Article Based on a Sermon given 19 October 2002

Overcoming Satan - Philadelphia - Part 3

by Jon Bowles


If we go to Revelation chapter 3 where we have been reading before, and we see here in verse 10 where we finished off last time:

"Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of [trial], which shall come upon all the world, to [test] them that dwell upon the earth".(Revelation 3:10)

And the entire passage seems to focus then on verse 11: "Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." (Revelation 3:11)

I pointed out that the preceding verses talk about several things that we actually have, that we are going to need to hold onto. In particular, we need to understand what this "...word of my patience..." (Revelation 3:10) is. That we actually are just holding onto that and keeping that. It is to do with where our revelation comes from. It comes from Jesus Christ. It didn’t come from Herbert Armstrong, but it came via the apostle sent to us. Now there does seem to be a distinct difference when you go into Laodicea. It says in Revelation 3:14:

"And unto the angel [or messenger] of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot [so there is a lukewarmness there]. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth [so they don’t necessarily disbelieve, but they don’t really hold fast, as it says in verse 11 to what they have been given]. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold [tested] in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear..." (Revelation 3:14-18)

Nakedness is always a symbol for sin, and there is a real major problem with these people. I think that the spirit of this age in which we are in right now is very much this Laodicean, which means 'let the people decide'. All of us living in this society need to be very, very careful indeed that we are holding fast to what we actually had, because men are going to be taking our crowns. The spirit of the age, this producing a lukewarm attitude, a lukewarm approach to life and towards the things of God specifically ... yet they seem to be blind to these things as well.

When we come to Revelation 12, this is an insert chapter that goes together with Revelation 13. Revelation 12 deals with the relationship between the true Church and Satan. Yet Revelation 13 deals with the relationship between the satanic forces on the earth and Satan. So we are looking at really a showdown between the forces of God, which Revelation 12 deals with, and the forces of the evil one which Revelation 13 deals with. These two are insert chapters that go in between Revelation 11 and Revelation 14. Revelation 11:15 talks about the seventh angel sounding:

"And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever." (Revelation 11:15)

It is also interesting that it talks about he could actually see into heaven and see the temple of God opened in heaven, Revelation 11:19:

"And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament..." (Revelation 11:19)

It talks about 'the word of my testimony' that we hold onto and the ark of the testament, was the ark of the covenant. You are looking at the very location of the Ten Commandments, the two tables of stone. That is what was in the ark. It is quite clear. In I Kings 8:9 you find it talks about that. However, in the end of Revelation 12, two groups seem to be indicated there. It talks about Satan in Revelation 12:9:

"And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down..." (Revelation 12:9-10)

Remember, this is an inset chapter. This happens before Revelation 11:15, the preceding chapter, because this is giving a history, a very, very short history, of the Church. And the way that the Church, is "...a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet..." (Revelation 12:1) It goes through this history of the Church in the way in which Satan has dealt with us. And it says that Satan, Revelation 12:10:

"...the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death [there are three things mentioned there which we will go into]. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time [now this occurs just before the tribulation]. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child." (Revelation 12:10-13)

Now we can speculate as to when that actually occurred, or has occurred, or will occur. Has it actually occurred already? Because the persecution that has actually happened on the Church recently over the last few years since Mr. Armstrong’s death has been profound, absolutely profound. I just wonder, now this is my own personal wondering, I’m not even speculating, but purely wondering, whether this could have already have happened. And we may even have already begun to witness this persecution. We may well find that no, my wondering was totally false in the future, because of the pressure that the Church will be under. We have been trashed within the Church, absolutely trashed. Revelation 12:14:

"And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. And to the woman were given [or granted] two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time [three and a half years], from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood [now I will deal more with that in this sermon next week, because I want to talk about the Place of Safety but the events here are quite specific to that]. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." (Revelation 12:13-17)

So there are two groups clearly mentioned here, just the same way as it talks about "I [require] thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire..." (Revelation 3:18) about Laodicea. Yet it also talks about; "...hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." (Revelation 3:11) and just before that it says; "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience; I also will keep thee from the hour of [trial], which shall come upon the world to try them..." (Revelation 3:10) So there does seem to be two groups of people at this particular time, right at the end.

It is a case that the woman, the Church, is going to be persecuted before she flees. There is going to be persecution that takes place on the woman prior to that woman fleeing into the wilderness to the place that is actually prepared for her.

Today I want to talk about overcoming Satan, because realistically if we are under persecution, and we are going to be under persecution between now and when we flee, we are going to have to really understand how we in fact can fight against Satan. The short answer is that we can’t. We ourselves cannot fight against Satan, he is far too powerful. But there are ways that we can be close to God, and being close to God allows us to then overcome Satan in our own environment, because we get our minds on the important things of life.

