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who is the enemy? why do I have one?

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In two earlier posts, “Suffering Part II – sources” and “Suffering Part III – coping” a section was devoted to the impact of the enemy on us

the enemy

As any battle strategist or sporting coach will tell you, it is essential to know the enemy/opposition. At least well enough to be able to anticipate a move and lessen or remove elements of surprise. Therefore we’ll look at some Biblical detail about the main enemy of God’s people, Satan

But before we do, it is important to remind ourselves that God is:-

  1. Eternal — from everlasting to everlasting (Psalm 90:2)
  2. Self-Existent — He does not owe His existence to any other nor depend on any other to sustain it. He has life in Himself (John 5:26)
  3. The Creator — as Abram referred to Him “… the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth …” (Genesis 14:21)
  4. Love — (1John 4:8, 16) and His Loves endures forever (1Chronicles 16:34)

On the other hand, Satan is just a creature (created being), he hates us, wants us to deny God and is certainly no equal of Jehovah. The Yin -Yang concept from Daoism, that good and evil are equal and opposite forces is a deception or con. The kingdoms of light and darkness are opposites but definitely not equal. Satan is not even close to an inferior peer of Almighty God let alone an equal. As an old chorus declares “There’s no god like Jehovah!!”

Probably the clearest comparison of Satan to Jesus was made by Jesus in His reference to His followers as sheep. “The thief [Satan] comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:10-11)

Background of the enemy

For anyone is not sure of where Satan fits in let’s look at two passages. But beware, they contain “double references”. That is, the speaker is talking to (or about) one person and at the same time referencing another. We are familiar with this from
Matthew 16:23 when Jesus speaks to Peter and references Satan (“Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan!’ ”). Like God addressing the serpent in the garden of Eden but is speaking to Satan at the same time (Genesis 3:14-15)

Ezekiel

.…. relayed God’s message to the King of Tyre (Ezekiel 28:1-19) but says numerous things that obviously relate to another. In this case another who cannot be any earthly ruler, particularly from verse 12 onward. This is a description of the origin and fall of Satan. Pride brought such change and following is my paraphrase/summary of the detail …..

Satan was created in perfect condition – full of wisdom, perfect in beauty. In fact his status was an anointed guardian cherub (guardian angel of the Throne), adorned with every precious stone, all set in gold. He was on the holy mount of God; blameless in his ways from the day he was created ’til wickedness was found in him

He was filled with pride (enough to think of himself as a god), violence, became rebellious and sinned. So the Lord drove him in disgrace from the mount of God, and expelled him from among the fiery stones. God declared Satan’s heart became proud on account of his beauty, and Satan corrupted his wisdom because of his splendour. So God threw him to the earth; made a spectacle of him

Also, adding in a future prophecy yet unfulfilled, God said Satan’s many sins and dishonest trade had desecrated the sanctuaries. So God made a fire come out from Satan, and it consumed him, and He reduced Satan to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. In effect, the nations who knew him are appalled at him; he has come to a horrible end and will be no more

Isaiah

….. provides a little more detail of the arrogant sinfulness that led to the fall of Satan. In his prophecy against Babylon God ‘sneaks in’ some double referencing

Also referring to Satan He said, “How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth…. You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven, I will raise my throne above the stars of God, I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High. ” (Isaiah 14:12-14)

Be wise about the enemy, or, don’t be ignorant

Satan’s names tell us about his degraded nature and give us clues to his activities in the heavenlies as well as on earth

Hence that is where we’ll start. But buckle up. There are a surprising number of subtly different names and references to the enemy in Scripture

Even though one could easily be dismissive of the list it is wise to familiarise yourself with Satan’s nature and strategies. This is because, as Paul intimates, we don’t want to be unaware of the enemy’s schemes. Moreover, we don’t want the enemy to outwit us (2Corinthians 2:11)

Although this section was going to be titled “Know your enemy” I had a strong sense I should check that. Subsequently, I found it was a very popular phrase in Eastern Mysticism. Sun Tzu, a Chinese General, Taoist philosopher and writer [544-496BC] taught that “To know your enemy, you must become your enemy”. Without a doubt, hmmmm, to know Satan we need to become Satan, I don’t think so!!! Consequently, that was the end of that sub-heading

