We are now entering an awesome period in human history the time when Satan and his army of demons will wage their supreme battle to overthrow God’s people and His true Church just before the end of this age on earth.
Christ foretold this period vividly: “For false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible even the elect” (Matt. 24:24).
Note that even the elect will be deceived if there is any way Satan can do so! Where does that leave you? It simply means that you, personally, need to know and understand Satan’s battle plan the deceptive tactics and machinations employed by the author of lies. Then you must devise ways to counter those satanic strategies.
Notice Satan’s origin. He was created as a super archangel -- a cherub-- and at one time was assigned to cover and protect the very throne of God (Ezk. 28:13-14). He was named Lucifer-- meaning shining star of the dawn a brilliant, powerful spirit being. Later, he was assigned jurisdiction over this earth and a large angel population here.
But he lusted. He thought God was unfair. He felt his glory and responsibility over this earth wasn’t good enough. He said: “I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High” (Isa. 14:13-14).
Satan was the first one to try to get to heaven. He wanted to take over the throne and authority of God because he did not respect God as supreme Creator and Ruler of the universe. He did not appreciate what God had done and what God is. Satan had vanity and selfish ambition and he has schemed and lusted and lied ever since to try to get his own way!
Now, Satan is the god of this world and its human society (II Cor. 4:4). He is the invisible “prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). Satan is busy scheming and influencing men’s minds. He does this through direct spiritual influence, broadcasting in a sense, his attitude of vanity, greed, hate and rebellion against authority. And he effectively imparts these attitudes through the media of his society television, radio, movies, magazines and now the computer-- which are filled with violence, sexual suggestiveness and a constant appeal to vanity.
Therefore, a person who is constantly in touch with this world through these media is constantly bombarded by Satan’s approach and attitude.
Satan got to our first parents in the Garden of Eden. God had put Adam and Eve in this beautiful paradise and given them everything they needed. Their Creator had told them they could eat of every tree except one, the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen. 2:17).
However, Satan immediately put questions into Eve’s mind about God’s instructions: “Has God indeed said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’” (Gen. 3:1)? The implication was that God was unfair, that He was holding back something good from them, that man ought to be free to decide for himself what is right and wrong and not have God telling him what to do! (Do you see any similarities with today’s society?).
Eve reminded Satan that God said she and Adam would die if they ate of the forbidden fruit. Again, Satan challenged God and implied that He had wrong motives in wanting to restrain Adam and Eve from sin that the forbidden tree was actually the key to unlocking spiritual mysteries. “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (v. 5).
Satan’s approach makes God seem unjust and appeals to intellectual and spiritual vanity. So our first parents succumbed, and mankind has been under the influence of Satan ever since.
The next major assault against humanity was Satan’s attempt to overthrow and prevent Jesus from being our Savior and the One to replace Satan as ruler over this earth.
Note that Jesus prepared Himself for this temptation by fasting. He was weak physically, but He was spiritually yielded and close to God (Matt. 4). Satan first enticed Christ through His strongest pull at that moment hunger. Most of us have never known the kind of hunger that builds up after not eating for weeks! So Satan, knowing Jesus’ craving for food, said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread” (v. 3). “IF”, attempting to impose doubt in his mind.
Of course, Jesus was the Son of God. But Satan’s challenge was dual both an appeal to Christ to satisfy His hunge,r and at the same time, answer this questioning of His office. But, truly humble and contemplative through much fasting and prayer, Jesus saw through this trap immediately and resisted it. He replied, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (v. 4).
Then Satan took a different approach, quoting scripture to gain Jesus’ acquiescence: “Then the devil took Him and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it written: He shall give His angels charge concerning you,’ and, In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone’” (vs. 5-6).
But again, Jesus knew that we are to do our part to preserve life even when it is hard-- and quoted another scripture to rebut Satan’s lure: Jesus said to him, “It is written again, You shall not tempt the Lord your God” (v. 7).
Then Satan showed Jesus the magnificence and glory of all the kingdoms of the world. Christ knew he would not be in a position to inherit rulership of the earth until after He remained absolutely perfect in character for another three and a half long years. He was to be beaten, cursed, spat upon and tortured, and then, to top it off, be publicly crucified and left to writhe in agony for what would seem like an eternity. He was to suffer one of the most humiliating and painful methods of execution ever devised.
And here was this tremendous, almost overpowering spirit edging Christ on! “Just thrown in your lot with me and you can have all this now. You don’t need to wait and suffer and bleed and die. Just yield to me and I’ll give it to you right now.”
Many in the “now generation” would easily have been overcome by this. But Jesus had character. He had true wisdom. He rebuked Satan and totally rejected him. Otherwise, you and I would not have a Savior and you would not be reading this article right now. “Then said Jesus to him, away with you, Satan! For it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve” (v. 10).
However, Satan continues to work on our vanities, our desires to get rid of responsibility for our actions, our wishes to get what we want right now without properly preparing or paying the price. And Satan and his ministers will also pervert scriptures as the devil did with Jesus, to make their case appear plausible to any who do not really know and understand the Bible.
Some of the specific methods Satan uses on us are described in the parable of the sower and the seed found in Mark 4:1-20. Jesus interprets the story in verses 14:20.When the “word” is sown; Satan immediately comes and takes it away (v. 15). How? Think about it.
How quickly can Satan literally jerk your mind off what you have read in the Bible or heard in a good sermon, by causing you to turn on the television? That’s right! Immediately your attention is taken from reality to exciting make-believe. Perhaps a battle is raging, or a murder is taking place in front of your very eyes - it doesn’t matter. What matters to Satan is the worldly TV or radio program or other physical distraction literally snatches from your mind the intense interest and sense of urgency you felt only moments earlier when drinking in the Word of God.
Again, God’s truth often falls on “stony ground” (vs. 16-17) because Satan’s society has conditioned us to be shallow, to take things for granted, and to shift our allegiances quickly and casually. Loyalty is a thing of the past. Humans do what is expedient to enhance the self!
And the “thorns” (vs. 18-19) of Satan choke the Word through all our worldly pursuits. People easily get involved in the “cares of this world” job, money, society, prestige, and politics and pretty soon they push God into some dark, nearly forgotten corner and bring him out only on Sunday mornings, or when they are so deeply in trouble that the outcome looks hopeless. How many times have you heard someone under duress cry out, “Oh my God!”
This parable shows that Satan can easily overthrown us if we are shallow Christians, if we are not willing to worship and obey the great Creator of the universe and put Him totally ahead of everything else. Jesus Christ warned, “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth” (Rev. 3:16).
People don’t like to strive and struggle. They just want to be left alone to stay on the sidelines, as it were. But resisting and fighting Satan is one battle we are all commanded to wage. Paul wrote, “Put on the whole armor of God (remember armor is for fighting), that you may be able to stand against the wiles (trickery) of the devil” (Eph. 6:11). Then the apostle says that we are not fighting mere flesh and blood, but wicked spirits in high places (v. 12).
Next, Paul describes the “spiritual armor” that we are to put on in order to withstand Satan (vs. 13-17). You can’t avoid the devil. He is going about “like a roaring lion” trying to upset and devour God’s true servants (I Peter 5:8).
Satan is described as “the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night” (Rev. 12:10). Satan is constantly trying to destroy God’s people. He will color, magnify, pervert and distort anything he can to upset or overthrow real Christians. He is a murderer, and was from the beginning,” and he is a liar. “When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44). Satan’s attitude is one of resentment and hatred and of getting even. His goal is to destroy all human beings. Pretending that the devil doesn’t exist, or that he will somehow go away if we just ignore him, is no way to overcome this warped, twisted, foul spirit being with which we must do battle.
We must face up to the reality of the spirit world and take certain key steps to ensure our spiritual survival. Here are three strategies to employ in your own spiritual battle plan:
Know that God is good and in charge of everything. If you don’t have this one key to all true spirituality straight, nothing else matters. You must know, and know that you know, that God is, that He is the Creator and active Ruler of the universe, and that He is God.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).
James tells us: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). So God is the giver of good things and His character never varies. Although He tries and tests, and rebukes and chastens every son He loves, He never tricks us or hurts us for even His chastening is done in love and only for our good.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7). We must learn to view everything from the realization that God is there, He is in charge, He is good and His way is right. The fear of God, the awe and reverence and obedience to our Creator making Him the central fact of our existence-- is the first key to resisting and overcoming Satan. Without it we will fail miserably.
So we must take time for personal and fervent contact with God through intensive Bible study, personal prayer and meditation. We must walk with God and direct our every thought, word and action in accordance to His will to the best of our ability.
Know your enemy and resist him. We have already discussed a great deal about Satan’s lying, hateful character. You must consciously be aware of this and spiritually and mentally resist the wrong pulls of Satan. James states, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
In Eph. 6, note the details of the spiritual armor we need to fight Satan. First, gird your waist with truth (v. 14). Even when tempted by physical passion, never kid yourself about what is right and wrong. Learn to keep God’s truth firmly in mind. And, protecting your heart and emotions, put on the “breastplate of righteousness.”
Then, keep busy doing your part to carry the Gospel to the world (v. 15). Remember that Satan will do everything he can to distract you from what is vital. If he can get you hooked on television, movies, magazines or on the computer, hanging out in bars, distraught with family matters, job problems, or whatever occupies your time and mind, you are not growing spiritually and you are not busy getting the message about God’s government and His way of life to a sick and dying world.
So keep busy helping to accomplish one of the main tasks God has given His faithful servants in this age, getting His message to this world, with conviction and power! Then, learn to exercise living faith as a shield to guard your mind from the lies, the gossip, the doubts and discordant ideas that Satan pours out upon God’s people (v. 16).
Satan constantly will bombard your mind with doubts, temptations and discouragements. You must learn to guard the door of your mind against this ravening evil spirit.
“And take the helmet of salvation” use the strength of God’s spirit in your mind to positively direct your thoughts and actions God’s way (v. 17).That seed of God’s character is stronger than any temptation Satan can muster (I Cor. 10:13). Never forget that.
Fasting and humility. Mark recounts one case when the disciples were unable to cast out a demon. Finally, after Jesus cast out this foul spirit, the disciples asked Him privately: “Why could we not cast him out” (Mark 9:28)? Christ’s answer was, “This kind (faith) can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting” (v. 29).
If a Christian is truly humble and serving God with all of his being, there is no way the devil can overthrow him! In the context of this instruction to “resist the devil,” James tells us, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6-7). Again, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (v. 10).
Throughout the Bible, our Creator shows us that one of the primary ways to humble ourselves is through the practice of fasting. We all need to exercise the tool of fasting a great deal more. If, while fasting, you are truly repenting of self and seeking God’s will and not your own, then a genuine humility and a right sense of perspective will be given you. As your physical body weakens, you will be able to see spiritual things more clearly. Learning to appreciate just a bite of food, the next breath, and the gift of life makes it more difficult for you to be easily offended and embittered against God or His way.
“Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble” (Ps. 119:165). This attitude is absolutely vital to overcoming Satan. For the devil will encourage us to think that something is wrong with God or His Church if we don’t always get our own way. Instead of trusting in God or in the living Christ to solve all the problems and to right every wrong, too many become self-willed. They say:”I can’t take it any more. I want my way right now.” These attitudes of hurt feelings and resentment lead to one of the horrible and pernicious traps of Satan, bitterness. “Looking diligently lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled” (Heb.12:15).
If you allow it, a root of bitterness will grow into a hardened mind and heart that will be impossible to reach. You will then not listen to sound reason. Your seething bitterness will totally blind you from admitting your part in any sin or misunderstanding. And you will therefore be unable to repent, change and grow in God’s character. Satan will have taken control of you! He wins, you lose!
Guard your mind and heart against this soul-destroying attitude of bitterness. Fast, pray, humble the self and get a better perspective. Be patient and wait on our loving God to make all things right. Have your own battle plan to overcome Satan. Resist him with all your being. Fight him like your very life depends on it. For it truly does.