From TeachingtheWord's Bible Knowledgebase

Satan's "If" vs. God's "Amen"

Satan’s Implied Lies in the Life of the Christian

by Dr. Paul M. Elliott


Part 5 of a series. Read part 4.

Satan uses his implied lies to cause Christians to doubt their salvation.

In our last article we saw the deadly effects of Satan's implied lies about Christ and the Gospel on the visible church in our time. Satan constantly uses the technique of the implied lie to attack the body of Christ corporately. He also uses the same method to attack Christians individually.

We can find Satan’s implied lie, Satan’s "if", often creeping into our own hearts, into our own thinking. This takes many different forms. But one of the most frequent implied lies of the Devil goes like this: "If I am truly saved, if I am really a Christian, if God the Holy Spirit really lives within me, why do I still have such struggles with sin?"

Satan’s implied lie is that if you still have such struggles with sin, it means you’re not really a Christian. Have you ever been troubled by that lie of the Devil? No doubt many of us have. Let me take a moment to give you God’s answer.

The Christian's Present Position and Experience

When you were converted, when you placed your faith in the person and finished work of Jesus Christ alone for your salvation, you were, once and forever, fully and completely justified in Christ before God. Isaiah 61:10 tells us that you were at that moment clothed with the robe of Christ’s righteousness. The Holy Spirit took up residence within you.

But you are still a sinner. You are still "in the flesh." Martin Luther was a man who often used earthy illustrations. To bring out this particular point he used the illustration of the farmers' manure piles in the fields of Germany. In the wintertime, the snow completely covered the manure piles – but underneath the beautiful white snow, he pointed out, they were still manure piles!

And so it is with each of us – we wear the robe of Christ's perfect righteousness, so that we are really, perfectly, positionally righteous in the sight of God. Our sin problem has been dealt with, once for all. But underneath that garment, until we go to be with the Lord, we are still sinners in bodies of flesh, and we’re still living in a world that is under the curse. We have been delivered once and forever from the power of sin, but not yet from the presence of sin. As the Apostle Paul puts it, "evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good" (Romans 7:21).

An Irreconcilable Warfare

Because the Holy Spirit has taken up residence within us, there is an inevitable and irreconcilable warfare between our flesh and God’s Spirit. We might compare it to the body trying to reject a heart transplant. The transplanted organ is beneficial and life-saving to the body, but the body's natural defenses go to work to try to reject it as a foreign body.

In the same way, the Spirit is a "foreign body" to the flesh, and the flesh constantly tries to "reject" this "foreign body." As the Apostle Paul writes in Galatians chapter five, "the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish."

This association of sin with the flesh is so complete that Paul in Colossians calls the sins of "fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness" our "members which are upon the earth" (3:5). In Romans chapter seven, Paul tells us of his own experience: I do the very things that I now hate, Paul says, because of the presence of the Spirit within me.

The Conflict Itself Is a Comfort

Yet the Word of God makes it clear that you can take great comfort in this irreconcilable warfare within you, because it is a sign of two things: First, it is a sign of the fact the Holy Spirit does indeed live within you as the guarantee or down payment against the day of your ultimate redemption from this body of sin (Ephesians chapter 2). Second, the presence of this warfare in our lives demonstrates that the Holy Spirit is indeed at work conforming us more and more to the image of Christ (Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 3:18).

And through this grace of sanctification, the Holy Spirit will have the ultimate victory over the flesh. Those whom God justifies, He inexorably sanctifies, and ultimately glorifies. The "golden chain" that Paul sets forth for us in Romans 8:30 cannot and will not be broken. Our sanctification is not complete in this life, but we have the assurance that God will, as Paul tells us in Romans 7, "deliver us from the body of this death…through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 7:24-25).

So the next time Satan uses the technique of the implied lie to try to cause you to doubt your salvation because of your struggles with sin, you have your answer, from God’s forever settled Word.

Next: Satan's "Ifs" Forever Demolished



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