The Roar of the Lion
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
August 5, 2007

 

Main Passage: Job 1:6-12 (NLT)


When I was just a small boy – almost 30 years ago now – I remember traveling with my family to visit some friends in Ontario. And you know, it’s strange the things you can remember. I distinctly remember watching “The Incredible Hulk” on TV for the first time during that trip. And I became an instant fan of Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. You know, “Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”

But it was also on that trip that I remember going to the African Lion Safari on the outskirts of Hamilton. Have you ever been there? For those of you who haven’t, let me try to explain it to you. It’s basically a zoo in reverse. The animals are free; you’re not. They can roam freely within specific zones on this 750 acre animal reserve. You, on the other hand, remain in your car and drive through the reserve.

And along the way you’d be able to observe about 130 different species, including elephants, cheetahs, giraffes, I remember some baboons sitting on our car and playing with the aerial… and how we needed a carwash afterward. There were zebras, and giraffes, and tigers, and of course, the main attraction… African Lions.

Of course, it’s absolutely essential that you stay in your vehicle. You can’t even roll the window down. Actually, back in 1996, one carload of people did that and they got mauled by tigers. If they had followed the instructions and listened to the owners of the Safari, there wouldn’t have been a problem. But they thought they could get away with rolling the windows down and they paid the price. So if you ever go to the Lion Safari, you’ve got to stay in your car and keep those windows up and maintain that barrier between you and the wild animals.

Which means, of course, it’s still a controlled environment. It’s not like you’re actually interacting with them in their habitat. Because the truth is, whether you’re seeing the so called king of the beast at the African Lion Safari or in a zoo or at the circus or on TV, you really have no concept of what kind of fear you would experience if you were to encounter one in the wild. Our only exposure here has been in controlled environments, like the Safari and like a zoo, and so we’ve forgotten just how dangerous a lion can be. We’ve diminished the menace. The mighty lion has become a glorified pet. Not something we are afraid of; just something we are amused by.

So just to help you get a little glimpse of what an encounter with a lion would be like, I want to show you a scene from the movie The Ghost and the Darkness. And let me warn you, it’s pretty intense. Take a look at this if you dare…

[VIDEO - The Ghost and the Darkness, 1:36:23-1:39:10]

A lion is an incredibly dangerous animal. But in our society, we’ve taken away the lion’s menace. The only time we see one is in a book, or in a movie, or on a cartoon. And there’s no fear there. There’s no sense of danger. We’re just amused by them.


You know, the Bible describes Satan as being a roaring lion. And I’m afraid we’ve come to view him the same way. We’ve taken away his menace. The only time we see him is in a book, or in a movie, or on a cartoon. And there’s no fear there. There’s no sense of danger. We’re just amused by him. We’ve forgotten just how dangerous he is.

Maybe we even refuse to acknowledge his existence. I mean, there are a lot of people who discount Satan as being just a metaphor. He’s not an actual being, he’s just the personification of all that is evil. That’s how some people see him.

But I’ve got to tell you, the Bible talks about a spiritual realm that exists along side of our physical realm. And it’s occupied by spiritual beings, including Satan. The Bible describes an actual spiritual being called Satan, and we can see his handiwork all around us. He’s a spiritual being who interacts with this physical universe, and it’s his primary mission to pull you as far away from God as possible. We’re warned…

1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

But I’m afraid that in our view, Satan has lost his teeth. We think we can domesticate him. We can toy with him, we can entertain him, without even realizing the danger we’re in.

This is the first Sunday of August, and all this month I’m going to be speaking on topics that you have requested. And as you may have already guessed, one of the topics I’ve been asked to speak about is Satan. And so this morning, that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to talk about Satan, we’re going to talk about the danger he presents, and we’re going to talk about what his existence means for a Christ-follower. Okay?

So let’s start out by just talking about who he is. Who is he? This is in your notes…


The Rundown on Satan:

1.    Satan is a spiritual being who rebelled against God.

Isaiah 14:12-15 (NLT)
“How you are fallen from heaven, O shining star, son of the morning! You have been thrown down to the earth, you who destroyed the nations of the world. For you said to yourself, ‘I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north. I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High.’ Instead, you will be brought down to the place of the dead, down to its lowest depths.”

Now, the Bible isn’t entirely clear on Satan’s origin, but generally we believe that Satan was an angel, perhaps the highest ranking of all the angels. And the most beautiful. He was even given the name Lucifer (actually, Hillel), which means “light bearer” or “shining star”.

He was the pinnacle of creation… but pride got the best of him. And he decided that he wanted to overthrow God and take His place. And so he staged a coup, and convinced one-third of all the angels to side with him.

