Audio Sermon for Advent Three, Sunday December 11, 2022
Sermon for Advent Three – Sunday December 11, 2022
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father
and our Lord Jesus, the Christ. Amen.
1 Peter 5:8-11 (ESV)
8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
In the Name of Jesus, the Christ,
Who is our strength and our defender,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Precious Blood –
It’s a terribly dangerous thing and we all are infected with it.
Most of us don’t think of it as a dangerous thing, because the world around us encourages, even urges us to have it. Whether wrong or right, we are to revel in it. We are to build it up and stand upon this attitude. There are even some who say that if we don’t have enough of it, we really can’t function properly in society.
We are told that having it makes us stronger, when the truth is that it makes us weaker. In fact, the more we have of it, the more likely we are to put ourselves into dangerous situations. This dangerous attitude misleads us into believing that we can handle every situation alone, by ourselves.
If you haven’t figured out what I’m talking about yet – then I’m talking about Human Pride. It is dangerous, just ask the grizzled fisherman whom the Holy Spirit moved to write this letter.
He was self-confident, even cock sure. Even after Jesus assured his disciples that they would all be made to stumble because the Scriptures foretold it (Matthew 26:31), Peter boasted (Matthew 26:33):
“Even if all are made to stumble because of You,
I will never be made to stumble.”
Even after Jesus assured him that he would deny Him three times, boastful Peter wouldn’t back down. He contradicted his master and declared (Matthew 26:35a):
“Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”
It was pride that led Peter to contradict His Lord, to declare essentially: “You underestimate my powers, old man. I’m stronger than you think. I can handle it.” As a result, and lest they be looked down upon as weaker, all of the disciples said the same thing (Matthew 26:35b).
Where did sinful pride get them? All the disciples ran away rather than die with Jesus, one of them naked. Self-confident Peter did exactly what Jesus said he would, He denied knowing Jesus, cursing and swearing.
Nevertheless, we don’t learn from the mistakes of others. Our own pride asserts that we are different. We won’t stumble in the same way. We are stronger. So today, it has become fashionable for some to imagine that they can take on the Serpent of Old, and whip his fallen angel carcass.
So, I wonder what Peter would say, if he could today read the boastful memes that I see on my Facebook feed:
“The Devil whispered in my ear,
‘You’re not strong enough to withstand the storm.’
Today I whispered in the Devil’s ear, ‘I am the storm.’”
In opposition to such foolish braggadocio, the Spirit of God has different advice for us, which we should humbly take to heart. Christ is Coming Again...and there are things we should be afraid of and things we need not fear. If we really think that we can take on the enemy alone...we should be afraid. He is more than our match. On the other hand, if Christ stands with us, we need not fear.
In order that we may be instructed in righteousness, we bow humbly before the Word of God and we pray: “Sanctify us by your truth, O Lord, Your Word is Truth.” Amen.
It isn’t just that we are infected with sinful pride, which makes us vulnerable whether we admit it or not; our enemy has also been successful in leading us to overlook and minimalize him.
First of all, Satan has managed to stay in the shadows and out of the spotlight in our fallen world. If you think about it, only those who have read the Word of God seeking information about him actually believe that this rebellious and fallen angel...exists. So, in a world where Christians are a miniscule minority, most pay no mind to the enemy because they consider him make-believe, a card-board cutout representative of unfortunate events, or what some people call – evil.
Secondly, when Satan emerges from the shadows, he is pictured one of two ways: a buffoon or an equal to God.
Buffoon -- The most common representation of this fallen angel is a red-suited guy with horns, a pointed tail and a pitchfork. He’s pictured as a happy-go-lucky buffoon, and no real threat to anyone.
Mighty Equal – If the Devil is pictured any other way, it’s as an all-powerful equal to God. He may be pictured as an equal to God, but he’s just an angel that went bad and tried to usurp authority from God.
This is coldly calculated. Our enemy doesn’t want us to know the truth about him, but our God wants us to know who we are up against, so in the Scriptures:
Devil -- The enemy is called ‘the Devil’ which means: ‘slanderer.’ He is known for making false and malicious statements, he’s a professional liar.
Satan -- He’s also called ‘Satan’ which means adversary. He’s not our friend, even if he would cozy up to us and pretend that he is a good, happy go-lucky buddy.
Great Dragon/Serpent of Old -- He’s called the ‘Great Dragon’ and the ‘serpent of old’ because his body of work can be traced back to the events that took place in Eden. Once again, our enemy has been successful in misleading people into believing that the events that took place in Eden are just a fable.
