Satan’s Subtle Warfare

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By John Thiel, Audio: mp3 

Facing Last Day Perils Conference

There is an object lesson to preface this study:

Have you ever watched a hawk in pursuit of a timid dove? Instinct has taught the dove that in order for the hawk to seize his prey, he must gain a loftier flight than his victim. So she rises higher and still higher in the blue dome of heaven, ever pursued by the hawk, which is seeking to obtain the advantage. But in vain. The dove is safe as long as she allows nothing to stop her in her flight, or draw her earthward; but let her once falter, and take a lower flight, and her watchful enemy will swoop down upon his victim. Again and again have we watched this scene with almost breathless interest, all our sympathies with the little dove. How sad we should have felt to see it fall a victim to the cruel hawk!  {MYP 103.2}

We have before us a warfare,–a lifelong conflict with Satan and his seductive temptations. The enemy will use every argument, every deception, to entangle the soul; and in order to win the crown of life, we must put forth earnest, persevering effort. We must not lay off the armor or leave the battlefield until we have gained the victory, and can triumph in our Redeemer. As long as we continue to keep our eyes fixed upon the Author and Finisher of our faith, we shall be safe. But our affections must be placed upon things above, not on things of the earth. By faith we must rise higher and still higher in the attainment of the graces of Christ. By daily contemplating His matchless charms, we must grow more and more into His glorious image. While we thus live in communion with Heaven, Satan will lay his nets for us in vain.–The Youth’s Instructor, May 12, 1898.  {MYP 104.1}

That dove flying higher and higher and preventing the hawk to get on top of it, is a beautiful illustration that while Satan is there trying to destroy us like the hawk, the dove if we will place our minds higher and higher and commune with heaven,above the low earth, then the hawk Satan, cannot swoop upon us. He cannot lay his nets for us, they will be in vain.

In meeting the perils of the last days, we need to understand Satan’s subtle warfare just like the dove needed to understand its danger with the hawk. We don’t experience instincts like a bird. We are intelligent beings that God teaches, so that we can understand Satan’s subtle attacks. To prevent him from catching us, we need to understand him. The word of God is rich with instructions in this matter.

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

We have here the vivid representations that Satan is like a roaring lion or like a hawk, and we need to be vigilant which means very alert to his movements so that we may resist like the dove, staying above. When we read of Satan going about like a roaring lion, we must understand the behaviour of the lion in catching his prey as well.

I know that the words I speak to you are truth, and that you need them. Oh, that you would arouse, and wrench yourself from the grasp of the enemy, that you would engage in the battle of life in earnest, putting on every piece of the armor, that you may war successfully against the wily foe. Satan is already weaving his net about you, and ensnaring your soul. He does not wait for his prey to be brought to him. He goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  {2SAT 7.5}

He doesn’t wait for us to come into his lair; he’s prowling.

But does he always roar?  {2SAT 7.5}

When a lion goes and prowls for its prey, does it roar at that time? No.

No; when it serves his purpose best, he sinks his voice to the softest whisper, and, wrapped in garments of light, appears as an angel from heaven.  {2SAT 7.5}

In the softest whisper, and it sounds so sweet. It’s like light.

…wrapped in garments of light, [he] appears as an angel from heaven. Men have so little knowledge of his wiles, so little understanding of the mystery of iniquity, that the enemy out-generals them almost every time.  {2SAT 7.5}

Have you been out-generaled by Satan? Have you found yourself caught again and again in something that you were watching no to do but you got caught again? We need to know and be vigilant to see where and how he comes in so that we will not be ultimately totally devoured. The material we have just read so far, is something that is written in general. Satan has always been doing this work; he’s always been working like this. But as we look at the subject of the perils of the last days, what do we see in the Scriptures for this time about this roaring lion?

Revelation 12:12 Therefore rejoice, [ye] heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

From the time that Jesus was crucified, from that time onwards Satan had no more access to heaven. Before that time, when you read Job you can see it, he had access to heaven. But when Jesus died, he was forever cast out of heaven. From that time onwards he knows he’s got little time left so he is really going about with great wrath.

