Why Is There Evil?

Date: 10/13/2012 
Why is there so much evil in our world today?
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PASTOR ROSS: Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the Ultimate Purpose where we are looking at God’s answers to life’s most important questions. I’d like to welcome our local audience here on the campus of Southern Adventist University and also those of you watching us via satellite across the country and around the world. Thank you for joining us.

Now, in this series we’re looking at, as mentioned earlier, life’s most important questions. And this is the third of a four-part series. If you’ve missed any of our previous programs I’d like to encourage you to go to the Amazing Facts website. It’s just www.AmazingFacts.org. Click on the link that says Ultimate Purpose and you’ll be able to watch previous programs.

By the way, that is our new Amazing Facts website, just recently uploaded with fresh resources. So when you’re there, click on some of the links, take a look at it, send us an email to let us know what you think. That’s AmazingFacts.org.

We also have a book that goes along with this series, and the book is entitled Dare to Follow, and if you’d like to get your own, you can order this at AmazingFacts.org or you can also call the number on the screen. That’s 866-561-9673 and you just ask for the book Dare to Follow written by Pastor Doug Batchelor, Ivor Myers, Jonathan Henderson and David Steward.

Well, at this time I would like to invite Pastor Doug Batchelor to come forward and join me as we delve into some Bible questions that have come in. Good evening, Pastor Doug.

PASTOR DOUG: Good morning.

PASTOR ROSS: Good morning, Pastor Doug. Where are we? It’s morning --

PASTOR DOUG: It’s evening somewhere, I’m sure.

PASTOR ROSS: Now, we have some Bible questions that have come in and we’re going to take a look at those. The first is a text question and that question is ‘What does the Bible say about re-baptism?’

PASTOR DOUG: Re-baptism. Of course, Jesus is pretty clear that the great commission, ‘Go ye therefore teach all nations baptizing them,’ and again He said ‘Unless you’re born of the water and the Spirit you cannot enter the Kingdom of God, he that believes and is baptized will be saved.’ Baptism is very important to a Christian, as much as a wedding is to a marriage, baptism is to a Christian.

But some people were maybe baptized and they wandered from the Lord and they might be wondering is it ever appropriate or what would be the right circumstance for re-baptism. There are three examples in the Bible where you might consider re-baptism.

One would be if you were not baptized biblically. Sometimes people are maybe baptized by sprinkling or they’re baptized as babies. And while Jesus was dedicated as a baby, He wasn’t baptized until He was an adult at 30. He had -- it’s something that was a conscious decision. And so if you’ve not been baptized biblically by immersion, then you might consider being re-baptized.

Another example would be if you wander from the Lord and basically divorce yourself. And that doesn’t mean that if you sin or you make a mistake, you’ve got to run and get re-baptized. Jesus did something with the disciples called foot washing that sort of represents a mini-baptism. Every now and then a boat needs the barnacles scraped off. Just as we live in this world, you know, we’re going to make mistakes and that’s what that’s for.

But then there’s another occasion. You find in Acts 19 where Paul is preaching and there are 12 Ephesian men who come to Jesus. They had heard about John the Baptist and they were baptized biblically by immersion but they had not heard about the Ministry of Christ and the outpouring of the spirit. Paul said they should be re-baptized because they came into a whole new understanding and experience of what the truth was. And they were re-baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit.

And by the way, the Bible says you need both baptisms, unless you’re born of the water and the Spirit. We often emphasize the water baptism, but we need the Spirit baptism, too. Amen.

PASTOR ROSS: My next question is also a text question. ‘Are all temptations from Satan or we do we sin on our own?’

PASTOR DOUG: Well, James tells us that each one sins when we’re drawn away by our own lust. What the devil does is he will capitalize on what he knows your weaknesses are, but there’s things that we often do to strengthen those weaknesses and we can leave doors open for the devil and he takes advantage of that.

Ultimately, the devil comes to temp us and he exploits the weaknesses. There are things that maybe are just tremendous temptation for you. There are people who just -- you know, they can’t resist the temptation, whether it’s chocolate or heroin. Same thing. Just kidding.

Whatever it is, but for them -- I’ve got a friend, he was on heroine for years, and even after he got off, just seeing a hypodermic needle, just seeing a needle, brought back all those memories and could send him off into the streets again. And so for him -- that wouldn’t do that to me, but then the devil knows what the things are with me, and with you.

And so he knows what your special weaknesses are and the areas where you’re easily hooked, what the bait might be for you, and he exploits that.

PASTOR ROSS: Our next question is a video question and we’ll take a look at this time.

‘Pastor Doug, how would I, as a university student, get over the pressure of feeling that my grades and my GPA is going to determine the way that God could use me in the future?’

PASTOR DOUG: Well, I don’t want to understate the importance of getting good grades. You want to do your very best to study and to learn as well and to reach the goals that you have been assigned. Someone once said success for a Christian is you work like it all depends on you and then you pray like it all depends on God.

Study and do everything humanly you can do; make sure you get your rest and that you balance your time, and then pray. A lot of people become very spiritual just before exams, have you noticed that? A lot of prayer happening. So you need both. And you know, you do your best and God will bless and He’ll continue to guide you in your life.

PASTOR ROSS: Our next question is a text question that’s come in, and it’s this: ‘Can we be perfect?’

PASTOR DOUG: Well, you know, Jesus says ‘Be therefore perfect,’ Matthew 5 ‘Even as your Father in heaven is perfect.’ And people often think of a sterile stainless steel robot; just that, you know, He’s perfectly flawless, and you’re just not to think or do or go or say anything imperfect, and that’s not what Christian perfection is about.

In -- there’s a similar passage that you find in the Gospel of Luke. When Jesus uses that phrase in Luke he says ‘Be therefore merciful even as your Father in heaven is merciful.’ The Lord wants us to have a perfect love and a perfect mercy for our fellow men.

If you love the Lord with a perfect heart, if you love the Lord -- I think it’s clear to everybody, the great commandment is to love the Lord with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength. If you love the Lord that way, you will have Christian perfection. It’s talking about a total love for God.

