INTERVIEW WITH THE DEVIL
August 25, 2013
Every day, we are faced with decisions that either lead us toward God’s plan or away from it. And often, those decisions seem overwhelming. Too many times, in the face of temptation, we feel lost and alone. But the reality is, we aren’t.
In this message, Pastor Ed Young gives us an insight into temptation that will help us all battle the tough decisions in life. And he reveals how even in our darkest times, we have someone who can relate, someone who can help us succeed and overcome temptation at every turn.
Good morning! I want to welcome everybody to all the different environments at Fellowship Church. We’re one church in many, many different locations. I’m speaking today from our brand new Keller/Southlake campus! It’s great to have everyone here at all of our different campuses.
You know we’ve been talking about a very important personality, someone that we’re very familiar with, someone that both critics and the curious lean into when you discuss this subject. I’m talking about the devil. Now some people when I say ‘the devil’ are like, Ed, come on man. You telling me you believe in the devil? Surely it’s just because of a damaged chromosome that we have so much evil in the world. Surely it’s because of a financial situation or a poverty mentality, that’s why you’ve got evil.
Others are like, well, I believe in the devil. Some people actually become obsessed with demons and the devil. I believe we need to have a balanced approach. And yes, I believe in the devil. I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out there is a sinister, evil force wreaking havoc in our world today. All we have to do is look around and see that. Why do people kill one another? Why are there wars? Why do millions and millions of people go to bed each and every night hungry? Why do adults molest children? Why? Why? Why? Well, there’s got to be an evil personality out there. And what’s so fascinating is whenever Jesus talked about the devil, he talked about him in a personal way. He talked about this personality.
We need to understand something. The devil is not equal in power with God. In other words, the devil is powerful, but he’s not omnipotent. The devil is smart but he’s not omniscient. The devil is mobile but he’s not omnipresent. The devil is a created being. The devil knows the Bible better than most. Also, the devil understands history because when we study history we have to read about it. We weren’t there. The evil one was there. He understands history because he lived it and breathed it like none of us on the planet.
Have you ever seen Google Earth before? Is that crazy? You see the earth, you type in some address. One time I typed in my address and boom – it goes from zooming out to zooming in, zooming in, zooming in, to such detail I actually can see some of my dogs asleep on the driveway when the photo was taken. That’s pretty detailed, isn’t it? Zoom in, zoom out. Zoom in, zoom out. So very quickly, as we talk about the enemy I want us to zoom out for a second and look at the big picture of the devil. I want to argue God’s case because the Bible talks a lot about the devil. It doesn’t give us everything about him, but to understand what he’s gonna do we have to look back and see what he’s done.
So let me zoom out for a second and then when I end this talk we’re gonna zoom in and get very, very detailed. Because I’m here to tell you some of you right now, some of you right now, are in the throes of a temptation. You’re in the throes of a pull. You’re in the throes of thinking about doing something that you know in your heart of hearts is not right. But you think to yourself, well it feels right. I mean, it really feels good. And your emotion and your mind and your will are like, yeah, I understand but it’s… surely… it’s right.
Well I want to talk to you specifically because we’ve all been in those circumstances and situations but first of all, let’s zoom out and talk about the devil.
The devil. The devil was named Lucifer. Lucifer led worship in Heaven, believe it or not. And when you think about Lucifer, the name means star of the morning. Think about a throne. Lucifer always has had throne issues. When God makes something, makes a personality, that personality has a freedom of choice. The apostle Paul calls it the mystery of iniquity. For some crazy reason Lucifer did not like God getting all the glory. He was one of the archangels. So he tried to do this cosmic kingdom coup to usurp God from the throne, to dethrone God and enthrone himself. That happened in Heaven because again, created beings have a freedom of choice. He convinced a third of the angels to try to establish and start this war against God. It didn’t work. He was cast out of Heaven to earth. Some of the demons were slam-dunked to Hell. Some roam around today. Satan, who is now the accuser, the adversary, is out there doing what he does.
Now we know his days are numbered. We know as believers we don’t fight for victory, we fight from victory. Yet, he is trying to carry out his vendetta against man. He’s trying to win a war. He’s trying to do the throne thing in your life and mine that he didn’t do in Heaven. So every time we enthrone ourselves, every time we enthrone the enemy and dethrone God, we’re giving Satan a victory on earth that he did not secure in Heaven. So he wants to accomplish through mankind what he didn’t get done in Heaven. You understand me so far? Oh yeah.
