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THE ENEMY ATTACKS US WHERE WE'RE THE WEAKEST

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT

THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

AND

THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

28 FEBRUARY 1993

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Matthew 4:1-11
1 John 4:1-6

We live in a world where there is almost constant warfare; and with such shooting wars, both sides really lose.

Obviously, the victor loses less; but, nevertheless, they have lost something.

But there's something to learn from such wars: each side always tries to attack the other side where they're the weakest.

Now, if we turn away from physical warfare to spiritual warfare, we find that the enemy uses the same tactics with us.

The enemy attacks us where we're the weakest.

Now, we don't consider Jesus to be weak, but even He was subject to attack.

In Matthew 4:1-11, we are given an example of this; and at the same time, we are given some very interesting pointers about how we should look at our own lives, and when we are most vulnerable to attack.

For the enemy attacks us where we're the weakest.

1. Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

We have to realize that it was the Holy Spirit that led Jesus.

This was for His maturing as a man, and for the Lord Himself to better understand what happens to us when we are tempted, for this is part of His love for us.

And there are times in all of our lives when we, too, are led into wildernesses to be tempted and tested, that we would become stronger.

2. And after He [Jesus] had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.

This is the first sign of His weakness.

Our own weakness could come from hunger or thirst, too; but it just as likely could come from being overworked, or overly tired, or from stress, or from loneliness.

3. And the tempter came and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread."

Well, the enemy fired the first shot.

What are we going to do about it, if we assume that this shot was fired at us?

Are we going to follow Satan’s suggestion and turn the stones into bread?

Are we going to return the fire, or are we going to do something else?

Remember, if we return fire or go along with the devil’s suggestions we, too, will lose something.

And if we do nothing, we stand the likelihood of being hurt ourselves.

With the Lord our God, we don't have to lose anything, for we can have a win-win situation.

First, we have to recognize the devil and his tactics and, secondly, we must remember to put up our force field, a force field much stronger than those used in space science-fiction stories.

For this force field is the very power and word of God.

And Jesus shows us how to utilize this power.

4. But He [Jesus] answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. ' "

Did you see the enemy's shot bounce back off the force field?

Now, the enemy isn't going to take one potshot and then quit; he's going to try again.

5. Then the devil took Him into the holy city; and he had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple,

6. and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God throw Yourself down; for it is written,

'He will give His angels charge concerning You';

and

'On their hands they will bear You up,

Lest You strike Your foot against a stone.' "

7. Jesus said to him, "On the other hand, it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”

Well, the enemy's second salvo was deflected back against him.

This time, the devil tried to work on Jesus' pride, thinking that as He was weak from hunger, He would also be weak in this area, too.

8. Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory;

9. and he said to Him, "All these things will I give You, if You fall down and worship me."

10. Then Jesus said to him, "Begone, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.' "

And now the third shot was deflected back upon the enemy and did him damage.

11. Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.

If we just remember to hold fast to the Lord when we face these attacks, we will find that angels come and minister to us, too.

This is how we have a win-win finish to what easily could have been a lose-lose ending.

The apostle John speaks of another example of spiritual warfare, but with many similarities, in his 1st Epistle 4:1-6.

He says (1 John 4:1-6),

1. Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

These false prophets are those people who themselves failed to test the spirits and to defend themselves and reject those who were demonic; thus they fell to their attack.

And so that we don't fall into the same trap, John gives us some pointers.

2. By this you know the Spirit of God; every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God;

3. and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.

I have never tried to force anyone to come to church, or even to attend a Bible study, but I will never stop encouraging everyone; for I know that there is no easier way to learn how to discern and test the spirits, than to be filled with the truths of God.

With this knowledge, we also develop a much stronger defense system, complete with early warning sensors, and the strongest force field, capable of deflecting the enemies’ shots back upon themselves.

Listen to what John tells us next about those who are devoted to the Lord.

4. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

Greater is the power of the Holy Spirit with us, than the power of Satan in the world.

This isn't only saying that the Holy Spirit is stronger than the devil; it is saying that even the portion of the Holy Spirit's power that is in us, is stronger than the devil.

But if our defenses are so weak that we cannot tell which spirit is speaking, for we cannot distinguish between the truth and a lie, then we are likely to follow the enemy, for he always attacks where we are the weakest.

And those who fall to these attacks likewise begin to sound like their attackers.

5. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them.

6. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

As you know, I never point out anyone’s personal weaknesses to them. I let us do that for ourselves, as I am doing now.

We really have to look at ourselves, and where we are with God in our lives.

We really have to look at ourselves, and see what kind of defenses we have to detect and protect ourselves from the enemy.

Then we have to ask ourselves:

What do I see?

What do I have to work on, to improve it?

If we don't see any weaknesses in our defenses, we can be sure that is where our next attack is coming from.

None of us is perfect.

All of us have faults and weaknesses.

And all of us need to improve our defenses.

Our lives will become better and better each day, if we just apply ourselves to this simple lesson.

Know that the enemy will attack us where we're the weakest.

Recognize our weak spots, and continually work at strengthening them.

And remember that God loves you very much. Love Him in return, for this is where our strength comes from.

And love yourself; for if we learn to love ourselves, we will protect ourselves.

And don't forget to love each other and all of God's creation, for it is in the expression of this love that our defenses against the devil become their strongest.

May God bless and keep you all!

Amen.

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