30 Jul Spiritual warfare, part 3: Satan
What do I need to know about this Enemy who wars against me?
The Scriptures, from Genesis 3 to Revelation 21, make it clear that Satan and his demons are real, and this truth wasn’t widely questioned by professing Christians until the last couple hundred years. Largely influenced by the atheistic philosopher David Hume and the subsequent era of modernity, liberal Bible “scholars” dismissed the supernatural, from miracles to demons, as mythical, outdated, and primitive. Such things didn’t fit into their modern view of the world as a closed, natural system. However, to believe the Bible, belief in Satan, demons, the supernatural, and miracles is required. We can’t take the parts of the Bible we like and discard the rest—God is seeking worshipers, not editors. Satan is real, and as Christians, it’s important to know as much about our enemy as possible. If you don’t know your enemy, you can’t know how to defend yourself. Knowing your enemy is the key to victory in any war (2 Cor. 2:11).
The truth about Satan and demons
There are several key truths regarding Satan and his agents that you need to know, believe, and highlight in your Bible so that you can revisit them often.
- The Scriptures consistently present Satan as an enemy of God and his people. He’s given a variety of names, including the devil, the dragon, the Serpent, the enemy, the tempter, a murderer, the father of lies, our adversary, the accuser, the destroyer, and the evil one.
- Satan and demons are your foes and not in any way friends (1 Pet. 5:8).
- Satan and demons are actively at war against you (Eph. 6:10–13).
- Satan and demons want you to die because Satan is a murderer. He wants to bring death to everything in your life, including your love, joy, marriage, and ministry (John 8:44).
- Satan and demons have no claim to you, because you have been delivered forever from Satan’s kingdom of darkness to Jesus’ kingdom of light (Col. 1:13).
- In Jesus, you have personal protection from and authority over Satan and his demons (Luke 10:18–20).
- Because you are in Jesus Christ and all things are under his authority, you too can command Satan and demons to obey you because of the authority delegated to you from Jesus (Eph. 1:18–2:8). Practically, this means that if, as a Christian, in Jesus’ name you command a demon to leave you alone, it must.
- Satan and demons are in no way equal to God. Unlike God, they are created beings with finite limits. They are not all-present, all-knowing, or all-powerful like God. They are, however, very real and very powerful. They have been observing human behavior since the beginning of history and are keenly aware of how people live, and they have been continually perfecting their tactics on how to destroy us.
- The motivation for all of Satan’s work is pride and self-glory instead of humility and God-glory (Ezek. 28:2; James 4:6–7). One of his most powerful allies in opposing us is our own pride. Some have speculated as to why the Serpent continues in his war against God even though Scripture is clear that Jesus has already won the war and the Serpent will be ultimately defeated and painfully judged. It may be that the Serpent is indeed so proud that he has deceived himself and now believes that God is a liar who can be beaten. It is this deception that he whispers into our ears every day, telling us we aren’t victorious in Christ and also telling us lies about ourselves and about God.
- Unlike human beings, for whom Jesus died and rose, Satan and demons have no possibility of salvation. Practically, this means that only judgment and torment await Satan and demons (2 Pet. 2:4).
- In his war against God, the Serpent not only has demons, but also people who are allies in his army, either by demonic possession, demonic influence, or simply by living according to their sinful nature and flesh. Such people include false prophets, counterfeit apostles, phony Christians, and deceptive teachers who teach heretical doctrine for the Serpent.
- Satan’s ultimate goal for those of us in Christ is a compromised and fruitless life beset by heresy and sin (1 Tim. 4:1–2; 1 John 3:7–10)—and ultimately, death (John 8:44; 1 Pet. 5:8). If the enemy can’t tempt us with sin and error, he will simply try to exhaust us into surrender. This demonic opposition is increasingly pronounced for those who serve God most faithfully.
*Portions of this blog post were adapted from Who Do You Think You Are? (2013, Thomas Nelson), by Mark Driscoll, Death By Love (2008, Crossway), by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears, and Doctrine (2010, Crossway), by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears.