Adapted from Personal Disciplemaking by Chris Adsit (used with permission)
The disciple has a basic understanding of the fundamental facts concerning adversity, Satan, temptation and sin.
BIBLICAL BASIS FOR THIS OBJECTIVE
God wants us to know the facts regarding the working of Satan, the consequences of following Satan, how to escape his influences, and how to pick ourselves up when we fall spiritually. As if it’s never been said before, why don’t you look at the following passages of Scripture and jot down a brief summary for each in your disciplemaker’s notebook?
2 Corinthians 2:11
1 Peter 5:8-10
1 John 2:1-2
1 John 2:12-14
1 John 4:4
1 John 5:3-5
PEP TALK FOR THE DISCIPLEMAKER
Now we come to one of the most strategic topics you’ll cover with your new disciple. Everything we’ve gone over so far is important, but this subject could almost be called pivotal. Satan has been, and will continue to be, working overtime to scuttle the new Christian’s ship. Your disciple will be in the most vulnerable position of his spiritual life these first few months, so you need to do whatever you can to help his defenses. It’s hard to defend yourself against an attacker if you don’t know what he looks like, where he’s coming from, or even if you’re really under fire. During the “Jesus Movement” of the early 1970s David Wilkerson wrote:
Jesus Christ is not a trip. He is not another high in a series of highs. Enough of this frivolous joy-pop feeling for Jesus. Never again will I tell a young person to “trip out on Jesus; He’ll make you high.” An acid freak attended a recent crusade and confessed to me, “I’m back on acid. I used to be tripped out on Jesus. I was really zapped by the Spirit. I was really up on Christ. But it was a bummer. Nobody told me about forsaking the crowd—nothing about temptations, about the devil trying to bring me down. Somebody wasn’t honest with me, man. Be sure you always tell kids to quit tripping with their heads and start learning how to die.” That’s it exactly; Jesus has to be a way of dying before He can be a way of living.[i]
You want to be honest with your disciple, right? He needs to know that, far from joining a religion-of-the-month club, he’s joined a war—and he’s the disputed territory.
Someone might be thinking, Why all the scare tactics? We don’t want to frighten the poor guy to death. This is true—we don’t want to frighten him to death. Good disciples are hard enough to come by without us bumping them off right and left. However, if there’s one thing our disciples should be scared of, it’s what Satan can do to a person who doesn’t know how to defend himself. We are informed in 1 Peter 5:8 that Satan’s objective is not to bother, bug or bum us out, his desire is to devour us. This is not a friendly game of Trivial Pursuit here. Satan is playing for keeps. You and your disciple need to keep that fact in mind at all times.
In this session, you want to pass on to him a few fundamental facts regarding adversity, Satan, temptation and sin. A rather negative line-up, but as Thoreau wrote in 1849, real life is not “a stroll upon the beach.” What he wrote five years later is a more accurate assessment: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”[ii] If we don’t deal with this ragged edge in our discipling relationships, we will not meet the needs of those God has entrusted to us. This session is designed to help the disciple understand that the Christian life isn’t Disneyland, but that he can experience an abundant and fruitful life despite that fact.
Two words of caution as you approach this particular meeting: Watch out. Whenever I have to prepare a study or to speak on this subject, the battle heats up. Satan doesn’t like the spotlight, and whenever I shine it on him, I experience his resistance. My word processor has already broken down once and both my wife and I have gotten quite ill just in the course of the few days it’s taken to type this training objective into my computer. Some will say it’s coincidence, but I’ve seen it far too many times to agree with that. You can expect the same treatment, my friend. Don’t be surprised if your disciple doesn’t show up for this appointment. He may have forgotten, or his roommate may have persuaded him to go with him down to the ol’ fishing hole, or out-of-town visitors may have dropped in unexpectedly, or a UFO may have crashed into his house. Whatever it may be, just keep rescheduling. Then, don’t you forget, or let your car run out of gas, or lose your Bible, or have a fight with your wife. The devil will work his game from both sides. Bathe this one in prayer.
BROACHING THE SUBJECT
Your disciple has already had some input from you on this topic, so he’s probably somewhat familiar. He knows that Satan exists, that adversity is a normal part of the Christian life (see Training Objective #5), and that when he sins, confession and repentance will restore fellowship between him and God (see Training Objective #3). You might start like this:
“I know we’ve already talked a little about trials and Satan, but I thought we’d spend some time today getting down to a little more of the nitty-gritty on those subjects. I’d be interested to know what your pre-Christian concept of Satan was.”
It doesn’t really matter how he answers; this is just a good way to break the ice and get into the subject.
Your response: “That’s interesting. The Bible talks a lot about Satan and how he works to oppose the work of God. There’s no way we’ll be able to exhaust the topic completely here today, but I wanted to pass on to you seven Fundamental Facts about adversity, Satan, temptation and sin.”
