The Villain of Revelation

The Villain of Revelation

Lesson: 3
If God's in charge – if God is all-powerful – why did God make an angel that even could become a devil? Why didn't He just take a different pattern off the wall and say, "I'm going to make one that will never become a devil'?" And you and I wouldn't have all the problems that we have in the world today.
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Jean Ross: good evening, friends, and welcome again to "Prophecy Encounter." We're delighted to have you here in our audience in sanford, florida. And also, a very warm welcome to our friends joining us across the country and around the world, part of our extended Bible study group. I'd also like to thank all of those who have helped to make this possible. We want to thank the church and the staff for hosting this very special event. And as mentioned earlier, the goal of this series is to just help us get in to the Scriptures and study those important Bible truths.

Jesus said, "you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free," and we believe that. So, we want to study Bible truths so that we can understand where we are in the stream of time, and also come to know the great champion of the Bible, that being Jesus. Well, it's time for us to get into the word in our study tonight, entitled "the villain of Revelation." If you--last night, we spoke about the hero of Revelation, but tonight, we're going to find out who the adversary is, and what he's plan is to try and, well, mislead people. So, once again, we are delighted that Pastor Doug is here to open up the word and guide us in our study. So, Pastor Doug, come on out and join us.

Give him a warm welcome this evening. Doug Batchelor: tonight, we've got a subject that I think you're going to find very interesting, and I hope you'll pray as we proceed because we're going to be talking about that archfiend, and why is there evil in the world today, dealing with the villain of Revelation. In fact, he's the villain of the whole Bible, better known as the devil. I don't know if you remember this notorious character from medellin, colombia. I did a series of meetings in columbia, and he was something of a hero there, pablo escobar.

He was the largest drug dealer in history. And at one time--matter of fact, I've got a few Amazing Facts here. I don't want to forget them, so I'm going to read some of these things to you. At one time, he was believed to be the richest man in the world. He had back then $30 billion.

By today's standards, it would have been over $50 billion. In the '80s, the demand was so high that, at one point, pablo escobar and his medellin cartel, selling mostly cocaine, was delivering 15 tons of cocaine to the us each day. That's the equivalent of two african elephants of cocaine. During this zenith of the drug trade, he was making $60 million a day in cocaine, selling cocaine. In fact, I was reading that he had so much cash, he spent over $2,000, I think, a month on rubber bands to bundle the cash.

He had so much cash hoarded away in tropical barns that he figured he lost $2 million a year to rats that nibbled away, and mold. Molding money. He owned 5,000 acres of land near a small columbian town, where he built a little utopia, 20-room mansion where he'd invite--he'd just pay, and he'd have a great musicians and people from around the world coming. He had his own bullring, his own zoo, with hippos, giraffes, and elephants. In all, it's said that he's responsible for approximately 4,000 deaths, including Judges and a columbian presidential candidate.

But he was never satisfied with all that money and that power. He wanted to be loved by the people. He wanted to be the president of the country, if you can imagine that. And he started giving money to all these poor villages, and for schools, and public works. He couldn't spend his money fast enough.

And they all loved him, they thought he was a hero. Not all, many people loved him. He ran for congress and got elected, but he wasn't satisfied. He wanted more power, and he wanted more, and he wanted more. And when some of the other people in politics started to investigate him more carefully, he had them killed.

And he had a saying, "do you want money, silver; or do you want bullets, lead?" And he gave everybody the choice, he says, "I'll either pay you and you can cooperate and go along with me, or you're dead." And when Judges began to investigate him, or people were going to testify against him, suddenly they ended up dying. When someone else was running against him, they were assassinated. And 4,000 murders, wasn't happy. More, more, more. You know, it reminds us of the character that probably inspired people like escobar, some of these individuals like hitler and stalin that just are--have an insatiable desire to be the greatest, to have more power, to have more money.

And it reminds us about the origin of that archfiend that we read about in the Bible. First question we're going to ask tonight is, with whom did sin originate? You know, Jesus came to save us from our sins. Why is there sin in the world? If God made everything good, why do we sin? Where did sin come from? People sometimes say, "who had the first cold? Who had the first case of aids? Where do these things come from?" It's like a mystery. Well, the Bible gives us these answers. You can read in Revelation 12, verse 9, it refers to him as, "that old serpent called the devil, and satan.

" And so, here he is called the serpent, he's called the devil, he's called satan, he's also called the dragon. And so, satan originated, believe it or not, not here on earth, but up in heaven. The Bible says, "the devil sinneth from the beginning." Sin originated with satan. Satan is that archfiend. He is very real.

I believe that not only does God send good angels to our meetings, I believe the devil tries to send representatives to distract and keep people from hearing the word. There are battles that are raging. Paul talks about us not wrestling against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, spiritual forces of wickedness in high places. There is a God, there are good angels, and there is a devil, there is an evil power in the world. I think as you look at what's happened in history, you'd have to say that there is evil.

You look at what some terrorists do, where they put a person in a cage and douse them with gasoline, and videotape as they set them on fire, that is this incarnate evil. One of the reasons some people turn to God is they say, "you know, I wasn't so sure about God, but when I become convinced that there was absolute evil, then I thought there must be good, there must be God." And we can certainly see the evidence for evil in the world. So, what was satan's name before he sinned? And where was he living at that time? Well, it surprises people to learn you can read in Isaiah chapter 14, verse 12, "how you have fallen from heaven, o lucifer, son of the morning." Matter of fact, I'm going to turn to Isaiah now. Two of the principle passages in the old testament that tell us about the devil, you can find a little bit about him, of course, in Genesis, but he's not called by name. You go to Isaiah 14, and Isaiah begins with a prophecy about the King of Babylon.

And then he transitions into the power behind that wicked king, and he says, "how you have fallen from heaven." This is--I'm sorry, Isaiah 14:12,"how you have fallen from heaven, o lucifer, son of the morning." The word "lucifer," it means light-bearer. It's really a latin word. In Hebrew, it's more like helel, it means the morning star. "How you are cut down to the ground, who weakened the nations, for you said in your heart, 'I will ascend into heaven. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God.

I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds. I will be like the most high." You can tell that he had I problems, i, i, i. You know, I've heard that people in mental institutions use the words "i, me, my, mine, and myself" five times more than people that are regarded as sane. Selfishness will make you crazy.

And the very idea that the creature could rebel against the creator, to you and i, it sounds insane but somehow, he thought he could--had enough power to overthrow God. And don't forget lucifer was very powerful. But it goes on to say, "yet you will be brought down to sheol, to the lowest depths of the pit. And those who see you will gaze at you and consider you, saying, 'is this the one who made the earth tremble, who shook nations, who made the world as a wilderness?'" But matter of fact, before I put my Bible down, let me go ahead and turn to Ezekiel chapter 28, and we're going to read verse 12. If you can remember Isaiah 14, then you double that, and you go to Ezekiel 28, verse 12.

"Son of man, take up this lamentation against the King of tyre and say to him--" he starts out talking about the King of tyre, then he talks about the evil power behind the King. Now, it's important to know that because you get to Revelation and it talks about the dragon wanting to devour the baby as soon as it's born. The roman power, the devil, the dragon, through the roman king herod, killed the babies in Bethlehem. Who do you think inspired herod to do that? It's the devil. And so, these prophets are taking--they're showing these earthly Kings that are persecuting God's people.

Then they're--the veil is pulled back, and they're showing lucifer, the power behind these Kings. And it says here, "you were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in eden, the garden of God." the King of tyre was not in the Garden of Eden, lucifer was. "Every precious stone was your covering, the sardius, the topaz, the diamond, the braille, the onyx, the jasper." He was beautifully adorned, the highest of God's angels. "The sapphire, the turquoise, and the emerald with gold.

The workmanship of your tumbrils and your pipes," those are beautiful instruments, he had a beautiful voice, incredible musical talent. And the devil does use music. "Was prepared for you on the day you were created." Not born, people are born. Adam was created, angels were created, they're not born. So, it's talking about a created being that was in the garden of God.

"You are the anointed cherub." Now, is there any doubt who he's talking about? He was a cherub, he was a special, chosen cherub, "the one above all others, an angel who covers. I established you so. You were on the holy mountain of God. You walked back and forth in the midst of the fiery stones." Notice this, "you were perfect in your ways from the day you were created until iniquity was found in you." So, did God make a devil? Every good and perfect gift is from God. Did God make a devil, or did God make a beautiful angel that decided to be a devil? How many of you have known families, wonderful family, good mother, good father, had several children, and one of them just turns into a wild child, and can be evil? And you think, "same family, good brothers and sisters, but this one made choices.

" And God is a good father. And you're probably thinking, "well, maybe the Lord made a mistake, huh?" Number three, what was the origin of lucifer, and what was his position? We're going to elaborate a little more on what I touched on. It says, "you were perfect in your ways from the day that you were created, until iniquity was found in you." The angels are the highest order of God, they are the ministering spirits of God. The Bible even says man is made lower than the angels. Lucifer was the highest of the angels.

And if these are the ministering spirits of God, that means lucifer may have been one of the earliest creations of God, the leader of the angels, incredibly beautiful, big, powerful. Don't underestimate the power of the devil. At one point, God released his protection from job, and he told the devil, "all right, I'm going to let you afflict him." And the Bible says the devil brought fire down from heaven. The devil sent a tornado to kill his children when the house collapsed. All these calamities came.

Satan had incredible power over these forces. I don't want to glorify the power of the devil, but you need to also understand your enemy. And so, just to be aware of these things. "You were perfect in your ways from the day that you were created, until iniquity was found in you. You were the anointed cherub who covers," the covering cherub, "for so I established you.

" Some of you remember the story about the ark of the covenant. And the ark of the covenant is a symbol for the throne of God. And there on the ark, there were two creatures, what were they? Angels, cherubs. Well, two of them. They're called the covering cherubs.

If you read in Isaiah chapter 6, it talks about the throne of God, and by the throne of God are these two seraphim, these two angels. And they cry, "holy, holy, holy," and they've got six wings. And with two wings, they cover their face, and two they cover their feet, and two they fly, and they're the right and left-hand position of God almighty, most highly regarded position are these two angels. I don't know if you've ever noticed when the pope sits on his throne, he has a throne there in st. Peter.

Every now and then, he'll sit on his throne. That there are two angels on the right and the left. Any of you ever seen that before? That harkens from that chapter there in the Bible where it talks about Isaiah. Lucifer had the highest position right at the right hand of God, and he fell. Now, we don't know how long he was a good, and a cooperative, and a loving angel.

And if you had known him back then, you would have loved him because everything God makes is good. The Bible says, "every good--" if you want to know what God's intentions are, look in the Garden of Eden. When God made this world, every day when he creates something, what does he declare? It's always good. It was good, it was good, it was good, good, very good. It was a paradise.

And do you think he had less going on in heaven? Everything God made was good. There was perfect harmony. How long did that last? I don't know. Lucifer might have been on the right track for millions of years, no way of knowing right now. But something happened.

