Continued from last week.
So far, I’ve used objects that have no volition of their own. Obviously, neither a flame nor a sheet of paper has the ability to want companionship. Nor do bacteria have a conscious desire to do us harm. However, the enemies of our souls—led and empowered by Satan—do have volition. And it’s that volition that causes the decay in our spiritual life, and which can have repercussions for our physical existence. According to 1 Peter 5:8, our enemy is prowling around like a lion, looking for someone to devour.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).”
Our battle, then, is not against material, unconscious enemies against which we can affect a defeat and expect it to remain defeated. It is more akin to standing in a nest of vipers and thinking that killing one will render the others harmless. Not so; this enemy of ours wants to destroy our souls (Ephesians 6:12)!
Photo courtesy of Jean Wimmerlin on Unsplash
Let’s look now at how the Bible portrays Satan.
- He is a created being; thus we know that he is not equal to God.
“You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you” (Ezekiel 28:15).
- God will use even Satan, to His purpose.
“The Lord works out everything for His own ends—even the wicked for the day of disaster” (Proverbs 16:4).
- Satan defies God and is incapable of truth.
“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
- God grants Satan limited power. Although we may not understand why, we do know that Satan can attack even the elect.
“Then the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.’
‘Does Job fear God for nothing?’ Satan replied. ‘Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.’
“The LORD said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.’ Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD” (Job 1:8-12).
- If there’s one thing that the dragon does not want you to know, it is that he was defeated at the cross.
“That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be the head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way” (Ephesians 1:20-23).
- Satan is always seeking an opportune time to tempt us.
“When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13).
- The dragon has but one purpose.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
- To that end, Satan will twist anything, including God’s very word, to achieve his own ends.
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden”?’
The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, “You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.”’
“‘You will not surely die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’” (Genesis 3:1-5).
- Satan is the ruler of those who are separated from Christ.
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath” (Ephesians 2:1-3).
- He also rules a hierarchy of demons.
“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” (Ephesians 6:10-12).
I’ve heard people calling Satan a “toothless lion.” I’ve sung songs that flippantly tell Satan to “sit on a tack.” I’ve not believed what the Word of God tells me about this dragon, for if I did, I would have been more sober about our very worthy adversary. Yet, God does not laugh at Satan’s activity, as though it were some freak show. He is not amused when we do not heed His warnings, and unless we wake up and begin to fight the good fight, our own dragon will swallow us whole while those who watch laugh and marvel.
We have but little chance—in fact, none at all—in defeating the devil, unless we heed the word spoken to us through James and John.
“Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts…Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:7-10, emphasis mine).
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death” (Revelation 12:11, emphasis mine).
Next week we’ll look at The Song of Dragons.
Until then, press in to God. His peace belongs to His children!