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Devil's Best Device Yet

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   It was once announced that the devil was going out of business and would offer all tools for sale to whoever would pay his price. On the night of the sale they were all attractively displayed, and a bad looking lot they were: Malice, Hatred, Envy, Jealousy, Sensual­ity, and Deceit, and all the other implements of evil were spread out, each marked with its price.

Apart from the rest lay a harm­less-looking wedge-shaped tool, much worn and priced higher than any of the rest.

Some one asked the devil what it was.

"That's discouragement," was the reply.

"Why do you have it priced so high?"

"Because," replied the devil, "it is more useful to me than any of the others."

"I can pry open and get inside a man's heart with that when I could not get near him with any of the others, and when once inside I can use him in whatever way suits me best.

It is so much worn because I use it with nearly everybody as very few people yet know it belongs to me."

It hardly need be added that the devil's price for discouragement was so high that it was never sold. He still owns it and is still us­ing it today.[1]

I don’t know about you but I think that is just about right. The devil uses discouragement as probably his best device yet on the hearts of you and I. Remember what Paul said?  Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. To be ignorant about the causes and effects of discouragement upon ones’ walk with God have resulted in many Christians never walking with God ever again. So it is very important that you understand some basic things about and how to prevent discouragement.  

Because we with all go through some amount of discouragement in our lives we should not think ourselves weird or abnormal Christians; because as we shall see from the bible that a lot of the greatest of Christians became discouraged at one time or another.  Being discouraged is bad enough; but that isn’t where the greatest danger associated with discouragement lays. Discouragement is a sin that leads to other sins; i.e. it is a [stepping stone] to other sins that carry greater consequences.  Keep in mind that all sin is sin, there is no great sins and no small sins; in the eyes of God. But, here is the difference; all sins don’t merit the same consequences.    

So think of discouragement like this; “a stepping stone sin” that leads to other sins of greater consequences. I remember what they used to say in schools about smoking marijuana; that it didn’t necessary kill you the first time you used it, but marijuana would become but the stepping stone that leads to the use of other dangerous drugs!

That’s why discouragement so lethal to us as Christians if left unchecked; because in our depressed state we will do things and say things [things that carry greater consequences] that we would not ordinary think of doing much less actually do!  For instance; Right now you probably, would think it hard of you to murder someone else, I mean with your bare hands! You say Brother Greg, I don’t would even think of such a thing! Ah, but wait; If you become discouraged enough you just might!

Right now, you probably couldn’t image yourself walking out on your spouse and kids, never seeing them again; right? I agree it is a terrible thought; just to think it! “I could never do that to my family, we think. But just wait until we become so discouraged, than wait to see what we think then. The biggest reason why marriages don’t last is that one of the two become so discouraged that they think there is no hope left for their marriage.

That’s why discouragement is so greatly used of the devil!

Discouragement does what Adultery can not do at that specific time and place in the individual’s life.

Discouragement does what Murder can not do at that specific time and place in that person’s life. Discouragement does what Sensual­ity could not do at that specific time and place in the person’s life.

 Now, discouragement isn’t the root cause for every thing, I’m not trying to sell you on that; but I just want us to see that discouragement is a precursor to a lot of other sins that carry life changing consequences.

Before we look at those persons’ whom the devil was working overtime on, we need to set down some common sense rules for ruling out discouragement, or depression from bodily related sources.  This is much needed and much overlooked today, because it is easier and quicker to get a prescription for Zoloft and Valium than it is to take the time for full bodily exam. I’m taking about ruling out things like: 1. Cycles (regular periodic changes in the body)-The human body experiences certain basic cycles. Whether we deny it or not, our bodies are changing; everyday in some minute way.

 Anemia (a lack of iron)-Women are more susceptible to anemia than men. Two symptoms of anemia are fuzzy think­ing and depression. A simple blood test can determine whether additional iron is needed.

 Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)-A low blood sugar level is often caused by poor eating habits, or heredity. If their blood sugar drops below normal for them; they fall into a depressive type lull.  