I want to talk about the need to overcome Satan and the role that Satan will have on the Church just prior to the end, prior to actually fleeing. I think it is a very necessary subject. It talks in Matthew 24 about the wise servant; "Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing [giving the household meat in due season]." (Matthew 24:46) I believe this is meat in due season. There are a number of points I want to deal with:

1) The need to be aware of the words used. Because I think many of us equate the serpent of old, the Devil and the word Satan as all the same. They are not. They are three different aspects that we need to be aware of. The aspect that seems to be prominent here is the aspect of the word Devil. Now that needs to be understood. We need to look at it in that light, particularly today, because so often we see things happen to the Church and see things happen within the Church and we don’t realize that these things are coming from a source. They are not coming from human sources. So often we can neglect to recognize the source of so many of these things. So being aware of the words being used is very important, because there are three different aspects of those three words that are used here.

2) "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb..." (Revelation 12:11) That is the main thing, quite frankly, by which we can overcome the Devil.

3) The other thing mentioned there is; "...the word of their testimony;" (Revelation 12:11) We again come back to that. If you remember that ties right back to "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of [trial]..." (Revelation 3:10) As it says here; "Here is the patience of the saints:.. here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." (Revelation 14:12)

4) "...they loved not their lives unto the death." (Revelation 12:11) That also is a worthwhile point to look into because we are to be living sacrifices. These things are the way in which we are told that we can overcome this being, who is going to make our life very difficult between now and when we actually flee. We must be aware of this as we go into and live through these times.

The Need for Awarness of Words Used (PLAY FROM 13:09)

Let’s have a look at the words actually used. It mentions in Revelation 12:9:

"And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan..." (Revelation 12:9)

So it gives three real words actually used. It talks about the 'great dragon', yes, but it also calls him that old serpent, serpent or dragon can be one and the same thing. The second one is the word 'devil' which means slanderer. The third one is 'Satan' which means enemy, Satan is a Hebrew word.

That Old Serpent (PLAY FROM 13:49)

Let's deal with the fact that he is that old serpent, or serpent of old. Now we know we can go back to Genesis obviously and see how that serpent operated in Genesis 3:1:

"Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the [Eternal] God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" (Genesis 3:1)

In other words, he twisted the words. The very word for serpent is 'nachash' (Strong's 5175). This is very similar to another word which is 'nachash' (Strong's 5172), they are both identical and link to the practice of divination. But it is a bit more than just practicing divination, it also is used as learning by experience. It is interesting, that when you come to this serpent of old, he is telling Eve, "Oh, you should go out and learn by experience." There are other passages that you can see where this word is actually being used. The exact same word probably has jots and tittles in different places, but with the same basic letters. One is 'naw-khawsh' which is a snake or serpent, and the other is 'naw-khash', which is learning by experience. Turn over to Genesis 30:27:

"And Laban said unto him, I pray thee, if I have found favour in thine eyes, tarry: for I have learned by experience [what he literally said was 'I have snaked, I have serpented'] that the [Eternal] hath blessed me for thy sake." (Genesis 30:27)

In other words, I have weaved my way right through the facts, and blamed all this inner understanding on my cleverness. That is basically what he is talking about. If you turn over to I Kings 20:33 it says:

"Now the men did diligently observe whether any thing would come from him, and did hastily catch it: and they said, Thy brother Benhadad. Then he said, Go ye, bring him. Then Benhadad came forth to him..." (I Kings 20:33)

Where it says they 'did diligently observe', you are looking at this word 'nachash'. This word that is almost identical to the word for serpent. You observe, you watch very carefully, and you snake your way through things, gaining bits of information as necessary, for your own advantage. Now that is exactly what happened when you are looking at Eve. This is an attribute of Satan, this enemy that we have, which we must be aware of, this serpent of old. It is a case that he watches very carefully. It talks about in I Peter 5:8, watching to see who he is going to devour. He is as a roaring lion. That is exactly the way Satan is, he is as a roaring lion, he is a predator. A serpent is a predator, it exists as a predator. Everything about it is designed in that way.

So that is one word that is referred to over here in Revelation chapter 12. It ties it back to the way this being has a great ancient history. It goes right the way back to the Church in the wilderness and he was there. He is very much alive and well today, yet his time is very short. Because his time is very short, he is going to persecute the very woman, the True Church, and we need to be aware of that aspect of him. That he is a snake, and that he learns by experience, and the people with him do watch very carefully and they are crafty. We should not be blind to what is going on.

Satan (PLAY FROM 18:35)

Now what about the word Satan? The word Satan simply means the enemy. I always bring out the fact that when you are looking at the Arab world, they call the United States the great Satan. The great Satan, simply means the great enemy, because it is the same Aramaic, just the same kind of word. It has the same link back to this being, but they look upon the United States as the great enemy, and they call them the great Satan as a result.

