DEVIL’S BAG OF TRICKS By Max Solbrekken, 1973
"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." (Gal. 6: 7-8)
The magician comes out on stage. In his hand he holds a big black hat. Talking all the time to divide the attention of the audience, he suddenly starts pulling half a dozen rabbits from the hat. Later he grabs a handful of coins out of the air. To finish it off, he shakes a covey of pigeons out of his sleeve. The magician is working his bag of tricks and "few there be who aren't deceived.”
THE PUBLIC WANT TO BE DECIVED!
The devil is the enemy of your soul. He is intent on taking your soul to hell. He would enjoy seeing you die a drunkard's death. He would be delighted to see you hooked on heroin. He would rejoice to see you blow your brains out. The devil is your arch- enemy, don't ever forget it. He wants to deceive you, kill you, destroy you. How?
St. Paul says, "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God". (1 Cor. 2:11). Know your enemy. Satan has many tried-and-tested tricks with which he is fooling the millions. To know these tricks is to know your enemy. To know his deceiving tactics is to avoid being led by the nose down the road to perdition!
1). YOU'RE TOO YOUNG TO BESAVED!
Leaning over the shoulder of our youth, the devil will whisper in their ears, "You are much too young to be saved. Wait until you get older". But what does God say in His Word? "For Thou art my hope, O Lord God: Thou art my trust from my youth". (Ps. 71:5). "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth..." (Eccl. 12:1)
The truth is, young person, that you should give your heart to Christ. Choose Him in the days of your youth. You are not too young to partake of the Holy Communion, not too young to receive the Holy Ghost, not too young to walk with God!
The famous American Revivalist, Dwight L. Moody, began preaching among the street urchins of Chicago. After delivering a sermon on God's Love, he shared with a friend, "We won 2 1/2 people to Christ tonight". The friend responded, "Do you mean two adults and one child"? "No", said Moody, "two children and one adult! You see the children have all their life ahead of them. The adult has lived more than 50% of his life already!"
2). YOU'VE GOT TO LIVE A BIT!
That's Satan's second trap. You want to get a little bit of fun out of your life, don’t you? You've got to live a bit. You can't sit in church all the time. Have some fun. Sow your wild oats! The so- called good times of this world, however, are like bubbles that float only so high before they break. Bubble gum chewing kids sometimes blows huge bubbles. The thing stretches and stretches, expands, and expands, until suddenly, it pops. The sticky stuff leaves an awful mess all over their face.
The world's good times are like that. You can stretch the bubble of worldly pleasure only so far, then, without warning, it will break and leave the broken pieces of a wanton wasted life. And, sinner, you think you are having a good time? You don't know the peace of God. You've never experienced the blessings of God. You don't know how much fun it is to be saved. It's joy unspeakable and full of glory. (1 Peter 1:8)
You will never really live until you come to Christ! Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me". (John 14:6). Young person, you'll never live until you drink of the Water of Life, until you taste of the Bread of Life. You'll never live until you experience the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit in your life!
3). YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE AND YOU'LL BE DEAD A LONGTIME!
That's another falsity the devil shakes out of his sleeve. Remember the poem: ‘Only one life. It will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.’ You live only once, so live for God. What you do for Christ will last for time and eternity. You will reap what you have sown, and be sure, your sins will find you out! (Gal. 6:7)
The Bible warns, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt and where thieves do not break through and steal for where your treasure is there will your heart be also". (Matt. 6:19-21)
My friend, you live only once, and after that the judgment. Eternity is forever! If you die in your sins, you'll be lost forever, thrown into the lake of fire. That is the place of mourning, the place of anguish, the place of torment. It is the final place of the beast, the false prophet, the anti- Christ, Satan, and his angels. It is the place where you will spend eternity with every rapist, drug pusher, drunkard, playboy, whoremonger, pimp, suicide case, and murderer that ever lived.
You'll spend eternity in Hell with vile, wicked God-haters, such as Nero, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Marx, Lenin, Ayatollah Khomeini and the 9/11 Muslim Bombers! Yes, young person, you'll live only once. There's no second chance. Live for Christ: only one life and it will soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last!
4). YOU CAN BE SAVED ANYTIME YOU WANTTO!
Satan keeps whispering his lies. He has pitfalls a-plenty for the unwary. But can you be saved anytime you want to? No! Listen to God: "My Spirit shall not always strive with man". (Gen. 6:3) Jesus warns, "No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me, draw him..." (John 6:44). You must come when God says, "Come", when the Spirit draws you. You must come when the call of God is upon your soul!
