Sunday, February 10, 2008 -
Today, we resume our study of the schemes of the Devil. Our foundational text has been 2 Corinthians 2:11 - “....so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” This is the reason for this whole series. We want to make sure we don’t give the Devil a needless advantage over our lives by our own ignorance. We need to think about how he works. He need to be, as one translations suggests, “be alert to his devices.”
Just by way of review, here are the schemes we’ve studied so far in this series:
1) The Devil works to weaken the Christian’s resolve against sin by showing only the side of sin that appeals to our immediate desires.
2) The Devil works to make our revulsion against sinful practices seem prudish, out of date, and narrow-minded by renaming old sins with more attractive, updated, and acceptable names.
3) The Devil works to make some sins look small and acceptable by comparing them with others that seem far more serious.
4) The Devil works to represent God, to the uninformed mind, as being so merciful, He is nothing but merciful.
5) The Devil schemes to persuade the tempted soul that repentance is an exclusively human work, easily attained whenever needed.
6) The Devil works to lead us into situations of temptation long before prompting us to actually commit acts of sin.
7) The Devil works to weaken our resolve toward purity by pointing out the apparent joy and prosperity of the wicked around us.
8) The Devil works to cause us to consider ourselves more holy than we are by luring us into comparing ourselves with those obviously more unholy.
9) The Devil constantly points out the effort required to walk in God’s ways. He works to discourage our efforts by reminding us of how hard it is to take up our cross and follow Jesus in this world.
10) The Devil labors to take Scriptural truth - truth with which he knows we will quickly agree - but apply it to our own situations in an unbalanced fashion.
11) The Devil works to distract your mind with empty, random, and even wicked thoughts just when you are trying your best to concentrate on prayer and meditation on God’s Word
This is the ground we’ve covered in our series thus far. But all of these schemes, taken together, don’t perpetrate the amount of damage done to the Body of Christ by the Devil as in the next scheme we are going to consider:
12) SCHEME NUMBER TWELVE - The Devil works to lure the believer’s mind into false notions about the definition and affect of divine grace in the heart
This is a primary area of attack because nothing is more central to the Christian life than the grace of God. Grace initiates the Christian life, and grace sustains the Christian life:
Ephesians 2:8-9 - “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Romans 5:1-2 - “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
So, how do you know you are a recipient of divine grace? That’s the million dollar question. The Devil works to distort the nature of grace in two different ways: First, he will make grace appear too cheap and easy - a passport to continue in sin. Second, he will make grace seem stern and hard to come by, causing the Christian insecurity and discouragement.
REMEDIES AGAINST THIS SCHEME:
The primary need is a full grasp of the scope and reach and power of diving grace in the human heart. Grace is far more than God’s acceptance of our apology. It is a re-creative power by the Holy Spirit. Here’s some of the Bible’s teaching on divine grace:
a) True divine grace is, before anything else, the reception of a new principle of God’s life and power in the human personality. See 2 Corinthians 5:17 - “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” See also 1 John 3:9 - “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.”
b) True divine grace, in addition to cleansing the Christian from past sins, implants into the soul a new delight in things spiritual. The interest is not merely in things good, but things godly. See Psalm 1:2 - “....but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”
c) Divine grace inflames the heart with a hatred of wickedness as sins against the holiness of God. The last part of that phrase is important. There is a vast difference between hating wickedness (which almost all do) and hating ungodliness (which very few do). Hating ungodliness means hating sin because of what it does to the heart of God, rather than hating pain or suffering or greed or wickedness because of how it affects my circumstances. See Titus 2:11-14 - “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,  training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,  waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,  who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
d) The reception of divine grace enables the Christian to overcome the downward pull of the world and forsake all else for Jesus Christ. Grace reaches more than just the desires. It empowers the will. See Hebrews 11:8-10 (Abraham), 24-28 (Moses), and 36-38 (those who submitted to torture rather than deny their Lord). These are the recorded effects of divine grace on the human will. These were not just people of good intentions. They overcame the temptations of the society in which they lived. They loved God more than life itself.