PART IV: OFFENSE VS. DEFENSE
Has it ever occurred to you how abjectly bitter the enemy is that he is no longer in Heaven? In his former splendor he was likely the highest angel in Heaven and the most beautiful and powerful (Isaiah 14: 12-15; Ezekiel 28: 12-19). He was “the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (Ezekiel 28:12b). His name then was Lucifer, “bearer of light” or “morning star.” He has fallen from a great height and will be forever condemned to Hell. Now his name is Satan, adversary, demon, prince of darkness. However, he bears yet another name.
THE GREATEST COUNTERFEIT: THE ANTICHRIST
For years I was taught that the prefix “Anti” in Antichrist meant “against.” That led me to think that it would be easy to spot the Antichrist – his evil would give him away. Fortunately, the deeper I got into the Bible and the more Biblically-solid became my teachers, I learned that the Greek root word “Anti means” “in place of” or imitation. In other words, the Antichrist is a counterfeit of Jesus. This should come as no surprise if we diligently read scripture because in 2Corinthians 11:3-4 we note:
3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the [a]simplicity that is in Christ. 4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!
2 Corinthians 11:3 NU adds and purity
Notice how it is still a Jesus, a spirit and a gospel that are being spoken of – so they sound “good” – but they are also called another and different which immediately informs us that they are not the truth. Let’s carefully look at some other verses.
2Thessalonians 2:9-12Amplified Bible (emphasis added)
9 The coming [of the lawless one, the antichrist] is through the activity and working of Satan and will be attended by great power and with all sorts of [pretended] miracles and signs and delusive marvels—[all of them] lying wonders—
10 And by unlimited seduction to evil and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing (going to perdition) because they did not welcome the Truth but refused to love it that they might be saved.
11 Therefore God sends upon them a misleading influence, a working of error and a strong delusion to make them believe what is false,
12 In order that all may be judged and condemned who did not believe in [who refused to adhere to, trust in, and rely on] the Truth, but [instead] took pleasure in unrighteousness.
From these discoveries I learned two things: I needed to know the Bible so well that I could discern small discrepancies, and I learned the absolute necessity of not being swayed by appearances, my emotions or popularity. (See also Matthew 24: 4,11; 23-26.)
People will be stealthily seduced as they ooh and ahh after the newest course in miracles — the newest way to pray that excites their emotions and draws them into greater “spiritual and physical intimacy” with what they sadly “feel” is God because everyone around them is in such an ecstasy. It will “feel good.” Because it is so popular, and so many books on the topic have been sold, and so many conferences are so jam-packed, they will assume it is truth. They will forget that Jesus preached to the multitudes but only 120 were in the Upper Room truly mourning Him; only 12 – one of whom was a traitor – were at the Last Supper partaking of His last meal; only three were with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is not the size, nor the popularity that are the indicators of the Lord’s presence. It is not the healings and miracles that are happening. It is the truth of the Scriptures that He – or His representative – is speaking. That’s how we know it is the Lord Jesus Christ, Savior, Son of God, Christ, Messiah. His Truth cannot be counterfeited. In John 17:17 Jesus prayed to The Father: “Sanctify them by Thy truth; Thy Word is truth.”
DEFENSES AGAINST THE ENEMY
One of the greatest truths Jesus clearly spoke states how we can stand against deception. After His blood-producing struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus gets down to the bottom line of submission. He speaks of one of our strongest lines of defense against the offense of the enemy to deceive us. “Father, not My will but Thine be done.” No matter what it costs; no matter how much of our “self-life” has to die — Father, Thy will be done. A heart that prays and commits to that prayer will not be deceived.
For an incredible clarification of John 14:12 — the “greater things” we will do than Jesus did — read the following. It is a truth that desperately needs to be heard in this day and age.
I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. John 14:12
This is one of the most startling promises in the Scriptures. Notice the reason Jesus gives for these greater works. It is because He goes to the Father. And when He goes to the Father, He will send the Spirit. He says later, Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you (John I6:7b). He is referring here to the coming of the Spirit. As the Spirit of God comes into human hearts and dwells in them, these things will happen. The Spirit is releasing to us the life of Jesus, so that it is still Jesus who is doing these things.
Some people read this passage and think that we ordinary humans are somehow so capable that we can actually do greater things than the Son of God Himself did when He was here in the flesh. But what He is really saying here is that as the risen Lord, who dwells in us by means of the Spirit, He will do greater things through us than He did when He was here in the days of His flesh.
Jesus goes on immediately to say: And greater works than these will you do. What are they? Obviously they can’t be greater miracles. Can you think of anything greater than opening the eyes of those born blind or speaking a word and enabling a lame man to walk or raising the dead? Of course not. Then what are these greater works? The only answer that makes any sense at all is that they are greater in their significance and importance. They are spiritual accomplishments rather than physical. Anything done to the spirit of a person is far more significant than something done to the body.
As you read the account of Jesus’ ministry, notice that the crowds followed Him when He did those amazing wonders, and entire cities would turn out to hear His message, yet when you come to the end of His life, where are all the crowds? Where are the hundreds He healed? They are gone. Only a handful stands at the foot of the cross. His miracles did not change people; they merely touched the surface of their lives.
But later on Jesus says to His disciples: You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last (John l5:16a). Isn’t it interesting that the ones whom Jesus healed would not stand with Him through the test of the cross, but that when these disciples went out and preached in the power of the Spirit, they won converts by the thousands? And when the testing came, these men and women were willing to face lions, to be pulled apart on the rack, and to be burned as living torches rather than deny Jesus?
Those are greater miracles. Anything done to the spirit of a person is permanent; that which is done to the flesh is merely temporary. All those whom Jesus healed or raised from the dead died again. So what is done to the spirit of a person is far greater, and this is what Jesus means by greater works.
Thank You for the miracles You are doing in me and through me. Only You can change my heart, O Lord! Only You can make me like Jesus.
How are we an influence in the spiritual realm here on earth? Is our faith the center of this life and the basis of our desires?
Excerpted with permission from The Power of His Presence, © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. All rights reserved. Visit RayStedman.org for the complete library of Ray Stedman material. Please direct any questions to webmaster@RayStedman.org.
LESSONS TO LEARN FOR OUR DEFENSE
1 John 2:16 warns us what our nemesis specializes in:
16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.
Jesus defended against his onslaught by obedience, absolute surrender, humility, and total submission to the will of His Father in every way. That is also our best defense.