Come back with me to the time of Noah. He preached 120 years of a coming judgment. He warned them of the approaching devastation, the destruction of every unrepentant living creature. But they refused to believe him. And one day God spoke, "Noah, come thou and all thy house into theark; for thee have I seen righteous before Me in this generation". (Gen. 7:1)
For seven days the animals gathered, drawn by their Creator. The people watched this amazing stream of wildlife all trekking in the direction of the ark, grouping around it. The people knew the message of the coming judgment; they saw this most unusual gathering of beasts, cattle, creeping things, and fowl; they could see the door of the ark wide open as an invitation to be saved.
Yet, they reasoned that the door into the ARK would remain open and that Noah would never leave anyone behind, if indeed, there would be a flood. It had never rained, so how could that wooden structure be lifted up from the dry land? Then, on the seventh day God shut the door. His hand shut the door on the antediluvian age: the day of salvation had come to a close.
You cannot come to God anytime you want to or feel like it. You must come when God calls you, when He draws you, when your heart is stirred by the gospel, when God's Spirit moves upon you. The Bible declares that a day will come when a person will seek Him, but be unable to find Him; that a person will call on Him but He will not hear.
5). GOD IS A GOOD LORD!
You may say: “Surely, God is a good God who certainly won't send anybody to hell. He is a good Lord and won't condemn me. He is a good Lord and will take care of me”. And all the time you cheat, curse, lie and steal; you drink, smoke, and do drugs; you pervert and prostitute your body, commit adultery and fornication: You live like the devil and then expect God to take you, call you His loving child!
The truth is, what you sow you will reap. Be sure your sin will find you out. You had better heed God's warning while you have the opportunity. "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom. 6:23)
The story is told of a young man who grew up to be a murderer and was hanged. Just before pronouncing the sentence upon the young man, the judge said, "Young man, do you have anything further to say for yourself? The jury has found you guilty of first-degree murder"!
The young man rose to his feet and said, "Your Honour, there is one more thing I wish to say, when I was just a little boy more than 20 years ago, you saved my life. "My parents and I travelled to town with our horses and wagon, to purchase groceries. I was watching the horses as my parents were loading the provisions onto the wagon. The whistle of the train must have spooked the horses and they 'bolted'. I got caught on the wagon tongue, as the frightened horses galloped down the main street.
"Your Honour, you were working as a lawyer in our town at that time and were crossing the street at the time of my predicament! Sir, you rushed out into the path of the running team and stopping it, saved my life!” The young man was in tears as he added, "Your Honour, you saved my life then, can't you save my life again"?
The old judge took off his glasses and looking long and hard at the condemned man answered, "Yes, I remember that incident. And I'm so sorry you have ended up in this court. Young man, I'm sorry, I can't save your life this time. You see, I was your saviour then, but now I'm your judge"!
Jesus Christ who died on Calvary's cross for our sins, wants to be your Saviour now, but at the Great White Throne Judgment, He will be your judge! And there will be no more mercy!
6). WHAT WILL YOUR FRIENDS SAY?
The devil puts thoughts like this in your heart; What will your friends say, if you walk down that aisle to accept Christ? What will your friends say and do when they find out you have become a Christian? I want to ask you a question, “With whom do you value your thoughts most, your friends or God?”
Who is more important, the Lord Jesus Christ who will one day sit upon the throne of judgment, the Lord Jesus who died on the cross for you. The Lord Jesus who spilled His blood for you, the One who says, “Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest.” Or your friends who drink, do drugs, smoke, gamble, commit fornication and are unfaithful to their wives and live for the devil?
My friend, if they live for the devil, you have nothing of value to lose. And if you lose them by choosing for Christ, you will gain many good, clean living, loving Christian friends. Not only that, but you will gain their respect, and often new converts are able to lead their loved ones and friends to Christ!
When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour, I lost a few friends but gained multitudes of real friends, who also love the Lord! Also, you will gain real friends, people who love the Lord and who love one another!
"The preacher wants your money", the devil whispers. I want to tell you my friend, your money is worth nothing to you if God withholds your breath. If God doesn't keep His hand upon you, your money and your possessions will disappear. You came into this world with nothing you will leave with nothing. But if you obey the call of God, then His blessing will fill your soul.
