“A basic mark of true spirituality is a deep awareness of sin,” once wrote author John MacArthur.
“In Scripture,” MacArthur observed, “those who most despised their sinfulness were often those who were the most spiritual. Paul said he was the chief of sinners. Peter said to Jesus, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.” Isaiah said, “Woe is me, because I am a man of unclean lips.” Spiritual people realize they are in a death struggle with sin.”
To be aware of sin and its attendant consequences is to understand the reality and role of the devil as he seeks to ensnare us. This week Norma Jean and I are in Leitchfield, Kentucky, with the Lilac Road Church where I’m presenting my series on “Lies the Devil Tells Us.” I’m attempting to raise awareness of the devil’s devious devices.
It seems our world is not very aware of the devil. He is relegated to a joke or a cartoon caricature with horns, long tail, and a pitchfork. The Bible, however, presents the devil much differently.
Peter warns, “Be on your guard and stay awake. Your enemy, the devil, is like a roaring lion, sneaking around to find someone to attack” (I Pet. 5:8). Spiritual awareness should heighten our discernment regarding the devil’s desire to devour us.
Paul wrote to alert the Corinthians to the devil’s designs so they would not be “outwitted.” He said, “For we are not unaware of his schemes” (2Cor. 2:11). To the Ephesians, the apostle exhorted them to “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph 6:11).
We must be aware of the seriousness of our spiritual warfare, the nature of the adversary and the need to stay focused and alert so that we are not entangled by sin’s enticements.
One of the chief weapons employed by the devil is deception. The devil lied to Eve in the Garden of Eden. Regarding the forbidden fruit, the devil said: “you shall not surely die.” Even though God clearly said if you eat it or touch it, “You shall surely die.” (Gen 3:1-6).
Since the beginning of time, the devil entices people to partake of the forbidden fruit of sensual pleasures or fleshly desires by lying to us. “Try it, you’ll like it,” he says. “You deserve it,” he encourages. “God wants you to be happy,” he promises.
Be aware. Be alert. Be on guard. Because sin lurks at the door. And satan is often masquerading “as an angel of light” preying upon your weakness. (2Cor. 11:14).
However, as Dr. Phil McGraw observes, “Awareness without action is worthless.” An awareness of sin and satan’s schemes ought to prompt us to fortify our defenses. To make “no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts” (Rom. 13:14). And to be ready “to resist the devil” so that he will “flee from you” (Jas 4:7).
Thus awareness has both a positive and negative component. It sees the danger, but also realizes there’s a place of refuge. It sees God’s way of escape from temptation (1Cor 10:13).
Awareness pays attention to detail. Is alert to opportunities to do good. And possesses an appetite for the things of God. Awareness overcomes the dullness of the spirit that disregards dangers which threaten our spiritual welfare.
Be daily aware of your relationship with the Lord. To divine communion and communication. And to the ever-present duplicity of the devil’s devices.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman