Did you know that Satan does some of his best work under the cloak of religion? It is true. Our adversary loves to slip into our lives dressed up pious, clean and traditional and speak words that make sense to our flesh, but that contradict the direction of our Savior, Jesus. He is particularly adept at this when we are struggling – if we are scared, lonely, tired or hungry and our flesh is just rebelling against the Holy Spirit’s direction in us. That is showtime for the one who wants to destroy us. He will use everything, including the Bible and the name of Jesus in order to knock us off track. How do we know this? It is exactly what he tried with Jesus.
When Jesus was being tempted by Satan recorded in Matthew 4, Jesus bodily was in a place of desperate trouble. He had been fasting for 40 days, that is a long time without food. He also was preparing for the ministry that would lead Him to the Cross. Even for Jesus, death on the Cross bearing the sins of the world was a tough thing to contemplate. His prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane reflect this fact.
Right when Jesus is most bodily weak and tired and mentally contemplating His march to the Cross, Satan pops up and offers to help. It is wrong for you to have to suffer like this you can hear him insincerely whispering, let me help you where God will not. He offers to let Jesus off the hook, to solve the problems that are facing Him – giving Him bread to feed his body is the easy one. But Satan also offers to give Jesus the kingdoms of the earth. The reason why he makes this offer is important – Satan offers Jesus the kingdoms of the earth so Jesus does not have to endure the Cross in order to redeem the earth. It is a lie, of course as the kingdoms already belong to Jesus and the Cross was the only way to redeem, but Satan is a liar so it makes sense that his way is untrue. Satan offers the quick and easy way around to results that are good on their face — he says avoid the pain, rejection and suffering, just trust in me and it will work out ok.
As with the similar offers with us, if Jesus took him up on the offers to avoid pain in the process He would avoid the mission that the Father has laid out for Him.
What is particularly interesting about this is that there is no indication that Satan appears as a scary red figure. He also quotes the Bible repeatedly in order to try to induce Jesus. He misquotes the passages, leaving somethings out and also twists the meaning of the passages to suit his purpose but he does quote the Bible. Satan quotes chapter and verse to Jesus, God Himself in order to try to get Jesus to not follow the will of the Father.
Given the sheer brazenness involved, do you think that Satan and his peeps have any hesitation coming to us wearing a veil of religiosity and quoting God’s Word in order to knock us off track? Do you think they are going to be more effective looking like the little red guy off of the Red Devil paint can or some horribly deformed demon ….. or like the super competent well dressed successful business woman – the angel of light as Paul talks about in Galatians. “I know what the Bible says and it is not the simple directions that Jesus gave in the Bible that bring freedom and peace, its work and trial and giving me money” they will tell you. Attacks from the drug addicts and those with swastikas on their foreheads are easy to scope out – those from the guy who looks all pious complete with shaved head in a religious frock are harder to see coming and contend with.
God gave us His Word for just this reason – to contend with the fiery arrows of the enemy. In response to Satan’s Bible twisting do you know what Jesus does in Matthew 4? He quotes the Bible, Deuteronomy in fact back to Satan — accurately, correctly applying the words as God intended and not twisting the Word to suit the flesh that was crying out for relief. The Word is His sword in the battle with Satan himself.
When was the last time we quoted Deuteronomy to anyone? Jesus goes directly to the Word of God and causes Satan to flee, to see his attempts at tempting Jesus are getting nowhere and go off and attack someone else. The Father of lies, Satan, is defeated by relying on God’s Word.
What does this have to do with witnessing you might ask?
Well, Jesus says that we are to be His witnesses:
“and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
What does a witness do? If we picture a trial, it is very clear – a person who is a witness is called to the stand to testify what that person saw and what was done to them or around them. A witness speaks. The disciples who heard this from their Lord directly immediately went out and preached the Risen Jesus again and again and again. Even when threaten with death by the Sanhedrin and the Roman Empire and commanded in the name of religion to not speak, they said well, God told us to speak the Gospel so we will do that — we don’t really care what religion has to say about it. Acts 4:19-20
“Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”
Where do they do it – per Jesus’ words at home, when they are about town and everywhere they are sent. In your town, your city, your county, your state and all the way to the end of the earth. Everywhere people of God get spread, they are to be His witnesses — preaching His Gospel, telling what they saw, what was done to them and what happened around them.
And you know what – people garbed with religion and all its trappings are going tell you to keep your mouth shut. Whatever you do, don’t tell anyone about your faith. They will tell you that it is offensive or just between you and God. Religion is fine as long as you do whatever you do in private, in your homes or to yourself — just for all things good and sensible don’t tell anyone or try to change anyone’s mind. They will even give you and out and quote supposedly Francis of Assisi, though there is no actual evidence that he said it, and say that we should preach the Gospel at all times, if necessary use words and beg you to justify not speaking up to preach Jesus. You being a good person is enough, people will just guess that you are a follower of Jesus because you live a good life — no need to tell anyone.
What does Jesus say in response – YOU, yes you reader will be my witnesses wherever you go every single day. If a witness is called to a witness stand and sits down and says nothing are they any use? Do you want to be faithful to the call that Jesus placed upon your life? Then speak, witness, testify to what He has already done for you. As a practical matter it is simple — just tell others what Jesus did for you. That is what a witness does. Jesus will take it from there.
I know that telling people about your faith and the hope that Jesus put in you is hard and scary. Sometimes people are not going to react well. But two things — 1) It gets easier as you do it and 2) It is worth it – Heaven rejoices when people come to Jesus. You have the opportunity to be part of saving someone from certain death. No matter the denomination, everyone should be an “evangelical”.
Can I get a witness?