— Brother Phil Enlow: I’ve had some thoughts rattling around in my pea brain the last few days, and I’m just trusting the Lord to make some sense out of them and bring out of it what He wants. I’m gonna touch on a number of thoughts that I’ve touched on before and ministered directly on before, but I believe there are some things that are revealed in scripture that help us to understand the world that we live in, what’s going on, what our place is, what the Lord is looking for from us.
And, I’m gonna start in an unlikely place, in 1st Peter chapter 5. Of course, this is the passage that begins with how the elders are to handle themselves and be servants and examples to God’s people and all of us being clothed with humility. We talked about that recently…humbling ourselves, “…under God’s mighty hand…” and all that. (NIV).
But then Peter goes to something else in verse 8. He says, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 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.”
And then he goes on with a word of encouragement. “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. To him be the power for ever and ever.”
And my mind was drawn, because of this and a couple of other scriptures, to this picture of the devil. Now it pictures the devil in this particular passage as a roaring lion. There’s…we understand the imagery there. There’s a ravenous beast, and this beast does not simply go around to kill for the sake of killing. Why does a lion kill?
( congregation inaudible ).
For food, yeah. There’s something there that feeds his being, his nature. That’s the reason any of us eat, physically speaking. But the devil feeds on people. And that’s his nature. And so, we need to see that. There’s a reason why the devil attacks, and it helps to explain our world. It helps to explain the battles that we’re in. It helps to explain the choices people are called upon to make.
I believe there’s a truth that’s kind of locked up in here that I want to…I’m trusting the Lord to make plain today, and to bring out in a clearer way so that we can understand it. But, I know…I don’t know if I’m gonna turn to all these scriptures, but you remember what happened in the beginning.
There’s a scripture my mind has gone back to many times as to what happened in the original temptation. In that particular instance, we find the devil coming as a serpent, and he’s coming with a temptation. And God had placed His creatures, Adam and Eve, in a beautiful place, but they were in a place of innocence. They hadn’t really made a choice to go one way or the other. There was no sin, there was no death. But they also hadn’t really partaken of the Tree of Life, had they? So they were in that in-between place.
And the devil came, and he went to Eve, and he began to immediately raise questions in her mind about what God had said in commanding them not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Lord had said, you do it and you’ll die. And the devil says, no, that isn’t so and God knows! He’s holding out on you. He’s got evil motives here, selfish motives. He knows that when you eat of that you’re gonna become like gods knowing good and evil.
And so there was a temptation to strike out on a separate search for control of one’s own life, pursuit of one’s own interest, putting self at the center. That became the essence of what they partook of. And they fell for that. They made that choice.
And, where Eve was deceived, we read that Adam wasn’t deceived. He made a deliberate choice to agree with his wife and to follow her into that sin. And so, in a way, his sin was greater. But nonetheless, we come to the point where the Lord comes down and addresses the situation.
And he first addresses the serpent…and curses him. He said, you’re gonna be cursed above all creatures. You’re gonna lie on your belly…you’re gonna sleep…you’re gonna crawl on your belly. But one thing is particularly interesting. And He says that…let me go ahead and read it. I better go ahead and actually look at this because my brain is just not calling things up as quickly as it used to. Anybody else know what I’m talking about?
( congregation inaudible ).
Yeah. All right? So in chapter 3, beginning in verse 14, the middle of it, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.”
Now how many of you think that snakes live on a diet of dirt? No. We know that’s not true. But the Lord is putting something out there. He’s revealing something. This is what devils are left with, having rebelled against God. And I certainly don’t put this out there for anybody to feel sorry for a devil. But they chose to rebel against full knowledge of the goodness of God and their honored place in it. And so their entire existence is now reduced to somehow satisfying an insatiable hunger.
How do they do that? Does the devil get all of his joy from standing off to the side and just getting someone to do the wrong thing? I mean, we know he tempts people. But there’s more to it than that. He literally is seeking to become a participant in sin, and all of his…every part of his being gravitates to that and lays hold of it, and finds his pleasure in it.
It’s not just that…let’s take something obvious, although it could be any facet of human nature. You know, sins of pride and sins of…you know, all those kinds of sins of the spirit that we call them are probably worse than the other. But let’s just take something we understand, where there’s a person, who for one reason or another, is hooked on alcohol or drugs.
And whether they’re seeking pleasure or to dull pain, nonetheless, there is a sensation, there’s a bodily sensation that becomes addictive. They can’t not do it after a while. It has a power, it gains a power. But I believe God wants us to see deeper into that and to realize that what spirits who drive people to that are looking for is to come in and participate in that, and they are actually getting something out of the bodily sensations that the person feels, that they wouldn’t get any other way.