God doesn’t need you or your money! Jesus said: “And think not to say, We have Abraham to father: for I say unto you, that God is able to raise up children to Abraham.” (Matt. 3:9). God owns the world’s silver and gold and the cattle on a thousand hills. He doesn’t need you or me, but He wants us to be a part of His Redemptive plan! God wants to bless us and so He asks us to give!
The money you give goes to win lost souls, to bring into the Kingdom of God the poor and needy, the deformed and the crippled, the lame and the halt, the confused and the desperate. Jesus said, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again". (Luke 6:38)
Dr. Hyman Appelman, Jewish evangelist speaking at Edmonton Revival Centre’s pulpit and said: "If it would inspire you to give an extra offering to help me to win another soul for Christ, I would crawl on my hands and knees down this aisle and lick the dust off your shoes with my tongue. I would do it to win souls for Christ and keep people out of Hell!
8). LISTEN TO ALL THAT NOISE!
Satan comes along and says, "Who wants to be a part of such a noisy church?" I want you to know, my friends, this will be the quietest world you'll ever live in. If you go to heaven, multitudes around you will be praising the living God throughout eternity. Millions will be worshipping God, forever magnifying the name of the Most Holy.
And if you go to hell, it will be a noisy place there too. Multiplied millions will be weeping and gnashing their teeth, multitudes will be howling and crying throughout eternity. It'll be a noisy place. This will be the quietest place you'll ever live in. Jesus said, "There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth… and ye yourselves thrust out." (Luke13:28)
The Bible says, "Now the Lord is that Spirit: Where the Spirit of the Lord is, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty". (2 Cor.3:17); “For the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (Rom. 14: 217)
The Bible says: “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord even the devils are subject unto us through Thy name. And He said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from Heaven. Behold I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you, but rather rejoice, because your names are written in Heaven.” (Luke 10: 17-20)
The devil will try to distract your attention in other ways during the sermon, or while reading this message. In the Church, he will say, "Look at those unruly children. Look at the way that one dresses. The P.A. system is too loud". But the devil is your enemy, seekingyour destruction. Choose Christ, walk with Him, and one day you will reign with Him!
9). COMPANY PREVENTS ME FROM GOING TO CHURCH!
You can't offend your friends; the devil impresses slyly upon you. You can't offend your relatives. You can't offend your neighbours who've dropped in just before church time. Well, I'll tell you something: You had better take a stand for God or against God. And if you lack the courage to invite them to come with you to church, then I wonder how much God has got of you. As for me, I don't care who visits us, when it comes time to open the Bible and pray, they'll either sit down with us or they can jolly well go home. We are going to serve God!
Jesus said, "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6:24)
10). THE WEATHER IS UNFAVORABLE!
The devil keeps digging in his bag of tricks, holding the little deceptions and lies in front of you. It's too cold, it's too icy on the roads, it's snowing something fierce - better stay home from church. Yet, it's not too cold, too icy or too snowy to go to your job. Surely, you need your job, but how much more do you need God!
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” (Prov. 3:5,6)
11). I AM TOO POOR!
I can't go to church because my clothes look worn and shabby. But you can go to a hockey game, to a bingo hall, to a theatre show. Too poor to go to church, but you can buy a television set, a stereo. You have money for cigarettes and booze.
No one is too poor to serve Jesus Christ. In fact, when poor people get saved and begin to serve God, they are blessed economically as well. Jesus Christ came to preach the gospel to everyone! The Bible says: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to Heal the brokenhearted, to Preach Deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” (Luke 9: 18)
12). TOO MANY HYPOCRITES THERE!
The devil can get that piece of trickery to sink down and take hold quite easily. After all, who wants to be in the company of frauds, fakes, and phonies! Undoubtedly, in any gathering of people you'll have some hypocrites; the church is no exception. God knows their hearts and their sin will surely find them out.
No church is perfect. If we had a perfect church and you joined it, it wouldn't be perfect any longer, if I joined it, it wouldn't be perfect any longer. No one is perfect! "As it is written, there is none is righteous", the Bible informs us, "No not one". (Rom. 3: 10). "Too many hypocrites there" you counter, but that is the most time-worn, devil-induced excuse I've ever heard.
One day, travelling for a firm in northern B.C. I was in a small countryside store near Vanderhoof. Beside the old stove sat an old man, chewing tobacco. Every so often he would lean over and hack the juice into the spittoon nearby. The owner of the store told me that his father was a Norwegian and wanted to meet me when he learned of my Norwegian background. After a good conversation, I turned to him and said, "Sir, how would you like to become Christian?"
