chosen to no longer remember any of the things we have done. In fact, He has also forgotten in advance the sins we may still commit! That makes us free. We are free to no longer worry about the penalty or any eternal punishment for our failure to meet God’s expectations. Now, we can concentrate on fulfilling God’s plan for our lives and communing with Him through prayer, study, and meditating on His Word.