The Savior Lord prayed to the Father in heaven to keep us in this world but to save us from the guiles of the evil one. He has not left us alone to fight the devil but with the indwelling Holy Spirit connected us to other believers so that we encourage and help each other in fighting and wining this spiritual battle. But since we cannot see our adversary in physical form, many believers start doubting the very existence of the devil as also their immunity from his attacks. Satan is real and always ready to pounce on the one who is living a sin or doubt filled life.
Lord Jesus’ role in our battle – More than one third of all incidents of healing attributed to the Lord relate to freedom from the clutches of the devil and resultant physical healing.Logos or the Word or thought of God assumed human form to reveal to us the mystery of God without the confusion of His Divine and human nature. He is God’s channel of communication with humanity and His incarnation is the means of self communication of God with us. In answer to Philip’s question to show them the Father, Lord Jesus replied, ‘whoever has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘show us the Father?’ (John 14:8-9). In His prayer to the Heavenly Father, the Lord prayed, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15). Even in the Lord’s Prayer we are commanded to seek the same, ‘Do not lead us into temptation but deliver us from the evil one’ (Matthew 6:13).
God’s curse on the serpent about enmity with the seed of the woman and the result the damage is on both. The devil’s head is crushed and heel of the Son is bruised where Hebrew ‘shuph’ meaning break, bruise or cover and ‘rosh’ meaning head, control or influence are used. Also ‘aqeb’ meaning heel, footprint or hind part is mentioned where this word is derived from ‘aqab’ meaning deal craftily, restrain or overreach (Genesis 3:15). The curse thus amounts to incapacitating or reducing the devil’s impact on all those who claim the benefit of the ‘bruised heel of the Son’. This is confirmed further ‘so that through His death He might destroy the works of the devil’ where Greek word ‘katargeo’ meaning to make completely inoperative or to put out of use is written (Hebrews 2:14).
In the finished work of the Lord the authority we derive empowers us that ‘God of peace, will crush Satan under your feet shortly’ (Romans 16:20). We are thus enabled to overcome the devil’s attacks on our minds and soul and escape into victory. The Book of Revelation is about future events when Satan will be initially chained for 1000 years and later finally controlled permanently. Thus Satan’s power over believers is restrained or controlled but each one of us ‘is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin’ (James 1:14-15). Though by the shed blood of the Lord we are redeemed from the clutches of sin but our sinful nature remains.
Devil tempts us in three ways, through lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the pride of life. We yearn for worldly wealth and seek more and more while lust of the flesh causes anger and sexual impurity and thirdly the pride leads us into pleasing people more than God to seek their approval for self exaltation. Satan accuses, tempts and deceives and we counter these accusations by preaching the Gospel to ourselves. While he draws our attention to our sin to lead us to despair and guilt, God drives us to His Son to let us delight in His grace and forgiveness. We are assured that ‘there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit’ (Romans 8:1). Lord Jesus was tempted by Satan and He had free will to choose the devil’s offer but He declined and in like manner so can we and refuse to come under his control. Satan does not come charging like a bull but comes slithering like a snake and roaring lion to put fear but stealth is his trick. He is very happy if we believe he is not there and thus become vulnerable to his attacks with no defense. Satan is real and active and we must be careful to protect ourselves.
Can Satan control Christians – Israelites are the chosen people of God and King Balak of Moab calls Balak to curse Israel (Numbers 22:10). Balam informed the Moabite king that ‘no magic charm, no witchcraft can be used against Israel’ (Numbers 23:23) and we claim protection under this Scripture verse. But the same people became cursed for following after other gods and we also serve other gods, money, family, carrier or business. Advertisements about vashikaran or bringing under control for marriage or any other purpose through the use of Tantric practices and witchcraft appear in newspapers. Our sins open the door and the devil creeps in to take charge while God does not interfere in our free will to sin. Apostle Paul defines the battle that ‘we are not fighting against flesh and blood (human beings) but against the wicked spiritual forces of evil, against principalities and authorities’ (Ephesians 6:12). He was Spirit filled and chosen by the Lord yet he suffered a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to pound him (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). Lord Jesus taught that ‘false Christs and prophets of lies from Satan will appear to deceive even the elect through signs and wonders’ (Matthew 24:24). The Book of Revelation in chapter 13 has two beasts empowered by the devil, out of them one is a political power ruling the earth and second the anti Christ who deceives through miracles, signs and wonders.
