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THE METHODS OF THE DEVIL AND THE POWER OF PRAYER

(SERMON #18 ON REVIVAL)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, March 15, 2015

“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).


I never really liked the writings of C. S. Lewis. That was probably more my fault than his. It was my fault because I disliked the people who admired his stories, like the Chronicles of Narnia. And I disliked his other writings because people who liked them seemed like quasi-intellectuals, people pretending to be smarter than they really were. I also disliked his own less than perfect beliefs. He sometimes spoke of something like “purgatory,” and other Roman Catholic doctrines.

On the other hand, C. S. Lewis said things about the Devil and demons that jump out of the page at you! For instance, he said,

“One of the things that surprised me when I first read the New Testament seriously was that it talked so much about the Dark Power in the universe – a mighty evil spirit who was held to be the Power behind death and disease and sin...this dark power was created by God, and was good when he was created, and went wrong. Christianity agrees with Dualism that this universe is at war. But...it is...a rebellion, and that we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel” – occupied by Satan (C. S. Lewis, Ph.D., Mere Christianity, HarperCollins, 2001 edition, p. 45).

Literary critic Kathleen Norris said, “Lewis seeks in Mere Christianity to help us see the religion with fresh eyes, as a radical faith whose [followers are like] an underground group gathering in a war-zone, a place where evil seems to have the upper hand, to hear messages of hope from the other side” (ibid., foreword, p. xix). Isn’t that exactly what the Apostle Paul is saying in our text?

“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:11-12).

Dr. W. A. Criswell, the distinguished pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, saw this, and spoke about it in a sermon titled, “War in the Spirit World.” He said,

      My Bible opens to a supernatural world – a world far beyond what my eyes can see...The earth and the heavens are peopled with powers [with demons] named by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:12. They are everywhere. My Bible opens to a spiritual world of conflict and war...All are caught up in this confrontation. That is why Paul writes, “our wrestling” is not face to face with flesh and blood, but against the powers of darkness, principalities, rulers, spiritual wickedness, these evil spirits that afflict and torment and attack us and before whom we are weak...There is no hope for us, no way out, no deliverance, no salvation, were it not that the great Lord God bares His arm to rescue us and save us...God does it, and only God is able to do it. We cannot do it ourselves. God has to do it...It is He and He only who is able to deliver us. [That is the only way we are] able to stand before what Paul calls ‘The wiles of the devil,’ the attacks of Satan (W. A. Criswell, Ph.D., “War in the Spirit World,” Great Doctrines of the Bible, volume 7, Zondervan Publishing House, 1987, pp. 79-84).

Listen to Ephesians 6:11 again,

“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).

The word “wiles” is translated from the Greek word “mĕthŏdĕía.” It’s easy to see that our English word “methods” comes from that Greek word “mĕthŏdĕía.” The text tells us to “stand against the methods of the devil” – against his schemes, his cleverness, his deceptive methods. One commentator said that the “wiles” or methods of the Devil are the “schemes...propagated through the evil world over which he rules, and are carried out by his demon hosts.” Satan’s methods or wiles include all the false ideas he insinuates and infuses into man’s mind. We must “stand against the wiles of the devil” as our text tells us. It is a spiritual battle. God must do it. And He does it in answer to prayer!

I. First, we must stand in prayer against the methods Satan uses to keep the lost from being saved.

What are his methods that keep people from being saved? Here are some of the main methods he uses.

He tells them that they are good enough already. “Look,” he says, “you are not as bad as other people. You go to church. You give money to the church. You read the Bible. Why be concerned? You are good enough already.” What a Satanic lie! Remember what the Pharisee said,

“I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers...I fast...I give tithes of all that I possess” (Luke 18:11-12).

Jesus said that man was lost! He was depending on being “good.” But the Bible says, “Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:9). The Bible says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us” (Titus 3:5). We must pray for those who think they are “good enough.” We must pray for them to be delivered from Satan’s lie!

Also, the Devil “takes away” the Word of God from their minds and hearts when they hear the Gospel.

“Then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved” (Luke 8:12).

When lost people hear Gospel sermons, the Devil “taketh away the word” to keep them from trusting Jesus, and being saved. In Mark’s Gospel it says, “Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word [from] their hearts” (Mark 4:15). In the sermons I often say, “Don’t look for a feeling to prove you are saved. Trust Jesus, not a feeling.” Yet the Devil “immediately” takes away the words from their hearts! I say, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). But Satan comes immediately and “taketh away the word” (Mark 4:15). They will never be able to remember the Word of God and be saved unless God intervenes and illuminates their minds! We must fight the demons in prayer! Only God can make the sermons come to them “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (I Corinthians 2:4). We must pray to God for them. Otherwise they will be tricked by the “wiles of the devil” forever (Ephesians 6:11).

Added to that, the Devil blinds the minds of the lost. The Bible says that Satan “hath blinded the minds of them which believe not” (II Corinthians 4:4). The Greek word translated “blinded” means “to obscure, to envelop with smoke” (Strong). Dr. A. T. Robertson said, “They refused to believe and so Satan got the power to blind their thoughts” (A. T. Robertson, Litt.D., Word Pictures in the New Testament, volume IV, Broadman Press, 1931, p. 225). Satan makes the Gospel smoky and unclear. Only God can make the Gospel clear to them. That is why we must pray to God. As Dr. Criswell said, “It is He and He only who is able to deliver [them].”

