Multitudes came to Lord Jesus, heard Him, received healing of the body and soul, yet very few could accept this from the heart and soul. As a result out of the chosen twelve Judas Iscariot was instrumental in His arrest and the others deserted Him and fled for their lives. Lord Jesus had repeatedly mentioned “He who has ears let him hear” for all had ears yet could not hear, understand, obey and proclaim His message to others. Why is it that the simple things of the Gospel are mysteries to most and they end up rejecting the message of salvation of the cross?
Who stops us from listening to God – Apostle Paul was well aware of both states of not listening in his life as Saul and then receiving deep understanding of the Word. In his Epistle to the Corinthians he underlines and identifies the cause, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Who is this ‘god of this age’ that he has referred to? Scripture refers to him as Satan and 22 different names has been mentioned for him therein. The Hebrew word ‘Satan’ means opponent or adversary while the Greek word used is ‘diabolos’ and translated as devil. However this word ‘diabolos’ is very specific and means ‘slanderer or accuser’ and is not used only for the devil but also for others with similar traits. Apostle Paul has used the same word for people who are slandering others, speaking evil of them or telling false truths to nullify their testimony/message. A false truth is something that is believed by many to be true but cannot be backed by facts or evidence. An example of a false truth is belief that women are mentally and physically less capable than men.
Why does Satan try to stop us – Satan is referred to as “the morning star” translated from the Hebrew word ‘heilel’ where this word itself is derived from another word ‘halal’ which means ‘shine; be boastful’. It is this later meaning that reveals his true character and style of functioning as such and Satan dared to stand against his Creator in rebellion. He rebelled against God and even led one third of the angels astray by his lies and boasted “I will raise my throne above the stars of God and become like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:12-13). Lord Jesus is also called the ‘Bright and Morning Star’ but the words used for Him are ‘proinos aster’ meaning early morning star (revelation 22:16).
Before the creation process could start on the earth its nature of being ‘void and without form’ had to be changed and God commanded “Let there be light” and the Son of God, revealed God’s glory on the earth and filled it with light. Since light has no compatibility with the darkness or evil, the two were separated. Satan’s sole aim is to be equal to or above the Son of God and that is the reason for his opposition to the Lord and the Word of God. He blinds the minds of people that they can see the facts of the Gospel without perceiving the truth and remain rooted in false truths. Heilel himself is false truth, the father of lies, and raises doubts in the minds about salvation without good works through the grace of God.
Satan’s name and his character – As per Hebrew tradition naming a child is a very important part of his/her life for the name describes their traits. The importance can be further gauged from the fact that God commanded certain names be given to his instruments of salvation – John the Baptist and Son of God are examples of names revealed before conception by the angel of God. Lord Jesus is called Yeshua Hameshiach – Yeshua the Anointed One where Yeshua combines two words – YHWH) Yehovah) and Yasha. Yasha means salvation and the name means Yeshua is salvation.
Satan is heilel meaning boastful or diabolos meaning slanderer or accuser and he became this despite having been the ‘covering cherub’ always in the presence of God. He thus has immense power as an angel and can cause calamities, sickness and even kill someone as evidenced in the Book of Job (1:12 and 2:7) where God had restrained him from killing Job. Pastor John Piper, the famous preacher of America suggests that ‘Satan’s power is not more important in physical terms but in moral deception’. WE focus more on the physical realm and what is visible rather than on what is not seen or the spiritual or moral realm. He is referred to as “more subtle than other beasts” (Genesis 3:1-2) and ‘the great dragon, the ancient serpent’ the deceiver of the whole world ‘who accuses them day and night before God’ (Revelation 12:9-10).
Satan is adversary and deceives all to stop them from knowing God. His plan is to deceive on the earth about salvation that is available through the ‘Blood of the Lamb’. If he succeeds in this we perish and if he succeeds in accusing in heaven before we perish – in both cases to eternal death and separation from God. Lord Jesus calls him ‘murderer from the beginning’ for he caused death to enter mankind through sin. It was the devil that caused Cain to murder his brother Abel and is destroying people through opposing God (John 8:41).
Where does he operate? – When angels presented themselves to report, God asked Satan “Where have you come from?” And his answer reveals his area of operation “moving around the earth” for he covers the whole earth and its inhabitants (Job 1:7). He goes out ‘to deceive the nations which are in four corners of the earth’ and his battle ground is entire universe. He hates the truth of the cross for he was defeated there by the Messiah by crushing his head. It is ironic that the devil tried his utmost to keep the Son of God from going up to the cross though he was unaware of the result there from. He unleashed an intense barrage of lies around the Messiah in the Garden of Eden that this caused His “sweat becoming like drops of blood” causing loss of strength (Luke 22:44). He tried to use Apostle Peter to stop his Lord causing a rebuke from Him “Get behind Me Satan” for He knew his tricks (Matthew 16:23).
As then, even now he tries to stop the believers from believing and understanding the true import of the message. Lord Jesus through the parable of the sower and the seed illustrated the devil’s modus operandi. “When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path” (Matthew 13:19).
