"SATAN, HOW MAY I ASSIST YOU?"
Would you knowingly assist Satan by creating opportunities for him? Would you
create advantages for Satan by opening a door of opportunity for him? For example,
would you help Satan create an opportunity for your son to vandalize? Would you help
Satan create the opportunity for someone to sexually assault your daughter? Would
you help Satan create the opportunity to have your husband robbed at gun point?
Would you help Satan create the opportunity to have your wife held as a hostage?
Would you help Satan create the opportunity the beat and hurt your best friend?
"David, you have asked some ridiculous questions before. But those are the
most ridiculous questions that you ever asked! It is absolutely ridiculous to think that I
would help Satan create an opportunity to hurt anyone I love!"
When we hear about violent acts against those who believe in Christ in far off
places, we see Satan's work. We quickly recognize violent assaults on people who
believe in Christ as the work of Satan. Does Satan only use violence to assault people
who believe in Christ? Does Satan assault us? Does he assault our children? our
husbands and wives? our friends? Do we help Satan assault our family and friends?
- It is very simple to create opportunities for Satan, and Satan quickly accepts
every opportunity that we provide him.
- Paul wanted the Christians at Ephesus to be fully aware of the fact that we can
give Satan opportunity.
- In Ephesians 4 Paul told these Christians that they should not act and
behave like the people who do not believe in the living God.
- Their acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and their confidence in the living
God must change their behavior.
- Their new behavior will stand in total contrast to the behavior of those
who do not accept Christ and believe in God.
- This difference in behavior will be obvious and distinctive.
- Paul said in Ephesians 4:25-32 that in their new behavior:
- They will not deceive.
- They will not harbor anger.
- They will not steal, but they will help people in need.
- They will not use ungodly, spiritually unhealthy language.
- They will not cause the Holy Spirit grief in their lives.
- They will not permit ungodly attitudes and emotions to control their
thinking, their feelings, or their actions.
- Instead they will be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving.
- After urging them not to deceive and not to let anger infect their hearts, Paul
said: "Do not give the devil an opportunity."
- In context, Paul urged them to make certain that anger had a short life.
- Some translations state that you give Satan a foothold in your life when
you nurse your anger.
- A classic example of this is found in Genesis 4.
- Two brothers, Cain and Abel, offered a sacrifice to God.
- Abel's sacrifice honored God, and God accepted it.
- Cain's sacrifice failed to honor God, and God rejected it.
- Cain regarded God's rejection of his sacrifice as a personal insult, and he
was angry and depressed.
- Genesis 4:6,7 Then the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why
has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be
lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its
desire is for you, but you must master it."
(The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
- God did not condemn Cain for his sacrifice.
- Cain's sacrifice did not anger God.
- God simply did not accept the sacrifice.
- In fact, God asked Cain to explain why he was angry.
- Cain had no reason to be angry.
- If Cain did well, God would accept his sacrifice.
- Sin had not consumed Cain, but it was at the door ready to pounce on
- "Cain, don't open the door to sin."
- But Cain nursed his anger, and he gave Satan opportunity.
- At first, he was mad at God for not accepting the sacrifice.
- Then he was angry at Abel; he blamed Abel for God rejecting his
- And he nursed his anger until he killed his brother.
- He gave Satan opportunity.
- Satan gladly took the opportunity.
- And Satan used it to motivate Cain to murder.
- One of the greatest pains Satan inflicts on us is inflicted by successfully
controlling or destroying someone we love.
- To watch Satan use evil to destroy someone we love creates a pain that we
cannot explain with mere words.
- For a husband or a wife to watch evil destroy a loved spouse is agonizing.
- For a parent to watch evil destroy a child is cruelty beyond description.
- For a friend to watch evil destroy a dear friend is deep grief.
- Christians who love God and trust Jesus do not consciously help Satan assault
the people they love.
- But do we allow Satan to deceive us into doing precisely that?
- Do we allow Satan to manipulate us into providing him opportunities by
calling those opportunities recreation, or personal development, or success,
or progressive living, or influence, or coping with life and stress?
