Is Today Your Hanging Day?
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8
I never felt closer to death than when serving as an infantry platoon leader in Viet Nam. For the purpose of preserving my life and the life of my men I learned everything I could about our enemy; how they operated, where they set ambushes, the way they camouflaged booby traps; anything I could learn from the Vietnamese soldiers who had come over from their side and worked for us as scouts. Unfortunately, many Christians do not have such an appreciation for their greatest enemy and seldom study his methods. The Scriptures are not silent about him, and Jesus exposes him as a masquerading, cunning, persevering master liar; a lethal destroyer of lives, relationships, marriages, families, churches, reputations, and anything good. Dr. Samuel Johnson, one of the most distinguished man of letters in English history, observed, “I know of no thought that so wonderfully concentrates a man’s mind as the thought he will be hanged in the morning. The devil goes into every day planning how he might hang you and yours in some temptation or another; some masquerade that he uses to divert your path into ruin; some method by which he may entice you into some pleasure leading inevitably to his greatest delight: your pain!
There are two familiar passages of Scripture where the devil is stripped naked of all his manifold disguises: Job 1 and the wilderness temptation of Jesus after his baptism. Satan planned to ambush Jesus there, but his ambush boomeranged. Jesus stripped him of his mask drawing him out into the open that we his prey might get a good look at our arch-enemy’s methods. We have no excuse to ever say, “I never knew he was so cunningly dangerous to my soul, my heart, my life. Luke 4:5-7 reads, “The devil led Jesus up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours. This encompasses any and all “pleasing to your eyes, “convincing to your senses, “too good to pass up temptations that could ever possibly lead you into ruin; the ruin of your marriage, your children, your business, your calling, your relationships, your reputation, your faith. Why do we always think we alone are stronger, smarter, more capable than the devil and can navigate through any and all booby traps and “escape with the prize upon which we have set our heart? Yet we always think, “I can do this; I can have my cake, eat it, and survive the poison.
The three responses of Jesus to the devil are His antidote for us to escape the “hangman’s noose on a daily basis. “Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Those who “get hung invariably are avoiders of the Word of God. They seldom ever feed on it and it doesn’t take many days without food to starve. Two: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test. Essentially, He is God, trust Him! What He has said is trustworthy, so don’t deviate from it. And finally, worship Him; not people, things, or money.
You will never fully appreciate the greatness or the presence of God in your life, until you get serious about knowing how the enemy who is stalking you operates especially on you. The Lord’s words to Cain are true for every one of us; “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it. And in all this never forget the Lord’s promise, “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world!
“Christian dost thou see them On the holy ground, How the powers of darkness Rage thy steps around? Christian, up and smite them, Counting gain but loss, In the strength that cometh By the holy cross.
“Christian, dost thou feel them, How they work within, Striving, tempting, luring, Goading into sin? Christian, never tremble; Never be downcast; Gird thee for the battle, Watch and pray and fast.
“Christian, dost thou hear them, How they speak thee fair? “Always fast and vigil? Always watch and prayer? Christian answer boldly, “While I breathe I pray! Peace shall follow battle, Night shall end in day.
(1st three verses from an unknown Greek source, by John Mason Neale, 1863)
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