When do you think about Satan?
How do you think about him?
And how do you do battle with ‘The Adversary’?
The older I get the more I think about Satan. My thinking was incited years ago by a few different things. Once I witnessed an exorcism—that will certainly get you thinking. I had a ringside seat for one that was arranged while I was out of town and convened at my house. I was also drawn in when I read the apostle Paul who wrote these words about Satan, “we are not ignorant of his designs” (2 Cor 2:11). I thought, “Hold on, Paul, I feel pretty ignorant about them. You can’t say that and not tell me more. Did I miss that chapter?” And then there are people I knew during the late 1980’s who were diagnosed with Multiple Personality (now Dissociative Identity Disorder). They always had a demonic “alter” to contend with.
I still feel ignorant of his designs, but I am persuaded that in Scripture we really do have everything we need for life and godliness, so we might know more about him than we realize.
What is Satan like?
- He is a murderer and anger is his calling card. All sinful anger—and 98% of our anger is sinful—is in cahoots with the Evil One.
- His anger is particularly focused on the offspring of Christ. If you want to see Satan at his most powerful worst, look for relational fractures in the body of Christ.
- He is no longer as powerful as he once was (Rev. 12). He has been hurled out of heaven and down to earth. That might sound ominous, as if he is closer than he once was, but I think Scripture is saying that he has lost authority.
- His basic strategies are temptations and accusations, which are both forms of deception. Deceptive guerilla warfare is the worst. It means that we must remain vigilant, especially when all seems to be well.
- He does not have the power to make us sin. Instead, he endorses desires already apparent in our hearts. With temptations he says, “you’re right, that thing that God said is bad is actually good.” With accusations he says, “you’re right, you really are that bad, and God knows it.”
How do we fight against him?
- Track your anger.
- Does your anger seem right and good? Be especially wary when your anger is someone else’s fault. Accusations and finger-pointing are hallmarks of the Evil One.
- Is the sun going down on your anger (Eph. 4:26)? His fingerprints are all over that one.
- Do you think you have an anger problem? If yes, you are alert to Satan’s devices. If no, you are in trouble.
- Fight against him with “Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23).
- With temptations, the cross is the indisputable evidence that the triune God is good and sin is not.
- With accusations, the cross indicates that the perfect sacrifice was sufficient to cleanse us from all sins.
- With anger, the cross defies our arrogance. Our debt was so extreme that only Christ and him crucified could pay. We have new hope as we are united with Christ in his death and resurrection to new power.
- You don’t need anything new. Exorcisms, for example, are one way to show God’s power over Satan, but not the most powerful way. Nothing is superior to the preaching of Christ and the call to repentance and faith.
- Remember Ephesians 1-6:9. Ephesians 6:10ff is the classic passage on spiritual battle, but on close inspection, Paul is referencing themes he has already identified as his battle strategies. Chief among them are:
- we are made alive in Christ by faith not works,
- we are to humble ourselves before the Lord (James 4:7 also), and
- believe the preaching of the gospel.
These are powerful strategies to use against Satan’s devices.
Dozens of questions remain. But these truths equip us to overcome.