Kept From the Evil One
Dr. Joe Temple

Please turn to I Chronicles, chapter 4. I would like to remind you that at the beginning of the year when I asked God to give me a verse for the year, as has been my custom for a great many years now, He gave me I Chronicles, chapter 4, verses 9 and 10. We meditated together about these two verses of Scripture, trying to learn exactly what God had to say in regard to them; and then I challenged you, as many of you as would, to take these verses for your year verses and to claim them as the verses that God would use in relation to the testimony here at the Bible Center.

I told you that from time to time, as the Spirit of God led, we would refer back to these verses and see what God might say to us through them, so now let us look at the verses together, reading from I Chronicles, chapter 4, verse 9:

I Chronicles 4

9And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.
10And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him [all] that which he requested.

When we look together at these verses of Scripture, we notice that Jabez was an unusual individual. In this entire chapter there is nothing but a list of names, and the only thing that can be said about these individuals is that they brought children into the world and they died.

But suddenly, here in the midst of one of these so-called “begat'' chapters, a name flashes across the screen—an unusual name, Jabez; and the statement that accompanies the name is, “He was more honourable than all of his brethren.'' When we examined it, we discovered that God was not speaking about honor, but God was speaking about blessing. This man did not receive some citation from the headof the government; he did not receive the approval and the acclaim of the crowd, but he was more blessed than any other man of his generation in spite of the fact that the prophecy of his mother indicated everything to the contrary.

When Jabez was born, his mother had such a feeling of depression, and the time in which he was born was so dire, that she called his name sorrow . That is the meaning of the name Jabez . But God has a way of overruling prophecy that comes from the minds of men, and He did this in relation to Jabez, because Jabez was a man more blessed than any other man in his generation.

When we discovered that, we wanted to know why. If our hearts are sincere before the Lord, we want all the blessing that God has for us. We don't want to fall short in any thing. So we said, “God, teach us why. Teach us why You blessed Jabez more than You did anyone else in his generation,'' and God brought to our attention several truths as we examined the verses of Scripture. Let us examine them.

I Chronicles 4

10…Jabez said, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed…

That phrase, we learned as we examined it very carefully in the light of other portions of the Word of God, indicated that Jabez submitted himself unreservedly to God; he held absolutely nothing back. He called upon the God of Israel, who is the God who gives the commands, and he said, in so many words, “God, I am Your servant. Whatever You command, I will do, and there are no reservations.'' That is basic for blessing. As long as you have any reservation from God, you don't need to expect Him to bless you, and you don't need to expect to be blessed more than anyone else. If you hold back anything from Him, be it mental reservations or anything else, you cannot claim this blessing.

Then Jabez said:

I Chronicles 4

10…Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast…

When we examined that particular request, we found that Jabez was praying that God might push back the boundaries, that He might give him wider opportunities and greater opportunities of service than he had ever had before. And then he prayed:

I Chronicles 4

10…that thine hand might be with me…

As we examined that portion of the Word, we discovered that his request was that God's hand might be with him in the same way that it was with Ezra, so that the impossible could be accomplished, so that things that men never dreamed could be brought to pass. And then we noticed the last request:

I Chronicles 4

10…and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it might not grieve me!…

We found that this word evil was translated a great many different ways in the Word of God. We found that when Jabez was praying, “Oh that thou wouldest keep me from evil,'' he was praying, “Oh that thou wouldest keep me from adversity, from affliction, from distress, from harm, from trouble, from hurt, and from wretchedness.'' Not selfishly, mind you; it wasn't that he was praying for an easy time, but he was praying, “Oh God, keep these things away from me so they won't slow me down, so that they won't vex me.'' That is the meaning of the word grieveslow me down or vex .

Then we noticed the blessed response from God in the last part of verse 10:

I Chronicles 4

10…God granted him [all] that which he requested.

We would be remiss in our duty if we did not give praise and honor and glory to God in saying that God has kept His promise; God has blessed us. God has enlarged our coast, and His hand very definitely has been with us, but this last request concerns me. That is the reason God has burdened my heart that we might think about it a bit again.

Last Request of Jabez' Prayer

Jabez prayed:

I Chronicles 4

10…Oh that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!…

I wonder, have we been on our knees enough? Have we really gotten hold of God? Have we really gotten through?

