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Monday, September 21, 2020

OUR THREE ENEMIES: PERSECUTION By Satan, the Flesh and the World

~ By pastors James Fire, Albert Lopez and Sonny Islas

The disciple of Christ upon entering into the kingdom of GOD as a citizen, via the born again experience through faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, becomes an instant target for the great enemy of GOD, the church and humanity in general. He employs every means at his disposal to ruin the Christian, whether directly, or by his influences over the world and the lures and enticements our sinful flesh is attracted to.
Just as we have these three enemies to face on a daily basis (Satan, the flesh and the world), we have three Allies as well: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Let’s examine each of these three enemies and learn of them – because to know your enemy in any warfare is always wise. Included in the study of these three enemies, there is an accompanying Facebook video at the end of this article.
Persecution by the World – by pastor James Fire
The Wicked World of the Wicked One

JOHN 15:18-19
18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you
.

The spirit of the world is at odds with the Spirit of GOD and with those in whom the Spirit of GOD dwells – the saints of GOD. Remember that the word ‘saint’ comes from the same Greek root word for sanctify or holiness – hagios. It means consecrated, set apart; we are not “of the world” but set apart from the world by being chosen by GOD. We’re different because we are a holy people unto the LORD and they are sinful rebels against the LORD. It is the light of the LORD that shines out from our lives, and reveals the difference between us and the world, and for that reason, the world hates us, just as it hates the LORD:

A sinner may hate you and persecute you all by themselves, but what if they were joined by another sinner? Twice as much hate and persecution. What if there were not two but twenty? Or two hundred, or two thousand? What about 200 million?
That’s a lot of social pressure! The world will not rest until we are all in conformity with their way of thinking and acting! This is why it states in ROMANS:

ROMANS 12:1-2
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed
[that is, don’t be molded, shaped by the external pressures of] to this world: but be ye transformed [or changed by internal power that works outwardly until all is changed by the Spirit of GOD] by the renewing of your mind [this is the battlefield: whatever your mind yields to, conforms to, will govern your life! 
So by the Spirit of GOD, let us yield to the LORD as living sacrifices and thus] . . . prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Consider that this world is full of sinners who hate GOD, who hate His Word, hate the Truth of the Scriptures as well as those that stand for it and for the LORD? 

EPHESIANS 2:1-3
And you He [has made alive] quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air [Satan], the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our [lifestyle] conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others
.
“BUT GOD…” as it says in vs. 4-6 saved us, brought us to new life and placed us positionally with Christ in the heavenlies. 

1 JOHN 4:4-6
4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. 5 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. 6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error
.

This is why we need never fear the world and its power, and what it could do to us, because we are of GOD and have overcome them, because the LORD Who is in us is greater than all the world, has overcome the world, including the one at the top of that evil heap: Satan.

JOHN 16:33
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world
.

Satan has something on everyone to trip them up and fall due to those sinful tendencies, inclinations, and attractions that he is intimately aware of and makes us vulnerable to his attacks. All of us that is, except for One:

JOHN 14:30
Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me
. The devil “got nuthin’ on JESUS! He is Holy and Righteous; completely Invulnerable and Incorruptible! 

Concerning the prince of the power of the air, and this “spirit that works in the children of disobedience” – these slaves of sin and Satan, blind and ignorant are enslaved by the ‘god of this world’ as it states in 2 COR 4:3-4
3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them
.

This is why we must pray – not share the Gospel only, because the light of the Gospel on its own will fall on blinded eyes: we must also pray for these lost souls that persecute us (MATT 5:44). And what do we pray?

ACTS 26:18 – that the LORD will. . .
18 . . .open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me. (see also COL 1:13).

You know as well as I do how this Rebel Planet got into such a state; we read about it in GENESIS already – in Chapter 3, when Eve fell for Satan’s temptation, and her husband Adam followed suit. GOD placed Adam as the steward over this world and when he disobeyed the LORD and followed Satan’s advice instead, the stewardship left the First Adam and went to Satan as the ruler (or “god”) of this world (2 COR 4:4).

You might be confused by an apparent contradiction in the Scriptures because it does say in PSALM 24:1
The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein
.

The Earth does in fact belong to its Maker, because He is the One Who made it! But it’s just under different, devilish management right now! This management is by the standard of fallen mankind, quite acceptable to him, where might makes right, the strong prey upon the weak, the cheaters and deceivers are the ones that get ahead, where oppression is the modus operandi.

You will notice at the temptation of Christ that He endured while fasting 40 days in the wilderness, what Satan said to the LORD when he offered all of the world – not part, but all of the world to Him:

LUKE 4:5-7
5 And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me;
[through Adam’s fall] and to whomsoever I will I give it. 7 If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.