Biblical Names for, and References to the Enemy

  • The devil – (Grk ‘diabolos’) means false accuser, slanderer [used more than 30 times in the NIV – all of which are in the New testament]
  • Satan – (Heb `satan’) the adversary; (Gk `satanas’) the hater or accuser.
  • Beelzebub – “Lord of the flies” “God of the dunghill”, a Philistine deity thought by the Jews to have supremacy amongst evil spirits. They described him as `the prince of demons’ (Mark 3:22). Jesus made it clear that this indeed was Satan himself (Mark 3:23).
  • The king of the kingdom of darkness – Luke 11:18 refers to this kingdom and Colossians 1:13 speaks of his dominion of darkness.
  • The prince of this world – (John 12:31)
  • The god of this age – (2Corinthians 4:4)
  • The ruler of the kingdom of the air – (Ephesians 2:2)
  • The spirit of disobedience – (Ephesians 2:2)
  • The dragon – (Revelation 12:9) the enormous red dragon (vicious beastly nature and rage of satan)
  • The serpent – (Genesis 3:1, Revelation 12:9)
  • The deceiver of the world – (Revelation 12:9)
  • The tempter – (Matthew 4:3, 1Thessalonians 3:5)
  • The evil one – (Matthew 13:19)
  • The enemy – (Matthew 13:39)
  • The beast of the Abyss – (Revelation 11:7)
  • Abaddon – (Heb), Apollyon (Grk) meaning the Destroyer (Revelation 9:11)
  • Belial – the lawless one (2Corinthians 6:15)
  • The father of desire – (J0hn 8:44)
  • A murderer from the beginning – (John 8:44)
  • A liar and the father of lies – (John 8:44)
  • The thief, killer, destroyer – of the sheep (John 10:10)
  • The accuser of the brethren – (Revelation 12:10)
  • The lawless one – (2 Thessalonians 2:8)

Satan’s Activities

  • challenges God’s Word and will (Genesis 3:1)
  • tempts people to sin (1Chronicles 21:1 + many others)
  • blinds the minds of unbelievers to spiritual truths (2Corinthians 4:4)
  • prevents people from responding to the gospel (Matthew 13:4,19)
  • traps the souls of the ungodly (2Timothy 2:36)
  • holds the world in his power (1John 5:19)
  • binds people with infirmities (Luke 13:16)
  • uses the power of death & the fear of death (Hebrewss 2:14,15)
  • has the power of entry into lives of the unsaved (John 13:27)
  • produces spiritual weeds or counterfeit Christians who’ll end up in the furnace at the final harvest (Matthew 13:37- 40)
  • directs the activities of the hordes of evil spirits which are `his angels’ & he is their king (Matthew 25:41, Revelation 9:11)
  • attacks God’s people like a wolf and tries to scatter them (John 10:12)
  • produces signs & wonders to deceive the nations (2Thessalonians 2:9,10)
  • prowls around seeking to devour Christians spiritually (1Peter 5:8)
  • oppresses people (Acts 10:38)
  • resists the Lord’s anointed in carrying out their duties in the kingdom  of God (Zechariah 3:1 KJV, Luke 22:31, 1Thessalonians 2:18)
  • by sovereign permission may act as God’s agent in punishing extreme disobedience in Christians (1Timothy 1:20)
  • fires flaming arrows of temptation and afflictions at Christians in an attempt to defeat them (Ephesians 6:16)
  • devises schemes to snare God’s people (Ephesians 6:11, 2Corinthians 2:11)
Temporary victory

In earlier posts, we saw Satan lured Adam into handing over his dominion of the planet (Genesis 3). His sin in choosing to trust Satan more than God made him a subject of Satan

Thus, Satan gained full authority over mankind. For example, as recorded in the opening stages of Job, God had to restrict Satan. “… but on the man himself do not lay a finger” (Job 1:12). Satan wanted to wreck Job’s life to show Job’s faithfulness to God was dependent on God’s protection and blessings. That failed but Satan persisted. As a result, God removed that restraint but insisted that Satan “must spare his [Job’s] life” (Job 2:6)

Defeat

However, the victory of the Cross stripped Satan of that authority. Because Jesus was sinless (even though He was human), Jesus was not a subject of Satan and therefore not under the curse of death. Satan had no hold on Jesus (John 14:30), no rights whatsoever. As Jesus stated.. “….. I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again….” (John 10:17-18). Obviously, Jesus wasn’t saying that He took His own life. Rather, He didn’t resist Satan’s stirring up the crowd to crucify him as Satan had no legal right to kill Jesus

Jesus’ wrongful death and His resurrection, conquered and condemned Satan. He thereby redeemed (rescued) humanity from Satan’s power over them (Matthew 12:28-29; John 12:31; 16:11; Colossians 2:15). “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:14-15)

Satan’s only weapon against us now is fear and lies. The Chinese General, Sun Tzu sounded like he was teaching out of Satan’s manual …“All warfare is based on deception”. Satan no longer owns us, can no longer do everything he wants. No more has he rights to destroy us. But, if he can persuade, lure, distract, deceive us into doubting or distrusting God and sinning then that is a different matter

