Most people either do not believe in Satan and his evil works or hold him responsible for any and everything going wrong in their lives. As per Scripture, Satan is a fallen angel, forced out of heaven due to his self pride and attempt of rebellion against God to be like God. Every act of his is to oppose the works of God and His chosen ones through various evil ways. But we are equipped by God through the indwelling Holy Spirit to face every challenge from the devil and emerge victorious in that same strength.
Despite being punished, how could Satan become so mighty? Prophet Jonah from personal experience described God as ‘a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity’ (Jonah 4:2). The devil should have been destroyed immediately in his rebellion against God and so should I and all of mankind for their sins. On being removed to the earth, the devil brought about destruction of everything on earth causing it to become ‘void and without form’ and covered with darkness. Darkness represents sin and evil and with the light of the glory of the Lord shining on the earth, the two were separated. However, darkness remains on the earth till establishment of God’s rule over the earth when the sun’s light shall no longer be needed and God’s glory will provide light (Revelation 22:5).
Man was created from the dust of the earth and Divine breath gave him life, thus endowing him with both the earthly and the heavenly elements. God blessed Adam and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it, have dominion’ (Genesis 1:28). Being fruitful is to be useful in establishing God’s kingdom on earth as His representative. To multiply is not only about bearing children, but also in adding to God-given assets as the ‘good and faithful servant’ did by doubling the talents given to him by his master (Matthew 25:20). The third part of the blessing to fill the earth is about spreading the blessings of the Garden of Eden to all over the earth. They were to first subdue their inner earthly component that would lead them towards the five senses and then the external. They failed in this test and instead fell prey to the temptation to eat only one tree out of all the other trees with an innumerable variety of fruit available. This forbidden fruit appeared to be ‘good for food, pleasant to the eyes and desirable to make one wise’. Eve heard the voice from outside to then succumb to her inner voice and disobeyed God thus passing control over all of creation on earth to the devil. With this Satan from being a condemned angel became the ‘ruler of this world’ (John 14:30). In this state he has received a right over mankind ‘to sift them as wheat’ due to their sinful nature and afflict them with sickness, lack and death. The devil’s role in anyone’s life is ‘to steal, and to kill and to destroy’ (John 10:10).
After the flood all generations are descendents of Noah, who was counted as ‘perfect in his generations, Noah walked with God’ or followed His instructions (Genesis 6:9). Noah drank of the wine and since his son, Ham, saw him and Noah cursed Ham (Genesis 9:21-22). The first steps towards setting up of the devil’s visible earthly kingdom were started by Nimrod, son of Cush, son of Ham. ‘He was a mighty hunter before the LORD’ (Genesis 10:9-10) and as per Rashi, the ancient Jewish sage, he caused the whole world to rebel against the LORD and ensnared the people with his speech to revoltl. That is why anyone who intends to rebel against his Master is called, ‘this one is like Nimrod’. He set up Babylon in the valley of Shinar, where the efforts were started to erect the Tower of Babel, ‘whose top is in the heavens’ with the sole aim to ‘let us make a name for ourselves’ . Self glorification instead of praising God is the major work of the devil and it spread all over the earth with the dispersion of the people.
In the present age of post Calvary sacrifice of Lord Jesus, the right that the devil had over mankind is removed. With the indwelling Holy Spirit, ‘the kingdom of God’ is within each believer (Luke 17:21) but since the old sinful nature still exists in man, the darkness and light are both present as it was in the Garden of Eden. Since a believer’s sins are forgiven, the devil’s control is no longer there but the devil’s rule is still over the world and he continues to attack and oppose every believer. The devil brings death but Lord Jesus gives life through restoration of relationship with God the Father. This life is of abundance and the more we get to know and follow Lord Jesus the more we have it.
In the final stages of creation, after Lord Jesus’ second coming an angel from heaven with great chain in his hand and with the key to the bottomless pit tied up the ‘dragon, that serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up’ (Revelation 20:2). During this period Lord Jesus Christ will establish His millennial reign over the earth. After one thousand years the devil will be released from his prison and he will go out to deceive the nations and raise an army to attack Jerusalem (Revelation 20:7-8 & 10). But after this the last stage is when the devil and his armies would be totally defeated and destroyed by Lord Jesus. And then, the devil ‘who deceived them’ will be cast into ‘the lake of fire and brimstone’. It is then that there will be no darkness and no need of light of the sun for Lord Jesus will fill the earth with the light of His glory.
But why was Satan not destroyed at the time of his rebellion in heaven? God in His justice would have probably asked the devil about his evil deeds. Keeping in mind his conversation about Job with God, we can assume that he would have claimed that it is impossible not to be filled with pride with such perfection in which he was created. God’s Son came as Second Adam with all perfection that a man was initially given at the time of creation and lived a sinless life in thoughts, words and deeds. He could then redeem us from the clutches of sin and control of the devil. Since the dominion of the earth and all that is in it, was given to a man, only a Son of Man could take it back from the devil. Our fight everyday is to prove to the devil that we as children of the Most High God can live righteously in the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Any failures are forgiven by the Savior Lord and we get up and start all over again.
Resisting the devil – Abraham was chosen and blessed by God and his nephew Lot also became a partaker of the blessings. But Lot also became very rich and separated from Abraham and settled in Sodom and Gomorrah, from where he was rescued by the angels. His two daughters, however, got him drunk and committed incest with him and a son, Moab was born to the elder daughter. The younger one’s son became the father of Ammonites, the two tribes who became perpetual enemies of Israel. Naomi lost her husband and then both her sons and urged the two Moabite women, her daughters-in-law to return to their people while she planned to go back to Bethlehem, her hometown (Ruth 1:16). Ruth refused to leave Naomi while the other went back, saying, ‘your people shall be my people, and your God, my God’. This action of faith of Ruth resulted in her marrying Boaz and being listed in the genealogy of David, the greatest king Israel, ‘a man of God’s heart’.
Haman, through deceit, got a decree issued from King Ahasuerus for total annihilation of all the Jews living in his kingdom. Mordecai urged his niece Esther, the queen, to intercede with the king on behalf of the Jews but she was reluctant for no one could go to the king without being called. Mordecai sent a message to Esther, saying, ‘if you remain completely silent at this, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this’ (Esther 4:14).
The main mission that the devil has taken upon him is to oppose and destroy works of God and this he does through willing human beings who partner with him by listening to his evil plans for their lives. When the opportunity arises for us to step forward to do something good, the voice of the devil, through various thoughts, inside us keeps on urging us to stay back and not take the risk of failure. Ruth, Esther and the women from Galilee who boldly stepped forward and supported the ministry of Lord Jesus are counted among the blessed of the Lord. Apostle Peter is considered by many to be an arrogant disciple who always boasted of his own competence. But he was the only one who stepped out of the boat to go to Lord Jesus by walking on water and how many of us are willing to try such an impossible task?
The devil tempts us in various ways. First, failing to forgive others leads to broken relationships and we suffer while the offending party has already forgotten his deeds or words. In this way Satan takes ‘advantage of us; for we are ignorant of his devices’ (2 Corinthians 2:11).
Two, the devil makes us chase false pleasure for he lies about what will make us happy. As opposed to the devil’s works Lord Jesus promises and gives us life and that too ‘more abundantly’ (John 10:10). To receive the real joy we must know God and then as per Apostle Paul, ‘Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice’ and this is real pleasure (Philippians 4:4). Once we start looking for the ‘kingdom of God’, as per our Lord’s promise, the other things will also start coming to us (Matthew 6:33).
Three, the devil creates divisions. Satan means accuser and this tool he uses through lies and deceit by disrupting normal communication between people, groups and leaders. This he achieves by using personality issues, politics, hatred, pride and even by keeping us busy and focused on past mistakes. Lord Jesus in His prayer to the heavenly Father simply declared unity for believers through the shared glory between God the Father, God the Son and the believers (John 17:22).
Four, he instills fear to keep us down and in doubt. There is the story of a young believer who would keep checking on other believers for fear of being left out during the rapture. The devil keeps bringing up our old sins to make us doubt our forgiveness in Lord Jesus thus making us feel unworthy. Moses repeatedly tried to get out of God’s call from the burning bush to send him to Egypt to rescue his people. The devil knows that anyone who overcomes fear and steps forward in faith, can and will walk on water. Lord Jesus has blessed every believer with His peace to help us rest in Him (John 14:27).
