Episode 37: Wrong Attitudes Cultivated by Satan, Part 2

Peace to Live By Episode 37: Wrong Attitudes Cultivated by Satan, Part 2 - Daniel Litton
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[Transcripts may not match broadcasted sermon word for word, and may contain extra material that was cut from the broadcast due to time constraints]

       Last time I talked about three of six wrong attitudes that Satan seeks to cultivate into our minds, as Christians. Those were having a legalistic attitude, perfectionistic attitude, and a negative attitude. Now, today, we are going to talk about three more negative attitudes that Satan wants to see in us: these are having a hopeless attitude, having a fearful attitude, and having a bitter attitude. God loves us and doesn’t want to see these attitudes bearing bad fruit in our minds and lives. And, God will help us to eliminate these wrong attitudes as we give ourselves completely to him, trusting him in every area and situation in our lives. It is very important that we have total surrender to God; otherwise, we limit the work he can do in us.

       We have to remember that God is on our side. It’s so easy to cultivate the overall attitude in our minds that God is against us, that he’s a mean, legalistic God who demands our perfect performance. And we may get the idea that if we do one thing wrong, that God is now angry with us and is going to work against us until we do right again. But this kind of thinking is incorrect. God is on our sides. He wants to see us living peaceful, happy lives in Him, and not lives of grudging effort in order to gain his acceptance on a day-to-day basis. Indeed, it is important that we have a right view of God. He wants us to try, but he is not standing there ready to bust us every time we mess up. He wants to help us do good in our lives, and he wants us to love him.

       So, let us get started off by talking about an attitude of hopelessness that Satan wants us to have. I want to note, first, that hopelessness crops up easily in our lives when we lack patience. In many situations in our lives, it takes time to see progress, to see the results that we want to see, and to reach the goal we want to reach. We may try to do something, and fail the first time. We may try a second time, and then have little progress. And if we are impatient, that attitude of hopelessness will creep into the picture. We will think, “I’ve tried and I’m not getting anywhere. This situation is hopeless.” Satan will drill that thought into our minds, and keep trying to tell us things will never be the way we want to see them. But we have to keep trying, if we believe it is God’s will, what we have peace about in knowing what God wants in this particular area or situation. When we maintain our peace and patience, hopelessness gets pushed out of the picture.

       Another thing that’s tied into a hopeless attitude is what I call Satan’s “I can’t do it” attitude. We have all suffered to some degree from this type of thinking in the past. Again, when a situation seems impossible or is really hard, we can look at it and say, “I can’t do this.” But the Apostle Paul reminds us, “I can do all things through him [Christ] who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, ESV). This is a really good verse, and it combats the thoughts that Satan puts into our minds. We can in fact do what God wants us to do, no matter how hard it may seem to do it, because God strengthens us with his strength to do it. When a situation seems impossible, my advice to you is just take the first step. Then take small steps and see how God blesses what you are doing. You have to start somewhere. Take your mind off the ‘big picture,’ and focus on the first step. This is how good things happen.

       You see, if Satan keeps us hopeless, we will accomplish little to nothing in life. He loves it when we are hopeless, because with hopelessness comes the death of motivation and the beginnings of depression. Satan will put hopeless thoughts in our minds, and if we continue to ruminate on those thoughts, we will truly be fruitless. We have to replace what he is saying to us with what God has said to be true in his Word. In the love chapter, in 1 Corinthians chapter 13, God talks about the fact that we need to have both faith and hope. These two attitudes, these beliefs, are very important to us. Remember what the Lord says in Hebrews: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, ESV). If we don’t have faith, we cannot have hope. Let us not be people of little faith, like Jesus talked about, who sink into the water, but let us be people of great faith, so as to remove mountains, to master the great hurdles, that come in our lives.

       A good example of having hope in the Bible comes to us in Romans chapter 4. If you’ll turn over there or tap there, you can see this tremendous example to us, from Abraham in the Old Testament. The Apostle Paul talks about the faith of Abraham here, indeed noting his tremendous faith. Let’s note particularly verses 18 and 19, which say, “In hope he [Abraham] believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith” (Romans 4:18-19ex, ESV). And Paul goes on to talk about how his faith was not weakened. God had promised Abraham and Sarah that they would have a child, but they both were old, Sarah being past the normal child-bearing years for a woman. But nevertheless, they believed God, they hoped in God, and God eventually did what he said he was going to do.

