Behind the Devil's Hand

Scripture: Ephesians 6:10, 1 John 3:8, Luke 10:18
Is there a devil? Is evil a myth? Satan is very real just as God is real. He is a supernatural being who seeks to deceive and destroy God's people. The devil tempts to sin, to break God's law. The of these ways is death.
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There are people in this world who say that there is no real devil, no real author of evil. Evil is only a myth or a condition of the thinking, we are told. Some time ago a number of ministers of many denominations were in a conference and a well-known minister was speaking. This man was noted for his so-called modernist views of religion. This is a summary of what he said concerning the great forces of good and evil. "There is no real being such as we've thought as the devil. Evil is a state of mind. If a person dwells on evil thinking, it leads to evil doing. This is the evil power. But if a man will think good positive thoughts, he will not do evil. Life is controlled by our thought patterns." Now that's the thing presented by this man, this minister, to a group of other ministers at a convention.

Let me assure you, friends, that the devil is very, very real indeed. He was created as a perfect angel in heaven, but through jealousy and pride that began in his heart, he rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven. He came to this world and tempted Adam and Eve into sinning. The Bible is filled with counsel regarding the devil and how he works against men in an effort to get as many as he can to follow his program and thus be eternally lost. In Hebrews 2:9 and verse l4, it is written that Jesus tasted of death for every man and that because He became affiliated completely with the needs of man by taking on Himself the form of man, Jesus through this death, destroyed the very power of the devil. Yes, friends, Jesus is very real and likewise the devil, too, is very real. And that's why God calls us into His army. We can't see the devil for he is invisible to us although he's very real, but he's a supernatural being. Just because we can't see him doesn't mean he's not there, anymore than the fact that we do not see Jesus or God proves that they are not real.

Now our opening text says that we're not wrestling or fighting against flesh or blood but against spiritual wickedness and against the very ruler of darkness of this world. That's the text you'll find in Ephesians 6:10. Sometimes we feel that since the devil is so powerful, we haven't any chance against him. Thus, we often give in to his temptations without much struggle. Listen to this wonderful statement found in 1 John 3:8. "He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil." Now notice, friends, it was for this purpose that Jesus was born and lived. For what purpose? That He might in His own life show that not only He but all men, through His power, have power to destroy the works of the devil in the life. Jesus, through His death, conquered the grave. Through his life, He conquered every temptation of the devil. And the very fact that Jesus lived, died and rose again is proof that the devil is real.

After the fall of Satan from heaven and after he caused Adam and Eve to sin, Satan claimed to be the leader or ruler of this world. In Job 1:7 we read where Satan attended a council in heaven of the leaders of all the worlds. This council was called by God and Satan came to represent this earth. When Jesus came to this earth to begin His public ministry, Satan came to Jesus and offered the kingdoms of this world if Christ would just bow down and acknowledge Satan as supreme ruler. That story is found in Luke 4: 5-7. Even though Jesus did not yield to this temptation, He did acknowledge Satan as the prince of this world. In Luke 10:18 Jesus said that He had seen Satan fall as lightning from heaven. Jesus further stated that Satan was the father of all evil, of all lies, and of all things contrary to righteousness. Peter warned us that Satan is like a roaring lion seeking his prey at the least expected moment. In Romans 6:15 we're warned that we become the servant of the power to whom we yield ourselves. When we yield to Satan, we become his servant. Satan's avowed purpose is to undermine the authority of God and to get all men to turn away from God. His entire strategy is directed toward men to lead them into sin. But what is sin? The Bible clearly defines sin in clear unmistakable words. In fact, since the Bible is the book of God, it tells us the story of God's love and how God deals with this sin problem. It is only natural and right then that God define sin so that we will know beyond all doubt exactly what we have to deal with.

Now let me list the four Bible definitions of sin. 1 John 3:4. "Sin is the transgression of the law." 1 John 5:17. Sin is anything that is unrighteous, not like Christ. James 4:17. Sin is failure to follow the things we know to be right. Romans 14:23. Sin is lack of faith in God and His Word.

Why then do men sin? I would like to take you on a little journey today. The reason many people sin is that they do not stop to consider the results of yielding to Satan's temptations. They do not stop and look behind his hand when he offers them something to tempt them. The Bible says in Proverbs 16:25, "There is a way that seemeth right to a man but the end thereof are the ways of death." Too often we look only on the surface of life and before we know it, have fallen into sin.

I'm going to paint for you two word pictures to show exactly how Satan works. Just as it is important for men going into battle against an enemy to know as much as possible about the enemy, so as to be better able to meet and defeat him, so it is supremely important for us to know something about the enemy of our souls so that we'll be better able to meet and overcome him. The first picture I would present to you is the one from the Garden of Eden. We see there the beautiful garden. Everywhere is peace, serenity and beauty. Our picture takes place in the third chapter of Genesis. One day Eve is out for a walk among the trees of her beautiful home. Suddenly her attention is drawn to the sound of a voice. It's unlike any voice she has ever heard before. Daily she's been accustomed to the voice of her husband. This is not his voice. Daily she has talked with the Lord God face to face in open communion; this is not the voice of the Lord God. Who could it be? Closer examination reveals that the voice is coming from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. As she approaches closer to the forbidden tree, it appears that a beautiful serpent nestled among the foliage of the tree is speaking. Listen to the conversation. "Say there, Eve, let me ask you a question? Is it really true that God told you not to eat of this tree?" Now Eve is entranced. Standing there on the enchanted ground of Satan, she begins to ponder the question. "Yes, it is true. God did say that. Why I never really thought about it. It does seem strange that God would do this when He has specifically given us dominion over all things in the earth. Now I wonder just why God should not permit us control of this tree as well as all the others?"

We know, of course, that the serpent couldn't speak. We know, according to the Bible, that this was Satan talking through the serpent. A careful study of the chapter reveals to us the strategy of Satan, not only with Eve but with everybody that he tempts. First of all, he has caused Eve to question God. Why should God curtail her from just this one tree when He has given her and her husband the control and care of every other tree? Could it be that God is withholding something good from her? Maybe God doesn't love her as much as she thought He did. Then comes the lie of Satan. God had said that the wages of sin is death, but Satan now openly challenges God's Word. Satan says, "You will not die." The line is now drawn. It is now Satan's word against God's Word. But Eve has stood on the enchanted ground too long. She must look further into the possibilities of this situation. She doesn't mean, of course, to be sinning. She only wants to see what Satan has to offer her.

With her mind filled with questions concerning God's dealing with her, Eve stands there before Satan bewitched by the tempter. "I'll tell you why God doesn't want you to eat of this tree," says Satan. "God knows that if you eat of it, your eyes will be opened. Listen, if you'll eat of this tree just this one time, I promise you that you're going to have some new exciting experiences. God has been trying to hold you back because He knows what you are missing." A new experience! Her eyes opened to something new and different! Maybe it's worth just one experience. Just this once won't make much difference. And so Eve takes the offered fruit.

Friends, I submit to you today that when Satan made that promise to Eve, when he promised her a new experience, he was not lying. Her eyes would soon be opened to new experiences that she'd never had before. Oh, that would be true, and the fulfillment of that promise would start that very day. But I also submit to you that when he promised her these new experiences, he had to hold some of them behind his hand. He dared not reveal them to her. Come, let's look closer. That very day, Eve along with her husband who had also eaten of the forbidden fruit, had their eyes opened to that which had been behind the devil's hand when he promised them new experiences. That very day they knew what it was to be afraid of the presence of the Lord God. That very day they experienced what it meant to be driven out of the Garden and never be able to come back in. The days and nights turned into years and years filled with sorrow and toil. The soil they tilled became full of thorns and thistles to choke out the vegetation. The leaves on the trees turned yellow, then red, then brown, then dropped dead to the ground. The flowers, once so beautiful and never-fading, now faded and died.

And then one day another new experience came to Eve. Her own son lay dead on the ground, dead at the hand of his own brother. Satan had promised a new experience and now she was having the fulfillment of that promise. Oh, if she could have only known, if she had only stopped when the first temptation came and called to God for help, she would have turned from the enchanted ground. She would not have allowed her mind to dwell on the questions about God, but it was too late. The results of sin were hers. But Paul says in Romans 5:12 that the results were to pass upon all men as well.

Jesus gave the account of two boys who grew up in a fine Christian home, but one day the devil came to one of the boys and suggested to him that home was no place for him. Too many rules and restrictions, while out in the world were many new experiences and excitement. Why not go? Why not live it up and enjoy life? After all, you're only young once! The boy went to his father and asked to leave. The father, though heartbroken, granted the boy his portion of the inheritance and the boy went out into the world of pleasure and excitement. And sure enough, just as the devil had promised, the world was gay, no more restrictions to hamper his fun. The devil promised all this to him and his cup was filled. Remember friends, whenever the devil makes a promise like this, he fulfills it. However, there's always a part that he dares not show when he makes his promise. Yes, there's always a part that he hides behind his hand. It wasn't long until the money was gone. Friends deserted him and the lad saw what was behind the devil's hand. You know how he came back hungry and forsaken at last to his father's love and his father's home. He understood, just like Eve, the devil meant what he said and yet some new experiences were not to be desired at all.

So, friends, when Satan tempts you and promises you many things, remember that some things are hidden behind his hand and the experiences that come to you someday will reveal that those things were the most tragic heartbreaking things that could be imagined.

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