You can listen to this sermon by visiting http://www.pastorrickypowell.com/life_matters_with_pastor_/2009/09/enemy-recon-understanding-your-satanic-adversary.html
Series: Battle University1,
Sermon: ENEMY RECON
Scripture: Genesis 3:1-13
Speaker: Pastor Richard Powell,
Senior Pastor, Fort Caroline Baptist Church
The Battle of Antietam in 1862 lasted for 12 hours and ranks as the bloodiest day of the Civil War. One historian wrote, “At last the sun went down and the battle ended, smoke heavy in the air, the twilight quivering with the anguished cries of thousands of wounded men. “ The battle claimed more than 23,000 men killed, wounded, and missing in one single day.
General Robert E. Lee of the Confederate Army decided to take a dangerous gamble that morning. Knowing that Union General George McClellan was a slow, cautious man, Lee figured that he could divide his already-outnumbered army, send part of it to capture the Union garrison at Harpers Ferry, and then reunite it -- all before McClellan attacked. Lee issued Special Order 191, which detailed his plan. Though militarily a draw, the mediocre Union General George McClellan was able to end the brilliant Robert E. Lee’s thrust into Maryland, forcing him to retire across the Potomac. How was this possible?
One of Lee's officers wrapped a copy of Special Order 191 around three cigars and accidentally dropped it in a field near Frederick, where a Union soldier found it. It was passed up the ranks to McClellan, who instantly realized that he could destroy Lee’s divided army piece by piece.
In any battle, one of the keys to victory is found in knowing and understanding the enemy. In some respects, we are no match for our adversary, Satan, whose wiles we are told to be wary of. But as with General McClellan, our enemy’s plans have fallen into our hands. His schemes are detailed for us in the Bible, but especially in Genesis chapter 3. (i.) Though Adam and Eve lost their first skirmish with Satan, we can learn from their experience how to be prepared for our battles and how to know that ultimate victory is ours.
In our military, each branch of service has “Readiness Units” that are always prepared at a moment’s notice to go into battle. Their bags are packed, their weapons cleaned, their ammunition stocked, their rations supplied, their jets in top mechanical working order, and their training complete. Why? Because no one knows when our national security may be threatened. Likewise, the battles of life often come without warning, or at least, with little notice. Therefore, we must be at a state of readiness for the battles of life. Abraham Lincoln used to say, “I want to live my life so that when I am called, I’m ready.” I suppose we could say in reference to the spiritual battles of life, “I want to prepare my life so that when a temptation comes, I’m ready.”(ii.)
God had given Adam and Eve everything they needed to live a godly and victorious life. God had created them and placed them in a perfect environment. They enjoyed a sinless relationship with God. Yet they were defeated in their first battle because they were duped by their enemy and they doubted God's goodness. What can we learn about our enemy from their experience? What would God have us to learn in the debriefing room today?
First, God wants us to learn that...
I. Satan Disguises His Person (Genesis 3:1).
Here for the first time in Holy Scripture we encounter that mysterious creature the Devil. Three chapters into the first Book of the Bible we see the Devil in the Garden of God tempting its inhabitants. Three chapters before the end of the last Book of the Bible we see the Devil in the Lake of fire and brimstone being tormented. His evil influence can be seen on every page in between.
In Genesis 3 he is introduced without any explanation about his prior history. He just appears on the scene as the serpent. But do not be fooled! He is in disguise. Satan wisely used a creature that Eve would have been acquainted with instead of appearing as himself. Eve would not have had any aversion to or fear of a serpent. As far as she knew, this was just another one of God's creatures. Though Eve was deceived, we can know two important truths about this one who comes disguised in his person. First...
A. He disguises his person by disguising his character.
For some reason Eve was not alarmed that the serpent spoke with her. She had no inclination that he wanted to hurt her. I don’t know about you, but I am afraid of snakes! A friend once said to me when we found a snake in my yard, “Don’t worry, that snake won’t hurt you.” I replied, “Maybe not, but it will make me hurt myself while trying to get away from it!”
There were no vibrating rattles to warn Eve of impending danger and no venomous fangs to frighten her. Little did she know that this creature was disguising his real character. He was more dangerous and deadly than any rattlesnake or viper that has ever slithered on Earth.
Satan’s character is described for us in the Book of Revelation chapter 12, verse nine. “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:9).
As the great dragon he is a monster.
As the serpent he is treacherous and deadly.
As the Devil he is the slanderer.
As Satan he is our adversary.
As the one who deceives he is the seducer and father of all lies.
So the first important truth about this one who disguises his person is that he disguises his character. The second truth is that...
B. He disguises his person by disguising his craftiness.
Genesis 3:1 says, “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.”
