GETTING THE MESSAGE/Enduring by faith in our trials

GETTING THE MESSAGE/Enduring by faith in our trials


In Acts 26:17 Paul testifies before King Agrippa that the Lord Jesus commissioned Paul to go to the Gentile nations with the gospel “to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Christ” (verse 18).

So here Paul gives us some of the amazing benefits of salvation. Last week we looked at the first, which was to turn men from darkness to light; the next on the list is to turn men from “the power of Satan to God.”

The Bible teaches that there is such a being as Satan. He is a fallen, evil spirit. He has power and authority over all other evil spirits. It is ascribed to him such power over the world that he is called the “god of this world” (2nd Cor. 4). His influence over the world and men promotes his kingdom. Paul says idolaters offer sacrifices to demons (2nd Cor. 10).

We don’t know how one spirit operates on another, but Satan is said to blind the minds of those who don’t believe in Christ. He doesn’t have a robotic control over men; rather, the Lord says that men incur guilt by giving in to Satan’s seductions and temptations.

Satan can be extremely subtle as in the temptations of Eve and the Lord Jesus. He transforms himself into an angel of light, promoting falsehood about God and inculcating pride in religious observation among men. He also promotes the pleasures of sin along with doubt about the goodness and certainty of the truths about God. He sows unbelief and reaps folly from men.

The image of Satan is especially connected to pride. He would take the place of the Most High God, and this image has been formed in sinful man. Jesus called the proud Pharisees “children of the devil.” Pride that exalts one above God tends toward malevolence and malignity. The most satanic men are the most malignant. Paul knew this depraved power in his own heart in his zeal to persecute and harm Christians. 

He also knew what it was to be delivered from the power of Satan to the power of God. There is no soul that is outside Christ who is not under the power of the devil. The level of depravity in men varies, but the main symptom of being under the power of the devil is the same: unbelief toward the revealed truth of God through the person and work of Christ Jesus.

It is therefore a great deliverance to be freed from the power of the devil. As Christians, the Lord teaches us to make our boast in God. God alone makes us to differ from other sinful men. We can be seduced by pride if we forget this. And the devil will promote this sin. We are wholly dependent upon the power of the Lord. We are like Samson who was helpless when his hair was cut off. Apart from the Lord we can do nothing. So we must resist the devil in the truth of our Lord Jesus.

Since Christ came to destroy the works of the devil, we understand that the whole plan of redemption was to abase the pride of sinful man that leads to death and exalt the glory of God that leads to life. The Son of God being put to death as a curse for sin is sufficient cause for his people to know they have God alone to thank for salvation and deliverance from the devil.

It is good to be thankful for deliverance but we must add understanding to it. If you can be assured in your heart that Christ has delivered you and leads you by his word and Spirit, you are a blessed man. We cannot continue to practice the proud, worldly, unsavory practices of sin that the devil would have us to be controlled by and thus deny the grace of God. Satan is a dangerous enemy.

But it is encouraging to remember that your afflictions and temptations that come from the devil are not long. Jesus saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Satan’s doom already has been sentenced and Christ will one day put him under our feet. 

In the meantime, we are to fight the good fight of faith, confessing our sins, walking humbly before our Lord, and not being unaware of the devices of the devil. Satan’s afflictions can be terrible but Christ has promised to bring good out of them. So we endure by faith until we go to be with the Lord.

The Rev. Chris Shelton is pastor of Union’s First Presbyterian Church.

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions