Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices

January 20, 2019 ()

Bible Text: Ephesians 6:10-20 |


Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices | Ephesians 6:10-20
Brian Hedges | January 20, 2019

Turn in your Bibles this morning to Ephesians chapter 6. C.S. Lewis, in his book The Screwtape Letters, in the preface said that there are two equal and opposite errors that people make about devils; one is to disbelieve in them entirely, and then, on the other hand, there are people who have an unhealthy and excessive interest in them. I think in our culture we err on the first side of those two things; we tend to disbelieve in devils. We are not conscious of how much evil power there is at work in the world, and so in this new series, called “Dressing for Battle: Putting on the Gospel Armor for the Good Fight of Faith,” we’re thinking about the strategies of the devil. We’re thinking about what the old Puritan Thomas Brooks called “Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices.”

This morning we’re continuing in this study, in Ephesians 6:10-20, and today I just really want to dig in once again to those first two or three verses. These first few messages are somewhat introductory to the armor of God, as we’re looking at the battle itself, and then the enemy, and today especially at our enemy the devil.

Let’s read the passage together, Ephesians 6:10-20. You can follow on the screen as I read.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”

This is God’s word.

I want us to look at three things this morning:

I. The Reality of the Devil
II. The Strategies of the Devil
III. The Defeat of the Devil

I. The Reality of the Devil

First of all, the reality of the devil. Just underscore his name there in verse 11. Paul tells us to “stand against the schemes of the devil.”

One time there were two boys who were walking home from church together after Sunday school. One of them said to the other, “Do you believe that stuff about the devil that they talked about in Sunday school this morning?” The other one said, “I think it’s kind of like Santa Claus; it’s just your dad.”

In all seriousness, belief in the devil in our culture today is considered implausible by many people. When you start talking about Satan, you start talking about the devil, you start talking about this personal, spiritual force of evil; for many people, they’ll give you an eye-roll. They’ll think you’re kind of old-fashioned. “Maybe that fit in the medieval world, but it doesn’t really fit in the modern world.”

I want to argue this morning that losing our belief in the devil, as our culture largely has, comes with a greater loss. It leaves us without the vocabulary and without the resources to deal with evil in the world.

There is a scholar who in 1995 wrote a book called The Death of Satan; his name is Andrew Delbanco. He’s a Columbia University professor, he’s not a Christian, he’s a self-professed secular humanist. He surveyed the changing thought patterns in our culture about Satan and the devil and evil, and he showed that as our culture has come to disbelieve in the devil, we have also lost in the process.

He said, “The work of the devil is everywhere, but no one knows where to find him. We live in the most brutal century in human history, but instead of stepping forward to take the credit he has rendered himself invisible.” Indeed, someone once said that the greatest trick of the devil, the cleverest trick of the devil, is to convince people that he doesn’t exist.

Now, we know that evil exists. There is empirical evidence for it everywhere. We know the realities of the Jewish Holocaust, of the Cambodian killing fields, of the genocide in Rwanda. We know the stories of serial killers like Ted Bundy and Charles Manson and Jeffrey Dahmer. We are confronted almost every day in the headlines with terrorist attacks, with wars and rumors of wars, with school shootings.

We know that there’s evil in the world, and if we’re honest, when we look in the mirror, when we reflect on our own lives and we think about our own malice and envy and lust and hate, we see the capacities for evil in our own selves, we see the seeds of evil in our own hearts and in our own families, we know that evil exists, and we need a vocabulary for it. We need an explanation for “why is the world as it is?” and the explanation is given to us in Scripture, the Scriptures which tell us that there is this personal, supernatural, malevolent force that is working against us, and his name is Satan. His name is the devil.

Scripture describes for us the whole scope of the devil’s work and his influence. Think about this for just a few minutes. His influence includes political influence. Do you remember that when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness in Matthew 4 and in Luke 4, that Satan came to him and said, “If you’ll fall down and worship me, I’ll give you all the kingdoms of the world. This authority that has been given to me, I’ll give you all the kingdoms of the world.” And indeed, John the apostle tells us in 1 John 5 that “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” He has political influence. He’s at work in the kings and the kingdoms and the nations of the world. It’s no wonder that we see so much strife and so much conflict and so much division.

He also has physical influence in the world. Do you remember when Satan tempted Job, in the book of Job? Satan came into the presence of the Lord and brought Job up as - actually, the Lord is the one who brought Job up. He says, “Have you considered my servant Job?” And Satan essentially says, “He serves you because you protect him, because you keep him healthy, because you’ve blessed him. If you take everything from him, he’ll curse you to your face.”

The Lord actually puts Job into Satan’s hands, and in Job chapter 2 Satan is the one who goes forth from the presence of the Lord and strikes Job with boils, with these sores, from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot. Satan was the immediate agent behind his physical affliction.

In Luke chapter 13, Jesus heals a woman who has been crippled and says that she has been "bound by Satan for 18 years." In 2 Corinthians chapter 12, when the apostle Paul has a thorn in the flesh, he says it was a “messenger of Satan” that was sent to "harass me.”

Satan has influence in the world! He has physical influence. He can affect us. Now, he can’t do anything without God’s permission, but he is yet at work in the world, and he is causing problems for us right and left.

Of course, he has a spiritual influence. He has influence in the minds and the hearts of men and women all across the globe. You remember in Acts chapter 5, the story of Ananias and Sapphira. They lied, remember, about how much they had sold their property for. Do you remember what Peter said to Ananias? He said, “Satan has filled your heart to lie against the Holy Spirit.” Satan has the ability to incite us to evil by making suggestions to our minds. Satan filled Judas Iscariot before he betrayed Jesus. Satan, through suggestion and insinuation, through putting thoughts into our minds and our hearts, can lead us astray, can lead us into sin and in to evil.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “Satan is an adversary not to be despised, of keen intellect ripened by years of experience, with the fullness of cunning and craft, which made even the serpent, when possessed by him, more subtle than any other beast of the field. He is an antagonist worthy of angelic might.”

Don’t count lightly the reality of evil in the world. We see that evil all around us, we see the seeds of it in ourselves; the devil’s real, and he is strategic.

II. The Strategies of the Devil

That leads us to the second point, the strategies of the devil. I mentioned already Thomas Brooks the Puritan, who wrote a wonderful book called Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices. I think there’s actually a copy on the book table, so if you want to follow up you can pick that book up. It would be well worth your reading.

There are 37 strategies in that book; we only have time to deal with 36 of them this morning! No, in all seriousness, we could spend weeks upon weeks looking at the various strategies of Satan. I just want to break them down into three, okay, the three primary strategies of the evil one against us. Of course, I’m drawing this out of verse 11, where Paul tells us to “stand against the schemes [that’s the word ‘methods,’ or strategies] of the devil.” What are those schemes? What are those strategies?

(1) Well, first of all, there’s deception. Deception. Satan is called in Revelation 12 “the deceiver of the whole world.” Jesus said in John 8 that “he is a liar and the father of lies.”

He lies to us in order to keep us from seeing the truth. He’s a deceiver. He lies to keep people from seeing and believing in the gospel. In 2 Corinthians 4 he is called “the god of this world,” and Paul says that if people don’t believe, if the gospel is veiled, if they don’t believe, they don’t see, it’s because “the god of this world has blinded [their minds],” to keep them from believing, “to keep them from seeing” the glory of Christ.

But Satan also lies to us as believers. He lies to hinder us in our growth and to trip us up in our Christian lives. You remember how Paul, in Ephesians 4, says that he wants Christians to grow up and become mature so they will not be “carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” It’s the same word that you have here in Ephesians 6:11, “deceitful schemes.”

Well, what are these deceitful schemes? They are worldviews, they are ideologies, they are beliefs that are counter to the truths of God’s word. Do you remember what Satan did in the garden, the serpent in the garden with Eve? He questioned God’s word. “Has God really said? Has God really said?” He cast doubt on the truth of God’s word, and that’s what Satan does for us as well.

In 2 Corinthians 11 Paul says, “I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” In that context, Paul is concerned about false apostles. He’s concerned about people who are pretending to be apostles. They’re pretending to be ambassadors of Christ, but he says, “They’re false apostles, and they’re giving you a distorted gospel, not the true gospel.” Then he goes on to say that even Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. He’s a master of disguise. He comes to us with the most plausible-sounding arguments, but this whole purpose is to undermine to distort, to inveigle, to manipulate, to keep us from seeing and believing the truth.

Preacher and pastor Steven Lawson has said that “the sign above Satan’s path is always marked ‘heaven,’ but it always leads to hell.” He says that black is white and white is black. He says that good is evil and that evil is good. He confuses light and darkness. He is constantly trying to distort the truth to keep us from seeing reality as it really is. He’s a deceiver, he’s a liar, he’s the father of lies. That’s his first strategy: deception.

I wonder this morning, have you believed some of Satan’s lies? Here’s one way to know if you’ve believed his lies or not: if you sin. The only reason we ever sin is because we believe a lie! We believe that somehow committing that sin will lead me to happiness. We don’t believe what God’s word says; we believe what Satan suggests to us, and we believe that if we will do this, if we will say this, if we will think this, if we will pursue this particular desire it’ll somehow lead to our fulfillment, and it always leads to our disintegration, to our destruction, to our devastation.

If you’re living in sin this morning, if your life is characterized by habitual sin this morning, you’ve believed a lie. It’s working against you. It is not God’s will for you. What God has for you is something better, it’s something good, it’s something satisfying, it’s something pure, it’s something right! We need to believe the truth rather than believe the lies, and the only way you can believe the truth is if you know the truth. So it argues, of course, doesn’t it, our need for the word of God.

(2) Here’s the second strategy of the evil one. He’s not only a deceiver, he is a tempter, and so his second strategy is temptation. He’s called in Matthew 4:3 “the tempter,” and in 1 Thessalonians 3:5, also, called “the tempter.” He knows exactly how to tempt us. He chooses the best possible seasons for temptation.

In 1944, when the Allied forces invaded Normandy, they effectively won the war, and they did it because of perfect timing. If they’d come just a little bit too soon or a little bit too late, there might not have been the same outcome to the war.

Satan knows this. He’s a master strategist, and he knows exactly the time to tempt. Timing is everything. So, here are some of the seasons where he tempts us.

Just think about the temptation of Jesus for a minute; it’s so instructive. He tempts us right on the heels of great spiritual experience. You remember that Jesus, when he’s tempted in the wilderness, it comes right after Matthew 3, when Jesus is baptized and the Jordan River and the Spirit of God descends upon him and the Father speaks from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And then he’s driven into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil for 40 days, right on the heels of great spiritual experience!

Are you having a good Lord’s Day today? Watch out! Watch out; the devil has you in his crosshairs. Just watch. Discontentment, envy, anger...these things will tempt us, even when we feel like we’ve had great experiences.

Not only that, but he tempts us on the eve of great usefulness. Again, Jesus’ temptation is right before the beginning of his earthly ministry. It’s right before he goes out into Galilee proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, preaching, and then healing; this great ministry of Jesus in his three years leading up to his crucifixion, and the devil tempts him right before that.

He will do that for us as well. If you have recently made some kind of resolution - it’s New Year’s, right? I guess we’re three fourths of the way through January now, and maybe you’ve already quit the resolution; but if you started, if you started with a new Bible reading or an intention to pray more regularly or to share your faith more regularly, you can be sure that the devil will do everything he can to undermine you. He does not want you to be effective in the kingdom of God, and he will distract you, he will subvert your efforts, he will throw obstacles in your path.

Not only that, but Satan tempts us when we are isolated, when we are depleted, and when we are needy. Again, Jesus, he’s in the wilderness for 40 days and nights, he’s alone and he’s fasting, and it’s when he’s hungry, it’s when he’s depleted, that the enemy comes and says, “If you’re really the Son of God, command that these stones be turned into bread.”

Just a few weeks ago Del Fehsenfeld shared a little acronym that I think is very helpful, the acronym HALT, H-A-L-T. When you’re Hungry, [Angry], Lonely, or Tired, be very watchful, because it’s in those seasons that the enemy comes.

Satan uses not only the right seasons, but he uses the most subtle strategies to tempt us. Out of those 37 devices that Thomas Brooks names, here are just a couple that I remember. He shows us the bait but he hides the hook. He is the master angler. He always maximizes the promise of sin, while minimizing the consequences.

Or, he will show us the sins of great saints, while hiding their repentance. “Well, David committed adultery, and God forgave him.” Oh, but he hides the cost, he hides the tears. If you’re thinking that thought as a justification for indulging lust or starting down a very dangerous path, you’re not thinking about the mournful tone of Psalm 51, you’re not thinking about David’s repentance. Well, that’s what Satan does. He shows us the sins of the saints, while hiding their repentance. He is a tempter. He is a deceiver, he’s a tempter.

(3) And then, here’s his third strategy: accusation. He is the “accuser of the brothers, who accuses them day and night before the throne of God” (Revelation 12:10). I think one of the most vivid illustrations of this is in Zechariah 3. Do you remember that scene? You’ve heard me mention this before. There’s Joshua the high priest, and he’s clothed in filthy garments, and here comes the adversary, here comes Satan, and he’s accusing. “What is this man doing here with his filthy garments? He has no right to be here!” He’s the accuser of the brothers, and he comes to accuse.

Another one of the Puritans, Richard Rogers, says, “The devil comes, first of all, as a tempter, but afterward, when we should be repenting, he comes as an accuser.” He’s a master manipulator, deceiver.

You know, in Satan’s lies he sometimes does a one-two punch, and he even contradicts himself, as all liars do. All liars contradict themselves sooner or later, and Satan does that as well. He will say, first of all, when he’s tempting you and when he’s deceiving you, he’ll say, “That’s such a little sin, God won’t mind,” and he’ll get you to commit it. And then after you’ve committed the sin, when you should be repenting, when you should be confessing, when you should be going to God for forgiveness, “God will never forgive you that sin.” He comes as the accuser! You see how he leads us astray. He’s so subtle.

Now, we have to learn to distinguish between the accusations of Satan and the genuine conviction of the Holy Spirit. There is a difference between the two, and I think I can put it most simply in this way: when the Spirit comes with conviction, he will be specific (you’ll know exactly what the sin is) and he will come with hope, pointing you to Christ. The Spirit’s role is to lead us to Christ. He is the “Spirit of truth who leads us into all truth.” He comes with hope and with specific conviction in order to lead us to the Savior. When the Spirit is at work, he’s always intending to lead us back to life and to fullness and to repentance.

But when Satan comes as an accuser, it’s like a shotgun blast. He’s trying to take us down any way he can, he wants to keep us down, he wants us to despair, he wants us to be discouraged; and there’ll be nothing of Christ there, there’ll be nothing of the gospel there. He is the accuser of the brothers.

III. The Defeat of the Devil

So we’ve considered now the reality of the devil, we’ve considered the strategies of the devil, these three strategies that then break into so many more. What is our hope? What is our confidence? How can we have any confidence that we will escape those temptations?

The answer is found in point number three, the defeat of the devil. Look at verse 10: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” Now, I already talked about this verse last week, but I think it’s worth digging in just a little bit more. Notice that he says, “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”

(1) I want us to think for just a minute about Jesus’s decisive defeat of the devil. “The strength of his might.”

We read this morning Exodus 15, “The Lord is a warrior, the Lord is his name.” That’s a theme that runs through Scripture, the Lord as the mighty warrior. You see it in Exodus 15, you see it in some of the Psalms, you see it in Zephaniah 3, and you certainly see it in the New Testament. Remember how Jesus talked about the strong man, and how only when a stronger man comes into his house and binds him can the house be plundered. Jesus is the stronger man! Jesus is the stronger warrior! “Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world”!

Over and over again, the Scriptures hold out for us the power of Jesus Christ overthrow the evil one. Jesus decisively defeated the evil one in his cross and in his resurrection.

Colossians 2 tells us that he has put these rulers and authorities to “open shame, by triumphing over them.” Hebrews 2, which we’ve already read this morning: “Through death he has defeated the one who had the power of death, so as to rescue us from the fear of death.” He’s defeated the devil! The death of death in the death of Jesus Christ.

In Matthew 4 and Luke 4, the temptation scene, we see Jesus defeating the evil one. Have you ever thought about the comparison, the contrast between Adam in the garden and Jesus in the wilderness? Here are the two representative heads of the human race.

Here’s Adam, the first man. He’s in a perfect environment, he’s in the garden, he has companionship with Eve, he is surrounded by luscious fruit, every tree of the garden there for him. There’s only one limitation: “You shall not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Only one limitation, and the reason that’s there is because God is God and Adam is not. Adam must remember he is a creature, and he needs to trust and to obey the great King, the Creator, the Lord of the universe. The serpent, this cunning serpent, comes tempting, deceiving, leading him astray, and Adam, with every possible advantage, fails.

And then here comes the second Adam. The second Adam is not in a perfect environment; he’s in the hostility, the aridity of the Judean desert. He’s in a wilderness. He’s not in a garden. He’s surrounded by wild, ferocious, dangerous animals. He has no companionship, there’s no spouse there, there’s no friend there; he’s there all alone. And he is tempted again and again and again by the evil one, and every single time he responds with the truth of God’s word. Absolute confidence in his Father, “It is written,” and he overcomes!

I love the words of Newman in that old hymn:

“Oh loving wisdom of our God,
When all was sin and shame,
A second Adam to the fight
And to the rescue came.”

Praise God for the decisive defeat of the evil one through the cross of Jesus Christ! Believe the gospel this morning, friends. There is victory, there is triumph to be had over the evil one. That victory, that triumph, can be experienced by us as well, and that happens as we depend on him. “Be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might.”

(2) So, Christ’s decisive defeat of the evil one is followed by our dependent defeat of the evil one, and it is our defeat. It is our battle to fight. Paul is telling us to stand. He’s telling us to resist. He’s telling us to stand against the schemes of the devil. He’s telling us to put on the armor of God. You have a battle to fight! The devil is after you, he wants you to fall, and you have to stand, but you don’t do it in your own strength, you do it in the strength of Christ. You do it on the basis of the victory that Christ has already won.

How do you do that? How do you do that? Just think about the strategies we’ve looked at. How do you do it when temptation comes? You remember that you have a “high priests who has been tempted in every point as [you] are, yet without sin.” He’s already won the battle, and in the power of his victory you, too, can escape from any temptation.

How do you do it with deception? You remember what Jesus did in the wilderness. He relied on the truth of Scripture. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” In the same way, we are to do that.

1 John 2:14: “I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” Can that be said of you this morning? Are you strong? Does the word of God abide in you, and have you overcome the evil one?

Let the word dwell richly in your heart. Christian, don’t neglect your Bible. I know I harp on this, I know it’s like the one note I keep plucking again and again and again, but listen, Sunday mornings are crucial, they’re absolutely crucial, we need to come, all of us, we need to come and hear the word and read the word and sing the word, we need to do that together; but it’s not enough. You also need friends, whether it’s in a small group or in a Sunday school class or one-on-one with a close friend, you need friends who are getting the word into your heart and into your life. And that’s not enough; you need every day, every day, to feed on the manna from heaven.

You need to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. You need the word of God abiding in you, and if the word of God is not abiding in you, you will be a sitting duck. You will succumb to the deception of the evil one.

Our dependent defeat of the devil; we see it in temptation as we trust in our high priest and deception as we let the word of God abide in us. What about accusation? I’ll tell you, the gospel’s never more precious than in the moments when we have fallen, we have fallen and the accuser comes whispering in our ears, “God will never forgive you for this. He will never forgive you.” What does Scripture say? Romans 8:33-34, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 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.”

Spurgeon said, “When Satan accuses, Christ pleads.” Satan accuses, and Christ pleads, he intercedes for us.

