We will continue looking at this wonderful key that God has given us, to open every door on earth, the key of praising God.
God is a good God. Every single thing that He does and allows to come into our lives is designed for our very best. Some of it may be painful, and we may not understand it, but it is designed for our very best. You know just like our children who don't understand sometimes what is good for them. When you force your child to go to school on a Monday morning, your 4 year or 5 years old child doesn't understand. The child would rather stay at home, play or sleep or something like that, but he doesn't understand what you are forcing him to do is good for him. In the same way, many things that God allows in our life, we may not understand, because we are immature, but they are all designed for our good. It is only the devil who is out to destroy us.
Jesus came to earth and exposed two things. One, He exposed the tremendous goodness of our heavenly Father and second, He exposed the thoroughly evil nature of the devil who seeks to deceive us in so many ways. There is a verse in Isaiah 61 which tells us the ministry that Jesus came to accomplish. In fact, Jesus quoted this passage, in Luke 4, in the very first Sermon that He preached in the Synagogue in Nazareth. Here it says, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has anointed me." And what has the Lord - the Father, anointed Jesus to do? - "To bring the good news to the oppressed. To build up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners" (Is. 61:1).
You know, Jesus came to set people free. The devil has come into the earth to bring people into bondage, but Jesus came to set people free. He has also come " To grant those who mourn in Zion, to give them a garland instead of ashes and the oil of gladness instead of mourning and the mantle of praise instead of the spirit of fainting" (Is. 61:3). Jesus has come to give us the oil of gladness and the mantle of praise - a garment of praise instead of the spirit of heaviness and depression.
Do you know that the spirit of heaviness is not from God? It is something that the devil tries to put upon you like a garment. You must just shake it off. You must say, 'In Jesus' name, I resist you Satan. You can't put any depression on me. I resist you. I have been crucified with Christ. The blood of Jesus has cleansed my past life completely. My guilt is gone. You can't accuse me anymore, Satan.' Say these words to the devil and reject that spirit of heaviness and depression that Satan tries to put upon you.
Jesus has come to cast that spirit out from your life permanently, and not just cast it out and leave you naked. If He leaves you naked, that clothing of depression will come back on you again. No, He clothes you instead with the garment of praise. That is what it says here: the garment of praise instead of the spirit of heaviness. Isn't it wonderful? Now, if you can believe this, this is really true. It is not the will of God that we should be depressed or discouraged or in a bad mood at any time. It may come like a temptation. We should shake it off and God will help us to shake it off.
What the Bible says in 1 John 2:6 is a very important. I don't know how many of you know it. "The one who says he abides in Christ, must walk as Jesus walked." In other words, if you say that "you are a Christian," the Living Bible puts it like this, "You must live as He lived." That is our calling; to live as He lived; to walk as He walked. Was Jesus ever depressed? Was He ever discouraged, or in a bad mood at any time? No, never. But one thing about Jesus' life is that, He took up the Cross. Every day He took up the Cross and He followed in His Father's will. Now, if we choose that way, this verse will be fulfilled in our life, not just occasionally, but every single day; a garment of praise instead of the spirit of heaviness, oil of gladness instead of mourning. It is a wonderful life.
Let me turn to another Psalm. In Psalm 8:2 we read this statement which Jesus quoted once in the temple when the little children were shouting and praising God. We read in Matthew 21: 15-16 about the time when the people held palm branches and lay down their clothes on the road for Jesus to ride on a donkey into Jerusalem. At that time, when Jesus came into the temple, He saw the children that were there yelling and shouting, "Hallelujah,' 'Hosanna to the Son of David." The Chief Priests did not like a lot of noise and all that. They believed that the only way to worship God was quietly and seriously as though a funeral was going on. There are people who think like that even today that, the only proper way to praise God is quietly and solemnly as though you were sitting in a funeral.