I am not a great preacher. I am not even a good pastor. If you measure my pastoral success on the basis of knocking doors and drinking tea and coffee and playing golf and going to service clubs that I might make friends with people, I am a poor pastor. No one realizes that any more than I, but I say to you that I have a pastor's heart, if you consider a pastor's heart to be a heart that is touched by the harm and the hurt and the wretchedness and the adversity that comes to the people whom He loves and tries to serve.

This last week while I was in Gruver, the Lord abundantly blessed the ministry of the Word of God. I have not seen in a long time the Spirit of God move as I saw Him move there this last week, and I know it is because people prayed.

I had more time to spend alone there than I have here because my duties are somewhat circumvented, and I spent a great deal of time in the motel room burdened as I have seldom been burdened for the people who sit under the sound of the Word in my ministry. I spent hours in prayer, not being able to shake the burden that was on my heart, and the burden was related to the inroads that the Devil wants to make in the lives of people who are trying to do what God wants them to do.

God directed my attention once again to this verse of Scripture, and He began to speak to my own heart about this request that Jabez made: “Oh that thou wouldest keep me from evil.'' God reminded me that we had meditated upon the abstract form of this verse, and we had been praying that God would keep us from these abstract things. But God reminded my own heart that the thing for which we need to be praying is that God will keep us from the evil one, for it is not only evil, but it is the evil one with whom we have to contend.

Don't Let the Devil Get the Advantage

I want to say to you today that I believe in a personal Devil, and I believe that the Devil is responsible for more of our problems than we think he is. I believe that all too often we are prone to attribute to coincidence and failure of the flesh what rightfully belongs on the shoulders of the Devil.

I say to you today that I personally am not ignorant of the devices of the Devil. As one who has been called to minister to you, I want, by the grace of God, to stir you and to awaken you and to drive you to your knees as I ask you not to be ignorant of the devices of the Devil.

Turn, please, in your Bibles to II Corinthians, chapter 2, and notice in verse 11 what the Apostle Paul said to the Corinthian believers concerning a local situation about which he wished them to be concerned. The reason that he wished them to be so concerned was in this verse:

II Corinthians 2

11Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

I want to suggest to you that Paul was saying, “I don't want the Devil to get the advantage of you.'' Because I have the responsibility and the burden for you before the Lord for no other reason than that I minister the Word of God to you, I want to say to you that I am concerned that the Devil doesn't get the advantage of you.

What does it mean, “to get the advantage''? This one simple phrase comes from two Greek words which mean simply “to have more of you.'' That is what it means. The Devil wants to have more of you. You might feel somewhat congratulated on that, because if you took the trouble to read what is recorded in the first epistle of John, chapter 5, you would find that the whole world lies in the arms of the wicked one; he has his arms encircled around the people of the world.

But if God has redeemed you, he doesn't have his arms around you, but he wants to get them around you. If God has redeemed you, you are not lying in the arms of the wicked one, but he wants to get you there. He wants to get more of you. That is the reason he is using every device imaginable to accomplish his purpose.

The Devil's Plan of Attack

Did you notice what this verse of Scripture says? “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.'' Look at that word devices . It comes from a Greek phrase which means to think things out . What does it suggest? It suggests that the Devil has sat down and has given some very definite thought to you. He has thought the whole thing through, and he has said, “Now, where can I get him? Where can I get him?'' He has made a plan for you, and he wants to carry that plan out.

That is why I want to warn you today. The Devil is a personal individual who wants more of you and has sat down and surveyed the situation so that he can have more of you. Don't you think for a moment that the Devil just suddenly flings some obstacle in your way. Don't you think for a moment that the Devil just suddenly dreams up something to bring about your downfall. He has been watching you; he has been watching your every weakness; he has been watching every deviation from the Light; and as he watches and sizes up the situation, he makes a plan. He says to all of those evil demons who are at his command, “This is the way we will get him. Follow this blueprint to the detail and we will have all of him before long.''

I want you to examine with me in your Bibles some of the plans that he thought out for other people, and perhaps you will be warned. He may be using these same plans on you. The Devil just paints them a different color. He doesn't change anything much.

Turn in your Bibles, please, to the first book of Chronicles, chapter 21, verse 1:

I Chronicles 21

1And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

Now, think with me. The Devil doesn't want you to have this message. He doesn't care what we talk about as long as we don't talk about him. It is not easy to bring this message. “Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.'' Listen carefully. You read that verse of Scripture and you say, “Oh, yes, this is the plan that the Devil had for David.'' No, it isn't! It is the plan that the Devil had for Israel. He wanted Israel in his clutches, but—listen carefully—he did not attack Israel; he attacked David.

