We are looking at the possible control of Satan over the life of a Believer, and ultimately how that control can affect the Believer's ability to demonstrate to others or to appropriate for oneself the Love of God. Whether Satan can have any control over the life of a Believer is regulated by the sovereignty of God.

Nowhere in the Word of God is there a definition given for sovereignty. Instead, the fact of God's sovereignty is demonstrated by His actions, promises and predictions. Our understanding of God's sovereignty will determine our concepts of all major teachings in the Word of God. These major teachings are often known as doctrines. Too often, we carelessly use the term doctrine as some magic potion that can answer any question of theology. The term doctrines has a wide spectrum of usage and meanings.


To understand Biblical doctrine, or church doctrine, or denominational doctrine, or the doctrine of men, or the doctrine of demons, etc., we need to establish just what is Biblical doctrine and its importance. We also need to understand how a doctrine is formed, and established as the rule of order for spiritual growth and belief. You have probably noticed that there is no listing of doctrine in the index of your Bible. So where do these doctrines come from?

Doctrines are often used as a means of defeating someone who disagrees with a fondly held belief. This use of doctrine is a tragedy, because as we saw in our last lesson, doctrine should be a tool of Biblical instruction, not a weapon of spiritual & emotional destruction.

Several years ago at a Bible conference, I was having a theological discussion with a young pastor concerning something I had taught in the morning session. As a general rule, when two pastors are having a theological discussion, it is an attempt by one to tell the other that he is wrong, and an attempt by the other to prove he was right. The process by which this take place is a verbal dance of words, innuendoes, attitudes and gestures that would rival the mating dance of any exotic tropical bird.

This young pastor tip-toed through and around a number of very carefully crafted statements, that really didn't say much. I never learned the dance, so I said to him, "I believe you are trying to say that you don't agree with what I taught this morning, right?" He responded in a very well clergy-cloaked statement of, "It's not that I exactly disagree with your teaching, but what are you going to do about the doctrine of sovereignty?"

If I had said, "I believe in sovereignty", which I do, then he would have gone on to say that there was no way that my teaching could possibly agree with sovereignty, or at least his concept of it. If, on the other hand, I had said that I didn't hold to his concept of sovereignty, then he would consider me a heretic, and feel justified in not coming back to the 3:30 p.m. session.

Instead of entering the game of Bible ping-pong that we looked at in the last lesson, I ask him to explain the meaning of the term sovereignty. He answered me by, "Oh, come on, you know what it means." My answer was simply, "No, please tell me." He gave a very good summation of his second year theology class.

There was no way that his presentation could be construed to be a definition or even a description of Biblical sovereignty. His response was a very good comparison of Calvinism and Arminianism as they relate to sovereignty. I complimented him on his retention of facts from Theology 201. Then I suggested that we skip lunch at the conference and go somewhere to discuss this even further. A look of horror flashed over his face at the thought of missing the lunch that he had already paid for in the conference fee. I assured him there was a Big Boy Restaurant about two miles away and I would buy. You never want offer to buy lunch for a pastor, especially a young pastor unless you really mean it.

I want to pause in this gripping theological drama, and let you see what I taught that morning that triggered this discussion. Then, I will tell you the exciting and breathtaking conclusion to this earth shaking story. Well, some of that description may be a little bit embellished, but the conclusion did bring a dramatic life change. Please, don't sit too close to the edge of your chair, because in your unrestrained anticipation, you might fall off onto the floor and cause a commotion that would spoil the punch-line of my story. If you mess up my story, I'll just have to tell it again. Then you'll be sorry.

The Context

At that conference, I was teaching the Walk-Through, surprise, surprise. The morning session had been on the blessings offered by God to the People of Israel, if they obeyed. As you know, God offered quite a list of blessings. You would think that such a value package would be snatched up as soon at it hit the market. Notice the conditions that had to be met by the nation of Israel, before God would give the blessings offered.

Deuteronomy 28:1-9 Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you,because you obey the voice of the Lord your God: 3 Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country. 4 Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. 5 Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. 6 Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out. 7 The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways. 8 The Lord will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you. 9 The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways.

I pointed out that three times in this section of blessings, God stated conditions for their receiving these blessings (vv. 1, 2 & 9). This was the sticking point with this young preacher. He said that because God was sovereign, these blessings could not be conditioned by the actions of humans.


