Bruce Grice
June 9,2002 P.M.

A. Perceptions of Satan today range from a shock effect in a movie to a fictional creature in a novel. To many, he’s a cartoon character with a pitchfork & red cape. For others, Satan is merely a topic to be discussed.
B. Yet, the Bible describes Satan as an adversary, our enemy. In Revelation 12, we find a graphic picture of the devil & his purposes.

1. A dramatic scene of a pregnant woman & a great red dragon opens the chapter. The dragon is poised to devour the woman’s child as soon as he is born.

2. In verse 9, the dragon is identified as the devil; the child is Christ. The devil’s purpose is clear: destroy Jesus.

3. Satan’s savage efforts are seen in the Gospels— Beginning with King Herod’s slaughter of babies (Matthew 2), all the way to the Cross (Matthew 27). Yet, Satan failed.

4. Rev. 12:5 reveals that the child “was caught up to God and to His throne”- referring to Jesus’ ascension into heaven.

5. The dragon tries to follow the child but is thrown down to earth. He attempts to vent his anger on the woman, but God protects her.

As a result . . .

“the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her offspring, those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (Rev. 12:17).

C. Who are the ones“who keep the commandments of God”?
Who are those who “hold to the testimony of Jesus”?

1. That’s you, me, the church.

2. Since the devil could not destroy Jesus, he now wants nothing more than to destroy you and me!

D. What are we to do when Satan strikes?

1. He prowls around like a roaring lion. He may be behind a big rock, or around the next corner,on the road you’re traveling.

2. We see the effects of his prowling today: families in crisis, people in sin, hearts that have lost hope, etc.

A. What are we to do today when Satan strikes?
Acts 4 provides some answers.

1. To this point, the infant church has enjoyed peace.

2. But that was the “calm before the storm.” The devil never leaves God’s people alone for very long, does he?

And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time. Luke 4:13

In Acts 3, we find two apostles named Peter & John healing a man unable to walk.

1. Excitement builds . . . a crowd gathers . . .

2. Suddenly, Peter’s sermon is brought to a screeching halt, and the first persecution of Christians begins.


C. We should not be surprised when Satan strikes. Remember the warning Jesus gave to His followers: They will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogue's and prisons . . . For My Name’s sake . . . And you will be hated by all on account of My Name” Luke 21:12, 17

1. It was not a question of whether Satan would strike.
2. It was only a question of when.

D. That question was answered as Peter & John were interrupted:
And as they were speaking to the people,
The priest's and the captain of the temple guard, and the Sadducees, Came upon them, being greatly disturbed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they seized Peter and John, and put them in jail until the next day, for it was already evening (Acts 4:1-3).

1. Look for a moment at the ones arresting the apostles . . . 2. Religious, political, and, social leaders in Jerusalem. 3. Talk about sending in the “first team.”

A. Persecution can come from “the finest folks in town.”

1. Satan can & will use anyone. He used Peter in Matthew 16:21-23 . . . Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priest's and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a hindrance to Me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men.”

2. The reasons behind the persecution in Acts 4 should not surprise us. Had Peter & John broken some law of God or man? No.

3. But they were disturbing the status-quo . . . and that can be fatal.

B. Don’t be surprised when Satan gives you a hard time for doing good.
Listen as Paul says:
All who desire to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted 2 Timothy 3:12 Jesus “went about doing (nothing but) good” {Acts 10:38} & was crucified.

1. When you live right Satan cannot stand it! He will invariably show up to try to stop you. Count on it!
2. The Jewish leaders had no legal grounds for arresting Peter & John, much less for imprisoning them, but those who condemned Jesus to die were not overly concerned about such “technicalities.”


C. He likes to cheat, so it is easy to become discouraged: “I might as well quit! Nothing is going right! I’m no good.”

1. Think about this: Satan may be making life hard on you right now because he knows if you keep on, great things will happen for God!
2. Great things can happen from your faithfulness to Him.
3. Notice the results from Peter’s sermon: But many who heard the message believed; and the number of men grew to be about five thousand. Acts 4:4

A. The messengers had been put in jail, but the Message had not!

1. Satan’s every effort to stop the church, resulted in spreading it!
2. It was like throwing water on an oil fire . . . it spread. You as a messenger may be hindered, but the message is not.

