The following is from a message I delivered to the students from the youth group where I volunteer.
Who is Satan?
We’ve been talking this year about the cloud of witnesses that surround us; that stadium of unseen prophets and judges, and kings from Biblical times that seem so far away, so unreal. And, we talked about the more real, more current followers of Christ who were willing to lay down their lives for their beliefs in seemingly impossible circumstances. From our bubble here in the United States where we are free from persecution, other than being laughed at by friends, or questioned about why we believe in something we can’t see, we’ve observed what is happening around the world. We learned about what the cloud has done; how they have handled persecution, and how the choices they made affected not only their lives, but the lives of the people around them, and even our lives. Some of you were so moved by these stories that it might have even made you examine your own faith and make some adjustments to how you are living your life. And, that’s the point. We want to move you so that you will move. We want you to understand your beliefs so that you can live them out. We want you to go out and make a difference in this world. We are all called to be ambassadors for Christ. And, we have all been given gifts and talents to accomplish this goal.
But, in order to do that, you have to understand both sides. There is the God side…the side that loves you and will protect you, the side that is always there for you and willing to accept you no matter what you have done in your life, the side with outstretched arms that will guide you through the ups and downs of life. And then there is the other side…
God put this on my heart a month or two ago and when I told Blake about it he was all for it. The more I thought about it though, the more nervous I got to commit these words to paper, and ultimately, share them with you and ask God to use me to speak to you all on this subject. But, I’ve got some good friends who have been praying for me, and I relied more on scripture than my own understanding, and so I am here tonight to talk to you about…
The King of Darkness. The Great Deceiver. The Tempter. The Prince of Demons. The Father of Lies. Satan!
He goes by many names. And, he has many faces. He is all around us, yet we cannot see him directly. He seeks to destroy us simply because we follow Christ or because he thinks we might follow Christ.
So let’s look at who the enemy is so that we might recognize him when he attacks.
History has given us many images of Satan. But the truth is he is a creation of God just as we are. He was an angel. If he would reveal his true self to us, it would probably be one of the most beautiful things you had ever seen. The name Lucifer means “light bearer.” He was the bearer of light! That sounds like a big deal, especially knowing that the Bible starts our saying, “Let there be light.” Lucifer was such a big deal that Michael, another one of God’s Top Gun Angels, would not even condemn Lucifer. In the Book of Jude we find out,
Jude 1:9 (NLT)
9 But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels, did not dare accuse the devil of blasphemy, but simply said, “The Lord rebuke you!”
Michael had to defer to God rather than take Lucifer on himself.
Also, like us, God gave His angels free will; the ability/freedom to choose God. And, for the most part, His angels have, and always will, choose God over themselves. But, Lucifer thought he could do a better job at this whole God thing than God. He devised a plan to take over the Kingdom of Heaven. And so he set out and recruited a third of all the angels and they attacked.
Could you imagine trying to attack the Kingdom of Heaven?
It went a little like this, according to what God showed John in the book of Revelation:
Revelation 12: 3-8 (NLT)
3 Then I witnessed in heaven another significant event. I saw a large red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, with seven crowns on his heads. 4 His tail swept away one-third of the stars in the sky, and he threw them to the earth. He stood in front of the woman as she was about to give birth, ready to devour her baby as soon as it was born.
5 She gave birth to a son who was to rule all nations with an iron rod. And her child was snatched away from the dragon and was caught up to God and to his throne. 6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where God had prepared a place to care for her for 1,260 days.
7 Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. 8 And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. 9 This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels.
As you can see, Satan (known now as Satan which translates to “adversary”) was unsuccessful in his attempted takeover and was cast out of heaven along with the angels he recruited…now known, I believe, as demons. And, ever since that time, they have been roaming (confined to) the Earth, devising ways to attack, tempt, and deceive people.
In the book of Ezekiel God sent a message to the King of Tyre, who is used as an illustration for Satan:
Ezekiel 28: 14-17 (NLT)
14 I ordained and anointed you as the mighty angelic guardian.tYou had access to the holy mountain of God and walked among the stones of fire.