He looked at me for a few seconds and said, "Too many hypocrites in church". "You really think so"? I asked. "Yes, I do", he answered. "Listen to me for a minute, sir", I said. "Do you know where the hypocrites are going? Every hypocrite is going to hell. The Bible says that the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment"! (Job 20:5)
Then I asked him, "How would you like to spend about 10 years with 10 hypocrites in a room 10 square feet? “I’d rather die", he said. “Listen carefully, then", I continued. "If you don't get saved, you're going to spend eternity with every hypocrite that ever lived. You're going to spend eternity in hell, in the lake of fire, with the hypocrites."
"Sir", he said, looking very concerned now, "Are you really telling me the truth"? "Yes, what I told you is the truth." "If that means that I have to get saved to get away from all the hypocrites", he answered, "I'll get saved. How can I stand them in hell if I can't stand them here?"
Bowing his head in that old country store, he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour at 75 years of age . Just before he prayed, he let another one go into the spittoon, cleaned out his mouth and threw the wad of tobacco in that old can. Then we prayed together, and he openly and frankly gave his heart to Jesus. Hallelujah!
Satan will try to control, not only the unsaved, but also the saved. Satan will try to make them powerless, useless Christians. After deception, compromise is one major weapon of Satan to dupe the saved. He will purr, "Don't preach it all, don't live it all. Just have enough religion to be respectable. Just have enough religion to be like the rest. Don't be a fanatic. Don't be a holy roller. Find yourself some easy going to church", Satan will say, "Where you can go once a week and be respectable. And whatever you do, don't get filled with the Holy Ghost, you have enough, now you're saved.
“You're reading your Bible, and say grace over your food, that's enough. You don't need to go any further." That's how the devil will try to cajole you into compromise. He will murmur, " You don't need to pay your tithes. Don't get so fanatical. Don't clap your hands. Don't shout. Don't praise God. Don't get so deeply involved. It's good to be religious, but don't become one of those emotional Christians. You might lose your mind or go off the deep end".
Satan will try to instill pride in you, to fill you with feelings of great importance and self - esteem. Satan himself came to his downfall because of pride. Lucifer said, "I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, I will be like the most High". In the original Hebrew, it states, "I will be God". God brought him down! God hates pride. "...him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer". (Ps. 101:5)
Satan will use anything at hand to fill you with conceit. Are you a successful businessman? Watch out that the devil doesn't put a notion on your heart to ride the high horse. Are you good-looking? Watch that the devil with his sly whisperings doesn't make you stuck up. Are you, the best voice in the choir? Great! Use it for God's glory. But watch that you don't secretly look down upon one of those who may have difficulty mastering certain parts less quickly and perfectly.
Are you driving a bigger and better car than your brother in the Lord? Watch out that it doesn't make you slightly strut. Who knows, maybe the other brother has a great burden for the lost and gives heavy financial support to the spreading of the gospel to the poor, the needy. Pride will kill you. Satan will pounce on the opportunity, if you have the slightest inclination to be proud; proud of who you are, proud of your face, proud of your race, proud of your place. Watch out!
The devil will come and scare you; fill you with anxieties, worries, and fears until you can think of nothing else. I'm going to die of cancer, diabetes, a heart attack. Your whole being fills up with fear and quiet despair. One woman came up to me in Norway. "Pastor Solbrekken, I hurt down here and up here, I feel sick all over. I am sick inside and out". I said, "You need a complete overhaul".
She answered in the affirmative. As I prayed for her, faith grew in her heart and suddenly she began jumping all around: healed by the power of God. Crowds of people are sick, anxious, and fearful and their emotional turmoil produces physical illness. Their negative emotions actually produce real disease.
In his book 'None of These Diseases', Dr. McMillen lists more than 50 ailments that are caused or aggravated by emotional stress. Doctors and psychiatrists state that the great majority of those occupying hospital beds are there because of mental stress. A few years ago on CBC TV, Tommy Banks asked me, "Pastor Max, is it true that a lot of people you help, are psychosomatically ill"?
