IN THE DAYS OF HIS POWER SERIES.
TOPIC: STANDING UP STRONG AGAINST EVIL AND THE EVIL ONES..
Rev. Innocent Peace-Udochukwu
President Living Fountain Ministries Int’l LIFOM
“Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.”- Neh 4:9
Nehemiah, and the Jews with him, were rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Sanballat and others were angry with them, and tried to stop the work. They determined to pounce upon the people on a sudden, and slay them, and so to put an end to what they were doing. Our text tells us what Nehemiah and his companions did in this emergency: “Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.”
These people had not only to build the wall of Jerusalem, but to watch against their enemies at the same time. Their case is ours. We have to work for Christ. I hope that all of us who love him are trying to do what we can to build up his kingdom; but we need also to watch against deadly foes. If they can destroy us, of course they will also destroy our work. They will do both, if they can. The powers of evil are mad against the people of God. If they can in any way injure or annoy us, you may rest assured that they will do so. They will leave no stone unturned, if it can serve their purpose. No arrows will be left in the quivers of hell while there are godly men and women at whom they can be aimed. Satan and his allies aim at our hearts every poisoned dart they have.
Nehemiah had been warned of the attack that was to be made upon the city.
The Jews who lived near these Samaritans had heard their talk of what they meant to do, and they came and told Nehemiah of the plotting of the adversaries. We also have been warned. As our Lord said to Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat,” so has he, in his word, told us that there is a great and terrible evil power which is seeking our destruction. If Satan can do it, he will not only sift us as wheat, but he will cast us into the fire that we may be destroyed. Brethren, “we are not ignorant of his devices.” You are not left in a fool’s paradise, to dream of security from trial, and to fancy that you are past temptation.
It is well for these people, also, that, being in danger, and being aware of the malice of their enemies, they had a noble leader to incite them to the right course to be pursued. Nehemiah was well qualified for his work. He gave the Jews very shrewd, sensible, and yet spiritual advice, and this was a great help to them in their hour of need. Beloved, we have a better Leader than Nehemiah; we have our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and we have his Holy Spirit, who dwells in us, and shall abide with us.
I beg you to listen to his wise and good advice. I think that he will give it to you through our explanation of the text. He will say to you what Nehemiah, in effect, said to these people, “Watch and pray.” Although the adversaries of the Jews conspired together, and came to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder the work of rebuilding the wall, Nehemiah says, “Nevertheless, we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.”
In the text, I see two guards; first, prayer: “We made our prayer unto our God.”
The second guard is watchfulness:
“We prayed, and we set a watch.”
“The covenant of the King of kings
Shall stand for ever sure;
Beneath the shadow of his wings
His saints repose secure.”
Satan summons all his hosts to push men back from the cross that they may not come to Christ and live. But, brethren, the battle does not end when by a desperate rush a man has come to Christ. In many it assumes a new form; the enemy now attempts to drag the trembler from his refuge, and eject him from his stronghold. It is difficult to get at the hope of the gospel; but quite as difficult to keep it so as not to be moved away from it. If Satan spends great power in keeping us from the hope, he uses equal force in endeavouring to drag us away from it, and equal cunning in endeavouring to allure us from it. Hence the apostle tells us not to be moved away from the hope of the gospel: the exhortation is needful in presence of an imminent danger. Do not think that in the moment when you believe in Christ the conflict is over, or you will be bitterly disappointed. It is then that the battle renews itself, and every inch of the road swarms with foemen. Between here and heaven you will always have to fight more or less, and frequently the severest struggle will be at a time when you are least prepared for it. There may be smooth passages in your career, and you may for a while be like your Saviour in the wilderness, of whom it is said, “Then the devil departed from him, and angels came and ministered unto him”; but you may not therefore cry, “My mountain standeth firm, I shall never be moved”; for fair weather may not outlast a single day. Do not grow secure, or carnally presumptuous. There is but a short space between one battle and another in this world. It is a series of skirmishes even Sea “Despair denounced and Grace glorified.” when it does not assume the form of a pitched battle. He that would win heaven must fight for it. He that would take the new Jerusalem must scale it, and if he has the wit to take Jacob’s ladder and set it against the wall and climb up that way, he will win the city. “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.”
