Tuesday, October 16, 2001
This past summer I introduced a group of young people to someone they started calling "Evil Bert." You see, Bert was actually a hand puppet I asked one of our more creative leaders to make for me. He was limited to the few materials we had at this training camp, but somehow he managed to create a primitive puppet - who just happened to have very black eyes, eyebrows, nose, mouth - and a not-too-friendly expression. Some said he looked a little like "Bert" of "Bert and Ernie" fame on "Sesame Street" - so he was "Evil Bert". And he certainly lived up to his name. He held this styrofoam bat in his hand, and as I walked around the room with Evil Bert on my hand, he kept hitting people with it. But was Evil Bert really the problem?
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "The Hand In The Puppet."
This was a very perceptive group of young people. They were somehow able to figure out that the blows were not really coming from the puppet - they were coming from the hand in the puppet. A conclusion that is not quite so obvious when the hand inside the puppet that's hitting you is actually your spiritual enemy - Satan.
But that's what God exposes in our word for today from the Word of God in Ephesians 6:10-12. This could shed some very revealing light on some of the hits that you've been taking recently. "Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God..."
If you've been getting hit hard by someone lately, these words from God may help you see beyond the obvious to what's really happening. Yes, it seems like what's happening to you is coming from "flesh and blood" - someone's attacking you, condemning you, criticizing you, persecuting you, slandering you, maybe trying to stop you, or causing you grief. And, to be honest, sometimes it's our own lousy choices or attitudes that bring on some of that negativity. But, at other times, the ultimate source of our difficulties isn't the human being that it seems to be coming from. Because the devil - your real enemy - uses human instruments as his puppets to try to bring you down. And there's no point in shooting at the puppet - it's the hand in the puppet that's really behind what's happening.
Maybe there are people in your life who are throwing some serious temptation in front of you. Chances are, they're not the issue - it's your enemy who is just using them to deliver a temptation that really comes from him. The point is to see what's going on for what it really is - spiritual warfare, not just problems with those people. When we see it as just a human issue, we just use it as human weapons to fight back - retaliation, compromise, scheming, politics, strategy.
But when you realize this is a spiritual battle against spiritual forces, hiding behind human faces, you bring out the heavy artillery - the armor of God, spiritual weapons, prayer wars, the name and the blood of Jesus. You don't fall into the trap of responding to sin with sin - because you know who you're really fighting.
So if a puppet is attacking you, don't attack the puppet. Realize there's a bigger enemy to deal with - the one whose hand is in that puppet. And you send Jesus to deal with him!