Monday, November 4, 2002
Since September 11, 2001, Americans have gotten used to what someone has called the "new normal." Part of that is this color-coded terrorism alert system provided by the Government to let authorities and citizens know that the level of risk that they have assessed from recent intelligence has gone up or down. It's not a great shock that before and after the first anniversary of those September 11 attacks, there were increased indicators of possible terrorist activity. So, the Attorney General, John Ashcroft, announced that they were raising the alert status from yellow - level 3 on a 5-point scale - to orange, the second highest state of alert. In explaining how Americans should respond to that elevated risk, the Attorney General gave some simple advice that really stuck with me - "Be alert - and be defiant."
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Heightened Alert."
Long before the most recent terrorist dangers, followers of Jesus Christ have been warned to be on a terrorism alert - being prepared for possible attacks by the terrorist of the universe, the devil. In 1 Peter 5:8-9, our word for today from the Word of God, He says, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Resist him..."
In other words, when it comes to your very real spiritual enemy who would love to bring you down, be alert - and be defiant. Years ago, C. S. Lewis suggested that there are two extremes when it comes to our attitude toward the devil - ignoring him or being too curious about him. Lewis suggested that either attitude is one that your enemy can find very useful. Ignorance allows the devil to have his way in your life because you don't realize who's doing it or how he works. But, undue curiosity about the devil gives him a means of actually drawing you in his direction.
Focusing on the devil - thinking about him all the time, looking for him all the time - means you're not focused on Jesus, whom Satan cannot beat. Fearing the devil again leads to focusing on him and even being paralyzed by him. But taking the devil's attacks against you lightly sets you up to be walking right into the lion's jaws instead of defeating him in the power of Jesus Christ.
Just like those who are trying to thwart future terrorist attacks in America, it's important to assess when and where you're most vulnerable to enemy attacks - and to fortify those areas. You gotta be brutally honest about the weaknesses you have that Satan has exploited so many times. You know what they are, and you have to aggressively make Christ Lord in those areas, stay vigilant against even the smallest compromise or open door. And realize the times when you're most vulnerable to the terrorist - when you're in an emotional or spiritual wilderness, after you've won a major victory and you tend to let your guard down, when you're exhausted or stressed, or when you're around certain people.
And if God has been using you to make a difference - or if you've taken a major step forward spiritually - realize you're a high value target in hell. One veteran Christian leader says, "The ferocity of Satanic attacks upon you is in direct proportion to your potentially usefulness for Christ." His attacks are, in a way, proof that you are becoming a threat to hell's agenda.
Now, don't be focused on the devil. Don't be afraid of the devil. Don't be frivolous about the devil - be alert and be defiant. Resist him in the authority of Jesus' name. He is, after all, a loser. In God's words, "He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves ... Having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by His cross!" (Colossians 1:13, 2:15)