Dealing With The Devil (Part 2)

Introduction

This is a continuation of a study I'm doing on "Dealing with the Devil," based on a 30 day scripture plan I found by The Ruffled Mango.[1] In this post, I'm covering days 5 through 9—we're going to look at the parable of the Sower, the betrayal by Judas, Peter denying Christ, and Ananias and Sapphira's lies.

Mark 4:2-4: The Parabale of the Sower (pt. 1)

The Israelites lived in a agrarian society, so analogies to farming or taking care of livestock was the perfect way to explain things to them, and Christ utilizes this in most of His parables. In this case, He speaks of a sower (or farmer) who is sowing (planting) seeds. Plants, vines, and fruit have a long history in the Word—Matthew 7:15-20; John 15; Romans 6:21-22; Ephesians 5:8-10; Colossians 1:10; James 3:17-18; Galatians 5:22-23. From these passages we know this is related to our behavior.

Note that "seeds fallen to the way side" are seeds separated from the group. In the previous post, we determined that fellowship between Christians is crucial to our walk with Christ and warding off the devil. Another important understanding of "seeds fallen to the way side" is that these seeds are not where they are supposed to be and that makes them vulnerable. If they were in the garden (the proper place), there would likely be a fence and scarecrow protecting them from being devoured before even sprouting.

Mark 4:13-15: The Parabale of the Sower (pt. 2)

Later in the chapter, Christ explains the parable for us, so we don't have to do any guess work about what He means. He identifies the seeds as the Word and the fowl of the air as Satan. Essentially Christ is saying that when you sow the Word in an unprotected place, Satan will swoop in and steal that information before it can take root.

When I read these verses, I focused more on the applicaiton to protecting self than the question of if I sow seeds in the wrong place. The major concern that struck me was "what if I'm on the path?" Have you ever had a Bible Study or discussion about the Word and you dismissed it? Or maybe you read a few verses and by the time you got to the end you forgot what you've read? I felt like these were examples of me not being in the right place to cultivate the Word.

So, I asked my self, how do we create an envirnoment in our minds that ensures we aren't "on the path"? The following is what I came up with:
  • Be mindful of what we allow to take up space in our mind
  • Pray for retention of the Word
  • Be intentional when reading the Word
  • Be intentional when listening to the Word

Luke 22:2-4: Judas Betrays Christ

I knew Judas betrayed Christ, everyone knows that. However, I never noticed that the Bible tells us Satan entered Judas. There were three main ideas that I dwelt on after reading Luke 22:2-4.

What Does it Mean to be Possessed?

Hollywood has given us very interesting ideas of possession, albiet some passages in the Bible do warn of depravity due to possession. However, in each of the last three passages discussed in the post, you'll see evidence of Satan wielding control over someone and it doesn't look like a madman. Sometimes, people give the devil full access of their mind and body for lengthy periods of time, but in these cases it appears to be a single bad decision.

In cartoons, there's always the scene where an angel of God is on one shoulder telling the character to do right, while the devil is egging the character on to do wrong from the other shoulder. In real life, God gives us free will and each second of the day we are presented with choices. When we start choosing to listen to the devil more that God's Spirit, we are giving the devil control of our life. This is how he gains a foothold and is able to manipulate our actions.

Choose Your Friends Carefully

The passage starts off talking about Jesus' enemies, but that's not who Satan enters. Satan goes for the someone close to Jesus, someone in His inner circle. People in our inner circle see us at our best and our worst; they know our flaws and weaknesses. They know exactly the kind of information Satan needs to exploit us.

This is one reason he targets those close to us, but another reason is that they have our trust. We usually trust those closest to us to give us good advice, to keep us safe, and not to put us in compromising situations. This means we are more likely to go along with them. There are people I know that I would never travel with because even though I like them well enough, I have no idea what they will get into. My closest friends, however, I trust to share my values and not put me in an uncomfortable position. Because of this, I'm more likely to go on a trip with one of the latter over the former. So, Satan knows to get to me, he too has to come through the latter.

