Satan uses tools to try to destroy our lives, including our marriages. These tools of the enemy can be narrowed down to two basic categories. In Part 1, we talked about the first category–the flesh–which we can call the inner enemy. This week we will discuss the second tool–the world…the outer enemy.
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” – 1 John 2:15-16
Beware the World
When the Bible speaks of the world, it does not always refer to what we may think of as the world. In one sense it can mean the beauty all around us which God created. And it can also mean the people in the world whom God created and loves. We see this, for example, in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
But in this week’s study, we will discuss the world as it refers to the man-made, man-centered way of thinking and living–that which is in direct opposition to the way God teaches us to live. This is the world God warns us about in 1 John 2:15-16: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.”
The Dangers of Loving the World
This passage names three things that come when we love the world more than Christ or our spouses. These are three tools in the world that Satan uses to harm our walk with the Lord and our relationship with our wives and husbands. They sum up very well almost every sin that Satan promotes to destroy us and our marriages.
Lust of the Flesh and Eyes
The first two--the lust of the flesh and lust of the eyes–have been the cause of many broken marriages. One example would be a husband who allows himself to indulge in pornography. The world assures him that this is not being unfaithful to his wife–and, in fact, it will make his sex life and his marriage better. His wife, of course, doesn’t see it this way.
Another example might be a wife who complains about her “uncaring, out-of-touch” husband to an eager-to-listen male co-worker. And somehow one thing leads to another which leads to adultery. And now her husband doesn’t even want to try to save their marriage.
These lusts are bombarding us all the time. That is part of this sin-stained world we live in.
I walk several times a week with my wife, Sabra, as part of our exercise routine. We try to walk outside, but sometimes the weather does not allow us to. When that happens, we walk inside a shopping mall near our home. Inside, the store windows are filled with pictures of women in all stages of undress.
I drive down highways with billboards with seductive women. I watch TV, and there are men and women in provocative dress, saying repulsive things while committing repulsive acts. And the commercials are almost as bad.
The Pride of Life
The other temptation from the world in our key passage that Satan uses to destroy our marriages is the pride of life. Pride is a major cause of problems in marriage and also a prominent cause of those marriage problems not being resolved.
I have seen the devastating effects of pride so many times in marriage counseling, and–I am ashamed to admit–in my own life.
Pride makes us unwilling to admit our fault in a problem. Therefore we do not ask for forgiveness and cannot resolve the issue.
Pride leads us to demand that things be done our way rather than discussing the issue with our spouse, much less conceding his or her way may be better.
Pride leads us to say and do things to make us feel better, even at the cost of hurting our wife or husband.
This is why God in His Word warns us so often about the impact of the sin of being prideful. He says, for example, in Proverbs 16:18: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” And in Proverbs 13:10: “Where there is pride, there is strife, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.” These are just two of the many verses about the pain pride causes.
The Ruler of the World
This world presents a constant struggle for us to remain faithful to God and our spouses, because this world is under the control of our enemy Satan.
Paul warns us about this in 2 Corinthians 4:4: “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” This age refers to the current time we are living in–from the resurrection and ascension of Christ until He returns. This verse says the god of this age–Satan–is out to make certain unbelievers do not hear the Gospel and come to Christ as their Savior.
While Satan cannot keep us who are believers in Christ from going to heaven, he is constantly seeking to destroy us, our marriages, and to make us ineffective instruments of God.
We are alerted by Jesus in John 10:10 that Satan “comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”
How do we fend off these attacks from the enemy?
God tells us one way in Ephesians 6:10-13: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
So, how do we overcome the impact of the world on our lives and marriages? Here are a few suggestions..
Be careful about what you allow to go into your mind.
Philippians 4:8-9: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
You can’t avoid everything sinful in our sin-stained world. But you don’t have to knowingly and purposefully put things into your mind that are not godly and might lead you astray. Instead put godly things into your mind that will lead you to live for Him and to show His love to your spouse.
Know and live by God’s Word.
Philippians 3:17-21: “Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”
Do not be guided by the world’s standards of what is right and wrong. Most people go with the flow and do whatever everyone else is doing. We must not follow the value system of the world. We must refuse to follow the crowd. We must follow God.
Choose your companions wisely.
1 Corinthians 5:9-11: “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people–not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.”
Be careful about having close, intimate relationships with people who act like the world, especially those who say they are Christians. Of course, we do not want to keep from associating with unbelievers, because we want to have relationships that allow us to share the Gospel with them. But that doesn’t mean we want to act like them in order to be their friends. We want to show them the difference Christ makes in our lives. New believers, children, and youth need to be especially careful about this. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:33: “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’”
Don’t forget the admonition found in James 4:4: “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” We want to be God’s friend in our lives and in our marriages. Therefore, we must always study His Word and live according to His Truth. As James 1:22 says: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
Living in the world doesn’t mean we must follow the world’s ways. We are not slaves to the enemy unless we choose to be. Each day we make a choice. Let’s stand firm in our faith and choose to follow the Lord’s ways.
Questions for Discussion
- Read this week’s teaching post together. Discuss what specific things God taught you.
- Review the suggestion from Part 1‘s teaching that you chose to focus on this past week. Discuss how well you lived it out, and discuss how it impacted your life and marriage.
- This week’s teaching post concludes with three suggestions from God’s Word to use as a couple to have victory over the influence of our sin-stained world that Satan tries to utilize to destroy our marriages. Read each of these suggestions one by one and discuss together how you will use them in your marriage.
- Choose at least one of the suggestions that you will concentrate on this week, applying it in your lives and marriage.
- Pray together and ask God to help you to have victory over the influence of the world this week.
Next week we will conclude this series by looking at the person behind the flesh and the world–Satan. He is powerful, but he can be overcome with God’s help.
Until then, may God bless you in all His wonderful ways,
Other posts from the TOOLS OF THE ENEMY series:
Part 1: The Battle from Inside
Part 3: Satan’s Personal Attacks
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.