God Gives Us Protection

By Dr. Jack Graham

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand (John 10:27–28).

The widespread terrorist attacks that killed at least 127 people across Paris left France, and the watching world, reeling in shock and horror, making for one of the darkest days in Europe’s recent history.

When we hear about evil acts and bizarre behaviors of individuals who did whatever made them newsworthy, whether they bombed a sporting arena, walked onto a college campus and started shooting innocent students, or gunned down people sitting outside a beautiful Paris restaurant, it is hard to understand what could motivate them to act in the way they do.

I know some people doubt the reality of Satan; they sneer and snicker under their breath at the very idea of Satan and demonic spirits. Some think it is nothing but superstitious nonsense. And yet, more and more, people are recognizing the reality of the world of the supernatural. These things cannot be measured by scientific discovery, but we know there is an invisible world, a powerful world that includes not only the angels of God but also the demons of hell, that affects our day-to-day lives.

The Bible gives a vivid account of demonic activity in New Testament days, and we certainly should expect that demons exist today. I believe there are two major mistakes that people make regarding the Devil and the hordes from hell that we call demons. Some underestimate the power of Satan and his influence. That is a huge mistake. We must not underestimate his power.

Others make a mistake in becoming unduly preoccupied with demonic spirits. That must make the Devil happy. Rather than focusing on the Lord Jesus Christ and His greatness—the One who has power over all the works of the Enemy, the One who has all authority—to focus on the adversary doesn’t make much sense.

As we watch our world becoming more and more vile and more and more wicked and crazier all the time, it’s frightening, because the fact is that Satan does exist and he roams about like a prowling, roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. We must be aware of his presence but not preoccupied with him at the expense of understanding the God we serve.

Our protection from the Enemy comes in the form of a person, the Person of Jesus Christ. When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we receive a new life and a new nature. Suddenly there’s a conflict. Our struggle is not with physical battles alone but with spiritual battles. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

We need to realize our own weakness and rely upon strength from the Lord to resist and ultimately escape the wiles of Satan.

One of my favorite personalities in the entire Bible is Joseph. He was a godly young man who had great dreams and great desires from God. Joseph’s dreams caused him to be sold into slavery by his own brothers and yet, even after he was taken to Egypt, Joseph knew the source of his protection and he did not give up his dreams. He did not become a spiritual casualty, because he relied on the One who gave him the great dreams.

You do not need to become a spiritual casualty. When a thought that is contrary to God’s Word passes through your mind or when temptation knocks at your door, you can refuse to open the door. When you were a kid, did you ever wrestle your brother or sister to the ground and, when your sibling would struggle to get up, say, “Say uncle; say uncle—give up”? Temptation moves in like that. If we begin to entertain the idea of sin or the suggestion to disobey God, ultimately we will find ourselves in a grip that we can’t escape. The Devil often attempts to get us to dwell on certain sins until the desire is the biggest thing on our mind. That’s why it is so important to get victory over temptation as soon as possible.

Often, when we see horrific acts of terror in the news, our natural reaction is to give in to the temptation and become angry and demand revenge for the innocent lives that were taken. But however Satan uses our physical enemy against us, it’s not our place for revenge. In the ninth chapter of Genesis, we find God raging in anger over rampant disobedience, and exterminating the entire population of people that He Himself had made. After the floodwaters receded, only eight people remained—Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives. “Now, it’s just you,” God essentially told them. “Now, we will start again.”

God made a covenant with Noah that He would never again flood the earth. He delivered every beast of the field and every bird of the air into Noah’s hands, to rule over, to steward, to eat. And, finally, He explained to Noah that He would demand a reckoning for every man’s life to come. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed,” God said, “for God made man in his own image” (verse 6).

And with that, the mandate had been given to mankind, to care for all human life. Human life is precious, God was saying. It is sacred. It is holy, because it is made in the image of God. To take the life of someone else is to defame and desecrate the image of God. It is to willfully destroy what God meticulously made.

Furthermore, in Romans 12:17–19, we read the following: “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’”

Scripture is clear here: we must never repay evil for evil, meaning that when you and I are wronged, we must refuse the temptation to wrong the ones who wronged us. We are to give room for God to exact retribution He feels is fitting, based on the wrong that was done. It’s not our job to pay people back; that job is God’s, alone. We are to bless those who curse us, and pray for those who mean us harm (see Luke 6:28).

Every sin committed here on this earth either will be pardoned by Christ or punished in hell; either way, the action is God’s to take. Romans 13 reveals one such way that God takes action to punish sin. Verses 1 through 4 say: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”

One of the ways God exacts punishment for wrongdoing is through governing authorities, those who “bear the sword,” whom God Himself has placed in power. God is righteous. He is holy. He is blameless and perfect and just. Sin angers Him. Sin distances Him. Sin must face punishment of some kind. And God authorizes human leaders to help Him accomplish this task—“servants,” He calls them in the verses we just read—who help God carry out His wrath against wrongdoing. Police officers, mayors, judges, magistrates—these and many other roles have been directly ordained by God.

Remember the scene when Jesus was standing before Pilate, receiving judgment from the earthly king? Jesus looked at him and said, “You have no power, no authority, except that which has been given to you from above.” God, who holds all power in His hands, gives all power.

We serve a powerful God. He has overcome the power of Satan, and we must learn to accept His power to protect and sustain us in this life. The Christian life does not need to be a defeated, discouraged life. We can live with confidence that the One who created us made a way for us to escape the evil of this world.

Dr. Jack Graham serves as Pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church, one of the largest and most dynamic churches in the country.