The saying "choose your friends carefully" rings true here. We want to surround ourselves with people who have our back, but more importantly, we want to surround ourselves with God-fearing men and women who are actively fighting off Satan's attacks.

Don't Let Satan Use You

Speaking of God-fearing men and women, we have to be that for our friends. Just like Satan used Judas, he can use us against our friends. When we find ourselves plotting for someone's downfall, that's an indicator that Satan is putting thoughts in our head. It's one thing to think someone should go to jail for a crime, but when we wish bad on people our of jealousy or spite, there's a problem. When we aren't happy for our friends' success or we're ready to tell their business to people we know don't like them, there's a problem. If we find ourselves in these situations or feeling like this, we need to take it to God immediately, because likely, Satan is in our head.

Luke 22:31-32: Satan Wants Peter

Satan didn't just go for one person in Jesus' inner circle. He also wanted to take Peter away from the faith. I see Peter's experience more like a Job experience, in the sense that Christ knew Peter had the faith to maintain their relationship.

Four things stood out to me in this passage: Christ already knew the devil's plan, Christ warns Peter about said plan, Christ prays for Peter's faith, and Christ aknowledges that He and Peter will be separated for a time.

God Knows All

God is omniscient; He knows all of His creations better than they know themselves. Since Satan is one of God's creations, this is true for him too. Satan can't outsmart God or catch Him off guard. This means He knows exactly which one of His children Satan is plotting against and exactly what test Satan will put before them.

God Warns Us

Because God knows what's coming, He often sends us a warning to help us avoid Satan's traps. There are at least three examples of this that come to mind: God warns Cain that sin is lurking before Cain kills his brother (Genesis 4:6-7); Christ sublty tips Judas off to His knowledge of the betrayal, which is in time for Judas to take a different course of action (Matthew 26:21-24); and Christ warns Peter that Satan is trying to get to him (Luke 22:31-32).

God Wants us to Succeed

Christ prays for Peter, telling us that He wanted Peter to win against Satan. What's interesting is that of all the things He could have prayed for, He prayed for Peter's faith. This tells us that the main factor in successfully defending against Satan's attacks is our faith.

God Knows We Aren't Perfect

Christ makes a point to note that Peter will be "returning" to Him. While this could be literal, since they get separated in the commotion, I have a feeling it's spiritual. Peter goes on to deny Christ three times, which is also a way of separating himself from Christ in it's own right. In doing so he's distancing himself from Christ, the way we may distance ourselves from Christ to fit in or enjoy things of the world. There's a real danger that we will put so much distance between ourselves and Christ that we won't be able to find our way back.

Yet, Christ knew Peter would regret His denials and find His way back. Christ didn't have to reveal any of this information to Peter, but by doing so, and by giving Peter a specific task to complete upon his return, Christ exemplifies His forgiving nature and love. When Peter fails, he isn't just left with the feeling that Christ is saya "I told you so." The last thing Christ said about the incident was "when you come back to Me." This means we can return and we will be forgiven!

Acts 5:1-4: Ananias and Sapphira Lie to the Holy Spirit

The final passage for today covers the fate of a couple that lies to the Apostles about a property they sold. They withold part of the proceeds they receive for an unknown reason, choosing to lie about the amount they sold it for. Interestingly, I think they very well have simply said, "We sold our property for x and we're giving you half"—or whatever portion they gave. The deeper issue here is that everyone else was giving everything they had, and this couple was not ready or willing to do the same. Regardless of the reason, we know that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corintians 9:7), so it would be better to give what you can with joy than to try to keep up with the joneses.

Like with Peter (from part 1) and Judas, Ananias and Sapphira let Satan guide their actions rather than God. These action (e.g., lying, greed, etc.) are easy to recognize as ungodly. When we have ideas that do not please Him, Satan has put them in our head and carrying out such an action is an offense to God himself, not just the person we hurt (or lie to in this case).

Conclusion

While the last verses focused more on Satan's stategies, these verses reminded me to watch myself. The main thing I took away from these verses was to watch myself and don't let Satan use me for his on purposes.

References

  1. "June Scripture Writing Plan". The Reffled Mango; visited October 4, 2020

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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