There is, as you have been told, nothing like a lion’s all-out charge—the speed, the power, the sheer ferocity.
If you happened to be taking a tour of Africa, and you decided to wander off into a lion-infested area without proper precaution or protection, especially into an area where a known man-eating lion was on the rampage, leaving the walled native compound for a morning jog, you would be counted by the natives to be nothing but a fool: “Where are you going, sir?”
“Oh, for my morning jog.”
“Have you not heard that there are confirmed reports that the man-eater known as Diabolis is back in the area, and that some mutilated bodies have been found?”
“Oh, I am sure the reports are exaggerated. The bodies were found miles from here, were they not? I will not be gone so long.” And off you go, thinly clad.
As the natives close the gate behind you they would shake their heads, and one would say to the others, “Well, let’s make plans for his obituary. What shall we write? ‘Mr. Sam Vander Smith will be sadly missed by family and friends. He went missing two days ago, not returning from his morning jog. Funeral arrangements are pending. When his body is found in some ravine or thicket, at least what is left of it, his friends will be notified for his memorial service.’ “
If to wander off without proper precautions or weaponry into a lion-infested area known for having lions with an appetite for human flesh is the definition of a fool, how much more so to wander about this devil-infested world without taking into consideration that greatest of all predators, Satan. A case can be made that he is the third greatest being in this whole universe, the first being Almighty God, then our exalted Lord Jesus, and third, Satan, whose appetite for the souls of men is insatiable and well documented.
The apostle Peter, who knew from sad experience Satan’s overwhelming power and evil describes him as a “roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Without disputing what the two former speakers stated—that lions commonly roar after they have fed, indicating they have eaten their full, my experience is that they also roar when they are hungry and in a feasting mood.
Admittedly my experience is limited, based as it is on my visits to Singapore. There they have what is known as a Night Safari Preserve. Members of the church have taken me there a number of times with various PR church delegates. They take you around 8 PM so that you can be in the preserve when the keepers feed the big cats in various habitats. The feeding takes place about 9:45. You know it is time to feed the big cats because the lions begin to roar. It is not such a loud sound, but it is a low rumbling that is unmistakable, carrying to the farthest reaches of the park. It is a sound that can only come from a good-sized creature with a large chest cavity. One can tell they are impatient for their food. The sound is impressive.
Such a beast is a picture of Satan with his appetite for the souls of men. Not to fear this devil, not to take him and his realm into consideration every day as you venture out into the world is the definition of a fool.
I make reference to Satan and his realm, which is to say, his reality.
One of the things that distinguishes us as Christians from most of secular society these days is that we still maintain that there is a realm other than the just the physical; there is also a spiritual, invisible realm inhabited by spiritual beings. That is something most deny these days. If you were to attend a secular college, you would find that the professors and the students almost without exception would dismiss such a notion as outdated, putting you in the category of the uneducated and the primitive: “An invisible, spiritual realm, indeed! Do you believe in ghosts too?”
This is a deception of Satan himself. He would just as soon you not believe that he is real, but that he is just an old wives tale, because if you do not believe he is real, then you take no precautions; you are completely vulnerable, and he can take you unawares and feast on your soul at his leisure.
Do not forget that if Satan is not real, then neither is God. But if Satan is real, then so is God. Satan knows the two realities hang together, and he would just as soon convince you there is no God. Satan’s great design is to destroy your relationship with God. He would have you believe this whole business of being a Christian is a great waste of time. There is no spiritual realm. You have no enemy to fear, nor do you need this God of which so many speak.
Young people, you are living in an age in which society is bold and brazen as it never has been before, a society whose leading educators are bold to say, “God is dead!”
That is of recent vintage, stated only in the last 100 years or so. Before our modern era men were willing to live as if there was no God, but they did not dare say, “God is Dead.” They feared judgments of God if they dared speak such blasphemy. No longer.
When men say “God is dead,” they do not mean that once God existed, but now he has passed away. They want to maintain that there never was a God. What they are talking about is the concept of an almighty God. By the phrase ‘God is dead’ they are asking, “Who needs the concept of God anymore?”
In order to explain the unexplainable in a pre-scientific age, man did.
There were these great earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that suddenly broke loose, destroying great cities, or tsunamis that washed away whole villages, or great famines and terrible plagues that swept through populations. “What was the cause,” they asked. It must be the great deity is angry. These events happened randomly, it seemed. It must be there is some great power who makes these things happen from time to time.
