OUR ARCHENEMY 9-9-18
September 9, 2018
Two days from now will be the 17th anniversary of the infamous 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed 2996 people and injured over 6000 more. It is also the single deadliest incident for firefighters and law enforcement officers in the history of the United States, with 343 and 72 killed, respectively. God rest their souls. Those who conducted the attacks were enemies of America. But it is our archenemy who is ultimately the force behind those who want to destroy all that is good, all that is of God, and all who worship God.
According to the dictionary, the word “archenemy” means “a person who is extremely hostile or opposed to someone or something”. And right after that first definition it says “The Devil”. Yes, the archenemy not only of God, but of humanity, is indeed the devil.
In “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu it is written, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” To know ourselves, if we are indeed born-again Christians, we need know only that without God we are powerless, but when we put all of our trust in Him and His Word we are strong and mighty and able to defeat our greatest foe.
So what do we need to know about our enemy, the devil? We need to know who he is, and how to recognize him. We need to know his motives, his tactics, and his weapons. And we need to know how to defeat him.
Unlike Almighty God, who existed before creation and created all that exists, Satan is a created being with limited power. Although our first Scripture reading (Ezekiel 28-12b-15), was written as part of a condemnation of the King of Tyre, it obviously references Satan, for no human king can be described as an angelic guardian and model of perfection, who had access to the holy mountain of God and walked among the stones of fire. Like many passages in Scripture, there is a surface meaning, and a deeper meaning to the 28th chapter of Ezekiel. If we read further, in verse 17 it says, “Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty”. Does this sound like the image society normally associates with Satan? Scarlet skin, horns, tail, goat legs and hooves, and a pitchfork. Not hardly. Isaiah also spoke of an earthly king, the king of Babylon, but several verses in Isaiah 14 also have a deeper reference to Satan. Verse 12 through 14… “How you are fallen from heaven, O shining star, son of the morning! You have been thrown down to the earth, you who destroyed the nations of the world. For you said to yourself, ‘I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north. I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High.’” Granted, many commentators deny the reference to Satan, and only a few even suggest an allusion to him. But no earthly king could be ‘thrown down to the earth’. Jesus Himself said he saw “Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18). And the apostle John warned us in our second Scripture reading (Revelation 12:9-12) that Satan had been hurled to earth and filled with fury because he knows that his time is short. Verse 17 then says Satan, “went off to wage war against … those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus”. Revelation, like the writing of Old Testament prophets, frequently overlaps past, current, and future events. But remember, God, the true author of the Bible, exists outside of time. Perhaps at the time they were written, some of the prophets and apostles themselves did not fully understand the depth of what God inspired them to write. But when we all live with God in eternity, we will truly see how all of the pieces fit together.
So what have we learned so far? Satan was originally created as a beautiful guardian angel, a model of perfection. His sin was that of pride, of thinking he was as great as God Himself. We also know that in his anger he wages war on God’s people. So why is he so often depicted as a horrible looking creature? When he tempted Eve in the garden of Eden, he took on the image of a serpent. But even then the serpent was not deemed ugly or terrifying, but only as “crafty”; and it was not until after God cursed it that it had to crawl on its belly. That would explain why in other parts of Scripture Satan is called a dragon, for a dragon is a serpent with legs. But remember, neither dragon nor serpent was the original form of Satan. And today he still uses his original form to disguise his true nature, for the apostle Paul warned the church in Corinth that Satan still masquerades as an angel of light, even though he no longer is of the light. And his servants also disguise themselves as the opposite of what they truly are. (2 Corinthians 11:14,15). How many earthly leaders have amassed a great following because at first they appeared to have only the best interest of the population at heart? I’m certain you can name several. And in the future, the Antichrist will also pretend to have the same motto as the angels proclaimed at Christ’s birth, “on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14), but he will definitely omit the first part of that verse, “Glory to God in the highest” for he will proclaim himself to be God, just as he tried to do in the beginning.
So now that we know how subtle Satan can be, as well as how determined he is to both make himself God, and to destroy all who love the one, true God, we must become fully acquainted with the weapons at our disposal. These are outlined in our third Scripture reading (Ephesians 6:10-17) - truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God.
Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44), but Jesus is truth (John 14:6). We ourselves must not lie (Ephesians 4:25), nor believe lies. As the apostle John warned, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:11).
We must be made righteous through the shed blood of Christ, and not depend on our own righteousness. The prophet Isaiah proclaimed, “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags” Isaiah 64:6). But we are made clean through our faith in Jesus. When Satan tries to fill our hearts with guilt and shame, the breastplate of Christ’s righteousness is our protection.
Satan will also try to stir anger and hatred within us, lead us into war with each other, and cause divisions among us. But we must adhere to the gospel of peace. Divide and conquer is a very old war strategy. But the apostle Paul wrote, “I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.” (1 Corinthians 1:10).
Doubt was one of the very first tools of the devil. He asked Eve, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1) and then tried to make God out to be the liar, instead of him. But we must not doubt God and his Word. If you read the 11th chapter of Hebrews, you will clearly see that it was faith that empowered the great men of the Bible to overcome circumstances that seemed insurmountable, and to receive God’s protection and blessing. Faith leads to obedience, and when we obey God, the arrows of Satan cannot penetrate us.
Salvation, which only is through Jesus Christ, almost goes without saying. Because if you have not been saved by Jesus - by repenting of your sin, asking him to be your Savior, putting your faith in Him alone, committing your life to him as your Lord – you belong to Satan. He might not even bother with you, because he already has you! But your eternal destination and his are then one and the same. And there is no worse fate than that!
And finally, we must pick up our weapon, the Word of God, the Bible. We must study it and apply it to every aspect of our lives. A gun doesn’t do any good in the holster. And believe me, we are at war, and your weapon needs to be drawn. Satan has no weapon at his disposal that is a strong as we have at ours. Nothing can stand against God’s Word. It can intercept every satanic missile, it can diffuse any satanic bomb. It can freeze Satan in his tracks better than a stun gun, and hide us in God’s love better than a smoke screen. So load up your minds and hearts with the ammunition of God’s Word.
Jesus said, “To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 3:21,22). May you be victorious through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
“The Battle Belongs to the Lord” (John Michael Talbot) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7uRX4srnsM
"Run Devil Run" (Crowder) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=US1-R-R9lYQ