But we come to very last moments of earth’s history and what is written then? Not only is he wrath, but what did he do?

Revelation 12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Now the intensity of Satan is even more extreme than after he was cast out of heaven when Christ died. Now he is not only wrath knowing he’s got but a short time, but he is in full attack, warfare, like a ferocious beast making sure he gets everybody; nobody is to be left out of his clutches. This horrifying picture we need to understand so that in these perils of the last days which we are to face, we can face him intelligently. Now things are even more difficult.

Satan is now using every device in this sealing time  {EW 43.2}

That means in the last days as God is selecting His people, in this sealing time he is using every device to do what?

…to keep the minds of God’s people from the present truth and to cause them to waver. I saw a covering that God was drawing over His people to protect them in the time of trouble; and every soul that was decided on the truth and was pure in heart was to be covered with the covering of the Almighty.  {EW 43.2}

As these wars and these clouds of storms and whirlwind come, we are to be protected and Satan is trying to prevent us from coming under the protection.

What is he doing? Watch and learn what he is doing.

Some of these agents of Satan were affecting the bodies of some of the saints  {EW 44.1}

He is an invisible person around you. If he prods you somewhere, what do you feel? Ouch, something hurts and you think, oh, or he prods you somewhere and makes you sick and you succumb to these things. Satan is prodding the bodies of the saints and you don’t know it’s Satan. He’s a master scientist; he knows where to touch you. Have you ever studied Touch for Health? There are electric currents in your body that can be touched and it can be used for your healing but it can also touch you to confuse the electricity in your body and Satan knows all that. He touches the bodies of some of the saints.

those whom they could not deceive and draw away from the truth by a Satanic influence.  {EW 44.1}

You’ve conquered him in one way and he comes in another.

Oh, that all could get a view of it as God revealed it to me, that they might know more of the wiles of Satan and be on their guard! I saw that Satan was at work  {EW 44.1}

What was he at work to do?

I saw that Satan was at work in these ways to distract, deceive, and draw away God’s people, just now in this sealing time.  {EW 44.1}

In the time to be protected. Have you ever been distracted? Have you ever concentrated on something and all of a sudden something takes you away and the next minute you’re caught out? He distracts us. He knows what to do to distract, to deceive and to draw away God’s people, just now.

I saw some who were not standing stiffly for present truth. Their knees were trembling, and their feet sliding, because they were not firmly planted on the truth, and the covering of Almighty God could not be drawn over them while they were thus trembling.  {EW 44.1}

To be protected we must stand stiffly for truth, we must fly above the hawk; and while we are still trembling and quavering, the hawk can swoop and get us. Oh that everybody could see.

We who live now and choose to live according to the ten commandments and the spirit of prophecy at the very end, are a people who are a little remnant, a little company that is trying to stand faithful to everything. What does God call His little remnant? Among all the different churches, what does He call them?

Song of Solomon 6:8 There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number.

Knowing what the Bible means with a woman, we know that this is in reference to churches. There are mainline churches, threescore queens, and many different variations of Christians churches, concubines, and virgins, little companies, virgins everywhere, without number.

Song of Solomon 6:9 My dove, my undefiled is [but] one; she [is] the [only] one of her mother, she [is] the choice [one] of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and blessed her; [yea], the queens and the concubines, and they praised her.

My dove. The hawk, or the eagle, is paying attention to this. The remnant of her seed, the dove, he is going to concentrate on them. There is one statement that says that he’s got the world already, he just wants to get these last few people.

An instinct taught the dove regarding the hawk. What does God teach His dove, His undefiled regarding our wily foe? It says be vigilant.

The example of Christ is before us. He overcame Satan, showing us how we also may overcome.  {CS 210.2}

How are we taught? By the one who overcame him, Jesus. He is showing us how we also may overcome.