The word cunning means sly or crafty. He smartly hides behind a mask. Satan doesn’t come to you in a flaming red jumpsuit with a pitchfork in his hand. He doesn’t have horns on his head and a pointed tail.
In 2 Corinthians 11:14 the Apostle Paul warned about false teachers who wanted to slip into churches undetected in order to teach their damnable heresies. These false teachers wanted to appear as educated men who only wanted to share their enlightened view of spiritual matters. But they didn't print up business cards that read, “Dr. Liberal False Teacher.” If they had done that, the church would have recognized them for who they really were and would have kicked them out! Paul says don’t be surprised that some people will try to fool you in the name of religion. They learned their trick from the devil. “And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).
He comes craftily disguised so as not to alarm you to who he really is. He wants you to think that he is someone who can be trusted; He is someone who is here only to help you. He wants you to believe that he has your best interests at heart. But don’t fall for his trickery!
You had better learn to recognize Satan behind that beautiful woman looking out at you from the pornography you view. You had better learn to recognize Satan behind that guy who offers you drugs. You had better learn to recognize Satan behind that temptation to do what you know deep down is wrong, no matter how seemingly insignificant.
There is a classic “Twilight Zone” episode from 1960 that I love. I’ve only seen reruns! An American on a walking trip through central Europe gets caught in a raging storm. Staggering through the blinding rain, he chances upon an imposing medieval castle. It is a monastery for a brotherhood of monks. The reclusive monks reluctantly take him in. Later that night, the American discovers a cell with a man locked inside. An ancient wooden staff bolts the door. The prisoner claims the “insane” head monk, Brother Jerome, is holding him captive. He pleads for the American to release him. The prisoner’s kindly face and gentle voice win him over. The American confronts Brother Jerome, who declares that the prisoner is actually none other than Satan, “the father of lies,” held captive by the Staff of Truth, the one barrier he cannot pass. Well, this convinces the American that Jerome is indeed insane. As soon as he gets the chance, he sneaks back to the cell and releases the prisoner-who immediately transforms into a hideous, horned demon and vanishes in a puff of smoke! The stunned American is horrified at the realization of what he has done. Jerome responds sympathetically. “I’m sorry for you, my son. All your life you will remember this night and whom you have turned loose upon the world.” The American replies, “I didn't believe you. I saw him and didn't recognize him”-to which Jerome solemnly observes, “That is man's weakness...and Satan's strength.” (iii.)
Now that we have seen that Satan Disguises His Person there is a second lesson for us. In addition to disguising his person Satan also disguises his plan.
II. Satan Disguises His Plan (Genesis 3:1b-5).
Satan pitches his temptation to Eve, not to Adam. He by-passed the head of the home and engaged Eve in an intellectual dialogue about what God had said, as to whether it was right to do something that God said was wrong. Satan doesn’t say to Eve, “Hey would you give me a moment of your time because I would like to damn your soul to Hell?” Instead he just invites Eve to join him for a little religious discussion. What could possibly be wrong with that?
It’s all a part of his sinister plan to destroy you!
A. He wants you to doubt the Word of God (Genesis 3:1b).
Satan knows that if he can get us to discuss spiritual matters with just the right amount of carelessness and callousness then he will be successful in leading us to change the Word of God to fit our lives rather than change our lives to fit the Word of God. Satan is the author of liberal theology because he teaches that you cannot trust the literal interpretation of your Bible.
“Yea, hath God said?”
“Is that what God really meant?”
“Isn’t the Bible open to your own personal interpretation?”
“Isn’t the Bible outdated?”
“Don’t we have the right to change the Bible to fit our modern standards?”
“Aren’t their errors and mistakes in the Bible?”
These liberal theologians tell you that your Bible is inspired only in spots. They want you to believe that some spots in your Bible are inspired while other spots are not. And on top of that, they want you to believe that they are the only ones inspired to spot the spots! Friend, don’t listen to Satan’s lies. You can trust your Bible from Genesis to Revelation! I believe my Bible from the Book of Genesis to where it says “Genuine Leather!” If you cannot trust what God says in Genesis 3 how in the world can you trust what He says in John 3:16?
All Eve had to do was to get out her Bible. She had a Bible you know? It wasn’t written and bound. And it wasn’t very big. It only had two verses with one command.
“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’” (Genesis 2:16-17).
All that Eve needed to stand against the wiles of the devil was her Bible! All the Lord Jesus needed when He was tempted in the wilderness was a couple of chapters out of the Book of Deuteronomy. Every time the Devil tempted Him He said, “It is written...”