Our enemy wants us to believe that he’s no real threat...and our human pride is quick to gobble up that story. Which brings us to the truth as revealed by God the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Peter about our enemy.
We should pay careful attention to these words...especially if we think that we can take on the enemy alone.
8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Our enemy does stay in the shadows, but that’s because he’s always on the hunt. He’s compared to a hungry lion, who prowls about. When he comes upon his prey, he roars to paralyze it before pouncing on it and devouring it. As children we are afraid of things that go bump in the night. We should be afraid of this enemy who is hiding in the shadows looking to do us physical (remember Job?) and spiritual harm.
So, if you were told that there was a big cat prowling the neighborhood, would you fling wide the door and carry the stinky kitchen garbage out to the road? Well, unless you had a death-wish, of course not. Have you ever seen a lion or tiger in the zoo? They aren’t little; they have big claws and big teeth. Today between 500 and 700 people are killed by lions every year, far more than sharks, lightning or quicksand.
We can see a Lion, they are flesh and blood animals; but Satan is a fallen angel, invisible to our sight. He’s more dangerous than a Lion looking for a meal, which is why we are urged to be:
Sober-minded – the word that’s used here doesn’t only refer to people who aren’t drunk (sober) but to people who are in their right mind, in control of their senses, self-controlled. We are urged to be awake and aware of our enemy because drunk and distracted people are not prepared to defend themselves.
It would be good if we ask ourselves, what are the things that distract our minds, and numb us to the danger?
Watchful – the word means to stay awake, to be aware, to be on the alert, to keep our eyes open. This doesn’t mean that we are never allowed to sleep, but it does mean that while awake we are to keep our heads on a swivel for the enemy and the ways that he comes to deceive us. There are many ways that he enters into our hearts to deceive. He comes through the eyes and ears to tempt by television and movies, by lies.
It would be good if we ask ourselves what are the things that draw our attention away and numb us to the danger?
If we are self-controlled and watchful, we will often see where and when Satan comes to deceive us. How often hasn’t it happened that your conscience said, “Stop! Watch out!” but you ignored it? If you know that you are susceptible to certain temptations, then avoid those situations! It’s easy to say, but our pride plays a role, telling us: “You can handle it.”
What is the easiest way to avoid being mauled by a lion? Well, I suppose, you could avoid the places where lions roam free and you could not get into the lion’s enclosure at the zoo. We can’t entirely avoid our invisible enemy because there is a part of us that urges us, “Go pet the lion!”
The Spirit of God gives both advice and comfort when we come up against the enemy:
9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
What do you think of when you read the words, “Resist him.” I picture someone standing with a whip and a chair, saying: “Get back, Numa, get back!” You might picture someone with a rather large gun and his finger on the trigger. Well, that won’t work against a fallen angel.
The Holy Spirit reminds us that our enemy isn’t a physical being, when he tells us through the Apostle Paul (Ephesians 6:12, ESV):
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
So, if you think that you can just take the enemy on, by yourself, because you are the storm...I suggest you think again. If you think that you can take on Satan, then you aren’t being sober-minded, but foolish. Fighting the enemy alone is like trying to take out a spirit with a sword.
When we are urged to ‘resist him’...we are being urged to call for help. The word ‘resist’ doesn’t mean to take the battle to the enemy, but to stand strong against him in faith. The only way we can hope to stand against Him is to call upon the one who has crushed Satan’s head and taken away his power. Jesus will come to your aid, and will come to the aid of your ‘brotherhood’ your fellow Christians throughout the world. He always has and always will.
But if you attempt to take on the enemy alone...be afraid. If you stand behind Christ, holding His hand, seeking His strength and power against the enemy...you have nothing to fear.
Why not? Do you remember how Satan’s cohorts reacted when confronted by the Son of God? Let me refresh your memory. When Jesus came upon people who were demon-possessed, the invisible enemy that controlled them was often terrified...of the Son of God.
These are typical responses (Matthew 8:29, Mark 1:24, ESV):
“What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.”
Jesus sent them away with a word. The devil and his cohorts – the other disobedient angels – cannot stand before the Son of God. The time of their deception is limited, for Christ is Coming Again.
We will come up against the enemy and from time to time we will be spiritually injured. Which is why these final words are of immense comfort to us:
10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
God, our Creator and Redeemer not only promises to defend us, but to restore us, build us up again, strengthen us and set us in a place of safety. For this promise, He alone deserves the glory and honor.
Christ is Coming Again...If we think that we can take on the enemy alone...we should be afraid. He is more than our match. On the other hand, if Christ stands with us, we need not fear.
He has already won the war.