That’s pretty offensive, bold and daring, offering GOD something if He would just bow down and worship His teensy, rebellious creature – about as daring and bold and offensive as mankind, when he worships himself as a god, instead of the true and living GOD! But that’s what this world is full of: a bunch of self-serving, self-worshiping ‘gods’ who rule their own lives, instead of worshiping the Holy and True GOD Who gave them their life to begin with, Who they should surrender their lives to!

And GOD made flesh, Who Scripture refers to as “the last Adam” (1 COR 15:45) has taken back what “the first Adam” lost to Satan. Now, I think I know what you’re thinking: “taken back? He took it back already? Sure doesn’t look like it to me!”

The truth of the matter, however, is that He did purchase this world back, He already redeemed it at the cross, by shedding His blood. You see, when Christ shed His blood, it wasn’t just to redeem our souls, but also this Rebel Planet.

The LORD revealed this in His parable of the sower of the seed; in MATT 13:38, He states that “the field is the world” and later in vs. 44, it states that the man gave all that He had to purchase that field. This is further demonstrated in the book of REVELATION:

REVELATION 5:6-7
6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. 7 And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne
.

Time doesn’t permit me to get into the details of this book, but it’s basically a title-deed to the Earth, and the only One Who was worthy, Who alone claimed the right to open this title deed – was not the god of this world system (Satan); he’s no where to be found in this scene! It was the Lamb of GOD Who was slain for our redemption and that of this fallen world! So He has redeemed the Earth but hasn’t yet claimed it – but He will upon His return, and the illegal ruler, this satanic squatter will be evicted and all who follow him!

As with the wicked, so too with the Wicked One, all of which are full of pride and arrogance – they shall all suffer the same fate at their ruler, Satan as it states in JOB, the fate of all the wicked:

JOB 18:5-8,9-18
5 Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine. 6 The light shall be dark in his tabernacle, and his candle shall be put out with him. 7 The steps of his strength shall be straitened, and his own counsel shall cast him down. 8 For he is cast into a net by his own feet, and he walketh upon a snare. 10 The snare is laid for him in the ground, and a trap for him in the way. 11 Terrors shall make him afraid on every side, and shall drive him to his feet.
12 His strength shall [suffer lack], and destruction shall be ready at his side. 13 It shall devour the strength of his skin: even the firstborn of death shall devour his strength. 14 His confidence shall be rooted out of his tabernacle, and it shall bring him to the king of terrors. 15 It shall dwell in his tabernacle, because it is none of his: brimstone shall be scattered upon his habitation. 16 His roots shall be dried up beneath, and above shall his branch be cut off. 17 His remembrance shall perish from the earth, and he shall have no name in the street. 18 He shall be driven from light into darkness, and chased out of the world
.

1 JOHN 2:15-16
15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world
.

But aren’t we supposed to love the world? After all, didn’t GOD so love the world that He gave His Son (JOHN 3:16)?

We are to love sinners with the motive of seeing them come to salvation through Christ, for that is the heart of GOD the Father; but of the world itself: everything that is the list of the flesh, of the eyes, and pride of life – these things are not in accord with the Holy Father of our LORD Jesus. To love the things of this world, to be in friendship and in alliance to the things of this world, this makes one an enemy of GOD (JAMES 4:4)!

It’s wise to know the world system, this satanic philosophy that governs this world system under the rulership of Satan as the enemy; to stand against it and to stand for the truth of GOD’s WORD and to maintain our allegiance to the LORD Jesus Christ and His kingdom, of which we are citizens!
__________________

Persecution by the flesh – the sin nature – by pastor Albert Lopez
The War Within

In Romans 12:2 We are told by the Apostle Paul, 
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

We are being told that we will either be part of the world and its way of thinking and how it does life. This will happen if there is no resistance against being molded like the world through its influence. Or we can be transformed not through a self-help or by trying to do the right thing. This is not something that will come from us. Just like I’m telling you the world can influence you, The Holy Spirit can guide you into all truth. 

As it says in John 16:13a
But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth
; In the last part of Romans 12:2 it says there will be a renewing of the mind with a purpose, to know the will of God, which is good and acceptable and perfect.

If we are consumed with the world and with what the world says is truth than it will spill over and manifest in our lives. We will be giving in to the flesh more often than not and be caught unprepared for any type of persecution. 

We will not be prepared to war against the flesh which is the second enemy for the Christian. The bible continually warns that the flesh wars against the Spirit.
Just like you would listen to a warning from your mother, you want to listen when it comes from your father but in this case it’s your heavenly Father. 

The Bible continually says He who has ears let him listen to what the Spirit is saying. If evil was not made to appear to be good, there would be no such thing as temptation. 

Just look back to the garden. Eve was convinced by the serpent that what she desired was good and that like God she would know the difference between good and evil. Ironically the serpent had said her eyes would be open, but her and Adam’s eyes were opened instead to the nakedness of mankind without the fellowship of our God.

Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Matt.26:41

This was Jesus’s warning to His disciples.
This was the kind of warning that I am talking to you about. 

First notice that it says Keep watching. So this is a continual care. This doesn’t mean you look for trouble once in a while and if you don’t see any you can relax and live carelessly. No, this means that we are to be watching how we live daily and in continued prayer. In addition we are told to keep on doing. In regards to prayer we are to be dependent on it like a fish depends on water to live. 

If a fish is left out of water it won’t be too long before it will start to die because without its natural habitat and life source it dies. We are to be the same church

The Bible tells us “pray without ceasing”. The key words "without ceasing". Imagine if there was a war going on; and one enemy was killed but there were many more that are not easily seen. Since you didn’t see anyone for a while you relaxed. What would happen? 

Since this is a war, we are talking about more than likely you would be killed.
The flesh wants to kill the Spirit and the Spirit wants to kill the flesh. It’s a war saints! In Romans 8:13 we can see this:
For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live

We must be watchful, on the alert and vigilant. Be armed and prepared Church!
You’re like, “Be armed and prepared for what?” 

Well as we have briefly gone over; we are to be prepared to war against the flesh. What is the flesh? This covering of my bones? Not exactly.
The Bible puts it this way in Galatians 5:19-21
Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God
.

Notice that these are deeds or works which is opposite to the Spirit which bears fruit, it’s natural and it’s through God. The book of Galatians tells us: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

With works that are done in the flesh we have to do it in our own strength and many times for our own will and not God’s; for our honor or own interest and not for God’s honor or glory. The Apostle Paul tells us this about the flesh:
In Phil.3:2b
…who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh

Let’s just take one of these deeds of the flesh and see how easy we can fall into it and not be warring against it if we are not bearing the fruit of the Spirit. 

So, the outburst of anger is a deed or work of the flesh and it’s evident because you can see it in someone. Just look for the smoke coming out of their ears.
If we are walking in the Spirit through the power of the Holy Spirit we are going to remember. I war against this work of the flesh with love which is the fruit of the Spirit.

And then you think back to 1 Corinthians 13; what love is and you start to see if you are showing patience, kindness, if you are not seeking your own. If you are not easily provoked, if you are not keeping count of wrong doings, if you are long suffering. 

This will be especially difficult when you are being persecuted possibly by loved ones or family. Remember, persecution is not just physical suffering, sometimes it’s verbal.

We must remember like it says in Matthew 5:11
Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me

The key being that it has to be false and for Jesus and His glory. Remember that any wrong-doing we can go through does not compare with what Jesus went through for you and for me.
It says in the book of Romans 5:7,
For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us
.

Not only did he die for us but while he was dying, He said, Forgive them father for they know not what they do. That is love ‘to the max’, church!

Back to Matthew 26:41
So how do I stay watching and praying you might be asking?
In 1 Corinthians 16:13 it says:
Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
So watching also involves standing firm not on our feelings or on the facts surrounding our circumstances but on Him and our faith in Him. 

In Colossians 4:2
Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving
;

There has to be devotion. You probably have heard about devotional time on the radio or through a believer or pastor. This implies a dedicated amount of time to reading of God’s word, prayer and fellowship with the Lord. If you’re thinking this is work and takes up your time. You are right on both! The question I ask myself and I pray you are asking too is, Is God not worth my time and energy?

One good way to answer this is to ask yourself another question. How am I living? Am I living my life according to the flesh (My way, My wants, My dreams, My desires) My my my, oh my!
Or am I living life according to the Spirit? Now this won’t be perfectly but always directionally; His direction and intentionally; His purpose. 

Be encouraged church we learned going through Exodus 3 that it took 40 years for God to take Egypt out of Moses. We learned it can take about 20 years to mature a Christian in a sense; and we get more light and more wisdom as we continue our Christian walk. Again key word being continue, don’t throw in the towel.

The verse we read in Romans 12 says that it is by the renewal of our mind that we are transformed

Transformed from the old man to the new man in Christ. Paul put it this way in Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me

He continues saying in Rom.8:5-8
For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God

There we see the two comparisons which bring either death or life. So, in these verses; and in Matthew 26:41 we read that the flesh is weak and it will die and bring about death. So what’s the good news you ask?

The Spirit is willing as the verse also tells us. Willing can also mean eager and ready. The Spirit of God is wanting to make us Holy and also make us bear the fruit that comes from Him. He wants to deliver us from the temptations of the flesh if we are willing to yield to Him. He wants us to walk in Him and His power. 

Paul told the church of Galatia and I tell you Church
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit (Gal. 5:16,24-25). 

Church we owe nothing to the flesh. Let us remember Jesus words in John 6:63a
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing
. Let us follow Him church, He knows that way because He is the way!
___________________________

Persecution by Satan – by pastor Sonny Islas
Our Great Adversary

The third enemy that Christians face daily is the Devil. He is the great enemy of God, the Church and humanity. His goal is to “kill steal and destroy” (John 10:10) – death is his desire for all. There is not a friendly bone in His body. 

