The late “Sword of the Lord” editor Curtis Hutson once used the following illustration: “A Sunday School teacher was teaching about the Devil. Looking at a small boy who had come to Sunday School on a church bus, he asked, ‘You’re not afraid of the Devil, are you?’ The little fellow paused a moment and answered, ‘Well, I wouldn’t be afraid of a little devil like me, but I’d be afraid of a big devil like you!’”
The Christian’s final authority on matters of “faith and practice” is the Bible, the Word of God. Without question, the Bible presents the Devil—originally created as an angel of light—as a personal, powerful being that, at present, wears the title “god of this world.” (2 Cor.4:4) So, in other words, there is a real Devil and he is a created being, active in the affairs of this present world. He rules over a kingdom of darkness, and myriad “principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world” answer to his diabolical demands.
Lewis Sperry Chafer, in his classic volumes on Systematic Theology, enumerated 33 things attributable to the Devil. I will remind us of a few of those devilish activities—primarily those directed to believers, aka the sons of God or the children of God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.
- Satan is a deceiver, and he has practiced his lies from the time in the Garden when he said to Eve, “Ye shall not surely die.” (Gen.3:7) He has lied to mankind about the way of salvation, about the person and work of Jesus Christ, about what will happen after death, about how man came to be, and about the future rule and reign of Jesus Christ. He entered into Judas (John 13:27), and Judas left the Upper Room and went out to betray Jesus. He lied to the nation of Israel, to whom Jesus came as Messiah, convincing its leaders that what Jesus did, He did by the power of Beelzebub (Matt.12). He is “a liar and the father of it,” as Jesus said in John 8:44.
- He preys upon the weak, filling them with fear. False religions are steeped in rituals and human activities done to appease their (false) gods. Man will go to any lengths to make peace with a god they have created in their minds or with their hands—even to the extreme of offering up their own flesh and blood, children, to Molech, the Canaanite god of fire. Paul exhorted all believers that we have not been given the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim.1:7)
- He hurls “fiery darts” at his victims. (Eph.5:16) Those darts are pride, discouragement, hurt, doubts, losses, suffering, opposition, confusion, and any number of other afflictions that rattle the faith of the child of God. When the subject of Satan is brought into focus, such words as lies, kills, blasphemy, buffets, resists, persecutes, sifts, accuses, destroys, steals, beguiles, seduces and tempts come to mind. His arsenal is endless. Paul admonishes us to be equipped with the “shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked (one).” (Eph. 6:16)
- He solicits believers to practice evil. Via the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life,” (I John 2:16) the Devil mounts continual attacks upon those who name Christ as their Lord. In I Cor. 7:5, Paul instructed couples in the Corinthian Church who had been “defrauding” one another by abstaining from any physical relationship for a period of time that they should “come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.” Satan will attack believers at what he perceives to be their point of greatest vulnerability. He thought he could bring Jesus down, knowing that Jesus had fasted for 40 days and nights in the wilderness. Satan tempted the Son of God through each avenue: the lust of the flesh (turn a stone to bread and eat if you are really the Son of God); the lust of the eyes (look at all those glorious kingdoms of the world…they are mine now but can be yours now if you will but worship me); and the pride of life (jump from this pinnacle and watch your Heavenly Father send angels down to rescue you from hurt if you are really God’s Son). Jesus answered every devilish dart with a biblical citation, the Old Testament Word of God, in answer to these Satanic temptations. And so must we today!
- Our adversary stalks us! Peter warns that, “as a roaring lion,” the evil one continually seeks whom he may devour. (I Pet. 5:8) Our defense strategy must be to “be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith.” (I Pet. 5:8,9)
- He throws up roadblocks in an attempt to discourage, distract or defeat us. Paul, an apostle who was a missionary sent out by his local (Antioch) church to carry the gospel to the world of his day, met continually with Satanic hindrances: “Wherefore, we would have come to you, even I Paul, once and again, but Satan hindered us.” (I Th.2:18) Those who are engaged in taking the gospel to the world today find the same age-old hindrances with which to deal. Satan has what appears to be unlimited resources, incalculable power, and devoted emissaries through whom he works in his never-ending hindrances to those who are obeying Christ’s last command to His followers: “Go ye, therefore, and teach (disciple) all nations.” (Matt. 28:20)
To the above list of diabolical methods that this real, on the loose, active Devil employs to counter the advances of God’s kingdom today, we could add many more: He exploits our handicaps as he did with Paul, who alluded to “the messenger of Satan to buffet me” (2 Cor.12:7); he sifts believers, as Jesus told Peter in the garden: “Satan hath desired to sift thee “(Luke 22:32); he transforms himself into an “angel of light” (2 Cor.11:14) in his deceptive attempts to negate God’s truth. Many, many avenues of approach are employed by this Devil, all in his attempt to draw people away from Christ. (I Tim.5:15) Believer, beware! And, unbeliever, be warned! The stakes are eternal. As with Jesus, Satan will promise you the world in return for your allegiance. He cannot produce that, but he will still promise it. Billy Sunday, the early20th century American evangelist, sounded this pertinent alarm: “Hell is the highest reward the Devil can offer you for serving him.” Don’t be deceived. Measure every message that purports to be from God by the Word of God.
There is at work in the world today a personal Devil. His sole mission is to take as many souls as possible to an eternal Hell that, according to Jesus, was prepared for this once angel of light who was lifted up in pride and attempted to dethrone God. His coup failed, he was “demoted,” and he has spent the rest of his time deceiving anyone who would believe God and obey His Word. Satan’s eternal abode, the Lake of Fire, originally prepared for Satan and those angels who followed him in his unsuccessful coup against God, will be populated by people who bought into his lie and rejected God and God’s Son, the Savior of the world.
“Then shall He say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels.” (Matt.25:41)