Monday, August 30, 2010

2 Peter 3 – The Lord’s Return

2 Peter 3 - The Lord's Return


Jesus IS coming back! Throughout the centuries, the reality of that wonderful promise has formed the crux of Christian expectation. It is the church's blessed hope (Titus 2:11-14), her utmost longing (cf. Rom 8:23), and the great climax of salvation history (Matt 25:31-46); a time of redemption for believers (Eph 4:30) and a time of judgment for God's enemies (2 Thess 2:1-12).1


 1 Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), 2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior,


["stir up your pure minds by way of reminder" or to refresh your memory about the words that have been spoken by the prophets and the apostles. Following chapter 2 where Peter spoke of false prophets, he now reminds believers of the genuine source (God the Father through the prophets in the OT, Jesus through the apostles in the NT) of the words concerning the second coming of Jesus Christ. Remember chapter 2 called false teachers "mists on a tempest" or clouds of confusion, who inject concerns that don't even matter to deceive you to stray from the faith. Some of this confusion had clearly been introduced to the churches.]


3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation." 5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.


[We are in the last days, (the age of grace) between Christ's ascension and His return. Peter says foremost in importance is to realize that scoffers, or false teachers, will come. In Matthew 24, Jesus tells us that deceivers will come. Peter also says that they will come with their evil desires. The scoffers mock God saying, "Where is the promise of His coming?" Verse 5 and 6 reminds us that the earth was created and destroyed by the word of God. Cosmologist have learned that planet formation is just the way Genesis 1 describes, formless and covered in water, what is unusual is that the earth developed an atmosphere and water cycle to keep that water as the land formed, where on other planets it just evaporates. By that same word the current world is maintained, waiting for the day of judgment, when all the natural world will perish with the ungodly.]

8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.


[Peter reminds us that God's timing is different than ours, he is eternal, what is a thousand years to an eternal God? Science teaches us that time itself was created at the same instant as the temporal universe. God literally made time for us. God will deliver on his promise according to His will, and His timing will be perfect. The "age of grace" is the time of salvation, its duration demonstrates our God is longsuffering and merciful and His desire is that none should perish, that more souls have the opportunity to repent, but his patience will come to an end.]


10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.


[Peter describes the end as being quick and unexpected, as a thief in the night.

Revelation says "Day of the Lord" is a day of wrath, a horrible outpouring of judgment. Verse 7 said "reserved for fire", verse 10 says the elements will melt, do you realize what kind of heat that is describing? That is like all the stars in the universe exploding in super nova all at the same time, and this seems an accurate understanding of the "heavens will pass away with a great noise". There is actually a controversy about verse 10 because there are two very similar Greek words found in different manuscripts, one means "burned up" and the other means "exposed" or "found". So they argue whether or not the earth is destroyed or simply remade, is the "new earth" of scripture all new, or recycled? I don't really see a conflict because 1 Corinthians 3:13 says our works will be "revealed by fire", so it seems that once the natural is burned up then all that remains is spiritual. So since verse 11 says all these things will "be dissolved", that will remove the covering and expose the true nature of all things, especially us and our works. Knowing this Peter asks believers, "How should you be living?" If only "righteousness dwells" in the new earth, why would we waste out time on things that will simply dissolve?


A lot of people like prophecy, but the primary motivation of prophecy is not to satisfy your curiosity about the end times, but to motivate us to live changed lives, looking hopefully for the fulfillment of his promises.]

14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that
the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.


[Verse 14 begins with "Therefore". Peter is referring back to the previous verses where he has stated that the Lord's WILL return. "Therefore", as believers we should remain steadfast in our faith and be found spotless, without blame, and at peace with God. In essence Peter is saying, "The Lord's return IS coming and His promises are true, THEREFORE, look forward to His promises and be diligent to live as He has commanded."


God is longsuffering and what scoffers or false teachers see as inaction on the part of God is a beautiful display of God's patience toward us, allowing us time to repent and be saved (the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation). Peter acknowledges that Paul has had also written these same things and that some were hard to comprehend. If you ever witness to skeptics you will hear some of their objections to the Bible are based on the "twisted" things that "untaught" and "unstable" people have told them, revealing how important the Holy Spirit has been in aiding our understanding of scripture. Even in the Garden of Eden Satan was twisting the word of God in order to deceive mankind. The Old Serpent tried the same thing when he was tempting Jesus in the wilderness, but Jesus had a better command of the scripture, and overcame Satan with the truth of God's word. Here Peter says that people twist God's word to their own destruction.]