Satan is not alone

Satan’s interferences and attempts to destroy our trust in God and generally create mayhem are not a solo effort. Revelation 12:4 suggests that a third of the angels were cast out of heaven with Satan. But numbers are not important. However many, they too began their existence created by God to fulfil the will of God  (Colossians 1:16, Psalm 148:2,5)

In the King James Version of the Bible, these fallen angels are referred to as ‘devils’ meaning supernatural spirits of malignant nature. The modern use of ‘demons’ distinguishes them from their leader.  Demons, like Satan, are spiritual forces of evil
(Ephesians 6:12, Mark 9:25) who fear but obey the Name of Jesus (Mark 9:38, 16:17, Acts 8:5-7, 16:18)

Among the many demons there are princes in authority over countries opposing God’s work. As Daniel recorded, the man in his vision (Daniel 10:5) had come in response to Daniel’s words before God (Daniel 10:12). However he was delayed … “the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me” (Daniel 10:13). See verse 20ff also

Matthew 12:43-45 asserts that they are spirit beings with an intense desire to live in a body. Note that Jesus references this to the wicked

Names of evil spirits

Every idol in the OT had a name. Each one was a front for a demon (“the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons
1Corinthians 10:20). E.g. Molech & Ashtoreth (1Kings 11:5), Dagon (Judges 16:23, 1Samuel 5:2-7)

However, most references to Satan’s angels reference their activities …

  • spirits of jealousy (Numbers 5:14,30 KJV)
  • familiar spirits (1Samuel 28:3,8,9, Deuteronomy 18:11, 2Kings 23:24 KJV). Because evil spirits are familiar with the unsaved during their lifetime, and indeed influence (if not dictate) many of their activities, it is no problem after death to deceive relatives with identical voices and personal details
  • spirits of impurity in a land (Zechariah 13:2)
  • spirits of religious control, which are anti-God, in countries e.g. the prince of the Persian kingdom (Daniel 10:13), the prince of the Grecian kingdom (Daniel 10:20)
  • perverse, confusing spirits (Isaiah 19:14)
  • spirits of heaviness – spirit of despair (Isaiah 61:3)
  • spirits of infirmities (Matthew 8:16-17) [Gk `asthenia’] also translated as sicknesses & diseases (Luke 8:2)
  • dumb spirits (Matthew 9:32, 33)- deaf & dumb spirits (Mark 9:17-27) [also causing convulsions like epilepsy, endeavouring to injure]
  • spirits of insanity & violence (Luke 8:26-39)
  • spirits of injury & death as demonstrated in Mark 9:22
  • a crippling spirit (Luke 13:11)
  • spirits of divination (Acts 16:16) –  predicting the future
  • an enslaving spirit of fear (Romans 8:15)
  • deceiving spirits (1Timothy 4:1)
  • spirits of anti-Christ (1John 4:1-3)
  • a spirit of falsehood (1John 4:6)

There are numerous other verses depending on which version, translation of the Scriptures is viewed

Reflection

Previously, in “Suffering Part IV – Why?” we saw that God could have destroyed Satan the moment he rebelled. However, He chose to delay the demise of Satan for bigger picture reasons. But there is a set date for the sentence of Satan to be fulfilled when he will be cast into the Lake of Fire and Brimstone for all eternity (Matthew 25:41, Revelation 20:10)

Suffering Part III – coping” identifies a number of defence mechanisms and coping strategies God has given us in the meantime. They assist us stand against any effort the enemy makes to cause us to doubt God’s Word, Goodness and Love or to sin some other way

From the sample of activities of Satan and his demons I am amazed at the scope and variety of the enemy’s influence. It is clear why Paul talks of forgiveness “in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes” (1Corinthians 2:11) and also tells us… “In your anger do not sin : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:26-27)

Conclusion

I can’t help but notice that many of the references to the enemy’s names and activities are in the New Testament epistles, that is, years after Jesus’ ascension. This leaves us no reason to assume that the enemy is dormant now. Satan and his army no longer have the power of death over us but they are still free to prowl as a lion, with weapons of fear and lies, firing flaming arrows (1Peter 5:8, Ephesians 6:16). So many metaphors but singular in purpose – our sinning

Consequently we must be very thankful for the strategies (both defensive and offensive) and coping mechanism and train ourselves in their use

Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand

just sayin’

Bibliography –
  • The Holy Bible, New International Version®. Pradis CD-ROM Grand Rapids: The Zondervan Corporation, © 1973, 1978, 1984

You can13 Enemy part 1 cover download an A5 booklet in pdf form containing this post “… the enemy part 1 – what’s the go?” Click on the image of the cover (left)
[The free Adobe Acrobat Reader can print these A5 pages into a booklet on half-fold A4 paper]

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