And if you love him that way, you’ll want to follow him, you’ll want to obey him, you’ll want to share him with other people. When you love somebody, you want to tell everybody about that person you love. And if we have that kind of love for God we won’t want to do anything to grieve him and we’ll tell everyone about the Lord that we love.

That I think is the essence of Christian perfection, perfect love.

PASTOR ROSS: Our next question is a text question; we’ll take a look at that. The question is ‘Why doesn’t God reveal Himself as He did in the past?’

PASTOR DOUG: Well, when you say as He did in the past, you might be thinking how come we don’t hear God speak audibly from a mountain somewhere, such as when he gave the Ten Commandments, or as he spoke to Moses and Jacob and Abraham face-to-face? Does the Lord still do that today?

Well, I think the Lord does manifest Himself in miraculous ways. You’ll hear testimonies of people that, you know, maybe they’re convinced that the angels appear to them. Some I think audibly still do hear God speak to them.

I wouldn’t rule out that God is not going to do that again in the future. I think God’s power is as great today as it ever has been. The Bible tells us that ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.’ And so there are waves and spaces in history where you see the Lord manifesting Himself more than at other times and usually it’s during times of great crisis that God performs greater miracles.

And I believe that we’re going to see some amazing demonstrations of God’s power in the future. And along with that, and that’s part of our subject tonight, I think you’re going to see increased demonstration of the devil’s power. Christ said that, ‘In the last days the devil’s going to be working with lions, signs and wonders. If it were possible, so effective it would deceive even the very elect, even going so far as making fire come down out of heaven.’

And so when the devil is going to be demonstrating that kind of power, don’t be surprised if the Lord doesn’t roll up His sleeves and reveal Himself in a very dramatic way also.

PASTOR ROSS: All right. Our final question for this morning is a video question.

‘Pastor Doug, since all of us aren’t preachers like you are, what do you see as the biggest need for young people to fill in the church today?’

PASTOR DOUG: Well, we all have different callings and different gifts, but every believer should be involved in some form of ministry.

That doesn’t mean that necessarily everybody should go to the mission field. I think a lot more ought to be going than are going. And I think we need to keep our hearts open to God’s leading. It’s, I think, a wonderful education to take some time off and go serve the Lord in some capacity in the mission field.

But God has given everybody different gifts. I think you should be praying and saying, Lord, I want to know what my spiritual gifts are so I can focus on strengthening them and serving you with what those gifts are. Some have gifts of teaching, of administration. Some are preachers, some are evangelists. And there’s all kinds of different gifts and I think the Lord wants you to consecrate yourself to him. Ask Christian counsel of your friends and say, what do you see as my spiritual gift?

You know, have you ever met somebody that thought they had the gift of music, but you don’t think they have it? It’s really sad when someone doesn’t know what their spiritual gift is.

And I always thought I had that gift and my friends kept saying, Doug, you need to cultivate that gift and plow it under. No, not exactly. But -- and so get Christian counsel.

As a matter of fact, we’ll be talking a little bit more in our next program this evening about how to know the will of God for your life, so I’m going to hold back answering much more about that right now.

PASTOR ROSS: Now, what we’re going to be talking about this evening, Pastor Doug, is can I live forever? That’s the question and so we went out and we just asked people on the street, ‘Can you live forever?’ And here are the responses that came in.

‘I don’t think anybody lives forever.’

‘Everyone in some way.’

‘I think people that do great things and are remembered, that they live forever.’

‘Nobody lives forever.’

‘Those that have eternal life, you know, they accepted Jesus.’

PASTOR ROSS: All right. We have a theme song that we’ve been singing for each of our programs, it’s called Higher Ground and I’d like to invite our song leader to come out.

Why don’t we all stand as we sing just the first verse of this beautiful hymn?

PASTOR DOUG: Dear loving Father, we thank you and we praise you for this opportunity we have now to come together in your name. To better know you, Lord, to better seek your face, to understand your will and to recognize that there is a battle going on between good and evil in this life. I pray, Lord, that your presence will come into this place. Please be with each person; open our hearts and help us to hear what the Spirit has to say. Please be with the one who is the share, forgive his sins, and ultimately, Lord, we pray that it’s your voice that we hear and your face that we see, because we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

You may be seated. Our presentation today in talking about the Ultimate Purpose of Life is going to focus on a very important principle, that while you may understand something about the priorities of seeking first God’s kingdom and wanting to do God’s will, I think that we all recognize there are other forces at play trying to prevent you from doing God’s will.

There is a battle in life between good and evil, and a lot of people when they’re thinking about God and thinking about the love of God and the goodness of God, they’re troubled because they think if God is good and if He’s love and if He’s all powerful, then why is there evil?

And that is really the title for our presentation right now. If God is good and if God is love, then why is there evil? Did God make a devil? Why would a good God make a bad devil?

You know, there’s a statement I’d like to -- I’m trying to put a quote, sort of set the theme at the beginning of each presentation; this one actually comes from Corrie ten Boom and it says the first step to victory is recognizing the enemy. And one of the great things that needs to be achieved in our discovering God’s ultimate purpose for our life is to understand that there is an enemy and identify him, understand something of what he’s up to.

You know, I’d like to begin by going to a story in the Bible that you find in Mark 5. Mark 5, talking about the Ultimate Purpose, verse 1. As a matter of fact, this story is found in Matthew, Mark and in Luke, but I’m going to just read a brief passage from Mark and from Luke.

Starting with Mark 5:1, after Jesus performed a miracle He fed the multitudes with the bread and then crossing the sea He nearly drowned. There was a storm and He stood up and said ‘Peace be still’. He calmed the angry sea. And then he directed the disciples across the sea to the southeastern shore of Galilee, a region known as Gadara or Decapolis.

And it says ‘When they came to the other side of the sea to the country of the Gadarenes, behold when He had came out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit --’ These unclean spirits were often spoken of as devils or demons. ‘-- who had his dwelling among the tombs --’ This man living in this honeycomb of graves on the hillside. ‘-- and nobody could bind him, not even with chains.’

His so thoroughly demon possessed that he’s breaking chains. ‘Because he had often been bound with shackles and chains and the chains had been pulled apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces. Neither could anyone tame him. And always notice, always night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs crying out and cutting himself with stones.’ Cutting himself, crying; boy, it must have been spooky living in the town near that cemetery to hear this very sad creature dragging his chains, crying out, shrieking in the night.