Establishing a doctrine before we thoroughly study the Word of God has many problems, and this young man demonstrated one of them. When we establish a doctrine before we study the Word, instead of seeing and accepting what is clearly stated in the Word of God, we try to fit what the Word of God says into what we already think it should say.

Bible study should be the discovery of what the Bible says. Then we are to gather that information, as it is, categorize and harmonize it with all the rest of the sure word of prophecy. Then we are to live according to the spiritual truths taught by the Holy Spirit from those Biblical facts. We should never approach the Word of God with a list of pre-approved man-made topics, and attempt to squeeze the infinite Truth into some finite manmade structures, often referred to as doctrines.

Topical Study

There is nothing wrong with a topical studies of the Word of God, as long as we keep in mind that these topics were created by humans, and we use those topics only to assist in our understanding the facts of the Word of God. There is a danger in topical type of study. We must be careful not to require the Word of God to fit the list of topics. Instead, we need to see the facts of the Word of God, and see them in relationship and harmony to the rest of the Word of God. then if those facts fit under some topic, wonderful. But if they don't fit the topic, then make a new topic. Topics are manmade and are tools to assist our study of the Bible. Topics, as helpful as they might be, are not the Word of God. They are simply how some person thought the facts of Word of God could be arranged or listed.

According to my young preacher friend, in sovereignty every action or event is totally dependent on God, and independent of the actions of mankind. He was partially right. Life itself is of God. However, when it comes to Biblical truth, being partially right just doesn't cut it.

I asked him to look at a few passages. Well, more accurately, quite a few passages. I would like to have you look at some of those same passages. I also asked him to see those passages independent from his established doctrines. Because, I wanted him to see those passages as though he was seeing them for the first time. I suggested that it would help him to clearly see these facts, if he pretended that they were in the setting of a world history book.

I will take you over some of the ground that we covered in that lunch discussion I don't think you want to cover all that I covered with that young preacher. That lunch discussion went from 11:00 a.m. to a little after 3:00 p.m., and continued for about another three hours the next day.

Human actions have no merit good enough, nor are they a threat strong enough to cause God to act.
Please read that statement several times It is very important. 

That fact is absolutely true, yet the Bible is quite clear that if the Israelites obeyed, they would be blessed. The blessing would not come because of any goodness or merit on their part, but entirely from the grace of God. However, God's actions conditioned by human obedience is not the only problem that must be faced in this matter of sovereignty, even in this one passage. We will put some of those problems in the mix in the following lessons.

The Holy Spirit continues for some 53 verses stating what will happen if they do not obey. There is clearly a difference in the response of God to the obedience or disobedience of these people.

Don't try to jam this into some manmade box of theological jargon, but simply note the facts. It is the facts, of the Word of God that we are attempting to find and harmonize. At least, that should be the object of Bible Study.

Don't change your mind about any doctrine until you have sufficiently examined the facts from the entire Word of God. However, we need to honestly note the facts of the Word of God in each of these portions, even when the facts seem to go contrary to our established beliefs.

Deuteronomy 28:15-24 But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: 16 Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country. 17 Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. 18 Cursed shall be the fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. 19 Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out. 20 "The Lord will send on you cursing, confusion, and rebuke in all that you set your hand to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, because of the wickedness of your doings in which you have forsaken Me. 21 The Lord will make the plague cling to you until He has consumed you from the land which you are going to possess. 22 The Lord will strike you with consumption, with fever, with inflammation, with severe burning fever, with the sword, with scorching, and with mildew; they shall pursue you until you perish. 23 And your heavens which are over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you shall be iron. 24 The Lord will change the rain of your land to powder and dust; from the heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed.

Let's read on so we can both see and feel the responsibility and conditions for the actions by God in both of these situations.

God gave these Israelites a choice. Depending on their choice, God will act in a certain manner. Note the facts carefully. God did give them a choice, and the response of God is different for each choice. Those are the Biblical facts.

