“Our Enemy the Devil”
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).”
Continuing our examination of Spiritual Warfare it is important for us to know our enemies. Our chief adversary of course is the Devil and he is hell-bent on destroying every soul. The Bible provides a profile on Satan so that we might comprehend his character, motive, and schemes so that we might not become a victim of his evil purposes.
The names given to him reveal his character. “Satan” translates the Hebrew shatan which means “adversary” or “opponent.” John’s revelation depicts him as “the great dragon” and “that serpent (Genesis 3) of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world (Revelation 12:9).” The next verse (v.10) describes him as the “accuser of the brethren.” We get a glimpse of this in Job chapters 1 and 2 and Zechariah 3:1-4. On three occasions (John 12:31; 14:30, 16:11) Jesus referred to him as the “ruler of this world (or age)” and Paul calls him the “god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4).” It is in the sense that those whose minds he has blinded are his subjects by default and even unwittingly they have appointed him as their ruler or god. In Ephesians 2:2 and 6:12 Paul applies to him the appellation of “prince of the air.” Why of the air? “Air here describes a sphere, and therefore a power, below the heaven and yet above the earth. Hence it is naturally used to suggest the evil power as allowed invisibly to encompass and move about this world, yet overruled by the power of the true heaven, which it vainly strives to overcloud and hide from the earth.”1 He is known as “the tempter” in that he entices and lures people to do his will. He may set and bait the trap, but he does not have the power to make anyone step into it. It is our own willful choice to take the bait.2 Jesus said the devil has been a liar and murderer from the beginning (John 8:44).
Where did Satan come from? Firstly, every spirit whether on earth or in the spiritual realm, owes their existence to Christ (Colossians 1:15-17). Because Jesus teaches that Hell was created for the Devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41) and that we read that the rebellious angels were cast out of heaven (Revelation 12:9) some have theorized that he is a fallen angel. In support of this theory they point to Ezekiel 28:12-16, a lamentation to the king of Tyre. The subject was said to be “full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.” Further God says that he was the covering and anointed cherub (v.14) who was in the Garden of Eden. You’ll recall that cherubim were placed in the Garden to protect the tree of life (Genesis 24) and covered the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:18) and covered the curtains of the tabernacle (Exodus 26:31). The conclusion from this passage for some is that Satan was the chief angel charged to guard man in the Garden of Eden but rebelled and deceived Eve. One Bible scholar commented, “the language seems to indicate that the application must go beyond the earthly ruler to a supernatural being of some kind.”3 Turner said that the king of Tyre personified the spirit of Satan.4 However others disagree with this theory and warn that such a conclusion is speculative and not derived from sound principles of interpretation.5
The theory that Satan was the leader of a rebellious band of angels is plausible but not explicitly stated in Scripture. We do know however his condemnation was his pride (1 Timothy 3:6). He can use trickery to seem to be an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). And we also know that his doom is certain (Matthew 25:41).
For the next two weeks we will examine two more of our enemies in Satan’s axis of evil – the world and the flesh.
“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7).”
1 James Burton Coffman Commentaries: Ephesians 2:2; Bible study Library CD-ROM, ACU Press
2 Dean, R., Jr., & Ice, T. What the Bible Teaches about Spiritual Warfare p.52. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications 2000
3 Edward P. Myers, Ph.D., A Study of Angels, p.55, Howard Books 1994, New York, NY
4 Rex A. Turner, Sr., Systematic Theology pp.80-81, Alabama Christian School of Religion 1989