INTRODUCTION: We first meet the devil in Genesis 3. There, “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2) and the father of lies (John 8:44) appears to our first parents as a talking serpent, creating doubt about the goodness of God and about the truth of His word, and eventually tempting Adam and Eve to disobey the LORD and to eat the forbidden fruit.
But even though he was cursed because of his wickedness in Eden (Gen. 3:14-15), the devil has continued to tempt people to sin throughout human history, even down to our day. The devil hates God and hates His Christ and so hates the followers of Christ. The devil hates believers and he hates the church, and his ambition is to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10).
As God’s word to His people, the Bible is clear to reveal the devil and to talk about his schemes. In fact, the believer would be wise to become familiar with how the devil operates so that we are not ignorant of his schemes (2 Cor. 2:11).
In the next couple of posts, I will be talking about practical ways that the believer can defend themselves from the ploys and schemes of the devil.
8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. – 1 Peter 5:8
Here in Peter’s first epistle is one of the classic biblical texts describing the devil’s activity. First, the apostle makes a clarion call for the disciple to be alert. There is no excuse for slackness in your walk with Christ. The disciple is to be alert for the enemy’s attacks at all times. We are in enemy territory, and we must expect the enemy to attack. So, “be sober, be on the alert.”
Now, what is the enemy’s goal in his prowling? What is the devil hoping to achieve? The devil is seeking to render you useless for the Kingdom. Make no mistake about it. The devil seeks to ruin your life and to make a shipwreck of your testimony for Jesus. Therefore, make it a matter of spiritual discipline to always be on the alert for enemy attack.
Also, know this, that the devil will continue with his ambition of ruining your life until you are called home or are quickly changed. So, your alertness must be lifelong.
And the more useful you are to Christ and His kingdom, the more eager the devil will be for your shipwreck. So, if you sense that the spiritual attacks on you are frequent and intense, know that this may be because you are perceived as a threat to the devil’s plans. The devil does not waste his artillery on harmless targets.
THE DEVIL USES MEANS TO ACHIEVE HIS ENDS
Even though the devil can attack directly, he almost always works through means. Most commonly he issues his temptations though the “world” and the “flesh.” Our purpose here is not to give a complete theological description of these two areas, but to describe them briefly so that the disciple can be alert to their working in your life.
The “world” (“kosmos” in the Greek) is a label for the godless world systems that have been constructed by fallen man at the supervision of the devil that are anti-God and that appeal to sinful behaviors. These include economic and political systems, and cultures that operate without any reference to the living God and breed godlessness. The “world” creates the visible playground for pride and lust and greed and hatred and jealousy and envy and revenge and so on. The devil has planned and constructed these “world” systems to ensure the ongoing sin of the unrighteous and to tempt the righteous to give in to sin. Thus, the devil uses the means of the world to cause the shipwreck of believers.
The devil also works through the means of the “flesh.” The flesh is not the same thing as the human body. The LORD created the human body as the ideal vehicle for carrying a man or a woman from birth to death. Rather, the flesh is the indwelling desire lurking deep within every human that craves and delights in sin. The flesh loves sin. The flesh dwells in the human heart and constantly suggests sin to the subconscious so that the person will indulge in sinful thoughts and words and behaviors. Think of the flesh as the enemy inside the gates, tempting the disciple who loves righteousness to continue in wickedness and ungodliness. Paul talks about the war with the flesh in Romans 7:14-25 and in Galatians 5:13-24. The message here is that the devil uses the flesh in his efforts to shipwreck believers.
Let’s review what we have covered today.
- The disciple of Jesus needs to be on the alert for the attacks of the devil.
- The devil’s attacks against the disciple are lifelong.
- The more useful the disciple is, the more the devil seeks to derail them.
- The devil’s goal is to shipwreck the disciple’s life by ruining their usefulness to the Kingdom and their testimony for Jesus.
- The devil most typically works through the means of the “world” and the “flesh.”
In the next post we will talk about when we are most vulnerable to the devil’s schemes and what the devil can and cannot do to the disciple of Christ.
SDG rmb 11/23/2021 #458