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Friday, November 28, 2008

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Enemy at the Gates

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10).

There is an enemy at our gates.  He wants to come into our lives and do as much damage as he possibly can in whatever way he can.  Jesus says that he is out to steal and kill and destroy, but if that doesn't cover everything, I'm sure that it would not be wrong to expand the list.  Satan has no good planned for us.  None.  In fact he has only evil continually on his mind.  Lying, accusing, tempting, stealing, destroying and killing are the things with which he fills his days.  Since "bad company corrupts good character" (1 Corinthians 15:33), it is probably a bad idea to hang out with this fallen angel or even give him the time of day.

I am amazed at how many of us, and how often I too, do the unthinkable and give him the key to the gate.  He comes knocking with some particular suggestion or tactic, something that he is trying to peddle like some awful door-to-door huckster, and I commit the fatal mistake of letting him into the house, even if only inside the door.  Maybe he wants you and me to "buy" a little justified anger, or pride, or some small misrepresentation of the truth, a lustful look, or some bitterness that we feel we deserve.  He doesn't really care what it is that he gets us with as long as it does damage.  It sounds so good, so justified or so appealing, and we forget that, "He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks his native language, for his is a liar and the father of lies" (John 8:44).  Jesus told a parable about robbing someone's house and how if you want to do that, you must bind the strongman (he was actually talking about us robbing Satan's house, see Matthew 12:29) how often do we allow Satan to do to us what we are supposed to do to him?  And it all starts with embracing even the least little bit of temptation.  Sin is serious business.  In doing so, we allow the enemy to walk right through the front gate.  We give him the keys to our life.  And I have to ask myself, in the natural world, would I give a thief, a murderer, maybe a rapist, an arsonist or vandal the keys to my house and invite him to come on in and live with me and my family?  Is that not what we do in the spiritual realm?  And he comes in, ties us up, and takes what he will.  We gave him permission.

If we are able to stand strong at our gate, he will try to sneak in some other way (see John 10:1).  He will look for the places where our spiritual walls are weak or broken down and he will climb in that way.  However he gets in, the end result is the same.  He comes to steal, kill and destroy remember.  Have you ever noticed that temptation always comes to us in our weakest areas or at the times when we are beat up, tired and most vulnerable?  The enemy has somehow breached the walls and we give in rather than resist or fight.  Why are our walls (not the kind that keep people at a distance) weak and broken?  Maybe because we have not paid attention to the battle being fought and repaired the walls.  We have not cared about our defenses or thought that it really didn't matter that much if we weren't really making it in one particular area.  Our enemy the devil prowls around our walls looking for a way in so that he may devour us (see 1 Peter 5:8).  We need to be sober and alert and pay attention to the realities around us.  "Resist him, standing firm in the faith" (1 Peter 5:9).  Again, he cannot come in and do damage unless we create for him the opportunity.

God convicted me about something.  I was quoting this verse to justify the bad things that happened in my life.  Something negative would happen and I would say something like, that's understandable, the thief comes to steal and kill and destroy after all.  And I would long for the abundant life that Jesus promised.  The problem is, the two things can't coexist.  If we want the abundant life, we must shut out the thief and neither allow him in by the gate or to come in some other way.  We don't have to let him!  It is not inevitable.  In fact, the abundant life should be the only inevitability.  Wow!  The fact that I was not experiencing every thing that Jesus wanted to give me was not his fault and it was not Satan's fault.  I was the one responsible.  I had bought the lie.  How about you?

I'm taking my key back.  We have the authority to do that.  When Satan comes to the door, I simply will not open it and tell him to leave.  I don't want what he is selling.  It is an inferior product.  And I will look to my life and the condition of my walk with God and make sure that there are no breaks in the wall, no places where it would be easy for the enemy to sneak in and attack.  Will we ever be rid of the enemy at the gates?  Not until the final battle and he is tied up forever.  But in my house, I will bind this strongman, in the power and authority of Jesus who defeated him at the cross, so that I can really walk in the abundant life that Jesus came to bring.  Jesus is the good shepherd and he is the gate and the only voice that I want to listen to.  James says,

"Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and he will come near to you" (James 4:7-8).

"If God is for us, who can be against us? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us" (Romans 8:31, 37).

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