The Voice of Accusation Vs. Conviction

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After my sermon this past weekend (March 11/12), I got a huge amount of feedback about how helpful it was. Which is always encouraging – it was a good Sunday afternoon! Thank you!

But, I’ve also received this question a few times since then: How can you tell the difference between the voice of the accuser, and the voice of God convicting you of sin? Well, the answer is actually pretty easy…

Accuser: “You are wrong.”
God: “That choice was wrong.”

Accuser: “You are so bad.”
God: “That wasn’t right.”

Accuser: “See, you’re so worthless. Why bother trying?”
God: “You are pure, holy and blameless. You don’t need to live that way anymore.”

Are you seeing the difference? Satan accuses you – of you. God convicts you – not of you, but of sin and your calling to live into who you really are.

So, when God convicts us, it’s of our actions, not of our personal value or worth to Him. When the accuser accuses us, he takes our actions and then says that they are what determine our value and worth. 

God doesn’t guilt, He convicts. So, when you feel weighed down with guilt, shame and worthlessness, that isn’t from God. The difference is, when God convicts me of my sin (which is often), I know I’ve done something wrong. When Satan accuses me, I feel that I am intrinsically wrong.

The other thing to watch for is the outcome of the “conviction/accusation.”
With the accuser, his voice always leads to depression, shame, silence and despondency (or inaction). With God, His conviction leads to repentance, which literally means “changed behaviour” – a different way to live. With the accuser, his voice causes us to run from God – we hide (i.e. look at Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden). With God, His conviction leads to a greater reliance on Him and a desire to follow Him, knowing that He is faithful and just to cleanse us from every single wrong.

So, Satan tries to tempt us into believing our life is based on what we do (or fail to do). But, Christ has already done everything and so God’s conviction is based on living fully in that reality, not trying to earn it. 

May you hear God’s Spirit this week clearly, closely and personally, and may you not give the voice of the accuser the time of day.

Humility and the Devil

anybody-listening-1563751-639x852On Sunday we are going to be exploring James 4.

James 4 has lots of wonderful things within it, and also lots of challenging things. The area I want to focus on is this verse:

“So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you”. (James 4:7-8)

I want to focus in on how we can draw close to God, on how we can be free from Satan – the source of accusation, fear, and separation. I want to look at how we can find life by moving closer to God.

The trouble is that to do this we need to admit that we need God. And admitting our failures is something most people struggle with, myself included. I don’t like to think that I’m broken, flawed, or in need of much. I don’t like putting myself in places where my lack of knowledge will be revealed – which is why I never go to hardware stores or near tools. But the truth is that we all have flaws, and that there is a beautiful promise of God. That if we would but humble ourselves, admit our need, move away from fear and guilt of the devil, towards God, we will find him drawing closer and closer.

And I’m not sure about you, but this is something that I want in my life.

So why not join with us on Sunday to discover how it can happen in yours.

The Art of Spiritual War

1360591_36771804On Sunday we looked at the topic of what are the strategies of the enemy? We launched from Ephesians 6, and 2 Cor 2:11 where we read, “Do not be unaware of the Devil’s schemes”. So to discover the schemes of the enemy we turned to explore 3.

In Genesis we see a pretty clear strategy of the Devil. The first thing he does in Genesis 3 is to confuse what God has already made clear. He asks Eve “has God really said that you can’t eat any of the fruit from the trees in garden?” But this is not what God has said. God has said simply don’t eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

And so the enemy starts to confuse Adam and Eve (because Adam was there), and to confuse what God has told clearly. And once he starts to confuse on little things, he starts to deceive on bigger things. He has a conversation with Eve where confusion seems to be pretty prominent. Eve says that God has told her she can’t eat or even touch the fruit. Again though God has said nothing about touching the fruit, and the lies and deception of the serpent seem to continue to confuse. Eventually the writer says that Eve was convinced and ate the fruit because she thought it would make her wise. So Adam and Eve do a wrong action, out of good intentions. They think it will make them wise, but that’s because they believed a lie from the enemy.

So from this short passage we discerned that the primary activity of the enemy is to lie, confuse, and deceive. Jesus says essentially the same thing in John 8:44 where he writes, “The devil was a murderer from the beginning and has always hated the truth. There is no truth in him. When he lies it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and father of lies”

That’s the scheme of the enemy: to lie.