Well, he soon discovered that the Creator will always be more powerful than the created. Even the highest of all the created angels. So he was defeated, and he was expelled from Heaven along with all the angels who had sided with him in the rebellion.

And so his name has been changed. He’s no longer called the shining star. Now he goes by several names, such as Satan which means “adversary”, or “devil” which means deceiver, he’s called the father of lies, he’s called the Evil One. He’s the accuser, he’s the slanderer. He’s the old serpent or the great dragon. He’s the prince of evil and the angel of death. Not the kind of guy you want dating your daughter.

And even now, he continues his attempt to take over. So he’s constantly fighting against God and the people God loves. And that includes you and me.

That’s going on right now. But it won’t go on forever. Because…


2.    Satan will ultimately be punished by God and condemned to Hell.

Would it surprise you to learn that Satan is not currently in Hell? That’s not his home. In fact, right now, he’s the prince of this world. This is his home. But Revelation 20 prophesies about the day when Satan will be thrown into Hell, along with all the angels who chose to follow him, and all the people who choose to follow Him, too.

Revelation 20:10 (NLT)
Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

That day is coming. But for now, Satan is like a convicted criminal waiting for his sentencing to be carried out. It is going to happen, but it’s going to happen in God’s timing.

It hasn’t happened yet. Which means that Satan is still a clear and present danger for you and for me. He’s a threat we need to take seriously. And we need to take him seriously because…


3.    Satan does wield some power… for now.

[PowerPoint – comic character Hot Stuff]

Look… when this is your image of Satan, he’s not all that scary is he?

But the truth is, Satan is not to be toyed with, he’s not to be ignored, he’s not to be downplayed. Because he does have power and he is dangerous.

Back in 1971 in the state of Pennsylvania, a man named Gerald Mayo understood this. And he actually filed a civil rights claim with the United States district court against who he identified as Satan and his staff. True story. Mayo claimed that on several occasions Satan had caused him misery and pain, had made unwarranted threats, had infringed on the will of plaintiff, and that Satan had placed deliberate obstacles in his path in order to cause his downfall. And so Satan had deprived him of his constitutional rights.

Wanna know how it turned out? Well, the court first of all wasn’t sure it had any jurisdiction in the matter. Then they suggested that it might be better if a class action suit was brought against Satan. But the court eventually dismissed the case because the plantiff didn’t tell the court how to locate Satan in order to serve him a summons.

So the case was dismissed. Which is too bad – I would have like to have seen who would be the Devil’s Advocate. But in all this, Gerald Mayo understood something very important. He understood that Satan does have power. He has the power to interact with this world and interfere in our lives.

In the book of Job, it shows us that Satan is able to exert influence over governments. He holds some power over the forces of nature. He has the ability to cause sickness and disease. He can exercise some control over those who are far from God. He does have power.

That’s shown in the Old Testament. Let’s jump to the New Testament. Do you remember when Satan tempted Jesus? Satan promised Jesus that if Jesus would just bow down and worship him, he would give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world. Well, that’s a pretty bold claim. But Jesus didn’t dismiss that claim. He didn’t look at Satan and say, “Yeah, right,” as if Satan wouldn’t be able to come through on that promise. Because Jesus knew that Satan does have some power… for now.

Let me remind you that Satan is incredibly dangerous. He’s more powerful than you or me, and he has an army of fallen angels at his command. Plus, he has a full arsenal of weapons.

Think about some of his weapons. There are the obvious ones of temptation and greed and pride and hopelessness and despair. There’s hatred and bitterness. There’s the occult, there’s Wicca, there’s fortune telling, there’s astrology. Every once in a while someone will find out that Shera and I are expecting, they’ll ask when the baby’s due, and then they’ll tell me sign of the zodiac that would be. And I cringe every time. Because that’s delving into some spiritual territory that God has declared off limits.

And Satan has other weapons, too. One of his greatest weapons is complacency. Because if he can make us complacent (or smug or lazy) about our faith, then we’re no longer a threat to him. But when we’re on fire for God, that’s when Satan is going to throw everything at us. Charles Spurgeon said it this way…

“The best evidence of God’s presence is the Devil’s growl.”
~ Charles Spurgeon

Religion is another weapon. For thousands of years, people have been replacing God with religious systems. The Pharisees, for example… they were very religious people, and they were the very people who gave Jesus the most trouble. I think that’s still true today. There are very religious people today who have no idea what it means to be a Christ-follower. In fact, in Matthew 13, it talks about how Satan intentionally places counterfeit Christians or corrupted Christians Christians-in-name-only among the people of God, like weeds among good plants.


So there are lots of weapons at Satan’s disposal. He is powerful. And the truth is, we can’t stand against him. We just don’t have what it takes.

But the good news is, God is infinitely more powerful than Satan. You and I don’t have what it takes, but God does.