He became dissatisfied. He began to be jealous of the honor and the worship and adoration that Jesus received from the other creatures, Christ before his incarnation. And he wanted that position. And he began to resent that God was worshipped. He started to resent that God had rules and laws.

He started thinking, "we shouldn't--we're intelligent angels, we don't need God telling us what to do. I should be able to have that kind of power. Why can't I have the power to create?" He may have resented when God was making the world because, you know, humans can procreate in their own image. We're made in the image of God, God creates in his own image, we create through an act of love in our own image. Angels can't do that.

You know, Jesus said angels don't marry and they can't procreate. And so, he began to resent that he didn't have all the power of God, and he started to want the position of Christ, and he began to start a campaign to take that. Now, while I'm--i want you to do something for me. Just for a moment, I want you to close your eyes and just picture what would the devil look like. Now, don't think too long about that.

What did you see? How many of you saw a character with a goatee? Goatees are back in now, aren't they? I had a goatee and people said--yeah, Karen didn't like it. I've had it a couple times. I had one years ago when my hair was actually dark, and somebody told me I looked like a sinister minister. And so, I thought I'd better shave off my goatee. Did any of you picture a character that had red? Red leotards? Bat wings? Anyone when--how many of you have seen images of the devil? Horns? Pitchfork? Do these images come from the Bible? Now, the devil's happy--you know, you buy a can of red devil paint, or you eat devil's food cake, and it's always got the typical, traditional cartoon character of what the devil looks like, but satan isn't a joke.

He's very real. He's delighted to have people think that he looks like this mythical, comical character. In reality, does satan look like that? Or does the Bible say satan himself can be transformed from an angel of light? He's beautiful. Yeah, into an angel of light. That's 2 Corinthians chapter 11.

We'll talk more about that. So, what led him to sin? What brought the whole thing about? You read again in Ezekiel 28:17, "your heart was lifted up because of your beauty. You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. For you have said in your heart, 'I will ascend into heaven, I will be the like the most high God.'" His power--you ever heard the expression, "power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely"? And not only does power corrupt, but sometimes people, if they're blessed with money, they can be corrupted by it.

Some people are blessed with popularity, some people are blessed with handsome or beautiful appearance. And if they don't have a humble attitude, it can destroy them. I've struggled with that all my life, trying to maintain my humble attitude in spite of my beautiful appearance. Why are you laughing? But you and I have all known people that can be vain, and they can become preoccupied by their appearance. And I once knew a young lady that just--she was a very attractive young lady.

The problem was she knew it. And you know, I guess too many people going up, told her how beautiful she was, and she was just constantly pulling her little mirror out of her purse and checking herself. And she'd walk by a store window, and she'd turn and she'd look, and she's reading glamour magazine. And she was very attractive, but nobody really wanted to marry her because she was so vain. She began to, like, worship herself.

And the devil, because he received so much praise and so much adoration from the other angels, he began to want it all. He started to resent that Jesus was above him. You know, it's interesting, a kid will be happy if you take them to baskin robins 31 flavors and you get the double scoop of ice cream. They're happy until you give their brother or sister a triple scoop. Isn't that right? What's wrong with us? There's something that's jealousy, that's resentment.

And he began to covet the position of God. "For you said in your heart, 'I will ascend into heaven. I will be like the most high. I want to be God.'" And so, he began a campaign. He realized he had to work subtly, and he began to circulate among the other unfallen angels in heaven.

Well, none of them were fallen at that point. And he began to create innuendo and doubts about God. And, "you know, we don't need God telling us, we should all be our own Gods, and he should give us the ability to create. Well, we're right next to God, and why doesn't he give us more glory? And why don't we get worshipped by the other unfallen worlds?" And lucifer began to just sow seeds of questions and doubt, and he is the master at it. He was brilliant.

He had supernatural intelligence that you and I cannot even comprehend, and he began to bend all of his energies to see if he could--he thought, "if I could get all of the power of these billions of angels on my side, we can even overthrow God." I know it sounds crazy to us, but that's what he did, he began a rebellion in heaven. And one third of the angels started listening to him. You know, you can read there in Proverbs chapter 6, verse 16 through 19, it says, "six things the Lord hates, seven are an abomination to him." It says, "a heart that divides a proud look," first, "a lying tongue," the devil started with pride, "a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are running swiftly to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren." Notice the part that he mentions with, the seventh, one who sows discord among brethren. What did lucifer do? Started with pride, ended up sowing discord in heaven. It finally turned into an open rebellion, and they were finally cast out.

Now, before I get to that part, some of you might be wondering, "Pastor Doug, all right, let's ask the most important question. If God's in charge, if God is all powerful, why would he put up with that? If something--if lucifer started to misbehave like that, then obviously God did something wrong in the programming. There was a software problem. God got the wiring wrong. There was a defect somewhere in lucifer.

If there was no defect, he never would have done that. Why did God make an angel that even could become a devil? Why didn't he just take a different pattern off the wall and say, 'oh, I'm going to make one that will never become a devil,' and you and I wouldn't have all the problems that we have in the world today, or in our lives. Lord, why did you do that?" Did God make a mistake? Could God have made lucifer where he never rebelled? Yes. Why didn't he? Because God gives all of his creatures freedom. The greatest proof that God is a God of love is the fact that some of the creatures chose not to love him.

