March 9 - 15
The War Within
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Matt. 8:31-39; 16:13-17; 26:14-16, 20-25, 47-50; Rom. 13:12; Eph. 6:10-18.
MEMORY TEXT: "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, NKJV).
KEY QUESTIONS: Ever since the Fall, Satan has sought to control people's hearts and minds. How does he do so, and what weapons do we have that enable us to fight back against this most subtle of foes in what, at times, can be the most subtle of battles?
THE WAR WITHIN. Whatever the grand and cosmic issues of the great controversy (after all, it began in heaven), for us on earth it's manifested primarily as a battle for the human mind and heart. Thus, unlike battles fought noisily with guns, tanks, jets, this one is often slugged out in silence, in the quiet recesses of the human conscience.
It's true: The objective victory in the conflict was won, for us, at the Cross, where Satan stood defeated; and, as a result of that victory, God at the end of the millennium will eliminate Satan, sin, and death from the universe once and for all. These are givens, guaranteed by the Cross. The only question that remains, for each of us individually, is this: Will we be among those eliminated when sin, death, and Satan are, as well? Or, will wetaking advantage of the victory won for us by Jesus at the Crossbe among those who live forever in a kingdom that will never pass away? As you study this week's lesson, ask yourself the hard question: In what ways do your daily choices reveal which side of the battle you're really on?
*(Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, March 16.)
Sunday March 10
"Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve" (Luke 22:3).
All the disciples of Christ had defective characters, rough edges, selfishness, and other problems that manifested themselves in various ways. What, however, was the difference with Judas, that Satan entered him as opposed to the others?
What do these following texts say that help answer this crucial question?
John 12:1-7 ________________________________________________________________________
Matt. 26:14, 15 _____________________________________________________________________
Judas saw the sick, the lame, the blind, flock to Jesus from the towns and cities. He saw the dying laid at His feet. He witnessed the Saviour's mighty works in healing the sick, casting out devils, and raising the dead. He felt in his own person the evidence of Christ's power. He recognized the teaching of Christ as superior to all that he had ever heard. He loved the Great Teacher, and desired to be with Him. He felt a desire to be changed in character and life, and he hoped to experience this through connecting himself with Jesus. The Saviour did not repulse Judas. He gave him a place among the twelve. He trusted him to do the work of an evangelist. He endowed him with power to heal the sick and to cast out devils. But Judas did not come to the point of surrendering himself fully to Christ. He did not give up his worldly ambition or his love of money. While he accepted the position of a minister of Christ, he did not bring himself under the divine molding. He felt that he could retain his own judgment and opinions, and he cultivated a disposition to criticize and accuse."The Desire of Ages, p. 716.
|Review the list of Judas's characteristics. In what ways is there a little Judas in all of us? What steps can you take to free yourself from making the same eternal mistake that Judas did? (See Gal. 5:16-25.)|
"Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples" (Matt. 26:35).
"Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew" (vs. 74).
The Gospels record two of Peter's confessions regarding Jesus. What are these confessions, and why are they important? What do they say about Peter's character? Matt. 16:16-20; John 6:68, 69.
Peter is a study in contradiction. He was among the first to receive the truth that Christ was God in human flesh. However, immediately after Jesus outlined that the mission of the Messiah involved His death, Peter chided Him that it should not be so. His concept of the Messiah had room for a crown but not a cross. Jesus denounced Peter's Messianic vision as satanic in origin (Matt. 16:22, 23).
Peter's sense of discipleship wavered again after the Last Supper, when Jesus revealed that He would soon die and the disciples would be scattered. Peter's impulsive response once again displayed his self-confidence. Whatever others might do, he would never deny his Lord. But his Lord knew better (Matt. 26:33-35).
The impetuous Peter could not even stay awake to pray with Jesus in Gethsemane (vs. 40). Soon afterward, however, he could draw the sword against His enemies (vs. 51). Yet going from rash daring to cowardly denial did not take long. The crowing of the rooster brought Peter to his senses, and the sight of his Savior reminded him of His warning and promise: "'Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail'" (Luke 22:31, 32, NKJV). Remorse and repentance brought Peter back from Satan's clutches into the circle of discipleship. Thus, he was awarded the privilege of being among the first to see the risen Lord (Acts 2:32) and to receive His commission (John 21:15-17).
|Most of us, at some point, have had a "Peter experience," in that we profess to do something for the Lord and then fail to do what we said. What lessons can we learn from Peter that should help us not to give up in despair when Satan causes us to fail our Lord as he did Peter?|
How does Paul explain the war between good and evil to the Ephesians? Eph. 6:10-12.
