A few days ago we talked about the gates of hell prevailing against the church and how that is not at all how it was supposed to be. There are many Christians who will live their life believing that because Jesus said to Peter the gates of hell will not prevail and then sent His Spirit at Pentecost, that they are free to live however they choose and still be blessed by God. The only way the promises and power of the bible take place in our lives is if we love God enough to obey His commandments. You cannot go through life following false teachers who teach other gospels and expect what the bible says to be true in your life. The only thing you can expect is what the bible states will happen when you do not obey. Everything has been laid out clearly in scripture. We are shown what happens when we obey and what happens when we disobey.
                From the very beginning we were shown all that God has for us when we obey. He also has shown all that will happen to us when we disobey. The church has ignored the warnings since the beginning. If you go back to the very beginning of time when Adam and Eve were created and given the Garden of Eden, they were told to obey. Genesis 2:15 “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” You saw everything that God had given them and it was good. This garden was beyond description even though we have words to describe it and there was no such thing as death and shame. Genesis 2:25 “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” So they were warned what would happen if they disobeyed. We also see from the beginning that satan was right there trying to get Adam and Eve to disobey.
                Deception is satan’s greatest tool and we see it all through scripture. satan never stops trying to get you to turn away from God. If he can get you to disobey and turn from God’s commands, he then has been successful. He only has to get you to be lukewarm. He has been doing this since then beginning of time and he was even arrogant enough to try to tempt Jesus. Here is how satan works. Genesis 3:1 “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” 4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” satan knows exactly what God said and the first thing he does is to get you to question God by saying did God really say? He wants you to believe that God really did not mean what He said. He is still saying that today. By getting you to question God’s authority and turn away from God’s commands, we then turn away and go our own way. This always leads to death and satan knows this. satan asks Eve what God said, then she repeats what God said so she heard what God said and then gets her to question God’s word. She knew as did Adam that if they ate from the tree they would die. satan’s plan is to destroy the good that God has planned for us. Genesis 1:31 “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” Revelation tells what was happening here. Revelation 12:9 “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. 11 They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. 12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” The only way to defeat satan is to be clothed with the power of the Holy Spirit.
                He has been after God’s people since the beginning of time. Revelation 12:13 “When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. 15 Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. 16 But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.” Matthew 2:16 “When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: 18 “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” 19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.” Since the beginning satan has been trying to kill Jesus but since the beginning God’s plan was to save us by conquering death.
    1 Corinthians 15:20 “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
                The greatest weapon we have is the armour we have been given to stand against our enemies but with that armour we must be clothed with power, as we cannot stand against our enemies on our own. Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground.” To help you stand your ground, you must understand that satan is trying to kill you, not just in this life but to take you with him for eternity to the eternal fire prepared for he and his angels. If we go back to the garden Adam should have said no to his wife like Job did. Job 2:7 “So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. 8 Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes. 9 His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” 10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.”
                If Job had listened to his wife and his so-called friends, the rest of Job would not have happened but he stood strong and did not sin against God. Job shows us that if we stand our ground, in the end we will see what God will finally bring about. When standing against our enemies we need his fortitude. To those trying to get him to stand down Job said, Job 27:5 “I will never admit you are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity. 6 I will maintain my innocence and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.” We see a different scenario in the garden. Genesis 3:6 “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. 8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” 10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
    11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” 12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the snake, but they were both to blame and death entered the picture. Repentance is about taking the blame for yourself. Jesus died so that we would have hope so the least we can do is repent for our sins. It is the only way the kingdom comes near. When the kingdom comes near the power of God flows and our enemies are defeated.
                Yet God is a God of grace and would then give us a way to defeat death and live forever once again. Since the exit from the garden, God has been making a way. His name is Jesus but we must give him our all. Jesus died and rose and conquered death. As we saw yesterday John 11:25 “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” Paul tells us 1 Corinthians 15:54 “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” To continue to defeat satan and destroy his works, we must stand firm on the word of God. satan is so deceptive he uses the word of God against us by twisting and subtly changing it just as he did when he tried to tempt Jesus. satan did say to Eve exactly what God said but he got her to question what God said. He then told her what God said would not happen. He is still doing that today by getting people to believe that by following other gospels they will be okay, as God would never allow someone to go to hell or so satan leads them to believe even though like in the garden the bible tells us exactly what God says. Adam and Eve were cast from the garden, never to return and Israel was vomited from the land only to return by God’s grace. It wasn’t till Jesus came by grace that God  through His son has given us an opportunity to eat from the tree of life and live forever in the Promised Land both now in this life and the one coming that will be eternal. This is a land better than the Garden of Eden and the Promised Land. Psalm 86:15 “But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” By the way don’t listen to those selling cheap grace, it is from satan.
                Notice that satan did not tempt them to eat from the tree of life but the tree that would bring death. His goal is your death. He is still trying to prevent people from eating from the tree of life by deception so that people will die and not live with God forever. Genesis 3:22 “And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.” Then God sent his son Jesus and made a way when there wasn’t one. We now have both the trees good and evil and life. satan is still deceiving the world trying to get people to turn from God’s word and die. He knows his time is short so we have been warned. Of the seven churches listed in Revelation, only two remained faithful. To the church of Ephesus God said, Revelation 2:7 “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” To Smyrna - Revelation 2:11 “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.” To Pergamum -“To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it. To Thyatira -26 To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations— 27 that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’—just as I have received authority from my Father.” To Sardis - “5 The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.” To Philadelphia -“11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God.” To  Laodicea -“9 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. 21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.”
                We can learn from each of these churches as they all apply to the church today. Except for the two who remained faithful, you can see the hand of satan at work in the unfaithful ones. The five churches had forgotten first love, held to the teaching of Balaam, tolerated that woman Jezebel, had a reputation of being alive, but you are dead, are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. The two churches Smyrna and Philadelphia stood their ground against satan. You have kept my word and have not denied my name, do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.” What happened in the seven churches describes the church of today and we have to stand firm against satan and not deny God’s word.
                satan is still deceiving but we have been warned all the way through scripture yet the church failed to listen and continues to turn away by listening to satan. Millions have died not knowing the truth while millions are deceived thinking they know the truth but continue following other gospels. Because the church disobeyed, God had no choice but to turn from us because of our rebellion against God’s word that allowed satan to take over the church for a time. Paul said to the Thessalonians 2 Thessalonians 2:5 “Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6 And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7 For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”
                As Paul continues there is hope. The Thessalonians were also an example of what the church should be. Why? Because 1 Thessalonians 1:6 “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere” and 2 Thessalonians 2:13 “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. 14 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus.” 2 Thessalonians 2:4 “Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.” After he talked about the man of lawlessness he said 2 Thessalonians 2:13 “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. 16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
                The good news is that Jesus rose from the dead and did not leave us as orphans. He has given us power to stand against the works of the devil. We must submit ourselves to God so that we can stand firm. Amazingly we have two advocates. The first is Jesus himself. 1 John 2:1 “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” In order to live as Jesus did, we must have the Holy Spirit who also advocates for us. John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 16:13 “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” John 15:26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.” John 16:7 “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”
                Yes satan will continue to deceive and people will continue to be deceived by him, but that does not have to be the case. We must stand firm on God’s word and do not let satan tell you otherwise. So while the church is in desolation and delusion, there is hope that the remnant will rise just as God said it would. satan was defeated at the cross because Jesus rose from the dead and gave all who believe authority and power to continue defeating him until satan is finally defeated. Revelation 20:10 “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”
    1 Peter 5:6 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” Until then we serve a God that will empower His people to stand against the Devil’s schemes. Luke 9:1 “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”