Christ resisted Satan with Scripture. He might have had recourse to His own divine power, and used His own words;  {CS 210.2}

Did Jesus do that? No, He became a human dependent like every human being.

but He said, “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” If the Sacred Scriptures were studied and followed, the Christian would be fortified to meet the wily foe; but the word of God is neglected, and disaster and defeat follow.  {CS 210.2}

Why should you study the Bible? So that you may know how to defeat Satan. If we don’t study the Bible thoroughly and understand what is meant there, Satan’s got a chance over us. When he comes in ever such a subtle way, we must know Scripture as Jesus did. So that we can conquer him by Scripture; it is written. This is the purpose here. We need to take these materials and study them closely for ourselves so that we can conquer this.

As we look at those horrible pictures, we must have comfort. What is the comfort when Satan comes in and is going to capture us? How can we be comforted from the Scriptures?

Isaiah 59:19 So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.

The enemy will come and he will surprise you. He’ll come in like a sudden flood, a flash flood, and you know what it’s like if all of a sudden there’s a flood, you get swept off your feet. As Satan comes in like that, straight away the Spirit of God will lift up a standard against him. But remember, how does the Spirit work to do this? If the Spirit is going to lift up a standard. Do we have nothing to do with that? Many times we read statements like this and we think well the Spirit is going to do something and all I have to do is smile. But no, what the Holy Spirit does in lifting up a standard against him is very much an intelligent engagement with you and me. He comes and works within.

John 16:8 And when he is come,

What will the Holy Spirit do?

John 16:8 …he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. 12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come,

What will He do?

John 16:13 …he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show [it] unto you.

When the enemy comes in like a flood, what does the Holy Spirit do? He shows you what you have read in the Bible. He brings a standard up against the inflow of Satan’s attacks. That’s how it happens. Therefore, if we don’t study the Bible, can the Holy Spirit really help us? The reality is, the Holy Spirit will only put a standard in my mind when I have studied the Bible. He will remind me, He will guide me through the word. He will take of Jesus and show it unto us. This is how He raises a standard against Satan.

We need information of the Spirit to withstand the inroads of Satan.

Ephesians 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil.

Don’t give any place to him. Don’t give him any opportunity to come close. Give him no place.

Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

All bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour and evil speaking, put it away from you, with all malice. And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. The Spirit of God is the one who is giving us the wherewithal by which Satan cannot achieve to have a place. The moment that we entertain bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil speaking, and we are not kind one to another or tenderhearted, then we are totally in danger. We are to reflect upon these principles.

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

The wiles of the devil. As we relate with one another and we meet each other’s difficulties of character, maybe we are even attacking each other or anything at all that happens in a disrupted, confused condition, we often say such and such a person is the trouble. What does it say?

Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places].

We wrestle not against each other, flesh and blood, we don’t wrestle with them. When the disciple was speaking to Jesus and said, this must not happen to you!, what did Jesus turn around and say to His own beloved disciple? He said, get thee behind me Satan because Satan was speaking through Peter at the time. Does that mean that Peter was Satan? Of course not, but Satan was using him as a mouthpiece and we must understand that in our relationships in the last days that we don’t lash out at each other for the things that we get hurt at by each other. We are not fighting flesh, we are fighting Satan. We must love one another while at the same time we must withstand the work of the evil one. This is such a hazy experience for the majority of Christians today.

Ephesians 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God

What is the armour?

Ephesians 6:14 …having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

To protect your chest: righteousness.

Ephesians 6:15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Here are very simple instructions so that we will not be caught by the wiles of Satan. We wrestle not against flesh and blood: remember this principle every time, that when we feel the opposition of a human being we are not fighting that person.

Elymas was not a man of education, yet he was peculiarly fitted to do the work of Satan.  {AA 169.1}

Elymas was a person in the New Testament that was bringing trouble to the apostles.