In Ephesians 1:18-21 Paul prays that the Ephesians would experience God's power as He displayed it in Christ's resurrection. In chapter 2:1-7, he explains how he hopes they will experience this power. Just as God was able to raise Christ from the dead, so He is able to raise them from death in sin to newness of life in Christ. Now in chapter 6:10-12, Paul closes his letter by reminding them that for the rest of their Christian lives they must rely on this resurrection power to help them fight "the powers of this dark world" and "the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (vs. 12, NIV).
Some of "the powers of this dark world" maintain that God is dead, that there is no such thing as sin, only failure. Others believe that socially accepted principles are superior to God's standards, while still others claim that death is a door to another life and that grace is not a godly characteristic that redeems us but a human potential enabling us to save ourselves.
What role does each of these false assertions play in the great controversy? How can Satan use them to deceive us to the nature of our needs and our only remedy for those needs?
Paul leaves no room for doubt regarding the devil's capabilities. He will do anything he can to influence political, judicial, economic, psychological, scientific, and supernatural principalities and powers to entice people away from God. Satan's ploys worked well in Paul's day, and they work well in the modern world, where the whole notion of a literal devil is often mocked and scorned as nothing but superstitions left over from an earlier age of intellectual and scientific darkness. It is hard enough fighting against a power stronger than you of whom you are aware. Who is going to fight against an enemy that one doesn't even think exists?
|All around us exist forces that we can't see, hear, feel, or sense in any way: electromagnetism, gravity, radio waves, subatomic particles from space. All these are real yet outside our immediate sensory perceptions. How could knowledge of these imperceptible realities help us convince others of the reality of Satan and the forces of darkness?|
Yesterday's lesson dealt with "the powers of this dark world" and "the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" that are engaged in the great controversy. God, however, does not leave us unprotected against these forces.
In addition to the resurrection power mentioned in yesterday's lesson, list other weapons available to Christians as they become engaged in the great controversy.
Which of these weapons is the most important, and why?
Rom. 13:12 _________________________________________________________________________
Eph. 6:13-18 ________________________________________________________________________
1 Thess. 5:8 ________________________________________________________________________
Heb. 4:12 __________________________________________________________________________
Rev. 12:11 ___________________________________________________________________
Considering some of Satan's accusations concerning God's character, why is love an important weapon in the great controversy?
Another weapon we are to use is the armor of light. In John 8:12, Jesus declares, " 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life' " (NIV). Just as darkness cannot exist where there is light, so sin cannot exist where there is Christ. When we follow Him, He lights the path before us, and before this light, evil flees, as creatures of the night dart for cover when the sun rises.
|Write down all the "weapons" we have at our disposal in the great controversy. Review what each one means and ask yourself how, in whatever personal struggles you are facing, you can employ them to aid you as you face the personal assaults of the enemy.|
Read over the following verses again and again until you can see clearly the hope and the promises that shout out from themall because of what God has done for us in Jesus. Wherever Paul uses the word we or us, put your own name in there and then reread the verses, applying them to yourself and whatever your circumstances are right now. Reach out in faith and grasp the promises: Make them your own for, in the end, what else do you (or any of us) have in this sinful, dying world?
Answer these questions by reading Romans 8:31-39:
What guarantee do we have that God will give us victory?
If we are following Christ, why is it impossible for anyone, including Satan, to condemn us?
What does it mean that "in all these things [vs. 37] we are more than conquerors"?
What does it mean that Christ is making intercession for us? (vs. 34). How should that reality impact how we live? Why do we need an intercessor?
"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (vss. 38, 39). What do these words mean, particularly in the context of the great controversy? What assurance can we draw from them? At the same time, what don't they mean? What false conclusions can someone draw from them regarding salvation?
|In the midst of these wonderful promises, Paul inserts these words: "For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter" (vs. 36). What is he talking about here? How does this fit in with the rest of the verses? Hint: See verse 37.|
FURTHER STUDY: Review Ephesians 6:14-17 by listing on a separate sheet of paper (1) each part of armor, (2) what that part symbolizes, and (3) its application. For example: (1) The first part of armor is the belt; (2) it symbolizes truth; (3) Satan has told lies about God's character, but we can combat these lies with the truth.