Five, Satan tries to redefine our purpose for life by making us believe in freedom to do as we please. True freedom is in the Lord when we get out of the clutches of sin and darkness of evil spirits, to be what God desires us to be and not in becoming what we want to be. Apostle Peter has correctly defined this by urging us to live ‘as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God’ (1 Peter 2:16).
The various means by which we are continuously bombarded by false information about our joy itself, causes most people to chase a mirage of happiness in and through self efforts, while living the most miserable lives. The thoughts will come to mislead us but we must be wise in the Lord, to sift wheat from chaff and this we do by depending on the Lord and His assured help.
The words, ‘Resist the devil, and he will flee from you’ are taken by many that we must do this by our own total power (James 4:7). Many believers that we meet have become double minded and while being believers, they have fully submitted to the lifestyle of this world. The Apostle has also taught us to be ‘doers of the word, and not hearers only’ (James 1:22). The key to this resistance lies in first, submit to God; and then resist the devil. Once we are on this path it becomes easy to ‘draw near to God and He will draw near to you’ (James 4:7-8). Satan was defeated on the cross of Calvary and the kingdom of heaven was established in each of us by the coming of the Holy Spirit in us. But outside us in the world the devil still reigns and till Lord Jesus comes again to establish His kingdom and the devil is removed, he retains the power to mislead us.
This resistance has to be daily and that too through submission to our Lord and Savior, humbly, to receive the power of His grace. This requires repentance and turning from our hidden and outward sins and seeking God to cleanse our hands (our deeds) and purifying our hearts of all evil desires.
But can we do this on our own? Lord Jesus has clarified this that ‘No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him’ (John 6:44). For He alone chooses us and showers His ‘Agape love’ on us, the sacrificial and highest form of love that unites us to God, so that then we can reciprocate with philia love, that is ‘friendship or affection’. We are unable to love without expectation and that is the difference between God’s love for us. The desire to love God is given by the Holy Spirit in us and He fulfills that in His grace. Everyone has one or more areas in their lives, where they tend to follow their own way instead of the Word or commands of God and that makes us vulnerable to attacks of the devil.
Seek a true friend who will help you in drawing near to God in surrender and prayer and then resist the devil. Unfortunately in our fallen nature we have an inherent uncontrolled capacity to interpret the facts of any situation to justify ourselves. Once a year, the Jewish High Priest was required to go into the Most Holy place in the Temple with the blood of sacrifice to seek forgiveness for his own sins first before atoning for the community (Leviticus 4:3). The leader had to have the courage to accept and repent of his sins and in like manner when King David was confronted by Nathan the Prophet about his sin with Bathsheba and her husband Uriah, he cried out ‘I have sinned’.
A believer can confess his sins in three ways; first, is the knowledge that God forgives. While accepting our sinful nature, God desires that we accept, repent, learn and be led by the Holy Spirit. Second, we are to separate sin from the sinner and condemn the act while giving all chances and help to the individual to change. And third, do not be ashamed of your faults and do not wait for the devil to expose and humiliate you but admit and seek prayer help from the right persons. The first person in the Scripture to admit his mistake was Judah who had wrongly accused his daughter-in-law, Tamar, of sexual misconduct (Genesis 38:26). Realizing his fault, he could admit and declare, ‘She is more righteous than I’. Honest confession of sins and repentance is the real sign of spiritual maturity.
The one sure way that the devil ensnares a person is through fear of exposure and humiliation and in this way we continue to sin. The first word John the Baptist and Lord Jesus preached was repent which means to turn from your evil ways and towards God. The closer we get to God the farther goes the devil from us. Lord Jesus, during His temptation in the wilderness, answered the devil with the truth of the Word of God, forcing him to retreat. The devil is well aware of the Scripture and uses that in a distorted manner to mislead us. The real power to face him is in and through the authority of God’s word with the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, drawing closer to God through His Word is the only way to be equipped for victory in this battle.