How many of you are parents? Did you know that before you had children, there was a risk that your children might not always listen to you? And you still had them, right? Let me see if--how many of you want to be loved? Did any of you have children because you wanted love? You acted surprised, didn't you? Some of you had children because you wanted to love. You know, I just always laugh when I see these young couples, and the eye--girl gets that look in her eyes, and she says, "I want a baby." It just totally is like they don't realize they don't stay that way, you know? It's like it reminds me of when my kids say, "I want a puppy." And, well, it'll be a puppy for about a month, and then they get to a big dog." And I got Karen a puppy, and he was so cute, he just tore the house apart, and finally had to take him up to the ranch. They don't stay puppies. Came home once and had this pillow in the living room, and he just ripped it to shreds. It was like this big center pillow that people sat on.

So, I had to put duct tape over it and flip it over. And cute little dog. But we have our families, we get our pets, we do this because we want love, we want to be loved. But there's a risk when you want love. Now, I want love just like you.

I will admit I like to be liked more than I like to be disliked. And I figured out a way where I can get more love. Came with my smartphone. Male: good evening, Pastor Doug. Doug: good evening, smartphone.

Male: how are you doing this fine evening? Doug: I'm doing fine. How are you? Male: well, my batteries are almost fully charged, so I guess you can say I'm fine. Doug: we're glad to hear that. Male: Pastor Doug, I want to tell you something. Doug: yes, smartphone? Male: I just haven't told you lately how wonderful you truly are.

Well, you even border on magnificent. And matter of fact, you're beautiful, you're handsome, you're tall, you're smart. I love you, doug. I just have to tell you I really love you. I love you so much.

I love you, love you, love you. I adore you, you are so cute. I love you, doug. I love you, doug. Doug: I should be able to patent that, make a lot of money, right? Just everyone wants love, there you got it.

I got a smartphone that says it loves me. So, I may run off with my smartphone, leave Karen, right? Because it's a lot more cooperative than she is. Why won't this work? Is that love? Because I made it say it loves me. It doesn't love me. So, could God preprogram lucifer to say, "I love you, God.

I love you, God"? Sure. Would it have been love? The fact that he had to make his creatures free illustrates that there's a choice that some might choose not to love him. And he didn't completely obliterate lucifer as soon as he rebelled because then the other creatures in the universe would have listened to God out of fear instead of out of love. God wants us to obey him because we love him, amen? So, what happened as a consequence of lucifer's rebellion in heaven? Finally, it broke out into a war. And the words "war in heaven," they're a paradox, but that's what it says in Revelation chapter 12, verse 7, "war broke out in heaven, Michael and his angels fought with the dragon.

" Now, dragon's a symbolic name for who? The devil. And the dragon fought against Michael, and it says, "they did not prevail," and they were ultimately cast out. But where did they go from there? Where is satan's present headquarters as he continues his rebellion against God? Where did the devil go as his beachhead? So, where did he go? He went all through the universe, probably trying to find others he could recruit to join him, until he came to this world, he finally found someone. And you can read in Revelation 12:4, "his tail drew a third of the stars," who do those stars represent? The angels that joined him in his rebellion. Out of all the angels, what percent joined lucifer? One third, that's a lot.

If God's got good angels that guard us, the devil probably has demons that tempt us. Some of you maybe read c.s. Lewis' book "the screwtape letters," where he talks about the way that the devil is always trying to work and connive to bring about people's downfall, and how God intervenes to save. He cast them to the earth, so he came down here. And again, you can read in Revelation 12, verse 9, "that great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the devil and satan, who deceives the whole world.

" Satan claims this world as his. "He was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." There's no question satan--and he's not down under the earth somewhere. Remember when the devil came before this heavenly assembly in the book of job, and God says to satan, "where did you come from?" God knew, but he's asking for the benefit of the other attendees at this convention. And he says, "I've come from the earth, from walking up and down, and back and forth in the earth." "It's my domain," he's saying, "I survey it." So, satan has set up his headquarters here. Christ refers to him as the prince of this world, even Jesus.

And satan once claimed he could offer the world to Jesus because he claims it is his, he deceives the whole world. Most of the world doesn't accept Christ. Broad is the way that leads to destruction. Straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life. Few find it.

The devil's deceived most of the people, and it's very sad. From going up and down, to and fro in the world. Number seven, when God created adam and eve, what was the one thing he forbad from doing? He said, "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat of it," amen? And that, by the way, is Genesis 2:17. He said, "you know, you're free. It just is a paradise.

I've made this beautiful world, beautiful garden, it's all yours. I've got one restriction." The devil's been told the only place he can campaign is at that tree, and you can choose to reject him and resist him, and you'll never have any problems. But if you engage him, it could be deadly. Don't eat from this forbidden fruit." And they didn't listen. The forbidden--the fruit of the tree, yeah.

He said, "for in the day that you eat thereof you will surely die." Now, what the Lord means by that is, "in dying, you will die," is the way that reads in the Hebrew. That you will definitely die eventually. They die in spiritually the day they disobeyed. And of course, adam and eve both died within that first millennia. A day with the Lord is like 1,000 years, right? And so, we know the story.

What medium did satan use to deceive eve? And what lies did satan tell her? Well, you know, he appeared through the medium of a serpent. Now, the serpent is--it's just another creature, but it says it was a very hypnotic, beautiful, subtle creature. "Now, the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made." And this serpent is up in this forbidden tree. And you know, I don't know how you feel when some--my mother was terrified of snakes. My mom would see a snake on tv and she'd scream.

My brother and i, we'd put rubber snakes in her drawer just to get a reaction. I know, it's terrible. But some people are really scared. Some snakes I think are beautiful. They got beautiful patterns and stuff, and--but they are creatures.