The task assigned to the twelve and then the seventy was clear, ‘heal the sick, cleanse lepers or those suffering from contagious diseases and cast out demons’ (Matthew 10:8). During a sexual relationship the two participants become one in body and soul and this relation of the soul opens the door to demonic entry and control. In like manner addictions, occult practices, phobias, all have some form of demonic roots that need to be severed, removed and destroyed, even in believers. The crippled woman with a hunchback was a devout woman crippled by a spirit for 18 years and was healed by the Lord (Luke 13:10-16). Apostle Peter after being commended by the Lord was led by the devil to try and stop the Lord from His journey to the cross to be rebuked for who was then in him, ‘Get behind Me, Satan!’ (Matthew 16:23). Past spiritual performance can be washed out in a fraction of a moment under the control of the devil who ‘had already prompted Judas to betray Jesus’ (John 13:2). Ananias and Sapphira lied and Apostle Peter retorted, ‘why has Satan filled your heart to lie’ (Acts 5:3).
Apostle Paul revealed, ‘The good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me’ (Romans 7:19-20). The devil attempts to legitimize what we do under the garb of no one is affected, you deserve some enjoyment and such excuses to lead us into sinful living and then a stage comes when we no longer care, for we reach far from God and His Word. Another way that the devil challenges us is from the wrong notions created from within the church since some denominations presume gift of tongues is an indicator of the presence of the Holy Spirit in a believer. However the fact is that ‘we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink’ (1 Corithians12:13. Having believed, we were all marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance’ (Ephesians 1:13-14). For whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His’ (Romans 8:9) and in any case faith itself is a gift of the Holy Spirit and no one can accept the Lord as Savior except when touched by the Holy Spirit.
The devil uses these contradictions in the Church to make a believer doubt his status in the Lord and thus surrender to the devil and there are many such misconceptions that create doubts in the believers’ minds.
The misconceptions about Satan and his activities keep us in darkness and in bondage – some of these are – One, demons were only active during Lord Jesus time – But then which powers of darkness is Apostle Paul talking about (Ephesians 6:12) and he again specifies that we are engaged in a spiritual battle against forces that stand against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Satan’s temple is established in around 20 locations in the US, Canada, Australia, Germany and the UK. He is being worshipped and his temple enjoys tax exemption. Knowledge about him is taught in schools in some areas in these countries and if we do not believe his existence he is happy.
Two, demonic activity is basically mental sickness – This is the natural world view but we do not live as per this view. Our knowledge and life style is wedded to the Biblical view where a young man afflicted by 3 to 6,000 spirits was redeemed to live a free and healthy life. Three, some problems are psychological and some are spiritual – This viewpoint divides human soul and spirit into two entities independent of each other. In actuality, there is never a time when your mind, emotions and will are not involved and this wrong perception of separation of the two creates an inner conflict. There is no problem which is not psychological and also spiritual for God is always active in our lives. Four, Christians cannot be affected by demons – Scripture is often wrongly quoted that since we are inheritors of Abraham’s blessings, demons cannot touch our lives. Jews who were his direct descendents were possessed by the evil spirits and delivered by the Lord. If we are safe then why does Apostle Paul warn us and why satanic activity is described in detail in the Book of Revelation where the message to the seven churches is about overcoming?
Five, demonic activity produces violent behavior – Satan’s main aim is to take and keep us away from God and no violence is needed for that. The demon possessed man of Gadara was violent but not any of the others delivered by the Lord and the disciples. ‘Satan disguises himself as angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising that his ministers also disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness’ (2 Corinthians 11:14-15) and he comes slithering like a snake and not like a bull charging head on. Six, freedom from demons is through a power encounter – It is a faith encounter for I must believe the truth and that sets me free and for believing there is no physical power involved. Old methods of physical violence for deliverance are gone. If I am attacked by a dog, the moment I run, it chases me but when I take a stand and shout at him a command it withdraws in fear and obedience. The devil is a liar and it is necessary to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ to contradict his lies (2 Corinthians 10:5).
The available three ways for deliverance are – first is the Gospel or the truth encounter for ‘we are redeemed from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God’s Son’ (Colossians 1:12-14). I claim this and many other promises in the Scripture to defeat Satan. Second is to get together as a group and fight as a team in the power of the Gospel. And the third is through the help of a trained professional but while seeking help, be careful lest you fall into a trap of false prophets and charlatans. Where Word of God is not the way of deliverance that place must be avoided at all costs. A woman with blisters on her body had visited our Church after all sorts of medical treatment, even at PGI, Chandigarh and was completely healed in about three sessions of prayers. We do not guarantee anything for healing is always as per the Lord’s will and His timing.
Satan has no interest in troubling those people who are deeply involved in sin and are subject to his control in their lives. The attacks will start only after we turn to the Lord Jesus and the intensity goes up as we increase in faith and step out for God’s Kingdom work. But since the Savior Messiah is with us in fulfillment of His promise, we are empowered to overcome and quench the devil’s darts. Perseverance in faith in the promises of the Scripture helps us in resisting the devil to make him flee. We are to face him with the authority and power of Lord Jesus to be victorious!