We’ve discussed that Satan’s goal in pursuing us is to create a chasm in our intimate walk with God, a distance or separation from personal and spiritual growth in our relationship with the Creator. Satan wants us to return to drink from the well of our sin nature, a nature that unapologetically distracts us from all things holy. Sadly, Satan has a world full of evil resources to aid him in his quest. But he really only needs one…
Who or What is to Blame?
It’s easy, and very convenient, to just blame Satan for our sin problem, and it makes us feel good, because, after all, it removes some of the blame from our own hands. We could all agree that there’s nothing quite as liberating as the complete surrender of all personal responsibility…it’s refreshing, but it’s certainly not smart. Let’s be sure to understand that Satan provokes sin in our life, but, sadly, we can’t lay it all on him…not even close.
You will hear people blame almost anything and anyone for the sin in their life…Satan, the internet, technology, politics, hypocritical Christians, troublesome people, bad traffic, long drive-thru lines at Chic-Fil-A, and so the list continues… There’s a multitude of things that contribute and provoke our revisitation of sin, but, as I mentioned before, Satan really only needs one to do the job well.
Satan’s most effective resource in his pursuit of us is already in place in our life, and it’s our profoundly unrepentant sin nature itself. It is native to who we are, and in it we find the greatest threat to our growth in relationship with Almighty God. It is our sin nature that Satan seeks to partner with, entertain, compliment, encourage, and diligently feed. It is his greatest ally and his most powerful resource in bringing about distraction, confusion, disillusionment, and lack of trust into our personal walk with God.
The primary problem with our sin nature, and what makes it such a tremendously successful resource to Satan’s schemes, is that we often just fail to see it as a problem…if we even really see it at all. It is so engrained into our life that it becomes natural, possibly comfortable, maybe even enjoyable, and certainly, at times, we think, justifiable. You see, we can often be easily convinced to stop the embrace and pursuit of the “new self” that is mentioned in Ephesians 4…
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” – Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV)
The more that we listen to Satan, embrace the old self, revisit sin, and remain unrepentant, the easier it will be for us to tolerate and establish a friendship with a life of deviant, relationship-distracting unrighteousness. It’s a life that, at first, delicately leads us to look away from God for a moment to entertain a little sin. In the end, it can be a life lived in the complete rebellion of God’s will…guided, not by God, but, instead, by a ravenous and overfed sin nature.
The Apostle Paul had some legitimate concerns for the Church at Corinth. He expressed them this way…
“But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.”
– 2 Corinthians 11:3-4 (NIV)
Let the last seven words of that passage sink into our souls, “…you put up with it easily enough.”
Our sin nature, when it’s well entertained, is just simply fun to hang out with. We can tolerate a little sin, if it’s enjoyable…right? The more we hang out with sin, the more comfortable we feel around it. The more comfortable we feel, the less purposed control we tend to exercise over our behavior. And, the purposed liberalization of our behavior can quickly turn us into a person who is not just “putting up with sin,” but a person who is “seeking sin out.” All the while, we’re replacing the pursuit of intimacy with God for the insanity of allowing sin to rule the day. This is the antithesis of God’s will…a point often lost on the distracted mind of a struggling disciple of Christ. It’s so hard to hear God over the screams of our sin nature and its hunger pains. A determined lack of repentance, catalyzed by our enjoyment of sin, and a little nudge into the darkness by Satan is often all that is required for the chasm to develop. And we would love to blame Satan, but Satan didn’t cause us to sin; he just pointed out the opportunity.
Our sin nature is Satan’s greatest resource on this earth, for it is the involvement of our sin nature that can demolish almost anything into a pile of unrighteous trash. It doesn’t matter what it may be, if we introduce it to our sin nature, our sin nature will find a way to corrupt it. For example, many love to blame the internet for their sin. Technology itself is not evil. Where the internet is concerned, it is the sin nature of the porn addict that bypasses everything wholesome online in the pursuit of feeding sexual lust. Satan didn’t make them do it; he just suggested the direction of their search.
The call on our life is to “repent” and make Christ Lord. The lordship of Christ involves growth towards the things of God, and the revisitation of sin inhibits that growth. Again, Satan has tremendous resources in his pursuit of all things unholy, but Satan’s greatest resource is the sin nature found inside the heart of those Christ died to save. Controlling our sin nature requires a determined focus on Christ, and a daily and sincere effort to grow deeper in our relationship with God. The focus of our “old self” was firmly on the temporal, but God is calling for a immediate reallocation of that focus…and, we’ll discuss that next!
Next: Defying Satan Power in the Journey – Part 3: The Reallocation of Our Focus
If growing closer in our relationship with God is the goal, then repenting and combating our sin nature is our highest priority, because it was sin that originally separated us from God, and it is sin that still stands in obstruction to our growth in God, even after salvation. Sin is a powerful persuasion, and it has a powerful promoter in Satan himself. If repentance is important, and it certainly is, then learning to repel Satan, and defying his power in our life is crucial.
But why does Satan pursue?
For the true follower of Christ, Satan’s goal is to separate us from a real intimacy with God through a vital and growing relationship. He’s already lost the battle for our eternal soul, so he can now focus his efforts on our daily walk with Christ, attempting to render it distracted, distant, and worthless. If Satan can keep us out relevant time spent in God’s Word, off our knees in real communication and prayer, and busy with life, then he’s winning the fight.
I believe that Satan loves religion, because the bells and whistles of religion are steeped in habitual tradition, often devoid of meaningful spiritual depth. Too often, Christians plan their spiritual life and work around a church calendar, instead of around the individual call that God has placed on their life. Sermons and podcasts become a substitution for Bible study, and intimacy with God is replaced with the simple practice of organized religion. Again, for the Christian, if Satan can get us wrapped-up in the activities of modern day religion, then he may be able to convince us that we’re “doing just fine” in our walk with God.
Religion versus Relationship
Satan would love to see us doubt God. He would love to see us renounce our Christian walk and thoroughly and completely embrace a life of constant sin and consistent rebellion. However, Satan may not be successful to that end. Consequently, we should be aware that all Satan really has to do in order to accomplish his goal is create a chasm in our walk with the Lord…a separation in our personal intimacy with God. He knows that the chasm doesn’t necessarily have to be deep, it just needs to exist. The chasm can form and never really affect our church calendar activities. It can form as we relish our perfect attendance in Sunday School and worship, and no one may ever know, because our “religion” is still intact…while our “relationship” with God suffers. It can become increasingly distant and meaningless. Frankly, it can die altogether.
Satan pursues us relentlessly. He touts the attractiveness of sin and the “good times” of our “old self"…compelling us to constantly revisit our sin nature. His quest is to lead us away from a repentant life. Satan wants to feed our sin nature and fuel the flames of our flesh until God is unrecognizable to us from the inside, because the small chasm he initiated in our relationship with God in the beginning has now grown much larger. If he can fill our mind and heart with sin, there will be no compulsion for growth toward the glorious things of God. And, where there is no growth, death quickly comes. This is not necessarily a physical death, but instead, it’s a death of our passion for Christ, a death of our close walk with Him, and a death of us walking out God’s will in our life. Satan wants us to lead a life consisting of the deliberate embrace of sin, a life devoid of repentance. And, his resources to do this are immense…
Next: Defy Satan Power in the Journey– Part 1: The Resources of His Pursuit
Keith Beatty is a Worship, Missions and Media Pastor living in North Alabama. He's excited and very humbled to be a follower of Jesus Christ!