You are on page 1of 5

“At War” March 09, 2014

Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7 Matthew 4:1-11 Ro ans 5:12-19

It is no secret that human beings are good at making mistakes and poor choices. And while we have spent some time in the last few weeks talking about that, we often seem to forget that our failures are not always arrived at single handedly. Saying that we alone are responsible for our choices is a fair assessment, but saying that a!! of our failed ideas and poor choices are based on our own original ideas is not. While we sometimes are indeed the originators of our moral failures, that is not always the case. There are times in our lives when we really do seem to find strength, when we really do seem to “get it together for a while, when we really do seem to be headed in the right direction, and when we really are growing closer to !od and begin to live a more godly and righteous life. It is at those times when we become a target. It is easy for us, especially when things are going well, to forget that we have an enemy and that we are at war. "ur enemy will stop at nothing to destroy us and he re#oices at every failure. According to a survey conducted by the $arna organi%ation in &''(, si)ty percent of American *hristians do not believe that Satan is a real person. The problem with that belief is that it is contrary to what we find in scripture. The origin of humanity+s battle with the enemy is found at the very beginning of everything. In Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7, we read this,

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden 1! "ut you mu#t not eat from the tree of the know$edge of good and e%i$, for when you eat from it you wi$$ certain$y die.&

)ow the #erpent wa# more crafty than any of the wi$d anima$# the Lord God had made. *e #aid to the woman, “+id God rea$$y #ay, ,You mu#t not eat from any tree in the garden-.&

The woman #aid to the #erpent, “0e may eat fruit from the tree# in the garden, ' "ut God did #ay, ,You mu#t not eat fruit from the tree that i# in the midd$e of the garden, and you mu#t not touch it, or you wi$$ die.-&

“You wi$$ not certain$y die,& the #erpent #aid to the woman. 5 “2or God know# that when you eat from it your eye# wi$$ "e opened, and you wi$$ "e $ike God, knowing good and e%i$.&

0hen the woman #aw that the fruit of the tree wa# good for food and p$ea#ing to the eye, and a$#o de#ira"$e for gaining wi#dom, #he took #ome and ate it. 3he a$#o ga%e #ome to her hu#"and, who wa# with her, and he ate it. ! Then the eye# of "oth of them were opened, and they rea$i4ed they were naked #o they #ewed fig $ea%e# together and made co%ering# for them#e$%e#. -rom the very beginning, the enemy hated the relationship that humans had with !od because it was better, closer, more loving and more personal than the relationship that he and the angels had with !od. Satan, who had once been the leader and prince of angels, now sets out to destroy this uni.ue and wonderful relationship that humanity has with !od. At no point does the enemy try to convince Adam and /ve that !od does not love them because they would never believe it. Instead he tries to convince them that !od lied to them, that 0

!od does not want what is best for them, and that by disobeying !od, they could take for themselves, more than what !od would have freely given them. Satan+s lies are often like this. They do not directly oppose !od, but subtly twist the truth so that humans begin to believe that !od is not as good as we thought he was, or that humans are better than they really are, or that we know better than !od what is best for us. /ach lie, in its own way lures us by calling to our most selfish urges. All lead us to believe that “I am the center of the universe. 1ed by the lies of the enemy, Adam and /ve+s selfishness causes them to do something that few other mortals have ever done, and in doing so, cause long lasting damage to the entire human race. What did they do2 3aul tells us in Ro ans 5:12-19"

Therefore, 5u#t a# #in entered the wor$d through one man, and death through #in, and in thi# way death came to a$$ peop$e, "ecau#e a$$ #inned6

To "e #ure, #in wa# in the wor$d "efore the $aw wa# gi%en, "ut #in i# not charged again#t anyone-# account where there i# no $aw. 11 )e%erthe$e##, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of 7o#e#, e%en o%er tho#e who did not #in "y "reaking a command, a# did Adam, who i# a pattern of the one to come.

8ut the gift i# not $ike the tre#pa##. 2or if the many died "y the tre#pa## of the one man, how much more did God-# grace and the gift that came "y the grace of the one man, 9e#u# :hri#t, o%erf$ow to the many; 16 )or can the gift of God "e compared with the re#u$t of one man-# #in( The 5udgment fo$$owed one #in and "rought condemnation, "ut the gift fo$$owed many tre#pa##e# and "rought 5u#tification. 1! 2or if, "y the tre#pa## of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more wi$$ tho#e who recei%e God-# a"undant pro%i#ion of grace and of the gift of righteou#ne## reign in $ife through the one man, 9e#u# :hri#t;

:on#e=uent$y, 5u#t a# one tre#pa## re#u$ted in condemnation for a$$ peop$e, #o a$#o one righteou# act re#u$ted in 5u#tification and $ife for a$$ peop$e. 1> 2or 5u#t a# through the di#o"edience of the one man the many were made #inner#, #o a$#o through the o"edience of the one man the many wi$$ "e made righteou#. 3aul says that sin entered the world because of that first sin and because of it every human being who followed was sentenced to death. At the same time, 3aul notes that what Adam did was uni.ue. -rom the time of Adam until the time of 4oses, there was no written law. 5uring that time humanity was #udged by how they had lived according to their conscience and not according to any written law. $ut Adam did something far worse. Adam had a personal relationship with !od, he met !od face to face, he walked and talked with !od every day, and still, Adam+s selfishness caused him to disobey a direct command from !od. -or this, Adam and all of his descendants were condemned. $ut #ust as Adam+s sin impacted every human who ever lived, 6esus+ obedience and voluntary sacrifice makes it possible for every human being to be forgiven and made righteous. $ut 6esus, even though he was sinless and perfect, was not immune to temptation and to the attacks of the enemy. In Matthew 4:1-11, we hear this familiar story7 Then 9e#u# wa# $ed "y the 3pirit into the wi$derne## to "e tempted "y the de%i$. / After fa#ting forty day# and forty night#, he wa# hungry. ' The tempter came to him and #aid, “?f you are the 3on of God, te$$ the#e #tone# to "ecome "read.&