Those who preach the truth of God will meet the wily foe in many different forms. Sometimes it will be in the person of learned, but more often of ignorant, men, whom Satan has trained to be successful instruments to deceive souls. It is the duty of the minister of Christ to stand faithful at his post, in the fear of God and in the power of His might. Thus he may put to confusion the hosts of Satan and may triumph in the name of the Lord.  {AA 169.1}

We must be wide awake and alert to recognise the workings of Satan through the instruments of humanity. What is his subtlety when it comes to working through his agents on earth?

2 Corinthians 11:13 For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

There are human beings on earth who appear like the apostles of Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

Here is a subtle situation, there are ministers that appear like ministers of righteousness but they are Satan’s henchmen working on Satan’s command. Jesus makes it very clear that these ministers come as agents of Satan to confuse God’s people:

Matthew 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

What warning is there in front of us? Satan’s subtleties are of such a nature that the very elect can titter on the brink of being deceived, and that is something that occupied my mind over myself for years. Is this is possible that the very ones who are concentrating on Jesus, the very elect, are in danger as well? We are to be very watchful, very alert. The lion doesn’t always come with a roar but his voice will become very soft and he will give an appearance of an angel of care for you, a sweet voice, ever so angelic. Do you remember when Jesus was in the wilderness? An angel appeared to Him. Jesus was hungry, He was so hungry that His image was marred and there came this angel to help Him, I’ve come to strengthen you now.

The following statement helps us to understand the subtlety of the evil one as he comes with his gentle, angelic, kind way:

Satan now supposes that he has met Jesus on His own ground. The wily foe himself presents words that proceeded from the mouth of God. He still appears as an angel of light, and he makes it evident that he is acquainted with the Scriptures, and understands the import of what is written. As Jesus before used the word of God to sustain His faith, the tempter now uses it to countenance his deception. He claims that he has been only testing the fidelity of Jesus, and he now commends His steadfastness.  {DA 124.2}

Can you see how Satan works? He says, oh, you’ve done well now, yes, I’m an angel here, I just came here to test you and you answered me so perfectly.

As the Saviour has manifested trust in God, Satan urges Him to give still another evidence of His faith.  {DA 124.2}

What was that? Why don’t you jump down off the pinnacle? Just trust God. It is written, you will not dash your foot against a stone. It is written.

Now here is the subtlety. How can you detect Satan in an angelic communication?

But again the temptation is prefaced with the insinuation of distrust,  {DA 124.3}

Here is an insinuation of distrust. Can you pick up on things that people say and do around you that there is an insinuation somewhere? That’s how Satan works. That’s how you detect him. God doesn’t insinuate anything, He tells you straight. But Satan comes with insinuations, ever so sweetly, ever so angelically.

“If Thou be the Son of God.”  {DA 124.3}

If this person was a minister of God; if this was like this. There is a question mark, a doubt. Straight away, ah, there he is. This is Satan’s subtle way. The doubt ;if you have trusted and Satan brings a doubt, if you are feeling attacked somewhere, if somebody is attacking, you know, ah, this is a subtle little manifestation here.

Revelation 12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

Who is he? The accuser of the brethren. The angelic communication with an accusation in it. The moment there is an accusational note in the communication, you know, here is the accuser of the brethren, straight away. That is the subtlety of it. In the guise of an angel who wants to guard the well-being of the church, he insinuates accusational overtones.

I received an email from a brother overseas and he has learnt of those subtle little things, that unless you are aware of them you actually think, there’s help coming here. Satan came to Jesus and it looked like he was coming to help him. We’ve got some problems in the church and he comes, I’m going to help you here.

Here is how this brother discovered it in his own experience: It is clear to me we have to pray to not be fooled by communication leading to gossip and guile which is not pleasing to God, and using the methods of Satan, in seeing that under a guise of being concerned and trying to get to the bottom of a matter in trying to help resolve a problem while essentially ignoring Bible principles in order to maintain friendship and listening to falsehoods, we recognize and are slowly learning, is an emotional snare of Satan.

An emotional snare. We are emotionally bound together as a church and we see something, and we begin to proceed to try and get to the bottom of a matter, and in our efforts to try and get to the bottom of a matter we begin to do some very adroit quizzing. All that builds to is actually one of the emotional snares of Satan. That’s exactly what is written in the spirit of prophecy.

