THE VOICE OF THE SHEPHERD VS THE VOICE OF THE STRANGER: Parts 5 & 6 - The Voice for Us & The Voice Against Us / Like a Roaring Lion
So, what we are attempting to do through this series of teachings is discern the difference between the voice of our Good Shepherd and the voice of the stranger that would attempt to lead us astray. And I hope you understand just how important of a message this is for us, church, because there are far too many Christians who never learn to discern God’s voice or the enemy’s voice. Because of this, I’ve seen so many led around by the wrong voice, which has robbed them of the life God has for them. Therefore, I am convinced that if we can just learn the Shepherd’s voice and heed what He is saying to us, our lives would be led on those green pastures and beside those still waters.
So, we started out talking about the primary ways both the Lord and the devil speak to us. And we learned that the most common way they both speak is internally and not externally. So, the most regular way we will hear their voices is on the inside of us, in very subtle ways—the Lord speaking to our spirits in that still small voice and the devil speaking to our minds in a cunning, crafty way.
However, like I’ve made the point of, it’s not always so easy to discern between what we hear in our spirit and what we hear in our minds. I believe we can all grow to where can tell the difference, but what I have found is that one of the easiest ways to be able to tell what comes from God and what comes from the enemy is by the nature of the things we hear.
You see, the Lord was good enough to clearly show us in His Word what both His voice and the voice of the enemy tend towards. Yes, He gave us example after example in the Scriptures that show us what their nature is and, therefore, how they both speak to us and what the effects of their words will be.
So, we started off looking at these things by looking at our first example of both God and the devil speaking to mankind in the Bible. I made the point that we need to understand that whatever we see first mentioned in the Scriptures is something we will see regularly repeated in the world today. Therefore, what the Lord said and what the devil said in this instance are certainly going to be the same thing that we will hear them say to us on a regular basis.
Then two weeks ago, we started looking specifically at how we can tell when it is God speaking to us. In other words, what is the fruit of God’s voice.
You see, God has given us a very simple and easy way to be able to discern God’s voice. Yes, I have found that the best way for us to identify the effect of God’s voice is by the fruit of the Spirit. Why? Because the fruit of the Spirit is the “produce” of God.
So, what we did last week was we looked at most of these fruit that are listed in Galatians 5:22-23 and how they help us in identifying the witness of the Holy Spirit and our own spirit:
On the contrary, when any of these nine fruits are coming up in our hearts, we can trust that this is direction from the Lord because God is not going to lead you contrary to any of these. In other words, these nine fruit of the Spirit are the fruits that let us know we have heard God’s voice. We can trust them. They are reliable.
What the Stranger Produces
So now that we covered the fruit of the Shepherd’s voice, let’s look at some of the fruit of the stranger’s voice over the course of these next two weeks:
Now when I say “fruit” of the voice of the enemy, don’t misunderstand me. His words definitely don’t produce anything good in us like the Holy Spirit’s fruit do. The stranger’s voice actually produces the polar opposite of what the Shepherd’s voice produces. This is what we are going to touch on today.
You see, just like we can look at the things we hear in our hearts and tell whether they were from the Lord by how consistent they are with the fruit of the Spirit, we can also tell when it is the enemy speaking to us by the effects of his words. So, let’s spend this week looking at one major thing that the devil loves to produce in us through his words.
Now in our list of things that the devil uses when he speaks to us, we see how the devil likes to do various things like push & pressure us, discourage & depress us, trouble & confuse us, but one passage of Scripture that I believe best encapsulates some of the enemy’s devices is found in First Peter 5:8.
The Stranger’s Most Popular Weapons
First Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
Now it is important to note that the apostle Peter added “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” right before this verse on spiritual warfare (see verse 7). So why do you reckon he added this statement? It is because when we allow worry and doubt to dominate our minds, we are opening up the door to our adversary to devour us. In other words, not casting our cares upon Him will lead us a little closer to the cage of that roaring lion, making us more susceptible to being devoured.
