Lord Jesus revealed the state of society in the end times to Apostle John and the signs of today’s world match with the same to a large extent, though much worse is yet to come. We as children of God are perpetually at war with the forces of evil prevailing in the world where ‘Satan prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom to devour’. But with the indwelling Holy Spirit are we not protected from this ‘adversary’ of ours and can he dominate and devour us at will?
At the time of creation God filled the earth with His glory and this filled the earth that was till then ‘void, without form and covered by darkness over the face of the deep’. This light was divided from darkness and after due inspection God declared this ‘light’ to be good (Genesis 1:1-4). It is in this scenario that God blessed and commanded the first couple on earth to “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion” (Genesis 1:28). God first filled the earth with His glory and on the fourth day lit up the earth with the light of the sun, moon and the stars and ‘everything was found to be very good’. With what would Adam and Eve fill the earth that is already good?
And then the command to subdue the earth, where Hebrew word ‘kabash’ is used, whereas this word implies use of violence and forceful suppression of a hostile environment to bring it into bondage and submission. The same word is used elsewhere in the Scripture to identify “all the nations that David subdued” in battle (2 Samuel 8:11). Again, “The Lord of hosts will defend them; they shall devour and subdue with sling stones” (Zechariah 9:15). But what was hostile on the earth where all was good? The Scripture then identifies this darkness as Satan who was expelled from heaven after his rebellion, “you were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you” (Ezekiel 28:13). Lord Jesus then warned the Jewish leaders, “you are of your father, the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires” (John 8:44) and then He told the disciples “Kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). Satan showed the Lord all kingdoms of the world in their greatness and offered to give Him all that (Matthew 4:8) where Lord Jesus did not deny or contradict the devil’s control over those kingdoms. There are two kingdoms on earth – Satan’s kingdom of darkness and evil as opposed o God’s kingdom of righteousness within all believers.
The Israelites received the promise from God about destruction of their enemies and to give their kings into the Israelites’ hands where no man would be able to stand before them. But this promise also had a command that “you must burn with fire their objects of worship. Do not desire the silver or gold that is on them, or take it for yourselves. It would be a trap for you, for it is a hated thing to the Lord. Do not bring a hated thing into your house. You would become hated also. But turn from it with fear and hate, for bad will come from it”(Deuteronomy 7:23-26). Anything that we have connects us to its source – evil or cursed things to Satan and holy ones bring us into God’s presence. Satan gains control over us through the open doors of of our sins of disobedience.
The chosen people – The Israelites were declared to be “a holy nation to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the nations of the earth, to be His own” (Deuteronomy 7:6-7). All believers are also termed as “chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). And then Apostle Peter warns the believers that the devil “your adversary prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). But who could be his target among the chosen people and why?
Satan’s attack on believers – Lord Jesus revealed to the disciples’ the type of attack that the devil will mount on them “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24). The words ‘if possible’ are interpreted by many that the indwelling Holy Spirit will not allow this to happen and all believers are immune to the devil’s attack. This is the ostrich mentality to bury the head in the sand to wish away the enemy. But Satan does not operate in this manner and one of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to “convict you of sin” (John 16:8). The very name defines His role to make believers holy as He is Holy. The Greek word translated ‘to convict’ is ‘elegcho’ which means to convince with solid, compelling evidence, especially to expose, prove wrong to be guilty, reprove, rebuke and discipline. Holy Spirit empowers us to fight the battle but we are the soldiers and are required to overcome the enemy and his temptations. In this vein, the letter to the seven churches defines the rewards that will be awarded to anyone “who overcomes” and the grand one is to be seated with the Lord on His throne (Revelation 2; 3:210-21). All believers are vulnerable to the devil and must be always on guard.
Israelites were a chosen people and blessed by God but those that were “brought to Lord Jesus, many were demon possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick” (Matthew 8:16). Satan tried to bring Lord Jesus into subjection during His temptation in the wilderness and sought even the disciples ‘to sift them as wheat’ forcing the Messiah to pray for them that their faith should not fail (Luke 22:31-34). Apostle Paul also admitted to being buffeted and afflicted by ‘a messenger from Satan’ (2 Corinthians 12:7).
How then can anyone, even a believer, claim that he/she cannot be attacked by the devil? The devil’s control over mankind is through sins committed but not repented of and forgiven through washing by the blood of the Lord. Do we not commit any sin that needs forgiveness? The often quoted verse of Scripture in support of this is Balam’s statement that ‘there is no sorcery against Jacob, nor any divination against Israel’ (Numbers 23:23). Protection is definitely available but it is for those who receive and remain in God’s protection.
Why is Satan not judged immediately? – God is righteous and just and there is no way that He will cut off the rein of Satan while allowing others more time. There will come a day when he and his agents will be bound and confined to the hell fires while books will be opened for judgement of others (Revelation 20:12). God has permitted the devil to roam free now and he will be released again for a short while after the millennial rule of Lord Jesus on the earth to fulfill specific purpose.