Those who are engaged in the great and solemn work of warning the world, should not only have an individual experience in the things of God, but they should cultivate love for one another, and should labor to be of one mind, of one judgment, to see eye to eye. The absence of this love greatly pleases our wily foe. He is the author of envy, jealousy, hatred, and dissension; and he rejoices to see these vile weeds choke out love, that tender plant of heavenly growth. It does not please God to have his servants censure, criticise, and condemn one another.  {HS 120.3-4}

It does not please God for us to censure, to criticise and condemn one another.

He has given them a special work, that of standing in defense of truth. They are his workmen; all should respect them, and they should respect one another. In the army, officers are required to respect their fellow-officers, and the privates soon  learn the lesson. When the leaders of the people in the Christian warfare are kind and forbearing, and manifest a special love and regard for their co-laborers, they teach others to do the same.  {HS 120.4}

When Satan comes with his subtlety, he comes with an accusational slant to cause division. He comes with a suggestion, are you sure there? Just that little tinge, that’s all he needs, and he triggers off a series of events.

Satan is at work, even among the people of God, to cause disunion and difference of opinion.  {2SAT 4.2}

He comes among God’s people to cause difference of opinion.

There is biting and devouring among them, and Satan designs that they shall be consumed one of another. Selfishness, corruption, and evil of every kind is taking a firm hold upon hearts.  {2SAT 4.2}

To choke out what? To choke out love. The accuser of the brethren chokes out love, and it’s so subtle. Disunion and difference of opinion: But, don’t I have a right to my own opinion? When Satan triggers off an opinion and somebody else doesn’t have that opinion but has another, everyone claims the right of their opinion and what happens? Clash. That’s the sad story, and that is Satan’s sophistry.

We have a beautiful experience when we surrender to the beautiful love of Jesus and we look at each other without those subtleties and then when Satan comes in, we can say, hello, here is the dark shadow of Satan, better get out of here. Send him away.

This is the way that he comes and this is what happened to the early Christian church. What happened to them, these lovely people who had a first love? They had their first love, and do you remember what Jesus said to the church of Ephesus? I have something against you, you have lost your first love. How did that happen?

But the early Christians began to look for defects in one another. Dwelling upon mistakes, giving place to unkind criticism, they lost sight of the Saviour and of the great love He had revealed for sinners.  {8T 241.3}

What happened to them? They dwelled upon the mistakes of people and by doing that they lost sight of Jesus.

They became more strict in regard to outward ceremonies, more particular about the theory of the faith,  {8T 241.3}

Do you remember the foolish virgins? They knew what was right and they were particular about it. They became more particular about the theory of the faith.

They became…more particular about the theory of the faith, more severe in their criticisms. In their zeal to condemn others they forgot their own errors. They forgot the lesson of brotherly love that Christ had taught. And, saddest of all, they were unconscious of their loss.  {8T 241.3}

If you would have come to them and said to them, you don’t love your brother do you? Oh, no, I love him very much. They were unconscious that they were not loving, because they were criticising and dwelling upon each other’s mistakes and it began to gather momentum.

They forgot the lesson of brotherly love that Christ had taught. And, saddest of all, they were unconscious of their loss. They did not realize that happiness and joy were going out of their lives, and that soon they would walk in darkness, having shut the love of God out of their hearts.  {8T 241.3}

Nobody would do that deliberately would they? How does it happen then? The subtle work of Satan. Putting in a little criticism. We’ve been taught at school today the power of critical thinking and this is being engendered. With that sort of mind we come to the high standards of the message for these last days and we begin to look, is this really happening with this brother or this sister? Now we think we’re going to do them some good and hey, you’re doing this not right, you’re doing that not right. That’s what happened to the early Christian church. When we suffer under that, we’ve got some people in the past who have suffered under that too, and we want to quickly recover ourselves.

