Tag Archives: the devil
“[T]o secure the damnation of these little souls, these creatures that have almost ceased to be individual, is a laborious and tricky work. But if proper pains and skill are expended, you can be fairly confident of the result. The great sinners seem easier to catch. But then they are incalculable. After you have played them for seventy years, the Enemy may snatch them from your claws in the seventy-first. They are capable, you see, of real repentance. They are conscious of real guilt. They are, if things take the wrong turn, as ready to defy the social pressures around them for the Enemy’s sake as they were to defy them for ours. It is in some ways more troublesome to track and swat an evasive wasp than to shoot, at close range, a wild elephant. But the elephant is more troublesome if you miss.”
“How did the Dark Power go wrong? Here, no doubt, we ask a question to which human beings cannot give an answer with any certainty. A reasonable (and traditional) guess, based on our own experiences of going wrong, can, however, be offered. The moment you have a self at all, there is a possibility of putting Yourself first—wanting to be the centre—wanting to be God, in fact. That was the sin of Satan: and that was the sin he taught the human race. . . . What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could “be like gods”—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”
To be bad, he [the Devil] must exist and have intelligence and will. But existence, intelligence and will are in themselves good. Therefore he must be getting them from the Good Power: even to be bad he must borrow or steal from his opponent. And do you now begin to see why Christianity has always said that the devil is a fallen angel? That is not a mere story for the children. It is a real recognition of the fact that evil is a parasite, not an original thing. The powers which enable evil to carry on are powers given it by goodness. All the things which enable a bad man to be effectively bad are in themselves good things — resolution, cleverness, good looks, existence itself. (from Mere Christianity)
Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening-in to the secret wireless from our friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going. He does it by playing on our conceit and laziness and intellectual snobbery.
I know someone will ask me, “Do you really mean, at this time of day, to reintroduce our old friend the devil—hoofs and horns and all?” Well, what the time of day has to do with it I do not know. And I am not particular about the hoofs and horns. But in other respects my answer is “Yes, I do.” I do not claim to know anything about his personal appearance. If anybody really wants to know him better I would say to that person, “Don’t worry. If you really want to, you will Whether you’ll like it when you do is another question.”
“What is the problem? A universe that contains much that is obviously bad and apparently meaningless, but containing creatures like ourselves who know that it is bad and meaningless. There are only two views that face all the facts. One is the Christian view that this is a good world that has gone wrong, but still retains the memory of what it ought to have been. The other is the view called Dualism. Dualism means the belief that there are two equal and independent powers at the back of everything, one of them good and the other bad, and that this universe is the battlefield in which they fight out an endless war. . . .
One of the things that surprised me when I first read the New Testament seriously was that it talked so much about a Dark Power in the universe—a mighty evil spirit who was held to be the Power behind death and disease, and sin. The difference is that Christianity thinks this Dark Power was created by God, and was good when he was created, and went wrong. Christianity agrees with Dualism that this universe is at war. But it does not think this is a war between independent powers. It thinks it is a civil war, a rebellion, and that we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel.”
“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)
Awareness. That’s what I need more of as a believer. And I’m receiving more awareness of my many blessings “in Christ” as I think about my lost friend Mike.
One of the blessings I have isn’t on the surface positive like a permanent joy or a place in God’s family. But it is a blessing nonetheless because it’s true and essential for the follower of Jesus. And my lost friends don’t have it. From my perspective my unsaved friends —
26. THEY DON’T HAVE ANY CONCEPT OF SPIRITUAL WARFARE!
“Wait a minute!”, some might say. “Are you talking about demons and the devil and stuff?!” Yes. The Bible is quite clear that the Christian has a diabolical army opposing him, tempting him, blinding him to the spiritual battle he is in.
We are not suggesting that the believer needs to cower in fear, thinking that there’s a demon behind every bush. But there is much more going on in life than we can presently see. Here is some of what the Scriptures teach about spiritual warfare: (1) The devil is a real spirit being who has an army at his disposal to oppose God and the things of God (Gen. 3); (2) His purpose is to tempt mankind into disobeying God and entrapping the believer (he is on the prowl looking for someone to devour, I Pe. 5:8); (3) Believers are to be aware of the devil’s tricks and to oppose him (we are be cognizant of the devil’s way of operating, 2 Cor. 2:11); (4) The devil is a defeated foe and will one day be cast into the lake of fire forever (a place prepared for him, Mt. 25; Rev. 20); (5) Christians are to focus upon the Lord and resist the devil and he will flee from them (Ja. 4:7).
Much more could be said about spiritual warfare. But the believer is not at peace in this world. And he needs to get in the battle, calling upon the Lord for strength and courage in face of his enemies: the world, the flesh, and the devil.
So, how do I pray for my unsaved friend? I somehow let it be known that I am in a war and must resist a supernatural enemy. And I pray for my friend who needs to move from being a child of the devil (Jn. 8:44; Eph. 2:12; Acts 13:10) to being a child of God (Jn. 1:12)!