A little more insight is given by Dr. Luke, turn, in Luke Chapter 8; I’ll start with verse 26. Luke 8:26. ‘Then they sailed to the country of the Gadarenes that is opposite Galilee, and when he stepped out on the land there met him a certain man from the city who had demons, devils, a long time and he wore no clothes.’

He mentions that and Mark leaves that out. ‘Nor did he live in a house but in the tombs and when he saw Jesus he cried out and he fell down before him.’ As Mark said he ran to worship him; he fell down before him. ‘And with a loud voice he said, ‘What have I to do with you, Jesus, son of the most high God?’ Right away he knew who Jesus was because there were some spirits in this man that knew Jesus from long before the world was created. ‘What am I to do with you Jesus, son of the most high God? I beg you, do not torment me. For He, Jesus, had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man for it had often seized him and he was kept under guard bound with chains and shackles. And he broke the bonds and he was driven by the demons into the wilderness.’ And Jesus asked him, saying -- only time in the Bible that Christ actually converses in an exchange with a devil, and Jesus asked him saying ‘What is your name? He said Legion, because many demons, many devils, had entered him.’

All right. Do you have the picture in your mind? Disciples get out of the boat and this creature comes running out of the tomb. And they’d already had a rough night; their nerves are frayed. And they’re probably pulling the boat up on the shore and trying to dry their gear out; it’s all saturated from the storm. And all of a sudden they hear this shriek, and it’s barely daylight. And from the shadows of one of these caves or tombs in the hills, this creature comes charging out, running down the hill, naked, dragging chains that are manacled around his neck and his wrists and his ankles; an awful clatter. Covered with cuts, self-inflicted bruises, smells like death. He’s been living with corpses; what do you expect?

Bible, you read on in the story, on the hillsides around him are swine pigs. Wild-eyed, long dirty hair, foaming at the mouth. His eyes are glaring. He comes charging down the hillside towards the disciples and the disciples are probably thinking great, good time to witness, I wonder if we have a track available we can share with him. We wondered if we’d have any witnessing opportunities here in this remote region. I suppose they went just to sprinting towards the boat.

This man is filled with a legion of demons, thousands. There could be up to six thousand soldiers in a Roman legion. Thousands of devils have filled this man. How does a person get to the place where they are absolutely possessed?

And I respectfully disagree with someone that would say, you know, that’s the terminology they used in Bible times, but he probably actually just had a little bi-polar disorder and some chemicals would have straightened him out. Yeah, there are people in that category, I agree. And there are people that may just need some counseling and everything’s going to be fine.

This is exhibit A of somebody who was absolutely, totally, thoroughly, demon possessed. And I have met people that I believe were demon possessed. They heard voices in their heads and the one person I talked to and they’d go out at night and get people’s pets and kill them and just -- I mean, they were devil possessed. And they heard these other conversations going on, and how do you get to that place?

You know what’s even more frightening? It was obvious this person was demon possessed because they had legions of demons. Well, that would make you wonder, well, maybe some people have got one or two or three or four and they’re able to conduct them self and look normal. And you might be sitting next to one right now and you’d never know it. And they look very composed; I’ve only got two or three demons, don’t worry about me. Only starts to show after a hundred.

You know, Jesus talks about one man, that this one devil is cast out, but he doesn’t replace it with anything good, and so after that devil gets tired or roaming through desolate places, he said I’m going back to my old subject that I used to possess. And he finds that his life is clean and swept with no replacement, and he brings seven other devils. And the Bible says the last date of that man is worse than the first.

How does a person get to the place where they’re possessed with this many demons? Can you find a picture in the Bible, I challenge you, of anybody who is more hopeless than this man? I mean, just look at it. He’s living where the dead live, surrounded by pigs, covered by wounds and blood. In the Jewish mind everything about this is unclean.

By the way, he’s surrounded with some gentile cities, Decapolis or some Greek cities established during the time of Alexander. And for the Jew, this picture is the epitome of someone who is unclean, unclean, unclean. He looks like the most hopeless individual.

Everything men could do to control him or restrain him, he’s broken the chains. It is a pitiful sight. May have even been a young person.

Why would God make a devil to torment us like that? If God is a god of love; well, you know, the Bible doesn’t tell us that God made a devil. God made a beautiful angel, but there is an enemy out there, there is the ultimate arch enemy, there is the ultimate arch fiend. He’s very real and never is the devil happier than when people laugh at his existence.

If you believe in Jesus, you need to believe in the devil, because Jesus always said that he’s a very real power, a being. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities and spirits and heavenly places. And that’s Ephesians 6.

Acts 26, when Christ called Paul to do mission work, He said, ‘This is what I’ve called you for, to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light.’ There’s darkness in this world, there’s a Prince of Darkness and there’s light. Jesus is the light of the world. ‘To turn them from --‘ notice, this is Acts 26:18 ‘-- the power of Satan to God,’ there is no neutral ground. Everybody, Jesus said, is either with me or against me.

There is a battle raging for the territory of your affections and your soul and you get to make the deciding vote. Everybody, if you do not choose Jesus by default, you are choosing the enemy. That’s right. There’s no neutral position. There’s a battle and everybody needs to make a conscious choice.

And you might say I’m not going to be a devil worshipper, but I’m not quite ready to give my life to Jesus. Well then, you have just made your choice. Because if you -- he that has not the Son has not life. If we don’t have Christ in us there’s only one other alternative; if you take away light, what’s left? Darkness. And if you want to get the darkness out of a room, what do you do? Shovel it with a snow shovel? Or do you introduce light and it dispels the darkness? If you want to get the darkness of the devil out of your life, you need to invite the light of God’s truth into your life. And the truth will set you free. Amen?

There’s a real battle going on, friends. Jesus said there’s an enemy. You know, the parable of the wheat and the tares. Christ said there’s this titanic battle going on, and in that parable he said -- and this is Matthew 13:28. ‘Who was it that sowed the bad seeds, the weeds, the tares, in the good field?’ Jesus said, ‘An enemy has done this.’