The best way for you to proceed from here is to read through the Suggestions For Growth section below, choose a few key verses from each of the seven Fundamental Facts, and then write down the “F.F.’s” and their corresponding verses on a piece of paper. The paper can be a focal point as you two talk, and also will be a nice take-home piece for your disciple to study later. Share experiences you have gone through and insights you may have about the various F.F.’s or verses, but be careful about monopolizing the conversation. Your disciple can wait until Sunday to get his sermon, just like the rest of us. Keep the tone as conversational as you can.
SUGGESTIONS FOR GROWTH
Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean you will no longer have problems; but you now have the supreme problem-solver of the universe living within you.
The difficulties you will experience as a Christian will come from one of four sources:
A. The natural consequences of foolish (but amoral) actions.
What I’m referring to here are things like hitting your finger with a hammer, stubbing your toe, catching a cold because you didn’t dress warmly enough for the football game, having your car repossessed because you cosigned a loan for a bum with no money, etc. This is not to say that God never causes these kinds of things to happen for one reason or another, nor am I saying that God won’t use them to accomplish His purposes. But usually they are simply due to the natural laws of the universe faithfully performing their duties.
B. The temptations of Satan.
Satan’s number one activity all day every day is to try to induce you to disobey God. First John 2:15-16 tells us that these inducements will come from one of three directions:
1. The lust of the flesh—the misuse of your natural appetites for food, sex, comfort, pleasure, etc.
2. The lust of the eyes—the compulsive desire to possess things; materialism; wanting whatever one sees.
3. The pride of life—the compulsive pursuit of fame, power, recognition, exaltation in the eyes of others; anything that might possibly supplant God’s position of priority in your life; pursuits that could take God off the throne and put you on it.
C. The discipline of God as a consequence of sin.
God loves His children, and no loving father allows his kids to stray into forbidden territory without administering discipline. Just as our earthly children need to know that there are negative consequences to undesirable behavior, so we, as children of our heavenly Father, need to expect His loving—albeit not always completely enjoyable—correction when we err. It’s for our own good.
D. The testing of God designed to cause spiritual growth.
We often experience adversity because God is working on us. Like a coach putting his athletes through rigorous workouts to produce top contenders, God puts us through some pretty tough training, with a view to making us mature, useful to the Master, and prepared for service.
Adversity caused by any one of these four sources is allowed by God through a perfect blending of two biblical principles:
· Galatians 6:7-8—One reaps what one sows, good or bad.
· Romans 8:28—God can turn even the bad into good.
While it is true that “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life,” it is not true that every step and every facet of His plan is what we would term “wonderful.” A foundational law of the universe is that you will reap what you sow. Every cause has an effect, and God has instituted these laws, both physical and spiritual, in order to keep His creation running smoothly. These laws are entirely impersonal. If you break them, they’ll break you, no matter who you are. If you jump off a five-story building, you are going to break some bones and experience a lot of pain, child of God or not. That’s cause and effect, action and reaction. But God can then take this tragic, painful experience, and work it out for the very best for those who allow Him to. You never can tell if God is the primary cause of a particular trial or mishap. Sometimes He is, and sometimes He isn’t, as mentioned in F.F. #2 earlier. But one thing you can be sure of, He will react to that trial, come to your aid, make sure it isn’t more than you can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13), mix it with a little grace, and use it to work out His absolutely perfect plans.
Joseph, Genesis 37, 39-50. It certainly wasn’t wonderful when Joseph’s brothers attempted to murder him (Genesis 37:18-24), when he was forced into slavery in Egypt (37:28), when he was falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and imprisoned (39:11-20), or when he was double-crossed by Pharaoh’s cupbearer and left to rot in jail (40:20-23). It was all part of God’s plan, though, to exalt Joseph to the position of the second most powerful man in the world, and to save the seed of Abraham from extinction in a famine (45:4-8; 50:19-20).
Moses, Exodus 2:11-3:10. It wasn’t wonderful when Moses had to flee Egypt to escape the wrath of Pharaoh. Yet as a result of his flight to Midian, he not only met the girl God had prepared to be his wife (2:21), but he also received some of the best training in the world for the ministry God had for him. Forty years of tending a bunch of headstrong, self-centered sheep turned out to have a high degree of transfer value when it came time to spend forty years tending a bunch of headstrong, self-centered Israelites.
Noah, Genesis 6:9-7:16. It wasn’t high on Noah’s list of fun things to do to spend 120 years as the town laughingstock, while he and his sons built a huge boat in his back yard, miles from any large body of water. Still, because of his patience and obedience to the Lord in the midst of incredibly trying circumstances, God rescued him and his family from the Great Flood and used him to accomplish the cleansing of the world.