And, then, the Bible teaches that the lost are held in “the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (II Timothy 2:26). They are prisoners of the Devil. They are enslaved by wrong thinking, by pornography, by video games (by the hour), by lost friends, by fear of what someone may say if they become real Christians. Many people are enslaved by some fear, usually the fear of losing something.

These are some of the “methods” Satan uses to enslave his victims and keep them from trusting Jesus. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “We must recognize the fact that our adversary, the devil, does in various ways...exercise a tyranny and power over many. We have to understand that we are fighting for our lives against some tremendous power. We are up against a powerful adversary” (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, volume 2, Eerdmans, 1987, p. 148).

Here I must add a few words on prayer from the great Reformer Luther. He said,

The Devil knows well how powerful one man’s truly believing prayer is, how it hurts him and benefits [lost] men. Therefore the Devil dislikes prayer.

Luther knew by experience that our prayers are a powerful force against the Devil!

II. Second, we must stand in prayer against the methods Satan uses to stop revival.

Our text says,

“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).

Look at the Table of Contents in any modern hymn book. Look up the subject of “prayer.” It’s shocking to see how few hymns there are on intercessory prayer!

“I Am Praying For You”
“Teach Me to Pray”
“‘Tis the Blessed Hour of Prayer”
“Come, My Soul, Thy Suit Prepare.”

That’s about it!

Very few songs about intercessory prayer are in modern hymnals. Why?  Because people don’t want to sing about prayer. They don’t want to sing about prayer because they don’t pray! Wednesday night “prayer meeting” was held in every church when I was a teenager. Today prayer meeting has been replaced by AWANA, or, at best, by “Bible study.” Endless Bible study, but no united prayers, no prayer meetings. They may have someone say a prayer before the Bible study. But these meetings are in no sense prayer meetings. I believe one reason preachers gave up prayer meetings was because they were so dead. Dead, dry Baptist prayers are truly horrible!

I tried to teach our young men how to pray. But when one of our men visited another church, he stood up to pray. The preacher told him to be quiet, “You don’t have to yell at God!” Baptist preachers like that have contributed to the death of our prayer meetings! Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the great British preacher, said,

Without an element of importunity and persistence, or urgency and almost a holy violence with God, we have little right to expect that God will hear our prayer and answer it (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Joy Unspeakable, Kingsway Publications, 1995, p. 224).

In revival no one will worry about a young man praying with “urgency and holy violence.” Dr. Lloyd-Jones knew that because he once had a revival in his own church.

Yes, we should pray when we are alone for revival. We should pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on our church every time we pray. But there is unusual power when the church prays together in unity. The strong men in the church should lead out in open prayer. Everyone else should make the prayers their own by saying “Amen” as each request is prayed for. My long-time pastor at the Chinese Baptist church was Dr. Timothy Lin. Dr. Lin said,

Satan knows (though Christians may not) that prayer is the procedure for the appropriation of God’s riches...Therefore, the closer it is towards the eve of our Lord’s second coming, the greater Satan’s pressure will be against prayer!...only when Christians pray in one accord from the standpoint of the entire church...can the church [have] authority (Timothy Lin, Ph.D., The Secret of Church Growth, FCBC, 1992, pp. 96, 92-93).

We can overcome Satan only through intercessory prayer. And prayer in one accord, in the prayer meeting, is the way of receiving God’s answer. Dr. Lin said,

The Church of the last days, however, cannot see the reality of this truth...What a great loss it is! [We want] to bind the work of Satan, to loose the downtrodden, and to further experience the reality of God’s presence. Alas, it cannot be done! (ibid., p. 93).

Each one of us should pray for God’s presence in our services. This should be part of our prayers every day. But prayer meetings are even more important. Jesus was talking about united prayers when He said,

“Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:19-20).

This shows the great power of united prayer!

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “Real prayer means taking hold of God and not letting go” (Revival, Crossway Books, 1987, p. 305). Only when we pray like that will God send forth His power among us. Then we will see many conversions!

We are doing better. But let us pray even more for God’s presence among us! We have seen seven hopeful conversions in the last three weeks. These, of course, were not just “decisions,” but hopefully real conversions. May this be only the beginning! Our Lord is able to deliver the lost from Satan’s grip! Every time you pray, be sure to pray for God’s presence in our church. Every time you pray ask God to give us more conversions. And do your best to join with us in the prayer meetings each week! May the Lord bless us with His presence in answer to prayer! Jesus loves you. He shed His Blood to cleanse you from sin. He rose from the dead to give you life. Dr. Cagan and I will be in the inquiry room for the next hour. Come and see us if you are ready to trust Jesus. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Ephesians 6:10-20.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“‘Tis the Blessed Hour of Prayer” (by Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE METHODS OF THE DEVIL AND THE POWER OF PRAYER

(SERMON #18 ON REVIVAL)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).

I.   First, we must stand in prayer against the methods Satan uses to
keep the lost from being saved, Luke 18:11-12; Ephesians 2:9;
Titus 3:5; Luke 8:12; Mark 4:15; Acts 16:31; I Corinthians 2:4;
II Corinthians 4:4; II Timothy 2:26.

II.  Second, we must stand in prayer against the methods Satan uses to
stop revival, Ephesians 6:11; Matthew 18:19-20.