The preacher in the congregation where we attended in
Nebraska told about a panhandler whose family car always
broke down at about the same time of year at the same spot,
he told the same story, and asked for the same amount of
money! There are all kinds of con and scam artists
aren't there? We don't like others to take advantage
of us do we? But humans aren't the only ones seeking
to take advantage of us.
There's a spiritual being out to take advantage of you
Satan is not concerned about your good; he's out to make you
fall, to thwart your good purposes, and to condemn your
soul! Notice what the apostle Paul says about Satan in
2 Corinthians 2:11: ”... lest Satan should take advantage of
us; for we are not ignorant of his devices!”
This passage states very clearly that Satan is out to take
advantage of us. Now isn't that a sober warning?
You know, if you try to make your heart strong, if you
prepare to reach others, and if you want to be ablaze for
Jesus, as previously preached this year, you can be sure
that Satan is going to come your way soon and try to
discourage you, to spoil your efforts, and to kill your
enthusiasm! So don't let Satan take advantage of you!
The life of Moses can be helpful here as we look at four
devices that Satan uses to take advantage of us.
We know that Moses was 40 when this event happened (Acts
7:23). Moses acted rashly and murdered an Egyptian
taskmaster. Moses thought nobody had seen, and the
body had been well hidden. But no man is an island,
and this Egyptian was someone's son, someone's husband,
someone's father. They knew that he hadn't come home
for supper that night. The next day, Moses sees two
Hebrews fighting and tries to break them up, and one asked,
“Who made you a prince and judge over us? Do you
intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?”
Then Moses knew that his deed was known (Exodus 2:11-12).
It had not remained hidden! But why did Moses do it?
Notice what Stephen says in Acts 7:25: “For he supposed that
his brethren would have understood that God would deliver
them by his hand, but they did not understand” (Acts 7:25).
Moses was ready to take matters into his hands and begin the
liberation of his people, and he thought others would see
this as well! Since we know the rest of the story, we
know that Moses' timing was just a little bit off—about 40
years too soon! Moses still had some things to
learn—not the least of which that he wasn't going to free
the Jews, but God was going to free them using Moses as His
servant to achieve His will. What about us? Do
we so often try to take matters into our own hands? Do
we try to tackle some situation without prayer, without
consulting other members, and without realizing that the
timing might be wrong? When Truman became President at
Roosevelt's death, Speaker Sam Reyburn gave him this advice:
“You're going to have lots of people around you.
They'll try to put a wall around you, and cut you off from
any ideas but theirs. They'll tell you what a great
man you are, Harry. But you and I both know—you ain't”
(Rowell). Maybe you need to remember that "you ain't"
ready to take some matters into your own hands! In the
New Testament, elders or church leaders, always work
together as a unit to direct the affairs of the church.
God did not want it ever to be a one man band who ran the
show for a congregation. He wanted His leaders to be
interdependent, to work together and rely on one another.
It was always a group of elders over a congregation.
Someone has said: “Dependent people need others to get what
they want. ... Interdependent people COMBINE their OWN
efforts with the efforts of OTHERS to ACHIEVE their greatest
SUCCESS” (Covey). Elders realize this truth: “Together
Everyone Achieves More” (T.E.A.M.)! Guard against
taking matters into your own hands! Don't let Satan
take advantage of you!
Coffman believes Moses made five excuses: 1) 3:11 Who
am I? What a contrast to 40 years earlier! 2)
3:13 What is Your name? God tells Moses to tell the
Jews that the “I AM” has sent him. 3) 4:1 What if they
don't believe me? God performs two miracles, and tells
Moses to use them to convince his people. 4) 4:10
I'm no speaker! God asked, “Now who made man's mouth?”
And then he told Moses that Aaron would serve as his
spokesman. 5) 4:13 Please let another go! Now
notice God's reaction in 4:14: God's anger burned against
Moses; He was getting fed up with these excuses! Also
note something else in 3:20-21 which will have a bearing on
another point. God says that He will show His wonders,
and the Jews will not leave empty-handed. What about
us? How often do we make excuses? We have
another men's planning session coming up next Saturday?