In answering Satan Eve paraphrases the commandment and adds one thing. She adds the phrase, “nor shall you touch it.” Genesis 3:2-3 reads, “And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.”’” God hadn’t said anything about not touching it. Once Eve began to doubt the accuracy of God’s Word she was well on her way to falling prey to the evil one’s trap. The Devil says, “I've got this woman.” He disarmed her by taking away her Bible, thus leaving her defenseless against his wiles. He wants to do the same thing in your life. He wants to disarm you by taking away your Bible either through neglect or doubt. If he is not successful in getting you to neglect the study of God's Word then he will tempt you to doubt the accuracy of God's Word. Either way, he has you where he wants you!
Not only does he want you to doubt the Word of God, but...
B. He also wants you to doubt the judgment of God (Genesis 3:4).
God had clearly warned Adam and Eve about the consequences of sin.
“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’” (Genesis 2:16-17). Satan wants Eve to doubt this.
“Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die’” (Genesis 3:4).
You can almost hear Satan with irrepressible laughter saying, “You don’t believe that do you Eve? Come on Eve, ‘Surely die’? Isn’t that just a bit of hyperbole designed to get your attention, but not to be taken seriously?”
Satan seeks to convince Eve and us that sin is not so serious. It is really not as bad as God makes it sound. Satan flatly denies the authority of God by declaring that judgment will not fall on sinners. He hasn’t changed tactics. Some of you have heard his sinister voice recently. Perhaps you have heard him say…
“You don’t really believe that cheating on your spouse is such a bad thing do you? After all, everyone does it.”
“You don't see any harm in smoking a little pot do you?”
“Come on, getting drunk isn’t so bad. What’s wrong with getting wasted once in a while? Aren’t you entitled to a little fun?”
“All this talk about needing Jesus to forgive you of your sins may be fine for some people, but you don’t need it. You’re better than most of these church-going hypocrites anyway!”
Admit it, you have heard his voice recently! Satan wants you to doubt the Word of God and the judgment of God. But he is not finished with his plan.
The bottom line of Satan's plan is that...
C. He wants you to doubt the goodness of God (Genesis 3:5).
“For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5).
The Devil here suggests that God is a cosmic killjoy, tyrannically withholding from Adam and Eve something that would be good for them. He is saying, “If God really loved you, if God is so good, then He would want you to be happy and fulfilled. God doesn’t want you to enjoy life to the fullest. He knows that if you eat this fruit then you will be like Him! Eve, can you believe that God is good if this is how He treats you? Don’t you deserve better than this?” Satan wants Eve to believe that the restriction on her pleasure is not good and therefore God's plan is not good, thus God is not good.
All temptation is an invitation to doubt God’s goodness. God's restriction on Adam and Eve was indeed good because it gave them a way to demonstrate their obedience to God and it protected them from harm. But Eve doubted God’s goodness and believed the false hope that she could be like God. She believed the false hope that a person can be happy and fulfilled and wise without being obedient to God.
What else does Satan disguise besides his person and his plan?
III. Satan Disguises His Purposes (Genesis 3:6-13).
Remember who we are talking about today. Satan is your enemy. He is not your friend. He is not your buddy. He is not one who has your best interests in mind. “Jesus said that, ‘The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy’” (John 10:10). Wake up, sir! Wake up, madam. Wake up, young person! Satan has declared war on your soul!
Satan's purposes involve four things. First...
A. He wants to turn sinners into seducers (Genesis 3:6).
The late comedian named Flip Wilson used to play a character who often got into trouble. He would say, “The Devil Made Me Do It.” Well, that’s just not true. Satan can tempt us, but we are the ones who make the choice to be obedient or to sin. Being tempted is not a sin, but giving in to temptation is. You cannot keep a bird from flying over your head, but you can keep it from building a nest in your hair!
Did you notice that Satan doesn’t tempt Adam directly? He used Eve. The serpent deceived Eve, but Adam was not deceived. He was disobedient.
“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19).
“And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression” (1 Timothy 2:14).
Satan used Eve to seduce Adam into following his heart rather than his head. Adam sinned with his eyes wide open! Often Satan doesn’t have to tempt us directly. Instead he uses the influence of others to do his dirty work. We cannot sin in isolation. Our sin affects other people. When we sin we set a bad example for others. And all too often we entice others to join us in our sin. Christian, the question is not whether or not you are a witness. The question is what kind of witness are you? Are you a good witness or a bad one? Are you helping people live godly lives or are you being a stumbling block?
B. He wants to replace glory with guilt (Genesis 3:7).
“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings” (Genesis 3:7).