17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.


[So to the faithful Peter extends this friendly warning. Since those who twist God's word will be destroyed, don't be led away with the error of these wicked false teachers, but instead know God's word, remember his promises, increase in knowledge of the Lord, and grow in grace. The attributes of God include holiness and glory. Any teaching we receive should glorify God, and prompt us toward holy living, growing in the likeness of our Lord. A big motivation for righteous living is the expectation of Christ's return.


It is important to remember Isaiah 55:8-9. His thoughts are not our thoughts and our ways are not His ways. His ways and His thoughts are much higher than ours. This is where our faith must be stable to lean on the promises of God!]

APPENDIX - Paul's Gospel of Freedom.


So what did Paul write that has been so twisted by "untrained and unstable" teachers? I think the best hint comes from the previous lesson on false teachers.

2 Peter 2:19 says "While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption". So Paul's writings on Christian liberty become prime suspects.


Romans 8:1-5 – no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus

2 Corinthians 3:1-18 - the spirit is life, the law is death

1 Corinthians 6:12 & 10:23 – all things are lawful for me

Galatians 5:1-6 – only faith saves


So if a false teacher took these passages out of context he could spin the meaning to suggest that you can do whatever you want to in your own body and God will not be offended. What is wrong with that idea is that it is taken out of context; it presents an incomplete and purposely deceptive view of scripture.


Romans 8 says "no condemnation" but it also says to those who don't walk "according to the flesh". Further clarifying later in Romans 12 Paul says that our bodies should be a "living sacrifice"


2 Corinthians 3 concludes the result of the liberty of the spirit is to be turned into the image of the glory of God.


1 Corinthians 6:12 & 10:23 does say all things are lawful, but all things are not profitable, and Paul asserts he will not be brought "under the power" of any desire.


Finally in Galatians 5 you only have to keep reading down to verse 13 to find "use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh".


So in context we see that liberty will not lead us back into sin but rather liberty takes us beyond the law to serve others, control our passions, and glorify God, and everyone can see Christ likeness in that.




Sunday, August 22, 2010

2 Peter 2 – False Teachers

[Chapter 1 gave us a clear outline of growing in grace. But what if you don't grow? Is there a danger? Chapter 1 verse 9 says: "For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins." The blind and shortsighted can't see when they are being led astray. They walk right into trouble, not realizing they are wandering from the truth of Christ and the apostles. Chapter two is their warning.]


 1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.

[There is nothing more offensive to God than the distortion of His Word (cf. Rev. 22:18-19). Peter uses strong language to describe those who were introducing heretical teachings.


False teachers secretly and deceptively enter the church, posing as pastors, teachers and evangelists. Posing as true shepherds they introduce destructive heresies. Destructive (apoleias) literally means "utter ruin" and speaks to the spiritual ruin of people. Out of their greed and for their gain, false teachers "exploit" people with their words to get them to follow in their destructive ways. God has long had a plan for those who teach false truths and lead people astray.]


How can we, as believers, identify false teachers? Where might we find false teachers in today's society?


4 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; 6 and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; 7 and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked 8 (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)— 9
then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, 11 whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord.


[This passage is very similar to one in the Book of Jude leading some to dispute the authorship of 2 Peter. Both were covering the same subject, and used the same Old Testament Illustrations. What is likely is that one just borrowed from the other understanding that the warning had already been well said. It is also likely that Peter used a secretary to write 2 Peter since it dates to right before his death, probably while in prison in Rome.


He reminds us that God did not spare the angels that sinned. If angels were created above earthly people and God punished the fallen angels, He will without a doubt punish fallen people. He further gives us the reminder that in the days of Noah the ancient world was not spared, except for 8 people; and in the time of Lot, God also did not spare Sodom and Gomorrah despite Lot's pleas. In the days of Noah mankind was given to demonic violence; in the days of Lot there was a depraved perversion of the human race. Both times God acted in judgment. In the days of Noah He destroyed the polluted earth by the flood' in the days of Lot He destroyed the perverted cities with fire. It is important to note, however, that the righteous, Noah and Lot, were spared from God's wrath.]


12 But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, 13
and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, 14 having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children.


[Peter gives us the first of two heresies brought in by these teachers. "Eyes full of adultery" points to sexual immorality. There are false teachers who claim the freedom to pursue their sexual desires, as though God is not concerned about sexual corruption. Dallas is home to one of the largest homosexual churches in the country. These churches call themselves "gay affirming" but to affirm an unholy lifestyle, you have to ignore the judgment and word of a Holy God. Not that homosexuals are the only ones with sexually permissive teachers, but is does seem appropriate the one of Peters examples of judgment was Sodom and Gomorrah, which God completely destroyed]


15 They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man's voice restrained the madness of the prophet.
17 These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.


