Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (Matthew 4:1)
Satan always has world domination in mind. He seeks to adapt man to his thought and his purpose. Because of satanic influence, throughout history man has never stopped trying to reach heaven independently of God.
Man constantly seeks glory and honor for himself. This is prevalent even in the Christian arena. Man attaches great value to degrees and titles and orders. This is the product of the pride of Satan rather than the work of God.
Cunningly, Satan shows up after significant spiritual experiences such as salvation. After His baptism, Jesus encountered the devil. Through temptation and deception, Satan tried to kill Jesus, to steal His forthcoming kingship and to destroy His relationship with the Father. Disciples are not greater than Jesus. They are not spared similar attacks from the enemy.
Attack may come in the form of fiery thought-darts filled with the venom of doubt, questioning the reality of salvation, itself. Salvation by faith is so simple it defies logic. It isn't rational to the intellect; therefore, some of us are vulnerable to those penetrating second thoughts. We may turn away in eventual disbelief, or continually answer altar calls, hoping someday to be convinced. In the meantime, it doesn't occur to us that our doubt could be the piercing attack of Satan.
The majority of us, however, are subject to more subtle attacks. When Satan realizes he can't steal our salvation from us, he concentrates upon the destruction of our relationship with God. He convinces some of us that initial salvation is sufficient, or that we are inadequate or unnecessary to God's work.
He tells some of us we can sit on our blessed assurance and coast into heaven. Others, he convinces that without theological training we are of no use to God. If Satan successfully convinces us we need to do nothing following our salvation, or we need to receive special training, or that theological expertise will promote us to some heavenly pinnacle, he successfully removes us from God's army.
Deception has spread throughout the world like an epidemic, and the deceived never know it until they are enlightened. Enlightenment doesn't always come at the moment of salvation. If Satan has established a foundation of deception in us he presses his advantage to gain more ground for his government and power, even after we have experienced salvation.
Philippians 2:12 tells us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. In verse 13, we are told God works in us to will and to work for His good pleasure. This sounds wonderful, but it becomes truth only when we listen to God instead of to Satan.
We can't break the bondage of deception until we admit it exists. That is the hardest part. None of us likes to admit we are deceived, especially if we have been Christians for years. One method to determine the degree of our deception is to listen to our self-talk.
We are deceived if:
Our language is filled with, "I can't."
We use salvation as an excuse for no further activity.
We use our bible knowledge for display, or not at all.
We tell the people to follow us in this great cause and God will bless us for our zealousness.
We sit in a sulk because we have been mistreated by someone in the church.
We are fervent on Sundays but ineffective the remainder of the week.
Deception has filled Christianity with do-nothing people, spectator Christians who expect everything from God. Deceived Christians mostly sit. For one reason or another they rationalize their inactivity. God calls them lukewarm. We see how He feels about them in Revelation 3:15,16.
The disciple must decide where he stands. Is our relationship with the Holy Spirit close enough that He can apprise us of the deception in our lives and warn us when deception penetrates?
The opposite of pride is humility. It is a giant step to lay our pride at the feet of Jesus and ask Him to reveal areas of our lives in which we are deceived. Removal of those areas releases us to be useful servants. Knowledge is the fruit of faith. When we ask Jesus to reveal the deception, He speaks to us. We then lay those areas upon the altar and ask Him, as our High Priest, to consume them with His holy fire.
Next, we ask Him to fill those vacancies with His knowledge, His wisdom, His understanding. Every Christian needs this exercise. We must willingly go to the cross and invite the Holy Spirit to do His surgical work. We can then claim the victory, and give the glory to God. We'll meet you at the cross!
Jesus is King!
P.S. What are you doing of eternal value?
Question for today: What did I place on the altar today?