But God can talk through a donkey. You know the story of balaam? And the devil spoke through a serpent. And it says that this hypnotic serpent was up there in the tree, and evidently maybe they were even able to fly at one point because he's later cursed to go on his belly. So, something changed there. And the serpent said to the woman, "you'll not really die.

" First question in the Bible is he questioned God's Word. "Hath God said?" You notice the cynicism. Doubting the Word of God, all the sin in our world today comes from the devil doubting the Word of God. And he said, "you're not really going to die. Don't--God didn't really mean what he said.

" And because our first parents chose not to believe God's Word, and instead they believed the devil, we got all these problems. Revelation 12, notice satan is also called that old serpent, "the dragon was cast out, that serpent called the devil and satan." So, there's no question who the dragon, who the serpent, who the devil--you know, the word "satan" means adversary. And if you take the word "devil" and you take off the d, what do you have? Evil. He is consummate evil. And then finally, that first prophecy.

the Lord says there in Genesis 3:15, "I'll put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed." And so, through the book of Revelation and all through the Bible, you see this contest going on between the seed of the woman, Christ followers, and--of course, Jesus is the ultimate seed of the woman. And the dragon, the devil, battle between good and evil. You've all heard the fairytales about the night in shining armor that saves the maiden from the dragon. Kind of all those are kind of rooted in some truth that you find in the Bible. Now, some have wondered, when God cursed the devil that he had to go on his belly, does that mean that the devil--the serpent rather, does that mean they used to be able to fly? You know, there are actually some snakes--snakes are interesting creatures.

They inhabit almost every dominion except antarctica. You got snakes that live underground, you got snakes that live on the ground, and rocks, you got them in the trees. You got snakes that can soar through the air. In indonesia, they got snakes that'll spread out their rib cage, and jump from tree to tree, and they glide. Have any of you ever seen that before? It's just incredible.

And then we know from paleontology and some of the bones that have been found that there was a whole spectrum of flying reptiles that existed. Here's one picture of the pterosaur. And some of them were as big as a small cessna plane, just these incredibly large flying reptiles. And so, shouldn't have any problem believing that. You can also see it again here in Revelation 12:17, where it tells us that, "the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring.

" See, Jesus--Genesis talked about the seed of the woman? Here you go to the end of the Bible--the beginning of the Bible, you get the dragon, the serpent, the woman, the seed of the woman. Now you go to Revelation, you got the dragon, the serpent, and the woman, and he's trying to destroy the seed of the woman. We'll get back to that on another study. Who does he especially hate? The descendants of the woman, "who keep the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus." They've got the testimony of Jesus. And so, the devil hates people that obey God's commandments.

During our Bible questions, someone talked about that verse in Mark 16 where it says, "they will take up serpents." And you can read in acts where Paul was bitten by a serpent, and he took it up and he shook it off in the fire, a deadly serpent. And the people were amazed he didn't fall over and die there on the island of malta. Jesus makes a promise there in Luke chapter 10. The serpent is a symbol of the devil. He says in Luke 10, verse 18 and 19, it says, "I saw satan fall like lightning from heaven.

" And he says, "I'll give you authority, and you will trample serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will by any means hurt you." So, that is really good news. When Jesus talks about us trampling on snakes, I don't recommend you do that. I used to live in the desert, I put my foot down at night one time and heard rattling, and I jumped 12 feet. And you don't want to step on a snake. They won't bother you, but if you step on them, they will spin around and bite you.

So, don't go trying that. I've got a friend that thought, "I'm going to try and grab that snake, I'm quicker than he is." And he went to grab it behind the head, and he got too far back, and it spun around, it bit him. But usually, rattlesnakes won't bother you if you leave them alone. So, when he's talking about trampling on serpents, he's talking spiritually about defeating who? The devil. So, do you and I as Christians need to be afraid of the devil? No, why? The Bible says, "greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world," amen? Christ will give you power over the enemy.

And when he tempts you, you can claim the promises of God. So, back to the next question here, why was eating a piece of fruit such a deadly offense? It's just a piece of fruit, why all the trouble in the world from eating the wrong thing? Well, because, first of all, God commanded them not to. I did an amazing fact--you know, every week, we do Amazing Facts on our radio program, and I did an amazing fact about the manchineel tree. They actually grow here in florida and around the caribbean, and it's called the tree of death. Columbus called them death apples.

They have apples, and they look very luscious, they even smell sweet. But if you eat one, you could easily die. It'll cause--it'll burn your throat, your throat would swell up, and it can cause--it will cause all kinds of gastronomical problems, and permanent injury, and liver and kidney problems. If you're even under that tree when it's raining, the sap from the tree coming on your skin can blister your skin. It's a very toxic tree, and they've got these sign everywhere, "warning, stay away from this tree.

" And I read about a tourist that was in some caribbean island where there was one of these trees. They keep them for erosion on the coast. And they didn't have a sign. And she and her friend said, "oh, that looks good." And oh, they had all kinds of miserable problems, and pain, and suffering because they ate this deadly tree. Well, God told adam and eve not to eat the tree, and it wasn't that the fruit hurt them, it was the disobedience that did it.

You see, the Bible says in Romans 6:16, "do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves or servants to obey, you are the slaves of the one who you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?" And when adam and eve decided to follow the teachings or the suggestion of the serpent, the devil, instead of God, they surrendered the dominion of this world that God had given adam and eve to the enemy. See, adam was to have dominion of the world, and eve. And when they chose to listen to the devil instead of God, they handed over the keys. And the devil decided to continue his rebellion with this planet as the beachhead for his war against God. Number ten, what are some of satan's methods that he uses to deceive, discourage, or to destroy people? And we're going to go through a list of things here.