So, he’s kicked out. He’s on earth. Go back to the Garden, what does he do? He comes up to Adam and Eve and he begins his whole temptation process. And his temptation in the Garden is the same issue he had back in the heavenly. The tissue of the issue is the throne. He tried to get Adam and Eve to what? Dethrone God and enthrone themselves. They didn’t realize it. When they did so they were enthroning the devil. The devil got this microvictory. That’s what happened.
Well, he realized, as you study the history (again we’re zooming out) that the Trinity was gonna do something pretty tremendous. The devil realized the Trinity was going to do this reconciliation thing. The devil realized the Trinity was gonna send Jesus, the God of grace, to provide you and me an opportunity to give our lives to him. To open up the throne room of our lives and allow Jesus to take control of the throne.
I want to stop and say something. All of us, even someone who is on the brink of believing right now, even someone who has been a believer for a long time, all of us are hardwired for the Lord to reign and rule and to sit on the throne of our lives.
Have you ever seen these things in cars today where you sit down in the seat and you adjust the seat the way you want it, and you push a button, 1, 2, or 3, and it automatically when you push that button kinda forms into the way that you like to sit in your car or truck? Do you have a car like that? I do. We have those cars like that. Well, my wife Lisa, she drives in a unique way. She’s tall but she drives with the steering wheel like right here. And I have long legs so invariably when I’m driving her car I try to get in and it’s like… I can’t even drive! It’s horrible! I’m like this until I <zzzzzrrrr-sound effect> <rappin’ bass line sound effect> You know what I’m saying to ya? I can’t drive because it’s not set for me. When I try, or when you try, to drive this vehicle, when we try to run the show, it’s not designed for us to do so. And it’s called the sinfulness of sin. In other words, when I put myself on the throne in the driver’s seat, #1, I’m falling short of the glory of God. I’m sinning. We understand that. But also what most people are clueless about, I’m giving the devil, you’re giving the devil, victory and we’re allowing him to run the show. Thus, it affects our mind, our emotions, and our will. Say that with me. Mind, emotions, and will. That’s your soul. That is my soul. So it’s a soulish thing. It’s a deep thin. So it’s not just, oh yeah, I sinned. I’m allowing the enemy this opportunity to wreck havoc on my life. Adam and Eve messed up. You’ve got the fallenness of man. We inherited the sin nature. The devil realized (I’m still zooming out now), wow, Jesus is gonna show up. So the devil tried to block the birth of Jesus. He was so busy looking in the nurseries in the palaces that he missed the stable. He neglected the stable. Jesus was born in a manger, an ordinary piece of farm furniture, grew up, and the first news that he devil heard about it was when the wise men cruised through Herod’s mansion. They said,
“Herod, where is the King of the Jews? Where is this Christ child, the King?” And Herod growled,
“What? A King? I’m the only king around here! I’m the man!” What happened. Every male child two years of age and under was killed. And the devil thought,
“Oh man, I’ve got him. I killed him. I killed Jesus. Yeah, I didn’t block the birth but I killed him!”
Well you know the story. Jesus got out. He went to Egypt. So, Satan thinks he’s taken out the Trinity’s shot against him to reconcile man with God through Christ. He’s blown away when Jesus emerges out of the Jordan River during his baptism when the Holy Spirit descends upon him like a dove and the Father says, “This is my son in whom I am well pleased.” The devil’s like, “What?!? I thought I had taken him out!” Now he’s alive so he quickly changes tactics. So think about it. In Heaven, he’s fighting God. On earth he fights man. Now he’s fighting God again. Now he’s got to block Jesus. He’s got to mess him up. He’s got to get him off purpose.
Let me stop for a second and throw in some quick application. Whenever we’re tempted by the enemy it’s always about purpose. He does not want you, nor does he want me, to discover the purpose that God has in our life. And we’re gonna see this as we zoom in, in just a second.
