Most of us have at least one. It's that one question that comes to mind whenever people talk about God, faith, or church—that question that makes us unsure of God and if believing in Him makes any sense.
What one word best describes last week for you?
Question #1: Are there really angels and demons?
The Bible references angels over 108 times in the Old Testament and 165 times in the New Testament.
Have someone read Ephesians 6:12 and Revelation 12:7-9.
We’re told in the Old Testament that God, in eternity past, created a wise, brilliant, and beautiful angel who was known as Lucifer. We’re told in Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14 that this angel became proud because of his stellar good looks and sought to ascend to the throne of God himself. He wanted to be like God, to reign as the sovereign king. He wanted to be God.
As a result of his rebellion against God, Lucifer and his band of rebellious, free-willed followers, were cast out of heaven forever. Revelation 12:7-8 tells us that when Lucifer fell he took a host of angels with him, and ever since that point they have been God’s relentless and contentious opponents.
Even though he aspired to be, Satan is not God. He is not self-existent, not sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent—but he is the ultimate liar and schemer. 2 Corinthians 11:14 tells us that Satan masquerades as an angel of light.
If we accept the authority of the Bible and the words of Jesus, then we must believe in the existence of Satan and his demons.
Do you believe in angels and demons? Why or why not?
Have someone read I Peter 5:8.
Recognizing that Satan is on the prowl and looking to devour helps us to be aware of things that happen. Satan whispers lies to us about God, hoping that we’ll believe them and withdraw from God. Because we know that he does this, when we find ourselves in those circumstances, we can stop and ask ourselves “What do I know is true?”
Satan tries to deceive us about sin and its consequences. He whispers to us and encourages us to go down destructive paths. Maybe it is having an affair, losing control, saying that one little lie. He convinces us to go after things we shouldn’t, whispering that we deserve it.
Have you ever felt under spiritual attack? Have you been tempted to believe Satan’s lies about God, yourself, circumstances, or giving in to sin?
As followers of Jesus, we can be ready to stand against Satan by knowing God’s Word and spending time with Him daily.
Have someone read Ephesians 6:10-20.
In Priscilla Shirer’s Bible study The Armor of God, she says, "When Paul talks about spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6, prayer is the seventh piece of armor. It activates all of the rest of the spiritual armor. . . . "When we refuse to pray, it's like having a refrigerator without plugging it in. Prayer is the divinely authorized mechanism God has given us to tap into His power. Without prayer, we'll be ineffective in spiritual warfare. But with it, we will be victorious."
Mike used the illustration of a coach watching films of the opposing team in order to prep for a game. What are practical and strategic ways we can prepare so we will stand firm in the spiritual battles of life?
The last thing Satan wants to happen is for us to get connected to Jesus and find abundant and eternal life, because the father of lies knows that it’s the truth that sets a person free!
Question #2: Is suicide the unpardonable sin?
Suicide leaves you with lots of “whys.” Many of us have been affected directly or indirectly by suicide.
Have you been personally affected by the suicide of a loved one? And of course, no one should feel obligated or pressured to share if you are uncomfortable doing so.
Proverbs 13:12 tells us “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”
Studies indicate that 90% of those who have attempted or committed suicide had a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time. Most of the time suicide has its roots in depression. People feel like they have no hope.
Have someone read Psalm 46:1.
That is where our hope lies. God is a refuge and strength not only in the past, and not only in the future, but right now, in the present, in the eye of the storm when things look their worst.
Jesus told us that in this life we will have trials and troubles, but we can live with joy and peace because of our hope in Him.
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)
But so often, a person who takes their life just can’t see that. They are at a point where they can’t believe that there is hope for them and that God is with them. Hope got deferred and their heart got sick. Depression interferes and makes it very hard for them to process the truth.
We ask today’s question because at times people have claimed that suicide is the unpardonable sin. Mike explained why suicide is a sin and that it breaks God’s heart because it hurts God’s children when a believer who has received God’s great grace gets confused, sick, depressed, or hopeless and takes their own life. But that doesn’t make it the unpardonable or the unforgiveable sin. We’re not saved by our goodness; we’re not saved by our lack of sin. We’re saved because of His mercy, because Jesus took every one of our sins, past, present, and future to a blood-stained cross.
If a suicide victim had sincerely made the decision in their lifetime to accept Christ as their forgiver and Lord before their death, they will find their way to the arms of God by the same amazing grace we all need to get there. Though they may have temporarily lost sight of it on this side of heaven, they will discover that hope will not disappoint.
Some of us are struggling now, fighting feelings of hopelessness, or perhaps someone we love has attempted or committed suicide. The Bible tells us that God wants us to share each other’s burdens. We are to honor each other above ourselves, to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. We are committed to be a church that practices this kind of love for people.
What are some ways we can love those we know who are struggling with depression or hopelessness?
Break up into groups of three or four and pray Ephesians 6:10-18 for each other. If you are facing a specific area of spiritual battle, share the struggle and have them pray over you.
Here are a few more verses you can pray over and for your group
I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD.
Psalm 40:1-3 (NLT)
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18 (NIV)
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
Titus 3:4-5 (NIV)
We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
Romans 3:22 (NLT)