You understand the difference. It’s one thing to stand off and say, do something bad and I’m gonna laugh about it. This is a participatory judgment. The whole place that devils occupy now is trying to get some…trying to satisfy a deep craving in their being, and they’re doing it by getting, not only getting people to sin, but joining with them in their sin. There is a union between people and devils.
And you see that in…and of course, there are all kinds of devils, aren’t there? They’re not all one thing. Some of them are seeking pleasure. Some of them are…have a spirit of utter cruelty. You look at the crimes, you look at the things that go on in the world, and you look past the human being who certainly is a willing participant.
But you look and you will see the cruelty of some kinds of demons who will take hold of a person and cause them to torture and kill somebody, and have no conscience about it, and actually gain a feeling of power and…they’re feeding something. They’re feeding something that’s very real.
Now others are getting pleasure out of causing people pain. But do you think that where a devil wants to come and gain some measure of satisfaction for his own depraved being, do you think he actually cares about his victims? No. You have a completely heartless being who will eat you up and dispose of you and laugh about it and go take up somebody else.
You look at the spirits that Jesus cast out. They had gained such a hold on their victims, that they were living there, driving them to do whatever it was their nature…the demon’s nature to do, that was in agreement between the human being and the person, and then laughing about it, killing them, eventually. Using, abusing and killing them, laughing about it and going on to the next victim.
Do you think a lion has a…cares about its prey? I mean, I’m sorry I have to do this, but I’m hungry. No, there is a ravenous beast responding to a natural drive that causes them to kill to satisfy their own needs. What an apt picture that is of the devil.
You know, when the apostles went out, we’ve talked about this before, when they went out to preach the Gospel, they preached from the scriptures, did they not? But they didn’t have the New Testament, so when they preached from the scriptures, they preached from the Old Testament. And the Lord gave them an insight into things that were not apparent back in Old Testament days.
I’ll drop this in. That should cause people to step back a little bit when they think they can read the Old Testament and understand it, apart from the New…just to tackle it with their mind and understand it. There is so much theology out there that’s built that way. Folks, we cannot understand the Old Testament except in the light of the New and only with the help of the Author. And even then, we better be slow about what we claim to know. We better look to the Lord and have a humble spirit, because we have a great deal of reason to be humble.
But anyway, there is one prophecy in Isaiah that comes to mind in this way, and it’s talking about the eternal future, but it’s also talking about the age in which we now find ourselves. When Christ went to the cross, when He was raised from the dead, when He was seated on a throne, when He poured out the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, something happened. There was a kingdom that came into being and it’s a kingdom that will last forever. And all the Old Testament prophets pointed to this time.
But one of the things in this particular prophecy says this, “…dust shall be the serpent’s meat.” (KJV). Do you see what’s locked up in that? Because…I didn’t go on in the end of chapter 3 here in Genesis, but when God pronounced the judgment, the consequence of their disobedience, to Adam, He ends up with the fact that they’re going to struggle for their food and all of that, and then you’re gonna, “…return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (NIV).
Do you see what’s locked up in this? Human beings, bodily human beings, corrupted by sin, they are nothing but devil’s food. I preached a message entitled that one time and I’m trying to come up with something different and I haven’t really come up with it yet. But, maybe it’s “Don’t Be Devil’s Food.” I don’t know…because that’s what Peter was saying. But folks, there is this imagery that comes from the scriptures that pictures demons…and like I say, it’s not just that they’re trying to, they’re angry and they’re trying to get us to sin. They need you and me. They need people.
How many of you remember the incident in the Gospels, where Jesus was casting out devils, and the religious leaders came to the conclusion, or they were thinking among themselves, yeah, I get it. He’s in league with the devil, and that’s how He’s doing it. They’re pulling the wool over our eyes. They’re tricking us into thinking that He’s got some special power and He’s come from God. Ha! The devil’s given Him the power to do that.
And Jesus goes on and talks about how ridiculous that is. A kingdom divided against itself will not stand. I’ve come with power, and the only way that you can free a victim of the devil is to have greater power than the one who holds him captive.
Thank God, we’ve got Someone like that! He has invaded history with a power greater than the power we’re talking about, that feeds on humanity. But there is a different…sort of a different imagery that the Lord uses, and He talks about the unclean spirit going out of a man. So now you’ve got a man who has actually had a demon, not just out there talking to him, but living in him, considering him his home.
You see what’s happened there? There has come a level of agreement between that human being and the devil, such that the devil finds that his home, considers that his home. And he gets to live there and express his nature.
But in this instance, Jesus says, when an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he does, what? He goes through dry places. What’s he looking for? Looking for rest. What happens? He can’t find it.
I’ll tell you, there’s a phrase I remember a preacher saying many years ago. Brother Thomas quoted it. When it is…I mean, if somebody has a certain nature and they’re not able to do what their nature drives them to do, they’re miserable. Satan’s nature and the nature of all of his hosts are completely evil all the time. There is not one ounce of goodness. But there is not just a desire to do evil, there is a need to do it. There is a craving to follow that nature and express it.
