By Nathan Washburn
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Greenbrier
Satan is not the little devilish cartoon perched upon our shoulder whispering in our ears to do the “wrong” thing. He is the leader of an all-out assault on God and His kingdom. He sought to be equal with God and was denied. He sought to overcome Christ and was denied. He now seeks to disarm, discourage, and defeat Christ’s followers, and he will be denied (Revelation 12:10-11). To better understand him — not in a way that glorifies him, but in a way that prepares us to stand against his schemes — let’s consider these statements:
He is a very real enemy — a proud, deceitful, and murderous enemy. We tend to place more stock in those things that can be observed by our senses: food, clothing, and shelter, friends and family. But those things that matter most for our lives (eternal things) are unseen: God, heaven, love, the seriousness of our sin, hell, the atonement by Jesus on the cross, our hope of salvation, and our growth in godliness.
Add to these “the rulers, the authorities, the cosmic powers over this present darkness, and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
Satan is an unseen enemy, but a very real enemy, with real power who is constantly at work. Sometimes, however, it doesn’t seem like we’re at war with him. He doesn’t wear a “Deceiver” name tag. What he says even sounds right — and this is the danger of his deceptions. They never sound wrong or foolish. They sound logical and fun. But our adversary the devil “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8). His goal is to kill.
He is more powerful than we are, but Jesus is more powerful than he is. In order to stand firm against everything that is coming against us, we must put on spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:11-13). The spiritual forces of Satan we’re up against are more powerful than what we can sustain on our own. We have an enemy who is smarter and stronger than we are.
But Jesus is smarter and stronger than Satan is. In the best spiritual chess match of all time, Jesus gave Himself up to be killed (where Satan thought he’d won) in order to make atonement for sin, satisfy His Father and be raised again (where Satan knew he’d lost). In other words, Jesus used the very thing Satan had hoped would get him victory to get victory over him. This is the foundation for our fight too. When we resist him, we resist him because we know that He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (I John 4:4).
We must resist him by faith. Knowing Christ has crushed the serpent’s head with His resurrected heel, we are told to resist him (I Peter 5:9, James 4:7). The battle we fight in faith, then, is not for our souls (they are secure in Christ), but it’s for our joy. Christ has triumphed over the same spiritual forces that wage war against us, and while they hiss at us with forked tongues saying, “condemned, condemned,” we stand firm with our hope firmly fixed on Christ and repeat to ourselves, “Christ, Christ.”
Our accuser is not ultimate. He is a serpent as good as dead, with a crushed head, body flailing about, and a forked tongue still whispering lies until he’s silenced once for all when Jesus returns. And we take heart now, with a tank full of courage, because we know that Jesus overcame, and we will overcome as well (Revelation 12:11).