Deuteronomy 28:35-48 The Lord will strike you in the knees and on the legs with severe boils which cannot be healed, and from the sole of your foot to the top of your head. 36 The Lord will bring you and the king whom you set over you to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods--wood and stone. 37 And you shall become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword among all nations where the Lord will lead you. 38 You shall carry much seed out to the field and gather but little in, for the locust shall consume it. 39 You shall plant vineyards and tend them, but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them. 40 You shall have olive trees throughout all your territory, but you shall not anoint yourself with the oil; for your olives shall drop off. 41 You shall beget sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours; for they shall go into captivity. 42"Locusts shall consume all your trees and the produce of your land. 43 The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. 44 He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail. 45 Moreover all these curses shall come upon you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you. 46 And they shall be upon you for a sign and a wonder, and on your descendants forever. 47 Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things, 48 therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of all things; and He will put a yoke of iron on your neck until He has destroyed you.
Over and over again, the Holy Spirit places the responsibility on these people for both their actions
and the response of God on their behalf. 

Don't try to justify what happened, or explain it away, or even try to reconcile it with some manmade doctrine. This passage is only one of many we will look at in this examination. We obviously cannot look at every passage that deals with this subject. I will try to give a large enough sampling to allow you to continue to examine the entire Word of God in harmony.

Deuteronomy 28:1 Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth.
Deuteronomy 28:15 But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:
Look once again at contrasting responses of God, conditioned by the actions or obedience of humans. 

At this point, I need to further develop a subject that I referred to earlier in this lesson and was also our concluding thoughts of the last lesson. It is important to interject this subject at this point, because the proper understanding of theology and the development of doctrines:

Therefore, we will have to leave my young preacher friend a The Big Boy Restaurant. Now don't give me that look. That is the way the soaps do it all the time. Seriously, I believe that if we will follow the trail I've laid out, we will have a much clearer understand and comprehension of God's Person and plan. I trust that this little study will also take away the unneeded mystery and fog surrounding theology and doctrines.

Principles of Theology

Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes gave us three basic principles of theology. I'm going to state the first two and complete the last principle.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil.
hear (Hebrew)
to hear intelligently (or judicially) with implication of careful attention and complete obedience
fear (Hebrew)
to revere with adoration and awe.
keep (Hebrew)
to hedge about (as with thorns) i.e. guard; to protect; attend to

The First Principle of True Theology: All study and research concerning the Person and plan of God must be entered into with the purpose and intent of full and complete obedience. The conclusion of Solomon's research into theology was: To fear God and keep His commandments. To fear God is to revere Him with adoration and awe.

The Second Principle of True Theology: All study and research concerning the Person and plan of God must not be entered into until we have holy reverence, adoration and awe for the Person of God.

The Third Principle of True Theology: All study and research concerning the Person and plan of God must be entered into with the purpose and intent of protecting the integrity and the literal meaning of the totality of the Holy Spirit breathed revelation of God's Person and plan.

The Hebrew word translated to the English word keep in the Ecclesiastes passage does not have as its primary meaning to obey. Instead, it means to protect by putting a hedge of thorns about God's commands to guard them, and to give continual attention to these commands for the purpose of protecting them.

If we are to have the primary meaning of the whole duty of man, then we need to follow this primary definition of keep throughout the Word of God. The Bible teaches that we should protect the commands of God by guarding them and putting a hedge of thorns around them so they cannot be altered, and will remain true to God's intent. As students of the Word of God, we must strive to make sure that any human teaching from or about the Word of God is absolutely true to the totality of the Word of God.

If we Believe that the Bible is the Word of God, inspired verbally by the Holy Spirit, then all of the Bible will be in perfect harmony with each of its parts. If the Bible does not agree in all of its parts, then:

Jude 1:3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
common (Greek)
shared by all
contend earnestly (Greek)
to struggle in a contest to win or protect
once (Greek)
one time; the original
delivered (Greek)
to surrender; to give as a trust; to deliver to one something to keep, to take care of or manage

Jude tells us that we are to struggle, as in a contest, to protect the message as it was originally given. This duty was delivered or given to us as a trust to care for and manage. This struggle is not just against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers in high places.

2 Timothy 1:13-14 Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 14 That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.
hold fast (Greek)
to have in hand; to wear; to be with child
pattern (Greek)
a die; a stamp; the first draft of a painter; a sketch or concise representation or form
keep (Greek)
to watch; to be on guard to preserve; to obey

Paul says, it is our duty to watch over and guard the teachings in such a way that these God given truths are not altered. Those teachings are to be like a die or a stamp. They are to be the same every time they are used, no matter who uses them, or how many times they are used.