So, before Peter ever even mentions the devil, he mentions one of the things that can cause us to disqualify ourselves—worry. But that was just an introductory commercial to the verse I want us to look at. Now, let’s look at First Peter 5:8 in detail …
Notice that first, he says, “be sober”: The Greek word for “sober” is nepho and means “to be mentally self-controlled, clear-headed, well-balanced, alert, and stabilized.” In other words, you could say that this word means “to think straight.” And why is being “mentally self-controlled” and “thinking straight” so important in dealing with the devil? It is because (as we’ve learned) the mind is the avenue he speaks to us on. As I briefly mentioned already, if he can get your thought life all out of whack, then he may devour you.
Then Peter says, “be vigilant.” This term means “to be awake, watchful, and standing guard.”
You see, as soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of a battle we need to be alert and watchful. If we were in a physical war and were walking through the enemy’s territory, do you reckon we might be a little sober and alert? Of course, we would! And why? It is because if you’re not watchful and clear-headed you could lose your life. Likewise, this world is the enemy’s camp, and we are his targets to steal, kill and destroy from. Therefore, we need to be fully sober and vigilant because the enemy has his wicked snipers targeting us at all times, waiting for an open shot. So, we must have this militant mentality at all times!
Then, after our “to do” list is mentioned, Peter tells us why we need to be so mentally prepared by saying, “for your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” So, in this passage of Scripture, we have two of the primary weapons that he uses against us.
The Prosecuting Attorney
First, notice that he is called our “adversary.” In this word lies a key to understanding one of his weapons that he loves to use against us. The word “adversary” is the Greek word antidikos and literally describes “an opponent in a court of justice.” In other words, the devil is “the prosecuting attorney.” This word antidikos comes from the word anti meaning “against” and the word dikos where the word “righteousness” is derived from. Therefore, this title of “adversary” describes Satan as being the one who is “against righteousness.”
Now we see in the Book of Job (Job 1:6-12) that Satan comes to present himself before God regularly to bring accusations against us because he is the accuser of the brethren. But we also need to understand that not only does he accuse us before God, day and night, but he also will accuse us directly both day and night. In other words, one of his primary devices that he uses against us is condemnation!
Yes, the devil is constantly trying to make us feel guilty and worthy of punishment. The word “condemn” in the dictionary is defined as “to deem unfit for use” in reference to a building being condemned. And this is what the enemy desires to accomplish—to convince us that we are unfit to be used by God.
But the reality is that we have an advocate (i.e., a defense attorney) with the Father—Jesus Christ the righteous (First John 2:1) and if He be for us who can be against us? (Romans 8:31) In other words, if He, being the greatest defense attorney ever, is on our side then who can successfully win a case against us!?! Romans 8:32 implies that if God gave His only begotten Son for us then how could we believe that He wouldn’t forgive us of individual sins after we have been saved. If God was merciful to us when we were His enemies, how much more will He show us mercy now that we are His children? (Romans 5:9-10) Romans 8:33 asks the question— “Who shall bring a charge (or, accusation) against God’s elect (i.e., favorite, picked out, the one God voted for)?” He answers his own question by saying, “It is God who justifies!” In other words, “It isn’t God! He’s the One busy making people right before Him!”
You see, God is the One who declares people innocent and righteous! Then, in Romans 8:34 Paul asks another question— “Who is he who condemns?” And again, He answers his own question by saying, “It is Christ who died…” That simply means that Christ took all of our condemnation and died in our place! Praise God! But, thank God, He didn’t stay in the tomb! Paul went on to explain— “…and furthermore is also risen.” Romans 4:25 says that He was raised for our justification. You see, it would not have been good enough for Jesus to just die for our sins. He also needed to be raised so that we could be justified with Him. So, Paul told us that He was not only raised from the dead, but He was also raised to the right hand of God, which is the ultimate place of power and authority.
I think the next phrase is so awesome! Not only did Jesus die for us, not only was He raised from the dead for us, and not only was He raised up to the right hand of God for us. On top of all that, “who also makes intercession for us!” You see, Jesus is not the one bringing accusations and condemning us! He is the one standing between us and the Father, defending us as our Advocate and Intercessor! The devil is the condemner! He is the prosecuting attorney!
You see, church, Jesus says to all of us what He said to the women caught in adultery— “Where are those accusers of yours?... Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:10-11). So, if Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), then He is saying that to all of us today— “Neither do I condemn you!” Yes, the only time He will ever cast judgment on anyone is on that Great Judgment Day, but until then, He says “Neither do I condemn you” yesterday, today and forever. Amen!
What the Devil Walks About Like
Now let’s move on to another very popular weapon that the enemy uses when he speaks to us. It is also referred to in First Peter 5:8 where the apostle Peter goes on to say how our adversary (i.e., prosecuting attorney) “walks about like a roaring lion …”
First of all, notice how Peter did not specifically say the devil is a roaring lion, but that he is like a roaring lion.
You see, this means that he is only likened to a roaring lion, and not actually a big, bad roaring lion himself. In other words, he just carries some of the same characteristics of a roaring lion, but is not to be viewed as something to be feared and terrifying. Why? Because our Lord has already disarmed, dethroned, and defeated him (see Colossians 2:15 & Hebrews 2:14). Yes, there is only one king of the jungle and that ain’t satan! Jesus is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and he alone is LORD.
But that doesn’t change the fact that the devil operates a lot like a lion does. So, let’s delve into how the devil walks about like a roaring lion and what the Holy Spirit is trying to communicate to us by describing him this way …
Notice how he’s described as “walking about.” This reminds me of how the devil is described as walking to and fro (i.e., back and forth) on the earth (See Job 1:7). The imagery we get from this is how a lion paces back and forth in his cage at the zoo when he would love to be outside of that cage “devouring” all those spectators. This is what the devil does with those created in God’s likeness & image – specifically the children of God who are negatively impacting his kingdom. And when he finds them, he seeks every opportunity to pounce on and devour them.
But the good news is – He can’t! No, he is seeking those he may devour, and that is those who make themselves “devourable.” Let me explain …
Like a Roaring Lion
You see, it is very significant that Peter likens satan to “a roaring lion” here because the roar of a lion is one of a lion’s hunting tools & tactics. Yes, this description of him as a “roaring lion” describes one of his hunting techniques:
You see, one of the hunting techniques of a lion is that when it is seeking its prey, it will roar with its incredibly loud roar—a roar that is so loud that it is said that one can hear it up to five miles away. Now it does this for a couple of reasons:
Number one, it is to scatter the pack …
You see, a lot of the animals that a lion likes to hunt travel in packs, and they do this because it’s in their nature to know that if they can stick together, the larger, more dangerous animals won’t be as inclined to go after them. So, the lion’s roar is used to scatter the pack, which makes that one lone “sheep” easy pickings for him.
Church, this is one of the things that you can expect to hear from the stranger—words that promote disunity and separation amongst the body of Christ. Anytime there is a thought that enters our mind that is “leading” us away from unity, love, and faithfulness, that’s a red flag. These thoughts often manifest themselves in things like us getting in strife with one another, leaving a local body of believers, and isolating ourselves.
Please know that this is one of the devices of the devil – that roaring lion – to disjoin the body of Christ and separate us from one another both in our physical presence and in our hearts.
Number two, the lion’s roar is used to paralyze its prey. Yes, the other result of that lion’s roar is that it can essentially paralyze its prey with fear and make it an easy target to devour.
You see, because a lion’s roar is so loud and deep, it is extremely intimidating to the other animals, and it can cause them to freeze right where they are at. So not only does his roar “scatter the pack,” it can cause some of the herd to freeze in their tracks.
Church, all of this describes another weapon that our enemy likes to use on us—FEAR! Yes, the fear that keeps us from moving forward, the fear of connecting with other people, the fear of obeying God, etc. etc. etc. Yes, if he, through his intimidating and paralyzing words can get us into any of these various forms of fear, then the result will be us allowing that fear to paralyze us. The result of this will be for us to basically just stop following the Shepherd’s words, to where we are just opening up the opportunity for the devil to pounce on us and devour us. It can also cause us to allow that fear to separate us from the rest of Christ’s body and other healthy relationships we have in our lives.
The Giant of Fear
One of the best examples we have in Scripture of this is found in the account of David and Goliath in First Samuel 17.
In this story, we are told that Goliath came to present himself before the armies of Israel for 40 days and verbally taunted them twice a day. So not only was Goliath’s appearance intimidating, but his words made Israel “dismayed and greatly afraid” (vs.11). Then David came on the scene and there were several things that he did in this event that we can do as well to counter that giant called “fear.”
