Sunday, March 9, 2008 -
Our theme text has been 2 Corinthians 2:11 - “....so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” Today we wrap up this series with a study of the attitudes of heart that make all the remedies we’ve studied effective. Without these basics being in place, nothing else will prove effective. With these final encouragements in place, you will never go very far wrong in your Christian walk:
1) MAKE STRONG, IMMEDIATE RESISTANCE AGAINST ANY RECOGNIZED SCHEME OF TEMPTATION OF THE DEVIL UPON YOUR LIFE
James 4:7 - “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” The key point here is resistance to the Devil is wasted if it is not immediate and absolute. Most Christians who fall into the Devil’s traps don’t do so because they didn’t intend to stay clean and strong. Rather, they didn’t resist the first increments of temptation quickly enough. My ability to resist the Devil weakens with each moment of hesitation.
Genesis 3:1-6 - “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?"  And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,  but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.' "  But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die.  For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."  So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”
This process of rationalizing the clear instructions of the Lord is exactly what the Devil delights in. He knows if our resistance isn’t immediate our capacity to maintain purity diminishes quickly, even if the decision to sin hasn’t yet been outwardly reached.
2) LABOR TO KEEP YOUR HEART SOFT AND SENSITIVE TO THE HOLY SPIRIT
Ephesians 5:18-20 - “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,  addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart,  giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ....”
I don’t have to be overtly wicked to play into the Devil’s hand. Whenever my heart grows insensitive to the Spirit of the Lord I’m in trouble because the less my heart is inclined to the presence of the Holy Spirit, the less I will fear grieving the Holy Spirit. And the fear of grieving the Spirit is the safest incentive to strength and holiness.
3) LEARN TO FACE ALL OF LIFE PATIENTLY
This is the flip side of the truth of point number one. When fleeing sinful actions and situations, do it immediately. When enduring trials and difficulties, wait on God slowly. Nothing plays into the Devil’s hand like human frustration. Nothing so moves each of us to take matters into our own hands. This is where we make the most mistakes spiritually.
James 1:2-4 - “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,  for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James encourages us not to measure our circumstances by isolated events. The work of God won’t be appreciated unless it is pictured as a process. This is why James begins his instructions saying we perceive it something like “counting.”
Luke 8:14-15 - “And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.  As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.” Fruitful people not only hear the Word. They “hold it fast.” They know the Devil will use a thousand different circumstances to cause them to devalue the Word they have just heard. That’s why Jesus says strong Christians “bear fruit with patience.”
4) KEEP YOUR HEART HUMBLE BEFORE GOD
Psalm 25:9 - “He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.”Satan has the least power to fasten temptation on those who are meek and humble of heart. Not everyone who thinks himself humble is. Humility is measured by my response to being treated by others like a servant. See also James 4:6, 10.
5 LEARN TO RECOGNIZE WHAT IS HAPPENING INSIDE YOUR OWN HEART DURING THE DIFFERENT SEASONS OF YOUR SPIRITUAL LIFE
1 Peter 5:8 - “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” This verse give the motive for an alert heart. The situation is bad if the hunter is more diligent than the hunted. Enough said.
Psalm 19:10-14 - “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.  Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.  Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.  Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.  Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”These verses describe how the devil prowls. The issue of fascination is does the Devil have access to my mind. Perhaps the better question is just slightly different. Can I give the Devil access to my mind. This is the issue requiring carefulness. The Psalmist outlines the two necessary steps that must be taken simulaneously. First, examination of God’s Word. Second, examination of my own heart.
6) IF YOU WANT TO MAINTAIN THE UPPER HAND WITH THE SCHEMES OF THE DEVIL, BUILD MUCH PRIVATE PRAYER INTO YOUR WALK WITH GOD
Matthew 26:41 - “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Only private, persistent prayer fills the gap that exists in all our lives between the kind of Christian we would like to be, and the kind we in fact frequently end up being. Prayer will keep more people from wickedness than all the laws in the land.