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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Beware of the Evil that Follows a Victory

Evil often follows a victory, especially if that victory advances the Lord's kingdom. It was after Jesus had fasted for forty days that the devil tempted Him. It was after David's defeat of the Philistines that Saul became jealous of him. It was after the raising of Lazarus that the plot to kill Jesus was hatched. One would think that there was a plan here.

So, we should not be surprised of the conflict that erupts in a church after a number of people are saved. In fact, we should expect it and be prepared for the Bible tells us who the devil is:

1 Peter 5:8 (NIV) 8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
He roars to scare us so that we have no more victories. He seeks to have us fearful of him and all that he can do. He plants a fear of following God so that God's people are defeated rather than victorious. He plans on the celebration which will lower our guards and let him get a foothold on defeating us. He roars so he can chase us because we take no defenses against him while we are running from him.

So, how should we react after a victory?

We should expect his attack. We should stand our ground. We should recite God's promises to us. We should claim the power that God has given us to defeat him. We should know that the power to defeat the devil belongs to God who makes us strong. We should know that this will defeat the evil.

1 Peter 5:9-10 (NIV) 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

That doesn't mean we will avoid all suffering. It means we will have victory.

Have you ever wondered why some of the best preachers fall into some of the worst sins? Could it be that they were not aware that evil would pursue them because of their great victories?

I have seen pastors who have led their churches to amazing growth fired soon after that growth came because of their sins. I have seen evangelists who have been anointed by God to win thousands of souls found in multiple affairs. I have seen men and women who have stood boldly for God found siffoning off the money from their ministries. Each one of these did not realize that evil would temp and attack them after their victories.

On the other hand, I have seen very godly people attacked with devastating diseases. I have seen their spouses leave them right after the victories. I have seen their children addicted to drugs. I have seen that evil chases them even in their godliness.

Moses finally is allowed to take the Israelites out of Egypt. The Lord does not lead them by the road which is shorter but through the desert to the Red Sea. Pharoah realizes what he has done and relents from earlier decision. He decides to recapture his slaves. The people are afraid (The devil roared!). They can't see going forward and death lies behind them. Moses tells them what to do:

Exodus 14:13-14 (NIV) 13 Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.
14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."

Of course, this didn't mean to physically stand still since the people still had to walk through the sea. It meant that they would not have to fight the battle but should depend upon the Lord to do so.

You see, the devil wants us to believe that the victories were because of our strength. He attacks so that we will respond with our strength. Standing firm means that we rely on God's strength. Standing firm means we aren't running from the evil. We are facing it with God's power.

Then, the evil can't have victory over us.


Anonymous said...

I knew the truth this post holds, but let that knowledge slip my mind here in the thick of things.

Thank you.


Anonymous said...

1 Pet 5 started with talking to the elders:

2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. (1 Pet 5:2-4)

Not too long ago, I put up quite a lengthy comment on this site of Ps Prentis about big name preachers in the falling. Key to the inability to live up to the “When more is given, more is expected”, of the Word, is failure to guard one’s heart. When God renders help or grace in the things we do, success comes, and soon, recognition of men comes; and someone also comes, and he is the one with the horn and the tail - Satan. When you have the help of God, it means you are doing the right stuff, the stuff God would like done; and that means they are stuff Satan does NOT like seen done. Satan wants to sabo (sabotage) the things God wants done. So, before you could do more in the right direction, Satan wants to stop you in the path, so to speak.

When you are elders or senior pastors, you have come some way, you are recognized; that is why you are saluted as elders or senior pastors or world what-and-what! You cannot think Satan will let you to do greater and greater works for God, without at least attempting to sabo you.

The warnings given by Apostle Peter, we must heed, so that no impure desire can spring forth from our heart:

1. You must be willing to serve. It is you are willing to serve, NOT you are to lord (over your charge). It is NOT that you will have a greater flock so that you can get a greater pay package, like what is practised in the worldly system. You must be willing to serve the Lord and the flock.

2. Don’t be greedy for money. Mr A runs a business empire to get him lots of money; so you want to build your flock into a gigantic one so that, likewise you can get lots of money from it? No, you cannot do that. In other words, you cannot be thinking that for a 300 members strength congregation you can get a $3,000.00 monthly pay; and so, when you build your church strength to 3,000, you shall take a pay of $30,000.00 per month. If I maybe crude, when one is with 300 members, or with 3,000 members, his butt is still the same; he cannot say, he must now be given gold toilet seat, to do his business on! Don’t laugh, it happens, well NOT in church, but with a state charitable foundation, that had grown so big, that the man in charge fixed up water tap made of gold, for his use!

3. Always be a good example, NOT bad ones. You have to, you must. How difficult is it to understand this, but many just refuse to note it. You keep upgrading your house, all the way to a $9M house, or you fly around in private jet when commercial airlines are available and well. What kind of example is that? Also, in this respect, do NOT stumble brethrens; God said for one who stumbles, it is better for him to have a mill stone tied around his neck, and be thrown into the sea than for him to stumble another (Luke 17:2). Is it right for a Senior Pastor to pastor a big church and at the same time, be a big time professional magician?