The first thing he did was realize that Goliath was not just defying the army of Israel, but he was defying the armies of the living God. David realized Israel had a covenant with God and that meant that God was bound to give them the victory over these Philistines. You see, in a covenant, when one of the parties went into battle the other fought with them. Therefore, David knew that because of Israel’s covenant with God, that this “uncircumcised Philistine” (i.e., this Gentile who did not have a covenant with God) was no match for him.
Church, it doesn’t matter what it looks like in the natural if you have a covenant with the Lord of hosts. Then those words that Elijah told his servant in 2 Kings 6:16 are true for us— “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them!”
The second thing David did was recall to his memory his past victories. He recounted how he was used by God to kill a lion and a bear who, in the natural, seemed to be impossible victories. So, remember: recalling our past victories will spark faith in us for the current giant in our life. We need to build memorials in our lives that call to remembrance all the things God has brought us through.
So, after David got the Ok from his authority to face Goliath, he went down to the brook and gathered five smooth stones and then drew near to the Philistine.
Then we are told that Goliath looked at David and “disdained him.” This resulted in him beginning to roar like a lion, trying to put fear in David’s heart. And Goliath said something that the enemy still says today— “Come to me and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field” (vs.44) In other words, “Come on! Try and take me on! Try and believe for your healing! Try and take this city for Jesus! Try it and I’ll take your family, friends, health, etc. away from you and leave you with nothing!”
So, what was the enemy trying to do to David? He was trying to put a picture in David’s head of what would happen to him if he confronted this giant. This illustrates to us how the enemy will try and use our imagination against us. If he can get us to ponder those pictures of defeat in our minds, then our faith will grow weaker.
You see, it has been well-said that the word F.E.A.R stands for “false expectations appearing real.” And the way that these false expectations appear real is in our mind and our imagination. On the other hand, if God can get us to ponder images of victory in our minds, then we will grow in faith and, therefore, will receive what God has for us. You see, we have to see it in here (i.e., in our heart and mind) in order to see it out here (i.e., in the natural)!
So, what did David do when Goliath was trying to paint that picture of defeat in him? Did he just stand back and do nothing? No, David verbally responded to those fear-filled images by creating faith-filled images in himself! We are told that he saw Goliath dead in this valley with birds and wild beasts eating his carcass.
Saints, it would do us good to sometimes just close our eyes and imagine ourselves going to the mailbox and opening up that envelope with an anonymous check in it. It would do us good to picture our kids, hands raised, worshipping the Lord. When we start seeing it through the eyes of faith then we will start seeing it with the eyes of our head! And we see that as David got this positive imagery in his head and spoke it out of his mouth, he also began to speak many concrete, faith-filled words. In verse 46 alone he used the word “will” three times- “the Lord will deliver you into my hand,” “I will strike you and take your head from you,” “I will give your carcass…” David had tremendous confidence and boldly confessed what would happen before he ever saw it happen. Likewise, we must also learn to do these things David did as we face the giants in our lives that try and paralyze us through fear.
But if you are going to take anything away from this story of David vs. Goliath, know this: The best way to counter fear-filled thoughts is to speak faith-filled words! Why do I say this? It is because before David ever tried to take on Goliath, he first spoke faith-filled words. I just love a quote I heard from Mark Hankins! He said, “Never run at your giant with your mouth shut!”—to which I give a hearty ‘Amen!”
Bold Like Lions
Now there is another passage of Scripture that uses this exact same terminology that we see in First Peter 5:8, and it is found in Proverbs 28:15. In this verse, Solomon says, “Like a roaring lion and a charging bear is a wicked ruler over poor people.”
Now we know how this biblical principle works, don’t we? If we get the wrong person in a position of authority, whether that be in the government or in the church, it can be dangerous “like a roaring lion” and a charging bear.
But do you know what else is dangerous? It is when we allow the devil to rule over us like the tyrant he is. And this occurs when we see ourselves as poor & powerless. Yes, it is the helpless that allows the ruler of the darkness of this world to be dangerous like a roaring lion and a charging bear.
But we are not helpless, saints, and (again) he is not the king of the jungle either. We need to understand that the enemy cannot just come into our life and devour everything he wants to. We have authority over him, and we can be confident in this.
You see, regarding this confidence & boldness, Proverbs 28:1 says that the wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion. Isn’t that interesting that the wicked person is said to flee when no one is pursuing them?
