Friday, January 1, 2010

Satan/the devil and demons...and what to do about it

The apostle Paul ends Ephesians with the assurance that, in God’s mighty power, Satan’s schemes can be successfully withstood.

It is a fact that an angel named Lucifer was accompanied by a large angelic force in a rebellion against God. Isaiah 14 describes the thoughts that went on in Lucifer’s mind, “I will make myself like the Most High.” He was the most powerful, the most beautiful, of all the angels, his name meant “light-bearer,” “shining one,” “Son of the Dawn,” so he aspired to be like God. Not in God’s love or grace, not in God’s wisdom and mercy, but but by possessing all of heaven and all of earth. He wanted to rule it, he wanted to take over the universe.

God cast him out of heaven; Jesus said He saw Satan, which means “adversary,” fall like lightening from heaven. He is called the prince of darkness, the father of lies, the accuser, the beguiling serpent, a murderer. The Bible describes him as a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. He is fierce, powerful, evil and all the more dangerous because he is a spiritual being, you and I can’t see him. From the beginning Satan has been only for himself, he owns the world and receives worship from it, leading the whole world into sin and corruption, using the world to oppose God.

A third of God’s angels, now called demons, fell with him and have made this earth their dark world. Satan continues his rebellion against God, seeking in every way to usurp God’s position as king. As soon as he had successfully enticed the first man and woman to disobey God, he took ownership of the world and now receives worship from it. The Bible talks about demons with the primary purpose of possessing humans. Jesus acknowledged that the world, that people themselves, are occupied by a strong man who possesses them. Satan’s rod is death, and he leads the whole world into sin and corruption, using the world to oppose God.

Satan opposes God’s work by imitating it, and in this way minimizes the power and glory of God in people’s view.

Satan is a counterfeiter who has an imitation gospel that exalts people instead of God; a counterfeit righteousness that calls evil good, and good evil (check out Romans 1 on that), and counterfeit minsters for his counterfeit religions. In fact, Satan is one day going to produce a counterfeit Messiah who will deceive the whole world into thinking that he’s their savior, because he’s going to work miracles, and perform signs and wonders.

Paul pointed out that even though the pagan gods the idols represented didn’t actually exist, demons do exist, and they were behind all the pagan worship practices. If we are to take Paul at his word (and since it is scripture, at this point, taking him at his word would be taking God's word) then people who involved themselves then, and to this day, with false religion are really worshiping demons and are operating under demonic direction.

The New Testament describes demons as causing a physical or mental ailment such as blindness or self-torture. They have supernatural knowledge, superior strength and an ability to foretell the future. In the New Testament, they recognized Christ as the Holy One of God, and were afraid of Jesus, they had to obey His authority.

From the beginning of His ministry, Jesus was driving out demons from demon-possessed and demon-oppressed people. In Matthew 9:34 the Pharisees had begun dismissing this by saying that Jesus had been driving out demons by the permission, or power, or both of the prince of demons. Now Jesus met their accusations head on.

Both the Pharisees and Jesus acknowledged that Satan was a real person, the prince of demons whom they referred to as Beelzebub, which meant “lord of the flies” in Hebrew, and was meant as a mockery of the actual title “Prince Baal.”

It’s not enough to drive Satan out. Jesus said there must be someone who replaces him as the owner of the home, as the possessor of the person, otherwise Satan will just move right back in again, and matters will be even worse. The new owner has to be stronger than Satan. The new owner is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. Demons are real and powerful, although they can’t possess a Christian because of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Still, Christians can be harassed, tempted, accused, be oppressed by and fall under the sway of demons.

Spiritual warfare is very real, human beings are the battle ground, and a number of you are experiencing it right now. Satan is completely opposed to everything of God, and he knows his time is limited, he’s read the same book you and I read. God created hell to contain Satan and demons at the end of time, and it is Satan’s goal to take as many people with him as he can. When you and I were born again, we became sworn enemies of Satan and his hordes. He can’t control you and me, but he will do everything in his power to neutralize us. Satan is particularly interested in destroying all that belongs to Jesus. If you are doing something for Jesus, in His name, then Satan will oppose you.