First of all, it says, "satan is the one who deceives the whole world." Satan is a deceiver. Deception is the comingling of truth and error. He will take something good and he'll mix in something bad, and you don't realize how deadly and dangerous it is. He came to Jesus in the wilderness and he tempted him. Do you think the devil appeared as--when the devil came to tempt Jesus in the wilderness, and he's out there, he's fasted 40 days, do you think satan kind of just plopped down on the ground, and he had his red leotards and his--you know, his goat feet? I never did mention the goat feet.

How many of you remember the devil's got goat feet, right? I'm being sarcastic, sorry. And he's--you know, these horns and his bat wings, and he said, "I've got a proposition for you." Would you listen to anybody that looked like that that came to you with a proposition? How do you think he appeared to Jesus? Remember, we quoted that verse, he can appear as an angel of light. He was being deceptive. Christ was there in the wilderness, tempted by the devil. Satan tempts.

Now, you'll often say, "Jesus saved me. And I almost had a car accident, but Jesus saved me." Really, Jesus probably did it through his angels. Sometimes, you'll say, "the devil tempted me." I don't know if any of you remember a comedian named flip wilson. He became famous for saying, "the devil made me do it." The devil--can the devil make you? Not unless you're demon possessed. Most of us have to cooperate.

We surrender our wills. If the devil had taken eve, and held her to the ground, and pushed the forbidden fruit in her mouth, it would not have been a sin. But she had to willingly choose. And typically, when we sin, we are choosing to do what we know is not right. So, he's a tempter.

Can the devil work miracles? Revelation chapter 16, verse 14, and our special emphasis in our "Prophecy Encounter" is Revelation. It says, "they are the Spirits of devils working miracles." So, can the devil counterfeit the miracles of God? You remember the story in the Bible, when Moses came before pharaoh and said, "let my people go"? And to show that God was with him, he threw his staff down, it turned into a serpent. Then pharaoh called in his magicians, they threw down their staffs, they turned into serpents. Was that the power of God or the power of the devil? Satan can do signs, and wonders, and miracles. So, some people say, "well, I listened to that pastor because he does miracles.

He does signs and wonders." If he's not following the Word of God, those miracles can be counterfeits. And so, don't forget, the devil can counterfeit those signs and wonders. In fact, Revelation 13:13, that same chapter where it talks about the Mark of the beast, it says, "he performs great signs so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men." The devil does have power, and so our decision about following Jesus cannot be based upon signs, and wonders, and miracles. It needs to be based upon thus saith the Lord, amen? Because, "satan himself can be transformed into an angel of light." Matter of fact, I believe the masterpiece--see, God came into the world through a man, Jesus, to teach us the truth. Before the end of time, I think satan is going to either thoroughly possess a man, or impersonate Christ, and he's going to try to do his masterpiece performance pretending to be Christ.

Jesus said there will be false Christs and false prophets, and there have been through history. But I'll tell you, in the last days, I think that he is saving his main act for the final days, where he is going to claim to be Christ. Isn't that what he always wanted, to be Jesus? He's going to act that out in the world, and he'll do signs and wonders, and he will quote the Bible. And if it were possible, even the very elect would be deceived. What will prevent the very elect from being deceived? They're going to see an inconsistency between what this false Christ says and what Jesus said in His Word.

That's why we need to know our Bibles, amen? Jesus warned us in Matthew 7, "beware of the devil that he is as--" it says, "these false prophets who will come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." And I think we all know there have been some pastors and evangelists out there that they put on a good show, but in the inside, it was all about them. It was all about gaining money, or wealth, or fame. But the ministers of Christ are going to lift up Christ and His Word. Revelation 12:10, another thing the devil does, he's called the accuser of the brethren. He's always casting innuendo.

You remember the story in the Bible where, at the supper, mary gave this beautiful gift to Jesus, and she anointed his feet--anointed his head and his feet with this oil, and cried, and washed his feet with her tears. You remember the story? And Judas saw her generosity, and it convicted his greed because he was a thief. And he said, "what a terrible waste of money. Oh, this could have been sold and given to the poor." He began to accuse her. That's the Spirit of the devil.

You remember when satan--in the Bible, in the book of job, satan appears to the Lord, says, "oh, the only reason job serves you is because you've hedged him in." And you can read in the book of zachariah how the devil is there, he's pointing to Joshua, the high priest, and he's accusing his dirty garments. Satan is always accusing God's people. Jesus came to resurrect Moses, and the devil said, "you can't have him, he sinned." And Michael said, "the Lord rebuke thee." So, the devil is always--he's out to get us. He's to accuse us before God, the accuser of the brethren. You probably know some people like that, right? Always gossiping and putting other people down.

That's not the Spirit of God. Something else we learn about him, Jesus said, "he is a murderer from the beginning, and he's a liar and The Father of it." How powerful and effective are satan's temptations and his strategies? That's our next question. Well, it says, "there will be false Christs and false prophets, they will rise, and they're going to show great signs and wonders to deceive many." We also just read about that signs and wonders of devils in Revelation. It goes on to say in Matthew 24, "if it were possible, they'd deceive even the very elect." "Be sober, be vigilant," Peter says. Peter 5:8, "because your adversary the devil is going around as a roaring lion, seeking whom he might devour.