THE Lord Jesus is ever in direct and open antagonism to Satan. “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed,” has been most emphatically fulfilled. Christ has never tolerated any truce or parley with the evil one, and never will, Whenever Christ strikes a blow at Satan, it is a real blow, and not a feint, and is meant to destroy, not to amend. He never asks Satan’s help to subdue Satan, never fights evil by evil; he uses the weapons which are not carnal, but mighty to the pulling down of strongholds; and he uses them ever with this intention, not to dally with Satan, but to cut up his empire, root and branch. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” There is a deadly, implacable, infinite, eternal hatred between Christ and that sin of which Satan is the representative. No compromise can ever be thought of, no quarter will ever be allowed. The Lord will never turn from his purpose to bruise Satan under his feet and to cast him into the lake of fire. Hence there was nothing more libellous than the assertion of certain Pharisees in Christ’s day, that he cast out devils through Beelzebub, the Prince of devils. O base suggestion, that the Lord of glory was in league with the dunghill Deity, the Prince of devils. He never fights the Lord’s battles with the devil’s weapons, he has not the most distant affiance with evil. It is not possible that he should be the friend and patron of that spirit of unhallowed charity which for the sake of peace would give tolerance to error. No, he never allies himself with Satan, to advance the kingdom of God, but he comes against him as a strong man armed, determined to fight until he wins a decisive victory.
“You, however, have followed my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, my faith, my patience, my love, my endurance, as well as the persecutions and sufferings that happened to me in Antioch, in Iconium, and in Lystra. I endured these persecutions and the Lord delivered me from them all. Now in fact all who want to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil people and charlatans will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived themselves. You, however, must continue in the things you have learned and are confident about. You know who taught you and how from infancy you have known the holy writings, …
2nd Timothy 3:10-15
In 2 Timothy 3:1-9, Paul warned Timothy of the difficult (also translated “terrible”) times that would happen throughout church history. People would be lovers of themselves, lovers of pleasure instead of God; they would be abusive, unforgiving, and having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof. There would be many false teachers that would lead people astray. Just as Paul warned Timothy, Christ warned his disciples as well. Satan would plant tares among the wheat and yeast in the flour (Matt 13)—the church would be full of false believers and false doctrine.
Because of this reality, many have become angry at God, bitter at the church, and some have fallen away from Christ all together. These are very important realities to be aware of in order to protect ourselves and persevere. How can we stand in these times?
Paul says to Timothy, “You, however,” or “But, you” (v. 10) and he calls him to “continue” in what he had learned (v. 14). Timothy was to be different from those with an empty religion. He was called to “continue” being faithful, even while others went from “bad to worse”
The faithful are not driven by money or the applause of men, but only knowing and pleasing God.
The Bible speaks about the reality of a conflict we face as believers, and we popularly call that conflict “spiritual warfare.” Missionaries are often most aware of this reality as they engage those who don’t know Christ around the world. C. S. Lewis warned us decades ago, though, that believers usually fall into one of two camps when dealing with the demonic: we deny their existence, or we get fascinated with them. Either way, we too often miss the Bible’s basic teachings about this conflict.
The Bible doesn’t answer every question about warfare, nor does it grant us permission to focus our attention on the devil. Any approach to warfare that magnifies the devil’s power does not reflect biblical spiritual warfare.
God reigns, even over the enemy.
There is strife between human beings and the serpent because God put that conflict there (Gen. 3:15). That strife would lead to the cross, where the death of Jesus would break the back of the powers (Col. 2:15). Now, God sovereignly uses the spiritual battles to make us the followers he wants us to be.
The enemy we face is a defeated foe.
Satan has been bound through God’s judgment and through the cross; is being bound through the preaching of the gospel; and will be bound for eternity. We do genuinely wrestle against principalities and powers (Eph. 6:12), but the devil and his forces have never been outside of God’s control.
We needn’t fear, however. In the power of God, we must simply love Christ and live and speak for him in such a way that God is glorified and an already-defeated Satan is threatened (Acts 19:11–16).
“O sovereign grace, my heart subdue,
I would be led in triumph too;
Drive the old dragon from his seat,
With all his hellish crew.”
Whatever we do let us never leave the way of truth, of peace, of safety. We are going along the king’s highway, and the thieves on the side of the road say, “Come off the highway: it is so dull and monotonous. Come into the woods; we will show you fair flowers, and ferny dells, and quiet caves. Come, listen to the birds that sing all day and all night too. Come quick with us.” We heed you not: he that travels along the king’s highway is under the king’s protection; but he that wanders into the dark mountains and lonesome woods may take care of himself. We shall do as we have done— follow the way that leads from the banishment— the way of trusting in the Saviour and in him alone.
As you hold to the faith, so may God bless and enrich you. As with simple heart you plod along the road that leads to heaven by the righteousness of the Son of God, may the Lord be with you and comfort you. But if you turn back, woe unto you! A curse will fall upon you in that day of shame and crime! The Lord keep you that you may keep the faith. Amen.
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