Who is the Devil?
C.S. Lewis wrote, "There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or magician with the same delight" (C.S. Lewis. The Screwtape Letter. 1941, p. 3). This is certainly true about Satan. Some people totally dismiss him as an impersonal force or somebody in a red suit with a pitchfork. On the other end of the spectrum, many people attribute too much power and importance to Lucifer. They feel that he is God's equal. What does the Bible teach about Satan?
the origin of Satan
1. Two passages in the Old Testament help us with the origin of the Devil.
"How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High. But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit" (Isaiah. 14:12-15 NIV).
"The word of the LORD came to me: 'Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: 'You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings. By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries. So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. All the nations who knew you are appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more'" ( Ezekiel 28:11-19 NIV).
In these passages we can see that Satan was originally a high ranking angelic being who was extremely beautiful and wise. He was given a position of power and influence; however, due to his pride he wanted to take the place of God. He sinned and was cast out of heaven.
2. Satan wasn't the only person to rebel against God. In Revelation we read that a third of all the angels in Heaven followed after Satan and rebelled against God.
"Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born" (Revelation 12:3-4 NIV).
"And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down, that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: 'Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short'" (Revelation 12:7-12 NIV).
3. In the Old Testament Satan's primary agenda was to destroy the messianic line (Ester, Exodus, Nations against Israel, etc.).
4. When the Messiah (Jesus) came, Satan tried to destroy him and to divert him from his true purpose for coming to earth: the cross. (See also Matthew 4:1-11).
"She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days" (Revelation 12:5-6 NIV).
"When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach. Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth" (Revelation 12:13-16 NIV)
the Devil's agenda
5. Today the Devil is aware that he has but a short time on this earth; and thus, his agenda is to steal, kill, and destroy.
Steal - steal away the Christian's joy
Destroy - destroy the Christian's witness and trust in God
Kill - the Devil would like to like to kill every Christian if possible
"Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring, those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus" (Revelation 12:17 NIV).
"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 NIV).
6. Satan has been very successful in deceiving and tempting mankind. He seems to operate by the old adage: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The Bible gives us Satan's strategies so that we can be prepared to resist him. The Devil likes to tempt us in three areas:
The lust of the Flesh
The lust of the Eyes
The Pride of Life
"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world" (1 John 2:16 KJV).
Two case studies are given to us in Genesis 3:1-6 and Matthew 4:1-11.
How To Successfully Resist the Devil
6. The Bible tells us to "Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you." James 4:7 (NIV) The best way I know to resist the Devil is to know the word of God. Memorize it, meditate on it, and guard it with your heart. Here are some examples of Satan's one-liners and how to successfully resist them using the word of God. The following examples are taken from The web page of Harvest Ministries at http://harvest.org/.
"Go ahead and sin, no one will know."
"All things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account." (Hebrews 4:13)
"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked..." (Galatians 6:7)
"...be sure your sin will find you out." (Numbers 32:23)
"God will not forgive you."
"If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)
"God condemns you!"
"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus..." (Romans 8:1)
"You're not going to make it. I'll get you. You'll fall again!"
"And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand." (John 10:2)
"Being confident of this very thing, the He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6)
Obviously there is a whole lot more that could be said concerning our Adversary (like his different names, characteristics, etc.), than what's been covered in this brief lesson. The thing that we need to keep in mind is that the Devil is a real, literal, powerful foe that was defeated at the cross of Calvary. One day he will be cast in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:1-15). In Romans 16:20 Paul gives the following exhortation to the Roman believers: "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you."
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