Lions prowl in the wilderness, seeking to take down a slow zebra or antelope. Burglars prowl among the habitations of men, looking for unguarded goods. Christian believer, "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8, NASB)
Satan: what does the name conjure up in your mind? In folklore, stories, novels, and movies the devil has been portrayed in many ways, from a horned imp in a red suit with a pitchfork, to a dapper and well spoken bon vivant.
As Christians we look to God's word to learn about our adversary. God, (perhaps to Satan's own chagrin) has been pleased to make the devil's origin somewhat obscure in Scripture. From the Divine pronouncement that the whole creation was originally very good, from the account of Satan's mischief in Job 1 and 2, and from other passages (cf. Revelation 12:4), we properly infer that Satan and the demons were holy angelic beings as they came from the Creator's hand. Sometime after that, they fell into sin. Therefore, in God's righteous judgment, they have been appointed to irremediable wickedness and corruption, and ultimately to eternal damnation (Matthew 25:41).
Satan first appeared on the scene of human history as a crafty tempter. This unseen, malevolent spirit creature spoke to Eve through the medium of a serpent to lure her into the state of sin which he had already entered. Hence Satan is called "the serpent" (2 Corinthians 11:3, Revelation 12:9; 20:2). Ever since his first "success" at tempting the human race to sin, Satan has been busy at the same work. He is also called the accuser of the saints, who "...accused them before our God day and night..." (Rev 12:10B), and the evil one (Matthew 13:19 et. al.)
There are two common and opposite errors that Christians tend to make regarding Satan and the demons. The first is to be preoccupied with them. The person with this mindset attributes every unfavorable circumstance and all troubles to Satan's activity, and even blames his own sins on the devil. According to the Bible however, every person is responsible for his own sin, and for the believer God always provides a way of escape from temptation (James 1:13, 1 Corinthians 10:13). In addition, although we may not put God to the test, He can and often does test us: those unfavorable circumstances, afflictions, and trials are sent by our heavenly Father Who designs our ultimate good by them. (Deuteronomy 8:2, 13:3; Romans 8:28)
At the other end of the spectrum is the error of forgetting about or discounting the evil one. Those stumbling in this way might appeal to modern man's proud science, as if the reality of Satan is only silly superstition. There is, to be sure, MUCH silly superstition in the world! Nevertheless, as Peter the apostle wrote, we are to be alert regarding this invisible prowler.
The work of our Lord Jesus to save His people was manifold. By His redeeming work, He turned away God's wrath. He gave us the right to become sons of God. Christ's work was directed with Divine power against Satan as well: "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil." (I John 3:8B)
How is it that Satan has been defeated by Christ already, yet remains on the prowl? Consider the great prince Pharaoh, who had been forced by God's mighty hand to let the people of Israel go. He made one last effort to reclaim them, and that proved to be his ultimate destruction. So with Satan. God's mighty hand, having gone forth by the person and work of our Divine Lord Jesus Christ, has freed God's people from the sin, death, and hell into which Satan wanted to drag them. "Pharaoh Satan" is only chasing God's elect into the eternal promised land which they will not fail to enter. Fear not! A final and ultimate destruction yet awaits the "prince of the power of the air"!
August 22, 1999
Pastor Keith Graham
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