— Brother Phil Enlow: I have had one thought come to me a number of times…oh, over the past weeks, I guess. And then, Brother Ben actually referred to it specifically Wednesday night, and so, I’m gonna kind of pick up on some of the things he talked about.
And he mentioned the fact that right before Jesus went to the cross, if my memory serves correctly…can you imagine this…that Jesus made this statement about the Devil: He said, “…the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on Me.” (NIV).
And there’s a powerful truth locked up in that, that I believe every one of us here needs in one form or another, because the Devil, obviously has a tremendous stronghold on the world and he has a lot of influence, certainly on everyone that doesn’t know the Lord, but I mean, on every one of us, there are holds that he has.
And there’s a reason for that. And I think one thing we need to understand is that the holds that Satan has, don’t just come out of the ether waves. It’s not like he has unbridled power to just take over anybody he wants to. Rather, he takes advantage of things that are in us. And if those things were not there, then he would have…it would be like Jesus. He would have no hold, nothing he could take a hold of. If Satan does not have something in our nature that he can appeal to, that we tend to run to, then he is in a world of hurt.
And, I know we’ve used this subject before, but I feel like…I just pray the Lord will make it fresh and apply it to where we’re at right now in our journey. That’s what we need. We just don’t need a doctrinal lecture, we need something that’s gonna help us.
And, you know, many of you will remember the illustration that comes from some part of the world…I don’t know all the details, but you’ve heard about how monkeys are caught in some places. And the trick is to hollow…take a hollow gourd, drill a hole that’s just big enough for the monkey’s hand to get through, his paw to get through, and then put something in there that rattles around. And…but what you do, you chain the gourd to a tree, or to something.
And so, the monkey, his nature is to be relentlessly curious, to the point where he won’t let go. And so, he comes along and wonders what that is, and he picks it up and rattles it, and there’s something inside. And he wonders what that is, and he sticks his paw in there and he grabs it. But the hole is just such that he can’t get his hand back out. And so, the monkey is trapped, not by something that clutches his hand and puts him…he’s not in a cage, he’s not any of the ways that we normally think of trapping animals. He traps himself, by simply following his nature.
And that is the truth with every single one of us. And we have, again, the perfect example is our Lord and Savior. And of course, we’ve talked many times about how, when it came time for His ministry, what was the first step? He went into the Devil…into the Devil…into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil…spent 40 days, was in a place of great weakness and great need. He didn’t eat for 40 days. And so, He came to the end and, of course, His body began to react to that, and He began to be hungry.
And so, the Devil came and tempted Him in three particular areas that we’re told. Now I’m certain that that was not the whole of the temptation while He was out there. But basically, it was a temptation between following human nature, the desires that we are born into this world with, or following God’s will.
And so, He was tempted to satisfy His hunger. Well, He was out there in the will of God, and putting His own hunger and His own personal, physical needs ahead of God’s will was not right, and so He said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (KJV). There was a humbling of Himself in a time of real need, when His nature cried out to do one thing, yet He chose the will of God.
Was not that the pattern of His life? And is that not the pattern that He sets for us to live in this world. And so, then he appealed to His…okay, You want to do God’s will, let’s…why don’t you go prove to everybody…you say You’re the Son of God, go prove it. Let’s take You up on the pinnacle of the Temple and throw Yourself down. After all, doesn’t the Word say that if You cast Yourself down, if You fall down, His angels will catch You, and then everybody will know who You are, and it’ll be wonderful.
Well, that wasn’t God’s plan. And what’s behind that is kind of…what he was appealing to was human pride, that wants to do what we think is God’s will, our way. Now nobody here has ever done that…I get that. But if you ever run into anybody that has that problem, you’ll know what to tell them, right? We would never get in God’s way, we would never try to do a good thing a bad way, or in a self-willed way. But see that was what Jesus was being appealed to on the basis…that was the basis of the appeal.
But there was another thing that had to do with human pride, as well. And that was…You worship me. I’ve got control over the world, right? This is my world. You’re invading my world. But I have the power to give You authority over everything. But the condition is, You have to bow down and worship me. And so, obviously that’s not God’s plan, that’s not God’s heart or will.
But there is a heart of trust that God desires to bring us to, where we are able and willing to let go of everything that flows out of human nature, that attaches us to this world, because to the extent that we hold on to anything, it holds on to us. We are the prisoner. We’re not holding anything. And if you think you are, you just wait until the days comes when you’re in Dan’s position…and there ain’t no holding on. And we come to a point where we have to let go of everything that has to do with this world.
Well, thank God, this is not all there is! Now, the way human nature reacts, we would think that this is all there is. But…we know intellectually that it isn’t, but emotionally we have a problem with that. And so, as God deals with us in our lives, virtually every situation that we run into that gives us any trouble at all, where the Devil has any influence over us, the root cause of it, is that we are attached to something, that is of this world, in a way that is contrary to what God’s plan and God’s heart is, and God wants to cut us free from that.
But that involves, not some magic miracle, that involves us letting go of something to which we are attached. Now, you think about what it says that we’ve read many times in Philippians chapter 2, the perfect example that we have in our Savior. And this is what Paul is appealing to, wanting the disciples to be like him, and having the same love, and not just living for self, because human nature, as we’ve said many times, is all about self. It’s what pleases me, what makes me happy, what makes me secure, what…you know, whatever it is, there’s something that we get so attached to that we can’t let go.
I mean, you think about a little child. You know, we have ways to sort of disguise it, but a little child…you give them something that they feel very attached to, don’t you dare try to take it! That’s mine! We have this sense of, that’s mine, this possessiveness. And boy, I’ll tell you, you get a doll or something that a child has a hold of, that could be a stronghold in their minds and their hearts. Their emotional welfare is wrapped up in a piece of material.
But are we any different? We just have ways to make it more sophisticated, more grownup, but it all comes from the same thing.
So, here’s Jesus, and remember that He was with the Father before the world was, something we’ve pointed out many times. This is the One who spoke the worlds into existence. This was the One who was a glorious being before everything happened, was privy to God’s plans, knew from the start what was gonna happen, what was gonna be involved for Him.
And think about human nature versus the nature that was displayed in Him. He took all that glory and laid it aside and said, I am going to become a single cell in a human being’s womb, a human mother. At one point in my existence, I am going to be reduced to a single cell in a woman and then grow into a fetus, grow into a baby and be born and live in a broken world.
But I’m not gonna live like everybody else. I’m gonna show them what God is like, because I’m gonna let Him live in Me and I am not gonna live the way people do. And I am gonna do it so that I can set people free. I’m gonna show them the way out. I’m gonna provide the way out.
It’s not a matter of me educating them and saying, if you do it this way, then you’ll be okay. It’s…I’ve got to go to a cross. There are sins that separate human beings from a holy God, and the only way I can deal with that, the only solution to that, I’m gonna have to come down and be their sin-bearer. I’m gonna have to step in the gap for every human being that will put their trust in Me, because their sins stand in the way. But for someone to be willing to do that, how utterly contrary, different from human nature is that? Praise God!
Oh, how self-centered we are! Oh, how our happiness is invested in so many things that mean nothing. When we come to the end, we look back and we say, my God, that was so important to me! I just couldn’t let it go! My whole happiness was bound up in some stupid thing that I’ve got to totally let go of now. What does it mean, in the grand scheme of things? About nothing.
And so, here He was, “…made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant…” in Philippians 2, “…being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (NIV).
Boy, the idea of being obedient to death, it kind of runs counter to human nature, doesn’t it? There’s nothing we fear more than letting go and dying. And here’s Jesus, “…he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!”
But thank God, the message of the Gospel is to remind us that’s not the end! That is a pathway to the beginning! How many times have we said, we’ve inherited a life we can’t keep? And God has a life you can’t lose! And Jesus is the One who went to that cross to open that gateway so that we would have a way to live with Him forever free from all of this! He became sin for us, that we might, “…become the righteousness of God,” in him.” What a trade! Praise God!
But how do you become the righteousness of God without laying hold of the reality of what we are, and coming and just laying ourselves at His feet, and saying, oh God, I let go. I have no hope in myself. Lord, I’m nothing but a sinner. I have the guilt of my sins and the power that they hold over me! Lord, You are the only one that has the power to set me free! But it means I’ve got to let go.
There are so many things that hold men captive! You know, it could be simply the material things of this world. We have, certainly, many examples of that. The rich young ruler is the obvious one. There was only one thing that stood between him and this Kingdom that we’re talking about! Only one thing! What do you think he thinks about all this now?