Well he thinks he’s got Jesus because he works through Judas to betray him. He’s arrested, and then when Jesus died on the cross for your sins and mine the devil’s like dancing. I mean for three days he’s like dancing. It’s par-tay time! On the third day, though, Jesus bursts forth with resurrection power. He conquered power. It was the death of death. We inherited sin through the first Adam. The second Adam, though, took the brunt, took the licks, for your sin and mine, conquered death, conquered sin, rose again, and now he can give us the opportunity for us to give him the throne and the seat is only made for Jesus. It’s only made for him.
I don’t know about you but whenever I try to sit in this chair myself, I swim lap after lap of regret. Are you the same way? If only I had… If only I could have… if only, if only, if only. God wants to save us from all of that.
Zooming out, it’s all about the flow of the enemy. He is against the throne. The tissue of the issue is the throne. He’s all about dethroning God and enthroning himself. He’s trying to accomplish on earth what he didn’t get done in Heaven. His days are numbered yet he is the adversary, the tormenter, the tempter, the liar, the condemner.
“Well, Ed, that’s good. That’s a quick theology lesson on the devil. I didn’t realize all that stuff. That is pretty cool, that’s pretty interesting.”
Well now, let’s zoom in. Let’s get so close that we can see the dogs in the driveway of your life and mine. I want to talk about the temptation process that Satan always uses. This is the template for temptation. Whether you find yourself in middle school, graduate school, medical school, your new school or old school, no matter what socioeconomic level, no matter how much money you got or you don’t got, no matter what the color of your skin is, no matter where you’re from the enemy always uses this template of temptation: The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. That played out in the Garden, it plays out in 1 John when the writer talks about it, and it plays out in the temptation of Christ.
I’ve had the opportunity to travel to Israel several times and I’ve been to that barren wasteland, that place where Jesus was tempted. It’s interesting. After a spiritual high point, after he felt the most valuable, after the baptism the Bible says Jesus was driven out into the wilderness. There, he was tempted after he had fasted 40 days and 40 nights.
Think about it. The first Adam, I’m talking about Eve’s husband, the first Adam was tempted in paradise. The second Adam, Jesus, was tempted in the wilderness. The first Adam fumbled the ball and sinned. The second Adam emerged sinless and victorious. The first Adam was full, everything was fine and dandy, he ate organic, he was healthy and wealthy. Jesus, though, was hungry. He had nothing. Completely and totally vulnerable. So the parallels are really, really interesting. You think about the wilderness. Remember God’s people the Jews, in the wilderness. God allowed them to go through a test but the test quickly turned into a temptation and they messed up. Here’s the Tweet of the day. Every time I speak I try to give you a Tweet of the day. The enemy tempts us to do wrong. God tests us to be strong. The enemy tempts us to do wrong, God tests us to be strong. So God had his people there testing them. He wanted them to be strong in the wilderness, yet they did wrong. It turned into a temptation.
Jesus, though, even though he was tempted, even though he was tested, in all of that emerged sinless. It’s interesting (and no one understands this) that Jesus is fully God and fully man. It’s the incarnation of Christ. Jesus, though, fought the temptation without using his supernatural powers. He fought the temptation as a man. Now some are saying, well, was he still God? Yes, I don’t understand it all. I’m just telling you what the word of God says. But think about the template of temptation.
Basically the first one was all about food. The temptation of food. He’s in the wilderness, he’s going one-on-one with the enemy. The enemy is taking his best shot at him. Check it out, we’re zooming in now. Matthew 4:1-4, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit…” Now the Spirit, the Holy Spirit of God, had just descended on him in the form of a dove, and now the same Spirit is driving him into the wilderness to be tempted. You might want to highlight the word tempted/tempted/temptation. What does it mean to be tempted? It’s a legitimate need, plus a little doubt, that segues into a deadly desire. That’s what temptation means. “… and after fasting 40 days and 40 nights he was hungry.” The catalyst of this situation was hunger. The enemy likes to attack you and me a) when we’re feeling valuable, invincible. We got the big raise, the windfall, something has grown, we’ve scored the winning touchdown or whatever. Watch out! Or when we’re totally vulnerable. When we’re hungry, angry, lonely, tired. I just said halt. Watch out. Here Jesus, the Son of God, fasted 40 days and 40 nights. He’s vulnerable and the enemy comes in. The tempter came to him.