"We must put on every piece of the armor, and then stand firm. The Lord has honored us by choosing us as His soldiers. Let us fight bravely for Him, maintaining the right in every transaction. Rectitude [goodness, virtue] in all things is essential to the welfare of the soul. As you strive for the victory over your own inclinations, He will help you by His Holy Spirit to be circumspect in every action, that you may give no occasion for the enemy to speak evil of the truth. Put on as your breastplate that divinely protected righteousness which it is the privilege of all to wear. This will protect your spiritual life."Ellen G. White Comments, The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1119.
To learn more about the topics in this week's lesson, read any or all of the following: The Desire of Ages, "The Foreshadowing of the Cross," pp. 410-418; " 'The Light of Life,' "pp. 463-475; " 'Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled,' "pp. 662-684; "Before Annas and the Court of Caiaphas," pp. 698-7 15; "Judas," pp. 7 16-722; "By the Sea Once More," pp. 809-817.
SUMMARY: Satan seeks to gain control of our hearts and minds by appealing to our sense of self-sufficiency. To be victorious, we must accept the salvation Jesus offers through His shed blood. Then, through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, we will have at our disposal a complete set of armor with which to combat the enemy.
With my car loaded with expensive computer equipment, I was heading back to the church headquarters in Lima, Peru. It was sunset, and except for traffic in the road, the streets were nearly empty. Ruffians controlled the streets from dusk to dawn.
As I rounded a corner beside an abandoned bus, the engine began to run rough, and the temperature light came on. Then the engine died. I pulled the loaded station wagon onto the gravel shoulder.
Forcing back the fear that was building in my stomach, I took off my suit coat and tie and got out to examine the problem. The radiator was empty. I managed to borrow a bucket of water, but it ran out as quickly as I poured it in. Fear rose another notch. I was a well-dressed foreigner with a disabled car filled with expensive computer equipment in a dangerous area of the city.
Two men stepped out of the abandoned bus. They picked up a large rock, then started toward me. No one else was nearby. Staying meant risking a beating and possibly death. Leaving would place God's equipment at risk. I prayed that God would protect both the equipment and me. The men raised their rocks as if to throw them. I stepped back.
"Excuse me," a nicely dressed man spoke quietly to me. "Your life is in danger. Get in the car and leavenow."
I tried to explain that the car wasn't going anywhere, but the man insisted, "Get in. I will push." Again I tried to explain the situation, but the man ordered, "Get in, now!" I obeyed, though I was certain that the effort was futile. I turned on the ignition and shifted into gear. There is no way he can push this heavy car uphill on gravel, I thought.
I could see the two men, still holding the rocks above their heads, as they had been when the stranger had approached.
The car started to move. As it gathered speed, I let out the clutch and was surprised to hear the engine come to life. The stranger ran to my window and insisted that I not stop until I was out of this dangerous area. I tried to force a few dollars into his reluctant hand, but he said, "I have no need for money."
I drove a few blocks before the temperature light again came on, and the engine sputtered and died. As I coasted into a gas station, I realized that God had answered my prayer by sending an angel to protect both me and the Lord's equipment.
We live in a world filled with spiritual and physical dangers. God is able and willing to care for us if we place ourselves in His hands.
David Gates is director of ADRA/Guyana.
Join the SSNET moderated email discussion group. You are also warmly invited to join a group discussion of this lesson Sabbath morning with your local Seventh-day Adventist congregation.
Editorial Office: 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver
Spring, MD 20904.
Principal Contributor: John M. Fowler
Editor: Clifford Goldstein
Associate Editor: Lyndelle Brower Chiomenti
Editorial Production Manager: Soraya Homayouni Parish
Art and Design: Lars Justinen
Pacific Press Coordinator: Paul A. Hey
Copyright © 2002 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. All Rights Reserved.
This page is Netscape
SSNET Web Site Home page.
Directory of adult SS quarterly Bible Study guides.
Prepared for the Internet by the SSNET Web Team
Last updated January 11, 2002.