[If you remember the story of Balaam he was a prophet of God who was tempted to curse the army of Israel for money. So the second sign of a false teacher is the love of money. These are easy to find today as prosperity theology seems to be to dominant view among TV preachers. These promote the superstition that those with the most faith will obtain the most possessions. They demote the Maker of the Universe to the role of Aladdin's Genie, who is only there to grant them their wishes. Where is the purpose, will and sovereignty of God in prosperity theology? In Balaam's story is was in a donkey who crushed Balaam's leg then spoke as a man.


Peter calls these false teachers "wells without water" something that looks like it should be a source of life and refreshment, but in reality it's just a dry hole. He also calls them "clouds (or mist) on a tempest", those who only sow confusion making it hard to see the truth of God's word. How many times have you seen TV preachers caught using charitable donations for personal use? I remember Bob Tilton and Richard Roberts, and W.V. Grant, just to name a few. Peter says God has reserved for them "the blackness of darkness forever" as a judgment. You can see God takes the offense of false teachers very seriously.]


18 For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. 20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit,"and, "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire."


[Who is harmed or entangled by these false teachers? Many times it is new Christians, those who have heard the gospel, but are confused and tempted by false teachers and fall back into sin.


Just as dogs and pigs can be washed and naturally return to their unclean living, Peter chooses these animals to describe the people who, hearing the wonderful news of Jesus Christ, return to a life of filth.


Jesus himself warned us of false teaching in Matt 24:4-5 stating, "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many."

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. ]

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

1 Peter 5 – The Conclusion

Conclusion of 1st Peter
I Peter 5:12-14

12 By Silvanus, our faithful brother as I consider him, I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God in which you stand.

"By Silvanus, our faithful brother as I consider him"

In his concluding remarks, the apostle Peter considers the faithfulness of "Silvanus"; which is another name for Silas. Silvanus is the Latin or Roman form, Silas is believed to be sort of a Greek nickname.

We know Silas from his travels with Paul (Acts 15:40; 16:25). He was a prophet (Acts 15:32, 40) and Roman citizen (Acts 16:37) who for this letter was Peter's secretary. He recorded the apostle's words and later delivered the letter to its intended recipients.

Peter calls Silvanus (Silas) a "faithful" brother, a model of commitment to the truth and the church, and to Peter himself. Silvanus (Silas) had endured many of the same persecutions for the gospel's sake as Paul on their journeys together and yet remained faithful to Christ and His church. He was now ministering by Peter's side and was entrusted to both record and deliver God's Word to the Church through Peter.

Silvanus is mentioned by Paul as part of his ministry team along with Timothy in his letters to the Thessalonians and Corinthians. This trio is first assembled in Acts 15 where Silvanus is called Silas by Luke. He was a missionary, a prophet, but he is a prime example of what we studied last week, always working with and in submission to the elders, in this case the 12 Apostles, but very much engaged in the battles of spiritual warfare. Clearly he was loved and respected by Paul and Peter.

Tonia and I ran one of the children's churches here for several years and In the old South Freeway building we had a wired stage with all the Audio visual equipment back stage. James Cox ran all the sound and video every week from back stage. The kids hardly saw him but he was central to the ministry, and he shares in all the fruit from those years of work. To me that's a Silvanus kind of person, always there to help, but seldom seen center stage.

"This is the true grace of God in which you stand"

What can Peter mean by this other than the letter itself, with all its gospel truth coming to his readers and all others who love the true, saving, sanctifying, and glorifying grace of God?

This is actually a claim to inspiration that in a sense previews Peter's statement in 2 Peter 1:20-21, "knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved (inspired) by the Holy Spirit" (NKJV).

In 2 Peter the apostle affirms Old Testament's inspiration, and here he speaks of his first letter being the truth concerning God's salvation. He wrote as an inspired, authoritative author of "the living and enduring Word of God" (I Peter 1:23). Because this is true, the apostle exhorts believers to faithfulness to the truth of his letter by exclaiming, STAND FIRM IN IT! This reiterates the call of 5:9 to remain firm in the faith. Rom. 5:1-2 reminds is to stand in the same grace and truth, that we first believed through faith, for salvation.