If you turn over to I Kings 11, you can see in this chapter, how this word 'satan', (Strong's 7854), which is a Hebrew word, is being used. But it is not referring to the one that we refer to as Satan. It is referring to other people. It can be used purely as 'an enemy'. When we see the word 'satan' being used it is carrying a connotation, as when we see God using the word 'satan. And so in I Kings 11:14 it says:

"And the [Eternal] stirred up an [satan] unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite [the word 'an adversary' is the word 'satan', it is exactly the same word]: he was of the king's seed in Edom." (I Kings 11:14)

This one was being described as satan, or as an adversary where the word 'satan' is being used. You can see it used again in I Kings 11:23:

"And God stirred him up another [satan], Rezon the son of Eliadah, which fled from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah: [Rezon was described as satan, he was described as the adversary, in verse 25] ...And he was [a satan] an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon, beside the mischief that Hadad did: and he abhorred Israel, and reigned over Syria." (I Kings 11:23,25)

So when you are looking through scripture, and you see the word 'satan' being used, be aware that it also carries a meaning. It is not something that we should just read over. It is something that is meaningful, and we should look around for the context of the verse to see what that meaning actually is. The meaning is to do with an adversarial approach. How we are fighting against that approach, and that being is fighting against us, it is very much an adversary.

Devil (PLAY FROM 21:40)

So if you go back to Revelation chapter 12, we see that this particular inset chapter is laying the scene down prior to the Church fleeing, and it is laying the scene down prior to the time in which Satan is going to actually persecute the woman. It is the Dragon, notice, that persecutes the woman in that regard. And there is this other word: Revelation 12:6:

"And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days [so you are looking at this time before Israel under the British Empire came to prominence, where the Church was really in the wilderness]. And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him [I want you to notice that he specifically mentions about the deception that is there. Now the word 'devil' is a slanderer, he is using his words to slander people]. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation [or rescue], and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time." (Revelation 12:6-12)

So if we are going to get initial pressure in any way, the indication is that it is going to be as the slanderer. Then eventually, it says in Revelation 12:13 that the dragon, the power of this dragon, this snake, is actually going to persecute the woman specifically, and that is going to cause the woman to have to flee. But when he initially is cast down, he is being described as the Devil.

Now what does the word 'devil' mean? It comes from the Greek 'diabolos' (Strong's 1228) from which we get diabolical. You can actually see it used in the New Testament, and just the way we have seen 'satan' used, where it is not referring to this being at all, you can see this word 'devil' used, where it is not referring to Satan in I Timothy 3:11:

"Even so must their wives [or their women, it is talking about deaconesses] be grave, not [devils], sober, faithful in all things." (I Timothy 3:11)

That is what it basically says. The word 'slanderers' here is the word 'diabolos'. It is the exact same word as 'devil'. So it is translated rightly here, they must not be slanderers. So often we can read over the word and we can see the word 'devil' as merely a term like John, or Fred, or Joe. No, it has got a meaning to it, and it means slanderer. I Timothy 3:11

"Even so must their [women] be grave, not slanders [or devils], sober, faithful in all things."

If we go to II Timothy 3:1:

"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, [devils - the word 'false accusers' is this word diabolos], incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good," (II Timothy 3:1-3)

So again, it is being used here referring to human beings, under the sway of this being yes, but it is a certain trait that is being used. Notice in Titus 2:2 it says:

"That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not [devils - not false accusers, so the word is translated as false accusers, but it is the same word as being translated over in Revelation and elsewhere as the word devil], not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children," (Titus 2:2-4)

So when we see the word 'devil', it is carrying this connotation of a false accuser, of a slanderer, of using words to kill, quite frankly. That really is what it is. We will go on and see how these things are actually used.

The classic case, if we turn over to Matthew chapter 4, it says all throughout this section where Christ was being tested and having this confrontation with Satan, the word Satan isn’t used. It is the word Devil, it is the word slanderer. This was a battle going on in the very mind of Christ. It was a battle that the slanderer was waging against Him and it was as real a battle as ever there could be. If you notice, you are looking here how Christ continually countered the slander with the Word of God. He used the Word of God clearly to counter that slander. He went back to the Word of God and put His faith, and His trust in that Word. Even though the Word of God was often actually used by the Devil, the slanderer to undermine the Christ, every time He went back and went to the Word of God using that Word of God properly, and by using it properly He countered the attack. That really is the way that we must do that.

By all means go through that section and read it yourself in Matthew chapter 4, and just notice and meditate. Again, when we do study scripture, we need to meditate on those scriptures. Reading a certain portion, meditating on it and thinking about what it actually says. It is this countering, and the way in which Christ countered the various things that were being thrown at Him.