B. Of course, Satan doesn’t throw in the towel, but neither does God. He would do anything to bring you Home.
1. Their arrest was just the beginning of Satan’s efforts to minimize their witness.
2. The next morning, a powerful group takes action against the apostles:
The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest’s family (Acts 4:5, 6).
C. Here we find the most distinguished group in Palestine meeting to decide what to do with two fishermen from Galilee!
1. Everybody who was anybody in Jerusalem was present!
2. It might be easy to look on this situation as oppression. To Peter & John . . . it was opportunity. After all, only in chains could they preach to the Sanhedrin.

D.Every time a Christian was hauled into court in the book of Acts, he used it as an opportunity to proclaim Jesus!
1. When Satan strikes, keep your eyes open, because you may find opportunities you have never had before!(For trust, faith, etc.)
2. In warning His disciples, Jesus had said:
They will lay their hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogue's and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of My Name. It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. Luke 21:12,13
3. When you fail, you have an opportunity to show through repentance, that you believe God when He says you can begin again. Satan will say, “You can’t.”

WHEN SATAN STRIKES . . . DON’T BE SURPRISED & DON’T PLAY BY HIS RULES Imagine for a moment that you are one of the apostles here in Acts 4. Seated in a semicircle around you are 71 judges with hostile faces. Beyond them are others, who are equally antagonistic. On each side are officers of the court. You find yourself in a situation calculated to intimidate you. You are the focus of their animosity. You search the room for one friendly face, you find zero. 1. The trial should begin with a formal reading of the charges. 2. Instead, it begins with a vague question in Acts 4:7: By what power or what name did you do this? C. To what does “this” refer: healing, preaching, something else? There was no legitimate reason to hold the apostles (Acts 4:21). So, what’s up with the vague question? 71 judges & others on this illustrious panel were hoping these two fishermen would “hang themselves.” Maybe they will give some foolish answer that will give us reason to punish them. D. Let’s see, where have we encountered such a procedure before? At the “trial” of Jesus (Luke 22:66-71). 1. This is the same group that condemned Jesus to die. The same faces, the same prejudice, the same hypocrisy, the same line of questioning! The Jewish leaders were looking for a stray thread they could somehow pull to unravel the influence of the apostles! *By what power . . . have you done this? *In what name . . . have you done this? These same men had earlier come to Jesus asking: “By what authority are you doing these things?” (Matthew 21:23) 3. Now, they ask the apostles the same question. In both cases, they were implying, “We are ones in authority. How dare you act as if you have authority!” ? In other words, “Look at us and then look at yourselves. Who do you think you are to challenge us?” A. Can’t you hear the sneer in their voices? Trying their best to bring about an angry outburst. 1. After all, they realized the apostles were “unschooled, ordinary men.” (Acts 4:13) 2. Remember, when Satan strikes, he wants you to play by his rules. *Return evil for evil . . . refuse to forgive . . . love conditionally . . . follow God when it’s convenient . . . physical before the spiritual. 3. Play life by his rules, and you will lose! With your feelings hurt, wouldn’t it be easy to get angry & play into the Council’s hands? Peter doesn’t play by Satan’s rules: Then Peter . . . said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people . . . (Acts 4:8). We are courteous to others, not because they are what they should be, but because we are trying to be what we should be! WHEN SATAN STRIKES . . . DO IT GOD’S WAY 2. As Jimmy Allen has said, “The sword of the Spirit will cut deeply enough without smearing salt on it.” When you are hurt you will be tempted to be hurtful, etc. 1. But don’t let the devil trick you into playing by his rules! 2. Reading Peter’s defense reminds us that we are to: *GLORIFY THE NAME OF JESUS* Peter was not concerned about his own life, was he? 1. If you were, you wouldn’t point your finger at the most powerful group in the nation & accuse them of crucifying the Messiah! 2. Peter concerned about one thing . . . the Name of Jesus. 3. He glorified that Name by: *Telling the truth . . . Read Acts 4:9-10 *Quoting Scripture . . . Read Acts 4:11 Then Acts 4:12: And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved. ? A. Fishermen, beggars, priests, elders, scribes, officers of the court, etc. “we” will be saved only through Jesus Christ. Many claim that as long as you are a good person, you can go to heaven in numerous different ways. Peter says, “No.” Only through the Name of Jesus can you be saved. What confidence & courage! 