The devil is used by God to develop character and faith in the believers (James 1:12; 1 Peter 1:7-13; Jude 20-24). Apostle Paul identified the reason of the thorn in his flesh – to keep him humble and let God’s grace flow over him (2 Corinthians 12:7). God allows a conflict or battle like situation to prevail for the saints that they may be rewarded through overcoming (Revelation 2:7 to 3:21 & 1John 2:13). Satan afflicts the people so that they may learn of their sins and come to repentance and turn to God (1 Corinthians 5:1-6 and Job 33:14-30). Though God does not need to demonstrate His power to anyone, the devil is not allowed to do what he chooses to do and in this God’s power is demonstrated over the power of Satan (Mark 16:17-20; Ephesians 2:7 & 3:10). Satan is useful to God and His kingdom to purge man of all possibility of falling in the eternal future and for this he will be set free for a short time after one thousand years of detention (Revelation 20:7-10).
We know that all things work out for the good of those who love God, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28) but do I love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength to fulfill this condition?
How does Satan trap us? He is a tempter and a liar and uses various temptations and lies to ensnare us and keep us under his control. Lord Jesus nailed to the cross all the legal requirements that we were required to meet and made a ‘public spectacle of principalities and powers’ after disarming and triumphing over them (Colossians 2:14-15). These forces of Satan – the demons and evil spirits – are in rebellion against God and His kingdom and all of humanity is their target to be possessed and destroyed for eternity. As far as the unbelievers are concerned, he has ‘blinded their minds lest the light of the Gospel and God’s glory shine on them’ (2 Corinthians 4:4). They cannot understand the message of redemption through the sacrifice of Lord Jesus and reject it outright to their eternal damnation.
Acts of the devil against believers – He tries to destroy our testimony by setting snares and thus ruin a believers’ influence for the heavenly kingdom. All of us are surrounded by the forces of darkness and he causes our fall through temptations. Once we sin and fall he attempts to ensure that we remain in that fallen state to lead us away from God or commit suicide. All the twelve disciples had sinned by deserting their Lord and Savior but Judas Iscariot, though felt remorseful and admitted to his sin of betraying innocent blood, committed suicide (Mathew 27:3-5). The devil is ‘the father of lies’ and tries to blot out of our minds the blessings of forgiveness made available by the Savior Lord through His sacrifice, while reminding repeatedly our past sins. Another strategy that he uses is to turn us into ‘lukewarm Christians’ by trying to deter us to work for God’s kingdom with this refrain “there is still plenty of time”. The ‘you can do it later attitude’ finally takes us on a path of laziness where we become contenders for eventually being “spit out” by the Lord (Revelation 3:16).
Satan dares people to do things that they would not do under normal circumstances. The normal challenge is that you are a coward or not brave enough or who is watching or who cares. Through this he makes people feel that they are missing out on ‘good things’ of life and peer pressure, from a young age only, is exerted on the gullible. Sinful pleasures are touted as innocent enjoyment that God would not mind. “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things” (Philippians 3:19) clearly defines even overeating as a sin. We tend to grade sins as per their grievousness whereas sin is a sin irrespective of its gravity. Satan stirs up unholy passions in people, causing them to throw all restraints to the wind and indulge in sinful acts. Serving God and all activities related to it are projected as tedious chores where there is no joy and in any case who cares whether you do something or not. Our job is to reach out to others with the message of the Gospel and let the Holy Spirit do the rest for the scale might be just about to tilt and our visit may make all the difference in someone’s life.
Famous author Rick Warren in his book “The purpose Driven Life” emphasizes the two questions that every person will have to answer on the ‘Day of Judgement. The first, “I gave you My Son as a redeemer, what did you do with Him? And second, I gave you your talents, resources, family and friends to be what you were supposed to be. What use did you put all this to move on your destined path?” On the other hand, we are always in a race to compete with someone else to be like him/her rather than become what God has sent me to be. We are made to believe that we should first create resources – financial as well as social – which can then be used to serve God better. The preaching of the Gospel of healing and prosperity has become more prominent than the judgement by a holy God. We ignore the truth to our peril of landing up in the unquenchable fire of hell.
Lord Jesus warned disciples about the coming of false Christs and false prophets showing signs and wonders during the end times to if possible deceive the very elect of God (Matthew 24:24). Apostle Peter has also warned us about the ‘roaring lion’ prowling around to seek someone to devour. God does not need our worship but He desires to bless us through our efforts of offering resistance to the devil. Only the weak and the ignorant fall into his clutches for they fear no threat from Satan whereas the truth is that we need not fear only the one who is on our side and is a friend. Holy Spirit is our indwelling guide to teach us about everything and we must seek His help rather than being ignorant of Satan’s designs and thereby fall into his clutches.