       So, now that we can see that we should never give up but have hope, let us move next to talking about have a fearful attitude. First, I must admit that this is probably been one of the greatest battles in my own life, but one that I’ve seen tremendous victory in but still can work toward improvement in some areas. I am pretty familiar with fear, and I am sure that many of you are as well. The disciples—that is, the Twelve—were also acquainted with fear, as Jesus talked about in the Gospels. Remember? He told them in John chapter 14, right as he was about to go to the cross, “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27c, ESV). Now, right before he said this, he told them, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you” (John 14:27ab, ESV). You see, the people of the world are full of fear, but we, as believers, can let peace rule in our hearts (see Colossians 3:15).

       But how does fear work? What is Satan really doing to us by getting us to bow the knee to fear? Well, Satan uses fear to make us think that God is against us, or that we are not free in Christ to follow God’s will. He can make us oversensitive, making us fearful that God is hard to please and that we are out of his will unless we perform to perfection in our day-to-day walk. He gives us fear through cultivating a wrong view of God in our minds. If we don’t see God correctly, as we should, then Satan can have a heyday with our thoughts. Our view of God in our minds must be aligned with what God says about himself in his Word. But Satan may get us to focus on the judgment aspects of God, especially from the Old Testament, before the time of Grace, and get us to think that God is really judgmental and probably is against us. But if we have a correct understanding of God, a good understanding, then we realize that God is in fact for us, loves us, and wants to give us his goodness. He is a loving father, not a harsh, neglecting, negative, mean, or legalistic God. Remember what Jesus said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9, ESV). Was Jesus hard to be around? No, Jesus’ Words are full of love and goodness toward our well being.

       A good way we could define fear is to be lacking in faith, or not having faith at all. I think a good, basic illustration of this comes to us in Matthew chapter 14. If you'll remember, Jesus and the disciples had just finished with a crowd, and Jesus went up on a mountain to pray while the disciples got an early start out to sea. And a storm rose up, and the storm was giving the disciples a hard time at navigating the boat. Then Jesus came to them walking on the sea. And we read that after they had mistook him for a ghost, that Peter said to him,

““Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.” (28-33, ESV)

Often we can have the same response as Peter. We see a situation in life, and God is encouraging us to do something. But we feel we can't do it because we are afraid. Satan gets us to be afraid of what others will think, or he gets us to imagine the worst possible outcome, and we believe that is what is going to happen. Fear is a killer toward positive progress, but God wants us to have 'faith' and move forward toward where he is leading us.

       And fear really all comes down to our trust in God. We have one of two choices, really. We can choose to follow Satan's way and be held-back by fear, too afraid to be anybody or make any good, positive decisions. Or, we can chose to follow God's way, knowing that he is on our side and will give us the ability to do whatever it is that he's wanting us to do. It may be something small, or may be something big. Now, often trust doesn't just involve a mental agreement in your mind with what God has said is true. No, trust also involves taking a step of faith in our situation when God wants us to. We may pray to God and he may lead us to move forward, do nothing, or wait on his timing. But, when he tells us to move forward, we need to be willing to move forward, and not be too afraid because God is with us. We can choose to either listen to God, or to listen to Satan. Sometimes we hardly ever see progress in our lives because when God wants to do something we good, we have run off ten miles in the other direction.

       We control what we fear. We can either choose to fear what Satan sets before us, or we can choose to trust in God's goodness and be at peace in our minds. The problem for some of us is that Satan has embedded fear so deep into our minds that it has become second nature to us. We respond immediately to situations in our lives with fear. I mean, what's the first thought that comes to your mind when you think of a tough situation, or any situation really? I know for me it is often fear first, and I have to remind myself to have faith. I mean, are you one of those people who always thinks the worst will always happen? When you're going on a vacation, and go to the airport, is the first thought that comes to your mind, “I hope my airplane gets me to my destination safely”? And you probably don't think it that nicely. Do you always picture bad things happening? We have to replace picturing those bad things happening by picturing good things happening. And we do this by having faith that good will in fact happen.