As Christians, we do not stand upon a foundation built by human hands. The Bible is NOT the book of the month; it is the book of the ages! Its truth is timeless and its source is Divine! The truth we hold is of GOD, not of man.

13 She who is in Babylon, elect together with you, greets you; and so does Mark my son.

Peter sends greetings from "she who is in Babylon, elect together with you". Some scholars say that Peter is referring here to the "church" which is in Babylon (or the figurative Babylon of Rome); other scholars say that he is actually sending greetings from his wife who travels with him. Yet another view is that Peter is referring to the diaspora, the dispersion, but chapter 1 says Peter is writing to the dispersion, so I find this view a little silly. Only the King James Version has rendered "she" as "the church". Either way (be it "the church", "Peter's wife", or the dispersion of believers") all are a part of the family of God and have fellowship with one another because we have been "elect together" in Christ.

Peter refers to Mark as his "son" indicating that he was the apostle's spiritual son (as Timothy was to Paul). This is the John Mark mentioned in Acts 12:12. He was Barnabas's cousin and accompanied Paul and him to Antioch and Cyprus (12:25; 13:4-5). He later deserted them at Perga (Acts 13:13), which caused Paul to refuse to take him along on the apostle's second missionary journey (Acts 15:36-41). Paul later found John mark to be useful to him (2 Tim. 4:11).

Can you point to a "son" or "daughter in the faith"? Only two things will last forever: the Word of God and the souls of men. Who are you bringing to heaven with you? Even the closest of earthly relationships will end in death unless you share a common faith in Jesus Christ.

14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to you all who are in Christ Jesus. Amen.

"Peace to all who are in Christ Jesus"

While the apostle Paul would often end his letters with the word "grace", Peter ends his with a word that he had often heard fall from the lips of the Lord Jesus Himself, "peace" (Mark 9:50; John 14:27; 20:19, 21, 26).

Peter wanted all the scattered and suffering saints to know that if they faithfully applied the words of his letter to their lives - God's supernatural peace would result.

Perhaps Peter recalled the time when he and the other disciples were in a wave tossed, water-logged boat thinking they were about to drown. Jesus was asleep in the stern on a pillow. They woke him up frantically saying, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?!" Jesus rebuked the wind and said, "Peace, be still!" and the wind ceased and there was a great calm (Mark 4:35-39).

Regardless of your circumstances, if Jesus is in your life, you can have peace that passes all understanding.

Philippians 4:7  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

The focus on Election, the greetings from other believers, and the blessings of grace and peace all serve to highlight the common faith, the common salvation, and the shared experience we have as believers in a fallen world.

These broken and battered believers that were being persecuted by a merciless tyrant could know peace in the midst of their storm. The same Jesus that saved them would also sustain them, secure them, and celebrate their arrival in heaven! Their loving Lord was preparing a home in heaven for them and would provide peace on their pilgrimage and joy on their journey home.

There is a lot of writing about suffering, and mourning in the Bible. Romans 12:15 tells us to "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep." This means to share the experiences of life as a community of believers. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said the mourners would be comforted, and the persecuted would inherit and be rewarded in heaven. Knowing the Lord, and trusting in his providence, allows us to always have peace regardless of circumstances.

Monday, August 2, 2010

1 Peter 5 – Submission in Spiritual Warfare

Submission to anyone is impossible without humility; because always the truly humble – and only the humble – submit. Peter encourages all believers to "clothe" themselves with humility. The word "clothe" literally means "to tie something on oneself" such as a work apron worn by servants. It describes the attitude of one who willingly serves, even in the lowliest of tasks (cf. 1 Cor. 4:1-5; 2 Cor. 4:7; Phil. 2:5-7). As Peter wrote this verse, he may have recalled Jesus tying a towel around Himself and washing his and the disciples feet (John 13:3-11).

To reinforce his exhortation for humility, Peter quotes from Prov. 3:34 "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble". Without question, the fact that "God resists the proud" is the greatest motivation for saints to adopt the attitude of humility. Pride sets one against God and vice versa. On the other hand, God blesses and "gives grace to the humble". God resists the proud and respects the humble.]

6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

[ "Therefore", "humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God". Why? So that "He may exalt you in due time".

The "mighty hand of God" is descriptive of God's sovereign power at work in and through the elders of the church, as well as in the life experience of His people. Whether for deliverance (Ex. 3:19-20), for testing (Job 30:20-21), or for chastening (Ezek. 20:33-38), God's might is always accomplishing His eternal purposes on behalf of His own (Rom. 8:28).