Fatigue-Both men and women find that fatigue brings on depression. The body wasn’t made to work around the clock for days and weeks on end. Even Jesus came apart from his schedule and rested. [2]

Rule these things out. I haven’t used either, but I would just assume that a bottle of Geratol is cheaper than Zoloft! Any counselor that doesn’t require a full bodily exam to rule out these things {and other things} isn’t working from the right perspective. 

One major item that Christians have to rule out when we fall into depression, discouragement is sin. We think of sin sometimes in only in its’ spiritual aspect, and we should to remain close to our lord. But we shouldn’t limit the effects of sin like that. Sin affects us not only spiritually, but bodily; Adam began to physically die because he sinned. Sin affects us emotionally, sadness, anger, self pity, rage, inconsolableness. Sin affects us relationally; sin separates spouses, children, friends, etc. Sin affects us mentally as well.  This is where depression comes in for us as Christians. If you as a Christian are healthy as a horse and you still are discouraged; depressed you might need some soul searching on your knees to God instead of the doctor.

I want us to see how some Christian were discouraged, depressed and how they speak to us with their problems.   

I.  Performance Depression-----Moses

Numbers 11; 10-16

V10 nothing breaks the heart of a real leader than to see those following his leadership is a state of despair. Moses wanted them to live happy lives, productive lives, godly lives, but they wanted Egyptian style living.

V11 Moses was in a most distressing situation--having a mighty multitude under his care, with no means of satisfying their clamorous demands. Moses felt pressure to perform, to be what they needed him to be, and it was almost to much!

V15 Then in his depressed stated he prayed;  “And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness[weakness].

Moses felt that what God had called him too was just too much for his body, mind, and heart. Seeing the people weeping and complaining about their situation and desiring to be back in Egypt was just too much for Moses’ heart. To have gone through all that they had and then see them and hear them wishing to be back in Egypt! Remember, Moses had a heart just like ours; it was simply overcome with the people’s continual dissatisfaction, restlessness with God.  I can see how his heart was strung out and made to feel that he wasn’t being all that he thought he should be; naturally he felt that their lot was his fault. Moses became so discouraged that he asked to die; before he started to see his weaknesses got the best of him, v15.     

Have you ever felt that you were over your head with responsibilities? That too many people counted on you and you were feeling crusted under their load? If you do, then multiple that by million times and you will faintly begin to know what pressure Moses was under to perform, day in and day out!

I’m not saying that Moses shouldn’t feel inadequate; I believe every leader feels a little not equal to the task they are given and some small amounts of inadequacies is natural and right.  I pity the person that doesn’t feel inadequate because they don’t know themselves like they should.

 But Moses started being discouraged when he started giving in to these thoughts of inadequateness to the point where he prays to the Lord to kill him.

Remember what I said at the beginning that Christians can become discouraged because of sin; well Moses was showing some doubt, unbelief that the Lord didn’t know really what he was doing when He called him. Unbelief and doubting the Lord is sin, no matter what scenario it is in.

 Here’s the process, Moses doubts (sin) because of his inadequacies that he feels in his own self; this leads to discouragement, which end turn leads Moses to pray that he might die.       

I think it is natural and right to have some feelings of adequateness about ourselves, but instead of these feelings driving us away from God, they should compel us to get even closer to the lord! Moses should have prayed; “Lord, I want you to know that I know that I’m nothing. I can’t help this people, but you can. Help me not to rely on me but rely more upon you and your strength.”

Yes, all the people’s problems was too much for just one man’s heart to take, but not nothing for the great heart and care of God!

If you have been experiencing performance depression in the things that God has called you to, then you need to get out of God’s way. You’re just the pipe not the living water itself. You’re just the vessel not the master. Remember what God has commanded of us, he expects from us, but he will also enable us to do so!