God made a beautiful world and he created two beautiful creatures in his image and everything was perfect and it was paradise and it was good and this is God’s plan for you. But an enemy has come to our world; our planet’s been kidnapped by this villain. And Jesus said there’s an enemy and you’ve got to be on your guard.

So why would God make a devil? Where did evil come from? What does the Bible say? Well, if you read in Isaiah 14, a number of passages sort of give you a lot of clues and you put them together, you get a pretty clear picture of what’s going on.

Isaiah 14:12, ‘How thou art fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, Son of the Morning, how you are cut down to the ground which did weaken the nations, for you said in your heart I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I’ll also sit upon the mount of the congregation on the sides of the north. I’ll ascend above the heights of the clouds. I will be like the most high.’

There was this very powerful angel, as a matter of fact, he was the most powerful creation of God. One of the first things God created was the principal steward of all his ministering spirits, his general. His name was Lucifer. He wasn’t always a devil. If you knew him back then you would have liked him. Some people like him now. But he was good. He was holy, he was pure. God did not make a devil; he made a beautiful perfect angel.

A little amazing fact; back in 1826 there is this man named John Walker who worked in an English apothecary and he was mixing a solution one day with a stick and he let the stick dry. And then later he wanted to use the stick for something and he went to scrape the stuff off the stick and clean it off and the stick caught on fire. And he realized it had something to do with the phosphorous ball that had dried on the end of the stick. He thought this is pretty neat.

So he started to go to any kind of gathering with his friends and he’d say, you want to see something cool? And he’d take these sticks with the little phosphorous fire on the end and he’d strike them they’d light. He didn’t realize their commercial value, but a man named Samuel Jones came along and he said, you don’t know what you got there.

And so he started to mass produce these sticks with phosphorus tips on them that would ignite; we know them now as matches, but they used to be called Lucifer’s. That’s how they marketed matches.

Up until that time people were rubbing sticks together and striking flint and steel to get a fire. They’re called Lucifer’s. That has not much to do with the sermon, except that was his name. Lucifer means light bearer. And he was good back then.

But because he was so powerful and he was so beautiful, and God makes all of his creatures free, when Lucifer saw all the other angels worshipping Jesus and worshipping God and adoring God, he did too at first, but he began to think, why am I not God? Why don’t I have that power? Here I’m always number three or number four, after the Father, Son and the Spirit, then me. Why can’t I create like God does?

And just -- you know, it’s hard to describe where some new bacteria comes from; there’s some things you just can’t figure it out. There is the mystery of Godliness in the Bible and there’s the mystery of iniquity. How in a perfect universe, where there’s an all powerful God who’s a God of love, who makes no factory defects, that a creature could go bad? And you might be thinking God must have done something wrong. Couldn’t God have pre-programmed Lucifer to just say, I love you God, I love you God, and never question? Yeah, he could have, but then God would never really have love.

Can you really force love? If you are forcing someone to love you, is it love? If God pre-programmed all of His creatures like robots, without any intelligent thought and process to chose to love Him because of this wonderful miracle of a divine free will that we have, if we didn’t have that free ability to say I choose to love you, then it’s not love.

And in order to prove to the universe that God did make these intelligent creatures free, He even made the ones who had freedom not love Him. You see how important that is? You can’t have real love unless you have real choice. And God made His intelligent creatures, like His angels and people, with a real choice, and Lucifer proved it. He chose not to love God; he chose to love himself.

Everybody in the world falls into one of two categories; you’re either motivated by love for God or you’re motivated by love for self.

Jesus is love. He is a love that gives away self. The devil is the polar opposite of that; he is self-love. Everything about the devil is me, me, me. He said I want to be higher, I want to exalt my thrown, I want to be God. I want to be the most high. And so let’s suppose you understand that; you might be thinking, okay, well once he went bad why didn’t God just take His divine ray gun and go ‘bzzzz’ and vaporize the devil? Couldn’t the Lord have done that? Isn’t God more powerful; isn’t the creator more powerful than the creation?

Well, you know, at this point the devil had been circulating among the other angels and he had been campaigning. And you know, he’s so powerful that he had somehow deluded himself into thinking that he could somehow overthrow God and seize His power. Which to me sounds like an absurd thought, but that’s what he did. And he began to circulate among the angels and they loved and adored Lucifer.

I mean, he’s a powerful, glorious, beautiful being. I don’t want to say too much about him and overstate it, but most people understate his power and they didn’t recognize what they’re dealing with. They don’t understand their enemy. And these other angels loved Lucifer.

And he began to confuse and deceive and say, you know, if we had more freedom why does God have to have a law? We don’t need God’s law; we can just be guided by our own judgment. And you know, if I was God I think we’d have greater happiness. We should all be able to share in the worship that God takes for Himself. It’s not fair that here He’s only one percent of the universe and 99 percent of us must worship Him. We ought to share the worship.

It sounds like a political campaign, doesn’t it? Let’s spread it around. Who knows what he said; I’m just making that up. But evidently whatever he said, it was very persuasive and very clever and he persuaded one-third of the angels to follow him until it finally turned into an open revolt.

So what if God had just said, all right, Lucifer, enough is enough; I’m going to destroy you. And he had already started to spread distrust about God among the other angels. If God had done that with Lucifer, I mean, you know, if you’re an angel you all walk around, Lucifer is saying God is not really fair, you know, God is arbitrary and He’s cruel.

And while you’re saying that all of a sudden ‘bzzzz’ Lucifer is hit by lightening and he’s just smoldering ashes on the ground and you’re the other angels watching. You’d be going, oh, looks like Lucifer is right; God is pretty severe. The other creatures would never love and trust God again.

I mean, do you want your children to obey you because you’re going to beat them into a pulp if they don’t? I hope -- you don’t all have children, but those of you who are adults among -- you know what I’m talking about. You want them to obey you because what you’re asking is reasonable, because they trust your love, they have faith in you. You don’t want it to always be fear of torture. Just some of the time.

So God couldn’t do that. The Lord had to allow Lucifer to demonstrate what the fruit of his rebellion was going to be so that this problem with not loving and trusting God would never rise up again.

And you and I are right now living in the crosshairs of this rebellion, in the expanse of time we are living at the moment, where this is being demonstrated. Where our world is a spectacle to the universe and angels and unfallen creatures are watching what’s happening down here because this world is a stage of an incredible battle between good and evil, between Lucifer and Christ, between selfishness and love. It’s all being demonstrated among these creatures made in God’s image.

But you’ve got to know it’s very real. And every day there are battles. If our eyes could be open right now we would see that in this room around us not only is the presence of God here demonstrated through his Spirit and unfallen angels; I’m quite sure that the devil and his representatives have come.

The devil is probably busier with other things, but you can be sure his devils are here. And if it wasn’t for the angels of God protecting and preventing -- a good thing that there’s two-third good angels for every one one-third bad angels. Life is tough enough as it is, right? But there’s real battles going on.

And it’s not just in your imagination; it’s very real. The devil is a master of deception. That’s what makes him especially dangerous. You can read in Revelation 12:9, ‘And that great dragon was cast out, the old serpent called the devil and Satan that deceives the whole world, he was cast out to the earth and his angels were cast out with him.’ He deceives how much? The whole world.

Most of the world is deceived about what the ultimate purpose is. Most of the world is deceived about what to worship and who to worship and who he is and how to worship. Most of the world is deluded and God has come down and He has given us a book of truth and He said if you would like to be delivered from those deceptions, if you want to know what’s really going on, then it’s coming through the Word of God that came through Christ and the holy men that spoke, moved by the Holy Spirit, written in this sacred book.

God has given us understanding of what the devil’s up to. 2 Thessalonians, 2:8-9. It tells us, ‘Then that wicked one will be revealed, who the Lord will consume with the Spirit of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming, even Him whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying of wonders.’ The devil can do wonderful things and they’re deceptive wonders. This verse also tells us that he’s going to have an end.

In fact, it’s very important for us to remember that Jesus said that ‘The lake of fire is prepared for the devil and his angels and ultimately all that follow the devil and his angels.’ There’s only two choices in life. Christ said ‘There are two roads. There’s a road to life straight as the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life and few there be that find it.’

Few prioritize looking for that road to eternal life. ‘Broad is the way and wide is the gate that leads to the destruction and it’s many who are going down that road.’ Not because the Lord is trying to hide it, but very few are searching for it or we’re just too busy with other things. The devil is trying to just create a distraction.

What are some of the names that are used for the devil in the Bible? Well, of course he’s called the devil. And that means a traducer, a false accuser, a slanderer. He’s called Satan; that’s talking about an opponent, an arch enemy, an advisory. He’s called Apollyon, a destroyer, Abaddon, a destroying angel. Beelzebub, that’s the God of Filth. Belial, the worthless one. He’s called the wicked one. Jesus calls him the Prince of this World. But he is the epitome of evil and selfishness.

And you know what it really boils down to? The devil hates Jesus. He wanted to be God. He wanted Christ’s position. He wanted to have His power. He wanted His worship. And when Jesus came into the world, if you have any doubt about how the devil felt, look at what he did to the babies in Bethlehem.

He wanted to destroy Christ. I think the devil thought that the Messiah was coming when Moses was born. All those baby boys were thrown into the river to the crocodiles because the devil was trying to stop the Messiah from coming.

Maybe you’ve read about Queen Athaliah there in Second Kings; she killed all of the seed of David trying to get stop the Messiah from coming, except she missed one; Joash. And the Messiah came through the line of David. And then look at -- look at what the Devil did to Jesus. You can see him tempting Christ in the wilderness and then look at what happened at the cross.

The devil hates Jesus. But now Jesus has ascended up to heaven; He’s out of the devil’s reach and so the devil vents his fury on Christ by hurting the object of Jesus’ love. If you want to hurt somebody, find out what they love.

We had an incident at our church a couple of years ago. This man was enraged as his wife. She was a believer; he was not. And he knew that she bought a new car and she really enjoyed her car, so he went to the parking lot and he keyed her car. Just took a key and you know how expensive that is to repair. It’s hard to get that out. Just -- it was just a terrible act of vandalism, but he thought I’ll find something that she cares about; I just want to hurt her.

Well, the devil knows how much Jesus loves you and he wants to scar your soul. And he knows that when you sin, it hurts Jesus. And he wants to destroy your lives because he wants to hurt Jesus and he knows that Jesus loves you.

The devil doesn’t understand it. The devil doesn’t love but he knows that God loves you. And that’s why he’s come down with great wrath, to hurt us. He’s just bad. And yet, how can you be good in a world that’s so bad? How can we be positive?

I heard about this man that -- he was an atheist, but he worked in an office setting with a lady who was the most dedicated Christian you can imagine. I mean, this was one of these people who just exudes Jesus. And she was always positive and she was always cheerful and she was always kind. And this man really was annoyed by her because he thought, you know, she makes me think Christianity must be real. She is just so good.

Her religion does so much for her and he was always trying to get her to say something bad and he never could. And he’d say, ‘Oh man, this weather, it’s just been raining for weeks,’ and she’d say, ‘Oh the flowers are going to be wonderful in the spring.’ No matter what he said. He could talk about some scandal in the news and she’d just always find some positive spin on everything.

And then one day he though, I got her, she’s a Christian, so he went to work one day he said, what do you think about that old devil? She said, he certainly is busy. Just always looking on the bright side.

And he is busy. He is working with a frenzy right now because he knows his time is short. There’s a power struggle going on in this world and that struggle is for your hearts, between good and evil.

Matthew 4:8-10. You can see in the temptation of Christ the three great areas where the devil tempts people. It’s the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. Same three areas where Adam and Eve fell.

Matthew 4:8, ‘Again the devil took him up on an exceeding high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory and said to him all these things I will give you if you will fall down and worship me.’

By the way, the devil still offers that to people, especially those that have great promise and talent to serve God. The devil says to them, and he may not say it directly, he may not say it audibly, but in their hearts and in their minds he will present to them all the allurements of the world, all the riches and the kingdoms of the world and all their glory, and say you can have the world by its tail. You can have whatever you want. You can live large; follow me. And some people are ready to postpone Christ or turn from Christ.