I mean, you stand back and look at anything from a standpoint of eternity. What does anything that pertains to this world…what’s it worth? Absolutely nothing, but that’s not how we feel about it when we’re in the middle of it.
And you take a rich man, who is really used to his place of privilege. There’s pride, there’s a sense of possession…that’s mine. I can do as I please. I’m not like those poor beggars out there! And Jesus said, you only lack one thing. “Sell everything you have and give it to the poor…then come, follow Me.” Well, that was a bridge too far for that fellow.
But do you see what the barrier was? Was God keeping him out? Did the Devil have…did the Devil just absolutely prevent him…he had no possibility of getting in because the Devil had such a hold? No. He made a choice. There was something here in this world that was more important to him than the Kingdom of God.
I wouldn’t want to be that guy on the Day of Judgment, who was so close to the Kingdom of God. And Jesus wasn’t mad at him. It says, Jesus loved him in one of the accounts of that story.
I’ll tell you what, it’s…this is the price of admission. And it’s…and we think about it in terms of getting into the kingdom, and getting born again, and even getting our foot in the door…and that’s a critical thing. It was obvious it was a critical issue for him.
But our problem is, once we get in there are still areas…with every single one of us, of things that we’re not able to let go. I mean, it gets right down to stupid stuff. There are a whole lot of people who just get all bent out of shape if the toothpaste is rolled instead of squeezed. I mean, their welfare depends on how you handle the toothpaste! And it’s a silly example, but it’s a real one.
Our emotions get so invested in the smallest, most inconsequential things of life! Oh, how we long for…just happiness, whatever that is. Happiness is related to the word ‘happening.’ It’s trying to find pleasure in circumstances. Good luck…in this world!
If you and I suddenly acquired divine power to do whatever we wanted to do to please ourselves, how do you think that would actually work? We would be miserable in short order! There is nothing to be gained from investing our affections in this world. Those that are Christ’s have crucified the world, with the affections and the lusts thereof. God wants to set us free. He gives us, He blesses us in so many ways in this world!
But I’ll tell you, it’s like Jesus said. I mean, look at Matthew chapter 6, familiar scripture. The more I started to think about this, the more scriptures I thought of, and I said, whoa, there’s a lot to get through here. But I’m not gonna worry about any of that. I’m not gonna get emotionally invested in that. I mean, I’m serious! This is a real issue with all of us. The silliest little thing. I wrestle with stuff getting up here that the Lord wants me to let go! Anybody else have that issue in your life?
Yeah, because Jesus was talking about the reality, in chapter 6, of how we don’t store up treasures on earth, because everything spoils here. What sense does it make to invest all of your life’s energy into something that you will walk away from? You will die. It will go bad. Something will happen. There is absolutely no way to hang onto it. And yet, the world is invested in such things that cannot last, have no power to last!
My God, do we need, as Christians, to not put our hope in the ‘stuff’ that God blesses us with? We’ve got brothers and sisters in this world who have nothing. And yet, we are so full of pride in the car we drive, the house we live in, the job we’ve got, the career, the thousand and one things…the size of our TV. Every little thing has got to be just so to please ourselves and feel comfortable and like everything’s okay. God’s blessing me!
Sometimes it’s just self wanting to have its way, wanting to please itself. And then something comes along and messes with a little of that and our whole life…oh God…like that’s our…that’s where our security, our happiness comes from. God wants to set His people free.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
And I’ll tell you what, am I the only one that gets to issues in my life and suddenly I realize my heart’s a little too invested in this thing or that thing? It isn’t just things, either, but issues. All the kinds of things that are so important to us that we just cannot let go!
And we’re just being a monkey, when it comes right down to it, because Satan is on the other end of that chain, and here we’re trying to be free, but we won’t let go of this in order to be free.
Satan has no power over us that we don’t give him. Christ has set His people free! We need to walk in that freedom and find grace to do so.
“The eye….” What we look at, I mean, in the sense of…beyond just the physical eyes, but I mean the eyes of the heart He’s talking about here. “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
See, that’s just one issue. But I’ll tell you what, if there is a person here or listens to this anywhere, if there is something in your life that is so important that you cannot let it go, that’s in this realm, I pray to God that He will do whatever it takes. If He has to destroy your wealth, your earthly wealth, to give you eternal life, you will look back and fall down and praise Him! Oh, praise God!