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The devil is always on the prowl looking for prey.
He will bide his time, waiting patiently for the perfect opportunity to pounce.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. (1 Peter 5:8,9)
While the devil is planning to exploit our weaknesses, God is wanting to strengthen us where we are vulnerable.
But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:10,11)
God is would use the painful events in our life to strengthen us. Standing in smaller tests prepares us to stand in greater tests.
If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan? (Jeremiah 12:5)
David faced many a difficult battle. He did not expect to be successful without the strengthening of God.
Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight: My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me. (Psalm 144:1,2)
Paul saw that the real battle was not with flesh and blood, but with Satan and his host.
He recognized that there was a an “evil day” (i.e., day of trouble) which the devil sought to take full advantage of.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6:10-13)
The ultimate plan of Satan is always to strike at one’s relationship to God.
If we are unsaved, he wants us to never connect to God. If we are saved, he wants to detach us from God.
Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. (Job 1:9-11)
Jesus knew Satan’s plot against Peter. Peter though was ignorant as to how vulnerable he was.
And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:
But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.
And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me. (Luke 22:31-34)
When devils spot pride or strong, unfulfilled desires they begin to plan a fall along those lines of weakness.
Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:12-14)
The more time elapses in which we don’t get God’s strengthening, the more “room” we give the devil to set us up for a fall.
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. (Ephesians 4:26,27)
place > Gr. noun – topos > KJV – place 80, room 5, quarter 2, licence 1, coast 1, where 1
– place, any portion or space marked off, as it were from surrounding space; an inhabited place, as a city, village, district – metaph. – opportunity, power, occasion for acting
Jesus was aware of the place Peter was giving to Satan.
This place became especially evident by Peter’s reaction when Jesus spoke of the unjust suffering He was going to experience.
From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.
But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. (Matthew 16:21-23)
The fall Jesus saw coming happened in the evil day when Christ began His final sufferings. The prospect of suffering with Jesus was too much for Peter to bear.
Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.
But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.
And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.
And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.
And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:69-75)
Even as a maturer apostle, Peter still needed strengthening in the area of his weakness.
But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? (Galatians 2:11-14)
Paul was not unacquainted with the fear of man. He also knew firsthand what it meant to want to please people, and to fear their reproach and rejection. He knew such was incompatible with his being the servant of Christ.
For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. (Gal. 1:10)
Paul understood that God was strengthening him in his most vulnerable area, by allowing him to experience what was naturally painful for him to bear.
For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Corinthians 12:6-10)
Eventually, unaddressed weaknesses and sins in our life result in a spectacular fall.
Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.
… The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws. (Daniel 4:27,33)
It is the Lord’s desire to bring down the high places in our life. He would make the crooked things straight, and the rough places smooth. He would heal all the damaged and broken places (i.e., “breaches) in our spirit. But if we will not let Him do so, and continue on in the way of our heart, we will experience sudden and self-inflicted catastrophe.
Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon: Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant. (Isaiah 30:12,13)