       The way we combat Satan in the face of fear is by reminding ourselves of what God has said in his Word, of what is true. Again, Satan will try to fill our minds with lies. He will often attack us when we have too little going on, when we're bored, or when we have too much going on, when we are overwhelmed. He can get us when we're overwhelmed because all our capacities are being used for something else. He will present worries to us, possible situations or perceived notions about what others think. But it is our job to block Satan's constant attacks at us with our shield of faith, which Paul talked about in Ephesians chapter 6. We have to repeat the truth to ourselves, both in our minds and sometimes even out loud to ourselves, when we are alone. This helps us combat Satan's warfare against us. Remember? James tell us “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7, ESV). God is not going to allow Satan to press us so hard we can't win. If we will fight him, God promises that he will leave us alone to come back at a more opportune time.

       Another way Satan gains success with us is by giving us a perverted view of prayer. It is true that we should be praying for God's help in our varying situations in life. But sometimes we will pray, and then we will face the situation, and we find ourselves struggling in the situation. We start to pray to God for his help, and then we continue to struggle and don't have much success with whatever it was that we wanted help with. The problem is that once we pray to God for his help, we have to 'believe' that he is on our side and is going to help us. We need to take steps of faith, believing that God will empower us to have success. Often times we just sit there and wait for power to come down from Heaven, and when it doesn't come, we get upset. But God want us to 'act' on our faith, our trust in him. If we have a thought in our minds that God want us to do something good, we need to take a step forward to see if it is what God wants. If we just stand there, and don't step anywhere, nothing is going to happen, and Satan has won. Just try; be calm. It doesn't have to be perfect, but just try. See how God will help you!

       Now, I want to move the final wrong attitude that I am going to talk about, which is having a bitter attitude. I would have to say that I believe that at the heart of a bitter attitude is having an unforgiving attitude. People become bitter in their lives because they have a root of unforgiveness cultivated by Satan. This might be unforgiveness toward one person, or even a group of people. The offense or rejection may have been real, or it could even be perceived. And pride is definitely in the picture, because at the heart of unforgiveness is pride. Remember, Satan was full of pride when he fell, and we can also fall when we become full of pride. Satan has lead us to become unwilling to accept the offense done against us, causing us to believe we are very important. We won't forgive the wrong or perceived wrong and just move on. Why are we so important that we can't be sinned against? Are we gods ourselves? We become full of pride in this case. Is not the true offense against God himself anyway?

       Turn with me, or tap, to Job chapter 3 in the Old Testament. I want us to examine a small passage from the Book of Job, in which Job is talking about a person who has become bitter, and some of the characteristics that come along with it. We read in Job chapter 3, starting in verse 20, the following:

““Why is light given to him who is in misery, and life to the bitter in soul, who long for death, but it comes not, and dig for it more than for hidden treasures, who rejoice exceedingly and are glad when they find the grave? Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in? ” (Job 3:20-23, ESV)

Often when people become bitter about a situation, choosing to have an unforgiving attitude, they will run into seclusion. Now, people do this is different ways. Sometimes people will lock themselves in their house, and not come out much or associate with many people. Sometimes, people will flee to another city or state, trying to get away from the trouble they have caused for themselves. Satan gets people to be bitter at the world. And as a bitter person becomes more and more bitter, the person may find him or herself longing for death to come. Or, the person may just escape daily life by consuming him or herself with alcohol or drugs.

       But nonetheless, to whatever the extreme, the person's “way is hidden,” like Job talked about. We know what the person's life looks like. The person usually isolates him or herself to just having a few associates, and may have cut him or herself off from all or most family members. The person wont go to family events and get-togethers. And the other aspect of this is the fact that “God has hedged” the person in, because the person has an unforgiving attitude. Unforgiveness makes people bitter. In Matthew chapter 18, the following conversation was recorded between Jesus and Peter, “Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy- seven times” (21, 22, ESV). Forgiveness is very important to God. And it is very important to Satan that we don’t forgive. He wants to cultivate unforgiveness in our lives, getting us angry at people and unwilling to pardon them. And Jesus is not saying if the person doesn't repent of the sin they've done against us, that it's okay not to forgive him or her. He's not saying that.