In Luke chapter 8, we will have a look at some of the other places where this is actually being used. We can see Satan or the Devil at work. It is giving an example here of the parable of the sower going out to sow, and it says in Luke 8:5:

"A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it." (Luke 8:5)

Now that is interpreted for us in Luke 8:11 where it says:

"Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God [now we should have a living Word of God within us, and there are real problems that we can face]. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil [the slanderer]..." (Luke 8:11-12)

In other words, they hear the word. It registers to some degree, yet some other word comes in there and destroys it. We should be able to see that aspect at this time, when we are going toward the Place of Safety, where Christ is going to have to take the Church away from this present environment. There are going to be words said, and it is an undermining word, that is going to undermine the true people of God. We must be aware of that and we must hold onto that and recognize it when it comes, and not be blind to it. Luke 8:12:

"Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved." (Luke 8:12)

Now that Word that we hear has got to take root. It has got to be as deep as it can go in the heart, and the Laws of God must be written in the heart. If they are not, then it is an evidence that Satan is there, the Devil is there. I personally don’t like the word Devil, it sounds kind of pseudo religious. I prefer the word Satan, but it is the word slanderer. It is a slandering spirit, it is undermining that Word from getting proper root in our lives, or in somebody's life.

We need to recognize that when we see things happen, within the Church, within the various groups that are of the four hundred plus various splits of the Church. We must recognize what is actually undermining so many things today. I am convinced that if it hasn’t yet happened, if he hasn’t actually been cast down, certainly there is ample evidence that there is influence from those that are with him. In John 6:65:

"And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father." (John 6:65)

So in other words, no man comes to Him "unless the Father who sent me draws him". Mr. Armstrong plugged that over and over and over again. Only those that God, the Father, opens the mind of can actually come to Christ, to have that very Holy Spirit put in them in the heart. The undermining that can be done by this slanderer is very great. John 6:66:

"From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life [now those words were taking root in Peter's life, they weren’t there yet, he hadn’t got the Spirit to go with it, but the words had taken root]. And we believe and are sure that thou art that [Messiah], the Son of the living God. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a [slanderer? So the very way in which Judas Iscariot betrayed Him, notice it says] He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve." (John 6:66-71)

Using words to undermine even the Christ. He could see that. He was quite aware of what was going on. We should be aware that not everybody that appears to be with us is actually with us. That is a pretty horrible thing to say, but unfortunately it is true. We should always give people the benefit of the doubt, but there comes a point where we should be aware that the spirit is different - there is an undermining, accusative spirit, and when we see that it has got to be dealt with.

I know that Mr. Armstrong was certainly well aware of the problems that he had to face, but not always. He gave this sermon, two years before his death, and he was talking about contentious people within the Church. He said in that sermon, 'Unity' February 4th 1984, I would like to just quote:

"...turn back to Romans, the last chapter of Romans, 16th chapter and verse 17 where Paul says:

"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them." (Romans 16:17)

"Different doctrines - they are causing division, they are causing trouble. THAT IS WHAT WE HAD HAVE IN THE PAST. And the REASON that we had it was that we said, "Well, we must be more loving and more kind and more good than God; and we must just leave them in among us." God says, MARK THEM AND AVOID THEM. Now there are two ways that we can avoid them, and only two that I know. One is that we leave them in the Church and we all go out. We're no longer in the Church." (Now we have had to do that several times) "The other is that we put them out, and we stay IN. Now, brethren, I think we'd prefer to stay IN. And so our choice is going to be to PUT THEM OUT."

"And I want to say to you that one of the greatest offenses that we have COMMITTED - and we didn’t know it, and we didn’t realize it, and we didn’t do it maliciously or deliberately; we did it thinking we were doing it to be kind, and to not be too hard or tough - we ALLOWED that kind of people to STAY IN UNTIL THEY TOOK OUT OTHERS WITH THEM. THE THING TO DO IS - JUST AS SOON AS THE MINISTERS MARK ONE, OR SEE ONE who is contrary, who is causing division, who has other ideas, who is in the wrong attitude - to deal with that person quickly."

"Now that doesn’t mean be harsh and put them out immediately. We don’t do it that way. But we go to that person, and we try to deal with that person kindly. We try to show that person where he is wrong. We try to see that he is not going to be contrary, but will see where he is wrong. Work with him; and, if he will show a right attitude, he will get into a right attitude, and all of the controversy will be over. And then there is no division in the Church. And, if we can save one, we will meet with him. We will pray. We will treat him with love."

"But if we find he is in a hostile and antagonistic spirit - a spirt of hostility, of bitterness, of strife, of resentment - then we will not waste the time of day with him. We'll say, "YOU ARE EXCOMMUNICATED! You are NO LONGER A MEMBER OF THIS CHURCH. YOU CANNOT ASSEMBLE WITH US ANY FURTHER.""

"The Church is going to remain united. Now, brethren, I repent the fact that we have not been very careful on that point in the past. We are trying to be now...”

Now that was Mr. Armstrong talking two years before his death, when the Church appeared to be back on track. It was back on track - it was going in one direction, and he did deal with that basic problem. Now, this verse in John 6, where it talks of Judas Iscariot, he was the one that was going to betray Christ. Now He allowed him to stay there because it was to fulfill a prophecy.

If you notice in John 8, we find another case where we find the word 'devil' used, and it gives an indication of what the problem really is. John 8:43: "Why do ye not understand my speech?..." (John 8:43)

Now remember we just read about how the Word of God is undermined by the Devil that comes along and undermines the Word as it goes into the heart. John 8:43:

"Why do ye not understand my speech? even because you cannot hear my word [Why? Because their heart had been undermind]. Ye are of your father the devil [the slanderer, that is where it is all coming from], and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own [or his own resources]: for he is a liar and father of it." (John 8:43--44)

So we need to be aware of this and what it actually says here. That he was a murderer, and this slandering actually kills people. It undermines their faith, it kills them spiritually. In the days of the Middle Ages, you could actually see them killing them literally as well. They went to burning people at the stake and everything else. This Devil, this slanderer is a murderer. We can actually murder one another by the things that we say, because that is what this Devil does, that is what this slanderer does. As Mr. Armstrong brought out, if there is a right spirit there, and people are struggling, that is a totally different thing, where dealing with them will make a difference. But if the spirit is wrong, if the spirit is evil, then it must be dealt with. It was very, very clear from the end of Romans, how that must be dealt with within the Church.

If we notice in John 13:2: "And supper [having occurred is a better translation], the devil [the slanderer] having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands..." (John 13:2-3)

Notice how the Devil worked. This slandering way in which this being works. He goes right to the very heart, and he places in that heart something that undermines the faith, undermines what is right. If you look over in Ephesians 4:23:

"And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore [because you are doing this, because this new man is there] putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another [again, we’re talking about the murderer, he talks about that he is a liar and the father of it]. Be ye angry, and sin not [this is how you’re angry but don’t sin - if we are angry, we should get it sorted out early]: let not the sun go down upon your wrath [Why is that? Because it says]: Neither give place to the devil." (Ephesians 4:23-27)

The Devil, this slanderer will undermine our faith. He will undermine our relationships within the Church. Now it says the Devil has been cast down, and he is going down with great wrath so be aware that it will undermine the relationships within the Church, it will slander within the Church. And in this slander there will be an anger, there will be a resentment. There will be a certain attitude, a hostility that will undermine people’s faith.

Turn over to I Timothy chapter 3 where it talks about the office of a Bishop or an overseer:

"Not a novice [not sombody who is newly converted], lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the [slanderer]. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the [slanderer]." (I Timothy 3:6-7)

Now these two verses are interesting because they go side by side using exactly the same word. The word is devil or this 'diabolos'. Yet I would personally feel that verse six is talking about Satan, but verse seven is talking about slander that is coming from the outside world. In other words it is saying "not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the [slanderer]." (I Timothy 3:6) This spirit of slandering, because it talks about being puffed up with pride, putting himself above other people, and being accusative of other people. That is all part and parcel of it.

So when we see that "...the devil has come down unto you, having great wrath..." (Revelation 12:12) It is the accuser of the brethren, it is an accusative spirit. It mentions within those verses that it is an accuser of the brethren, accusing them before God. It will cause accusations within the Church between brethren. There are certain ways that we overcome. It says in I Timothy 3:7:

"Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the [accuser]." (I Timothy 3:7)

So people outside could start accusing him, so you can’t have a minister that was a Mafia Boss in his former life. It is not right. That is not the way, even though he has repented, that is not the thing to do.

In II Timothy, again we can see how this word is being used. Each one of these verses is giving us a different aspect. A little bit more information about our adversary, our enemy, the Satan as the accuser, as the slanderer, notice II Timothy 2:24:

"And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the [slanderer], who are taken captive by him at his will." (II Timothy 2:24-26)

So here we see that those that are opposing themselves, that elevate themselves as in verse 25, need to have repentance otherwise the slanderer gets in there and undermines their very faith, and are captive to his will. Again, this is why Mr Armstrong brought out in that sermon two years before his death, how there is a difference between people that are struggling with something, that have the right kind of approach, but still just can’t understand. We make a difference in that case, to somebody who is stirring up trouble, that is against government within the Church. When I say government within the Church, I don’t just mean the hierarchy in the Church, I mean what God has actually placed over us within the Church, which includes the heritage that we have from the apostle that was sent to us. It cuts both ways in that regard.