To make it practical we then examined 10 common lies and tactics of the enemy. These 10 tactics came from a really old book by Thomas Brookes called, “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices” (which you can read for free here: http://www.preachtheword.com/bookstore/remedies.pdf

The 10 we looked briefly at were these:

  • Tactic 1: Presents the bait and hides the hook. Here the enemy shows the fun of sin, but doesn’t show us the consequences of sin
  • Tactic 2: Paints Sins with Virtues Color. Here the enemy makes bad actions seem good. For example people refuse to forgive, because they believe in truth that much. Or I’m not stingy or ungenerous, I’m a good steward.
  • Tactic 3: Presenting God to the soul as One made up all of mercy. Here the enemy reminds us of the grace of God, so we can sin, it’s no big deal he might say. But doesn’t remind us that sin has consequences.
  • Tactic 4: By Polluting Judgment. Here often leaders use all their good deeds as excuses to sin. For example, “I put in lots of hours, who cares if I pad my expense report a bit”.
  • Tactic 5: By Showing the Outward Joys of Those Who Sin. This is where the enemy seems to point to all the joy, money, and fun people who are greedy, or disregard God’s direction have. What he doesn’t show us is again the consequences and inner turmoil.
  • Tactic 6: Causing us to compare ourselves with those who think are worse. Here the enemy encourages us to think our personal sins aren’t that bad, look at so and so. So we relativize sin rather than deal with it.
  • Tactic 7: Causing us to remember our sins more than our Saviour. Here he causes us to look at our sins so much we think we are worthless and we forget to look to our Saviour.
  • Tactic 8: Reminding us of Sins Confessed and Dealt With. Here the enemy reminds us of all the sins we’ve previously dealt with and he still tries to condemn us for them.
  • Tactic 9: Causing us to think of difficulties as punishments. Here he causes us to believe that difficulties must be punishments from God. And we fall for the lie that God is out looking for sin to punish.
  • Tactic 10: Causing us to think our Salvation isn’t secure. And lastly, he convinces us that when we struggle that we must not be “real Christians” or that we aren’t really part of God’s family.

So that’s where we went on Sunday examining the tactics of the enemy. Next week we will be looking at how to overcome them. But the first step to overcoming them is to recognize them.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Satan is a liar

Take Aways…

  • “Beliefs about Satan are a matter of debate, but the experience of Satan is a brute and terrifying fact” Walter Wink
  • “Do not be unaware of the Devil’s schemes” 2 Cor. 2:11
  • The enemy confuses what God has made clear
  • The enemy combines good intentions with bad actions
  • The main strategy of the devil is to lie
  • Tactic 1: Presents the bait and hides the hook (Doesn’t show the consequences)
  • Tactic 2: Paints Sins with Virtues Color (Making bad actions looks good)
  • Tactic 3: Presenting God to the soul as One made up all of mercy (Reminding us of mercy but not the consequences of Sin)
  • Tactic 4: By Polluting Judgment (Using our good deeds as an excuse to sin)
  • Tactic 5: By Showing the Outward Joys of Those Who Sin (Showing us the “fun” of sin without any of the inner difficulty or consequence)
  • Tactic 6: Causing us to compare ourselves with those who think are worse
  • Tactic 7: Causing us to remember our sins more than our Savior
  • Tactic 8: Reminding us of Sins Confessed and Dealt With
  • Tactic 9: Causing us to think of difficulties as punishments
  • Tactic 10: Causing us to think our Salvation isn’t secure

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was new, what was challenging? What are you thoughts about the tactics of the enemy? Has there ever been a time where the enemy confused you of something God told you clearly? What happened? Looking over the tactics of the enemy, which ones do you struggle with? Which ones has he used on you? Who might be able to help you to stand strong against the tactics of the enemy? How might they help you, and what can you do to ensure they do? Are you reading your Bible to centre yourself in the truth? If so what has God taught you lately? If not how can you start to read the Bible – what do you need to do? Discussion Questions for Young Families: Take sometime to talk to your kids about today’s topic. Remind them about some of the themes. Share with them how God is always full of forgiveness, but wrong choices have consequences. Remind them how we are always valuable in God’s eyes always. Challenge for this Week: Spot the lie and Stand Strong