- Allow me to use just one example.
- In the last twelve months, how much violence have you witnessed? How
many physical assaults have you seem? How many murders? How many
rapes? How many sexual seductions? How much drunkenness?
- In the last twelve months, how much violence have your children witnessed?
How many physical assaults have they watched? How many murders? How
many rapes? How many sexual seductions? How much drunkenness?
- "Zero, for me or my kids. We have not witnessed any violence, physical
assaults, murder, rape, or sexual seduction. We may have seen a few
intoxicated people at some public event."
- How many have you seen on television? in the movies? How many have
your children seen?
- "Oh, that's not real! I know that is not real. The kids know that is not real.
That is just recreation."
- Thought number one: when you see an assault, a murder, a rape, or a
sexual seduction on television or in the movie, what you see is more
graphic, more explicit, more detailed than witnessing an actual event.
- Thought number two: what convinces our children that "everyone is doing
it?" Why do we adults so readily believe that "everyone is doing it?"
- If we think about helping Satan assault the minds and emotions of our
families, it gets scary quickly.
- Were you to decide this moment, "I will not help Satan find opportunity to
assault anyone," how would you accomplish that?
- That is not a simple decision, and it is a very complicated commitment.
- That commitment directly involves every human relationship in your life.
- Because we all are imperfect, because we all struggle with evil in our lives,
there is no simple way to stop creating opportunities for Satan.
- Again, let me discuss just one situation; I fully acknowledge that creating
opportunities for Satan is a problem in every relationship that we have.
- Think with me just a moment about being a parent.
- "I do not assist Satan as he looks for opportunity in my child's life!"
- Just how do you manage to do that?
- Possible approaches:
- There is the approach of the master controller: "I will have such complete
control over my children that Satan cannot find any opportunities."
- Either the attempt to totally control or unjust control commonly creates an
enormous determination in a teen to escape.
- With great determination, he or she looks for a way to escape the control.
- There are three common avenues for escape: running away, going to
college to rebel against everything that angered you, or getting married.
- The absolute control approach does some terrible things.
- Control makes love conditional, so the child feels unloved.
- Control convinces the child that he or she cannot "measure up" to the
expectations of controlling parent, so control attacks self worth.
- Control often creates a sense of rejection, and rejection creates anger,
and the anger may be nursed for lifetime.
- Thus the control that tries to destroy Satan's opportunities often creates
- There is the approach of the easygoing "good guy:" "We are good people;
my children would never do anything really bad; they might occasionally act
out, but it is always harmless."
- This approach goes to the other extreme: "I do not need any control; I
rarely need to disciple. My kids would never do anything that I would not
- Ironically children often interpret this kind of trust as not caring.
- Evil offers our children pleasure.
- If we argue sin does not give pleasure, we destroy our credibility.
- To deny that pleasure exists in evil is worse than foolish.
- However, the consequences and pain that follow the pleasure must be
- If we play the role of the "easygoing good guy" as parents, our children
face the enticements of evil on their own.
- What greater assistance can we give Satan than allowing our children to
face the enticements of the pleasures of evil alone?
- There is the approach of the parent who is "scared to death:" "I am afraid to
do anything because I am afraid that I might do the wrong thing."
- This person silently hopes and does nothing.
- This is an invitation to disaster.
- The child feels alone as he or she faces peers, pleasure, and evil.
- There is the approach of "showing, sharing, and guiding:" "I will be an
example; I will explain my choices; and I will actively help my child."
- "I will show my children how to live."
- "I will explain my 'whys.'"
- "I will learn how to help them."
Will you do something in the courage of your faith? Will you examine every
relationship in your life? Will you honestly ask God for an open mind and heart? Then,
will you honestly answer this question? Do I help Satan create opportunities to assault
the people in my life? After asking that question, will you pray for the strength and
guidance to constructively work with every situation you need to address?
Is God "for real" in your life? Are you honestly concerned about living for God? Or, are
you just concerned about having an acceptable religion? The answers to those
questions reveal if it is God who makes use of your life or Satan who makes use of your
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 7 February 1999
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