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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Satan's Strategy

When His disciples confessed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God (Matt 16:13-16), Jesus started telling them that the plan was for Him to suffer and die and be raised again (Matt 16:21). Peter objected. Jesus responded in what might appear a schizophrenic way.
"Get behind Me, Satan! You are a hindrance to Me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man." (Matt 16:23)
It might seem to be confused because He told Peter "Get behind Me, Satan." Now, we know Peter was not Satan, so what was He saying? The term was Σατανᾶς -- satanas -- most literally "the accuser" or the adversary. Either Peter was being influenced by Satan himself, or, at the very least, Peter was responding as Satan would. What, then, did Jesus see that clued Him into the adversarial response of Peter? I mean, Peter appeared to be defending Jesus. "This shall never happen to You," he said (Matt 16:22). That was an adversary? Jesus characterized the work of a Satan, be it a human or a human influenced by Satan, this way. "You are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man." There you have the primary scheme of Satan.

We do it all the time. All of us, at least some of the time. I heard it the other day in church. "Jesus's primary motivation," one nice lady told us, "was compassion for people." Now, it is true that Jesus had compassion for people, but that was not His primary motivation. "My Father's business" was Jesus's primary concern (Luke 2:49). "The will of My Father" was His primary concern (e.g. Matt 7:21; Matt 12:50; Matt 18:14; Matt 26:39) Honoring His Father was at the forefront of His thoughts (John 8:49). Doing the work of His Father was His life's ambition (John 10:37). Jesus's High Priestly prayer began with "Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You." (John 17:1) Glorifying His Father was Jesus's highest passion (John 12:28). And, yet, we're all pretty sure that we are His highest concern. "You are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man."

We see it all the time. Self-identified Christians will start their reasoning with "Man is important here" and proceed to conclusions like "God cannot be absolutely sovereign" or "God cannot be Omniscient" or "God's highest calling is for us to feed the poor" or "save the planet" or whatever other "social justice" cause they deem important. Every time it appears to be a twist, not setting their minds on the things of God, but on the things of man.

We do it ourselves. Unpleasant things happen and we rail against God for being unfair because bad things shouldn't happen to good people. We don't get that job or we come down with cancer or we lose a loved one and God has failed us because we don't deserve that. We are not setting our minds on the things of God, but on the things of man.

It's a key clue. Is it of God or is it of Satan? Ask yourself if it is amplifying man and diminishing God. Ask yourself if the primary consideration is man or God. John the Baptist said, "He must increase and I must decrease." (John 3:30) That is the kind of thinking we must employ. That is the thinking that runs counter to Satan's scheme. But, be sure of this. That kind of thinking is not natural. It's supernatural.


Bob said...

it is a wonderful sentiment that peter would try to defend Jesus, but that is the very thing that trips us up. there are two things i observed.
1. Peter loved the lord
2. Peter's love, was a noble sentiment
3. Peter's sentiment "in that moment"was opposed to God.
lesson: beware of the "noble sentiment" when it is used to define God and his will.

Stan said...

Always a danger lurking back there -- the noble sentiment. Wish I'd come up with that idea.

David said...

So, do you think the translation into Satan is incorrect? I seriously doubt the mind of Satan is set on man, or is it more about self rather than man? Satan's concerns are for himself. Or concerns are for ourselves. In that sense we'd be like Satan. If the mind of Satan truly is set on man, that really redefines our ideas about Satan and his motivations.

Stan said...

The fundamental error is "I" rather than "God", whether it is Satan or Man. I think, then, that whether it was Satan doing it or Peter doing it or Satan doing it in Peter, the approach was setting the mind on the things of Man. This, in fact, was precisely the serpent's approach in the Garden. "Not God ... you."

Bob said...

keeping an eye on the context. peter was attempting to "albeit inadvertently" to thwart the master plan. Jesus was supposed to go to Jerusalem. Satan using the Noble sentiment, created a passion in peter that was contrary to the Plan. that's some tricky stuff. we see the same thing happening when Paul is to go to Jerusalem, the people were distraught and wanted to prevent him from leaving. sometimes love gets in the way.. sad but true.