But that was then. Now man can explain all these occurrences by natural scientific laws inherent in nature. We even have the cause of diseases figured out. Who needs some involvement of God to explain these things?
So God is dead. Meaning, the concept of God has outlived its (his) usefulness. The survival of the human race does not depend on some God and his benevolence. Man says, “We do not need a god anymore to figure all these things out or to plead with him to spare us, nor do we need you miserable interfering Christians talking about him all the time. So, you scientific simpletons, cease speaking about him, or we will silence you!”
So Satan is working in this ungodly scientific-minded world to remove all mention of God from the scene, and like a lion he seeks to intimidate you and me if we do not comply.
The threat and intimidation of the ungodly is Satan’s roar.
How do we respond to this deception that neither God or Satan exist?
A certain English author of the early 1900’s, who claimed to be religious though not a Christian, made a profound statement. He declared, “If there is no God, nothing matters. If there is a God, nothing else matters.” How true.
If there is no God, then nothing matters really—how you live, what you say or do. You are not going to be held accountable for what you choose to do anyway. Nothing anyone does is of any lasting importance in the end. It’s all going back to dust.
But if there is a God (the God of scripture), then nothing else really matters. where do you stand in respect to him? Do you please him or do you not? Do you have His approval or do you not? It will prove to be the difference between life and death in the end.
But Satan would have you believe there is no God and no Christ, his Son. So, do not worry. There is no final standard of right or wrong, good or evil, not even whether or not you abort infants, whether you decide to exterminate the Jews or let them live. It all depends on what the majority of society prefers and thinks is good at the moment.
So the only real question that faces you as young people of the twenty-first century is whether you are going to insist on your outdated Christianity with its miserable condemnation of others’ life choices, or be a contributor to society and conform yourself the thinking of our age. The choice is yours. Continue to be one of these non-conformist, confrontational Christians every time you open your mouth, or go along with the program and prove to be of some value to society in its search for peace and unity and happiness. What will it be?
That brings us to the heart of this speech.
As we have said, Satan’s great aim is always to turn you from God and destroy your relationship with God if he can, but at the same time he wants to get you to conform to society and its perspective on things.Social conformity is the great theme of the ungodly and the educational leaders these days, so that everyone, whether one claims to be a Christian or not, thinks and acts the same. To bring that about Satan uses social pressure. He brings the pressure of society to bear on all its members, but especially he brings it upon you as Christian young people, pressuring you to adopt its way of life and its assessment of worth and value.
What is of particular concern to us is that Satan is doing this by means of a growing emphasis on bodily looks, style, and appearance—the body beautiful. This has become more and more the emphasis of the age—self-worth measured by appearance, by bodily shape, form, and looks. It is a society preoccupied with this, and wanting you to be preoccupied with this as well, because if you are, it is good for the business of the fashion industry.
I want to remind you of what and who governs and is behind the fashion industry these days, namely, the homosexual segment of society. All you have to do is read recent news magazines in which are obituaries of a number of the old original fashion designers, one after the other openly homosexual, men whose young partners claimed they would sorely miss them.
Do not think that the newly approved homosexual segment of society is not having and is not going to continue to have a tremendous influence on every aspect of our society. It is.
That one is concerned about one’s looks and appearance does not make one homosexual. You may be as heterosexual as the day is long, but it is the gay mentality that governs the fashion industry with all is models, male and female, many in various stages of undress.Because that is so, the emphasis is going to continue to be on the body beautiful with shape and form. You are going to continue to be subjected to it everywhere you turn in this day and age. Let’s face it: you live in a age with a great emphasis on the visual, and it all feeds the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.
The question becomes this: “Do you measure up?” Do you measure up to some idealistic standard in shape and form? If you do not, at least in some approximate way, what are you really worth? What do you really amount to in the assessment of others?
Being fit and trim and attractive is all the emphasis today. And who does not want to be attractive? They are the popular ones, after all.
What you must understand is that Satan is feeding this whole movement. It is part of his assault.
To this pressured assault and temptation there are three possible responses, any of which Satan would be pleased to elicit.
The first response that would satisfy him is that you succumb to the pressure and become preoccupied with shape and fashion and form. It dominates ones thoughts and use of time. Much time is invested in buying the necessary cosmetics, shopping for the latest name brands, and spending hours on improving looks and shape and form. It becomes what you are almost always thinking about,
What goes begging? Your spiritual life, of course, and growth in knowledge and fellowship with God.