Now I believe with all my heart that there is a way of praising God in silence. But there is also praise that is acceptable to God that comes forth with shouts of joy. The Bible says, "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord". We worship God with shouts of praise and also in solemn silence. It is not just always one or always the other. But here it was absolutely proper for the children to be excited and to praise God. Have you ever seen how people praise those who have just won a cricket match? For example, say, a cricket match is going on between India and Pakistan and India has won. Can you picture how that stadium erupts in excitement. Then why is that Christians don't seem to be excited about the fact that Jesus has forgiven their sins, that Jesus has defeated the devil, that Jesus overcame everything on the Cross, that Christ is returning in glory and He is going to set up His kingdom on the Earth?
People sit with long faces in God's presence. Jesus was thrilled to hear the noise of praise and so, when the Chief priest criticized those little children praising God, Jesus quoted Psalm 8:2. He said, 'Haven't you read that it says in the Bible, " From the mouth of infants and nursing babes, thou has established strength, because of Thine adversaries, to make the enemy and the revengeful cease. "' So what do we read there? That praise is the means by which God shuts the mouth of the enemy. That is very important for us to understand. It is through praising God that the mouth of the devil is shut and very often you can't shut the mouth of the devil in your life or your home, because you don't praise God.
The devil hates praise, I will tell you that. He hates praise in a home, he hates praise in a life, and he hates praise in a Church. That is why he makes people so grumpy and long-faced, grumbling and complaining most of the time, because then he can rule in their lives and in their homes. Satan cannot stand the sincere shouts of praise to God. That is why he can't stay in heaven because, in heaven, every angel is yelling and shouting praises to God. How can the devil stand around there? And he can't stand around in any Church where everybody is praising and shouting and thanking God; he can't. He can't be in a home where people are praising God. He can't sit in a life or in a heart where people are praising God.
Jesus was so excited when He saw those little children praising God. That reminded Him of His home, Heaven. Jesus was used to living in heaven for eternity where He heard the angels praising God with a voice like loud thunders and then when Jesus came to earth and lived in Nazareth, He saw so many people grumbling, complaining, long-faced. He felt sad then, but now when He saw a situation like this, where children are shouting and praising God, it reminded Him of His heavenly home.
But those religious people just couldn't understand that. They couldn't stand that type of praise. What does that actually prove? They were actually in fellowship with the devil. The devil hated that praise and those religious people hated that praise. How is it in your life? Did you give room to the devil by that spirit of complaining and grumbling? What do we read in Psalm 8, through that expression of praise that came from the mouth of infants? - That it established strength to make the enemy shut his mouth and to make the revengeful person cease.
When we look around at Christians today, we can see how Satan has succeeded everywhere. In most places, he does it in 2 ways: One, he will stop the shouts of praise altogether, and that is what he has done in many homes, many churches, and many lives; there is no shout of praise. If he doesn't succeed there, then he has got a second technique, that is, where people are praising God, he will make them insincere. That means that they will say it with their mouths, but it is not true in their hearts and it is not true in their lives. So, both ways he succeeds.
So you have some Churches where they don't praise God at all and some other churches where it is only a ritual; it is not something which is true in their life all the time, but just praise God on Sunday morning. And then the devil succeeds in both these Churches. But what is God looking for? He is looking for churches, homes, individuals like you who are determined to drive the devil right out of your life, your home and your church by sincere praise.
Why does Satan hate sincere praise to God? - Because, as we saw in Psalm 8, that is how he is going to lose his power over you. Empty shouts of praise, that doesn't come from a Holy life, that doesn't come from a sincere heart, don't have any power. No, but if it comes from a heart that is really committed to God, it has tremendous power in it.
You know, how that the Israelites worshipped the golden calf and they called it Jehovah and they shouted to that Jehovah or what they called Jehovah. So loud that Moses and Joshua heard it at such a long distance away, but that wasn't real praise. It was empty, it was hollow. There was immorality in the midst of that praise and that can happen even today. People can praise God with a loud voice and there can be immorality in the midst of all the praise to Jesus. But where it comes from sincerity, there, you can be absolutely certain that it is powerful to drive the devil right out. Why don't you practice it from today?