In their time of persecution, suffering, and testing, this assurance would encourage Peter's audience to persevere, knowing that all their suffering was only so that He may "exalt" them in due time.

If the foundational attitude for spiritual growth is submission, humility is, then, the footing to which that foundation is anchored. To become proudly rebellious, fight against the Lord's purposes, or judge the Lord's providence as unkind or unfair is to forfeit the sweet grace of His exaltation when the trial has fulfilled its purpose (cf. James 1:2-4). The Lord Jesus Himself promised, "Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 14:11).]

8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

[Here we see how humility becomes critical. When we are puffed up and filled with pride, we are satisfied with ourselves. When we are humble before God, then we are ready to be spiritually equipped for battle. Being confident in the flesh to take care of you in a spiritual battle is like bringing a knife to a gun fight. It leaves you at a serious disadvantage.

Satan is a dangerous enemy. He is a serpent who can bite us when we least expect it. He is a destroyer (Rev. 12:11; Abaddon and Apollyon both mean "destruction") and an accuser (Zech. 3:1-5; Rev. 12:9-11). He has great power and intelligence, and a host of demons who assist him in his attacks against God's people (Eph. 6:10). He is a formidable enemy; we must never take him lightly, ignore him, or underestimate his ability. We must "be sober" and have our minds under control when it comes to our conflict with Satan.]

9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

[As a serpent, Satan, deceives (John 8:44; 2 Cor. 11:13-15). Genesis 3 says that the serpent was more subtle, or cunning, than all the rest of creation. Because he is a subtle foe, we must "be vigilant" and always on guard. His strategy is to counterfeit or corrupt whatever God does. According to the Parable of the Tares, wherever God plants a true Christian, Satan seeks to plant a counterfeit (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43). He would deceive us were it not for the Word of God and the Spirit of God (1 John 2:18-27). The better we know God's Word, the keener our spiritual senses will be to detect Satan at work. We must be able to "try the spirits" and know the true from the false (1 John 4:1-6).

As believers we have essentially three enemies; the "unholy trinity of temptation":

1. An External foe – The World System (I John 2:15; Rom. 12:2; James 4:4)
2. An Internal foe – The Flesh (Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 2:3; Ps. 58:3)
3. An Infernal foe - Satan (Eph. 6:12)

Think of your flesh as a pool of gasoline. Think of the world as a lighted match. Think of the Devil as the one who strikes the match and throws it. This is how temptation Satan deceives and ultimately destroys. We must be watchful and vigilant to see Satan's deception for what it really is – our destruction.]

10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect (mend or restore), establish (connect or attach), strengthen, and settle (ground or lay the foundation) you.
11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

[This means that we take our stand on the Word of God and refuse to be moved. Ephesians 6:10-13
instructs us to "stand (against his plans)... withstand (the battle)... stand (still standing after the fight)." Unless we stand, we cannot withstand. Our weapons are the Word of God and prayer (Eph. 6:17-18) and our protection is the complete armor God has provided. We resist him "in the faith," that is, our faith in God. Just as David took his stand against Goliath, and trusted in the name of Jehovah, so we take our stand against Satan in the victorious name of Jesus Christ.

In our battle against the world the key is FAITH, that overcomes (I John 5:4-5).
In our battle against the flesh the key is FLIGHT, from temptation (2 Tim. 2:22; I Cor. 6:18; 10:13).
In our battle against the Devil the key word is FIGHT, be the resistance (Eph. 6:12; James 4:7; Rev. 12:11).

A word of caution here: never discuss things with Satan or his associates. Eve made this mistake, and we all know the sad consequences. Also, never try to fight Satan in the flesh. Resist him the way Jesus did, with the Word of God (Matt. 4:1-11). Never get the idea that you are the only one going through these battles, because "your brethren that are in the world" are facing the same trials. We must pray for one another and encourage each other in the Lord. And we must remember that our personal victories will help others, just as their victories will help us.

Had Peter obeyed these three instructions the night Jesus was arrested, he would not have gone to sleep in the Garden of Gethsemane, attacked with his sword, or denied the Lord. He did not take the Lord's warning seriously; in fact, he argued with Him! Nor did he recognize Satan when the adversary inflated his ego with pride, told him he did not have to "watch and pray," and then incited him to use his sword. Had Peter listened to the Lord and resisted the enemy, he would have escaped all those failures.

Both Peter and James give us the same formula for success: "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). Before we can stand before Satan, we must bow before God. That is why humility is critical for each of us, and the church as a whole.]