Stopping the Lying Thief
Read: Nehemiah 6:1-14; John 10:10; 1 Peter 5:8-9
When I glanced through the first e-mails of the morning, there was something different than the usual advertisements and devotions. One had the headline "Important". Admittedly, often that word means little or nothing because it is attached to a come-on; however, this time it was different. The message was a warning that someone might had attempted to use our credit card without our authorization. We were asked to check the charge and indicate whether or not we had approved it. When we received this message on a prior occasion, we had made the purchase in question, but the charge that was shown this time wasn't made by either my husband or me. I was very glad for the monitoring of the credit card company, and I appreciated the fact that the fraudulent charge didn't slip through. They were truly on the alert on our behalf.
There is another area where it is important to be alert and vigilant, especially for those of us who belong to Jesus. We have a real enemy, and Jesus has warned us that this Evil One's desire is to steal kill and destroy us. He tries to accomplish this wickedness through deception, John 8:44. He has been using this tactic since He deceived Eve in Eden, Genesis 3:1-6; 1 Timothy 2:14. Because Satan hates God and opposes His plan, it is His aim to cause those who love and serve God to experience lives that lack the abundance Jesus wants us to have, John 10:10. If the Evil One can keep our eyes off God's kingdom and His righteousness, our joy and fruitfulness can be lessened.
Nehemiah gives us a good example of the importance of recognizing Satan's lies and how our Spirit led vigilance is one weapon we have to stop the lying thief. In Nehemiah 6:1-4, we see the first tactic the Evil One often uses, diversion. Those who opposed Nehemiah's building project that he was doing by the prompting of the Lord, tried to pull him away from his work. They tried to set up a meeting, a time waster that had no purpose. I love Nehemiah's response. He was involved in a good work, and there was absolutely no reason for it to be curtailed. At this point, we sometimes think that surely Nehemiah is doing something noteworthy, but we aren't. Yet, when we are faithfully serving the Lord in any capacity, we too are involved in good work. If the Evil One tries to divert us from what the Lord has given us to do-whether our sphere of influence seems small to us or not-we can learn from Nehemiah and simply continue to walk faithfully, 1 Corinthians 4:2.
In Nehemiah 6:6-9, we observe a second tactic of the Evil One. Intimidation and discouragement. Diversion was unsuccessful; so, God's enemies made up a false story to spread, hoping that discouragement and bullying would cause the good work to cease. Again, I love Nehemiah's response. He pulled no punches, saying that the adversaries were simply making up stories out of their own heads. Rather than the lies of the adversaries lessening the zeal of Nehemiah's work, he went at his task with even greater fervor than he had before. When the work we do for Jesus is opposed, let's remember that if we are honoring the Savior, the words of others, though not what we would like, are not what counts. We serve the One Who will one day praise each of His children according to His perfect knowledge, 1 Corinthians 4:5.
Discouragement and intimidation accomplished nothing. So, in Nehemiah 6:10-13, a third tactic reared its ugly head. The enemies tried to make Nehemiah afraid in the hope that he would sin. Three strikes and they were out. That one didn't work either because Nehemiah didn't cower before them. He knew they weren't speaking for the Lord. The result? In Nehemiah 6:15, we read the happy news. The wall that Nehemiah set out to build was complete, and the project was accomplished in only 52 days.
We have the same weapons that Nehemiah used. When the Wicked One tries to thwart the work God is doing in and through us, we must first recognize His deception. He is like an unauthorized person who tries to make a charge on our credit cards. When we see his intrusion, we put a stop to it. In the case of Satan's deception, we thwart it the way Nehemiah did by exchanging the wicked lies with God's precious truth.
When the Savior's work was opposed by Satan, that is exactly what He did. When the scriptures were twisted, Jesus came against Him with what God had said in His Word, Matthew 4:1-10. If Jesus combated Satan with scripture, we can be certain that God's truth is our best weapon too. When we like Nehemiah are aware of truth, we will be less and less likely to fall into Satan's traps. And, if we do slip, our time of ensnarement will be shorter because the Holy Spirit will help us, more quickly, to recognize a lie.
Lord, help us to be watchful and equipped with Your truth. Strengthen us so we are able to continue to recognize and then stand against the tactics of the lying thief.