Satan as ‘prince of darkness’ aims to engulf the ‘Light of the world’ through distortion of His Word, lies and deception yet “all knowing God” created/equipped man to overcome him.
“Jesus I know and Paul I recognize; but who are you? Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded” (Acts 19:15-16). Satan and his demonic forces were created by the Lord and they recognize His power and authority over them and also of those who walk in the shadow of that same power. No doubt his head was crushed by The Lord on the cross and he has no authority over us. But he “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). He is on the look out to identify his victim and attempts to terrify the intended one with a roar to paralyze with fear. “Resist him, steadfast in the faith” and he cannot cause any damage. He looks for an open door of invitation to go in and set up camp, are you keeping some doors open for him?
What is an open door for Satan? – In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve accepted the evil suggestion of the devil to disobey God thus alienating the Creator who had provided everything to them. When we listen to someone to obey him we allow him to become our master for “whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey” (Romans 6:16). God being holy and righteous demands that we follow His commands but when we disobey Him and sin, we open the door to invite the devil to rule us. All sinful activity is an invitation to Satan to take control.
Can we close these doors? – In the Garden, the Lord God did not abandon Adam and Eve despite having known their disobedience but came looking for them. Acceptance of a mistake and genuine repentance was all that was required of the two, to be forgiven by God; instead they resorted to blaming each other and the devil for the offence. The first sacrifice of animals was carried out by God Himself for their sin and to cover their shame, animal skins were provided. The sacrificial offerings before God were an option provided by God to mankind as a temporary solution for their sins. The sacrifice of our Lord on the cross was fulfillment of this requirement and we, who were banished from the Holy presence of God, were reconciled to Him. We can now appear before God’s throne for the full payment has already been made for our sins and the right that Satan had obtained through deceit has been cancelled. All that is required now is to confess our sins of omission or commission before God to receive pardon, thus cancelling out the resultant right to the devil.
This is the result of the love of God for us, for He desires us to be victorious and to overcome all temptations of the devil. He has blessed us with the Holy Spirit to guide us on this path of holy living.
How does Satan operate in the world? – There is this story of two neighbors, one with a nasty mind and the other loving and kind. The first would throw the waste from their house in front of the other’s house everyday with no reaction in return. One day they threw a particularly smelly package inside the neighbor’s gate than in front of it. In the evening the victim finally arrived at the door of the culprit and on seeing the two, the husband and wife, they started getting ready for a fight. They were in for a surprise when the visitors handed over a package containing mangoes as a gift and out of curiosity and shame they asked for the reason of this despite their behavior. The reply was even more shocking and revealing, “You gave us what you have and we gave what we have”.
Satan was banished from the presence of God in heaven on account of being filled with pride that caused him to rebel. This is the only gift that he has and injected into the DNA of mankind in the Garden of Eden. Even today he has darkness, despair over his loss, his pride and arrogance and this is what he provides in abundance to those who abide in him and accept him as their lord and master. These are the weapons on which his entire operation, of leading us to ruin and eternal death, rests.
Satan was designed by God to be the ‘messenger of light’ and the morning star’ and in both names he was to display God’s glory, the glory of the Son, the ‘Light of the world’, to others. After his rebellion, man was made from dust to take the place of Satan and take his place through knowing, receiving and imbibing the very essence of God and then display this to others. After the fall we lost that capacity and authority till ‘God spoke to us through His Son’.
God has revealed to us through the living Word, His Son, who has provided us with a mirror image of Himself to help us compare ourselves in the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This continuous comparison is to help us to become like Him and maintain regular fellowship with God. Satan must break this chain to stop us from knowing God or having any relationship with Him. Any sin in our life destroys this relationship and a Holy God cannot allow us to present ourselves before Him. Any activity that helps the devil in this is his way of operation and some of these ways are discussed here.
- Ignorance- Satan does not want anyone to know that he exists and is up to something, for an unseen unknown enemy is difficult to resist. We as believers are fortunate to have the confirmation from the Scriptures about him and about his ways. The other thing is his design to keep the believers as far from the Word of God and about awareness about the power of the Word. Apostle Paul warns about this blinding that the unbelievers “minds have been blinded by the god of this world, lest the light of the Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, may shine unto them” (2 Corinthians 4:4). On the one hand the unbeliever is unaware of the trap and on the other also of the remedy to escape that trap and the ‘ruler of darkness’ delights in this.