15 “You were blameless in all you did from the day you were created until the day evil was found in you.
16 Your rich commerce led you to violence, and you sinned. So I banished you in disgrace from the mountain of God. I expelled you, O mighty guardian, from your place among the stones of fire.
17 Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty. Your wisdom was corrupted by your love of splendor. So I threw you to the ground and exposed you to the curious gaze of kings.
We see here that Satan was a beautiful angel, one of God’s guardians, who was perfect. But his greed, and lust for power turned him against God and so God cast him out of heaven.
The first time we actually see Satan in the Bible is:
Genesis 3: 1-7 (NLT)
1 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?”
2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. 3 “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.’”
4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “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.”
6 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. 7 At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.
So Satan had already betrayed God and been cast out of heaven prior to the fall of creation. From the very start then, he has been there tempting us, trying to make us believe that we are better than we think we are, that we can control our own lives based on our own knowledge, and that we know better how to live our lives than God does. When Satan convinces us of these things, that’s when we fall. And, each time we fall, we put another barrier between us and God. And, the further we are from God, the harder it is to hear His voice, and the harder it is to do His will.
Satan seeks to attack the mind. He wants us to think things that aren’t true and he will go to the ends of the earth to devise a plan to get us to believe what he wants, mainly, that we are not saved, that we can still get into heaven just by being a ‘good person’ or that Jesus didn’t die for our sins. I’ve heard people say that the greatest lie Satan ever devised was that he did not exist. Why? Because if Satan doesn’t exist, then there is good reason to believe that God doesn’t exist either. This is why he doesn’t just jump out and say, “Look at me, here I am…here’s Satan!” If he did that, then we would all know who the enemy is, and people would flock to God for safety. No, he is deceptive. He is cunning. He studies us, knows what we like, what we want, and where we will draw the line.
If you recall, Blake talked a few weeks ago about how we as Christians will many times draw the line on our faith. We’ll say, “I’m a Christian” Sunday thru Thursday, but then Friday and Saturday we are someone else completely. Or, “I’m a Christian” until that girl at the party who is way out of your league starts talking to you. Or, “I’m a Christian” until you are alone in your room on your computer.
In those times, it is Satan who is whispering in your ear, telling you it’s ok to drink that, it’s ok to smoke that, it’s ok to try that one time; it’s ok to kiss him or her. He’s the one that convinces you that you’ll just do a little of this or that and then you’ll stop. But, once he has his foot in the door, Satan will take over. And, a little turns into a lot. Once that barrier between you and God is in place, then you become weaker, and more vulnerable, and more open to suggestion.
Now, this doesn’t mean we can blame Satan for all our sins. This isn’t the imaginary friend you blamed all the bad things you did on as a kid. We can sin without Satan. It is usually when we decide to turn away from our sins that he starts attacking. After all, “if you are walking in the same direction as the adversary, then you will never run into him.”
So what do we do?
Well, we are going to talk about what we can do more this year. We are going to get into spiritual warfare. We are going to talk about putting on a suit of armor against the enemy. But, here are 3 things you can start doing in the meantime.
- Recognize the enemy
- If you can see him, you can turn away from him, or you can fight him
- Find someone to be accountable to. Pray with them, pray for them…just pray…keep the lines of communication open between you and God
- Read the Bible
- If Satan seeks to attack the mind, and then fill your mind with God’s word
- I always wondered why people referred to the Bible as a sword, and now I know
- If your mind is sharpened by the word, then it is a great weapon against the enemy
- Never go into battle without a weapon.
There is a lot more on this topic that we could talk about. We could see how Satan attacked Job and how Job dealt with that attack and why it was necessary and how that helps us in our struggle. We could look at how Satan attacked Jesus and how Jesus handled it…perfectly. But, we will get to all that down the line.
- Satan is real and not to be underestimated
- Satan is not to be feared.
- He has been defeated
- His days on Earth are numbered. There will be a time when he is cast out and never seen again
So, just ask yourself if you want to fight alongside the cloud of witnesses, or be defeated before the real war even begins?