When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day. Matthew 28:12-15
The enemy’s only power is deception.
Though he has been legally disarmed at the cross and his power is ultimately broken, it’s not until the second coming of Christ that the full manifestation of Christ’s victory will be manifest. Today, he still exercises the power of deception through accusation.
But as the old saying goes, knowledge is half the battle. Paul wrote, “We are not to be unaware of the enemy’s schemes”. C.S. Lewis wrote, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”
Elisabeth Elliot said it this way, “Spiritual strongholds begin with a thought. One thought becomes a consideration. A consideration develops into an attitude, which leads then to action. Action repeated becomes a habit, and a habit establishes a "power base for the enemy,” that is, a stronghold.“
I believe this is one of the reasons Paul was so adamant to the Ephesian community to take their stand against the evil one.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Ephesians 6:10-11
The power of the enemy is limited to his ability to lodge what is false into a community of believers. He lies. He deceives. And he accuses God’s people.
Night and day, day and night.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. Revelation 12:10
Billy Graham said it this way, "Never underestimate Satan’s power, and never underestimate his ability to deceive us and make us think he isn’t to be feared. In fact, he even deceives some people into thinking he doesn’t exist!” Graham continues. “He is not as powerful as God — but he still is a powerful spiritual force who works against God in every way he possibly can.”
There are at least three specific ways the enemy assaults God’s people:
- The enemy accuses God to us. He accuses God as not being good. As not forgiving. Not providing. Causing pain. Not helping. Not answering prayer. Not compassionate, gracious and full of love. He accuses God’s nature and character to our hearts. Because in God’s light we see light, if the enemy can distort the image of God to our hearts, he can sidetrack our whole lives. Instead of running to God, we’ll run away from him. If he can paint God in a picture as unloving and unkind and judgmental, people will want nothing to do with God and darkness will win.
- The enemy accuses us to God. Paul described the enemy’s lies as flaming arrows of the evil one. They are sent on the saints to bring about condemnation and shame on God’s people. To lie to God’s people that they are hypocrites and hopeless. We see this clearly in the temptation of Christ - every temptation had to do with undermining Christ’s identity as the Son of God. He casts doubt on what God has said and he attempts to redefine truth and reality. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, and then basically says, “prove it, show me.” He does the same to you and I.
- Believers accusing other believers to other believers. If the enemy can sow discord and division among God’s people, the kingdom of darkness advances. Knowing this throughout history his tactics have not changed toward humanity. Lie and accuse brother to brother, sister to sister, mother to daughter and father to son. Lies and accusation destroy relationships and prevent the kingdom of God from advancing. Once the lie is lodged and believed, the enemy can use that to propel his agenda to steal, kill and destroy God’s people. Paul wrote, From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Ask God for his heart to those you meet, and you’ll find a new perspective, a heavenly perspective, one that calls forth what is not as though it were. One that heals and restores and ministers to the felt needs of your brothers and sisters.
I believe God wants to restore his truth to our hearts and heal relationships that have been damaged as a result of lies and deception creeping into the community of believers. Jesus said the Spirit of Truth would lead us into all truth. So ask the Father today, “lead me, guide me, show me the truth,” and then wait and follow. Hear his voice. Follow his leading. Open your Bible and let him speak to you in every situation. Let his peace rule in your heart and be free. Speak his word. Repent of where you have believed lies about how God sees you. Repent of lies you have believed about God. Repent for lies you have believed and then repeated about your brothers and sisters in Christ.
I believe the body of Christ in our region is turning a new leaf. A turning of the page, to a clean piece. A clean slate. A putting to rest of division, quarrels, and the past. I believe there is a spirit of division that would seek to bring up rifts from the past. We must resist it, offering forgiveness as in Christ, God forgave us.
I believe pastors and leaders are going to reconcile. Leaders are going to be working together in a way that honors God and propels the Gospel forward. Where there has been division among churches over wrongs committed in the Lord’s name, I believe 2017 is a year for forgiveness. I see a breakthrough where there has been judgement and anger, I see the Lord wiping those sins of the past clean. I see bitterness has developed, where some have even questioned the salvation of fellow believers and leaders, but God says reconcile. I am preparing a people to be my habitation on earth as it is in heaven. His eyes are looking for a people whose heart’s are wholly his. Are you ready? Are we ready? Have we obeyed the written word of God to reconcile and unite? I believe in this season God has a story to tell, a new story to write. He has a work for his people and he is calling his people to open to a new, clean piece of paper, where he can write his story. He wants to release new things in this season, but too many people are holding onto things from the past. Your holding on to yesterday, but God is saying I am doing a new thing.
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? Isaiah 43:19
Restoring the Foundations, a ministry that helps people break the cycle of ungodly belief patterns that hold them back from fulfilling their God given destiny writes,
God cannot lie; His loving and holy perspective is always true. Jesus lived out that truth and perspective not only as an example for us to follow, but so that we might know the truth deep in our being. An essential key to our wholeness and freedom is receiving God’s truth and applying it to the beliefs that guide our lives.
From the moment we enter this world, bits and pieces of information and impressions continue to come together to form our beliefs and expectations. We consciously or unconsciously form opinions and make conclusions. Often these opinions and conclusions are wrong. No matter how staunchly we hold to them and relentlessly defend them, they simply are wrong. These ungodly beliefs, developed over time, often seem reasonable to us based upon the facts and experiences of our life. In fact, they affect our expectations and behavior (and the behavior of others) which often leads to a cycle of reinforcing the ungodly beliefs, expectations and resulting behavior.
There is a truth above the facts: God’s truth. Gaining God’s perspective and His truth about our life and experiences is essential. With it, we can understand our identity as God’s beloved child and appropriate His healing and freedom in our life. Our God is a God of truth.