Our question this week is a big one, and it will take two weeks to cover fully. This week, we'll talk about who Satan is and what he does. Next week, we'll talk about to defeat Satan and stand against his lies.
Satan is real
First things first: Satan is not a cartoon character, an evil "force," or a mere pest. He's a real being, a fallen angel. His name, Satan, means "adversary," and his other name, the Devil, means "slanderer." Satan is a schemer, a liar, and the enemy of all people. He wants to destroy relationships, and the world lies in his power. To sum up: there is a spiritual battle, and we cannot burn our draft cards.
Satan is our enemy, but he is limited
Often, we tend to either ignore Satan or give him too much credit. We should not pretend Satan doesn't exist. Satan does have some supernatural power. He can afflict and torment physically, he has some power over natural occurrences, and he roams the earth "seeking those he may devour." Satan deceives the unbeliever and blinds their minds to the truth. He is the father of lies, he's a divider, and a discourager. He loves to distract us, deaden us, numb us, until we lose effectiveness for Christ's kingdom. He deals in doubt, fear, and disappointment, and he doesn't work alone; other fallen angels who joined him work with him.
But Satan is limited. He is not omnipotent, omnipresent, or omniscient; only God is. He does not read our minds or know the secrets of our hearts; only God does. He is bound by Christ, and his work is subject to God's will. Most importantly, he has been defeated by Christ's death and resurrection, and one day, he will be defeated utterly. God is not at the mercy of Satan's work, and neither are we.
So how should we live in response?
That's a topic for next week. But in the meantime, these words from Ephesians 6 offer a good start:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Questions to Consider:
- Am I ignoring or minimizing Satan's influence in the world?
- Am I giving Satan too much credit, and living fearfully because of it?
- Have I believed lies or thoughts of hopelessness when I should be listening to the truth of God?