That dove is to fly above the hawk, to stay above all that level because the moment we’re down on that level, the hawk will get us. Once on the track of this kind of activity, Satan has us in his web.

Many today stand where Peter stood, when in self-confidence he declared that he would not deny his Lord. And because of their self-sufficiency, they fall an easy prey to Satan’s devices. Those who realize their weakness trust in a power higher than self.  {TDG 259.4}

The dove has to go higher.

And, while they look to God, Satan has no power against them. But those who trust in self are easily defeated.  {TDG 259.4}

In the lowlands the dove would be swooped upon, because we’re not flying high.

Let us remember that, if we do not heed the cautions that God gives us, a fall is before us. Christ will not save from wounds the one who places himself unbidden on the enemy’s ground. He lets the self-sufficient one, who acts as if he knew more than his Lord, go on in his supposed strength. Then comes suffering and a crippled life, or perhaps defeat and death.  {TDG 259.4}

The hawk has got his victim.

It is very essential that we actually examine this so that we can be the instinctive dove that immediately can see, ah up! Away from this lowland.

What are Satan devices? We must be aware of his devices. This is the thing we are to be vigilant about:

When the mind dwells upon self, it is turned away from Christ, the source of strength and life. Hence it is Satan’s constant effort to keep the attention diverted from the Saviour and thus prevent the union and communion of the soul with Christ.  {SC 71.2}

Can you see the picture? We are supposed to be up there in the skies, above the hawk. So Satan wants to takes us to look down at the low level of self. If he’s got that then he can swoop.

The pleasures of the world, life’s cares and perplexities and sorrows, the faults of others, or your own faults and imperfections–to any or all of these he will seek to divert the mind. Do not be misled by his devices. Many who are really conscientious,  {SC 71.2}

I cannot emphasise this strong enough. Are we not conscientious Christians? We really want to watch closely, diligently and conscientiously. What does he do?

Many who are really conscientious, and who desire to live for God, he too often leads to dwell upon their own faults and weaknesses, and thus by separating them from Christ he hopes to gain the victory.  {SC 71.2}

His device is to turn our attention to the pleasures of the world. To the perplexities and sorrows. The faults of others of your own faults and imperfections. This is the device. The accuser of the brethren, he is accusing you in yourself. He is accusing others in your sight, and he is turning your attention in every direction in the most subtle way so that Jesus is removed out of your view. That is his device.

When I first read that was when I was sitting on night duty as a nurse. I read that and I thought, wow, praise the Lord! This is the answer to all of our problems. And from that time onwards I never permitted myself to go down, never. From that time onwards, I can’t go down, because I refuse to look and dwell upon these things. If I temporarily do, I can feel it immediately, oops, up, because Satan is about to swoop me. This is our guideline in reference to the subtleties of Satan. His devices are very clear here.

If we resist the devices of the wily foe, we shall not be overcome by Him. It’s a simple equation. But on that simple equation the majority of people fall. The perplexities of life, you see perplexities and you go, oh! and you try to sort them out, you try to clarify them and you’re gone. Instead of breathing and saying, Lord, what is it? You wait. And the people around you who are falling, they say, why aren’t you doing something? You wait until the Lord shows because people are very quickly distracted from focusing on Jesus and we must not let ourselves be drawn down there. Drawn down so that the hawk can pounce on us. These are the subtle devices which are catching us so that we lose our sight on Jesus.

1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

Seducing spirits, seductive, something that draws your affection.

Satan is continually seeking to overcome the people of God by breaking down the barriers which separate them from the world. Ancient Israel were enticed into sin when they ventured into forbidden association with the heathen. In a similar manner are modern Israel led astray. “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” 2 Corinthians 4:4. All who are not decided followers of Christ are servants of Satan. In the unregenerate heart there is love of sin and a disposition to cherish and excuse it. In the renewed heart there is hatred of sin and determined resistance against it. When Christians choose the society of the ungodly and unbelieving, they expose themselves to temptation.  {GC 508.2}

In our associations with human beings who are not decidedly for Jesus, can you sense there will be some seductions there? Very seducing, because we have friendships and relationships which if we are not wide awake to the fact will trap us into the trap of Satan.

