WHEN HE LIES HE SPEAKS HIS NATIVE LANGUAGE
FOR HE IS A LIAR
AND THE FATHER OF LIES
JOHN GIVES US REPEATED WARNINGS ABOUT OUR ENEMY
ABOUT THE SPIRIT OF THE ANTI-CHRIST.
WE MUST BE ALERT TO HIS LIES, AND THEN, AS REBECCA SAID
“SMACK HIM OVER THE HEAD WITH THE TRUTH!”
We often fail to be alert, to realize that we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with powers, with principalities, with the prince of darkness.
How clearly I remember a night when our boys were little and we had invited our new neighbors in Seattle over for dinner.
J. R. was looking at our guests and piped up, as only a child would:
“Do you guys love Jesus?”
The silence was awkward.
“Oh, oh — do you love the devil?”
We laughed, thankful for the comic relief. Then the man said:
“Well, little man, are those our only choices?”
I can’t remember how we recouped the moment, or if we did, but I do remember thinking, Yes — those are the only two camps. We’re either in the realm of darkness or the realm of light.
The spirit of the anti-Christ is everywhere. At the close of 1 John, he tells us “the whole world is is under the power of the evil one.” John gives us many “signs” to be alert to the spirit of the anti-Christ, and he also tells us the ultimate lie in 1 John 2:22 when he says:
Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ?
Kenneth Wuest, in Word Studies of the New Testament, explains that the word Jesus means “Jehovah saves,” and Christ means “anointed one, Messiah.” Therefore this denial is a denial of who Jesus is and of the atoning work on the cross He came to accomplish.
Early in my speaking ministry I was asked to speak at a retreat in my state for women ministers from a mainline denomination that I knew to be very liberal in its theology. My book, The Friendships of Women, had just been released and I think the retreat coordinators felt that friendship would be a light and “safe” topic, one that would not delve into the atoning work of Christ or His literal resurrection, neither of which they embraced. I accepted the invitation and prayed and prepared earnestly. It seemed an opportunity to share the gospel and its power within the framework of friendship.
When I arrived Friday afternoon they welcomed me. A fire blazed in the dining room of the lodge and we sat at tables eating pizza and answering light get-acquainted questions the coordinators had put at our places. We were laughing. The ice was broken.
But I was only about fifteen minutes into my first talk when the ice returned. The talk began well when I opened with how my closest friends and I had had a heated argument right in the middle of my writing The Friendships of Women. I told them we were talking about how to be good mothers, a dangerous topic, and we disagreed. We were full of pride and not careful with our tongues. One by one my friends left in tears. The women were attentive.
The ice began to form when I told them how God led us to forgive one another. None of us wanted to, but when we got alone before God He reminded us of how much we had been forgiven, and of the price Christ paid on the cross for us. How could we not forgive one another?
Eyes began to avert and papers began to rustle. The temperature dropped. The gospel is either the fragrance of life if you embrace it, or the stench of death if you resist it.
Afterwards, the plan was for women to stay up and play games. The retreat coordinator approached me and told me I didn’t need to stay. She also told me firmly that she wanted me to stay with the topic of friendship.
I went back to my room, prayed, and called my husband, telling him of the icy response. He promised to pray for me the next morning while I spoke.
That next morning I spoke about the friendship of Ruth and Naomi. I felt compelled to also show them how hidden in the book of Ruth was Boaz, a Christ figure who paid a ransom for Ruth. I told them the gospel is everywhere, from Genesis to Revelation, and it also turns up in every biblical friendship. I thought if they could just see how it is woven everywhere, it would open their eyes. But they didn’t want to listen. They began to turn to one another, muting me with their whispers.
Afterwards, I sat at the book table, but only a few browsed, and no one bought books. At lunch I was ushered to a table where I sat alone. I decided to pick up my tray and join a group of women, but as soon as I did, their talking ceased. I asked them to tell me about themselves, but they didn’t. One woman asked me why I was so dressed up, since this was a camp. Another asked me icily where I had learned to speak. I wanted to cry, I wanted to run.
I went back to my room and called my husband again, this time in tears. He listened empathetically and he prayed for me. Before we hung up, he quoted Peter to me:
Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the home that in you, yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.
1 Peter 3:13-16
“I’ll pray for you while you are speaking, honey.”
In my final session, I opened with my testimony, thinking that even if they didn’t believe the Bible, that this might persuade them. I told them how selfish and spoiled I had been – how difficult I was as a wife, how frustrated as a mother. I couldn’t see that the problem was my sin. I didn’t understand that the hunger in my soul was for God. It wasn’t until my sister came and shared the gospel and the dramatic claims of Christ that I began to see and to fear the Lord, which the Bible says is the beginning of wisdom. And it wasn’t until I surrendered to Him that I had the power of transformation in my life.