Jesus. Hanging on the cross, enduring the unimaginable pain of separation from His beloved Father, accepting the shame, beatings and humiliation, and experiencing the horror of our sinfulness laid upon His holy body—I’m sure that Jesus considered none of these things wonderful. But He knew that it was all part of the Father’s perfect plan to purchase our salvation, and He gladly submitted to it. Hebrews 12:2: “Who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Christians are to flee temptation and resist the devil.
From time to time, people talk about “resisting temptation” and “fleeing from the devil.” Those actions are exactly opposite from what the Bible tells us to do!
Temptation is not to be resisted, it is to be fled from. If you know that you have a hard time with alcohol, don’t spend your time in bars. If sexual sin is a problem for you, don’t go downtown where the prostitutes hang out. If overeating is something you can’t seem to get victory over, don’t go out and buy a bunch of chocolate éclairs, put them in your refrigerator, and then pray for God to keep you from eating them.[iii]
Satan, on the other hand, is not to be fled from, but to be actively resisted. Though Satan is our number-one enemy, and a very powerful one at that, the Bible tells us clearly that the only way to deal with him is to stay and fight.
|Detect||“I think there’s a burglar in the house!||“I think Satan is trying to make me sin!”(2 Corinthians 2:11)|
|Empower||Grab an “equalizer,” like a shotgun!||“Submit therefore to God.”|
Ask God to help you fight Satan. By yourself, you couldn’t stand up to him—you must have God’s help. (Psalm 59:9)
|Trap||“Gotcha covered! Reach for the sky, or I’ll shoot!”||“Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”|
Address him directly, just as Jesus did. Your weapon: the Word. (Ephesians 6:13-17)
|Reinforce||Call the police!||“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”|
After the fight, spend a short time in prayer or Bible reading, to seal the victory and strengthen yourself.
Be sure to get across to your disciple that the Bible doesn’t say we have to thrash Satan to within an inch of his life. It’s a good thing, too, because we don’t, by ourselves, have the knowledge, skill or strength to do battle with one as magnificent in war as Lucifer. He’d pulverize us! All we have to do is resist Satan, and he will flee as a vanquished foe. That’s all it takes—a little resistance.
For Step Three, “Trap”: Turn to Matthew 4 and see how Jesus addressed Satan during His temptation. You’ll notice three principles Jesus applied (verse 10) that we should utilize too:
1. Address him directly.
2. Command him to leave (or to cease his activities in your area).
3. Remind him of the authority by which you command him: God’s Word.
The way Jesus did the third part of this format was to quote Scripture. In essence, Jesus was saying, “You can’t make me do what you have suggested, because God has already spoken on that subject in His Word, and He says not to, so I don’t have to. You are working contrary to God’s will. You are in the wrong; I am in the right. Therefore, I have the authority of God Himself to command you to leave. Begone!”
Most new Christians are not familiar enough with the Bible to quote Scripture verbatim, as Jesus did, but I don’t think they need to. The truth is still the truth whether it’s in New American Standard, King James, French, Watusi or in your own words. (This is not to say that there is not immense value in memorizing Scripture word-perfect; we all know there is.) If a person will simply inform Satan that he no longer belongs to his kingdom, that he has been bought with the shed blood of Jesus Christ and no longer has to follow Satan’s dictates, and that he is sure that God’s Word commands that he obey Him alone, Satan must flee. I believe this is what Revelation 12:11 talks about when it says: “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (emphasis mine).
Salvation does not give us a license to sin; sin interrupts fellowship with God and short-circuits the power that God has made available to us.
When you do sin, confession, humble repentance and reappropriating the filling of the Holy Spirit will restore you to a right relationship with God.
Note to the disciplemaker: You probably already have covered the filling of the Holy Spirit when you went over Training Objective #3 in chapter 11, but this would be a great time for a quick review. Following are a few points you might want to touch on. You probably won’t want to take the time to examine each verse with your disciple, but you should take a look at each one, jot that often-recommended summary in your notebook, and choose one or two for each point.
1. We’re all going to slip up and sin from time to time.
2. Jesus has already paid for our sins.
3. God is in the business of forgiving and forgetting sin.
4. To experience cleansing and thereby restore fellowship with God, confess your sins to Him, that is, agree with God that what you did was wrong, and reappropriate the filling of the Holy Spirit.
5. Mouthing the words is not enough; there must be genuine humility and repentance (to “repent” means “to turn around and go the other way”).
Above all else, no matter how badly you may blow it, you can know that God still loves you, you are still “fully accepted in the Beloved,” and God still wants to help you overcome your problems and become more like Christ.
1. God still loves you.
2. You are still acceptable in His eyes.
3. God still wants to help you to overcome your problems and become more like Christ.
[iv] The idea for this illustration is adapted from C.S. Lovett’s excellent little book, Dealing With The Devil (Baldwin Park, CA: Personal Christianity Chapel, 1981) p.92ff, and is used by permission. I have changed a few of the words and the structure somewhat, not to improve it necessarily, but to make it more my style.