The Enemy Never Sleeps

Title: The Enemy Never Sleeps

Text: Matthew 2:1-23

Time: December 30th, 2006

The words of the famous church hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” reminds us of the fact that wherever God is active in our lives, the Devil becomes active in opposition too. “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; our helper He a mid the flood of mortal ills prevailing. For still our ancient foe, doeth seek to work us woe; his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate. On earth is not his equal. Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing. Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing. Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus it is he, Lord Sabaoth his name, from age to age the same. And He must win the battle. And though this world with devils filled, should threaten to undo us. We will not fear, for God hath willed his truth to triumph through us. The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not at him; His rage we can endure, for lo his doom is sure. One little word shall fell him.” Those lines capture the reality that as God works in our lives, so too the enemy the Devil tries to work against us in our lives. It has been that way since the beginning, in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. We see it happening in the story of the first Christmas with Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. God was doing a great and wonderful thing in the world, bringing about its salvation. But Satan was right there trying to work sin, evil, and destruction. It’s a reminder to all of us that our Christian lives will be a battle between the good and evil, between the power of God and the forces of darkness, the Devil. We are caught in the middle of this great battle; everyone is, but especially God’s people. In the first Christmas story we see Mary, Joseph, and Jesus caught up between the good of God and the bad of Satan. Right in the midst of the greatest blessing bestowed upon the earth: the birth of the Savior of all mankind, the enemy, Satan, was trying to destroy this great blessing before it could bring about salvation. And that’s the way Satan operates in our own lives today. Right when God is bringing about progress in our lives, Satan will come against us. Right as we are maturing in our spiritual existence, Satan will come against us with temptations to return to sin and selfishness. Just about the time when things are starting to go right, the Devil will try to direct things to go wrong. Just when we are being encouraged, Satan will try to deliver discouragement into our lives. The Devil trails and tracks God’s activity, counters God’s work, and sets up an opposition to every good thing from God. So we should expect that we will encounter this kind of opposition and not be surprised when it happens. It’s happened to Christians before us and will happen to Christians after us. But we aren’t alone in our battle against the enemy. Today, on the last day of the Christmas season 2006, let’s look at what Mary, Joseph, and Jesus encountered with the enemy and see what we can learn from it. Matthew 2:1-23 brings out three truths on this topic: first, when God is active, the Devil gets active; two, God protects his people from the enemy; three, the battle never ends in this life.

First, When God is active the Devil gets active too. Matthew 2:16-18, “When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious and he gave order to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.’” Have you ever noticed in your life that whenever God is moving powerfully, the Devil seems to perk up and start to move in some negative direction soon thereafter? If you start to make some spiritual progress in your life, the Devil will come after you with spiritual pride. God begins to answer some of your prayers and then Satan will put into your head that you are somehow special to God above that of other Christians, or some such foolishness. Or God helps you resist a certain temptation, and then the Devil puts into your head to look down upon those weak souls that haven’t yet conquered some similar temptation. We see that with people who break the smoking habit or alcohol, sometimes they start to criticize and look down upon those who still can’t seem to break the nicotine or alcohol. Yes, these are nasty habits, but beating these things by God’s help is no excuse for pride, because there are plenty of sins that we all still need to triumph over, so there is no room for pride, in anyone. During that first Christmas story, the birth of the Savior happened, one of the greatest blessings the world has ever experienced. The window of salvation had just been opened in the birth of the Christ child, but just as soon as it happens we see Satan make his move too. He puts into the mind of King Herod a devilish paranoia. Satan had already been working through Herod for many years, working evil in many ways, but in this instance, the Devil wanted to use him to destroy the Savior Jesus. We all know what happened: Herod sent soldiers to Bethlehem to kill the baby Jesus, and just to make sure the Messiah child was dead, Herod told the soldiers to kill all the one and two year old male babies. That’s cruel and evil. We just heard the news that the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was executed for war crimes. Herod and Hussein would have gotten along great because they both followed the same evil inspiration. Satan finds evil people and uses them as his instruments to work death and destruction on earth. Beware in your own life of the evil of the enemy. Just about the time things are going right in some area, Satan will come into that area and try to mess things up, tear the good down. We shouldn’t be surprised by this; he’s been doing it all of recorded history. But we must be more aware of the enemy; he’s aware of us. But thank God we have help against the enemy.