There are a number of Greek words translated to the English word keep or its derivatives. Several of those Greek words have very similar meanings as the Hebrew word we looked at in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14. We'll look at a few verses that use such a Greek word.

keep (Greek)
to guard from loss or injury; to keep an eye on; to detain in custody so as to maintain
John 17:11 Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.
John 17:15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.
Acts 16:23 And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely.

Notice the use of this Greek word, translated to keep, in these passages do not indicate that they were to obey something or someone. Instead, these were to be retained to protect them from or for something.

Revelation 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
Revelation 22:9 Then he said to me, "See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God."

There are some commands in the Book of Revelation for us to obey. However, most of the material in Revelation is simply stating what will happen. Not what will happen, if they obey or do not obey. Therefore, the keeping would not be to obey, but to protect or preserve. This fact is further established later in chapter 22.

Revelation 22:18-19 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book. 19 And if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

We are to protect this book of Revelation and all other Scripture so that the original meaning is preserved. That can only happen as we compare the truths of Revelation or any other book of the Bible with all of Scripture.

Through this proper theology, we will find that all of Scripture agrees with itself. Then we can take all information that is the same or similar in nature, and refer to that similar material as a Biblical Doctrine or major teaching. Although all Biblical doctrines should be formed in this manner, sad to say it doesn't often happen.

Often some great man of God sees some fact in a portion of Scripture. Later he may rephrase that fact as He sees its application to him, at the time. Later, this person may take that information and seek other passages that give credence to these rephrased Biblical fact. Some time later, a person who admires this great man of God, may take his work and add more to it, and call it a doctrine.

doctrine (Webster)
something that is taught, held, put forth as true and supported by a teacher, a school or a sect; a principle established through past decisions and interpretations that become the mode of activity or governing

This should not be the definition of Biblical doctrine. However, many so called Biblical doctrines were establish in that very manner. This is so important, because Believers use those doctrines as their mode of activities and the governing factor of their lives.

If it is all right to simply pick 'n choose verses and phrases from the Bible, then those bits and pieces of Scriptural information can be used by anyone to say almost anything. You can observe this type of misuse of Scripture at many schools of higher learning. They love to use, "You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free." Yet, most of these institutions, that carve that saying into the cornerstone of their finest building, do not have the foggiest idea what is meant by "the truth". Even though many like to use the phrase, they reject the Person Who spoke that phrase.

You can see this very fact, over and over again, as you listen to the politicians speak. We saw a lot of this type of Scriptural pick 'n choosing used, misused and abused by politicians over the past few weeks at the last party conventions. However, I don't think many Believers would consider that abuse of Scripture a sound operating principle for developing Biblical doctrines. I would sure hate to live by the political use of Scripture.

Yet, in a very similar manner, theologians pick 'n choose certain passages out of their context to build their doctrines.

The Scriptures say that, "Judas went and hanged himself." 
Jesus said, "Go thou and do likewise, and what you do, do quickly." - Jesus Christ 

If it is proper to pick 'n choose facts from the information of Scripture to support my opinion, without making sure that all those facts agree with all other facts of the Word of God, then it would be proper for me to present to my hearers a hanging rope and show them the nearest tree.

Those first statements are certainly from the Bible, and Jesus Christ spoke those last words.
But Jesus Christ never said that.

That is one problem with this pick 'n choose method. When you string true facts together, out of their context, the result is non-truth. Any fact that Christ spoke is true, and any fact in the Bible is true. However, those facts are only truth when they are kept in their context as originally given.

Our job as Christians and theologians is to make sure that the Word of God, given by God, remains as it was given in all its intent. We are to protect the totality of the Word of God from any who try to alter it in any way.

Galatians 1:6-9 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

We will have to leave my preacher friend at the Big Boy until next lesson. Then I will give you more of this exciting story. We will also search enough Scripture to enable us to start on a Biblical definition of God's sovereignty.

By the way, we have only seen one side of the coin of God's sovereignty, as demonstrated in this passage. God, during time, did give Israel and has given all of us certain choices. Yet, God also states the ultimate determination of these situations at the end of time and on into eternity. It is the job of the Believer to rightly divide the Word of God to see and know the difference.