The History of the War on Satan's Terrorism
Dear Jesus, when I rightly consider the enemies of my soul I grow afraid. I know how easily I am distracted by the allurements of this world and how quickly I follow the desires of my flesh. I know how weak I am against the doubts that are temptations in my heart. I know how I can be deceived into believing Satan’s lies and half-truths. Help me! Strengthen me! Teach me to watch and pray lest I fall into temptation. Clothe me with the armor of Your salvation, arm me with the sword of Your Word, fight for me, and by Your grace give me the victory! Amen.
Adam and Eve were created in God’s image—in righteousness and holiness. Their children were, however, born in Adam’s image—in sinfulness. Sin brought death into the world and thus, Adam DIED. Although the genealogy of Adam to Noah (in the verses following the reading) includes death at every entry (except Enoch), it is a genealogy leading to life because it is the family line leading to our Savior, Jesus.
Sin came into the world through Adam and each new generation has inherited the "disease." Similarly, one Man—JESUS—has brought life and salvation to all sinners through His redeeming work on our behalf.
Satan’s motives and methods haven’t changed. He tempted Jesus with the same "tools of the trade" with which he tempted Eve and with which he now tempts us. Jesus demonstrated that we have the weapon to defeat EVERY SINGLE ONE of Satan’s attacks—the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God (cf: Ephesians 6:11ff).
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. . .
Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die…"
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ " Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. "For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
In Christ Jesus – the Seed of the Woman who came and crushed Satan’s head to deliver us from sin and death—dear fellow redeemed:
It is approaching 6 months since the day of the attacks in New York and Washington D.C. Perhaps you’ve grown weary of hearing about "Ground Zero" and the "War on Terrorism" and the speculation of Osama Bin Laden’s life/death and his whereabouts. The term "9-11" has become so much a part of our vocabulary, that reporters and authors need only refer to it…no explanation is needed.
Weary of it all? – and yet there remains an ongoing effect in our lives. Some are directly involved with the war, for others it is family members who are serving in harm’s way. Some still grieve the loss of a loved one’s life. Some follow with interest and prayer the daily events that affect our nation and the world; and some pay little attention at all, but that doesn’t change the reality which is that the world’s landscape changed that day and so did our lives as Americans – 6 months later things still haven’t returned to "the way they used to be" and undoubtedly, never will.
The history leading up to the current war on terrorism has followed several distinct steps. First, it was the enjoyment of the "good life" and prosperity with assumed safety and a blissful ignorance of the real danger lurking just ahead. Next came the attack which opened our eyes to the hatred directed toward us; and then the aftermath of death and destruction, now being followed by counterattacks and we pray, ultimately, the victory over our enemies.
The history of our ongoing war against Satan parallels the same steps, however, with one notable difference—the victory is already won and assured to us through Christ! This morning we travel back to Eden and follow the steps leading to spiritual warfare in which we find ourselves and consider: THE HISTORY OF THE WAR ON SATAN’S TERRORISM It began with I. Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; but then came the II. ATTACK! The III. Aftermath is sobering destruction and death, but there has been a IV. Counterattack and VICTORY! We ask the Holy Spirit to bless our meditation this morning!
Oh, to be able to truly travel back in time to the Garden of Eden instead of only in our thoughts. What a perfect place! God had spent six days creating the whole universe and at the end of each day He pronounced the new creation: "Good!" When His creation was completed God declared that the entire work was "very good" (Genesis 1:31).
Part of the creation that was "very good" was Adam and Eve, the first human beings. They too were a perfect creation. They were given life by God Himself! God formed Adam out of the ground and then God Himself breathed into him the "breath of life" and the man of dirt became a living, breathing soul. Later, God took a part of Adam and created Eve, another living, breathing soul. Adam and Eve were created with the breath of God’s life, never intended to die, never intended to even become sick, never intended to have any sorrow of any kind.
Adam and Eve were created in the image of God. God had said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26a). Adam and Eve were created in GOD’S IMAGE—righteous, holy, pure, and perfect (cf: Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10). Created in this way, they were able to have a wonderful relationship with God. It was a relationship that was unhindered by sin. It was a relationship without fear or failure, there were no obstacles that could be raised between God and man. It was a wonderfully close relationship between Creator and creation and deeper than the relationship God had with any other part of His creation—a unique and incredibly special relationship God had designed between Himself and human beings.
God had said, "…let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26b). There was no doubt as to where God placed mankind in relationship to the rest of His creation. God created the universe for man! Adam and Eve and their descendants were intended to be the rulers, users, and wise caretakers of this great creation. What a wonderful place! What a wonderful state in which to be!
We find that Adam and Eve were placed into the beautiful Garden of Eden which God Himself had planted with many trees of many kinds, each bearing fruit for food; and a river flowing through the garden to water it. We find that Adam and Eve were naked. There was no opportunity for lust, no opportunity for sin, it wasn’t in existence! One could look at the naked body of the opposite sex and NOT be aroused to sinful thoughts and desires; and there was no shame to be had! Again, what wonderful place and state in which to live!