4. Don’t lord over the flock. You cannot be doing such thing as encouraging your members to downgrade and downsize their flat, and have the excess money be given to the church, and then you take more and more from the church to upgrade and upgrade your house from a flat to the $9M house.

5. You are NOT the shepherd, you are only the under-shepherd. The flock is NOT yours, but the Lord, or the Shepherd’s. He merely placed the flock under your care. Always bear in mind you have to answer for it.


Anonymous said...

Cont. from above

Leaders fall because they are NOT self-controlled and alert (1 Pet 5:8). They let their guard down; let the successes and victories swell their heads. They let themselves to be caught up with their heavy head, because of the crowns they, and others, placed on it, that they forget to guard their heart. Satan and his minions sneak in, an impure desire, and because they are NOT alert, and self-controlled, they entertain the impure desire, and then the desire develops further into a sin; and when the sin is full-blown, it gives rise to a fall (James 1:14-15).

James 1:13 tells us that God does NOT attempt them; they are warned; it is our responsibility to guard our heart that evil or impure desire do NOT form in our heart (you entertain it; you will be led away by the devil and enticed).

Is it true, evil often lurks after your victory? Well, it can be, for Satan is NOT very happy with your accomplishment. But Satan and his minions are NOT spirits which you are to reason with; meaning, you cannot say, “Satan, see I am NOT doing much thing for God, so you will NOT come and disturb me, right?” No, it does NOT work that way, but Satan would like us to think that way, to hold us in fear. Actually, there are believers who do NOT serve, because they fear the evil ones would find trouble with them!

While I agree, when you are a threat to the evil ones, you can be a target of their attacks, I do NOT encourage the cowardice attitude for these reasons:

1. In a war, it is which side you are on; even if you do NOT fight the enemy, it does NOT mean the enemy will NOT kill you! You are no civilian, you are a soldier of God; there are no civilians! There is NO such thing with the enemy as, “I don’t shoot, so you don’t shoot me, alright!” When you refuse to fight the enemy, and instead make peace with them, what are you doing? It is mutiny. You can die anytime! Oh, you are NOT dead yet, that is because the enemy knows that they can take you out anytime, for you are now NOT with your comrades, or your Commander!
2. Wars are won only when soldiers are of joint effort to take the enemy out. The only way to win the war and to stay alive is to fight under the leadership of the Commander of Host, Jesus Christ, and work with your comrades.

But is it always stand and fight, and never to retreat? Sometimes to win, we have to run! Are you sure, brother Anthony? Scripture said we are NOT warring against flesh and blood but with principalities of darkness, i.e. against dark spiritual forces. Run away, may seem to some, like a foolish way, but because we are fighting NOT with men, per se, we have to fight smart. Running away can be a smart way to fight! To me, it is that simple – if God says, it is better to flee, we should flee!

For example, we are exhorted to flee from sexual immorality (1 Cor 6:18). It is difficult to stay and fight this one out. Run, is the way to go. In other words, when the warning lights are flashing, get away, don’t stay in the setting, and think you can be a hero. Chances are, you will succumb to the temptation if you stay in there.

Another one, idolatry. 1 Cor 10:14 said, flee from it. It can corrupt you.

Another one, commonly brushed aside by people – love for money; we are to flee from it:

9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 11 But you, man of God {Timothy referred to}, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. (1 Tim 6:9-11)


Anonymous said...

Cont. from above

A last one that I will give is the somewhat controversial 2 Tim 2:22a - Flee also youthful lusts (KJV). Many things could be lumped in, with youthful lusts or desires. Some people centred discussions on sexual passions or lusts. Others include rebellion, still others, arrogance. If sexual passions, it is consistent with 1 Cor 6:18, in terms of the exhortation of what to do – flee. As to the remaining 2 categories, I preferred to lump them as the youthful obsession of pride.

There is really no victory with pride. Scripture is clear that when you are prideful, God is opposed to you. In other words, God is always against you. So, if you go there, going after pride, you will fall. In connection with youth, we all have been there before, for at tender age, usually we had NOT mellowed, and we tended NOT to want to “lose out” or be seen as NOT as good as another. God’s exhortation is that we flee that; youths must learn self-control and be alert, that quite easily, pride can take root in us, and leads us to the path of destruction.

Generally speaking, the fight-flight exhortation is this:

When what you are engaging in, is righteous, consistent with the righteousness of God and His ways, you stand and fight. When I often say that one of the pertinent things Christians must develop is perseverance, I mean perseverance in the righteous things. For righteousness, you are to persevere, but for an unrighteous thing, even one time, you should NOT do it. And so, for settings where you are NOT to persevere, i.e. UNrighteous, you are to flee (There is no exhortation for sitting on the fence!).

We are to flee from temptations, NOT flirt with them; and resist sins to the point of shedding blood (Heb 12:4). There was once, a time when a particular ice-cream brand (a prestigious one) in her advertising campaign put out ads with the slogan to flirt with temptation, showing visually a gorgeous woman in the ad; I decided to boycott that brand of ice-cream. No flirting of temptation, especially when it is sexual one. The very text that talked about how one is tempted and fall into sin, by the Apostle James (James 1:13-15; expounded above), clearly, called for us to entertain NOT, an impure desire that tries to take root in our heart – that is fleeing.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions