The Christian life is not a stroll down Easy Street arriving at heaven without any scratches, bruises, or sores. It is a spiritual war between our Christian walk with Christ and Satan who wants to destroy us and tear us apart. In today’s post I want to show you what the Bible says about Satan’s position and activities.
Satan’s Position and Activities
I. SATAN’S POSITION
A. God of This World
The New Testament identifies Satan as the “god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4). He is seen as the god of this world in a couple of ways.
1. Satan Hides the Good News
To the Corinthians Paul wrote that the Good News he preached was “hidden behind a veil” (2 Cor 4:3) because Satan has “blinded the minds of those who don’t believe” (2 Cor 4:4).
2. Satan Has a Level of Authority over the World
When Jesus was led into the wilderness Satan took Jesus up high and showed him all the kingdoms of the earth (Luke 4:5). Satan then told Jesus, “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them because they are mine to give to anyone I please” (Luke 4:6). Notice that Satan says the kingdoms of the earth are his possessions that he has the authority to give them away. Warren Wiersbe comments, “Satan has a certain amount of delegated authority from God (John 12:31; 14:30). One day he will share this authority with the Antichrist, the man of sin, who will rule the world for a brief time (Rev 13). Satan’s offer to Christ was valid, but his terms were unacceptable, and the Savior refused” (Wiersbe, Be Compassionate, 52). Also take note of 1 John 5:18-19, “We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them. We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one.” The “evil one” is clearly Satan.
Also see John 14:30 and Eph 2:1-2.
B. Reigns over a Hierarchy of Malignant Spirits
1. His Army Now
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he taught doctrine in chapters 1-3 and then moved into the duty of the Christian life in chapters 4-6. In that last part of duty he told the believers that they should,
Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:11-12, NLT)[ref]Unless otherwise noted, Bible translations are my own[/ref]
Satan is in charge of evil rulers and authorities in the unseen (spiritual) world, he rules the mighty powers in the dark world, and has evil spirits that he’s in charge of.
2. His Army in the Future
Furthermore, when discussing the future judgment Jesus talked about the fire that is prepared for the devil and “his demons” (Matt 25:41). Likewise, in the book of Revelation there is a battle described between Michael and his angels against Satan and his angels (Rev 12:7). In that battle Satan loses and Satan “and his angels were forced out of heaven” (Rev 12:8).
3. Satan’s Current and Future Army
I believe it is safe to conclude that Satan has some level of authority over this world and he is not alone is in his activities to cause havoc. He has an army that follows him and takes orders from him.
C. Access to God’s Throne
One of the things that surprises me is that God allows Satan to have access to God’s throne. Here’s a few examples.
- Satan approached the Lord in heaven to ask about Job (Job 1:6-21)
- Satan accused the high priest Jeshua in the presence of God of things that were false (Zech 3:1-6)
- Satan asked Jesus if Satan could “sift” the disciples like wheat (Luke 22:31).
- Satan and his angels waged a war in heaven against Michael and his angels (Rev 12:7)
I believe it is an example of God’s grace that after Satan’s first fall from heaven away from a relationship with God, Satan still is allowed to have access to God’s throne.
II. SATAN’S ACTIVITIES
A. To Tempt and Seduce
The first act of Satan recorded in the Bible was his evil plot to tempt and seduce Eve and Adam.
The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”
“Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’ ”
“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”
The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. (Gen 3:1-6, NLT)
Here are a few basic observations on this event which is often referred to as “The Fall.”
1. Satan Identified
The “serpent” named in Gen 3:1 is later identified in the Bible as being Satan (Rev 12:9; 20:2).
2. Satan Questions God’s Truthfulness
Satan temped Eve saying, “You won’t die” (Gen 3:4). This was questioning God’s truthfulness.Eve must have thought, you mean I can eat it and live to tell about it? Satan tempted Eve to do something he previously believed she could not do and should not do.
3. Satan Offers Power
Satan seduced Eve saying, “you will be like God” (Gen 3:5). In defense of Eve, who could resist wanting to be like God, right?
4. Eve Was Convinced
Satan’s interactions with Eve had tempted, seduced, and caused Eve to want something that she previously did not want. “The woman was convinced. She saw the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it” (Gen 3:6, emphasis added). This was deception which is the next section.
[ref]I am skipping some important observations from this passage because I cover Satan’s activities in the later points. For example, in Gen 3:1 Satan questions whether God had spoken truth, “Did God really say?” which was an example of how Satan deceives people. Additionally, Satan falsifies in Gen 3:4, “You won’t die!” Well, the woman will not literally “die” at the moment which she eats, but she will spiritually die at the moment she ate the fruit and she will die physically in the future. Furthermore, Satan lies when he says, “you will be like God” (Gen 3:5). Man and woman were already like God because they had been made in his image. [/ref]
For another example of how Satan temps and seduces you can see Matt 4:1-11.
B. To Deceive, Falsify, and Counterfeit
Satan has many activities, but most of them revolve around deceiving, falsifying, and counterfeiting. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he wrote about Satan’s ministry of deceiving believers. According to Paul the Good News which he preached was “hidden behind a veil from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God” (2 Cor 4:3-4, NLT). This appears to be an active ministry of Satan to have “blinded” the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot understand the Gospel message.
At the end of Satan’s harm to people during the seven-year Tribulation period an angel will come down from heaven and bind Satan in chains. Then, the angel will throw Satan into a bottomless pit, shut and lock it “so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore until the thousands years were finished” (Rev 20:3). When those thousands years are over, Satan picks back up where he left off deceiving the nations yet again, “When the thousand years come to an end, Satan will be let out of his prison. He will go out to deceive the nations-called Gog and Magog-in every corner of the earth (Rev 20:7-8). Satan’s work of deception that he does now will continue until God. Banishes him to the fiery lake of burning sulfur (Rev 20:10).
C. To Destroy
Satan also wants to destroy Christians. In Peter’s first letter he reminded his readers, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are” (1 Peter 5:8-9). Satan prowls around looking for someone to devour and there is no one he wants to devour more than Christians.
Also see Luke 8:12 and Rev 12:13-17.
D. To War against Believers and the Church
1. False Workers
Satan has workers he sends out to do false work. In Matt 13:24-30 Jesus told the story of how a farmer planted wheat seeds in his field, but at night the farmer’s enemy came and planted weeds in the field. After Jesus’s parable of the wheat and weeds he explained to his disciples, “The Son of Man is the farmer who plants the good seed. The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the of the enemy. This story shows Satan actively sends out false workers to battle God.
2. Thwarting God’s Work
The apostle Paul traveled more than 13,000 miles sharing the Gospel in the first century when there were no cars, trains, or motorized boats. While many of the apostles stayed near Jerusalem to oversee the first century church, Paul took the Gospel to the known world. Paul wrote to the believers in Thessalonica that he “very much wanted to come to you and I tried again and again, but Satan prevented us” (2 Thess 2:18). To some extent and in some way, Satan prevents God’s work and his workers.
3. Pain and Physical Ailments in Believers’ Lives
We live in a world that has pain and physical ailments. In other words, our bodies are not the way God meant them to be. In addition to the bodies we have that are imperfect, Satan is able to cause harm to us in physical ways. Two examples of this are from the lives of Job and Paul.
The first chapters of the book of Job describe how Satan had been patrolling the earth (Job 2:2) and God pointed out to Satan that Job was the finest man in all the earth who had integrity, feared God, and stayed away from evil (Job 2:3). To this Satan replied,
“Skin for skin! A man will give up everything he has to save his life. But reach out and take away his health, and he will surely curse you to your face!” “All right, do with him as you please,” the Lord said to Satan. “But spare his life.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence, and he struck Job with terrible boils from head to foot. (Job 2:4-7, NLT)
Many Christians struggle with the idea that God allows Satan to give Job physical ailments (and rightly so) but the thing that that should be noticed is that Satan has permission to inflict physical harm to Job.
No one knows the physical struggle that Paul mentions in his second letter to the Corinthians. Some people say it was an eye problem, others believe it was a bad back (Scoliosis or something like that), others have said Malaria. Paul told the Corinthians,
To keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. (2 Cor 12:7)
It is not clear if the physical ailment was something Satan did directly to Paul or if Paul had that physical ailment all his life and merely attributed it spiritually to Satan. Whatever the case might have been, Paul mentioned that Satan was involved with his physical pain.
4. Defamation and Slander
Satan’s true colors will be revealed when he reaches the end of his time on earth. After the seven-year Tribulation period an angel will come down from heaven, bind Satan in chains, and throw him into the bottomless pit so that he cannot “deceive the nations anymore until the thousands years” (Rev 20:3) are finished. Satan actively was deceiving the nations.
After the thousand year period is over Satan will be let our of prison. He will “go out to deceive the nations–called Gog and Magog–in every corner of the earth” (Rev 20:8). Yet again, Satan will deceive people into thinking that war against Jesus Christ and his saints would be a good thing.
“Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev 20:10). Now, let me ask you one thing. After Christ reigns on earth for 1,000 years with his saints in peace, what could possibly cause people to want to follow Satan? In my opinion, the only possible way that people would chose to follow Satan and not Jesus is that Satan defames and slanders Jesus Christ.
5. Persecution, Oppression, and Martyrdom
The book of Revelation describes several time periods. The first time period is the time that we live in now: the time of the Church. This is chapters one through three in which John writes to the churches giving them guidance and encouragement. John wrote to the church in Smyrna,
Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life. (Rev 2:10)
Then he told the church in Pergamum,
I know that you live in the city where Satan has his throne, yet you have remained loyal to me. You refused to deny me even when Antipas, my faithful witness, was martyred among you there in Satan’s city. (Rev 2:13)
The message that John recorded to these churches was not something reserved only for the future seven-year Tribulation period. It was meant for the period of the church-now! It was a message for the believers who are alive on earth now and who are seeking to follow Christ.
III. CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION
A. Satan is real, he has an agenda, and he is successful.
I hope that this post has shown you that Satan is a real being. He is not a mystical force of bad mojo. He’s a real person who has an agenda to do harm to God’s people and nothing else. And sadly Satan succeeds way too often.
B. Through Jesus Christ, we can battle Satan.
Jesus Christ is the ultimate way to defeat Satan. When Christ came to earth he overcame Satan and the power of death, but he did not completely defeat Satan. This will not happen until the events in the book of Revelation are fulfilled (Rev 1:18-19).
C. Scripture memory and close Christian friends are the best way to battle Satan.
When Satan approaches us, temps us, and seduces us we must have memorized Scripture ready for the battle back with Satan. Scripture memorization and Godly friends are our best tools to battle Satan.