Church, we need to understand that we are not wicked anymore. If we are a born again, child of God, our nature has been changed and we are not sinners any longer. Sure, we can still sin after we have been saved, and likely we will. But that does not change our nature.
But think on this: How many of you believe that before you became a follower of Christ that there was no amount of good deeds/works that you could have done to be made righteous? We all believe that, right? Why? It is because we are born a sinner and our works cannot change our nature. So how can we believe that after we are born again and made the righteousness of God in Christ that there is any amount of bad deeds/works that we can do to be made a sinner? No, when you were born again, your nature changed from being a sinner to being righteous in Christ. Therefore, there is nothing you can do to be considered wicked now that you are born again, just like there was nothing you could do to be considered righteous when you were born the first time. It is simply a result of the nature you are born with. Your “do” does not affect your “who.” No, you have been made righteous in Christ! That means that you have been made fit to be used by God. You do not make yourself usable; you were made usable by Jesus! Therefore, when you pray for someone in the name of Jesus, you should see it, not as you praying for them, but as it is in truth, Jesus praying for them!
Friends, as a general rule, we are too self-conscious in the church. We look at ourselves far more than we ought to. The truth is that we are dead, and our life is hidden with Christ in God (see Colossians 3:3). The truth is that, as the body of Christ, it is no longer we who live, but Christ living through us (Galatians 2:20). For to live is Christ (see Philippians 1:21)! So, we need to quit seeing ourselves praying for people because in essence it is Christ praying for people! We are operating in His place (i.e., in His name). So, forget getting “self-esteem”! That is a worldly philosophy! The Christian philosophy is that we should be striving to get more “Christ-esteem.”
But notice it is the wicked who flees when no one pursues. And this is exactly what sin consciousness will do in our lives: When we see ourselves as “wicked”—that is, when we are conscious of all of our faults, weaknesses, mistakes and shortcomings—we will flee when no pursues. That means that we will run from God when He is not out to get us. This happened in the Garden after the first sin of man, and it is still happening today when God’s children sin. We sin, and instead of running to God (like we should), we run from Him thinking He is pursuing us to punish us. But the truth is that God is pursuing you when you sin, but not to punish you; He is pursuing you to restore, redeem, and reconcile you!
So, the wicked—or, the one who thinks he or she is wicked—will flee when no one pursues. This describes far too many Christians. They are running from the righteousness of God because they have an incorrect view of God and of themselves. But, again, God is not pursuing to punish; He is pursuing to pour out His protection and provision. They are even running from the devil because they have an incorrect view of him and also because they have an incorrect view of themselves. But we are not to be fleeing from him; he is supposed to be fleeing from us!
Do you see the perverted thinking much of the church has adopted? We think we are being pursued! We think God is out to get us and we think the devil is going to get us. Both of these beliefs are so far from the truth! God is for us, so who can be against us! This is what we should be believing!
But notice the second half of this verse … “But the righteous are bold as a lion.”
This is the truth we need to displace that lie with! The devil is said to walk about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, yet we see him as the big, bad lion. But we are the righteousness of God in Christ, and we need to see ourselves as that big, bad lion! Why? Because we are in the Lion of Judah! We are the ones who are hid in the King of the Jungle! Therefore, we should be the bold, confident ones! We should be the ones that are walking about boldly like lions, seeking which works of darkness that we can devour—not the reverse! Hallelujah!
Friends, understanding our righteous position in Christ will produce boldness and confidence! Having our state of justification revealed to us will produce the full assurance of faith in our hearts! Hallelujah! We are to be playing the part of the lion; not the devil! We are to be the ones on the hunt; not him! We are the ones with the authority! We are the ones with the position! We are the ones with the name above all names! We ARE the righteousness of God in Christ!
So, stop fleeing like the wicked and start pursuing like the righteous! Be bold and be confident! Know that his works have no legal grounds and that you have the authority to cast out the works of darkness by the power of the blood and His anointing! You are the one to be feared, not satan!
So, these are just a couple of the ways the stranger –the devil – speaks to us. Of course, there are many other things he speaks to us to try and sabotage our lives. But these are just a couple of things that I consider his “heavy artillery.”
Church, these truths are so important to understand. Once we start recognizing his devices, we can truly bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. This will most certainly lead us into a life of victory. Amen and amen.