“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isa. 14:12-14).
“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:1-5).
“Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? 10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. 11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face” (Job 1:9-11).
“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. 3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. 5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him” (Matt. 4:1-11).
There is a common theme to each of these narratives, and that is a lie is involved. The liar is none other than Lucifer, who is also known as Satan, meaning “Adversary”. In the New Testament, Satan is called the Devil, meaning the Accuser. Whatever his name, and whatever form he chooses to reveal himself, as a snake, or an angel of light, Lucifer is the arch enemy of God, and of the Christian.
There are two extremes that must be avoided in regard to the Devil. The first is to deny his existence, or to relegate him to being a simple negative force in the universe. Satan is much more than an invisible power, he is a unique personality as Zechariah 3:1 makes plain. “And he [the angel] shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.” In context, Satan is found to be hindering the reinstitution of the divine worship among the Hebrew people following the Babylonian Exile. He argues that Israel has been rejected by the just judgment of God, and is not worthy of the renewal of the priesthood. But that is not true. Israel will be cleansed, and made fit to worship once more. But the larger point is that Satan is a real person with thoughts, will, emotions, and intelligence. As a person He is not to be dismissed or denied.
Nor is the Devil to be unduly exalted and given more power than he has. That is what is being done today far too often in religious circles. Though a powerful and clever enemy Satan is not to be feared. Christ defeated him, and so can the Christian.
First, the Christian can find victory over the Devil by submitting the heart to God, and by resisting the Enemy. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). More often than not there is a tendency to succumb to satanic temptations through little acts of compromise, and co-operation, rather than though diligent resistance. Satan perceives when our, “No”, is really a veiled, “Yes,” and so he presses a little, and finds there is no substantial resistance. A look, a smell, a thought, and through the senses Satan gains the advantage.
When Satan first spoke to Eve she resisted, sort of. But the Evil One understood her defense was weak, and she did not mean what she said. So he pressed on more boldly and with greater force until through reasoning, he persuaded her to do what was wrong. Then the great damage was done, and she died, and so did Adam, for he too failed to submit to God, and he too failed to resist the devil.
Second, the Christian can find victory over the Devil by faith. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). There is much defeat in the Christian life because there is little faith that anything can be different. Past failures are remembered. The ease with which the Enemy storms the resolves of the will are remembered.
There is encouragement in worldly wisdom to simply say, “That is the way I am!”, and be done with the matter. “We all have our weaknesses”, is another popular excuse for not trying to be conformed into the image of Christ. Faith flees, and the chains of sin in the soul are made more secure. A spirit of hopelessness is accepted. Nevertheless, “whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).
How then does one increase faith in order to find victory over the Devil? Part of the answer is in realizing that understanding is the reward of faith. “Therefore seek not to understand that thou mayest believe, but believe that thou mayest understand” (Augustine).
This spiritual counsel by St. Augustine is the reverse of modern psychology. Much modern religious psychology seems to being saying, “If I can only understand myself, and my problem then I can change, and believe in spiritual realities.” The Bible says something different. The Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). What shall the soul be saved from except the power and pollution of sin. Believe the gospel, and then you will understand the depths of human depravity, and why the heart does what is self-destructive, and other destructive. Augustine is right. “…. seek not to understand that thou mayest believe, but believe that thou mayest understand” (Augustine). As long as faith in the goodness of God is put off until there is a “deep” understanding of the complexities of the heart there will not be much victorious Christian living.
The Bible makes everything rather simple. Man was created in the image of God, but sin destroyed that image. Nevertheless, by faith in Christ and gospel obedience to the known will of the Lord, there can be redemption after the ruin, and restoration to fellowship.
Moses was able to summarize the essence of life in Ten Commandments that even a child can comprehend, and Jesus reduced them to two. But when the known will of God is violated, and aberrant behavior is justified then everything once more becomes complex, confusing, and frustrating, to the point that life is lost and death is embraced. Nevertheless, “believe that thou mayest understand” (Augustine).
Third, the Christian can find victory over the Devil by a conscious decision to stop believing the lies that he tells. That Satan is a liar is well established in Scripture. Jesus said so Himself. One day Jesus turned to a group of religious people in anger, and said to them “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44). Victory comes by simply not believing Satan’s lies. Do not accept false guilt. Embrace the truth, and all shall be well.
May the Lord grant you grace to have victory in Jesus over Satan.