"Isn't that a pretty respectable profession", I countered, "to be helping such troubled people? Psychiatrists earn big money seeking to do the same with limited success!" He nodded. "But", I continued, "by God's power we help those that are organically ill as well". That made him sit up and take notice
"Psychiatrists struggle to help the people that are sick in their minds, but what about that great percentage of people occupying hospital beds because of bodily illness brought on by emotional stress? God deals with the whole person", I declared. May God increase the number of true ‘Men of God’ who can bring His total health to suffering mankind, a mankind torn by worry, anxiety, and fearfulness. Let's get Canada healed by God's power
If the devil could get you discouraged enough to keep you out of church, he could keep you defeated, distressed and depressed from then on without much effort, Satan wants to get you discouraged with everyone; with the pastor, yourself and your friends. He tries his utmost to keep you walking around dissatisfied and moping. I have met these permanent lonely, disturbed and sick precious people all over the world.
"How are you today"? you'll ask such a person, and you will hear their troubles. "Oh, the devil's been riding me all week - I don't know what to do! Everything's so bad - Oh, I'm so discouraged; my children won't obey; my husband / wife gets on my nerves - Oh, Pastor, if you had to live where I live - Oh, Pastor, if you only knew what I must go through".
I want you to know, my beloved, the devil's hold on you will slip if you keep in the Word, in prayer, and keep full of the Holy Ghost. Daily pray, read the Bible, praise the Lord and daily; “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Phil. 4: 6)
And whatever you do, don't sleep away the blessings of God on Sunday morning! Get out of the sack, awaken your family and head for a spirit-filled, full-gospel, evangelical, Pentecostal Church!
Negativism is the little brother of discouragement. It is the I can't-do-it-attitude. “Oh, everything is going to fail. I'm not going to make it. I do not have the ability. I can't do it.” But look to Jesus and in His strength build a positive attitude; a positive approach to life and yourself, as you lean on Jesus and the Holy Spirit. His Word is true, and He cannot and will not fail!
Every morning, swing your legs vigorously out of bed and begin thanking Him. If the snow is coming down, thank Him for the snow and the moisture it will provide springtime, for a new crop to germinate. When it's cold, thank Him for the natural gas that heats your house.
When your life is troubled and stormy, thank Him for knowing and caring; and that every storm blows itself out for the sun to reappear. Behind every cloud, the sun is shining. Thank Him and praise Him continually and see how major irritations and frustrations begin to fade under the blessings of inner peace and trust in Him.
A Native preacher riding with me one day down a B.C. highway, taught me a lesson. The rain came pelting down and clattered on the roof of the car. The road was narrow. It wound its way next to the Skeena River, a railway track on one side, the steep mountain slopes on the other. The heavy clouds overhead, the clattering downpour, the wet dreary mountainside, all added up to a cheerless, dismal feeling.
Suddenly, my friend lifted up his hands, and shouted, "Thank you, Jesus". I looked at him wondering, why the outburst. Then I realized that the rain really isn't so bad. If it wasn't for the rain, we would be unable to wash ourselves and keep clean and healthy. Without rain, drought would kill all vegetation and with it our food supply. If it wasn't for the rain, the absence of plant growth and their oxygen producing qualities would soon cause all living creatures to collapse for lack of fresh air.
Without rain, I realized, no life would exist on earth. I got the message. God showed me why we should thank Him for the rain! Let's thank God in everything, even though for the moment a situation may look dreary and gloomy, all wrong and harmful. Let's be positive in our approach to life. No one any more than a Christian has the right to do so. Say, "I'm going through, because God is going to walk with me today. Nothing is going to stop me. I'll walk with Jesus through the valleys and on the mountain tops. I'm gointhrough - with Jesus".
Once more Satan digs into his bag of deceitfulness. So, what if the heathen will be lost? So, what if things aren’t going so well in the world? Can I do anything about it? Am I my brother's keeper? Is it my responsibility to look after the heathen in Haiti, India, and Africa? Should I care about the millions of souls waiting for the gospel in Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, and Romania?
Is it my responsibility to help spread the gospel of Christ to the teeming millions of Hindus, Moslems, and Buddhists? Yes, it is your responsibility! Yes, you are your neighbour's keeper. The Bible states clearly that if you have the answer to life's problems and the destructiveness of sin, then you bear the responsibility to warn those that live in sin.
The Bible warns: “When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, Thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.” (Ezekial 33: 8,9)
If you fail to warn sinners of their condemnation under sin, then their blood will be required at your hands. How can we be indifferent when the Bible issues that clear warning? How can we push away the burden for the lost that the Holy Spirit places on us, as though it is no concern of ours? Indifference! Is Christ coming soon? Well, they have been preaching that for 2,000 years. Why get excited?