It was very quiet. Many were looking at their shoes.
Then I turned to the topic of friendship again, using Mary and Elizabeth and their excitement over being part of God’s plan to bring the Savior into the world.
Afterwards the retreat coordinator expressed her disappointment to me. She told me again I had not stayed with the topic of friendship as requested. She also told me I had been insensitive to use only biblical women who struggled with infertility as my models, for many there struggled with infertility. Though I recognized that as a fiery dart from the enemy, it still tore at my heart.
Never was I so eager to leave a retreat. I packed up my unsold books, carried them to my car, and drove home weeping. I had experienced a fraction of the pain that many of the prophets experienced every day all through their lives, and I didn’t like it. As far as I could see, the retreat had been a bust. I wept for the women themselves, for the sheep they were leading astray, and for my failure to break through.
I was so eager to get to Steve, to let him hold me and help me process the weekend. He reminded me that I had been faithful, and that was all God asks. He reminded me the women had a vested interest in not believing, for it’s hard to admit you have been leading whole congregations astray. He also reminded me that I didn’t know what might happen — there might have been someone listening, and with God nothing was impossible. When Ezekiel was his most discouraged, God showed him a valley of dry bones that came to life!
Steve and I didn’t talk in terms of idolatry, though I see it clearly now. If they embraced the gospel, they could lose their jobs, they would have to admit they had done severe damage, and they would lose one another’s approval. For those women, every idol was threatened: comfort, approval, and security. And I am sure the enemy was there, for he had a lot to lose. He was whispering his ancient lies, that God would not be enough for them.
But it isn’t just unbelievers who are lured and blinded. It is a battle every Christian faces every day.
A DAILY BATTLE
The difference for us is that we are in a battle we cannot lose, though we certainly stumble and fall along the way. Rebecca has told us of her fears of giving up over-eating at night. She wasn’t sure she could handle the pain. She wasn’t sure God would be there for her. But when she did move out in faith, He was there. What happens, and you are going to see this, is that victory leads to victory, because we see the lie more quickly, and we trust God’s faithfulness as we remember His faithfulness in the past. For example, Rebecca shared last week that she had made a mistake at work and didn’t want to own it. But she saw her idol of approval and went and confessed to her boss. This time she wasn’t as vulnerable to the enemy, because God had been there for her with her comfort idol, so she was able to trust He would be there for her approval idol. She smacked the serpent over the head with the sledgehammer of truth and he went slithering out.
Likewise, I so appreciated Kim’s testimony last week, of how God is helping her look at her sin in a new way — not that she could lose her salvation, as her old church taught, but that it could keep her enslaved to idolatry, and she wants to be free. The truth can slam the enemy on the head, and that is what we must do!
Anne made herself vulnerable and prayed so honestly and vulnerably for the walls to come down in her marriage. I loved what she wrote near the end of the week about God pulling up the bitter root in her and her relying on the Spirit. She said she had HOPE.
Susan gave a wonderful testimony (which I will repeat in full in an upcoming post) of how seeing her idol is giving her more victory in the way she responds to her husband. Then others, including Joyce and Laura-dancer, encouraged by her vulnerability, shared they struggle in similar ways and asked for prayer.
Elizabeth saw a turning point with her daughter as she felt led to share the parable of the sower with her, and her daughter wept. Tears are such a sign of life! Though she says this will be a lifelong journey, she has HOPE.
Meg is experiencing victory with her besetting sin and praying she will care about the things the Father cares about.
Angela, though she is often laid low by Lyme’s disease, wrote of how she often is experiencing intimacy with the Lord in those times, seeing something new in Scripture, feeling flip flops in her heart. She shared a painful story of cruelty to her daughter, but also of responding in grace.
I almost waited to post Terri’s testimony below because she’s having a busy week — but when I reread it, and saw she has gone through the deep waters many of you are going through, I felt I should — for she could be a powerful mentor IN BOTH MARRIAGE AND MOTHERING. (Consider her wonderful daughter Stacy!)
So God is on the move!
SO TAKE THAT, YOU OLD DEVIL!
Because we are children of the light, let’s walk in the light. We are in a battle we cannot lose.
ICE-BREAKER AND REVIEW (Sunday-Monday)
(DOWNLOAD THE FREE SERMON NOW — YOU DON’T HAVE TO LISTEN TO IT YET, BUT YOU’LL HAVE IT READY IF YOU HAVE TIME. HERE’S THE LINK
1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
2. What stood out to you from Dee’s story of speaking to the women ministers? Why? (I’m thinking of using this in The Stonecutter so I want you to be honest, please.)
3. What do you learn from any of the testimonies that I quoted above or any other testimonies from the women on this blog who are seeing victory with the enemy?
4. Using an example of an idol in your life, what lie is the enemy likely to tell you? How can you be ready for him with the truth? Remember to get your sword ready.
BIBLE STUDY (MONDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY)
I realize this could be a frightening study, but it can be a powerful prayer guide. Our only two offensive tools against the enemy are the Word and a prayer of faith — so combine them and find power! Last week I finally got around to reading Philip Yancey’s book on prayer and it has revitalized my prayer life, which is my area of accountability. The enemy hates prayer, especially prayer that uses God’s Word.
So let’s go after the father of lies.
5. What is the ultimate lie according to 1 John 2:22-23? If you have someone you love who believes this lie, pray for him or her, using 1 Timothy 2:25-26. Paul prays that “God will grant them repentance, leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”
6. John gives lots of red flags that let you know the spirit of the antichrist has a hold on someone. If you see these flags in yourself, then repent and move into the light. If you the flag in someone you love, pray for him. Find each flag:
A. 1 John 2:4
B. 1 John 2:9
C. 1 John 2:15
D. 1 John 2:19
E. 1 John 3:10
F. 1 John 4:2-3 (Keller discusses this so we’ll come back to it in the sermon part.)
G. 1 John 4:5
7. How does John encourage us in 1 John 4:4? Have you been able to slam the enemy with God’s truth this week? If so, share and encourage us!
8. Watch this video from the publisher of Kisses from Katie and find some ways she overcame the lies of the enemy with the truth: Link
9. WHAT COMMON LIE DOES KELLER TACKLE AND HOW DOES HE SLAM THE ENEMY WITH THE TRUTH?
10. KELLER TALKS ABOUT DENYING THAT CHRIST CAME IN THE FLESH. HE SAYS CHRISTIANITY, UNLIKE MANY OTHER RELIGIONS, DOES NOT TELL US TO ESCAPE THE FLESH BUT REFORM IT. GIVE AN EXAMPLE — CHOOSE SEX, FOOD, HALLOWEEN, OR WHATEVER YOU LIKE! (Some would say Halloween cannot be reformed for it was never from God, no Christian origins, but I think there are ways to overcome its spirit. I have an opinion on this and may share it if you are interested, but neither do I want to rabbit trail here.)
11. HOW CAN YOU AFFIRM TERRI IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY?
12. WHAT’S YOUR TAKE-A-WAY AND WHY?
GETTING TO KNOW OUR BLOGGERS! TERRI!
I’ve been so glad to have Terri with us — I sensed her maturity right away, and felt a kindred spirit because of her prison ministry. I also was impressed with her daughter, and we have so many younger moms on this blog who could be blessed by her mentoring. This week she has two sisters with her, so she may not respond a lot til later. She had more pictures and I had trouble technically with them, but we might be able to get them on during the week. Note how she writes below that God has used her marriage to help her mature. What a good word!
I was a teenager when God began speaking to me through the messages I heard at my youth group and church. God through the Holy Spirit convicted me of sin and I received the forgiveness of my sins and the assurance of eternal life. The support I received from my pastor and my youth leaders were instrumental in my spiritual formation.
I married my best friend who I met in church when I was 18. After he finished seminary, he served as a pastor, in for a total of 19 years in two churches. I loved being a pastor’s wife and having the opportunities to minister , especially to youth and to the women he brought into our lives.
My spiritual gifts are hospitality and helps/serving- and most of my life I have served as a youth leader in youth groups in the churches I have been in. On my day off you will find me in the kitchen cooking or baking –often with my grandkids, or in my vegetable garden. I love to have people into our home to share food, fellowship and games. Scrabble is a family favorite and Dawn and I have some friendly competition going on when we get together!
I have 2 sons and 2 daughters age 23-33 and two daughters in law, one son in law and 7 of the most precious grandchildren on earth—age 18 months-8 years / I work 4 days a week and Friday is Grandma day, and I watch the two grandkids that live with us.
Some of my greatest challenges in my life have been control and anger. My husband and I are polar opposite personalities. I have a pretty big personality and I am quite strong and opinionated. My idols have been affirmation and control, and God has often used my marriage to reveal areas of sin in my heart. I have been a slow learner but thankfully I have a godly devoted husband who loves me and even in the tough times, affirmed his covenant to God for a lifetime together. A lesser man would have left me years ago.
God has used these online Bible studies to challenge me and I jumped in at a time when I was not connected to a local church. The honesty of the women on the blog has been such a blessing to me and God has challenged me and keeps showing me how to walk closer to him. The most significant thing to me has been Speaking truth to my soul and dialoguing with God to work through an area of struggle instead of trying to legalistically conform to what I know is the truth. I want God to make it a change of heart not just a change of behavior.
This is Stacy and me