It is said that the first rule in warfare is “know your enemy.” That is no less true in the spiritual realm as it is in any other as we go forth to do battle with our enemy. It is for this reason Peter gives this warning in 1 Peter 5:8;
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
It was Satan, the devil, the enemy of God and man, whom Peter described this way.
In what way is Satan like a roaring lion? It is said that lions will stalk their prey until they are quite close to the herd of whatever animal they are hunting and then roar loudly. This will cause the animals to stampede but the old, the young, the sick and the weak will not be able to escape with the rest of the herd but will lag behind. With the easier prey identified, the lion then chooses the one he wishes to devour, chases it down and kills it. It is the most vulnerable animal that will most likely be the next victim of the lion.
So it is with people. Satan seeks the weakest, most vulnerable people to lie in wait for, trying to catch them at the time they would be most susceptible to his temptations. He looks for those who are less watchful to tempt. He looks for people who are burdened with the cares of this world to set snares for. This is why we have to be so very careful about him. He is constantly probing, looking for the right set of circumstances before he makes his play for our soul. He only tempted Jesus with bread after he had fasted for forty days.
Satan is also very cunning. He is a master at deception. As Jesus described him, he is a liar – always has been a liar – and in fact, he is the father of lies. His goal is destruction. He wants to destroy everything God is and has made. He wants to destroy you and me.
Look at some of the names by which he has been called…
- Abaddon – Apollyon – Evil one – John 17:15
- Devil – Matthew 4:1
- Liar – Father of lies – Murderer – John 8:44
- Prince of the power of the air – Ephesians 2:1-2
- Roaring lion – 1 Peter 5:8
- Ruler of this world – John 12:31-32
- Satan – Mark 1:13
- Serpent of old – Revelation 12:9
- Tempter – Matthew 4:3
- Wicked one – Ephesians 6:16
He is real, not just the personification of evil. He is a created being and as such cannot be equal with God. No, Satan does not look like the cartoon character in the red suit with a tail and horns and a pitchfork. He is a spiritual being who is able to influence men into doing his will. No, contrary to Flip Wilson, the popular comedian of years gone by, he can’t make you do anything against your will.
He can subtly influence us by beguiling our senses and perverting our judgment. He can capture our imagination and bend it to doing his bidding. He can deceive us with false views of spiritual things and lead us to presume upon the grace and providence of God. He can wear us down by opposition and persecution.
Peter said the devil is our “adversary.” This term comes from legal terminology. An adversary is one who brings charges against someone in court. He stands before the judge and accuses us of being lawbreakers. When Satan presented himself among the sons of God in Job 1, God called his attention to his servant, Job. He asks Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” (Job 1:8). Satan’s reply to God was an accusation against God. Basically he said to God, “Why wouldn’t he serve you, you have ‘bought him off!’” Here are his words;
“Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” (Job 1:8-10).
How do we protect ourselves from this cunning and dangerous deceiver? There are a number of scriptures that tell us how to protect ourselves from his advances.
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. (Ephesians 6:11).
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7).
“Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18).
From these scriptures we can learn some valuable lessons about how to overcome the enemy. For one, we can be prepared. We don’t wait until we are under attack and then make preparation. We must “put on the whole armor of God.” (Ephesians 6:10-18).
For another, we must actively resist him. We must flee – run from him – get away from his influence. When the time comes that we must stand and fight we have the assurance that if we have put one the whole armor of God that he and his agents cannot overcome us. As long as we depend on the power of God and not on our own strength, we are safe from him.
“Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8).
One thing we can take consolation in and that is that the devil and his works are going to be destroyed.
“…and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Revelation 20:10).