Brothers, what are going to be your excuses for not coming?
What are our excuses for not going to others, opening our
Bibles, and sharing the Gospel with them? Too busy.
Not prepared. Too afraid. What about giving as
you have been prospered? Tough times. Don't like
the budget. Too many debts. What about our new
Bible reading program? Can't find time. The Old
Testament is too hard to understand. God's Word might
upset me. The reward for excuses is seen in Luke 14:18
& 24 where a master prepared a feast and then invited others
to come: “But they all with one accord began to make
excuses” (Luke 14:18). One had property, one bought some
oxen, and one had a new wife. Now hear what the master
said: “For I say to you that none of those men who were
invited shall taste my supper” (Luke 14:24). In our
day, this means that those who make excuses will miss
heaven, will miss living eternally with all the redeemed!
Some of us are experts in alibi-ology. You didn't
learn this course at school, but you learned this course in
life, and it seems like there is an alibi or an excuse for
everything! One preacher exhorts us with these words:
“Reasons that sound good, aren't always good sound reasons.
Doesn't the Christian actually accuse himself, when he tries
to excuse himself? If you have an ox in the ditch,
then you have two options: kill the ox or fill up the ditch!
Rather than offer excuses, why not say: 'I'll try'”
(Bailey)! Didn't Paul affirm in Philippians 4:13: “I
can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”
Shouldn't that be our attitude as well? With Jesus'
help, I'll teach others. With His strength, I'll give
more. Guard against making excuses! Satan is so
pleased when you do! Don't let the devil take
advantage of you!
This passage is difficult because some things aren't
explained, but commentators help us to understand it.
God threatens to take Moses' life because Moses has been
disobedient. Instead of circumcising one of his sons
in his infancy, as God commanded, Moses was persuaded by his
wife to follow a Midianite custom and wait for the
circumcision until the day before his wedding.
Zipporah intervenes and performs the circumcision, which
causes God to cease threatening Moses' life. At this
point, Moses sends his family back to Midian while he
continues to travel to Egypt and is joined by his family
later (Exodus 18). God purifies Moses of his
disobedience, especially since he was going to be leading
God's people. The point for us is that we should guard
against listening to our culture's evil ways and becoming
disobedient. This means that must know God's word well
enough to discern the evils and sins of our culture and that
we must avoid them, rather than let them overtake us.
For example, our mass media has glorified divorce for any
reason over the past 20 years. Has that cultural
emphasis had an effect on the Lord's church? Does our
culture's sanctioning homosexual marriages made them right?
Has our media's glorification of taking drugs made them less
harmful? Has our culture's emphasis on political
correctness and its sweet sounding labels diminished the
horror of some sins? Have we forgotten that Satan's
pills are always sugar-coated? One preacher warns:
“All of Satan's pills are sugar-coated. He is good at
making promises. He promises almost anything that the
heart could desire. ... He has never been able to make good
a single promise ... yet he continues to make great promises
[many via our media], and people continue to be deceived
thereby” (Bailey). Satan is the father of all lies
(John 8:44). You see, being disobedient to God's Word
by heeding the teachings of our culture is like Moses'
listening to his wife. It is also like the Romeo
family, who ignored their growing pet problem. For
eight years. Sally had been the Romero's family pet.
When they got her, she only one foot long, but she
eventually grew to be 11.5 feet long and weighed 80 pounds.
One July day, Sally turned on Derek when he was 15,
strangling him to death through suffocation. Sally was
a Burmese python! Sins that seem little and harmless,
and which our culture calls beneficial and practical, will
Tolerate or ignore sin to the point that you become
disobedient, and one day death will be result (Truman in
Rowell)! Isn't that what James teaches us: “Then, when
desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when
it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be
deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and
every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the
Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow
of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the
word of truth, that we might be a kind of first-fruits of
His creatures.” Guard against being disobedient.
Follow God's Word and not the teachings of our culture!
Don't let Satan take advantage of you!
Exodus 5:22-23 states: “So Moses returned to the Lord and
said, 'Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people?