       In Matthew chapter 18, Jesus told the story of the man who had been forgiven much, but refused to forgive those who owed him little. Remember that story? And Jesus said at the end of it:

“Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:32-35, ESV).

When we don't forgive others in our hearts, God will not hear us. And Satan loves this. If he can break our fellowship with God, he has a accomplished a great thing in his eyes. In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus told us to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors.” It is a requirement when we pray to God that we have forgiven others the offenses they've committed against us, no matter what the offense. This is because of what Jesus has done for us, going all the way to the cross for all our sins against God. Because he showed so great a love for us, we need to show great love toward others. It is very insulting to God when we wont forgive our neighbor for a wrong they've done to us.

       Let me tell you that if you have unforgiveness in your heart, that it's not worth it. Satan will use bitterness to rob you of your life. It can rob you not only of your mental well-being but it can also rob you of your physical well-being. Your health could actually be affected or even deteriorate over time because you have a bitter attitude. And what about the vices and bad habits it might lead you into, like I talked about a little bit ago, like with alcohol and drugs? It’s not worth harboring resentment against a person or persons for an event that's happened in the past. Now, perhaps you're both guilty in whatever situation has transpired. But even if the other person hasn't forgiven you, you need to forgive the person. It is very freeing to forgive others for the wrongs they done against us. It shows God's goodness. It shows that God's love is more powerful than any offense. Sometimes you need to talk it out. You need to get with the person, have coffee with him or her, and settle the issue. And it may have come to the point where you need to bring another person with you. And sometimes the situation is over, and doesn't need further elaboration, but just quiet forgiveness. But whatever the case, it is very important that at least you, yourself, are willing to forgive.

       You don't want to have anything that is interfering with your relationship with God. That's never good. The good news is that you can fix the problem right away by forgiving the person in your heart. You can go to prayer to God and forgive. Now, it may still be important for you to meet with the person, depending on the situation. And you should do this as soon as possible. Again, we know that this is important to God. Jesus said the following in Matthew chapter 5: “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23, 24, ESV). God wants us to at peace with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ before we even offer a gift to him. He cannot count your tithe or your gift to him until your heart is right with others. Our hearts have to be right before God with others if we are going to in fact truly show love for God. John told us in his first epistle, in the fourth chapter, “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20, ESV).

       So, in conclusion today, I’ve finished our discussion on six wrong attitudes that Satan can and does cultivate into our minds, into our lives. We discussed today having a hopeless attitude, a fearful attitude, and having a bitter attitude. Hopefully, today, both you and I have identified areas that we can make improvement, and as we go to prayer in God about these things, we will seek to make those improvements. We have to start somewhere. We just need to take our first baby steps of faith and trust in God, and God will help us to become better, to improve. God loves us, he is on our sides, and he wants us to become more like Jesus.

       In fact, today, maybe you’ve been listening to what I have been talking about. Maybe you’ve identified some of these problems in your own life, but you don’t know God, you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus, and you don’t know where to go from here. Well, right now, I’m going to tell you how you can come into a personal relationship with God, how you can be set free from your sins, the things you’ve done in your life against God and others, and how you can gain eternal life today. It is true that God sent his Son to the earth, 2,000 years ago, and he died on a cross as a substitutionary death on our behalf, so all humans could come to know God and be at peace with him. God does indeed want everyone to be in a personal relationship with him. He doesn’t want to be separated from anyone, and he doesn’t want to have to judge anyone for their sins. He takes no pleasure in sending people to Hell, but he must do so for those who refuse to accept his free gift. God is holy and righteous and cannot let sin go unpunished. But anyone can accept Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself on the cross for payment for sins, any and all sins done in this life, and gain eternal life and peace with God. That’s the good news today.

       If you would like to receive Jesus today as your personal Lord and Savior, then please follow my lead in this prayer:

       God, I have sinned greatly in my life, doing many things against you and against others. I have not followed good ways, but i have have followed the ways of this world, the ways of your enemy. But today, I turn from my sin and want to accept Jesus’ way of doing things. I want him to be my Head, my guide from now on. I believe Jesus did die for me and rose from the dead, and is alive with you today. Father, please change me, and make me become more like Jesus. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

-Daniel Litton