You have children. Mark what I tell you. If you have committed those children to the Lord, if you have any plans for them under God, the Devil wants more of them. You may have been praying all this time, “God, keep my child. Don't let the Devil attack him!'' You may need to turn around and pray about your own heart and your own life. You may need to say, “God, don't let the Devil attack me, because the Devil in attacking me can get to my children.''

Does this sound strange to you? Well, briefly let us run over what happened. David was a success; he had given God all the glory, but he decided to number the children of Israel, which was a fleshly thing. As you read the story, the purpose of his numbering the children of Israel was so he could brag about what he and his numbers had done.

Joab, an ordinary general who wasn't supposed to be a priest of Israel at all, said to David, “Please don't do it. You don't need to number them. You have won the victories. It doesn't matter. Don't do it.'' But David said, “Yes, we'll do it,'' and he did.

God brought his hand down on Israel to such an extent that one day David could stand it no longer, and he stood up and stretched out his hands before God and said, “God, please, I'm the one who numbered the children of Israel. I'm the one who sinned. If you are going to deal with anyone, deal with me, but not with these sheep of mine. They are not to blame.''

I don't profess to try to explain God's actions. I don't know why our children have to reap our disobedience, but they do. I don't know why it is that God would deal with our children because we have not dealt fairly with Him. All I know is that that is what the Bible says.

David, because he listened to the Devil, placed his own flock in the hands of the Devil. I want to say to you today, because I believe that God wants me to say it, that there may be some of you who haven't thought about this, and you are going to receive the brunt of the attack, but the result will be that your children will be in the Devil's hands.

Deceived By False Security

Look at this word provoke with me for a moment, please. Do you know what it really means? It comes from an original Hebrew word which means to soothe , to quiet . It means to make the individual think that the thing he is going to do is all right.

Do you see what is happening? The Devil said, “I want the children of Israel. How can I get them?'' In the council chambers of the damned, someone said, “Well, let's just get them.'' The Devil said, “No, I can't do that. David prays too hard for them.'' And someone said, “Well, let's get David, and if we get David, we will get them.'' And that is what happened.

How did the Devil and his demons do it? By getting David to do some terrible thing? No. By getting David in a quiet state of repose, by soothing him into a sense of security where he felt that anything he did was all right. It is amazing!

Blinded By a Smoke Screen

May I suggest to you that the Devil can blind the eyes of the children of God and cause them to feel that the things that they are doing are the things that God wants them to do.

Turn, please, in your Bibles to II Corinthians, chapter 4, verse 4, as we hurry on and notice another plan that the Devil used that is very close akin to this that I am thinking about today.

II Corinthians 4

4In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

What does this passage of Scripture say? Here is a group of people who find it difficult to follow on with God, and what does the Devil do? He blinds their eyes.

What does it mean, “He blinded their eyes?'' Does it mean he went around sticking his finger in their eyes? Oh, no! They would have been on their guard if the Devil had done that. That hurts. When you get hurt, you watch out. Do you know what this word blind means? Very literally rendered from the Greek original, it means to send up a smoke screen . That is exactly what the Devil does. Oh, how the Devil sends up smoke screens in front of the children of God so they can't see where they are going, and they assume that everything is all right.

I am concerned lest the Devil put up a smoke screen before the eyes of some of you today, and because of the smoke screen, you will not be able to follow on to know the Lord. When you have time, tie in II Corinthians, chapter 11, verse 4, with this passage of Scripture.

Turn, please, to I Timothy, chapter 5, verse 15. You will notice another plan that the Devil had, for here we read about some widows who weren't living as close to God as they should. We read in verse 15 concerning them:

I Timothy 5

15For some are already turned aside after Satan.

Forget for a moment about the widows, because we are not concerned about them. We are concerned about the plan. Here is the plan: The Devil wanted to trap some innocent widows and get them away from God. So, what did he do? He fixed their circumstances, their home circumstances; he fixed their financial conditions; he fixed their material circumstances so that they played right into his hands, for that is the literal meaning of the phrase, “turned aside unto Satan.'' Did you notice that phrase? “They turned aside unto Satan''—literally, what they did was “play into his hands.''

I believe that it is possible for the Devil to arrange your circumstances at home, at work, at school, that you are in such a dilemma that before you know it you are forced into actions which you think are all right; and you have done nothing more than play into the hands of the Devil. That is all he has wanted all along.

Before you make your decision, before you jump to your conclusion, check it carefully. You might be playing into the hands of the Devil.

Agitation That Tries Your Faith

Turn, please, to Luke, chapter 22, and notice verse 31. This is an incident in the life of our Lord and His disciples with which you are familiar:

Luke 22

31And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.
32But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

Here is another plan, another plan of Satan's for someone. What is it? That he might put you into the sieve of trials and tribulations and overwhelm your faith until you reach the place where you wonder if there is any use in going on for God, where you wonder if there is any use continuing the stand that you very well know God urged you to take.

I like the translation that Wuest gives of this passage of Scripture. He calls it an expanded translation and it is that. Listen: “He said, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may shake you in a sieve as grain is sifted [notice carefully] by inward agitation, trying your faith to the verge of overthrow.''

Do you see what he is saying? Inward agitation tries your faith to the very verge of overthrow. Oh, how sly the Devil is. He has a plan. The plans differ for different people, and one of his plans is to so agitate you inwardly that you play right into his hands.

I dare not leave this subject here. If I did, you would leave here discouraged and distressed, saying, “What can we do? Are we no match for the Devil?''

Victory Through Christ

So, I want to suggest to you the remedy for this roaring lion who goes about seeking whom he may devour. That remedy is based first upon a recognition that the victory is ours. Though he is capable of doing all of these things, we need not leave the field of battle in defeat and give him the victory.

Turn, please, to I John, chapter 5, and notice verse 18:

I John 5

18We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.

Who is the one that is begotten of God? The Lord Jesus Christ! And who is the wicked one? The Devil! And what do we read in this verse of Scripture? If you are born again, the Lord Jesus Christ is able to keep you so that the Devil can't lay a finger on you.

If you will look at the next verse, you will notice that he has his arms around the world, and the world is lying in the arms of the wicked one, but he can't touch you. The Lord Jesus Christ is able to keep you. Why doesn't He? Because you and I, even though the victory is ours, do not claim the victory by hand to hand combat with the Devil.

Turn, please, to I Peter, chapter 5, and notice verse 8:

I Peter 5

8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

This is what I am talking about to you today—the need for us to be sober, the need for us to be vigilant, knowing that the Devil as a roaring lion walketh about seeking whom he may devour. If we are not sober, if we are not vigilant, then the Devil will have his way with us.

Submit to God

We must recognize that the victory is ours. We must recognize that we must deal with the Devil as an individual, and we must recognize—this is exceedingly important—the plan of battle that God has laid down. If you try to meet the Devil in your own strength, if you try to meet the Devil in your own power, you will wind up a dismal failure. You've got to fight the Devil according to the plan that God has laid down, and here it is in James, chapter 4, verse 7:

James 4

7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.

Notice that the plan is twofold; you can't do one thing without the other. If you do the one and not the other, the Devil will have you. He wants you.

First of all, submit yourself to God; recognize Him as the Lord and the Director of your life. Once you have submitted yourself to God, then you resist the Devil. The word resist means exactly what it is presenting to us—to withstand the Devil.

How are we going to do that? In chapter 6 of the book of Ephesians, you are told to put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand the Devil; and having done all, to stand.

In chapter 6 of the Ephesian letter, chapter 4 of the Gospel of Matthew, and chapter 13 of the Gospel of Matthew, you are told that you must be adept at handling the Word of God. The only way that you can ever put the Devil to rout is to take the sword of the Spirit in your hands and resist the Devil with the sword of the Spirit. That is the only way the Lord Jesus Christ won the victory.

Don't Give the Devil a Foothold

The last thing that I would leave with you is found in chapter 4 of the Ephesian letter, verse 27. Here we are told that the plan of the battle is, “Never give place to the Devil.'' Never! Philips translates it, “Don't give the Devil a chance to get a foothold.'' Do you get that? Don't give the Devil a chance to get a foothold. Listen to me! That is why the Devil wins the victory. We give him a chance to get a foothold, and the very moment that he gets a foothold, he has a good start to bring about your defeat.

I say to you, remember the verses that God gave us:

I Chronicles 4

9And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.
10And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying. Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.

I would like to amplify that fourth request and challenge you—because I believe the need is great, I believe it is critical—to pray that “Thou, O God, wouldest keep me from the evil one, that he may not get more of me and mine.'' Mark what I tell you: If you don't get under the burden of this prayer and make this request your request, you can expect to see the Devil get more of some of the folk right here in this place.

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