nullPentecost 15, 2018
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
September 2, 2018
Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9, Ephesians 6:10-20, Mark 7:14-23

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When I was a teenager I used to like to watch scary movies about demons and evil spirits.  I remember that after watching a particularly frightening movie I was pretty on edge.  Every little sound in the house was that evil one from the movie coming to get me.  Somehow it seemed fun to be scared of evil.

There are many people today who like to play with evil, dabble in evil; explore evil, at Halloween it seems that folks try to get more and more gory and disturbing with a great emphasis on devils and witches and evil.

There are those who experiment with evil and find ways to try to gain power and secret insights through the dark side.  People use Ouija Boards and Tarot Cards and horoscopes to get answers to their questions.  There is a growing industry of ghost tours as people seek out contact with spirits for fun.

There are times folks want to explore the dark side and play with evil spirits, and there are other times folks want to pretend that all this talk about devils and demons is just so much medieval superstition.  So many people today just know that they are intelligent, modern folks and they way too smart for any talk of supernatural forces of evil.  They know that there is no such thing as a devil or demons.

So, which is it?  Is the devil real?  Are there demons around?  If so, what do they do?  What does the Bible say?

Revelation 12:7-9, 12, 17 (ESV) 7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him... 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” 17 Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. … [1]

1 Peter 5:8 (ESV) 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.[2]

Matthew 13:18-19 (ESV)  18 “Hear then the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.[3]

You are a target for your enemy, the devil.  When you were baptized and confirmed there was a minor exorcism when you renounced the devil and all his works and all his ways.  You have renounced the devil and now he is going after you as one who keeps the commandments of God and holds to the testimony of Jesus.  That ancient serpent, the devil; Satan himself, is coming after you.  He wants to devour you like a hungry lion.  He wants to snatch the word of God out of your heart so your faith withers and dies.

You are in battle against the devil.  The devil is coming after you to attack you, and the devil is clever.  The devil tries to distract you by getting you to believe that you are in battle against other people and that they are your greatest enemy.  So many are kept constantly distracted by interpersonal fighting in their lives which is intensified even more by text messaging and social media.

            The devil has targeted you for attack but you have everything you need.  You are fully equipped to stand your ground against the devil and his demons because you have been baptized into Christ.  You have the full armor of God to protect you so you can withstand the evil day.  You have truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the word of God.  You have what you need to resist the devil.

These visible foes are, however, not the true enemy.  What you can see is not the real battle.  These conflicts are minor squabbles that can be resolved, but the devil uses them to distract you and hide the true enemy and allow him to become even more dangerous.  If there is a lion prowling around are you going to get distracted by squabbling with your neighbor so you forget the lion is there?  Remain on guard against the assaults of the evil one, and stand firm.

Ephesians 6:12 (ESV)  12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.[4]

The devil has targeted you for attack but you have everything you need.  You are fully equipped to stand your ground against the devil and his demons because you have been baptized into Christ.  You have the full armor of God to protect you so you can withstand the evil day.  You have truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the word of God.  You have what you need to resist the devil.

James 4:7 (ESV) 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.[5]

Resist the devil.  Stand firm against the devil’s schemes.  The devil is very clever and knows your weak spots.  The devil will use deceit, manipulation, accusations, and flattery.  The devil will use half-truths to deceive.  “Did God really say?”  The devil’s first lie is still one of his most effective.  Did God really say that your favorite sin is really a sin?  Did God really say you should gather for worship?  Did God really say that you are to love and forgive others?  Did God really say that He forgives you all your sins?  Did God really say?

The devil is clever.  The devil knows when you are tired and frustrated and weak.  The devil knows how to get you to start with just one little sin and then bring you down the road to bigger and bigger sins.  The devil knows how to get you to take that first step with his lie on your lips, “I won’t go any further.  I will stop this time.”  The devil knows how to get you to listen to him when he says, “It’s no big deal.  It’s just a little thing,” and then listen to him again when he tells you, “God cannot forgive that sin you have committed.”

The devil is clever and the devil knows that you protected.  The devil knows you are wrapped in the baptismal protection of the armor of God and you wield the sword of the spirit.  So the devil works to get you to put down the sword of the spirit and take off the armor of God.  The devil works hard and smart to separate you from the promises of God.  He does it by trying to get you to avoid coming to church; avoid being strengthened.  He will give you no end of excuses as to why you cannot make it on Sunday morning.  It’s my only day to sleep late.  I drank too much on Saturday.  Church is boring.  I don’t like that pastor.  The kids are too fussy.  The devil will get you to fill your life with so many other things that he will keep you from gathering with fellow believers and confessing your sins and your faith and hearing the words of forgiveness and receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus.  The devil will do what he can to get you to stop reading the word of God; stop praying, stop any connection with God so you can forget about God’s promises to you.  The devil will get you to give up on God’s will and go with the flow of the world where it is so backwards and uncool to be wearing the armor of God and wielding the sword of the spirit.  The devil will convince you to adopt the ways of the world so you lay down the sword of the spirit and take off the armor of God.  Once you give up your baptismal protection you are vulnerable and defenseless, and then the devil is free to attack you and devour you and take you with him to Hell.

So stay on guard.  You are a baptized child of God who has the armor of God and wields the sword of the spirit.  Stand firm.  Know who you are in Christ.  Stand firm.  In Christ you are safe.  Wearing the armor of God you can stand your ground.  We hear this in the words of Martin Luther’s famous hymn,

Though devils all the world should fill,
All eager to devour us,
We tremble not, we fear no ill;
They shall not overpow’r us.
This world’s prince may still
Scowl fierce as he will,
He can harm us none.
He’s judged; the deed is done;
One little word can fell him.

One little word can fell him.  What is the one little word?  What is that one word so powerful that it can stop the devil in his tracks?  One word that exposes the devil for what he is.  One word…“Liar.”  Call the devil out for what he is because he is deceitful and manipulative and flattering and accusing.  Call out the Father of Lies for what he is.  “Liar!”  When the devil tells you a sin is no big deal… “Liar!”  When the devil tells you your sins are too much to forgive… “Liar!”  When the devil tells you that you are good enough on your own… “Liar!”

Stand firm.  Stand together.  Stand forever.  You are clothed in the baptismal protection of the armor of God.  You have truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the word of God.  You wield the sword of the spirit which is the Word of God.  You know the truth about Jesus; that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.  You know Jesus died on the cross for you and rose from the dead for you.  You know the truth, and you are safe from the devil.  Stand firm.  Stay on guard.

When you pray the Lord’s Prayer the last petition is “deliver us from evil.”  You can also pray it, “deliver us from the evil one.”  Don’t lose sight of the true enemy.  Don’t lay down your sword and armor.  Stay on guard.  Stand firm.  You are protected in Christ.

Amen.


[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[4]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[5]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

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