Beloved, you and I are 2,000 years nearer to Christ's return than those who first started preaching the gospel. Your salvation is now nearer than in the beginning. Every day we are drawing closer to the day when suddenly the trumpet will sound and Christ will appear, when we will rise to meet Him in the clouds! Pray God, for a burden for the lost, if you have hardened yourself into a state of indifference. Pray God for a burden for those who are stampeding toward their doom!
“Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shallall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality. So, when this corruptible shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in Victory. O Death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is the victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the Victory through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor.15 :51-57)
Envy impoverishes a person spiritually and is one of Satan's major tricks to dry up the soul of the believer and keep the unbeliever from finding Christ as his Saviour. Envy also harms one physically. Modern psychiatry now bears out the words of Proverbs, spoken thousands of years ago; “A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.” (Prov. 14:30)
Great numbers of distressed people are occupying hospital beds today because of illnesses brought on by emotional stress, one of which is envy. Ulcers, headaches, high blood pressure, heart ailments, diabetes and a long list of others are now recognized as caused by upset emotions, by constant inner turmoil. Envy causes constant inner turmoil.
St. James points out the inherent evil of envy. "For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work". (James 3:16) St. Paul states, "Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another". (Gal. 5:26). If we don't watch out, Satan will try to tempt us with envy because of our neighbour's newer car, nicer house, better salary, his higher position in the church, his success in business, his seemingly greater natural or spiritual gifts. Satan will grab at anything to invoke envy in your soul, to dry up your soul, to cut your growth in Christ!
And not only that, but envy can also lead to spiritual death. St. Paul, in Gal. 5:19-21, lists envy with murder and witchcraft, with hatred and wrath, with adultery and fornication. At the same time Paul mentions the sin of emulations, which in present day language, is: 'Keeping up with the Jones'. Trying to keep up with friends, neighbours, or relatives in possessions and standing is rooted in envy. And envy, the Bible warns clearly is a physical and spiritual killer. The sin of envy in our lives must be confessed, so God can deal with us and by His Holy Spirit give us victory over it in Christ!
"Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things." (Phil. 3:19). We continue indulging ourselves in food and drink. We keep on overeating. The maxim used to be: Eat to live, don't live to eat. Nowadays many people, even Christians, show no self-restraint at the table. That's very wrong, As a matter of fact, it is sinful. The Bible condemns gluttony as a serious sin. Be temperate, the Bible admonishes. Gal. 5:23 lists temperance as one of the nine fruits of the Spirit. "To knowledge add temperance", St. Peter teaches us in 2 Peter 1:6. There is freedom from this satanic slavery in Christ.
The devil, reaching his long claws again into his bag of tricks, brings out laziness - slothfulness. It is not only physical inactivity, but especially spiritual apathy."I think, we'll stay in bed this morning, honey. We won't go to church. It got a little late last night, watching the late show.” Hebrews 10:25 commands, "Not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together, as a manner of some is..." Worship with your brothers and sisters in the house of the Lord. Don't underestimate the blessing of the fellowship.
Gossip robs us very craftily of much of our spiritual power. If Satan can't touch you with any of his other sly tricks, he'll try 'information centre, operation gossip' on you. Examine yourself. Am I involved in this? Am I on the telephone spreading the latest juicy reports about someone else? Am I guilty of talking scandal? Am I one of those?
If you want to talk about somebody, if you just must tell this terrible thing to somebody, then talk to God about the other one and pray His blessing and strength over that person. That way you both are blessed! Make it your rule, to first talk to God about somebody - it will kill your urge to gossip right there.
Oh, if the devil could get you to say something against your pastor, one of the elders, one of the deacons, one of your brothers or sisters in the Lord. Criticism, the brother of gossip, is a mighty weapon of destructiveness in the hands of Satan. Hearts grow cold and rebellious because of it. Active participation in church work turns to inactivity and skepticism, Criticism often begins with small things, but before you know it, the devil has destroyed your faith and joy in your Saviour, Jesus Christ. Suddenly every little thing irritates you. But you know that the devil is a liar. Don't allow him to use you as an undermining force in the gospel outreach. "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you". (James 4:7)
Satan has you ensnared in thoughts of more, more, more. This time it isn't food, it is money. The seducing smile of prosperity holds you entranced. Seldom or ever do you have time to go to the Edmonton Revival Centre. You have no time for those shouting Lutherans, Pentecostals, and Baptists. You are too busy making money. Greed has you ensnared. You think you have money, but money has you. You can’t handle it. It handles you. You are under its control. You have become a slave of prosperity.