1. How could two men speak with such authority and conviction? 2. How could they leave 71 educated men with nothing to say? “They had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). What higher compliment could one pay about your life? C. When Satan strikes to fill your heart with fear . . . *Fill your heart with John 14:1, 2: Let not your heart be troubled, believe in God, believe also in Me . . . When Satan dangles the bait . . . *Cut his line by believing 1 Corinthians 10:13: God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Remember, Satan doesn’t play fair. READ ACTS 4:15-17 2. They could not clear the hurdles of pride & prejudice. If they admitted Jesus was the Messiah, they would be without a job. So, behind closed doors, where they could be upfront with each other, they discuss what to do with Peter & John: “Do we know the man has been healed? Check.” “Do we believe their testimony to be true? Check.” “Are we going to change our lives? No.” Not even a “noteworthy” miracle could change their hearts. Finally, someone had a suggestion: We must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this Name. Acts 4:17 ? A. Wait a minute! The Council had no right to make such unreasonable demands! Peter & John had disobeyed no laws. 1. They deserved no punishment. What the Council planned was not fair. But, Satan is never fair. 2. His nature is to be devious . . . So don’t play by his rules. Don’t underestimate the gravity of the situation in Acts 4. The highest court in the land had handed down its decision. The most powerful lawmaking body in Israel had made a law: It was now illegal to speak or teach in the Name of Jesus! The Council did not make it illegal to assemble . . . to sing & pray. They did not make it illegal to do good works. 1. They simply made it illegal to speak or teach in the Name of Jesus. When we “go out into the highways and along the hedges” (Luke 14:23), inviting others to Jesus, Satan gets really nervous! 3. The Cross is his downfall. Satan knows it: They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Revelation 12:11 Acts 4 is a critical moment in the history of the Church. 1. What if Peter & John had obeyed the council’s command: But Peter and John answered “. . . For we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:20 2. You might as well command the sun not to rise; birds not to sing; parents not to love their children . . . as to command the apostles not to share Jesus! E. You’ve seen & heard what Jesus has done in the Gospels. You’ve seen & heard Jesus’ impact in your own life. So, like the apostles, our response to Satan must be: “We cannot stop telling others about Jesus.” ? Were the Council’s threats, idle threats? Perhaps their bark was worse than their bite. 1. No. A short time later, the apostles would be arrested & beaten (Acts 5:17-40). 2. Stephen would soon be killed (Acts 6:8-7:60). WHEN SATAN STRIKES . . . STAY CLOSE TO GOD B. In Acts 4:23-, we discover the power source for the apostles: And when they had been released, they went to their own companions, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 1. When Satan strikes, plug in to your power source . . . God. 2. Verse 24 might have begun: “And when they heard this, they became angry and marched on the Council members.” 3. Instead, we read: And when they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God . . . (Acts 4:24) C. When Satan strikes, stay close to God. When it seems that your world is out of control, stay close to the One who is in control. Someone has said: “Prayer is not an escape from responsibility; it is our response to God’s ability.” 2. In Acts 4:24-30, we have the second recorded prayer in the Book of Acts. A prayer emphasizing God’s sovereignty. If you had been these men, what would you ask for? *Punishment to the enemies of Christ? *A stop to the persecution? Notice their request: Now, Lord, look on their threats, and enable Your servants to speak Your Word with great boldness . . . Acts 4:29 A prayer for boldness, faith. D. If you’ve been hurt deeply, ask the Lord to “look at” what has happened. Then, leave matters in His hands. ?? INVITATION Satan’s attempt to silence the apostles failed. His attempts to silence us are ongoing. (attacks on the family; society; etc.) ******* When Satan strikes . . . Don’t be surprised Don’t play by his rules—knowing that Satan won’t play fairly Do it God’s way –live in such a way that the Name of Jesus will be glorified through you Stay close to God ******* The good news tonight is this: Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 4:7 Resisting the devil begins by submitting to God. Submitting your heart . . . your will . . . your life. Have you laid it all at the feet of Jesus? Are you a Christian?