Second, God protects his people from the enemy. Matthew 2:13-15, “When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’ So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’” This scene just described in the passage is dramatically portrayed in the new movie out in the theaters called, “The Nativity.” I had the opportunity to see this new movie last week while visiting my parents in Michigan over the Christmas break. In the movie, it shows Herod sending his troops into Bethlehem, and while they are on their way, it shows Mary, Joseph, and Jesus sleeping at night. While the troops are storming towards Bethlehem on their warhorses with swords and spears to kill all the newborn children, the movie shows Joseph receiving the warning to leave from the angel. It then shows him waking up his wife Mary in order to leave immediately. The movie shows the soldiers racing through Bethlehem slaughtering the children and when they get to where Jesus was born they burst in and find – nothing except some animals sleeping and a single piece of cloth, a piece of the swaddling cloth used for Jesus, but they don’t know that, so they leave. God had protected Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, as He will all of us who depend on him. If you ever needed a motivation to pray, here it is: because there is an enemy out there who wants you dead, who wants to ruin you, destroy you in every way. Satan wants to destroy your health, your mind, your soul, your family, your marriage (married couples hear this, because it’s a great danger), and everything and anything he can get of your life he will destroy. Prayer is our way of learning God’s way of dealing with the enemy in our life. If we don’t pray, we’ll pay the price – we’ll be defenseless against evil, we won’t know the plan of escape, we will be fighting our battles only in our own strength. Bible reading becomes very important when you consider it our field guide to going through enemy-occupied territory. If we don’t read the Bible every day we’ll either never know the way, or we’ll forget the way through the battlefield of life. Daily Bible study and prayer tell us where the land mines are and how to avoid them. If we don’t stay in touch with God on a daily basis we will be picked off like soldiers in an open field by an enemy sniper hiding. If we look around we’ll see life after life ruined, destroyed by the enemy; some people don’t even know what hit them. We don’t have to be like that. God can bring about our deliverance from evil, like he did for Mary, Joseph, and Jesus that first Christmas. God will deliver us, but we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking the battle is over.

Third, The battle never ends in this life. Matthew 2:19-23, “After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.’ So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he want to live in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophet: ‘He will be called a Nazarene.’” We see here that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus had escaped round one with the Devil, but it wasn’t the end of the contest. While they had escaped evil Herod, they were now faced with his evil son who was also a threat. And that’s just how life is for you and me: we face an attack by the enemy, God delivers us out of it, and pretty soon we are faced with another assault by Satan. That’s typical for the Christian life, that’s par for the course as golfer’s say. According to Luther’s hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” it says, “And though this world with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,” and that’s correct. It seems that just as we are out of one battle we encounter another one. Satan attacks us in our bodies, in our minds, in our souls, in our families, our marriages, our jobs, our homes, our finances, our relationships with others, and in countless ways. Just about when God has brought deliverance in one area, Satan will attack in another area, and so it goes. That’s why, again, prayer is so important, daily prayer, serious prayer, focused prayer. That’s why daily Bible study is so important. We don’t read the Bible to just learn information; we read it to make it through the battle’s of life, to survive the enemy’s attacks. Church isn’t just a place to see family and friends every week; it’s a fort in enemy territory where we learn how to survive the rest of the week in hostile environments. If we skip it, then we lose survival training, and that loss might come back to hurt us in the real world during the week. The enemy might pick us off because we didn’t know how to defend ourselves, because we didn’t go to training. But we also need encouragement in the battle; church is for that also. We also need healing because sometimes we ourselves get injured in the battle of life against the enemy; church is for healing too. Church, prayer, Bible study, etc. all fits together if we recognize life as a battle against the enemy. How are you doing in the battle against the enemy? Are you even conscious that you are in a war? If you are, are you cautious and careful how you walk? Do you stay in touch daily with your Commander, God? Are you reading the charts, the intelligence reports, and the field guide, the Bible? Do you need to re-dedicate yourself to the basics of the Christian life once again for the New Year 2007? What a great time to enlist on God’s side and get the basic training to win the battle!

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One Response to “The Enemy Never Sleeps”

  1. What Should You GoSee? » Blog Archive » Mommy Get-Together « the Wonderful World of Mier Says:

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