- Deceive about his mode of operation- The first and foremost thing before going into battle is to know the enemies ways and the devil creates screens to deny us this knowledge. He cannot be everywhere but he influences our thoughts through his forces through subtle attempts to lead us on the way of sin. The Lord warns that sinful thoughts are an act of sin and Scriptures command that we “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Every criminal act has a history of evil thoughts ruling the mind and overpowering the individual at the weak moment leading to the heinous act. The process would start with innocuous thoughts and subtle suggestions later developed into outright control of every thought and deed towards the same purpose.
- Distort the Word of God- “Did God really say” are the opening words of Satan to Eve and the aim was to confuse her about what was said and intended by God. God’s Word is clear and “is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). Apostle Paul lists out four major areas of spiritual life that the Word of God is profitable. The devil’s sole aim is to make it unprofitable for man thus turning him away from God. The sound of God’s blessings on the Lord had barely died down while Satan questioned the same in his dialogue with Lord Jesus in the wilderness. First omission was about His being the ‘beloved Son’ and the second about ‘God’s pleasure in Him’ and the major question was to cast aspersions on His being God’s Son also. The first two questions started with “If You are the Son of God” and the answers from the Lord emphatically did not touch this issue at all for He knew who He is.
In like manner the quotation from the Scriptures in the second question also omitted one line “For he shall give his angels charge over you, to keep you in all you in all your ways……” (Psalm 91:11-12). Satan does not want us to know that the promise in its fullness is to ‘keep us in all our ways’ with continuous guidance and presence with us. The devil’s intent is to create doubt and unbelief about the Word and even Apostle Thomas fell prey to want to see the risen Jesus and then believe. When in doubt it is better to let the truth of the Scriptures guide us than the symptoms and circumstances.
- Spread false doctrines- Satan’s whole game plan is centered around spreading misinformation about the Word of God, he uses false preachers to misinterpret the Word and create false doctrines. Our Lord warned us of this “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). The Pharisees during the Lord’s time on earth had distorted the Law to such an extent that the real intent was altogether lost. Apostle Paul specifically mentions this “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrine of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). God has warned us of these demonic interpretations of the Scriptures and we need to be alert to this and anything which is not in conformity with the rest of the Scriptures is not from God.
- Shift focus from God to self- The luring away of Eve was to help then become like God after eating the forbidden fruit with the singular aim of shifting their dependence from God to self. Satan does not want to see us surrendering to God all our own capabilities and seeking Divine power and guidance to excel in whatever we undertake to do. Thus the devil desires man to obey his will rather than will of God. Our Lord’s sacrifice has provided us the greatest advantage of ‘grace’ being available to us as a free gift from God to enable us to succeed in everything.
- Preach the letter and the means- Satan blinds our eyes to what God wants to what can be achieved through the Word thus the truth is concealed in the traditional beliefs. The temptation of both the first and the second Adam commenced by turning the truth around through the raised questions “Has God said?” and “If you are the Son of God”. Eve was beguiled and she committed the three mistakes even before the actual commission of sin of disobedience- she omitted the word “freely”; added the words “neither will you touch it” and the third “lest you die”. Lord Jesus did not answer Satan in this manner but with a sure “It is written”, leaving no ambiguity or doubt. Eve failed the test due to misrepresentation of the Word due to omission and addition while the Lord’s replies were absolutely specific. Satan misquotes and uses wrong application of the Word to suit his designs and the way to fight him is with diligent reading, meditating on and understanding of the Word with due application in life under the Divine guidance of the Holy Spirit. Satan’s focus is on the seminaries, the pulpit and the church through planting of misinterpreted Scriptures and creating discord.
At the very end of His ministry on the earth, in His final prayer to His Father, our Lord is specific “I have given to them the words which You gave Me…. Sanctify them with Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:8; 17). Satan has all the knowledge of the Scriptures but his misfortune is unbelief and he wants the same from us.
- Spread darkness- Satan was banished to the dark and void earth by God to show him his reality of being filled with darkness and he has been called as ‘prince of the power of the air’ (Ephesians 2:2). All communication is through the medium of the air waves and that is being misused by Satan to spread all the evil all over the world. The internet, Television, radio and every other platform is used by Him to spread lies, nakedness of body and soul causing corruption of the body and soul. We may not be able to stop the proliferation of this in the world but we can definitely ensure that this does not enter our homes and our lives. It is necessary to monitor our children’s activities as well as our own and support each other in our homes and in the church from this dark and evil umbrella spread by Satan.
The only gift that Satan has given to us and which forms the root of all his weapons used against us is ‘PRIDE’, the cause of his own fall. Total submission to God and accepting His sovereign authority over us is the way of humility as walked by ‘the Captain’ of our salvation. And that is the path to victory!!