Ephesians 6:12 makes it very clear that people are not our real enemies – Satan and his minions are: For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

To begin, I am going to teach some foundational facts about the archenemy of our souls:
Satan is a real person. He’s not a myth or make believe. Satan is known by many names and all these names describe his hellish character; i.e., just to name of few – Satan (adversary/enemy), Angel of light (deception), Beast, Dragon, Accuser, Roaring Lion, Father of Lies, Serpent, Devil, and god of this age.

Satan is a created being (Ezekiel 28:15). Satan was a worshipful Cherub/angel/one nearest to God's throne (Ezekiel 28:14). Satan was a musical being (Ezekiel 28:13). Satan was superior in wisdom, mind-blowingly beautiful and perfection – he was one of God’s masterpieces (Ezekiel 28:11). 

Satan exalted himself and coveted God’s greatness (Isaiah 14:13-14) and as a result was cast down to Earth making him a fallen angel (Isaiah 14:15; Luke 10:18); who went from being called Lucifer (light bearer) to being called Satan (Isaiah 14:12) – making him a fallen angel who was cast down to earth (Luke 10:18). Satan through his deception caused the fall of humanity, starting with our first parents – Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:6).

Here are some extra facts: Satan is not the equal of God – but possibly the equal of Michael or Gabriel the Archangels. Satan is not omnipresent like God. Satan is not omnipotent like God. Satan is not omniscient like God. Satan needs permission from God to harm us. Prime examples are: Job (Job 1:11-12; 2:3-6) and Peter (Luke 22:31). At times God may use Satan to harm us for a greater purpose: Job (see prior references), and Paul (2 Corinthians 12:7) - God always works for our good. 

But let’s be strengthened by that fact that 1 John 4:4b: Greater is He (The LORD) who is in us, than he (Satan) that is in the world.
Here are 5 ways in which our enemy attacks us: (I’m sure there are more ways, but time constrained me)

1. Satan attacks us through temptation.
In Genesis 3, Satan tempted Eve to disobey God by making sin look good and desirable (what’s so bad about biting a fruit?). He deceived her by lying to her about God’s character (as though God was holding back something good) and that she would be better off biting the forbidden fruit.
As we know, in Matthew 4, Satan tempted Jesus with riches and power and to rely on himself and to show off. Satan will tempt us with the same stuff and if we’re not vigilant and ignorant of the devil’s devices we can fall hard.

2. Satan attacks us by shooting wicked thoughts at our head or planting sinful desires in our hearts.
Ephesians 6:16 says,
Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
1 Chronicles 21:1 says,
Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.
Satan shot those fiery darts and filled David’s heart with pride by pushing him to count his army. This pointed to David looking to and trusting in the might of man rather than God. The consequences of this prideful act were very heavy. God sent a plague and killed 70 thousand men – soldiers (1 Chron. 21:14). God downsized the number of David’s army to humble David. 

Here we see that our sin can hurt those around us, and it does. In 1 Chron. 21:17 David says,
And David said to God, “Was it not I (with the Devil’s help that is) who commanded the people to be numbered? I am the one who has sinned and done evil indeed; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, O Lord my God, be against me and my father’s house, but not against Your people that they should be plagued.

3. Satan attacks us with lies of all kinds.

In John 8:44b Jesus says, speaking of the Devil,
When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Here we find that Satan is the founder of all falsehood and false religions. We have to protect our hearts from ALL lies because lies obviously turn us away from the truth and the ways of God.

4. Satan attacks us by accusing us and reminding us of our past sins.

Revelation 12:10b says,
for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.
Satan loves to torture Christians by bringing up past sins, by making us believe that God doesn’t really love us or that God hasn’t truly forgiven us. One thing that helps me to know the difference between God’s voice and Satan’s voice is this, God convicts me while Satan condemns me.

5. Satan can steal the seed of God’s Word from our hearts.

Mark 4:15 says,
And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.
This refers mainly to false converts who hear the Word, but it never goes deep enough to transform their lives. BUT Satan can steal the Word of God from the hearts of true believers as well by making us doubt His Word, by questioning and or diminishing His Word, and by distracting us from the Word.

We must understand that Satan has the power to really mess up a true believer’s life. If you are not on guard He will chew you up and spit you out a dozen times a day. He can devour good testimonies, devour relationships, families, marriages, churches, ministries etc. He’s not here to play, he’s here to devour. 

1 Peter 5:8 says,
Be sober (don’t be distracted or intoxicated with this world and meaningless things), be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

Good news! After the Millennial Reign Satan will finally be cast into the Lake of fire where he will be tortured for eternity (Revelation 20:10).


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