Sermon – 10-27-19 – Reformation Sunday – Cycle C
Scripture: Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 46; Romans 3:19-28; John 8:31-36
Sermon Title: “What to Do About Satan?”
Is Satan, otherwise known as the devil, real? Is there really a hell? Why do bad things happen to good people? All questions of the ages! Each of us present in this holy space at this moment, have different opinions and experiences with these questions.
Scripture tells us that Satan once lived with God but Satan tried to be more powerful than God and God chased Satan out of heaven. Don’t you wonder why God did not obliterate – get rid of – Satan completely? Not only did God not obliterate Satan, he did not take power from Satan. God gave Satan permission to have his way with people. Remember Job?
God specifically gave Satan permission to test Job. One by one, Job lost property, animals, family, health. Job’s friends urged Job over and over to confess something he had done wrong so God could forgive Job and restore his goods and kindred. Job insisted that he had done nothing wrong. So the misery continued chapter after chapter. Job is a rather long book just before the book of Psalms in the Bible. Finally, God explained the situation to Job in no uncertain terms, even though the words are beautiful.
These words of God spoken to Job take us back to the story of Creation in the book of Genesis. God asks Job if he could have handled creation. Could he have separated the land from the water? Could Job have done this? Could Job have done that? We get the point. Only God could have created the planet earth. None of us could have done that. The Satan part of this story for us is that we need to resist thinking of ourselves as being righteous and in control. That is just when Satan moves in and starts to cause trouble – a little at first, then bigger and bigger.
Thinking that Satan has no power is risky. Satan lost his place close to God but he did not lose his power yet. Will he ever lose his power? Yes, the Bible says that when Jesus comes again, Satan’s power will be gone. There will be no more Satan. Meanwhile, we need to close our lives to the power of Satan wanting to claim us for his own. We do not need to fear Satan. We belong to someone else. We belong to the one who has the winning power. Satan’s power will never exceed the power of God.
Satan cannot claim us if we believe in the power of God. If we accept the fact that we are already claimed. In our baptism, we are claimed by God. God sent Jesus Christ, his only Son, to earth to take our sins upon himself. Jesus has the power to rebuff Satan. We need to claim Jesus as our Savior. Jesus saves us from temptation. Jesus is the saving power when we fail to resist temptation. We say to God, “Let us not fall into temptation.” We say it every Sunday.
Many of you tell me that you pray the Lord’s Prayer at least once each day. You are claiming the power of Jesus over Satan. “Deliver us from evil,” we say. And Jesus will. But we can’t just sit back and watch Satan and Jesus battle over our souls! We have to be actively engaged with Jesus and the Holy Spirit and the Father.
So the next time that luscious piece of chocolate cake appears in front of our eyes, we can ask Jesus if we could please just enjoy that cake or is it going to take our blood sugar count way up or will the scale continue to be our enemy. I think the scale is a tool of Satan. Who wins this temptation? Will Jesus help us to resist something that would temporarily make us feel so good?
If Satan got his way with us in a bigger, more disastrous way, is it too late? It is never too late to come to Jesus. So if we hurt someone big time and the price we are paying is our own ruined health and ruined peace of mind; if it is not well with our souls, we need to turn to Jesus. Jesus may lead us to apologize or to make recompense to the person or persons we have hurt. Ouch! “No! No!.” we say.
Seems impossible at first thought. We need to keep thinking and then think again continually. The needed action is becoming clearer. But, how will this apology or recompense effect our family? How will making recompense effect our jobs? And, how will this action effect the life of the one we have hurt? Take it to Jesus! Jesus will guide the way. Jesus and the Father and the Holy Spirit will have things fall into place. . By taking this dilemma to the Holy Ones, we come closer to God. The wall that had been between ourselves and God is gone. We can accept the love and forgiveness that is waiting for us through Christ Jesus. He paid the price. It is ours to claim.
Yes, the price is paid. We do not even need to do good works for the grace and peace of God to fall upon us. It is free. Then we go forth in thankfulness for our unbound hearts. We go forth in the midst of our families. We go forth into the world sharing this good news. Keeping it to ourselves would be more sinning. Satan be gone!
Please find the last hymn in your bulletin. First verse, third line: For still our ancient foe does seek to work us woe with craft and power great, and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal. Second verse: Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing, But there is one who takes our side, the One of God’s own choosing. You ask who that may be? Christ Jesus sets us free! With mighty power to save, victorious o’er the grave, Christ will prevail triumphant. 3rd Verse, last phrase: One little word shall fell them (meaning the powers of evil).
It is God’s truth and God’s reign which matter; not our goods and possessions. Even kindred. It is God who must have our foremost attention. Even our own earthly lives. We seek the holy prize.
Paul explains “the prize” in Romans 3:22-25a: “. . . the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith.”
That is when we can truly say, “It is well, it is well, with my soul.” Though evil should tempt me, though trials should come, let this blessed assurance control, That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, and has paid life and blood for my soul. It is well, it is well with my soul!”