And, you know, the way that the devil does it, like that rich young ruler, Jesus said, ‘You’ll have treasure in heaven, follow me.’ He said, ‘But you’ve got to liquidate if you want to follow me; it’s going to cost you everything to follow me.’

And he walked away sad for he had great possessions. He thought to himself, you know, not today. If I liquidate today -- the market’s down, I better wait a little bit until the market comes up. Or, you know, I have to think about this; that’s very interesting, thank you, Jesus, for inviting me to follow you, but give me some time to ponder that. And you never hear from him again because he waited.

That rich young ruler, it’s -- the Bible tells us that he went away grieved for he had great possessions. What profit is it if you gain the whole world and lose your soul? So the devil held out that temptation to Jesus, ‘If you’ll worship me,’ and Jesus said ‘Away with you, Satan, for it is written you should worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.’

Are you living to serve God? You’re going to serve somebody. Everybody is going to serve somebody. You are the slave to the one that you obey. The reason our planet has been kidnapped by the devil is because the devil persuaded our first parents not to listen to God. God said ‘Do not eat the forbidden fruit and all will be well.’ And the devil said, oh, you’re missing out; you listen to me. You’re going to have expanded understanding and experience, you’ll enter new realms. Listen to me. And they had to choose between trusting the Word of God that said don’t or you’ll die, or the word of the devil. And you all know the rest of the story.

Because they doubted the Word of God and they listened to the suggestions of the devil; whoever you obey, that’s whose servant you are. This planet has been enslaved by the devil and Jesus recognizes that. That Jesus calls the devil the Prince of this World.

So there’s a struggle going on. What are some of the tactics of the devil? What are some of the things specifically that the devil does to try to sin, to try to deceive us? And I remember hearing one time about the greatest serial arsonist in North America. His name was John Orr. And John Orr was guilty of setting about 2,000 fires between 1984 and 1991. Several people died in the fires that John Orr set. And so these are some of the tactics of the devil.

John Orr was a fireman. John Orr was not only a fireman, he was an arson investigator. And here you’ve got that individual who is supposed to be putting the fires out, and he’s setting the fires. The devil will tempt you to do something and then he will turn you in for doing it. He is a great deceiver.

Let me read you a verse here, in Genesis 8:44, He said ‘You are of your father the devil and the lust of your devil you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning and he abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.’ Can I please have your attention? ‘When he speaks a lie, he speaks his own for he is a liar and the father of it, and because I tell you the truth you believe be not?’

You notice the great emphasis that the devil puts on distracting from the truth? Can I have your attention please? Someone once said confusion is the dust that is raised by the feet of the devil. Thank you very much, Cody, you -- that’s enough now. Poor guy. You probably guess I asked him to do that. Did he have a hard time paying attention to me? I had a hard time paying attention to me too with that going on.

You know what the point of this is? You know one of the most successful things the devil does to keep us from hearing the Word of God? Distraction. It’s not even necessarily some terrible sin; he can even get you busy with good things.

Christ said speaking of the second coming, ‘Beware less your hearts be overcharged with eating and drinking and the cares of this life so that that day overtakes you as a thief.’ Nothing wrong with eating; you’ve got to do it. I plan on doing it again today. And there’s things you can drink that are appropriate. And we all have cares in this life, but your heart can be overcharged with these things and you can become distracted by the devil.

That’s one of the devil’s most successful tricks. We get so busy we don’t have time for the Bible. We get so busy we don’t have time to pray. We get so busy we don’t have time for church. We’re so busy with our work, so busy with our interests, so busy with our friends, we don’t have time for our best friend.

And all of a sudden you look back and you find out life is over and the devil distracted you through the whole thing. You thought you were living the good life, but God was not part of it. You know, there are varying degrees of possession and sometimes all it takes is one or two devils to just keep us too busy with the things of the world so that we don’t hear what God is saying.

Oh, Pastor Doug, I read my Bible; well, that’s good. Did you know the devil reads the Bible, too? So who was it, Sir Walter Scott, that said a sort of creeping comes over my skin when I hear the devil quote scripture. Matthew 4, part of that three temptations that came to Jesus, ‘And the devil took him up into the Holy City and he sat him on the pinnacle of the temple and he said if you’re the Son of God cast yourself down.’

Now here’s the devil saying, ‘For it is written, he’ll give his angels charge of thee and they’re bear thee up in your hands lest you dash your foot against the stone.’ He misquoted the scripture because he didn’t finish it, and it left the wrong impression. That means you need to know your Bible because the devil knows your -- he knows the Bible. He doesn’t follow it.

You know, I used to think growing up that the Bible is something like a good luck charm. And I watched way too many dumb TV programs growing up and I used to watch these programs about vampires. And, you know, protection against the vampire is you hold up a cross or you put garlic around your neck. Some people think the Bible’s like, you know, some kind of holy garlic. You just got to own one. If you’ve got it there in your nightstand, like a Gideon Bible in the hotel room, somehow you’re protected.

Like my friend, I once got picked up by when I was hitchhiking, he had a cross hanging from his mirror and I said, are you a Christian? He said, no, he said that’s just in case I’m drinking while I’m driving; it keeps me safe. And some people think that when the devil, you know, comes, you just hold up the Bible and said, away Satan. Ha, he’ll walk up to you, take it out of your hands and quote it to you. You got to know your Bible because there’s going to be great deception in the last days where people are going to be quoting Jesus.

The devil himself is going to impersonate Christ. How are you going to know the difference unless you know the Word? Well, we need to hasten along here. So he’s a great deceiver.

How do we overcome the devil? 1 Peter 5:8-9, ‘Be sober.’ Don’t use drugs. Is that clear enough? Don’t drink. That’s the worst drug of all. Take my word for it and I used them all. ‘Be sober, be vigilant, be on your guard, because your adversary the devil is going around as a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour, whom you resist.’ Resist the devil.

Steadfast in the faith, through your faith in God you can resist the devil, knowing that the same afflictions were accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. Others have done it; you can do it. Yes, you can.

That same Jesus who helped me quit smoking, who helped me quit cursing, who helped me quit stealing and drinking and drugs, that same Jesus can help you. And he can help me finish the areas I still need help. I believe that God can help you resist temptation.