You may be rich in money, but you are poor toward God. "Thou fool, this night thy soul is required of thee." (Luke 12:20). But it's not too late yet, for you. Christ can set you free and give you the riches that have eternal value, treasures stored in a place where moth and rust cannot reach them.
Do not allow the devil to dry out the needs of your soul any longer. Christ is extending freedom and victory over greed and gain to bring you into fellowship with the living God. Let Him satisfy your soul. Then you are truly prosperous.
Remember the warning of St. Paul: “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pieced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” (1 Tim.6: 10:12)
You have plenty of time. I'll wait, you say, till next Sunday. I won't do it now. Next time, but my friend, it's a lie of Satan. Not now, I’ll give my heart to Christ next Sunday. No matter how close you may ever come to a decision for Christ, if the devil can keep you from doing it now and move you to the next time, then, you will be just as lost as any Christ rejector. Procrastination is a condemnation!
Here is a supposed happening among the devil and his leading demons. Whoever authored this we do not know, but it certainly lays out a masterful evil plan to stop the work of Evangelism! If it is true, then we must work overtime to win more and more souls for Christ across the world! M.S.
One day Satan called an emergency meeting in a secret location. It was not in Hell because he is not there yet, but he is still scouring the earth. He had summoned all the leading demons from around the world to attend this crucial conference. Arrogant and proud on a high black throne, Satan eyed them severely, "Alright" he snapped, "I need some drastic, new ideas to stop souls from being saved. Our traditional methods have become unsatisfactory. We're losing souls at an alarming rate. We need a powerful new approach that will keep them in darkness. I'm waiting".
A little beady-eyed demon rose. "I've got it, Your Majesty. Back on the job, I'm going to emphasize that there is no hell". "Fool", Satan snapped, "We've got the Jehovah's Witnesses doing that for us. It works only to a certain extent. Sit down."
Another demon stood up. "Your Majesty, I've got it. I'm going to instruct all my leaders and my rank and file to be more active in spreading the lie that there is no God. I am going to command them to stoke the fires of Darwinism anew with all their might. The evolutionary theory will lead many to be blinded to the truth".
"Sit down", Satan thundered. "It's not what I am looking for. We've tried it with some success, but still the gospel is marchingahead and millions escape our clutches. Who else?" One after the other demons presented their ideas, only to be rebuked by Satan for their tameness, dullness and lack of imagination.
HOLLOW-EYED DEMON CRAWLED BEFORE SATAN!
Then, way back in the darkness, a hollow- eyed demon crawled down the aisle to the front. At the foot of Satan's throne, he stopped and piped, "Your Wicked Majesty, I have the answer; "We must attend every revival meeting and every evangelistic service and sit on sinners’ shoulders and whisper into their ears, "Yes, he is right. There is a God! Yes, there is a hell!
“And, yes, if you die in your sins, you'll go to that place called hell. Don't let them get you all excited. You don't have to choose tonight. Not tonight - tomorrow night. Not tonight - next Wednesday. Not tonight - next Sunday night. There is plenty of time. You need a few more days to live your own life, one more week to sow your wild oats. You can get saved anytime you want to. Steady now. Keep your cool. Later. Not tonight!"
Satan leaped off his throne. "That's it!" he shouted with malicious pleasure. "Go, now! Get moving! Infiltrate every evangelistic service, every revival meeting and whisper those words in the ears of sinners: "Not tonight. Next week, and we'll get millions more to that horrible place. Hurry up! Our time is running out".
TODAY IS THE DAY OF SALVATION!
Today is yesterday's tomorrow, and for some people tomorrow never comes! The Bible says, "Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light." (John 12: 35-36)
“For He saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I sucoured thee: behold now is the day of Salvation.” (2 Cor.6: 2) “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev. 22:17)
I encourage you to give your life, without reservation to Jesus Christ. Then tell someone about it. And please write and tell me the good news as well. God owns the world's silver and gold, the cattle on a thousand hills. He doesn't need you. But God wants you to be a part of His Redemption plan. Please write me today with your prayer requests! - Max Solbrekken
Max Solbrekken World Mission Box 44220 RP0 Garside Edmonton, A.B. T5V 1N6, Canada.