The book of Acts opens with Jesus returning to heaven after His victory over sin and Satan while on earth (Acts 1:1-11). Then after choosing Matthias to replace Judas (Acts 1:12-26) the believers waited for Jesus’ promised gift, the Holy Spirit. When He came they had God’s power and presence to help them in their life and ministry (Acts 2:1-13). The difference the Spirit makes is immediately seen in Peter’s change from a coward who denied Jesus (Mark 14:66-72) to courageous spokesman (Acts 2:14-40). Three thousand responded by putting their faith in Jesus (Acts 2:41).
LESSON FOR TODAY: God’s Spirit is essential for us to have victory in our battle against sin and Satan. Without His wisdom, guidance, power, peace and protection we wouldn’t be able to stand against all that comes against us. It is essential to learn to listen to Him, be sensitive to His guidance, follow His leading and know how to tap into His power.
Satan had failed to stop Jesus from sealing his doom by His crucifixion and resurrection. Satan was not able to stop Jesus from defeating him at the cross and the empty tomb. But if he could keep the gospel message from spreading, he could still rule the vast majority of humanity. His goal at this point became to limit the power of the brand new Christian church, intending to keep it weak, keep it from growing. So he put all his energy into defeating the early Christians, hoping to extinguish the spark before it grew and spread, and keep mankind in darkness and bondage. However, as we follow the growth of the early church, we will see how his attempts worked against him!
His first approach was to bring physical opposition. The early Christians experienced rejection, suffering, persecution, and imprisonment (Acts 4:1-4). However, this opposition actually worked against Satan! The disciples responded to their trials with increased faithfulness and commitment (Acts 4:5-22). God used even the efforts of the enemy to make them stronger as they trusted in Him and saw His provision (Romans 8:28).
LESSON FOR TODAY: While Satan still attacks the church today, God often uses persecution to make the church stronger and increases their witness. He uses Satan’s attacks for His purpose. All things may not be good in themselves, but God does use them for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). It has been said that the church can stand anything but success. Where the church has not faced opposition but has been popularly accepted, there has often been a compromising that leads to weakness among God’s people. While we never like to experience pain of any kind, God still uses it for His glory and our growth. This is a key way that we can defeat Satan’s efforts in our lives. We must respond to trials with increased faithfulness and commitment, as the early disciples did. In that way, we can actually turn Satan’s efforts against himself and take ground for God’s kingdom.
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)