Satan is powerful, but God is all-powerful.
Satan gets around, but God is all-present.
Satan is pretty intelligent and is quite a schemer, but God is all-knowing.

Satan has nothing on God. And it goes beyond that. God actually limits what Satan can do.


4.    God limits what Satan can do.

“Satan is neither omnipotent nor free to do everything he pleases. Prince of the world he may be, but the Prince of Peace has come and dealt him a death blow.”
~ Harold Lindsell

You know, if Satan had his way, he’d destroy everything and everyone. He’s declared war on God, and he wants to demolish everything that God has created. And if God permitted him, he’d wreck havoc as much as he possibly could.

But God has intervened, and He has placed limitations on what Satan can do. It’s as if God has taken one of those ankle bracelets that Martha Stewart and Lindsay Lohan have been sporting lately, attached it to Satan’s ankle, and warned him, “Don’t leave town.” He’s told him, “Satan, your final sentencing is still to come, but for now Satan, you play by my rules. I set your limitations. I say what you can do and what you can’t do.” That’s what God has told Satan, and you can see this in the very first chapter of the book of Job in the Old Testament. We looked at these verses earlier this morning…

Job 1:6-7 (NLT)
One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them. Where have you come from?” the Lord asked Satan.

So Satan appeared before God in Heaven. But it’s not like Satan had free reign over the place. It’s not as if he came and went as he pleased. He was obligated to appear before God to give an account of what he’d been up to. Even as a fallen angel, he was still ultimately under the authority of God.

So Satan reported before God, and they got around to discussing a godly, righteous man named Job. Satan had wanted to go after Job for some time, and he wanted to cause him a lot of turmoil in order to get him to turn his back on God. But God had protected Job, and Satan had not been able to penetrate the defenses.

So Satan challenged God to remove the hedge of protection that was around Job and then see what would happen. And God agreed. But Satan couldn’t do a thing to Job until God allowed it to happen.

Which, of course, begs the question: “Why would God let Satan do anything?” That’s a pretty good question, and I don’t claim to have the perfect answer for it. But I can suggest to you a couple of possibilities.

First of all, in a backward kind of way, God actually uses Satan to strengthen our faith. Because when Satan works against us, we have a choice to make. Will we remain faithful to God, our will we turn our backs on Him and follow in the way of Satan? It’s a test we all face. Adam and Eve faced that test, and they failed. Job faced the test, and he passed with flying colours. When you face that test, how will you do? Because it’s going to happen. And it’s going to happen time and time again. You will be tested. And you need to remember that it’s a necessary thing. The testing of your faith is critical to your spiritual growth.

James 1:2-4 (NLT)
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

So by allowing Satan to do his thing in a limited kind of way, God is actually using him to help us develop spiritually.

And perhaps a second reason that God allows Satan to do anything is because otherwise we might become full of ourselves and prideful and think we’re fully self-sufficient. But when we face an attack from Satan, we quickly learn that we really do need God, and we need His work in our lives.


So Satan does have power, but ultimately, he himself is under God’s power. Which means…


5.    Satan cannot defeat a Christ-follower… unless you let him.

The Bible teaches us that God does not allow us to be tempted or tried more than we can bear. Instead, God limits what Satan can do and provides us with a way out so we don’t have to be defeated. We can experience victory over everything Satan throws at us. But, if you choose to face Satan on your own and ignore God’s help, then you will be defeated.

We started out here by talking about how Satan is like a roaring lion. Do you know how far away you can hear a lion roar?

8 km (5 miles) away. That means, you know when he’s coming. You hear him while he’s still a ways off, and you have time to escape.
(From The Pet Show with Warren Eikstein)

1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

The Devil prowls around like a roaring lion… you can hear him up to 8 km away. He can’t blindside you if you’re paying attention at all. So when you hear him coming, don’t hesitate… don’t stick around to see what happens… don’t see how close you can get to the fire without getting burned… Move!

Let me explain it this way. You know what things tempt you. You also know what situations you get yourself in that make you more vulnerable. You know the places you go, the things you do, the people you’re with. You know how tired you get and how that lowers your defenses. You know when temptation’s near. You know when your faith is vulnerable. So get out of there. It’s like going grocery shopping when you’re hungry: not a good idea. So get out of there.

As a Christ-follower, the only power Satan has over you is the power you give him. Because God makes it possible for you to withstand each and every attack, and to escape safely.

James 4:7 (NLT)
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.

Did you catch that? Do you see the promise? When you humble yourself before God and resist the attack of the Devil, you will be left unharmed. How is this possible? Because…

1 John 4:4 (CEV)
God’s Spirit is in you and is more powerful than the one that is in the world.

 

 

 

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