Conformity to worldly customs converts the church to the world; it never converts the world to Christ.  {GC 509.1}

We want to do missionary work, so what do we do? We think we’ve got to come close to the people so we come close and we give in a little bit here and there to make it look as though we can actually win them. That’s a seduction of Satan. Because you will never win them your way, they’ll pull you their way. That’s the way it works. While it says that to the Jew we must be a Jew and to the Greek a Greek and so on, it doesn’t mean to go on to their ground. It’s  meeting them as one with them but not doing and following their particular practices.

Familiarity with sin will inevitably cause it to appear less repulsive.  {GC 509.1}

In our association with sinful behaviours around us there comes a point in time when, you know how it is if somebody watches a film on television, that’s very interesting, and then it bluntens your sensitivity, and then you pick up something else and it pulls you down some more, and it goes on, and on, and on. How do you conquer all this?

Give the people present truth. Talk the truth. Fill their minds with truth. Build up the strongholds of truth. And do not bring Satan’s theories to minds that should not hear in regard to them. What the people need is not a representation of the seductive arts of Satan, but a presentation of the truth as it is in Jesus. Remember that the devil can be served by a repetition of his lies. The less we handle these objectionable subjects, the purer, cleaner, and less tainted will be our minds and our principles. . . .  And I have been shown that we are not to enter into controversy over these spiritualistic theories, because such controversy will only confuse minds. {Ev 624.2-3}

As we are made aware of the subtleties of the enemy with its seducing spirits, it is not the work of the gospel minister to voice Satan’s theories. We are to voice the truth as it is in Jesus. When we meditate on the beauty of Christ it lifts the soul against the things that Satan tries to capture us with. Our immediate time with its extreme intensity calls for us to act on the things that we are instructed in.

In this time of trial we need to be encouraged and comforted by one another. The temptations of Satan are greater now than ever before, for he knows that his time is short  {EW 46.1}

His temptations are more than ever before, but in spite of all this we may decide to be part of the people who are identified here:

Zechariah 3:1 And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. 2 And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: [is] not this a brand plucked out of the fire? 3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. 4 And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. 5 And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by.

Here is what the story of this time is all about. Jesus our High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary is pleading our cases and we who have been attacked by Satan, because Satan is standing by, in our study of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary we are in tune with what He is doing and we are submitting ourselves to the counsel that we have been given. As that is happening, the beauty of the work of Christ our righteousness causes all our filthy garments to be taken away and a change of raiment. Christ’s righteousness is to be placed upon us, so that we stand faithful at the end.

Satan stands at the head of all the accusers of the brethren; but when he presents the sins of the people of God, what does the Lord answer? He says, “The Lord rebuke [not Joshua, who is a representative of the tried and chosen people of God, but] thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?”… Had he not set the whole confederacy of evil at work to lead them, through his seductive arts, into these very sins?  {TM 39.2}

Satan had led them into those very sins through his seductive arts.

But they had repented, they had accepted the righteousness of Christ. They were therefore standing before God clothed with the garments of Christ’s righteousness, and “He answered and spake unto those that stood before Him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him.  {TM 39.2}

In spite of the seductive arts that we have been trapped into, we may be recovered by this work. The enemy is a conquered foe, and because he is a conquered foe we are to draw near to God and He will draw near to us, and we resist the devil and he will flee from us.

May God grant us to remember these subtleties and learn from the dove that flies up and up to prevent the hawk from getting above it, and that picture of the dove is a beautiful picture to remember so that we know that we should keep our mind up, not down, because the other way Satan gets us, and if he does get us and he has brought us into shocking experiences, then remember Zechariah, the story of Joshua and the angel, The Lord rebuke thee, Satan, this is a brand plucked out of the fire. Thank God for that. May we take that present truth into our living experience.

Posted on March 30, 2014, in Facing Last Day Perils, Sermons by John Thiel. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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