" I remember about a year ago, Karen and I were in south africa with Pastor Ross and his wife, and we went to this park, we saw the world's largest pride of white lions. And they were beautiful to look at. Boy, they were vicious when they fed them. We got to watch them when they ate. They weren't very--you know, they don't share very well, lions.

And lions use deception when they hunt. They get--you know, one lion goes around behind the gazelle or the zebra, and the other one roars, and they'd go running off into the mouth of the lionesses. And the devil uses deception. He's prowling all the time, pacing to try and find someone to devour. It says, "be sober, be vigilant and resist him steadfast in the faith.

He's seeking whom he might devour." Now, there are three principle areas of temptation. The Bible talks about you got the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life. These are the same three areas where Jesus was tempted. He came to Christ, he said, "if you're The Son of God, command that these stones become bread." This is a physical temptation. You might be thinking, "oh, Jesus has never been tempted like me.

He didn't have to struggle with cigarettes. Or maybe he didn't have to struggle--maybe you got, you know, a crack addiction. Doesn't matter what it is. It might be food, whatever your addiction is. The Bible tells us that you've got the lust of the flesh.

Physical addiction, whatever it is, Jesus got the victory over that. You can get the victory through Christ. That was one category. Jesus answered with the Word of God, "it is written, 'man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" So, in the Word of God is where you find the antidote for these temptations. There's power in the Word of God.

The world came into existence through the Word of God. And so, when we speak and claim the promises of God, he gives us victory. "Then the devil took him to the holy city, and he set him on the pinnacle of the temple. Then he said--the devil said, 'if you are The Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,'" oh, what? Now the devil's quoting the Bible. You mean the devil reads the Bible? I thought the devil was afraid of the Bible.

Owning a Bible is not going to save you. "Thy word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you." You got to read it, and then you quote it back to the devil. So, he's quoting the Bible to Jesus, "it is written, 'he'll give his angels charge over you.'" He's quoting--or misquoting, actually, psalm 91, he didn't quote the whole thing. And Jesus came back, "oh, it is written, 'you shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" By the way, all three times when Jesus met the temptations of the devil, he quotes from the book Deuteronomy. So, old testament was good enough for Jesus, it should still be good enough for us today too, right? Along with the new testament, but don't throw away your old testament.

"Again, the devil took him to an exceedingly high mountain," and he shows him all the Kingdoms of the world and all their glory. He doesn't show the slums, he doesn't show the problems, he doesn't show the traffic jams. He says, "all this I'll give you if you just fall down and worship me." Now, the devil is showing his true colors. What did he want? He wants the worship. If Jesus would worship him, he would be God.

"See, you don't have to die. You've come to die? You don't have to die, just bow down and worship me, I'll give it to you." And what did Jesus say? "Get thee behind me, satan." He said, "all these things I'll give you if you follow me." "Away with you, satan." Again he said, "it is written," and he says--he quotes from that verse and said, "you shall worship the Lord God, and him only shall you serve." You shall not have other Gods. And the devil left him for a season. The Bible says, "resist the devil and he'll flee from you." And you read again in Ephesians 6:11, "put on the whole armor of God, that you might be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." God knows we're going to have battles and we need to be armed, you need to resist, need to be prepared every day to deny self and say yes to Jesus. And the more you love Jesus, the easier it is to obey him and resist the devil because the devil will always appeal to your selfishness.

And again it says in Ephesians 6:17, "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God." "The Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword," Revelation. Jesus is pictured in chapter 19 coming with a sword coming out of his mouth, meaning the Word of God is in his mouth. There you've got that verse in Hebrews 4, verse 12, "the Word of God is living, quick, powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword." You read the word, it'll convict you from sin, but you also find promises and power in the word to resist temptation. I think it was d.l. Moody that said, "the Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.

" So, if you're struggling with temptation, the devil hates when people are on their knees and in the word, amen? "Therefore, submit yourself to God." Great promise in the book of James chapter 4, "submit to God. Resist the devil." You can't resist the devil till you surrender to God. "Submit to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and God will draw near to you," amen? You know, the very fact you're coming to this program is evidence you are drawing near to God. "Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.

" You don't have to be afraid of the devil. Christ will give you victory. When and where will the devil receive his punishment? And what will that punishment be? All right, finally it says in Matthew 25, he'll declare, "depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." God doesn't want you in that fire. It's prepared for the devil and his angels. But if you follow the devil instead of Christ, you will share the fate of the devil.

It says, "I'll bring you to ashes on the earth in the sight of them that behold you. You will be a terror, and never shall thou be anymore." You find that in Ezekiel 28:18. So, what is it that forever settles the horrible problem of sin? And will sin ever rise up again the second time? Well, what settles it is the sacrifice of Jesus. And you can read in the book of Nahum, a little book in the Bible, but it's got a great promise there, chapter 1, verse 9, "affliction, sin, will not rise up the second time." You know, when Jesus rose from the dead, did he still have the nail scars in his hands? It's like that verse in Zechariah chapter 14. It says there--or 13 rather, verse 6, "and one shall say unto him, 'what are these wounds in your hands?'" Some of these old testament characters, they may get there and say, "what happened, lord? We don't understand.

" When Jesus rose, he still had the scars. And through eternity, when we see the scars in his hands, we'll see how much he paid that we might be forgiven. The universe will never want to repeat the experiment of selfishness and sin again. It will be forever cured, you'll never have to worry about that again. I want to be in that world, don't you? God is going to restore everything the devil destroyed, all the paradise that he made for adam and eve.

