Author: Ron Graham
Our previous lesson revealed three of the Devil’s devices by which he tries to take advantage of us. Following on from that lesson, here are three more.
Remember that Paul counsels us to take care "lest Satan take advantage of us, for we are not ignorant of his devices" (2Corinthians 2:11).
Jesus says, "Come to me, all of you who labour and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).
The heavy burdens of which Jesus speaks are laid on us by the Devil. There are all sorts of burdens he creates: burdens of care, of guilt, of religion, of persecution, of pain, of labour, and so forth.
Jesus hates, in particular, a religion that weighs people down, and he condemns those who lay such religion upon people’s shoulders.
“Woe to you lawyers, because you weigh people down with heavy burdens. These burdens are hard to bear, yet you yourselves won't lift even one finger to them.” (Luke 11:46).
“Why... do you submit to commandments such as ‘You must not touch’, ‘You must not taste’, ‘You must not handle’ ...in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men?” (Colossians 2:20-21).
The law of Moses itself was difficult enough, without the addition of hundreds of man-made rules and regulations which were treated by their makers as equal to the scriptures.
Christ’s laws are not burdensome. "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome." (1John 5:3).
Christians should not make burdens for others, but share the burdens of others. "Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2).
When we help each other to bear burdens, we not only fulfill the law of Christ but we also frustrate the Devil’s burden-laying schemes.
Peter says, "Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence" (1Peter 3:15).
Some people will question us sincerely. Others will bombard us with questions or arguments designed to shake our faith. We will be able to give reasonable answers only if we know the scriptures well. Otherwise we, in ignorance, will be fooled by sophistry and lies.
The congregation at Thessalonica was being hoodwinked by false teaching, in this case concerning the second coming of Christ. Their experience is an example of the Devil’s attempts at using false teachers to deceive.
¶“13Brethren, we don't want you to be uninformed about those who are asleep in death. We don't want you to grieve the way others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15For what we say to you is the Lord’s word. We who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16The Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God sounding. First the dead in Christ will be raised. 17Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up in the clouds, together with them, to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18With these words comfort one another” (1Thessalonians 4:13-18).
¶“1Now what about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him? We plead with you brethren, 2please do not be so easily shaken in mind. Don't be troubled by any spirit or message, or even some letter seemingly from us, which claims that the day of the Lord is already here” (2Thessalonians 2:1-2).
The second coming of Christ is only one of many topics on which errors are taught. Yet even on that one topic, dozens of false notions are propogated.
Whether error is taught by mistake or by design, and whether by professing Christians or atheists, the Devil doesn't care. He is happy to foster any error that undermines faith.
When a godly person’s life is chugging along, happily on course, you may be sure the Devil will seek to cause shipwreck through some sudden, unexpected, and drastic change.
In this unpredictable world, there are almost unlimited ways in which our lives can be badly disrupted to our dismay. The Devil can therefore make and take opportunity to victimise us by such changes in circumstance.
This is nothing new: long ago, Daniel’s friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were victims of the Devil’s strategy of encouraging and exploiting changes for the worse.
Daniel made a request to the king who appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego over the administration of the province of Babylon. Daniel himself was at the court of the king. Some time later, Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold.
...Then the herald loudly proclaimed: “To you the command is given, O peoples, nations, and men of every language, that at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe, and all kinds of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up.”
...At that time certain Chaldeans came forward and brought charges against the Jews... “O King, live forever! ...There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the administration of the province of Babylon, namely Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. These men, O king, have disregarded you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.”
Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious and ordered that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought before him... Nebuchadnezzar said... “If you will not worship the image I have made... you will be cast into the furnace of blazing fire...”
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king... “Let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up'.”
(Excerpts from Daniel 2:49,3:1-18).
These slaves in exile from Judah had been granted high positions in Nebuchadnezzar’s empire. Life was going along very well. Suddenly everything changed. They found themselves about to be cast into a blazing furnace.
They refused to worship an idol or any God but the one true God. They hoped God would rescue them from death, yet they were ready to be martyrs for their faith. As it turned out, the Devil failed and lost ground.