“If you’re the Son of God…” just a little doubt. A little question. If you’re the Son of God. You’ve gotta laugh at that because the Father just said after the baptism, “This is my Son, in whom I’m well pleased.” I thought that was interesting. “… tell these stones to become bread.” What’s so stunning about the stones in this valley that I’ve walked in Israel is the fact that stones look like loaves of bread. They really look like the loaves that people sell on the street in Jerusalem and the other cities. So he’s like, OK, just if you’re the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread. I mean, instant food. Instantaneous. Fast food, Jesus! And Jesus came back, “It is written…” Bam! Two-edged sword. “… man shall not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Wow. It is written. It is written. It is written. The lust of the flesh.
“Well, God has given me these desires. This desire for sex.” And the desire for sex is a God-given desire. It’s a legitimate desire. Yet when we use it in an illegitimate way we’re gonna have problems. I was talking to a friend of mine this past summer. Obviously he’s involved in sex outside of marriage. I asked him point blank. I know him well enough to ask him and he said yes. He said,
“But you know, I’m not sure what God wants me to do. I know God has the best for me and I’m just seeing if this girl is the one.” And I said,
“Wait a minute. Are you … you’ve gotta be kidding me!” Sex is given to us for marriage and when you edge God off the throne and put yourself on the throne, you’re putting Satan on the throne. He’s affecting your mind, your emotions, and your will. So I said, “There is no way, my man, you can make the right call and there’s no way God is gonna bless your life. You’re telling me that God is blessing your life? He’s not gonna do it. It’s not gonna happen for you.”
So we have these desires, legitimate desires, the desire to eat, the desire to procreate, the desire to live. That’s awesome. We use those desires in an illegitimate way what are we doing? We’re sinning. We are putting the enemy on the throne to wreak havoc in our soul.
The second temptation, the devil just turns up the volume. He’s talking to Jesus now, again, Jesus! The lust of the eyes. He takes Jesus to the pinnacle of the Temple, overlooking the Kidron Valley. And what’s ironic is this same temple is where the Jews thought the Messiah would parade in. “I’m the Messiah, yeah! I’m in the hoo-uuu-se!!” And Jesus is on the pinnacle of the Temple with the enemy and here’s where the enemy quotes Psalm 91 out of context. Let me say that again. He quotes Psalm 91 out of context. Here’s what he tells Jesus. He says, “Jesus, come on man. Throw yourself down. Throw yourself down from the top of the Temple. You’ll drop, you know, 450 feet, not the full 500 feet. The angels will catch you like all-pro wide receivers. It’s gonna be sweet! Jesus, who are you? You’re a carpenter. I mean, you’ve grown up in obscurity. You have, like, two followers on Instagram. You can have as many followers as Justin Bieber. You jump off the Temple, people see, they’ll be like, ‘Aaaaa-oooohhhh! Oh my God!’ they’ll be right. You’ll have millions and millions of followers like that. It’s a shortcut!” Again, the first temptation – instant food. Use your powers for yourself. Use your desires for yourself. Now, instant fame.
“Well, does the Bible say I should not desire influence? Does the Bible say I should not desire approval?” It doesn’t say that. It’s great. I mean we want to be known and all that, yet God will do all of that in our lives. Whenever I’ve tried to get and whenever you’ve tried to get ahead of God to do a certain thing for the crowd or for your peers and you’re like, “God, I’m gonna do what I gotta do. And I know once I do it I can call you in and you’ll bless me. I’ll put a God sticker on it.” Uh-uh. No, no. God doesn’t work that way. “I’ll live like Hell and then at the end I will say, ‘God, come and help me. God, you rescue me.’” That’s what the devil will say. And he leaves out part of Psalm 91. He leaves out “in all your ways.” He leaves out Jesus and people stepping on the head of the serpent, which he is the serpent. Listen, check it out. “If you’re the Son of God (again) throw yourself down, for it is written He will send his angels concerning you. They will lift you up in their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. Jesus answered, bam!
“It is written.” Ba-boom! “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” Out of context. I can make the Bible say anything if I take text out of context. Because the text out of context becomes a pretext. I can stand up here and preach to you,
“Everybody here should be a squillionaire.” And you’d be like, “Man, I didn’t realize the Bible said that.” The Bible doesn’t but I can take verses out of context and you’ll be like, whoa.