Maybe you do not see shape and form and looks as your strong suit. What a miserable waste of time. But it is these others who get all the attention, and you and others are all but ignored.
How do you react to that? With anger, bitterness, and snarling words that bite and mock and devour, words that are devoid of kindness, anything but Christian. Satan is having his way. You are doing his devouring for him, don’t you see?
Then there is a third response Satan aims at, namely, that of despair. One looks at what others seem to have and envies them. It all seems impossible for self, and as a result one becomes depressed and despairs: “I do not measure up. I have tried. I have failed. Why even go on?” And thoughts of suicide arise. If there is anything that Satan feasts on, it is that: despair.
Let me remind you of something: the three responses to the pressure about appearance and shape and form I have mentioned above are not to be found just in young ladies. They can also be true of young men.
With the great emphasis on looks and shape and form, male appearance is being strongly advertised too. And if you do not have this or that bodily form, do you really measure up? Young men can become preoccupied, and all but obsessed with fitness and shape and form.
I am not saying it is wrong for young men to spend some time in athletic training for strength and stamina. Such can be a good outlet for your excess energy. The question is, how much time? Is one consumed by it? And, as a result, what goes begging in the morning and evening? What else but one’s devotions and spiritual growth, which also requires self-discipline and time.
Or one can become bitter and sarcastic. The good athletes think they are the top of the heap. Well, let’s knock them off their pedestal by biting and demeaning words—again, a spirit that is anything but Christian and pleasing to the Lord.
Or even despair: “I do not measure up in those areas. I am a failure.” One turns to self-mutilation in various forms. Why not take the next step and just end it all?
Satan is having his way, using society’s vain and empty fleshly ideals to put pressure on you to conform. He is working to disable you in very real spiritual ways.
In our society it is apparent that his diabolical approach is having tremendous influence and results.
And you, young people, are his favorite prey.
The question is, how does one deal with Satan’s assault in this area of life, fend him off, and keep him and his powerful influence at bay? The answer is to be found in what many consider to be an outdated and old fashioned phrase: by being numbered with the God-fearing.
Are you God-fearing, or man-fearing? Whose eyes, whose assessment is most important to you: God’s approval or man’s approval? What means most to you? More to the point, whose disapproval means most to you, God’s or that of others, even your friends?
Let’s understand what is true of the God-fearing. It is this: they do not fear men. Who and what you are is not determined by what others think, but by what God thinks and whether you measured up to what he required of you.
You claim to be Christian young people? Then do not measure yourself in society’s eyes, but in God’s eyes, asking yourself what he requires of you. If you have a good conscience with God, it does not really matter what others think and say.
How do you know what God requires and whether you measure up to his standards?
Young people, do you see what I am holding up here? It is God’s word.
Do you know what God’s word is? Among other things, it is a mirror. This is the mirror we ought to be spending the most time looking into, not the one hanging in your bathroom or in the fitness room.
The world has its mirrors: “Mirror, mirror on the wall; who’s the fairest of them all?” When the world holds up its body-magnifying images, and you may well despair.
Rather, put this question to God’s word “Mirror, mirror in my hand, who is fairest of them all?” The answer will be, “Christ Jesus, the upright one.” Beautiful beyond compare in love and mercy and grace and godliness. How do you compare to him?
Is that not what you and I should really want others to see in us—how Christ-like we are, having his life, kindness, and purity? Of course.
Is he is pleased with you? That’s all that matters. You really do not need anyone else’s approval. You have the approval of the Son of God.
So let him be your model and standard. Reflect him. You know what will happen? You will be like Daniel of old, thrown into the lion’s den for refusing to bow to the pressure of Persia and its forbidding him to pray publicly to his God. He did not fear men, and the lions dared not touch him. It was as if he had an aura about him, a force field of power that the lions dared not cross.
So it will be with you. You will have a spiritual aura about you, and Satan, like those lions around Daniel, may snarl and want your soul, but he will be kept at a distance, unable to do you spiritual harm.
Make that your resolution by prayer and Bible reading, and walk out into the world fully armed and prepared. Then the devil himself cannot overcome you. He may roar, but it will be a roar of frustration. He must seek other prey. He cannot control your mind.
Then you will be numbered with the wise, not the fools. You will be one to whom others are attracted, one whose companionship they value for your good words and spiritual worth.
May God so grant.