Our Adversary the Devil

Scripture does not reveal everything we would like to know of him. Naturally, we seek answers be-cause we are fascinated by the unseen realm, but more importantly because knowing one’s enemy is critical to overcoming him. The apostle Paul cau-tioned that an awareness of the devil’s schemes is essential to not being taken advantage by him (2 Cor. 2:11). What are his purposes? What is his plan of attack? What, if any powers does he wield? Fi-nally, what hope do we have of defeating him? 

HIS PURPOSE: Perhaps the clearest indication of his purposes can be seen in the ungodly names and descriptions ascribed to him by the Holy Spirit. Some of which are: Satan (“adversary”; Zech. 3:1) the devil (slanderer, Matt. 4:1); the father of lies (Jn. 8:44); the “Great Dragon” (Rev. 12:9); “Beelzebub” (prince of demons; Matt. 12:24); the ruler of darkness (Eph. 6:12); “the tempter” (1 Thes. 3:5); a “murderer” (Jn. 8:44); “the ene-my” (Matt. 13:39); “a roaring lion seeking to de-vour” (1Pet. 5:8); a “serpent” (2Cor. 11:3). 

A cursory reading of the above list should be enough to strike fear into the hearts of any soberly minded individual. Simply stated, his mission is the utter destruction of all humanity in hell by enslav-ing men to his will. He will use any means available to him to alienate men from God by enticing us to sin. He engages in this work with feverish intensity (Job 1:7). There was perhaps no one who typified this work of Satan more precisely than the prophet Balaam, who taught Balak how to jeopardize Is-rael’s fellowship with God so that they would become accursed (Num. 31:16). 

Someone may ask, “why does Satan hate us so much?” As is often the case, it really isn’t about us; primarily. Satan hates God and ever lives to circumvent His plan for us. The first two chapters of Job show this perpetual contest be-tween God and Satan. 

HIS PLAN: The devil demonstrated his plan of attack early on, with the first family in the garden (Gen. 3:1-7). In his craftiness he targeted Eve for her gulli-bility (1 Tim. 2:14) by getting her to wonder about the one thing she couldn't have. In so doing, he caused her to be discontent by whetting her appetite for more, even though she had every good and perfect gift at her disposal. In so doing, the devil caused her to forget to be thankful to God for all of the won-derful trees from which she could eat. 

Next, Satan attempted to drive a wedge between God and men by causing her to be distrusting of God and doubtful of His promises. He got her thinking about whether God had ulterior motives for restricting access to that one tree, that perhaps God was holding them back from some good thing. Notice how he sprinkled in just enough truth (their eyes were opened to good and evil) but what he didn't tell them was that this new condition would be a curse and not a blessing. 

HIS POWER(S): There can be no doubt that, as “god of this world” (2Cor. 4:4), Satan is powerful in his own right. But as powerful as he is, he is not omnipo-tent—a fact that even he recognizes. During his temptation of Christ, he ad-mitted that his earthly dominion had been delivered to him (Lk. 4:6). Likewise, the devil was incapable of harming Job in any way without the expressed per-mission of God (Job 1:12; 2:6). Similarly, when he sought to “sift” Peter “as wheat”, he first had to “ask” for him (Lk. 22:31). It is evident, therefore, that his power is limited. From this we may safely conclude that the devil is not on the same plane as God. He is not divine. 

His power, then, is a power of persuasion and perversion. He perverts the Word of God (Gen. 3:1-4). He promulgates false doctrine (1Tim. 4:1-3). He blinds men to the truth (2Cor. 4:4). He steals the Word of God from human hearts (Matt. 13:19). He lays snares for men (2Tim. 2:26; 1Tim. 3:7). He tempts (Matt. 4:1; Eph. 6:11). He afflicts (Job 2:7; 2Cor. 12:7). He deceives (Rev. 12:9; 20:8-10). He undermines the sanctity of the home, even when a man or woman might be at their weakest (1Cor. 7:3-5). He hinders the work of God’s servants (1Thes. 2:18). And he even makes accusations against God’s children before Heaven’s throne (Job 1:6-11; 2:3-6; Zech. 3:1-4; Rev. 12:9-10). 

HIS PROSPECTS: What hope could we have against such a formidable foe? For-tunately, God has not left us defenseless. In Eph. 6:11, Paul admonished Chris-tians to “put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” It is more than adequate to overcome the enemy, but not unless we are willing to put it on. 

The scriptures affirm that “He [God] who is in us is greater than he [Satan] that is in the world” (1Jn. 4:4). No book makes this clearer than the Revelation of Jesus Christ to John. Besides offering comfort to persecuted Christians, the message of Revelation is that of ultimate victory over the devil and his forces. The Lamb demonstrated His power by prevailing against the dragon and casting him out of His presence (12:7-9). The twentieth chapter, presents a subjugated enemy being “bound” (vs. 2) and “cast into the abyss” (vs. 3), where he remains to this day. In the final day we are told that Satan will be loosed; he will rally his forces, and with great pomp he will prepare for one great last stand. Then, in very anticlimactic fashion, the battle will be ended, almost before it even had a chance to begin (20:7-10). 

The Lord will be victorious over Satan. To believe otherwise is to believe that Jesus failed at His mission. In Heb. 2:14, the author declared that Jesus, "through death might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil. It was for this purpose that the Son of Man was revealed, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (I Jn. 3:8). The fate that awaits him after God puts an immediate end to Satan's insurrection is spelled out with great clarity in Rev. 20:10: 

“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brim-stone, where are also the beast and the false prophet; and they shall be tormented day and night forever and ever.” Eternal punishment in hell has been prepared, not for you and me, but "for the devil and his an-gels” (Mt. 25:41). Let us be sober, and vigilant (1 Pet. 5:8). "Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." (1 Jn. 5:5).