Why do you think they prey on humanity? You take a devil that’s just out there and not bothering anybody…or not able to do that, that’s what Jesus describes. He’s in a dry place. He’s miserable. I can’t stand this. I’ve got to be doing what it’s my nature to do. I’m hungry, is another way to put it. You put all these images together and you begin to get a picture of what’s going on in the world.
But anyway, what happens then, the devil says, I’ll go back to my house. But what happens? What does he find? “…Empty, swept, and garnished.” (KJV). So this house is still empty. Man, we need someone better than the devil to fill it. We need the Lord!
( congregational response ).
But in this case, Jesus is portraying a situation where, for whatever reason, there’s a devil that’s left a man, comes back, finds it empty…it’s available, it’s been cleaned up even. Maybe he got a little religion. But it’s empty. And so what does he do? He takes seven others that are worse than himself and they come in, “…and the last state of that man is worse than the first.”
Oh, I’ll tell you, we need to understand a lot of these things, because it explains history, explains what’s going on in our world today, what we’re seeing unfold. And it’s a warning to people that there’s no neutral ground. There is no such thing…I think we said this last week, there is no door number three. It’s God or the devil.
We were not created just to be independent beings. We were created to have a living, practical union with God, who is Spirit. He’s everywhere. He’s able to be wherever…at the farthest reaches of the universe and still live inside a human being. We were made to be His temple. We were made to do things in harmony with Him so that it’s not just a human being doing it. It’s Him.
But what happens when a human being is empty and instead of doing that, he follows his own nature? In the firsts place, what drives him to do that? Obviously, there’s a hunger, just like in a devil, there’s a hunger to follow…if you find impulses rising out of your being, the impulse is to follow it, right? But you’ve got a devil who’s saying, yeah, that’s the way to go, just like he did with Eve. Be your own person. Do what you feel. Do what’s right for you. You’re your own boss, your own god.
But what’s he after? Eating you for lunch. I’ll tell you, this is a sobering thing that people need to get, believers need to get, because these are believers Peter is talking to here. But what do you think the world…what do you think of the condition of the world?
It’s an interesting passage and I’m certainly not going to try to decode it, even if I thought I could. You know, the further I go, the less I know about a lot of things that people are very sure of. But I just want what the Lord wants to make plain. Anyway, in Revelation 19 is an interesting passage and I believe that it sort of pictures something that happens throughout the age, but I believe it comes to a climax. And we are getting closer and closer.
How many of you know that? Do you see what’s unfolding? All right? This talks about what’s really unfolding and it pictures it in symbolic language, but you can see the reality of what’s going on here. In verse 11, “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.” (NIV).
Well, is there any doubt who he’s talking about? This a very rich, symbolic picture that portrays for us the Son of God, not just…oh, there He is. But these are attributes. These are things about Him. Man, He is something beyond everything else. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
It’s so easy to think of Him as the Man walking around, but He was there in the beginning. He is the One who uttered the words, “Let there be light, and there was light.” He is the One who spoke the stars into existence. We’ve said this many times. And there He was, humbled, walking among us. But now He’s exalted again to the very place that He occupied before He ever came to earth.
But He occupies now a very special place, where He’s able to do something about the condition of this creation. God’s purpose is to raise up a people with whom He can have the kind of relationship we’re talking about, where it’s not just, I’m serving Him…it’s me, doing my thing, and I’m…He lives within us. There is a surrender of a vessel to have a full-orbed union with this God. Oh, praise God!
That’s what Jesus…opened up the way so that God could share His life. Our sin separated us from Him, but Jesus’ blood that was mentioned here is what took care of sin and blotted it out, so that we don’t have to face that anymore. We can stand before Him as if we had never sinned! And His blood makes us holy enough for a Holy God to be able to live in here. That’s what He’s seeking. That’s what this is all about.
But folks, we were not created…well, let me go on here. There are two or three truths that come out here. Anyway, “The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.”
So there’s a judgment that’s an aspect of this. You’re looking at the end. You’re looking at the final victory over all the forces of the enemy. “He will rule them with an iron scepter. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”
Oh, you’ve got so many people that call themselves Christians today that think the wrath of God is a bad thing. If you ever see the reality of what sin and rebellion is…there’s no other answer but for God to blast it out of existence, to utterly crush it. And what’s going on here is, He’s coming, and all of the armies of the world…it’s talking about the whole power structure of the world system, instead of yielding to God’s Word, instead of saying, yes, thank You for coming to our rescue, they are resisting it. They are saying, no, we will not serve You! You may call Yourself King of Kings and Lord of Lords, but You’re not my Lord. I’m gonna do as I please.
And I’ll tell you, that spirit is what we are seeing unfold in the world. And I’ll tell you, He is gonna crush it completely.