And we're going to talk about that in one of our lessons. It says here in our next question, who makes the final, complete eradication of sin from the universe a certainty? John 3:8, "for this is the purpose The Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil." Jesus is going to completely erase what the devil has done. He began on the cross, he will complete it with his coming and the great judgment, but the Lord is going to--and he can give you complete recovery in your life too. I haven't met a person who had a sin that was too big for Jesus. I have known people that have gotten the victory over alcohol, and cigarettes, and drug, and abuse, and all kinds of problems because they got a new heart, and they became a new creature.

And what he did for them, he can do for you. Don't stop believing that God is more powerful. And again, it goes on to say in Hebrews 2, verse 14, "forasmuch then as children are partakers of flesh and blood, he," Jesus, "himself likewise took part of the same, that through his death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil." Through the death of Christ, he is going to destroy the power of satan and what he has done. So, how does God The Father feel about people? Is it just Jesus that loves us? Christ said, "The Father himself loves you." God loves you, The Father, son, and Holy Spirit. They are desperate to see you saved.

They have given as much as anybody can possibly give that you might live forever. They love you more than you love your children, those of you parents, because, "God so loved the world," you know this verse, John 3:16, "that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not," what? You got two choices, friends, eternal life or perish. Jesus, life. Devil, death. There's only two masters.

If you do not choose Jesus, you are, by default, choosing the losing team. There will be battles in life, but I'd rather be on the winning team, wouldn't you? Then follow Jesus, that whoever believes in him should not perish. There's a beautiful appeal in the book of Ezekiel 18, verse 30, "repent, and turn from all of your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast from you all of the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart." He says, "I'm offering it to you. "And a new spirit.

For why will you die, o house of Israel?" Moses, he said, "I'm setting before you life and good, blessing and death. You got life and death, blessing and cursing, you choose. Choose life," he said." The devil came in the world and he brought death, and sin, and suffering. He has no pleasure in the death of anyone. You know, I remember hearing a story years ago about a father that was sailing through some warm caribbean waters.

This was a father and two boys on an excursion. He was a good sailor, and he took his boys along, teenage boys. And at one point, they were going through some islands--my dad--i used to live in miami, he'd take us on the boat through the islands down there and the caribbean. And The Father told the boys, they're on a sailboat, and he said, "now, we're going by a section of waters, there's a chicken slaughterhouse on that island over there, and there's a lot of sharks, and they're very vicious because they've gotten the taste of blood. Don't fall in the water here.

There's places you can snorkel and dive, and it's great, but don't go in the water here." And the boys, they hadn't seen these sharks, and they were running around, playing on the deck of the ship. And one of them, wrestling with his brother, he grabbed his t-shirt and he started to tumble over, and he pulled his brother, and they both went splash off into the warm caribbean waters. Well, The Father heard the splash and he went running up on deck. And of course, the boat is moving along, it's just sailing slowly. And he dropped the sail, and he did what he could to stop the boat, and he looked off, he saw his boys.

And it was a calm day. Saw his boys off, they're pushing and splashing. And right at that point, The Father, for just a moment he saw a dorsal fin pop over the surface. From his vantage in the boat, he could see it, but they couldn't see it. And he said, "boys, there's sharks.

Get quickly and calmly back to the boat." Well, the boys looked at each other, and they said, "oh man, dad is trying to scare us. We've been sailing for days, we have not seen a single shark. He's just--" they didn't believe it. And they said, "okay. Help, shark, shark.

" And they started to pretend, and they're swimming very slowly back to the boat. You know, they're like 50 yards away. And The Father saw the sharks beginning to gather. He could see up in the boat the sharks were underneath the surface. And they were tightening their circle.

And you know the way a shark works. It'll continue to close the circle, and it gets closer. And one of them eventually has the courage to come in and bite. And once they taste blood, they then go into a frenzy. And they can smell one drop of blood in, like, 38,000 or million gallons of water.

It's phenomenal. But he saw them closing in their circle, and he realized that there was just a whole herd of sharks out there that were going to come in, he was going to lose his boys. And in a desperate final measure to save his boys, The Father ran below deck, he went to the galley, he grabbed a knife, he ran up on top of the boat, he cut his wrists, he dove in the water, and he swam in a different direction. All of a sudden, the boys saw, as the water began to churn and turn red off in this other direction. And now, here's the question, if those boys decide to stay in the water, is there anything more The Father can do for them? After God gave his son and he poured out his blood to save us from the devil, if we choose to stay in the world and in sin, what more do you want him to give than his life to save you? He has given himself.

By the way, that's an illustration. People always come up later and say, "well, what happened?" You're going to sleep better tonight, right? What happened is up to you. Are you going to stay in the water? He's made a way for you to get back to the boat through the blood of his son. Will you come? Will you come to Jesus? "How shall we escape," it says in Hebrews chapter 2, "if we neglect so great a salvation." How many of you tonight would like to say, "Lord, I want to have Jesus in my life. I want Him to be my Lord.

I want to be saved from the power of the devil." Is that your desire? Those of you watching, you can raise your hand. If that's your prayer, tell the Lord now, and I want to pray with you that you'll have that experience. Father in Heaven, please be with these dear people. Help them to experience victory over the enemy. Help them to experience cleansing from sin, and the love and the peace that your son will bring into their lives.

May we all come to Jesus, who is that ark of safety, that boat of salvation, that we might begin our journey to heaven and a new life. Be with each person who's watching and attending. Pour out your spirit on these meetings, we pray in Jesus' Name, amen. And thank you very much. [Music]

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