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Sermon illustrations

The Devil

The Devil Buried the Bones

And I was reminded of an event from my father’s childhood.

He was in a Sunday school class, listening to his teacher expound on Genesis 1 and a young earth, and asked his teacher how to make sense of all those dinosaur bones. “Was there no room for Rex on the ark?” he asked, with guileless sincerity. “The devil buried the bones,” his teacher answered, and proceeded to explain that a literal Genesis 1 and young earth were essential to Christian faith.

My father found himself before a fork in the road. There he was, a young boy who loved Jesus and dinosaurs, and the die had been cast—either the Prince of Darkness had spent the better part of the last millennia burying dinosaur bones or there was no God.

Taken from Faith in the Shadows: Finding Christ in the Midst of Doubt by Austin Fischer. Copyright (c) 2018 by Austin Fischer pp.1-2. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

Four Powerful Darts of the Devil

“God is against you,” Satan says.  “He is not really for you.  How can you believe He is for you when you see the things that are happening in your life?”

“I have accusations I will bring against you because of your sins,” Satan argues.  “What can you say in your defense? Nothing?

“You say you are forgiven, but there is payback day coming–a condemnation day,” Satan insinuates.  “How will you defend yourself then?”

“Given your track record, what hope is there you will persevere to the end.”

How do we face down such darts with the shield of faith?  Ferguson goes on to explain that Romans 8:31-35 is a great place to start.  These are promises of God that will quench each one of the above darts.  Trust in these today. Bracket information added gives the defense for each of the above darts:

“ [Dart one] What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?  

[Dart 2] Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.  [Dart 3] Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

[Dart 4] Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? ” (Romans 8:31–35, ESV)

Sinclair Ferguson, By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me, Reformation Trust Publishing, 2010.

The Devil’s Tools

It was advertised that the Devil was putting up for sale all of his tools. On that date the tools were laid out. They had prices marked on them for public inspection, and there were a lot of treacherous instruments: hatred, envy, jealousy, deceit, pride, lying, and so on. Laid apart from the rest of the Devil’s tools was a tool, but it was worn more than any of the others and was priced very high. “What’s the name of this tool?” asked one of the customers.

“That,” the Devil replied, “is discouragement.”

“Why have you priced it so high?”

“Because discouragement is more useful to me than all the others. I can pry open and get inside a man’s heart with that when I cannot get near him with any other tools. It’s badly worn because I use it on almost everyone, since so few people know it belongs to me.”

John W. Yates II

The Great Temptation

In his excellent book, An Unhurried Life, Alan Fadling describes one of our greatest temptations in the modern age: hurry:

Hurry is a great temptation. Hurry looks like impulsive, knee-jerk reactions: “I’ll act now because I may never have another chance!” The temptation to hurry is fueled by the lie that the only good to be had must be grabbed now or never.

Jesus’ encounter with the devil in the wilderness right after his baptism at the Jordan illustrates the hurried nature of temptation and a holy response to it. Jesus is a master of the unhurried response to tempting suggestions.

Taken from An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest by Alan Fadling Copyright (c) 2013 by Alan Fadling. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

I am Baptized

If you’ve read or watched any of the biographies of Martin Luther, you will already know that he struggled at times with bouts of anxiety, self-loathing, and perhaps even depression. Shortly after his unwillingness to renounce his views in front of an imperial meeting (the famous Diet of Worms), Luther was spirited away to a remote castle, where he would eventually translate the Bible into German.

It had to have been an extremely harrowing time. The Catholic Church had condemned him, labeling him a heretic. Alone for much of the days, Luther fought against his demons, perhaps literal and figurative. At one point he was said to have thrown an inkpot across the room at the devil.

But his response to these attacks was just as interesting. Luther would shout out loud Baptizatus sum, “I am baptized.” As Tim Chester writes, “His circumstances looked bleak. But his baptism was a fact, and it embodied the promise of God.”

When times were most tough, Luther leaned on the sacraments as a promise that Luther was saved, no matter what his demons might whisper in his ear.

Stuart Strachan Jr.

The Testimony of the Great 20th Century Pastor Martin-Lloyd Jones

One of the things that is interesting about Lloyd-Jones’s testimony is that he was a royal physician when he became a Christian; he worked for Lord Horder, the physician to the royal family. If he had stayed in that prominent role, he likely would have taken Lord Horder’s position, which means he would have been in the House of Lords.

Here is a young, brilliant Welshman who went to medical school, became a doctor, and was on his way to the top. As a non-aristocrat, you could not have had a better career path than Lloyd-Jones did in the mid-1920s.

However, when Lloyd-Jones became a Christian, he decided he was called to the ministry. He left his incredibly promising medical career and took a little church in a poor fishing village in Wales. He was still a fairly young Christian, and he wrestled with doubts about his faith, saying that Satan would accuse him: “Very often Satan would come and suggest, ‘How do you know you’re a Christian?’” He didn’t know what to say.

But one day, after he had spent some time in Wales as a pastor in his little village, he turned around and said: “I want to know, Satan, why would I rather talk about Jesus with the humblest fisher woman in Wales?

Why would I love doing that more than I love talking about medicine with my peers and other men who have gone to the same schools as me and are of the same social class?” Once he began saying that to Satan, the Devil didn’t know what to reply and left him alone.

Timothy Keller, Ed. By D. A.Carson; Kathleen Nielson, God’s Word, Our Story, Crossway.

The Two Equal and Opposite Errors

There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils.  One is to disbelieve in their existence.  The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.  They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (1942) in The Complete C. S. Lewis Signature Classics (New York: HarperOne, 2007).

What If Satan Told The Truth When He Tempted Us? [Part 1 of 2]

Think for a second what it would be like if Satan were to tell the truth when he tempted people? Could you picture what that would look like? Imagine if Satan tried to tempt us honestly; it might go something like this:

SATAN: You should cheat on your wife with that good-looking girl in the office.

PERSON: I don’t think so. It’s wrong, and it would hurt my wife.

SATAN: Fair enough; you make a good point. But look, I’ve run a cost-benefit analysis for you. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

Benefits:

  1. A few moments of physical (if perhaps awkward) pleasure.

Costs:           

  1. Disobedience to God.           
  2. Erode your communion with God.           
  3. Ruin, or possibly even end, your marriage.            
  4. Humiliate your wife.            
  5. Mess up your kids’ lives.           
  6. Public humiliation and exposure.            
  7. Might cost you your job.            
  8. Might mess up your coworker’s life.            
  9. Diseases?          
  10. Unwanted pregnancy?          
  11. Dishonor and disgrace on your church.          
  12. Wreck your witness to others.       

PERSON: Yeah, wow. Umm . . . no, thanks.

Mike McKinley, Did The Devil Make Me Do It?: And Other Questions About Satan, Evil Spirits, The Good Book Company, 2013.

The Devils Logic [Part 2 of 2]

If I were making a list of benefits like the one Mike McKinley imagines, only this time using the devil’s actual logic, it might look more like this:

  1. Experience the excitement of new romance.        
  2. Get the kind of satisfaction my wife isn’t willing to give or interested in giving anymore.        
  3. Find someone who listens to me and actually understands.        
  4. Relieve this stress and boredom.        
  5. Feel attractive and desired.        
  6. Feel loved.

Those are the lines we follow when we ponder affairs. We give an inch at a time, compromise after compromise, not in the explicit interest of disobeying God and dishonoring our marriage vows, but in the interest of fulfillment, beauty, and enlightenment. Sin makes an emotional kind of sense to us that defies biblical reason, and the devil is more than happy to help us with that too. After all, God forgives anything, right?

Jared C. Wilson, The Gospel According to Satan: Eight Lies about God that Sound Like the Truth, Nelson Books, 2020.

What Does the Devil Look Like?

In 1942, the poet W. H. Auden posed an unconventional question to a group of Sunday school children: ‘Do you know what the Devil looks like?’ His answer was equally direct: ‘The Devil looks like me.’

Darren Oldridge, The Devil: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions), OUP Oxford.

Still Looking for inspiration?

Consider checking out our quotes page on the Devil. Don’t forget, sometimes a great quote is an illustration in itself!

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