9e#u# an#wered, “?t i# written( ,7an #ha$$ not $i%e on "read a$one, "ut on e%ery word that come# from the mouth of God.-&

Then the de%i$ took him to the ho$y city and had him #tand on the highe#t point of the temp$e. 6 “?f you are the 3on of God,& he #aid, “throw your#e$f down. 2or it i# written( “,*e wi$$ command hi# ange$# concerning you, and they wi$$ $ift you up in their hand#, #o that you wi$$ not #trike your foot again#t a #tone.-&

9e#u# an#wered him, “?t i# a$#o written( ,+o not put the Lord your God to the te#t.@&


Again, the de%i$ took him to a %ery high mountain and #howed him a$$ the kingdom# of the wor$d and their #p$endor. > “A$$ thi# ? wi$$ gi%e you,& he #aid, “if you wi$$ "ow down and wor#hip me.&

9e#u# #aid to him, “Away from me, 3atan; 2or it i# written( ,0or#hip the Lord your God, and #er%e him on$y.-&

Then the de%i$ $eft him, and ange$# came and attended him.

I want you to notice that Satan did not show up on day one or 6esus+ desert e)perience. 8or did he show up on day twenty or even thirty. After forty days without food, when he knew that 6esus would be at his weakest, the enemy shows up and tempts 6esus to act selfishly. In each case, 6esus+ response relies upon !od+s strength and not his own. In each case, 6esus .uotes the word of !od to the enemy of our souls. 6esus chooses to worship !od and !od alone and will not submit to the temptation of “looking out for number one. 6esus trusts that !od knows what is best, and believes that !od has the best interests of his followers in mind. -rom this story we reali%e that 6esus did not face a metaphorical enemy but a real one who spoke to him and had the power to carry him out of the desert to the Temple in 6erusalem and to a high mountain. Satan also had the authority to rule over the earth and offered it to 6esus. 6esus+ ob#ection to Satan+s offer was not that this was beyond his power, but that he chose to serve !od and !od alone. All of these scriptures teach us that we are at war and our enemy is both real and incredibly powerful. We also know that he despises the relationship that humanity can have with !od and will do whatever he can to destroy that relationship. As if we humans weren+t good enough at making mistakes, Satan and his legions stand ready to lead us down the wrong paths and help us to make even more selfish choices. $ut all of the news is not bad. We know that we are at war, but we also know that we can fight against the enemy. 3aul reminded us that since the time of Adam and /ve, sin has been a pattern. $ut, #ust as Adam introduced this pattern of sin to the world, 6esus introduced a new pattern, a pattern of grace. 6ust as sin poisons humanity, grace rescues humanity. The story of 6esus being tempted in the wilderness teaches us that we can resist the temptations of the enemy. $ut we also know that our enemy does not give up easily. At the core of every temptation is a choice between


!od and selfishness. We are at war. :esisting temptation wi!! #e a battle. $ut 6esus has shown us that winning the battle will re.uire three things, 0; 3ersistence < because the enemy will keep coming at you &; -aith < because you must be confident that !od loves you and want what is best for you 9; :ely upon !od < this was 6esus+ first, last and best line of defiance. 6esus did not rely upon his own strength. Satan made an accusation and tried to get 6esus to act selfishly, and 6esus .uoted the word of !od right back at him. 6esus won his battle with Satan because he did not give up the fight, because he trusted !od+s will for him completely, and because he relied upon the wisdom of !od to win the battle. The message for us today is important. We are at war. "ur enemy is real. =e intends to harm you, your family, your church, and most of all, your relationship with !od. >ou must resist the enemy. >ou must fight. And 6esus wants you to know that you can win.


>ou have been reading a message presented at Trinity @nited 4ethodist *hurch on the date noted at the top of the first page. :ev. 6ohn 3artridge is the pastor at Trinity of 3erry heights in 4assillon, "hio. 5uplication of this message is a part of our 4edia ministry, if you have received a blessing in this way, we would love to hear from you. 1etters and donations in support of the 4edia ministry or any of our other pro#ects may be sent to Trinity @nited 4ethodist *hurch, 9ABA 1incoln Way /., 4assillon, "hio ??C?C. These messages are available to any interested persons regardless of membership. >ou may subscribe to these messages, in print or electronic formats, by writing to the address noted, or by contacting us at If you have .uestions, you can ask them in our discussion forum on -acebook Esearch for 3astor 6ohn "nline;. These messages can also be found online at http,FFwww.scribd.comF3astor 6ohn 3artridge. All Scripture references are from the 8ew International Gersion unless otherwise noted.