If you think in terms of evil, why are you a Christian? First, you are a Christian because you do not want to live a life ruled by evil. A Christian chooses to totally redirect his or her life. You do not want evil to create your attitudes. You do not want evil to create your emotions. You do not want evil to control your reactions. You do not want evil to be in charge of your thinking. You do not want evil to form your values. You do not want evil to dictate your morality.

You are a Christian because you place Christ in charge of your life, your attitudes, your emotions, your reactions, your thinking, your values, and your morality.

  1. In the middle section of the book of Ephesians, there is a paragraph of very practical instructions in chapter 4.
    1. In chapter 3 Paul wrote a prayer that he prayed for them (Ephesians 3:14-21).
      1. Through the Spirit may God use His power to strengthen your inner person.
      2. May your faith let Christ live in your hearts.
      3. May you be rooted and grounded in love.
      4. May you comprehend God's purposes in every dimension of existence.
      5. May you know the love of God, for that love goes beyond your knowledge.
      6. May you be filled with all of God's fullness.
    2. Then Paul asked them to do three things (Ephesians 3:20-4:24)
      1. Know that God through His power can do more than they could imagine.
      2. Work together as the maturing body of Christ.
      3. Remember that they left godlessness to be a new person in Christ.
    3. Then came those practical, down-to-earth instructions (Ephesians 4:25-32).
      1. Refuse to lie, and tell each other the truth.
      2. Get over any anger quickly.
      3. Don't give the devil an opportunity.
      4. Stop stealing, go to work, and earn what you have.
      5. Use a part of what you earn to help people who are in need.
      6. Speak only speech that is helpful to others.
      7. Don't give the Holy Spirit grief in your life.
      8. Don't be bitter, or in conflict, or slander, or harbor malice.
      9. Be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving.

  2. In those instructions notice this one: "Don't give the devil an opportunity."
    1. Do you knowingly, intentionally, by plan, ever do that?
      1. Do you ever wake up saying, "Today, I believe that I will give the devil an opportunity"?
      2. Do you ever say, "This is a good situation for me to give the devil an opportunity"?
      3. Do you ever say, "I think this situation would improve if I gave the devil an opportunity"?
      4. I seriously doubt that.
    2. But, "after the fact," do you look back at what you did or said and realize, "I can't believe it, but I really did give the devil an opportunity"?
      1. Everyone of us looks back at the things that we said or did only to be embarrassed to realize that we really gave the devil an opportunity.
      2. Please note that if the devil has opportunity in our lives, speech, or actions, we gave it to him.
      3. Satan does not overpower us; Satan deceives us.
        1. The lie had its origin in Satan (John 8:44).
        2. He is the master of deception--no human can equal him.
      4. Look in your own life.
        1. A Christian rarely realizes Satan is using him or her while he or she is being used.
        2. Only when you realize what you said or how you acted do you realize that Satan used you.

  3. One of Satan's favorite tactics among Christians is to motivate them to use evil to accomplish good.
    1. Personally, I believe this is his most effective tactic among Christians.
      1. "This ungodly attitude is right because I am just standing up for what is right."
      2. "These ungodly words are good in this situation because I have to use ungodly words to defend God's purposes."
      3. "Ungodly motives are the right motives for this situation because it is the only way to 'get done' what God wants done."
      4. "Here and now hate is good, wrath is good, meanness is good, horrible attitudes are good, destructive words are good--it is all for a godly cause."
    2. When we allow Satan to distort our thinking and perspective, we give the devil an opportunity.
      1. It always "makes sense" to do it Satan's way.
      2. It is always practical to do it Satan's way.
      3. Satan deceives us by getting us to think that his ways work for God, so we give the devil an opportunity.

  4. I told you from my heart the great joy that I find in you as a congregation.
    1. One thing gives me special joy.
      1. To see the healing that has occurred in this congregation, and to watch that healing continue gives me special joy.
      2. We are composed of people who have different backgrounds, different perspectives, and different concerns.
      3. We have major differences in the way we view life.
      4. We have different priorities, different concerns, and different approaches to the major problems in our society.
    2. But in all our differences, things continue to emerge that we hold in common.
      1. We have a common faith in Christ.
      2. We have a common devotion to God's purposes.
      3. We have a common commitment to understanding and living by the Bible.
      4. We have the common understanding that God and Christ expect us to love and respect each other simply because all of us are in Christ.
    3. As I watch our healing continue and our oneness in Christ grow, I rejoice and give God thanks.

May we all be devoted to cooperating with God as the healing continues and the oneness in Christ grows. May we be careful as persons and a congregation not to give the devil opportunity.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 14 June 1998

This sermon is also available in French.

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