Another scripture, turn over to James chapter 4, we can always remember what is in James 4 because it rhymes - "James four, causes of war". In James 4 it talks about wars and fighting from among you - where do they come from? Here again we can see the hand of the slanderer. We see an attitude of mind where you lust and you have not, you kill, you desire to have. Remember the Devil was a slanderer, a murderer from the beginning, as we read over in John. James 4:1:

"From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, [it is talking about spiritual adultery] know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble." (James 4:1-6)

The spirit has got to be right. Within the Church, all of us need to watch that spirit, watch the way of our approach. Where is it coming from? Are we really plugged into the source, because it is the source that gives us the tools to combat that spirit. James 4:7:

"Submit yourselves therefore to God [get back to the source where the true Spirit of God is]. Resist the [slanderer], and he will flee from you."

Now that is true literally because you can rebuke a slanderer. Proverbs 22:10 says; rebuke a scorner, and you shall have peace. This is the case here. If we rebuke and resist this slandering spirit, then he will flee, because we draw close to God. As we will go on and see, we can in fact overcome Satan by countering this slandering spirit, by going to the Spirit of God, by going to The Way of God. That actually counters it. In I Peter 5:6:

"Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time [that we don’t elevate ourselves, that we work together, that we work in a spirit of cooperation and unity]: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the [slanderer], as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world." (I Peter 5:6-9)

It is a resistance, it is a resistance in humility. Turn over to I John 3:7:

"Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the [slanderer]; for the [slanderer] sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the [slanderer]." (I John 3:7-8)

Now it goes on, notice in verse 10: "In this the children of God are [made known], and the children of the [slanderer]..." (I John 3:10)

Here are two groups. If we are looking at a problem which is going to be within the Church and the slanderer is cast down having great wrath, knowing he has but a short time, and he persecutes the woman - you can guarantee that these two groups are going to be there. We can see the two groups very clearly.

"In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the [slanderer]: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother." (I John 3:10)

As Mr. Armstrong continually brought out, it is not human love, it is the love of God shed abroad in our hearts. It is the contact with God that allows us to have that love. Remember, we are talking about Philadelphia, the very word means brotherly love, and we need to recognize where that has got to come from. I John 3:11:

"For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother..." (I John 3:11-12) So there it is going right the way back to the very beginning.

If we go into Revelation now and just read a couple sections in Revelation, Revelation 2:10:

"Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the [slanderer] shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." (Revelation 2:10)

Now this was a Church during the Middle Ages, and they had severe persecution, but notice it was from that slanderer. It was from a word that was coming out of the Catholic Church that slandered them, and caused them to be persecuted in that way. In Revelation 20:10 notice what it says here:

"And [the slanderer] the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are ..." (Revlation 20:10)

So again, the deception that will happen at the end time is going to be coming from this slandering spirit. I know I have taken a long time going through those verses, but it is important that we understand that there is a difference between the word Satan, the serpent of old, and the word devil. When we are looking at the word devil, it indicates a certain frame of mind, it indicates a slandering spirit.

They Overcame Him By the Blood of the Lamb (PLAY FROM 57:10)

And it says in verse 12 of Revelation 12:

"Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the [slanderer] is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time." (Revelation 12:12)

So we should be prepared, and we should be able to counter this spirit that is actually coming. Notice in Revelation 12:10:

"...Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night." (Revelation 12:10) So this slandering was going on in heaven and now has been cast down.

Notice what it says in verse 11: "And they overcame him [with three things] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death." (Revelation 12:11)

Now the third one is just simply almost like a comment on the situation. But those two things, the one which is the blood of the Lamb; let’s just look at that a little bit. It talks about the New Covenant in His blood, and how it is actually formed on better promises. Turn over to Hebrews 8:6:

"But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: [now we are looking forward in the future for that]: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people [so the Law of God, the Living Word will be within their very deepest being]: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." (Hebrews 8:6-12)

Now we have this New Covenant, this new agreement, and part of that new agreement - it talks about the New Covenant in His blood - is the fact that sin is forgiven, that sin is wiped away. This is how we can overcome the wicked one, the accuser of our brethren, the slanderer. Because the slanderer would slander us before God, and we can come before God on repentance and be absolutely, totally clean. This verse, where it talks here "...their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." (Hebrews 8:12) This is not the way it used to be back in Old Testament times. Sacrifices were for certain things, but if you murdered somebody, you would not be able to pay the sacrifice to be forgiven. You had to pay the penalty of death. The death penalty was there. And yet here, we see that all sin can be forgiven, any sin.

