“You believe in the devil? Really?” “Yes!”, we might answer our unbelieving friends. The Bible is crystal clear in its teaching about a supernatural enemy by the name of Satan, or Lucifer, or the devil. And I’m pretty sure that my unsaved friends —
36. THEY DON’T HAVE A BIBLICAL UNDERSTANDING OF THE DEVIL!
But don’t even lost people suspect that there’s something behind the massive cruelty in the world, something beyond the human? How wrong Oscar Wilde was when he said, “We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.”
Mark Twain has said some humorous things, but one of his most foolish was the following: “I have no special regard for Satan; but I can at least claim that I have no prejudice against him. It may even be that I lean a little his way, on account of his not having a fair show. All religions issue bibles against him, and say the most injurious things about him, but we never hear his side.”
I would argue that we “hear his side” from the moment we enter the world. But we need the Scriptures to tell us the truth about our arch-enemy. Here are several critical truths we learn about the devil:
(1) The Bible is clear that the devil is real and personal. People need to come to their senses and escape the trap of the devil who has taken them captive to do his will (2 Tim. 2:26). One can “belong” to the devil (Jn. 8:44). We are children of the devil until we trust Christ (I Jn. 3:10). Conversion is defined as turning from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God, “so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” (Acts 26:8). However, Satan must report his activities to God and have His permission for whatever he does (Job 1).
(2) The devil majors in tempting human beings to rebel against the Lord (Mt. 4:5).
(3) Scripture does not sugar-coat the fact that he is able to sow seeds of unbelief among the Word sown (Mt. 13:39). We read that “the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.” (Lk. 8:12). We also read in I Peter 5, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (v. 8). He roams throughout the earth, going back and forth on it (Job 1-2). He masquerades as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14).
(4) He is the one who prompted Judas to betray Jesus (Jn. 13:2). We learn that he somehow has power over sickness (Acts 10:38) and kept a woman bound for 18 years (Lk. 13:16). He holds the power of death (Heb. 2:14).
(5) Regarding believers, Satan asks to sift believers as wheat (Lk. 22:31). Believers can give the devil “a foothold” (Eph. 4:27), but we are to be aware of and take our stand against the devil’s schemes (2 Cor. 2:11; Eph. 6:11). He is quite capable of invading the bedrooms of believers for we read in I Corinthians 7, “Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (v. 5). Satan can fill the hearts of believers to lie to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3).
(6) In terms of the believer’s response to the Evil One, we are to resist the devil and he will flee from us (James 4:7). God can use Satan “for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.” (I Cor. 5:5). Wayward believers can be “handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme” (I Tim. 1:20) Paul gets a thorn in the flesh, “a messenger of Satan, to torment me” (2 Cor. 12:7). He can block the way of believers (I Thes. 2:18) and can do signs and wonders (2 Thes. 2:9).
(7) Satan’s fate is sealed, as are the demons who assist him. We read that “the eternal fire has been prepared for the devil and his angels (Mt. 25:41).
So, how do I pray for my unsaved friend? I don’t think I’ll talk much to him about the devil. But I won’t duck questions about the Evil One either. And I pray for my friend that he would realize he is not yet in the family of God, but in the family of the devil. I will pray earnestly his status will change. (to be continued)