Why is Satan so opposed to the Word? – Lord Jesus branded him as a liar and father of lies (john 8:44) for his basic aim is not to kill or cause sickness or calamities but eternal death of separation from God. His aim is blunted and stopped at the cross of Calvary for the sins of all were heaped upon the Savior on the cross and forgiveness made available to all who believe. With this the chance of leveling any accusation before God is removed for God sees all believers through the cross and the saving grace provided by His Son. The devil has “blinded the minds to keep them from seeing the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Man is created in the ‘image and likeness of God’ and our real identity is hidden in Lord Jesus who in Himself has revealed God the Father to us.
Can the devil attack all? – Apostle Peter warns all believers that the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeing whom to devour” and then comes the exhortation to resist him and he will flee (1 Peter 5:8). Satan looks around for the vulnerable to attack them and not everyone and then those who actively resist his lies, he flees from them. Apostle Paul too warns believers not to be ignorant of his designs lest he take advantage of us (2 Corinthians 2:11). He can and will attack only those who waver in their faith but does not spare others also and keeps attempting to weaken their faith to lead them astray.
Satan’s ten weapons – True to his name his main weapon is lies, deception and false truths about God, His Son, His Word – the Scripture and about sin. He uses these against believers as well as those who are perishing for lack of faith.
First, he is a liar and his total discourse is camouflaged with false truths, lies or half truths mixed with lies. He was aware of God’s command to Adam and Eve yet he asked “Did God say you shall not eat from any tree of the Garden”. He creates doubt to lead astray and the same trick was used against our Lord in the wilderness “If You are the Son of God”.
Second, he binds the minds through lies and by concealing the truth. We can then see the facts but fail to fully perceive their importance.
Third, he pretends to be what he is not to deceive. He disguises himself as an angel of light and his agents start giving similar appropriate names in line with God’s people (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). His agents get branded as Apostles or servants of God to work from within the Church to mislead the followers. Dr Rebecca Brown the famous deliverance ministry expert, who is gifted to speak and interpret tongues, warns that many people in the Church pretending to be speaking in tongues are declaring curses as Satan’s agents. Lord Jesus has also warned of “wolves in sheep’s clothing to draw people away from the truth” (Matthew 7:15).
Fourth, false Christ and prophets – Satan will bring in “the lawless one – an anti Christ” with all power, signs and lying wonders with all deception among those who did not receive the love of the truth and perish (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10). The miraculous deeds performed by him will be difficult to distinguish from the real for he will be working in the power of the devil. “False christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24) is the warning from the Savior about the end times and even believers are liable to be deceived. These deceivers will work from within the Church, whether knowingly or not, and will try and claim the benefit of having done “mighty works in Lord Jesus’ name”. But the Mighty Judge will reveal their true identity and rebuke them, “I never knew you, depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:22-23).
Fifth, Satan tempts people to sin – The Son of God was tempted in the wilderness even to offer Him ‘all the kingdoms of the world and their glory’ (Matthew 4:8-9). Judas Iscariot was lured into the greatest sin of all to hand over the Son of God to the schemes of the devil to the Jewish elders for money (Luke 22:3-6). Apostle Paul also warned believers to be careful lest their minds be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ, in the same way as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness (2 Corinthians 11:3).
Sixth, the devil chokes faith by plucking the Word from the hearts of listeners, for he hates the faith that comes from the hearing of the Word (Romans 10:17). Lord Jesus through the parable of the sower and the seed that falls by the wayside is taken away from their hearts by Satan (Mark 4:14-15). Apostle Paul expressed similar concern for the believers lest their efforts be nullified by the tempter (1 Thessalonians 3:5).
Seventh, he causes diseases and sickness of the body and soul and Lord Jesus ‘healed all that were brought to Him’ before everyone present. The woman afflicted by the bent back for fifteen years was ‘bound by Satan’ that she could ‘in no way raise herself was healed by the Lord by laying on of hands on her (Luke 13:11-13 &16). The healing power through casting out demons has been given by the Lord to all believers through the working of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Mark 16:17-18). It is pertinent to note that not every sickness is from devil but some are afflicted for God’s glory to be revealed through their healing. The man born blind from birth was healed by the Lord by application of clay mixed with His saliva “that the works of God should be revealed in him” (John 91-7).
Eighth, urges people to commit murders as Cain was led to murder his brother Abel out of jealousy. Lord Jesus branded the Pharisees, Sadducees and Jewish elders as “sons of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44).
Ninth, he hinders the work of the missionaries for he hates all forms of evangelism and discipleship. Apostle Paul repeatedly planned to visit the believers in Thessalonica but was hindered by Satan from doing so (1 Thessalonians 2:18).
Tenth, he accuses Christians before God citing various sins committed by us ‘for we were all sinners’ before knowing His grace and mercy. Job was accused of being a nominal worshipper of God and that “he will curse You (God) if You stretch out Your hand against him” (Job 1:11). Apostle John was provided the revelation about the devil’s destiny “the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down” (Revelation 12:10).
Satan is ‘prowling around like a roaring lion” but the Lion of Judah, our Savior Lord intercedes for us and is “able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him” (Hebrew 7:25). Apostle Paul was chosen by the Lord “to reveal (to the gentiles) the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you…. To open their eyes in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God” (Acts 26:16-18). In this knowledge of the Lord, he could confidently say “If God is for us who can be against us?.. Who can bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies” (Romans 8:31;33).
The battle is on and we pray that the LORD will train our hands for war and our fingers for battle (Psalm 144:1)!!