God told Adam and Eve that they could FREELY eat from ALL of the trees in the garden. ALL of those trees that were good for food and all of this wonderful creation was at their disposal. Except, God also gave them the opportunity to show their love for Him by giving them one tree from which they should not eat. The WHOLE garden full of every type of fruit was theirs from which they could FREELY eat and from SO MUCH there was just one tree…one exception…one opportunity to show their love and devotion to their Creator by not eating from one tree.
In Eden there was life from God, liberty and freedom in a wonderful relationship with God, and the pursuit of happiness in a such a perfect place, but…
…there were sinister clouds gathering, unknown to Adam and Eve. Sometime after the completion of God’s perfect creation on the sixth day, there had been a rebellion in heaven. There were angels who did not want to remain under God’s authority and continue serving Him. We hear in Jude, “And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day” (Jude 6).
The angel whom we now know as "Satan" and the other angels who followed him, rebelled against God’s authority and were cast from heaven. In the deadly schemes of this evil angel there now lurked an attack against Adam and Eve. Coming in the form of serpent, the Devil approached Eve. He had rebelled against God and now he wanted more. He wanted to obtain the life and souls of the prize in God’s creation—mankind!
Scripture tells us that Satan is a liar and a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44) and everything he did in Eden illustrates his character. He came in the form of a serpent—subtle and deceiving. He came to attack, but made it seem as if it was part of every day life.
We hear that the serpent came and asked Eve, “Has God indeed said, ‘you shall not eat from every tree in the garden?’” [3:1] One of the devil’s most effective tools is to sow seeds of doubt in a person’s mind. He loves to lead one to question what God has said—either doubting if He really said it, or if what He said is really true. God told Adam and Eve that they could FREELY eat from the many trees of the garden, but Satan cunningly turns that around to focus on the one exception and asks, "did God really say you could NOT eat from EVERY tree?" So instead of directing Eve to see the vastness of God’s gifts in the garden, Satan ATTACKS HER by saying, "LOOK at what God is FORBIDDING you! Did He really say you cannot eat from EVERY tree! You mean you can’t eat from EVERY tree – how awful is that!?! What kind of God would do that?!?!" …and with that, the seed was planted for sin.
Eve’s response indicates the seed was about to sprout and grow. Eve said, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” [3:2-3] Already, the attack was having its effect. When God had given Adam and Eve the opportunity to show their love to him by commanding them NOT to eat from ONE tree, He said, "…you shall not eat for in the day that you eat of it, you shall SURELY DIE!” [2:17] Literally, God emphatically stated: "DYING YOU WILL DIE!!" There was no doubt as to what would happen if they sinned against God, but Eve said, "we should not eat it nor touch it (a command God had not given) lest perchance we might die."
The attack had begun, the destruction was well under way. Satan had attacked and placed the seeds of doubt & question, and Eve was already adding things to God’s Word and diluting His warning.
Satan then moved in for the kill with a bold-faced lie (another of his tools): “You will notsurely die.” [3:4] Satan’s words were the complete opposite of God’s. God had said, "Youwill surely die." Satan said, "You will not surely die."
After this, the Devil continued with a half-truth (yet another of his tools), “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” [3:5] This was true. The day Adam and Eve disobeyed God they did come to know good AND EVIL. The Devil’s deception was in making the knowledge of evil seem as if it were a good thing. "You’ll be like God knowing these things, and you want to be like God don’t you? You don’t want to stay under His authority and rule, do you?" Adam and Eve were already like God in that they were created in His image, but suddenly that didn’t seem to be enough. Eve wanted more.
The seeds were planted, the attack was made, and then Eve looked and saw how inviting the tree was, how good the fruit looked…everything looked so harmless! “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” [3:6]
Adam and Eve had the opportunity to show their love for God by following His Word. The Devil came and attacked and with the attack took away the life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
In this we see the same tools that the Devil uses against us today. We aren’t doing battle with flesh and blood or just some bully we might meet on the street. Paul told the Ephesians, "We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). These are POWERFUL enemies, they are DECEPTIVE and SUBTLE. They have in their minds the goal of DESTROYINGYOU! They WILL ATTACKYOU and don’t suppose they will have pity or mercy.
Another illustration which God gives is that the Devil is like a roaring lion walking about seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). He is HUNGRY, he is ROARING, he has YOU in his sites. He continues to spread around the world half-truths about what God says. He continues to spread throughout the world false-teaching that is a lie and directly contrary to what God says. He uses his allies—the world and our own sinful flesh—in making our own sinful desires and the allurements of sin to appear "not so bad" and "probably harmless." He appeals to our desires for earthly needs just as he appealed to Jesus’ hunger in the wilderness when he tempted Him to make bread out of stone (cf: Gospel reading). The Devil appeals to our desires to have fame and fortune and worldly success just as he tempted Jesus with, "You can have all these things if …" He tempts us to challenge God and go down paths in our lives for which God has never promised us His blessing and which contradict his will for us, just as he tempted Jesus to throw himself down from the temple because "God promises to protect you." NOTHING HAS CHANGED! The same tools and temptation that the Devil used against Eve, he used against Jesus, and he uses them against YOU. You are under attack! The result of that attack is destruction and the aftermath is death.