Some of you will have heard this story before, but I love it and it fits, so I’ll tell it again. There’s a story told about Martin Luther. Martin Luther, evidently, had lots of these conflicts with the evil one. He was a very strategic man in God’s purposes in history; he was a very targeted man by the evil one. In one of these battles, he reputedly threw an inkwell against the wall, and the the stain, I think, is still there on the wall of that church, that castle where he was hiding away.

In one of these bouts with the evil one, Satan came accusing, reminding Martin Luther of his many sins. He was just listing them off in his mind. “You’ve done this and you’ve thought this and you’ve said this,” all of these sins.

Luther said back in his mind, “Is that all?”

He said, “No, that’s not all,” and he kept bringing up more, he kept bringing up more. He reminded him of how evil they were, how often they were repeated.

Luther says, “Is that all? Bring them all!”

He says, “No, that’s not all. If I brought them all, the list would wrap around the world twice.”

Luther says to the evil one, “Bring them all, bring them all!”

When finally every sin he could think of was in his mind, do you know what Luther said? He said, “Write at the bottom of that list, ‘The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.’”

You know the words of that great old hymn,

“Well may the accuser roar
Of crimes that I have done.
I know them all, and thousands more;
Jehovah knoweth none.”

This is the good news of the gospel, brothers and sisters. Whatever sin you’ve committed - whatever sin you’ve committed - you can put that sin under the blood of Jesus Christ, and it will not be held against you, the guilt completely wiped away, the slate completely clean.

I was just reading a sermon from Spurgeon yesterday, and he had such a great illustration. He talked about this man who had a book with three leaves in it, and there was no writing in the book, there were only colors. The first leaf was black, the second leaf was red, the third leaf was white. When he felt condemned in his conscience, he would look at that black page and it reminded him of the blackness of his sins and how awful they were. But then he’d turn a page and he’s look at the red page, and he would remember the blood of Jesus Christ. And then he’d turn to the white page, and how pure and how clean he is because of what Jesus has done. You and I can do the same, and as we do that we can defeat the accusations of the evil one.

I wonder where this finds you this morning. Maybe the Lord has put his finger on some particular thing in your mind or in your heart or in your life. It may be that you feel convicted of a specific kind of sin. If so, turn to the Lord in repentance this morning.

It may be that you have been living under this cloud of guilt and accusation. If so, plead the blood of Christ and know that Christ himself pleads his blood. He pleads the sufficiency of his atoning work on the cross, he pleads that over you.

It may be that you recognize your neglect. Maybe that’s coming home this morning in a forceful way, your neglect of the word, your neglect of prayer, your neglect of spiritual disciplines, your neglect of meditation on Scripture. If so, would you make a fresh resolve this morning, not depending on yourself but depending on him, to get your nose in the Bible, to sharpen your sword, to fill your heart with the word so that you will abide in the word and the word abide in you, so that you will overcome the evil one.

For every single one of us this morning, let us look to the triumph of Jesus Christ in his cross and in his resurrection. “Greater is he who is in you,” the Spirit of the risen and reigning Christ, “Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world.” Let’s pray together.

Our gracious Father, we come this morning thanking you for your mercy and for your grace. We come thanking you for the triumph of Jesus Christ. We thank you for the victory that is ours in him, as we trust in him, as we believe the gospel, as we hold to these truths of Scripture by faith. We pray that you would seal these things in our hearts.

Lord, you have shown us specific things this morning that you want to change, so that we will be aligned with your word, so that we will be in tune to your Spirit. We ask you, Lord, to give us the grace and the courage and the fortitude to make those changes. We ask you to make us faithful soldiers in the army of Jesus Christ.

Lord, we confess how weak we are, how much we need strength, how we need nourishment, how we need healing in our hearts and in our minds, and as we come to the Lord’s table this morning we come with that prayer, that you would draw near to us, that you would feed us and nourish us, that you would strengthen us for the battle. Lord, as we take these elements this morning, may we do so with our hearts fully set on Jesus Christ, on all that he has done for us, on all that he yet will do. May these moments be real fellowship with him as our hearts go out in faith and as we receive and believe the promises of the gospel as they are sealed to us by your word and Spirit. So draw near to us, we pray in Jesus’s name and for Jesus’s sake, Amen.