Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means
hurt you. (Luke 10:19)
This is a wonderful verse, and even more wonderful because we know that it was spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ. When He says that we have power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and that nothing shall by any means hurt us, we know this cannot mean that nothing shall ever hurt our body. What He means is that it will not hurt our spirit: our spirit can remain unscathed in the midst of life, including spiritual life and at times spiritual conflict.
When we went into lockdown, I think I’d had a hope in my own heart of a time of really deep, sweet communion with Christ. Now it’s not that this cannot happen: at times I find Him very accessible. But I also discovered that the devil has not gone into lockdown, and he has not disappeared. Many of you in the midst of this time will have found that also. There’s a tremendous sense of the protection of God and the overshadowing of Christ. But the enemy comes like a scorpion. If you look at the picture of a scorpion, it is not a very pretty sight. It’s not a huge creature. It’s an arachnid with a sting in its tail; its tail seems to arch over its back and has the sting at the end of it, which means that if we tread upon it it will definitely sting us, sometimes fatally. Christ says: “I give you power to tread on the scorpions.” Sometimes missionaries have found this literally true, but for most of us it’s not in the physical but in the spiritual sense.
What are these scorpions? Well, I think at this time there can be many arrows that will come to sting our minds and our spirits, arrows sent from the enemy but aided by our own personalities. One of these arrows that’s very much in my mind today is the arrow of fear, anxiety and worry. Some are more prone to this than others, but at this time it’s one that can be used, and that the devil uses, to exploit us, because it is one that can affect many people, but very much those who already are prone to it.
I have already been told by one of you who’s a scientific expert that we have our own level of happiness to which we constantly return: that in spite of any joys or sorrows in life we have our own median that we return to. I suspect it’s the same with anxiety. Some of us are, mercifully, reasonably free from it – sometimes maybe too free from it! – but others are very prone to it even if there’s nothing to worry about. And I feel very compassionate for such at this time, because I think it must be a extra struggle.
The Lord Jesus Christ said that He has given us power over the power of the enemy, and to tread upon these scorpions that disturb our peace and disturb our spirits. How do we do that? We have to resist the enemy. Now sometimes it doesn’t occur to us that we actually can resist fear, that we can resist anxiety, we can resist worry, as we would resist a very obvious temptation to sin. And if we resist, the enemy is actually forced to flee.
We find such reassurance from those who have gone before us. In the New Testament, the apostle Paul knew what it was to be fighting fears within and without. He knew what it was to have to resist. One of the ways that he did it was by disciplining his mind. He said: “Let the mind of Christ be in you.” He brought every thought into captivity to the mind of Christ. Paul had a brilliant mind, but it had led him very astray, into persecuting the church of Christ. He didn’t trust it any more. But also the devil had a very handy weapon like a scorpion to sting Paul with. He had persecuted the church of Christ, leading to their deaths. Paul had to train his mind, crucify it, bring it into subjection to the mind of the Lord Jesus Christ. That way he found peace, and he looked ahead of him and not behind him.
I don’t think we’ve got anything to sting us as severely as Paul had, and yet he found the means of resisting the enemy. It is the way of victory for us again and again. If you are a prey to fears and anxiety, or any other of the arrows that come, cultivate this disciplined mind that is centred on Christ and open to receive inspiration and thoughts from Him. Christ understands. He lived on this earth amongst men. It is prophesied of Him in the Psalms - in prophecies fulfilled many times but certainly on His cross:
They compassed me about like bees: they are quenched as the
fire of thorns. (Psa 118:12)
“Compassed me about like bees” – stinging bees, stinging of mind, stinging of spirit, I think to the very end, till the glorious hour when He cried: “It is finished!”
He received help when He was here on earth. We find Him in the wilderness being tempted by these stinging arrows. And we read that lovely verse:
And the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him. (Matt 4:11)
They strengthened him there in that wilderness. And we find in even greater trials, there in Gethsemane, again:
There appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. (Luke 22:43)
It is a beautiful and amazing picture, that an angel from heaven could strengthen Christ. We don’t know in what way an angel could minister to the Lord Jesus Christ. But we know it’s recorded for us. As Professor Finlayson so beautifully puts it, there just on the eve of His suffering, in the midst of it, He had a “message from Home”: a messenger came from the Father to comfort him.
We have a messenger from home. Our messenger is not an angel; our messenger is Christ Himself. And He comes Himself to minister to you and to minister to me, to calm every fear, but more than that to take the poison out of the stinging arrow, stinging scorpions of the enemy, and to give us a place of power over the power of the enemy. It’s all from Him. We are not victims, we are not helpless prey to his attacks, but we find that as we are resisting him there flows into us the peace of Christ Himself. It is the One who has trodden down strength who speaks to us. It is that One who said to John on the isle of Patmos: “Fear not. I am He that liveth – that liveth and was dead.” The power of these words “Fear not” lies in the one who speaks them to us. It is as we look at Him – “Well, Lord, if You say, ‘Fear not,’ there is nothing to fear” – there is nothing to fear, for there is Christ.
His love is so over His whole church all across this world in these days, and over the world: He cares. He knows the end from the beginning. What we do know is that there are many more in our country tuning into services than ever come to church. His Word goes out.
In the words of a wonderful verse from the Psalms:
The God of Jacob defend thee, send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee. (Psalms 20:2)
Our help comes from the sanctuary, the dwelling place of God – so it must be effective.
May God bless us all.
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Struthers Memorial Church is a registered Scottish Charity No. SC 006960 | Struthers Memorial Church is a company limited by guarantee incorporated in Scotland Company No SC335480 | Registered Office: 33 West Stewart Street, Greenock, PA15 1SH.