After Eve and then Adam had eaten the fruit their eyes were open and the DID know evil; and IMMEDIATELY they knew they were naked. God had said, "in the day you eat of it, dying you will die." Adam and Eve didn’t physically that day. Adam lived for over 900 years! Though they didn’t die immediately, that day would come. Because of the sin, they would die eternally without intervention; but THAT DAY, THAT MOMENT they died spiritually. INSTANTLY, Adam and Eve knew they were naked. Suddenly, their unclothed bodies gave opportunity for shame. Now there was opportunity for lust.
In the verses following the text, God called out to Adam and Eve and they were AFRAID—AFRAID of GOD because they had died spiritually. Sin now stood between them and God. Later, God would announce His curse upon the earth and Adam and Eve would have trouble in this life, sorrow and hardship, pain and grief, thorns and thistles, no longer would they live in a perfect world without misery; but this was not the worst destruction resulting from this sin. The worst part of the aftermath was the separation from God, and ultimately, being condemned to eternal death in hell because of sin.
We still see the aftermath of sin today. We are all one day going to die…physically. We all entered this life already dead…spiritually—separated from God. The sorrows, pain, sufferings, fears, and losses of this life are all ongoing evidence of the attack that took place in the Garden of Eden. We have inherited sinful hearts that are bound by sin. Out of OUR hearts proceed “evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19) and every sort of sin. The pride we take in our flesh at times and every other sin in our lives is part of the aftermath as well as death itself.
Think again of the genealogy in Genesis chapter 5 (cf: Old Testament reading). At the end of the report of each man’s life we hear the words "and he died…and he died…and he died" like the tolling of a bell. The bell tolls for us. As sinners we are in the aftermath. We face death—spiritual, physical, and eternal if not for our Savior Jesus.
Thanks be to God there is also counterattack and victory! In the aftermath of the attack in the Garden of Eden, God promised, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her Seed. He shall bruise your head and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15). From that moment and throughout the rest of Scripture we hear again and again of God’s promise of grace—the news of His undeserved love and how He would send His Son to die for our sins and rescue us from this death and destruction in the aftermath of sin. “The WAGES of sin is DEATH (of every sort), BUT the GIFT of God(promised through Christ Jesus and then accomplished by Him) is ETERNAL LIFE!” (Romans 6:23).
Though all of hell would rage and go to war and attack us or attack Jesus the victory remains. While Jesus was on the earth, the Devil did attack Jesus and try to stop the work of salvation. He tried to kill the young child, Jesus, through the actions of King Herod. Throughout Jesus’ life, the Devil tempted Him trying to pull Him away from His purpose. In the Garden of Gethsemane, he tried all the harder and Jesus prayed mightily to withstand the temptation of that hour. Then the people mocked Jesus while He was on the cross, “If you are the Son of God (the same type of temptation the Devil used in the wilderness, cf: Gospel reading), come down from the cross!” (Matthew 27:40, etc.). However, like wanting to quit in a race but knowing that the finish line lies up ahead, Jesus set His eyes on the goal of winning our salvation, persevered, and won the victory! (cf: Hebrews 12:2). The Devil thought he won on Friday when Jesus died, but on Sunday, VICTORY DAWNED!
Jesus gives US the victory. God’s expectations in His Law have been kept by our Savior for us—it is done, the VICTORY is ours! The punishment for the sins we commit has been carried out upon Jesus—it is done, the VICTORY is ours! Death still comes on this earth, but Jesus defeated that death too when He rose to life and He promises that He is the resurrection and the life and will give life after death to each one of you and all believers. You too will rise to life. Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25-26).
The sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is the law, but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:56-57).
So then, we are here in the aftermath. Danger still lurks and the enemy will certainly seek to attack us just as he attacked our Savior. But we HAVE the VICTORY OF SALVATION, FORGIVENESS OF SINS, and LIFE EVERLASTING through Christ! So the apostle Paul encourages us in the ongoing battle to take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:13-17).
Our enemies ARE still "out there." We still live in the aftermath and are susceptible to further attack, but we STAND with the ARMOR of God. Like Jesus, we can beat back every effort of the Devil by using God’s Word. When we fail in the face of temptation and do sin, we can come to the cross of Christ repenting of our sin and leave with the assurance that our sins ARE forgiven by His life and death. We are able to leave confident in Christ that we still stand VICTORIOUS with Him!
The full history of the United States’ war on terrorism is yet to be told. Whatever the outcome and whatever lies ahead, history will certainly see September 11 as a turning point, and there may still be future turning points that lie ahead in this battle.
The fall into sin was a turning point in the history of mankind and with it the war against Satan’s terrorism began. The turning point in the history of THAT war has already turned. The final chapter IS already written. We KNOW the ending…we win! Thanks be to God! Amen.
—Pastor Wayne C. Eichstadt