Devotional for June 10, 2018 based upon Mark 3: 20-35
Jesus said, “No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.”
I believe that the strong man Jesus was referring to is Satan, and the strong man’s property are people. People whom God loves and for whom Jesus died, but people who are under the influence and control of Satan. Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead in order to defeat the power of Satan. But until Jesus returns, Satan will work to hold and keep people in bondage. One of the ways in which he will do that is through his lies. And so one of the ways in which people can be delivered from the power of Satan – one of the ways in which the strong man can be tied up so that his property can be plundered – is as people hear and believe God’s truth rather than listen to and fall for Satan’s lies.
Satan’s first lie is this: GOD IS HOLDING OUT ON YOU. Eve fell for this lie. Eve gave into Satan’s temptation and ate the forbidden fruit. “You will not die,” Satan had lied. “Rather God knows that if you were to eat of this fruit, your eyes would be opened and you would be His equal. And God does not want you to be His equal.” The lie Satan was telling Eve was, “God is holding out on you. There is something good that God is trying to keep from you.” Unfortunately Adam and Eve fell for Satan’s first lie.
Is there any way in which you are falling for Satan’s first lie? Is there something happening or not happening in your life that makes you wonder if God is holding out on you? Or do you truly believe that God really means it when He said in Jeremiah 29: 11, “I know the plans I have for you – plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”? If Satan is trying to get you to believe that if God truly were good, then He would gratify some desire of yours and do so immediately, then you need to intentionally recall that God’s plans for you will always be only for your good.
Satan’s second lie is this: YOU DO NOT NEED ANYONE BEYOND YOURSELF. Even King David, the man after God’s own heart, fell victim to this second lie. First Chronicles 21 tells us that Satan incited David to take a census of Israel. David responded by commanding General Joab to count all of the fighting men. David had begun to believe that his security lay in the size of his army rather than in his Lord. Because of David’s act of self-reliance, the whole nation suffered a terrible plague. In the same way, if I rely solely or mainly upon myself – upon my own human resources, insight, wisdom, and strength – it will damage my relationship with God and, as in the case of David, it could also really hurt others.
There is a lot to learn from the Twelve-Step Program from a Christian perspective:
1. I admit that I am powerless over whatever it is that is holding me in bondage. My life has become unmanageable.
2. I need a power outside of myself and greater than myself to restore my life to sanity.
3. I will turn my life over to the power of God as the Bible tells me about Him.
Is there any way in which you need to stop believing Satan’s second lie of total self-reliance and instead start depending upon God?
Satan’s third lie is this: YOU WILL NEVER SUFFER AS A CHRISTIAN. And if you are, something is wrong. In Mark 8 Jesus told His disciples that He was going to Jerusalem to suffer and die. When Peter heard that, he emphatically rebuked Him. “Never, Lord. This shall never happen to You!” Jesus replied, “Get behind Me, Satan!”
Jesus recognized Satan’s clever seduction in Peter’s well-meaning words. Jesus knew that God’s plan for His life included suffering and pain. And God’s plan for your life will include some suffering and pain. Are you falling for Satan’s third lie, or are you able to trust God’s promise in Romans 8: 28? “Not just in some things but in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Even in difficult circumstances, do you trust God to accomplish His good in your life? Do you trust God to use the trials that will come into your life to help shape your character to become more like His?
Satan’s fourth lie is this: MONEY IS THE KEY TO HAPPINESS. Satan knows the powerful lure of money. Satan is well aware of how greed can take over our lives. So the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” The reef of earthly riches is not worth shipwrecking your life on.
Satan’s fifth lie is this: YOU CAN NEVER FORGIVE THEM. You cannot possibly forgive someone who has wounded you so severely.
Where in your life do you need to stop believing Satan’s fifth lie? Whom are you having the greatest difficulty forgiving? The apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “Forgive each other, just as God in Christ forgave you.” Do you need to meditate more on just how much God has forgiven you, so that you can let go of your own bitterness and forgive someone else? Oh, the healing process may take years. But wouldn’t you rather be free? Wouldn’t you rather be able to think of that person with peace – if not also genuine desire for their welfare? The first step on the road to forgiveness is remembering just how much God has forgiven us. The second step is to let the sweet, healing love of God flow from us and through us to that other person.
Someone once said, “Forgiveness is the oil that keeps our souls from burning up in the friction of human relationships.”
Satan would be more than happy to use His lies in order to keep you in bondage. In Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the dead God has already won the decisive victory over Satan and all of his demons. Until God wraps up the campaign at the end of the world, may each one of us be able to resist Satan’s lies by holding onto the truths and standing on the promises in God’s Word.
Dennis D. Nelson
President of the Board and Director of Lutheran CORE