Now the only thing is the unpardonable sin. It is interesting - I came across one of the church websites that has changed, and they have removed their statement of beliefs from previously and replaced it with something else. They put in another point about the unpardonable sin. It says: "We believe that although God’s mercy is infinite, He has fixed His perfect will to create a point of no return with respect to sin." Now that is not true. "Further, we believe that the Bible clearly identifies this point, and we believe that the consequences of the unpardonable sin is eternal death." It doesn’t say what the unpardonable sin is. Now Mr Armstrong clearly taught us that the unpardonable sin is simply any sin at all, that we don’t repent of. That we refuse to be repentant of. But whatever we have done, if we are repentant, we can be forgiven.

Now we can overcome the wicked one, the Satan, the adversary by the blood of the Lamb. We can come before God clear, and the other aspect - rememember it is Philadelphia that we are talking about, the Church of brotherly love - we can be forgiving to one another as well. That is absolutely vital. If we overcome Satan within the Church, we should be forgiving of one another, if people are repentant.

Mr. Armstrong made a difference, he said, "If the attitude is foul then we separate and we have nothing to do with them. We leave them alone. Whether we actually come out of the Church and we leave them there, or whether we just simply excommunicate them out of the Church. But, when the attitude is right, then that is different." In that case, if somebody repents, then sin is actually wiped away, it is actually removed. Hebrews 10:19:

"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus [we have access to the Father], By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh [because His flesh was pierced by that spear]; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water." (Hebrews 10:19-22)

So we can see that we can actually gain access to the Father and we do that through the very blood of Jesus Christ. An interesting scripture in this context, is John 16 verse 33. Remember we are going into a time of tribulation. We are talking about trial coming on the Church. The Devil coming down, knowing he has but a short time, and persecutes the woman. It is the slanderer that does the persecution:

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace [that's what we need within the Church]. In the world ye shall have [trial] tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

In other words, you can overcome this, and the way in which it is overcome is very clear. Notice what it says in the preceding verse, John 16:32:

"Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered [or shattered Now we know in Daniel 12 there is a specific prophecy about the shattering of God’s holy people. We are in a very shattered state now, we are in a scattered state], you shall be scattered every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me." (John 16:32)

We have just read over in Hebrews how we have the access to the Father by this new and living way. The blood of Christ covers sin. It does a total job. It is not some half-hearted measure. This is the difference between the Old and New Covenant. In the Old Covenant, if you murdered somebody, you still had the death penalty hanging over you. If you committed adultery, you had the death penalty hanging over you. But in the New Covenant, that is not true, because sin is totally blotted out. Whatever the sin is! Unforgivable sin is only a sin that is unrepented of. Providing repentance is there, sin is removed. This is how we can overcome Satan.

And it is not just our sins! It is the sins within the Church. It is other people’s sins as well. So there is this love and this bond that is there. This is one of the things it says within this context of the Devil being cast down, knowing he has a short time, persecuting the woman. In those same verses, it gives us the solution. The solution to make sure that there is a unity within the Church when repentance has occurred.

That we make a distinction between these two attitudes. One in which is an accusing and undermining slanderous attitude of mind - we separate from that. The other is a repentant frame of mind that has made a mistake - we forgive, and we forgive through that blood. We do it both for ourselves, we also do it for others who are with us as well.

The Word of their Testimony (PLAY FROM 1:07:32)

Now it also talks about the word of their testimony Notice in I John 2:13, there is quite an enigmatic phrase here:

"I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father [how did the young men overcome the wicked one? It gives the answer in the next verse]. I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God [lives] in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one." (I John 2:13-14)

That is how they have done it. The word of their testimony is living within them, and it is producing a result. It talks about living by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. It very much has to do with the Way of God, the way of life that we are involved in. It involves a good deal more than just raw words of scripture, because people in the world have raw words of scripture.

It is very clear in II Peter where it says that " prophecy of the scripture is for any private interpretation." (II Peter 1:20) It must be interpreted by the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God must be given to us, and we have been given that through the apostle that is actually sent to us.

If we go over to Ephesians 6, that shows us that yes, the word of our testimony, very much, is to do with the Word of God. Yes, we live by every Word of God, but there is a good deal more. The way in which we overcome the wicked one as was brought out in I John, it's this living word, this Word living within us. Ephesians 6:10:

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord [remember it says: I say to you young men because you are strong], and in the power of his might. [this is where it must come from]. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the [slanderer]." (Ephesians 6:10-11)

And that is true, not just of wiles of the slanderer against us, it is the wiles of the slanderer that come on us, accusing other people as well. We have got to recognize that those two aspects are present. When we go into the future, it will be those two aspects that we have got to make allowances for. Making allowances according to the Spirit. Ephesians 6:12:

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against [wicked spirits] in high places. Wherefore [because this is what we are doing] take unto you the whole armour of God [it is not a case of just taking one thing You do not just take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, that is not enough, it is not just the Word of God], the whole armour of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth..." (Ephesians 6:12-14)

