Who's Causing All The Trouble?

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There is one thing you can know with absolute certainty.

Behind every evil activity on planet earth. . .there is a single mastermind, Satan. . .the devil. . .the enemy. . .old slewfoot. . .the thief. . .the dude with the pitchfork. . .the one who’s going to live eternity in hell!

Regardless of what you call him. . .the devil is behind all and I do mean ALL the troubles of this world . . .terrorism. . .wars. . .crimes. . .murders. . .thefts. . .greed and deceitfulness just to name a few.

In Ephesians 2:2 CEV Paul is addressing those who found Christ and explains the devil’s role in their past and the influence he can still have on those who don’t obey God:

“You followed the ways of this world and obeyed the devil. He rules the world, and his spirit has power over everyone who doesn't obey God.”

It’s important to understand who the real enemy is. 

It’s not the person who lied about you at work. . .taking credit for your idea so they’d get the promotion.

It’s not the person who broke into your house and stole your valuables.

It’s not the company who mishandled the hard-earned money in your investment portfolio.

It’s not the person who flipped you off after cutting in front of you in traffic.

It’s not the person who’s selling drugs to the students in the Junior High School where your children attend.

It’s not the person who lured your spouse into an adulterous relationship.

The real enemy is the devil. . .and make no mistake about it. . .he’s not after you personally . . .he’s out to discredit the God who lives in you.  

Just as the children of darkness don’t realize they are being “used” to achieve the devil’s purpose … the devil seeks to trap you as a believer into betraying the Lord who mercifully saved your soul!

It’s so important to understand that you’re not fighting the devil. . .the devil is fighting you.  That’s not a matter of semantics. . .it’s a realization of focus.

Ephesians 6:12 in the Amplified Bible puts all of this in perspective.

“For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.”

When you name the true villain in your spiritual warfare, and take him to God’s heavenly court, you can begin to benefit from God’s system of retribution and restoration in your life.

The good news is that God, your Heavenly Father, is the Judge.

Psalm 50:6 says:

“And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah.”

Not only that Jesus. . .your older brother. . .is your defense lawyer.

Romans 8:34 in the Amplified Bible says:

“Who is there to condemn [us]? Will Christ Jesus (the Messiah), Who died, or rather Who was raised from the dead, Who is at the right hand of God actually pleading as He intercedes for us?”

Proverbs 6:31 in the Amplified Bible says:

“But if he [the thief] is found out [properly identified], he must restore seven times [what he stole]; he must give the whole substance of his house [if necessary--to meet his fine].”

Make no mistake about it.  God operates his justice system much differently from the way the world does.

The United States system of justice has become less interested in restitution for the victim of a crime and much more in its fair treatment of the criminal. Because of this change of attitude, it is more important than ever to file your lawsuit in the courthouse of God, for God will serve your best interest.

I encourage you to calculate how much the devil has stolen from you.  When you have made this calculation, don’t forget to add the interest he owes you . . . by multiplying the amount by seven.  Then boldly proceed with your claim.

It’s important to understand that the enemy is a user. . .he will use even God-fearing, born-again, church going, tongue talking, sanctuary running believers to achieve his purposes.

As a matter of fact—if he can fool the elect into doing his deeds, that is his highest enjoyment.

That’s why it’s important that we know how to look beyond flesh and blood.

Peter saw right past flesh and blood and went straight to the source of the problem in Acts 5:1-11 where we have the example of Ananias and his wife, Sapphira.

Together, they secretly devised a plot to gain prestige among their Christian brothers and sisters.  They decided they could get the same recognition as Barnabas received when he gave the total selling price of a piece of land to the work of God.  However, they thought they could deceive Peter and the body of believers by keeping a portion of the money for themselves.

Peter saw through this lying deception and “laid the ax to the root of the tree” by confronting the real liar

Acts 5:3 says:

“But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thy heart to lie…?”

Peter knew the real culprit was Satan.  He boldly took him to the heavenly courtroom of God.  As a result, both Ananias and Sapphira received immediate judgment for allowing the enemy of God to operate through them.

Ananias and Sapphira paid the ultimate price because of three sinful attitudes.

First, they coveted the praise Barnabas had received for his act of generosity.  It’s not scriptural to covet praise or position.

I’ve seen people in church services and conferences “lose it” because they weren’t seated on the front row or in a place of honor. 

In fact, I remember one conference I attended in the past year where a pastor verbally abused an usher because he was moved from the aisle seat on the second row of the center section to the aisle seat of the third row on the right-hand section.  It was only a few feet between the two seats.  It is a shame to be so full of yourself that you lose your witness over something so inconsequential.

Second, Ananias and Sapphira were deceitful.  They wanted everyone to think they had given the full purchase price of their property when in fact. . .they did not.

Acts 5:3 in the Amplified Bible says:

“But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart that you should lie to and attempt to deceive the Holy Spirit, and should [in violation of your promise] withdraw secretly and appropriate to your own use part of the price from the sale of the land?”

Neither Peter nor any of the disciples were demanding that everybody sell all their property and give the proceeds to the church.  There were no unreasonable demands about what should and shouldn’t be given.

All Ananias and Sapphira had to say was, “We sold some property and felt led to give part of the proceeds to the work of the ministry.”  No doubt Peter and the boys would have rejoiced. . .and everything would have been okay.

However, I think the enemy began to whisper in their ears.  Perhaps Ananias and Sapphira had planned to give it all but the deceiver suggested they keep part of the money for themselves just in case things didn’t work out . . .besides no one would ever know, right?

Bonk!  Wrong answer.  The Holy Spirit knows everything.

Let me say that I’ve been in meetings where I knew some of the people who made outrageous commitments to give at a certain level because they wanted to be standing across the front of the auditorium with everybody else.

