Three Enemies of Faith

Every good thing has enemies of one sort or another. Whether it is in the world, in the garden, on the job, there are always enemies.

Faith is especially vulnerable. Protect it, guard it, support it, there will still be enemies to attack.

Paul put it right to the point when he said,

1 Timothy 6:12 12Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

There wouldn’t be a “fight” if there were no enemies. We can expect them. And look for them.

Jude (brother of Jesus) also indicated the need for a “fight” because he said our faith needs DEFENDING. That means there are enemies ready to ATTACK. What did Jude say?

Jude 3  3Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

We must CONTEND and EARNESTLY. What are the enemies of faith? They aren’t what most people think they are. There isn’t any devil lining up forces against us. James tells us where the evil comes from:

James 1:13–1513Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.

Notice where the enemy comes from:

14But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.

We get enough temptation right from within our own mind. That is where we need our defenses! The consequences are the same, whether the enemy is from outside or inside.

15Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

Let’s think about 3 enemies of faith. We will call them the 3 D’s, and they all pull DOWN.

Enemy #1: Deception (believing a lie that appeals to us)

Enemy #2: Denial (closing out reality)

Enemy #3: Distraction (pulled down by things too near)

All are easy to defend against if we are prepared.

Enemy #1: Deception

John was concerned about the enemies his family had to battle. It is too easy to be deceived, he cautioned, and for good reason:

1 John 4:1  1Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

The “spirits” are anyone teaching falsehoods. They profess to teach in the name of God, spiritual teaching relating to faith and prophecy, but it has no authority behind it. It is only the product of their own minds.

How can we know this is John’s thought? Note John’s own definition: “false prophets.”

1Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits [teachers], whether they are of God; because many false prophets [spiritual teachers] have gone out into the world.

He says, “test” them. Don’t believe them just because they sound logical and convincing. “Test” means

to “prove for oneself” (Liddell and Scott)
examine, test, approve, judge as good, genuine or worthy. DBL
to learn the genuineness of something by examination and testing- LN

Check them out first, he says, before you believe them—because many are “false prophets” just saying what they know people want to hear (just like today) and not the true teaching of Christ.

Don’t fall for deception, John says, and don’t deceive yourself. Here is the sure criterion:

1 John 3:7  7Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.

As always, actions speak louder than words, What does their LIFE say?

That is the real test of the “spirit,” or teacher. “He who practices righteousness is righteous.” Our LIVES must match what we teach.

The great enemy that is destroyed in the symbolism of Revelation is a deceiver. We can’t miss the symbols here:

Revelation 12:9  9So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

The deceiver is thrown out of authority! He is “the serpent” in Genesis, also called the Devil and Satan, “who deceives the whole world.” Taking down this deceiver from his dominant position of authority today will bring in the New World! There will be NO more deception then, anywhere in the world.

But right now the deceiver is very much in control.

Our first enemy of faith is deception. Our next enemy:

Enemy #2: Denial

It is very easy to deny even facts that we know if we don’t keep saturated with the faith that comes from one source. And how does faith come?

Romans 10:17  17So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

We must hear and KEEP hearing the Word of God if we would keep our faith strong. The deception is all around, there are “many false prophets.” The only TRUTH is coming from the word of God. That is why Jesus began His final appeal to us with,

Revelation 1:3  3Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

Read…hear… keep—it is so easy to go for “he thinks” or “she says”—or most of all, “I think,” and what do we have? We are DISPLACING the word of God with our own ideas, what naturally appeals to us.

If we are going to have faith, the Word of God must dominate our thinking. It must be the control on our thinking, because we know it is the Word of God and not just someone’s idea. It is as we have heard many times,

One word from God must mean more to us than all the sayings of all the men in the world combined.

That is why Psalms says,

Psalm 146:3-4  3Do not put your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. 4His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; In that very day his plans perish.

“Princes” may look handsome, and sound “knowing,” but they are no place for us to put our trust. There is no future for any thinking that does not come from God.

What are the two middle verses of the Bible?

Psalm 118:8, 9  8It is better to trust in the Lord Than to put confidence in man. 9It is better to trust in the Lord Than to put confidence in princes.

The more we understand what the Bible says on the various subjects it addresses, the more faith we will have. Faith comes with knowledge. Proverbs says,

Proverbs 2:3–5  3Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, 4If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; 5Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, And find the knowledge of God.

This is why it is so important to keep the Word in our mind, keep studying, keep going over the evidence. It is the only way to keep the faith. Jude mentioned it again in his letter:

Jude 20–21  20But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

We must keep building ourselves up in our most holy faith!

People think God gives us faith, but what He gives is the MEANS to get faith, His word. What we need is to read, understand, and learn His Word, and we will have faith. What did Job say about knowledge?

Job 28:20–21  20“From where then does wisdom come? And where is the place of understanding? 21It is hidden from the eyes of all living, And concealed from the birds of the air.

Then he answers his own question:

Job 28:28  28And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding.’ ”

This is the only way to defeat that inside enemy of denial. It is so easy to “turn down” what doesn’t appeal to us, but the word of God is the word of God, and not subject to our judgment or opinion!

It is so very easy to deny even facts that we know if we don’t keep saturated with the Word.

Now for our third enemy:

Enemy #3: Distractions

It is so easy to fall under this third enemy because it is—everywhere!

Where was the third place that the seed fell?

Mark 4:7  7And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop.

When Jesus explained the parable—at the disciples’ request—what did He say about this part of the parable?

Mark 4:18, 19  18Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, 19and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

Here is the third enemy of faith: the distractions of life.

19and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

Too much competition, the seed cannot gather enough sunshine or nourishment to grow a crop!

Luke made the same point about Jesus’ coming suddenly and finding us distracted by things too close:

Luke 21:34  34“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.

The distractions of life are probably our greatest threat. We need to be doing all we can not to be defeated by these enemies:

Enemy #1 – Deception (from outside)

           Test before we accept or believe

Enemy #2 – Denial (from inside)

           Keep saturated with the WORD

Enemy #3 – Distractions (from all around)

           AVOID distracting interests

The enemies may seem so innocent—certainly nothing wrong with many of them. But watch out—because they can take us down!

ETERNAL LIFE is too much to lose to ANY enemy!