“The Bible says it’s God’s will for every single person to be healed. Everybody.” I could do a pretty convincing message. But guess what? Out of context. You understand that? Some denominations build their entire denomination on Scriptures out of context. One of the enemy’s favorite things to do is to take Scripture out of context. It’s not salvation by grace, you’ve gotta work for it! It’s amazing how that happens. Out of context, out of context, out of context. It becomes a pretext. So make sure whenever you make any decision, make sure when you’re faced, when you’re faced with the temptation, does what I’m thinking about, feeling, does the action I’m ready to take, my mind, emotions, and will, does it all square with Scripture?
I mean, just recently there was a lady, total rebellion against God, and on her Facebook she posted this Scripture. And I’m thinking to myself, that is so whack! Here she is, totally turning her back on God’s word and God’s will, and yet she’s posting some Scripture to try and justify it? And I said, “I ain’t got time for that!” It’s amazing how we can do that. Be very, very careful.
Fast food, boom! I’ll use my desire, this legitimate desire, in an illegitimate way. Boom! Fast fame. I’ll do whatever it is I need to do just to get the applause and the approval of the crowd, then I’ll put the God sticker on it. I met a family years ago. “You know, our daughter is really talented. She can sing and I think she could be a starlet in Hollywood one day. And I promise you, once she makes it big she’ll give all the glory to Jesus.” Now, if you’re talented enough to do that, great. But 99.9999999% of those people sell their soul. You know that. So, hey, if God takes you down that path and right, if you’re obedient to him the whole way but to just divorce church, to do the stiff-arm of the things and the people of God, and to do what you got to do to get to that certain level? Uh-uh. Uh-uh. God doesn’t play that way. No shortcuts.
Third temptation. The temptation of fortune. It’s the pride of life. Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, showed him all the kingdoms of the world. First of all, he doesn’t even run the kingdoms of the world but he’s showing Jesus the kingdoms of the world. He goes,
“Hey, if you’ll give me a brief bend of the knee, Jesus, just a brief bend of the knee everything will be cool. I’ll give all the kingdoms to you. If you bow down and worship me…” Again, there’s a throne issue again. He cannot get away from the tissue of the issue, which is the throne issue. He works that way in your life and in mine. Now, I’m saved, I’m a follower of Christ, because Jesus is in my life. Yet, I can kinda move Jesus to the side, put Ed on the throne, and I’m like this driving it right? And it doesn’t work. It affects my mind, my emotions, and my will. So I’m talking right now to those here who are followers of Christ. And if you’re not a follower of Christ you don’t realize it. When you try to run the show you are giving the enemy free reign. Your mind, emotions, will, body, everything. And most people don’t know it. That’s why people are like, “Man, the world’s crazy! People are nuts!” I think they are just seeing, in fact, I know they are seeing, the result of the wrong person sitting on the throne
So Jesus said to him, “Get out of my face, you liar, you condemner, you lunatic! Get out of my face. For it is written: Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” Then… the angels ministered to Jesus. You see what was happening here? Satan’s going like, OK, you have the angels to catch you like wide receivers. And Jesus knew he had to go through it. To get to it you gotta go through it. And then on the other side, in God’s timing, the angels will rescue. This whole deal is about purpose. This whole deal is about God’s agenda.
You see, when I use my gifts and abilities for myself it doesn’t work. If I use the ability, for example, to make money for myself suddenly I think, “I’m the man. I’m the woman.” When I use the ability to create for myself, “I’m the man. I’m the woman.” When I use the ability to teach, to speak, to sing, whatever your gift is, for myself it becomes out of focus. It affects the totality of who I am. But, when I say, “God, you’re God.” And as I return those gifts and abilities to him as an act of worship, that is when it comes together.
An interview with the devil. To see what he’s gonna do, we gotta look and see what he’s done. We see the temptation, we see the template, and once you open the can up of your life and invite Jesus to come in, you’re literally opening up a can on the enemy. We’re fighting not for victory but from victory. He’s a defeated foe. We serve a Savior who has been there, who has been tempted and tested like we never, ever will. Lean into him and he will give you, and even me, victory.
[Ed leads closing prayer.]