The following is adapted from a sermon writen by my friend and collegue, Jim Martin.
When I was a kid growing up in East Saint Louis, I always hated playing games with the kid down the road. His name was Donnie, and Donnie had a habit of “making up rules” as he went along. It didn’t take me too long to notice that the rules he made up instantly stacked the game in his favor and against me.
I remember one day when I finally I had enough and said, “I’m not going to play by your rules any more.”
Can I tell you that I’ve come to that place in my life where I have told Satan, “I’m not playing by (or living by) your rules any longer!”
You see, the world’s way, or Satan’s godless way, is a life of carnality, fear and discouragement.
What is the purpose of the rules of the world?
If we read Colossians chapter 2, we will see that Satan’s rules are set to:
A. To deceive you—vs. 4
B. To weaken your faith—vs. 5
C. To halt you in your journey of faith—vs. 6
D. To stunt your growth—vs. 7
E. To entangle you with their philosophies and beliefs—vs 8
You might be reading this, scratching your head and asking…
“What “rules” are you talking about? “
Allow me to lay them out for you.
A. Rule of separation
Paul said he wanted people “knit together by strong ties of love.”
The rule of separation causes you to pull apart from God’s people, soak in misery, and open yourself up to attack. Ever notice how people begin to lay out of church and isolate themselves from the Body of Christ? And when they do, suddenly and viciously, they find themselves under attack.
Separation equals vulnerability to attack. It always works that way. In the natural world, when wolves are on the hunt, they go after the prey that has been separated from the rest of the flock. That’s how Satan operates as well.
B. Rule of weakness
It begins with deceit and it culminates in weakness.
Paul said in vs. 5 that he rejoices that they are living as they should and their “faith in Christ is strong.”
C. Rule of human thinking.
Something that the Body of Christ must again realize is, is the fact that the world cannot dictate what the church should be. That comes from the head, Jesus Christ. Fleshly thinking cannot guide the church. Fleshly philosophies cannot inspire the church to fulfill the full plan of God.
Listen to what Paul wrote in Colossians 1:10:
“So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.“ We have got to get back to the place that we acknowledge and act upon the fact that Christ alone dictates what the church should be.
D. Rule of flesh.
What are the rules of the flesh? Well, it’s actually easy. The flesh generally tells us to do the opposite of what God says!
- Flesh tells to sit when God says to move.
- Flesh tells you to move when God says to stand and see His salvation.
- Flesh tells you to speak when God says, “Be still and know that I am God.:
- Flesh leads to close your mouth when God says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.
- Flesh dies. Let it be buried.
Colossians 1:13 says: “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.”
You no longer live by flesh, but by the redeemer who lives within you. For you to live is Christ!
E. Rule of spiritual authorities
Ephesians 6:12: “For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.”
F. Rule of fear and discouragement—These two are tied together.
Deuteronomy 1:21 : Look! He has placed it in front of you. Go and occupy it as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, has promised you. Don't be afraid! Don't be discouraged!'
And in Deuteronomy 31:8 we read: “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD is the one who goes before you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor forsake you."
How about Joshua 1:9 where the Word says: “I command you – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Then in Joshua 8:1: “Then the LORD said to Joshua, "Do not be afraid or discouraged. Take the entire army and attack Ai, for I have given to you the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land. “
And in I Chroincles 28:20 we read: “Then David continued, "Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don't be afraid or discouraged by the size of the task, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the LORD is finished correctly.”
These are just a few passages, but did you notice that in each one these, as well as in many others, it seems as if discouragement comes on the heels of fear. Discouragement and fear are tightly linked together.
You will notice that in many of these instances, God was bringing His people to a place of victory and blessing. They just had to get past these two enemies of the soul to get there.
I read each word and with each step make the proclamation.
God has promised!
God will not fail or forsake!
God will not abandon His own!
God has given us the enemy territory!
God will see that His work is finished!
I have made up my mind that I will not play by those rules any more.
It’s time to make the declaration—I’m not going to play by Satan’s rules any longer!
The old me is dead! Why should I love by the old rules?
Those rules made me a loser, but the rule of Christ in my life makes me victorious!