Now it is not just the fact that, "...thy word is truth." (John 17:17) which it is, but that word comes from somewhere. It is a spirit of truth, and it is a living word that must be there. That truth is a living truth, you and I must live the way God lives. Ephesians 6:14:

"...and having on the breastplate of righteousness [it talks about all your commandments are righteousness, and again ties in with this word of their testimony]; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;" (Ephesians 6:14-15)

We have got to make sure that our focus is on the World Tomorrow, the good news of the coming Kingdom of God, when peace will be there, and we've got to do the things necessary to have that unity now, so that we can be participants in bringing that Kingdom about. Ephesians 6:16:

"Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked [one]." (Ephesians 6:16)

Again, faith is absolutely vital and it must not be our faith. It must be the faith of God. Again you need that blood of the Lamb giving us access to the Father so that we have that faith. Ephesians 6:17:

"And take the helmet of salvation [of rescue, again we are looking forward into the future, getting our mind, which is under that helmet, firmly on what our goal is], and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:" (Ephesians 6:17)

They Loved Not their Lives to Death (PLAY FROM 1:13:11)

So that final one; obviously we have got to know our Bibles and that word of our testimony, and yes, it is to do with the way that they live, not just the things that they say. The way that they live, they are quite prepared to die. If you go back to Revelation 12:11 again:

"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death." (Revelation 12:11)

It doesn’t mean to say that they are all going to die, but we need to be prepared to if necessary. Turn over and read what Christ said in Matthew 10:16:

"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves [now this has a great deal of bearing on the prophecy that we find in Revelation 12]. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues [synagogues were places of their judicial system]; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles." (Matthew 10:16-18)

So it may well be that 'the word of their testimony' is also talking about what we are going to say in that time. Overcoming Satan, overcoming what is going to be thrown at us by this slanderer. Matthew 10:19:

"But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak [we all need to bear these things in mind, because undoubtedly there are going to be some of us who are going to need to do this]. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved." (Matthew 10:19-22)

Now Satan, the slanderer, if we are doing what is right, cannot get to us directly. He cannot attack us. It says; "...Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7) If we resist, he has got to flee, but he can get us through other people. The indication is here that, that is exactly what he will actually do. Matthew 10:24:

"The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master...Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the [life] soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in [Gehenna]." (Matthew 10:24-28)

Now where it says "they loved not their lives unto the death." (Revelation 12:11) That word life is 'psuche', (Strong's 5590,) it is the same word here translated as soul. You do not fear those that can just kill the body. It goes on about the fact that we don’t fear these things, and in verse 34:

"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household." (Matthew 10:34-36)

Now again, in the context of what we are reading about the slanderer coming down, having great wrath, knowing he has but a short time, and putting it together with this, this is what we should expect. We should not be surprised if this happens.

"He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." (Matthew 10:37-39)

Again, it ties up with what it says in Revelation 12, that they do not love their lives to the death. Mark 8:31:

"And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, [you enemy] Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men [so we are looking at Peter who was trying to do what he saw was right humanly, and yet Christ rebuked him]. And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own [life or 'psuche' which is the same word used in Revelation 12:11] soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." (Mark 8:31-38)

These words have been recorded for us and saved for us till today. Finish off by looking at Revelation 12:12:

"...Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the [slanderer] is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time." (Revelation 12:12)

The people that can overcome that slanderer do so as it says in verse 11, first of all with the blood of Christ. It doesn’t just cover their sins, but also other people’s sins within the Church. So that there is a unity within the Church, upon repentance obviously, and they are making a difference between those that are of the slandering spirit and those that are of a repentant spirit. That is righteous judgment.

Then by the word of their testimony. Yes, it is the Word of God, a spirit of truth. It is by every word of God, but it does say in Ephesians 6:13, by the whole armour of God, and it involves the very Spirit of God. It is a living word that has got to be there.

They loved not their lives to the death. The context is that we are going to be hated by all nations. Everyone will hate the Church before we flee. Yet, it says we don’t have to worry about it, in Matthew 10 and Mark 8. It tells us that we don’t have to fret, even though it is going to come from even within our own households. It is still, as it says in Revelation 12:11 that we can overcome this.

As we move forward into that time, we shouldn’t be fearful. Apprehensive perhaps, yes. But if we are close to God, it is through that blood of the Lamb that we are close to God, we can come boldly before that throne of grace, and we can succeed. And we can be in that group of people who overcome Satan, and who though persecuted, are going to be given wings of a great eagle as it says in verse 14, and have actually got a place prepared. There is a place that will be prepared for us - God says that it will be there.

The important thing is to make sure that we do hold onto the things that we have been taught, and the way that we have been taught, and that we do apply the points in this chapter when this persecution does in fact come on us.