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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Recognizing the Lies of the Enemy- Purpose Series Week 3

Bible references: Matthew 4:1-11; Genesis 3:1-5
Sometimes it seems like purpose leads us to a place where we feel deserted and the dryness can be overwhelming. Sometimes we also feel like evil seems to be prevailing and we are plagued with questions like:

Why do bad things happen to good people ?
Does God inflict us with afflictions?
Does God allow evil prevail in some situations and why doesn't he stop it if He has the power to?

This week, I'll introduce us to Providence and segue into how we can recognize the enemies' lies. Then we will, hopefully look deeper into providence again next week to wrap this series up.
Divine providence is the act of providing for or sustaining and governing the universe by God. This implies that God has every single thing under His control; not just the lives of people who believe in Him but even people who don't.
"He is not a passive participant in a world that exists without his sustaining it. Wherever God is looking, God is acting. If God perceives, he performs. If he inspects, he effects. "- John Piper, Article on the Providence of God
Now, before we are able to answer the questions stated above, we need to first make sure we are reinforced in our knowledge of the Character of God. As humans, we judge a person based on their character. For example, a man is known for His honesty at work and that's his brand name; the first thing that comes to mind at the mention of his name is his integrity. Then say there's been some type of dishonesty with finances at work and the man happens to be tied to it. Most people will agree that there's been some type of disconnect somewhere because the man's character simply does not match up with the action he is being accused of. Hence, there has to be more to the accusation.
Having an in depth knowledege of God's character and believing without a shadow of doubt shields us from lies the enemy tends to throw at us.

How do we recognize that we are being caught up in the lie of the enemy? - When there's a disconnect between God's character and the actions that the enemy tends to accuse Him of.

The Character of God (Resources taken from the Parent Company website: http://www.parentcompany.com/awareness_of_god/aog4.htm)

God is Immutable (Malachi 3:6)- The perfection of God by which He is devoid of all change in essence, attributes, consciousness, will, and promises. Since He doesn't change, I will look at my life and see where I have deviated from the path He wants me to follow. 

God is Truth (John 17:17; Deuteronomy 32:4) - The concept of truth is derived from the character of God, and is the exact opposite of the concept of lying. "It is impossible for God to lie."Since it is impossible for God to lie we know that everything He says about what will happen will actually take place.

God is love (1 John 4:16)- The very nature of God, and the greatest of the Christian virtues. God loves us more than we can ever know. However, His love for us is to fill us so much that it overflows from us to others, so they can begin to know and experience God's love. Yes, He sent His Son to die for us, but He did so for others as well.

God is Holy (Psalm 145:17)- To be holy means to be separate from evil. The holiness of God is directly related to His righteousness, God alone is to be worshiped. He alone is separate from evil, but He tells us to be holy like Him.

God is Omnipresent (Psalm 139:8)- The attribute of God by which He fills the universe in all its parts and is present everywhere at once. Not a part, but the whole of God is present in every place.

God is Omniscient (Psalm 145: 4-5)- The attribute of God by which God perfectly and eternally knows all things which can be known, past, present, and future. God knows how best to attain His desired ends.

God is Omnipotent (Jeremiah 32: 17,27; Revelation 19:6)- The attribute of God which describes his ability to do whatever He wills. God's will is limited by His nature, and He therefore cannot do anything contrary to His nature as God, such as to ignore sin, to sin, or to do something absurd or self-contradictory. God is not controlled by His power, but has complete control over it; otherwise He would not be a free being.

So from our reading today, can you try to see the disconnect in the character of God and the devil's lies? 
First, in the reading from Matthew, we see the enemy take our Lord through 3 stages. At every stage, His lie was targeted at disputing God's providence. 

First Temptation
Temptation- Turning stones to bread
Lie- Disproves Christ being the true son of God and attacks his dependence on God
Characters of God that nullify this lie - God is love, God is omnipresent, God is truth, God is spirit (Triunal nature of God) 
Second Temptation
Temptation- Jumping off a pinnacle
Lie- Manipulation by using words inspired by God's Holy Spirit ( Scripture) to make him look like a liar
Characters of God that nullify this lie - God is love, God is truth

Third Temptation
Temptation- Offered splendor with a condition of Him worshiping him
Lie- He insinuates that there's a part of the universe God doesn't own and that His power is limited
Characters of God that nullify this lie - God is omnipotent, God is omniscient

When we contrast the temptation of Christ in the wilderness with the temptation of eve, we see it is the same approach of manipulation and disconnecting God's character from reality. The only difference is the response n the two cases. While Eve failed to bring back that connection in God's character, Christ was able to see this and rebuke the enemy and his lies immediately.
This is exactly what our response should be as Christians and the implication of this is that, we cannot at any point let ourselves be ignorant of the true nature and character of God because the devil is too intelligent for us to lose track of that. Most of the time, these lies come in the most subtle form. He is a very persistent creature and he will continue to bury us in lies until we recognize it and rebuke him like Christ did.

Thought for the week: How do we recognize that we are being caught up in the lie of the enemy? - When there's a disconnect between God's character and the actions that the enemy tends to accuse Him of or the way he paints God to us in our adversities.
Let's go into the week asking God for the Spirit of discernment to recognize the lies the enemy has thrown into our lives and ask for the grace to nullify them with the truth of God's well.

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