Because you and I are on the front lines of God’s great rescue plan, you and I are also in the cross hairs of Satan and his demons. Watch out for spiritual opposition, disguised as bad luck, unfortunate coincidence, crazy unexpected stuff and so on.

1) He will find your soft places, where you are weak, and tempt you into sin
2) He will find your unguarded places, where you consider yourself strong, and tempt you to sin
3) He will accuse you when you do sin, convincing you that your ineffective, a hopeless case, not worth redeeming
4) He will deceive you into believing his words instead of God’s words
5) He will deceive you by speaking in voices other than his own, often using the sound of your own voice
6) He will attack you on unexpected sides
7) Satan’s attacks are just as often physical, since the spiritual and physical realms constantly intersect – sickness, calamities, fights between people who love each other, flat tires

Yet although Satan is a formidable enemy, he is not invincible, he is a created being with a creature’s attributes. He is not omnipotent, as God is. He can’t do everything; in fact he can only do what God will permit. He is not omnipresent; he can’t be everywhere, tempting everyone at once, although he roams the earth and a third of God’s angels have joined forces with him. He can only tempt one person at a time. Above all, he is not omniscient; he only knows what God lets him know. He can insert thoughts in your mind, but he can’t read your mind. If you want him to know what you’re thinking, you’ll have to say it out loud. Satan is loose, but limited, and he is a defeated foe. Jesus has already triumphed over him at the cross.

But how can you and I stand firm against an enemy like Satan, even if he is defeated? After all, he’s out on parole. The Bible says “Submit yourselves to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you.” But sometimes a person tries to resist evil without first submitting to God, and Satan pays no attention to that. Only God has the power and the authority to hold Satan back.

Our struggle is against the spiritual forces of evil, that’s why prayer is the most powerful weapon, it’s spiritual. And you and I, those who have been born again, are the only ones who can successfully withstand this powerful enemy, because we are the only ones who can put on the armor of God. You and I have to first be in prayer, and be connected closely to God through His word before we are able to withstand the temptations, doubts and fears that Satan can inspire in us.

Just as Moses prayed for God’s power to intervene, so you and I can go every time to God for His power, and He will give it. Your most potent weapon is the truth, God’s word, know it and have it in your mind. Your protection is Jesus’ life within you, His righteousness, and your radio is prayer.

What part of you has been left uncovered recently? Which piece of armor do you need to become more familiar with? Paul finishes this letter with peace, love with faith from God, and grace to all who love Jesus. Along with knowing and applying God’s word, along with fervent prayer, add encouragement to your armor – who do you need to encourage today in the Lord so they can withstand evil?

If this post got you to thinking, please leave a comment and join the conversation

4 comments:

  1. The 14th verse of the last chapter of Edhesians reveils the, first and I think the most neglected of the full armour of God. "Loins girt about with truth".
    As you noted at the first of your post, satans schemes can be withstood.

    ReplyDelete
  2. OK another thought, Paul tells Timothy in 1st Tim 4:1,,,,that some will depart the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.

    The enemys stategy is usually not head-on it comes in the wake of pure truth. Immatating truth with suttle differences that it takes dillagence in bible study to tell the difference.

    Deception usually sneeks in when one leans on sense perception rather then sound study and prayer.

    To be unbiased and accept truth the way God sees it, is more times then not hard to swallow. If it don't cause brokenness and despair of ones self at some point, likely it's not God.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Amen, Dutch. The enemy's strategy is definitely subtle, insinuating, putting that fatal twist to a mostly true thought.

    I think Satan tempts us to feel self-satisfied whereas, as you point out, God helps us to be broken and contrite, vulnerable to receive Him

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for sharing your thoughts