II. Anger depression- Jonah     Jonah 4; 1-9

Anger that cannot be vented on a victim often turns to bitterness and then is directed inward on the self as frustration and depression. A person affected by this type of depression might be angry at someone who was bringing pressure to bear on him. If that someone were a boss or some other authority to which the person could not exhibit his anger, he would turn the anger inward and become depressed.

 Jonah is an example of a person who experienced anger depression. In the fourth chapter of Jonah, verses 3, 6 through 9, Jonah sat under a gourd, wishing that he would die. When God caused the gourd to wither (vs. 7), “ and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.” He was so angry that the lord had shown mercy and compassion that he was angered. Angered to the point that it discouraged him until death!”

Jonah’s problem was that he was angry and mad against their enemy the Assyrians, {and for good reason} instead as he should have been, angry at their sin. Jonah was supposed to love the people for God’s sake and hate their sin, but he wanted to hate the people plus their sin.  God has called us to do the same; we are supposed to love people for Christ’s sake, but hate their sin, because god hates it.     

Anger leads to depression, whether you are angry at some one else, angry at God, angry at your circumstances, or even angry at yourself.

An angry Christian no matter what the surface cause is,

{being late to work, losing something important} feels angry because they think they don’t deserve what has happened to them, or was hasn’t happened to them.  

Jonah felt like he deserved to see his enemies’ burn under God’s wrath. Jonah felt like they deserved it.

When you come to the place with God that you realize that you don’t deserve nothing, literally nothing then you’re angry with subside. Everything you have has come from the hand of God; because of his grace. The only thing that you and I truly deserve is Hell!

III. Withdrawal depression-    Elijah  I Kings 19:1-4

This is the most serious kind of depression and may result in suicide. In withdrawal depres­sion, which can result from anxiety or anger depression, there is a complete sense of helplessness and hopelessness. An example of a man in these depths of depression is Elijah. After his victory at Mount Carmel, he fled from Jezebel, who had threatened to kill him the next day (I Kings 19:1-4). In verse 4 he sat under a juniper tree and finally became so depressed that he said, "It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers." Believe it or not, but study shows and we see it in the bible that after some great victory in life, then comes discouragement.

One of Elijah’s problems was him thinking that he was self pity. 1Ki 19:10  And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

He felt that he was all alone didn’t he?  First, of all God showed that he was still with him, in hearing God’s still small voice, v 12. Then God tells Elijah that there are yet seven thousand others just like Elijah that have not kissed the feet of Baal, v18. Elijah wasn’t alone as he first thought he was, was he?

Christians that forsake the fellowship of others likeminded believers are easy targets for discouragement.

IV. Tragedy Depression – David  1 Samuel 30; 1-6

David and his men were coming back to their homes and low and behold; smoking heaps of ash where the city once lay! Naturally, they feel downcast and discouraged all their loved ones gone or maybe even dead! What a tragedy! Naturally the men feel anger and speak of stoning David their leader! What a situation! 

It’s hard to say how you will react to something until it really does happen to you. Nothing prepares you for a tragedy except another tragedy. The men’s reaction was typical they wanted someone to pay for their loses they felt, even if it meant their beloved leader; David.

But guess what David did? Instead of praying that God would kill, the bible says; but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.

I have saved David until now because he shows that even while we are under the gun of discouragement that we can chose not to let discouragements drive us away from God, but use discouragements to drive us closer to God! 

David got so close to the Lord he got up enough nerve to go after the Amalekites and v18 says that David recovered all!

Closing:

We have seen how the devil used discouragement on some of the most greatly used men in the bible. If the devil used his tool of discouragement on them, then we should expect him to use it on us. How are you letting the devil discourage you in? Reading your bible like you should? Praying like you ought to? Seeking to be filled with God’s spirit like you should? Follow David’s example, encourage yourself in the Lord! I may not always be available, others may not either but God is! Discouragement is a device of the devil!                                             


----

[1]  E. E. Hendricks, 1000 Evangelistic Illustrations, Aquilla Webb

pg. 275

[2] Fremont, Walter and Trudy, Effective Christian Counselor, Bob Jones Press, 1996; pg 262-263

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