Why is it You have sent me? For since I came to
Pharaoh to speak Your name, he has done evil to this people;
neither have You delivered Your people at all!” Wouldn't it
be nice if we could have had a tape recording of this to
hear Moses' tone of voice? Can't we hear some
confusion, some frustration, and maybe even some criticism?
One commentator said: “It is certain that in this address
Moses uses great plainness of speech” (Clarke). This
is a huge example for us since we know the rest of story.
You see, Moses had his idea of how it all was going to
happen—a quick and fairly easy job. Perform a couple
of miracles, Pharaoh will catch on quickly, and the Jews
will be free before you know it! But he had forgotten
what God had told him earlier—that God would work His
wondrous signs (the ten plagues), and the Jews wouldn't
leave empty-handed. Moses was seeing things
short-range; he did not realize God longer training session
for Egypt and the world. God had something much much
bigger on His radar screen than Moses could ever imagine!
Aren't we also like Moses and Martha and Mary?
Remember how these two sister said that if Jesus had been
there, their brother wouldn't have died (John 11:21 & 32)?
Those are statements of faith, but Jesus deliberately showed
up late. Why? He had something much greater in
mind didn't He? “Did I not say to you that if you
would believe, you would see the glory of God? ... Lazarus,
come forth (John 11:40 & 43)!” In fact, we see how He
brings Lazarus back to life again! Frank Peretti has
written many novels, and in most all there is a common
theme—there's an earthly battle between good and evil, but
there's also the unseen battle between spiritual forces.
It is interesting how he sometimes shows that those two
worlds can intersect as God works in His grand providential
ways through the unseen forces of good! We can blame
God while at that very moment His heavenly hosts may be
working behind the scene. Have we developed a “victim
mentality” where nothing is our fault anymore? We can
easily blame others and God. Someone has observed:
“Western culture has made a fundamental change in its
religious base. We have exchanged the one who said, 'I
am the Truth' (John 14:6) for the incredibly expensive
doctrine of Freud and all his disciples. Our new
religion says with Pontius Pilate: 'What is truth?' and
teaches that our mentality should be one of 'victim' rather
than that of 'sinner'” (Tharp). Let's make a reality
check the next time we want to blame God by noticing Moses'
example: Do we think it must be done a certain way?
Have we forgotten God's promises? Are we too
short-range in our perspective? Have we forgotten that
nothing is impossible with God? Let's don't handcuff
God to our human ways! Guard against blaming God!
Don't let Satan take advantage of you!
At the end of Jesus' temptations, Luke records in 4:13: “Now
when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from
Him until an opportune time.” You see, Satan continued to
try to make Jesus fall.
Time and time again, he tried to get Jesus off-track by
making Him give up going to the cross. He was even
tempting Jesus while He was on the cross to come down from
it! Satan doesn't fight fair; he is even tempting
Jesus while at His weakest! Satan's departures in our
lives are only temporary. When we start doing good, we
can expect him to return. We must show a constant
resistance. Be watchful for Satan! With the Holy
Spirit's help, keep Satan on the run! Don't let Satan
take advantage of you!
Let's pray: Lord, help us to realize that we have a real foe
who is out to defeat us. Help us to battle against him
and not let him take advantage of us. Give us Your
wisdom to battle together as good soldiers. In Jesus'
With God's armor upon us, we can work together to stand
against Satan's strategies! We can be interdependent and
resist him together.
If you have not become a Christian, you don't have God's
armor nor the strength that comes by battling with others.
Can you see why you've continued to lose the battles over
and over and allowed Satan to take advantage of you again
and again? Break that cycle today by putting on Christ
in baptism and receiving the gift of His indwelling Spirit!
You will become a new soldier in the Lord's army and have
others to help you battle! If Satan has tricked you
with one of devices we have seen in Moses' life—taking
matters into your own hands, making excuses, being
disobedient, blaming God, why not get back on track today?
Confess your sin, and let us pray that Jesus will strengthen
you for your future battles. With Jesus' and other
members' help, you CAN RESIST the foe!