Sin is called darkness in the Bible (John 3:19). Some Bible scholars believe that before Adam and Eve sinned they were clothed in the glory of God. God is said to be light. On the Mount of Transfiguration Peter, James and John caught a glimpse of Jesus’ glory and deity. They saw the Lord Jesus Christ clothed in white garments flashing as bolts of lightening and His face shone as bright as the sun (Matthew 17:1-4)! We can speculate that Adam and Eve were clothed in the glory of God. But sin snuffed out the light. Sin always brings death and separation. While they did not die physically at that moment, they certainly died spiritually. Sin first fascinates then it assassinates. It thrills, and then it kills. Their souls were separated from God and lost in darkness. Their eyes were opened and they saw their fallen condition.
Adam and Eve tried to cover their guilt and shame. They took fig leaves and fashioned garments for themselves. Their new garments were pitiful attempts replace the glory they had lost. These garments only served to remind them of the enormity of their guilt. May you always remember that it is impossible through human effort and good deeds to remove your guilt as a sinner. Only God can remedy your guilt!
C. He wants you to exchange fellowship for fear (Genesis 3:8-10).
“And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ So he said, ‘I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself’” (Genesis 3:8-10).
Where there was once fellowship with God now there is fear. Sin always alienates us from God. It makes us the enemies of God. Like rebel fighters, Adam and Eve donned their handmade camouflage and retreated into the forest. When God asked Adam where he was it was not because God didn’t know. God is all knowing. He is omniscient. He asked because He wanted Adam to know! He wants Adam to see what sin has done. He wants Adam to see where disobedience has gotten him. Before we can be forgiven and restored and saved from our sins we must acknowledge our separation. When God confronts us and convicts us in our sinful condition He is giving us the chance to see for ourselves what sin has really done to our lives.
That leads us to the fourth purpose of Satan.
D. He wants you to conceal rather than confess (Genesis 3:11-13).
“And He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?’ Then the man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.’ And the LORD God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate’” (Genesis 3:11-13).
When God sought out Adam and brought him face-to-face with his guilt He was giving Adam a chance to confess his sin. Instead, Adam begins the blame game. He blames the woman. And by calling her the woman “You gave to be with me” he is subtly blaming God. When it is Eve’s turn to confess she follows the lead of her husband by blaming the Devil. But “The Devil made me do it” defense doesn't hold up before the judgment bar of God! God wants us to stop making excuses and own up to our choices. We are willful rebels, guilty sinners, and lost souls.
Conclusion: Satan’s work is done. He has deceived our first parents. They have given in to Satan’s enticements and they have doubted God. Sin has brought them to utter ruin. It seems that in just one decisive battle that the Devil has won the war.
But looks can be deceiving!
In autumn 2002, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, a priceless 15th century marble statue of Adam toppled and shattered while no one was in the room. Although vandalism was initially suspected, curators determined that the life-sized Venetian sculpture “buckled of its own accord,” said Time magazine. “It will take a great deal of time and skill, but the piece can be restored,” the museum's director said. (iv.)
Adam and Eve had truly fallen from grace. They were spiritually broken and utterly ruined. They buckled of their own accord under the pressure of the enemy’s attack. It seems that all hope was lost. But our gracious God, with great skill and love can put sinners back together again! If you are a Christian then there is good news for you. No matter what temptations you are facing God has already made a way of escape for you. Listen to what the Holy Spirit says to you through the Apostle Paul.
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Did you hear that? God has made THE way of escape for you. It doesn't say that He made many ways. It says He made “the way”. Do you remember what the Lord Jesus said in John 14:6? “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” Christian, cultivate your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Abide in Him and be filled by the Holy Spirit.
If you are not a Christian, if you have never believed on the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, then you too need to know that Jesus is the Way. There is a beautiful foreshadowing of Christ's death for you on the cross, pictured here in Genesis 3.
“Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21).
The first blood ever shed on Earth was by the hand of God. He took an innocent animal and shed its blood. He then clothed Adam and Eve in garments of skin. This is a wonderful and descriptive picture of how Christ, as the innocent Lamb of God, died on the cross. He took the penalty of your sin in His own body on the tree. And for all who will turn from their sin and believe on Him they are clothed in His righteousness! Listen to what Jesus said.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
i. Citation: Adapted from Mark Galli, managing editor of Christianity Today; source: Thomas Bailey and David Kennedy, The American Pageant, ninth edition (D.C. Heath, 1991) pp. 456-457
ii. Citation: Rick Ezell, Journey of a Faith Walker, sermon Five; PreachingToday.com
iii. Citation: Adapted from Kevin Stump, “Is the Devil Dead?” The Plain Truth, (Mar/Apr 2001)
iv. Citation: Bill White, Paramount, California; “Museum to mend shattered piece”, BBC News