I knew they neither had the money nor any way to get it because they had been weeping before me about not making the rent.I’m sure they justified the act by saying they’d “believe God for it” … but were they really committed in their hearts?

You can’t deceive the Holy Spirit. . .and you certainly don’t need to deceive yourself.

Third, there was obviously a spirit of greed on Ananias and Sapphira.

Acts 5:3 in the New Living Translation says:

“Then Peter said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself. The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!” 

Greed will make a liar out of you.

Luke 12:15 in the New International Version says:

“Watch Out!  Be on guard against all kinds of greed.” 

So I looked up the word greed in a word search and biblegateway.com and discovered that it is not listed in the King James Version of the Bible.  Instead, you will find covetousness as the word of choice.

Luke 12:15 says:

“And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” 

Covetousness in the Strong’s Concordance is defined as:

“greedy desire to have more, especially what belongs to others; covetousness and avarice.”

Covetousness as defined in the Random House Dictionary is the “inordinately or wrongly desirous of wealth or possessions; greedy.”

According to word.net, both avarice and greed are defined as: “reprehensible acquisitiveness; insatiable desire for wealth.”

There are some very basic principles that we need to understand about greed.

Greed is an attitude.

Greed wants to direct your thoughts, desires and actions.

Greed is addictive. 

Greed is evil.

But there are several things we need to understand very clearly about being greedy.

Being prosperous does not automatically make you greedy.

Having wealth does not in and of itself make you greedy.

Being rich is not synonymous with being greedy.

Being greedy doesn’t always mean that you want to get more . . . greedy people want to hold on to what they already have.

Greed is not produced by money but rather by the condition of the heart.

You can be poor and greedy.

Greed is an attitude before it becomes a lifestyle.  It is not just limited to the rich and famous but it also affects the poor and unknown.

Greed is not about money . . . it’s about our spiritual priorities.

It is not clear if the temptation began with Ananias or Sapphira. . .but it’s very clear they both conspired together and the devil capitalized on their greed.

Acts 5:2 in the Amplified Bible says:

“And with his wife's knowledge and connivance he kept back and wrongfully appropriated some of the proceeds, bringing only a part and putting it at the feet of the apostles.”

The New Living Translation says “With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest.”

The Contemporary English Version says:

“But they agreed to cheat and keep some of the money for themselves.”

The Message Bible says: “. . .his wife, Sapphira, conniving in this with him.”

Ananias and Sapphira both believed the devil’s lie. . .their sin was exposed and it cost them their lives.

Child of God, hear me, if you’ve sinned. . .if you’ve done something financially foolish make no mistake about it. . .your sins will find you out.

The scripture says in Luke 12:3 in the Amplified Bible says:

“Whatever you have spoken in the darkness shall be heard and listened to in the light, and what you have whispered in [people's] ears and behind closed doors will be proclaimed upon the housetops.”

You may think that no one will know that you’re surfing the internet for porn sites but somebody already does.  It’s best not to grieve Him. . .if you have any doubts just ask Ananias and Sapphira.

One final thing. . . some years ago, the comedian Flip Wilson dressed up as one of his comic characters, Geraldine. who was a bit feisty. The old woman, Madea, created by Tyler Perry are today what Geraldine and Flip Wilson were nearly forty years ago.

 When Geraldine got in trouble. . .she was fond of snapping “her” head back and saying “The devil made me do it.”

No matter how many times I heard it. . . Flip Wilson could always make me laugh when I  heard Geraldine utter those words. . .but, in realty, the devil doesn’t make anyone do anythingHe only tempts us through anything we have not yet surrendered to God

James 1:13-15 in the New Living Translation says it this way:

“And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. 14Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.”

For a believer to say the devil made them do something is to verbally confess that the devil has charge of their life.  He absolutely doesn’t have control over our life unless we allow him to.

The devil can’t make you do anything. . .unless you choose to obey his voice.

Remember, the devil is the root of all sin (covetousness, lies, theft, hatred, deception, greed, etc.), but Jesus is the root of all righteousness.

Whose voice will you choose to obey?

One last thing. . .we need to fully understand themain tactic of the devil is deception.  The more you understand about his strategy, the easier it will be for you to protect yourself and not play into his hands. 

2 Corinthians 2:11 tells us we can know his tricks or devices:

“…we are not ignorant of his devices.”

Satan does not have all power……

You have no reason to fear Satan’s power.  Jesus took away his ability when Hetriumphed over him in His resurrection from the dead.  The devil now operates primarily in only three areas. He has the ability to deceive, the ability to accuse, and the ability to tempt.

When you fear Satan’s abilities, you open the door to him.  He loves someone who doesn’t know their rights or doesn’t take advantage of him by using them

Job tells us he lost his family and fortune because of the fear he allowed to enter  his mind.

Job 3:25 says:

“…the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.”

If the enemy can transfer fear into your mind, he immediately has the ability to take advantage over you.

However, he cannot cause fear to remain in your mind because you can easily cast it down by the power you have in the name of Jesus.  It’s an edge that you and you alone can give him or you can take away from him. 

Satan has abilities . . . but you have powerThe only absolute power left on this earth is the power of God which now dwells in you.

Observe closely how the Apostle Paul described this power in Ephesians 1:18-20 in the Amplified Bible.

“…having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones),

And (so that you can know and understand) what is THE IMMEASURABLE AND UNLIMITED AND SURPASSING GREATNESS OF HIS POWER IN AND FOR US who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength,

Which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His (own) right hand in the heavenly (places).”

GET EXCITED…..the very same power He used to raise Jesus from the dead, He wants to release in and through you…and guess what…it’s available to you.  365 days a year and not just on Easter Sunday.

Can somebody say HALLELUJAH!