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 clearly reveals the devil and tells us 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 this post, we will continue our brief study about the devil and about how the disciple of Jesus can avoid becoming a victim of his devices.
THE LIMITS OF THE DEVIL’S THREATS
One of the reasons that some believers fear Satan is because they assume that he has vast powers which can be unleashed on the follower of Jesus at any moment. This view of the devil as an ever-present threat naturally creates anxiety and fear. “If the devil is that powerful, how can I defend myself against his attacks?”
This type of fear of the devil is sin because it displays an ignorance of what the Bible teaches about the head of the fallen angels, it manifests a lack of faith in the Lord and His promises, and it suggests that God is not powerful enough to defend His children.
AN EXERCISE TO DETERMINE THE DEVIL’S REAL THREAT
Let’s take a minute to see how the devil can and cannot threaten the disciple of Jesus. In this exercise, we will ask two questions for each potential threat. QUESTION #1 is, “Is this perceived threat even a possibility for the devil?” In other words, according to the Bible, is this something that the devil has the power to do? This is a question about ability. QUESTION #2 is, “Is this possible threat something that should bring fear to the disciple of Jesus?” This is a question that addresses the disciple’s response to a possible threat from the devil. QUESTION #1 deals with facts, and QUESTION #2 touches on faith.
Now, what potential threats are we going to consider? I will consider four. Threat #1 is material loss. Threat #2 is physical death. Threat #3 is eternal death. And Threat #4 is spiritual shipwreck. So, let’s begin.
Threat #1: The threat of Material Loss. QUESTION #1: Can the devil, either directly or indirectly, bring about material loss in the life of a disciple of Jesus? The answer is a resounding ‘yes.’ The clear proof of this is in the book of Job (chapter 1), where we see Satan bringing about the financial ruin of righteous Job. QUESTION #2: Should this possibility of material loss bring fear to the disciple of Jesus? No, it should not. When Satan has brought great material loss to Job, Job testifies that “the LORD gives, and the LORD takes away” (Job 1:21). Paul had lost all things for the sake of Christ (Phil. 3:8). According to Jesus, the cost of following Him is to lose your life (Matthew 16:25). The disciple must learn how to live in humble means and how to live in prosperity (Phil. 4:10-12). Therefore, if the devil is allowed to bring material loss into your life, the disciple of Jesus makes adjustments and continues to trust the Lord and obey His word. Score: Y/N
Threat #2: The threat of Physical Death. QUESTION #1: Can the devil, either directly or indirectly, bring about the physical death a disciple of Jesus? Again, the answer is ‘yes.’ We can again consider the book of Job, Chapter 2, when the LORD tells Satan that he must not take Job’s life. If the LORD restricts Satan in this instance, it must mean that Satan had the power to take Job’s life. But we also know from Revelation 11:7 that, at the end of the age, the beast will kill some of the saints, and the beast receives his authority from the dragon (Satan) (Rev. 13:2). We also know that, throughout the years since Christ commissioned His church, the devil has used persecution to kill many faithful saints. QUESTION #2: Should this threat of physical death cause the disciple to fear? The answer is an emphatic ‘no.’ For the disciple, “To live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). Hebrews 2:14-15 makes clear that, since Christ has died and risen again, the devil can no longer threaten the believer, even with the threat of death. “O death, where is your victory? O grave, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55). Because Jesus is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25-26), physical death is no longer a threat for the disciple of Jesus. Therefore, if the devil is allowed to threaten me with physical death, I will continue to trust Christ and praise His name. Score: Y/N
Threat #3: The threat of Eternal Death. QUESTION #1: Can the devil threaten me with eternal death? That is, do I, as a born-again, water-baptized, Spirit-filled, Bible believing follower of the Lord Jesus Christ need to worry that Satan may still be able to cause me to sin and thus join him in the lake of fire? No. Resoundingly, no. I have crossed from death to life (John 5:24) and the devil is powerless to do anything to change my eternal destiny. I WILL receive my resurrection body and WILL spend eternity in heaven. Since the answer to QUESTION #1 is ‘no,’ QUESTION #2 does not need to be asked. Satan has no power, so there is no reason to fear. Score: N/N
Threat #4: The threat of Spiritual Shipwreck. QUESTION #1: Does the devil have the ability to tempt me to sin and thus to make a “shipwreck” out of my life and out of my testimony, and ruin my usefulness for Jesus? Yes, he does have that power. In fact, knowing what he himself can and cannot do in regard to the saints, the devil spends most his time considering how to damage the testimonies and the usefulness of the followers of Jesus. So, this threat of spiritual shipwreck is very real. QUESTION #2: Should the threat of “spiritual shipwreck” cause the disciple of Jesus to fear? Yes, the disciple of Jesus should realize that the devil has the power to ruin their life and render them useless to the Master. This is the reason that the New Testament speaks so much about the devil and his “schemes.” The Lord allows the devil to “prowl about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8), and disciples who are careless may be devoured. Score: Y/Y
The devil, then, can ruin your testimony for the Lord Jesus and render you useless for His service. This is his great threat. Next time we will talk about how to defend ourselves.
SDG rmb 11/24/2021 #459