We’re all tempted every day. That’s right. Because there’s a battle going on and you need to recognize that to achieve your ultimate purpose.

Another verse, James -- these are good promises -- James 1:7, ‘Therefore submit to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.’ So one of the best ways to resist the devil is as you are submitting to God and drawing near to God, through prayer, surrendering your life to him every day. You know, it’s hard to sin when you know God’s right next to you.

I told you I smoked. My dad told me, you better never smoke, even though he smoked. He knew he was addicted. He finally quit after 50 years. He said I better never catch you smoking. I did start smoking, but somehow I was always able to resist the temptation when my dad was there.

I know there are people that come to my church every week in Sacramento that smoke, because I shake hands with them at the door, but I’ve never seen them light up in church. Somehow in the presence of God it’s a little easier to hold off. And if you live in the presence of God, you’re going to find it’s easier to live a different kind of life. Say amen.

1 John 4:4, ‘You are of God, little children, and you have overcome them because He who is in you is greater than he that is in the world.’ If Christ is in you, greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.

And again, 1 John 3:8, ‘For this purpose the Son of God was manifested --‘ notice this ‘-- that he might destroy the works of the devil.’ Christ in your life destroys the work of the devil in your life.

You know, I probably ought to head back to my story I started with. You remember the demoniac, that man filled with legions of devils? Tells us several things about him. For one thing, where did he live? He lived in the tombs, right? Who typically lives in the tombs? Dead people. I always love when I hear that answer. Do dead people live in the tombs? But yeah, it’s usually dead people that are in tombs, but they’re hopefully not doing a lot of living there.

I just read last week about some dear lady in Argentina whose husband died two years ago and she goes to visit his mausoleum; he’s got this little tomb and she brings her bed and her little cook stove and she goes to see him for two or three days because she wants to be close to him and to talk with him. And I’m hoping they’re one-sided conversations. She even has an Internet connection for when she goes to visit him.

They got this place in Egypt called the City of the Dead. What does that represent? Well, you know, the Bible tells us that if you don’t have the sun you don’t have life. One time a man said, ‘Lord, I want to follow you but first I’ve got to bury my father.’ Jesus said, ‘Let the dead bury the dead.’ So this man is like -- he’s like the souls that are spiritually dead.

What does clothing represent in the Bible? Well, Adam and Eve, when the devil got done with them, what happened? Were they naked also? This man is naked. After a devil -- a demon-possessed man beat up seven boys in the Book of Acts, they fled naked. The devil strips us of our dignity and any righteousness. When that man fell among thieves in the Story of the Good Samaritan, how did the thieves leave him? They stripped him, like the devil.

The devil wants to humiliate you. The problem is some of us are stripped and we don’t care. We know not that we are poor and wretched and miserable and blind and naked. I once lived in the hills where I didn’t wear any clothes and I got so used to it that one day I walked into Palm Springs and I forgot to put my clothes on. You can get -- that’s a whole other story. You can get to the place where you’re so used to being naked it doesn’t bother you anymore.

Do you long for the robe of Christ’s righteousness? The other thing, this man is wearing was what? Chains. A symbol of -- he broke any restraint, he didn’t want any control. And it’s a symbol of sin. It tells us that he was cutting himself.

You know, I was surprised a few years ago when I heard about this trend of self-mutilation, cutting, and that it’s even in our modern culture.

People are troubled with that and chances are statistically there is some here on the campus. It’s more common among girls than boys, but it’s not God that wants you to hurt yourself. You look at the pagan religions of the world, when the Prophets of Bale wanted to get the attention of their God, they leapt on the alter and they cut themselves until they bled. Part and parcel of many pagan religions is self-mutilation.

Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit; the devil wants you to do things to hurt and to mutilate your body. Jesus wants to save you and give you health and an abundant life.

It tells us this man was always in the mountains crying. He certainly wasn’t happy. Tormented. There is no peace for the wicked, the Bible says. If you want peace Jesus says ‘Come unto me, I will give you rest, I will give you peace.’

Surrounded by pigs, death, cemetery, unclean. But you know what the wonderful thing is in this story? That man, when he saw Jesus land on the shore, as messed up as he was with legions of devils, whatever was left of that man inside, he maybe heard the devil’s talk and said, oh, it’s Jesus, Son of God, what’s he going to do? He’s going to cast us out. And he thought that’s my only hope. And whatever he had left, he decided to run to Jesus.

You know, I had the strangest dream when I woke up this morning. And I’m -- I don’t know that there’s any great meaning to it, but it will illustrate my point. I dreamt I was walking down the street somewhere and a couple of thugs attacked me. And one of them held me down and the other one was trying to rivet my head. I don’t think there’s any spiritual meaning, but the point is that I didn’t want them to do it and so I was struggling to get up. But I couldn’t; I felt powerless, I felt so weak.

And I struggled and I struggled and finally I thought I got to use everything in me and I struggled and all of a sudden I woke up. I thought, oh, that was a dream. Good thing. And I woke up a little bit, ah ha, ah ha; do you ever do that? Got into a little bit of a panic. I’ve been awake ever since.

But you know, you almost have to wake up and come to Jesus. It’s almost like you’re in this bad dream. And that man, he thought that’s my only hope and whatever was left of him inside he ran to Jesus. The Bible says he fell down to worship and he opened his mouth to say ‘Lord, save me,’ but when he opened his mouth the devils talked. He couldn’t even -- didn’t even know how to pray. But you know, the wonderful thing about this story is that man came to Jesus just like he was. Just like he was and Jesus accepted him.

Now think about this; could a person possibly be further from God than that? Look at this man again; he’s living with the dead, covered with chains. He’s just an absolute mess, wild and crazy, filthy, destroyed his life. Nobody wants to be around him, he’s antisocial. Oh, the Bible says he was exceedingly fierce; I left that out. Couldn’t control his temper; always flying off in a range.

You don’t struggle with your temper do you? You know, they say when you lose your temper, the devil finds it. People often do things that are semi-demon possessed when they lose their tempers.

Exceedingly fierce, but you know, in spite of all of his sin and his problem, he came to Jesus like he was. And you know what Jesus did? He cast all those devils out. The Bible says that the devils all came out of the man; it probably looked like some kind of vortex of demons and landed on the herd of swine on the hill and they all went berserk. And then there was this avalanche of pork chops that went off the side of the hill into the ocean and they all drowned because Jesus figured that unclean spirit; unclean pigs, they go together.

And he’s also letting us know that God cares more about people than pigs. You’re not only worth more than many sparrows and many sheep, you’re worth more than pigs. More than 2,000 of them; that’s how many there were. And the Lord saved that man, and I believe Jesus took him down to the water and washed him off. Kind of like a type of baptism you might say.

I think when Jesus told the demons to come out, the chains fell off, just like they fell off Peter when the angel came to him in prison. I think that -- the Bible tells us that when the people from the town came to see what had happened; they heard about all the pigs that were lost, they say the man sitting at the feet of Jesus clothed and in his right mind. Don’t you want to be in your right mind? Where did he get his clothes? I think Jesus took off his robe and covered him, just like he covers you with his own righteousness.

This is just such a wonderful story. You know why? You cannot find an example in a story of a person who is outwardly more hopeless than this man. Maybe he had wasted his youth. He just gave into every temptation. He thought life was a party. And you know, whenever you listen to the devil, you get good at whatever you practice.

If you get practice resisting temptation, you get good at it. If you practice giving into temptation, you’ll weld those habits and you become good at that. And little by little this man practicing giving into the devil, he got to the place where he could not say no. Every day we’re making decisions who we’re going to serve.

Now friends, I want you to notice on the shore that day there are two ultimate purposes. You see yourself in this story; you are somewhere in this story. God came into the world in the form of a man, his name is Jesus, to show us God’s plan for you. If you want to know what the devil’s plan is for you, that man is exhibit A of what the devil does when he fills a man.

On the shore there by the beach of Galilee were two individuals. That man came to Jesus and there was Jesus; the disciples all ran away. There they are, facing off. There are the two ultimate destinies. Being like Christ’s Son; that’s a Christian. Being like God’s Son; Jesus, rather, or being like the devil. You got the picture?

Christ, loving, noble, dignified, self-possessed, powerful. Or this raving lunatic; that’s the devil’s plan for you. And we get to choose which plan we want for our lives. Christ’s purpose for you is to be like Him.

Now here is good news; no matter how far from God you may have wandered, you can come just like you are. You aren’t worse off than this man and Jesus will accept you. Do you believe that? This man came like he was. Did Christ say you’ve gone too far? If Christ would heal and forgive and save this man, can he save you?

I identify with this story because I was something like that man when I came to Jesus. I mean, I was; I was a mess. And if the Lord can do it for me, he can do it for you. If Jesus crossed an ocean to save that one man -- you know, the only thing he did on that trip was he saved that one man, and then he left. If Christ would cross an ocean to save that one man and you know Christ crossed the universe to save you?

That night he had calmed an angry sea, and then when he got to the shore, he calmed a raging soul. Because that man came just like he was. Have you surrendered your life to Jesus? Have you completely surrendered your life to Jesus? Why not now?

You know, when you came in you should have received an appeal card, a decision card. I’d like you to take a look at that real quick. Would you? This makes a difference. This is how it works. You say I want to make a decision; I’m going to register that decision. And I want to pray with you in just a moment. Put your name down on the card. And this question is also for those who may be watching.

If you believe that the Bible is God’s truth and you want to follow its teaching, would you please indicate that decision? If you believe that salvation comes only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and you wish to accept that free grace, why not tell Him now? If not now, then when? You might have a friend that will lend you a pen and I think we maybe even have some volunteers that will make them available to you.

Next question, perhaps you once accepted Jesus, but you’ve drifted in your relationship, and you’d like to re-commit your life to Jesus. Would you please indicate that now? You can make a decision right now.

And the next; I love Jesus and I desire to be baptized, or re-baptized, in the near future. If you’d like to talk to someone about that, we’ll have people that will contact you. No one’s going to bother you, but if you have in interest, we want to help follow-up on that and help seal your decisions.

And that’s the last part. If you’d like to have someone visit you about your decision, please fill that card out after we’re dismissed and following our prayer. There will be ushers with buckets at the doors. Please leave your card with them.

And maybe you have a special prayer request you’d like to put down there. Part of the GYC team will look over those cards and they’ll be praying for you.

But really the essence of what we’re talking about, friends, is life and death. Jesus came to give you life; the devil came to steal and destroy. He’s a liar, he’s a deceiver, he wants to ruin your life.

The Lord is for you; Satan is against you, and you get to make the choice. It doesn’t matter how you’ve sinned in the past. It doesn’t matter if you are surrounded by tombs and pigs. If you’ve destroyed your life, if you feel like you’re just plagued by temptation and the devil, you come to Jesus just like you are and you’d be surprised what He can do for you. He can set you free, yes, He can.

Oh, but Pastor Doug, I came before and I fell back, or maybe nothing really happened, I didn’t feel it. Come again. Come to Him now. I believe He’s calling you. And I’d like to pray with you before I close.

And before we do -- I know we’re in a public setting in this place, but if there are some here now and the Lord’s speaking to your heart and you want to say, you know, Lord, I hear you calling and I’m willing by your grace to chose to follow you now, will you stand in His presence?

I want to have a special prayer for you. Do this because you mean it. God has a plan for you, a good plan to be like Jesus. And the devil has a plan, and you get to chose who you want to follow.

Let’s pray and ask Him now. Dear Lord, I believe you’re in this place and I pray that you will reveal yourself to each one of these people who are hear standing before you, others who may be watching. Show them that you are a living God, that you’re very real. Do something significant in their lives today, Lord. I pray that you’ll help us to do what we can humanly do, by seeking you through your word, through prayer, through being willing to share what you’re doing in our lives.

But then beyond that, Lord, we are helpless unless you do something for us and in our hearts. We pray that you’ll release your power, forgive our sins, help us by faith to know that we can come just like we are, and like that man you will clean us, you’ll break the chains, you’ll cover our sin and then you’ll send us to work for you.

Bless us all to that end, we pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

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