The Battle: The Enemy
When we talk about God, we use terms like Almighty, Omnipresent, Holy, Loving, All-knowing and Sovereign.
These are what we call attributes of God. They describe different characteristics that are true of Him.
In Isaiah 40:12-18 God says this about Himself:
12 Who else has held the oceans in his hand?
Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers?
Who else knows the weight of the earth
or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale?
13 Who is able to advise the Spirit of the Lord?
Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him?
14 Has the Lord ever needed anyone’s advice?
Does he need instruction about what is good?
Did someone teach him what is right
or show him the path of justice?
15 No, for all the nations of the world
are but a drop in the bucket.
They are nothing more
than dust on the scales.
He picks up the whole earth
as though it were a grain of sand.
16 All the wood in Lebanon’s forests
and all Lebanon’s animals would not be enough
to make a burnt offering worthy of our God.
17 The nations of the world are worth nothing to him.
In his eyes they count for less than nothing—
mere emptiness and froth.
18 To whom can you compare God?
What image can you find to resemble him?[i]
There is no one like our God.
When we say Sovereign we point to the fact that He rules. He rules everything. There is nothing outside the authority of His rule.
When we say Almighty we point to the fact that all power comes from Him, is under His control and there is no limit to His power.
This is the God who is on our side.
The enemy is not even remotely able to overcome, overpower, outsmart, trick, surprise, capture, harm, frustrate, confuse or in any way approach the greatness of God.
The enemy is a creature.
He was made by God.
This is what God says to Satan:
12 “You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and exquisite in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God. 14 I ordained and anointed you as the mighty angelic guardian. You had access to the holy mountain of God and walked among the stones of fire. 15 You were blameless in all you did from the day you were created until the day evil was found in you. 16 Your rich commerce led you to violence, and you sinned. So I banished you in disgrace from the mountain of God. I expelled you, O mighty guardian, from your place among the stones of fire. 17 Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty. Your wisdom was corrupted by your love of splendor. So I threw you to the ground and exposed you to the curious gaze of kings. 18 You defiled your sanctuaries with your many sins and your dishonest trade. So I brought fire out from within you, and it consumed you. (Ezekiel 28:12, 13, 14-18, NLT)
This passage explains the origin of the devil.
He was a mighty angelic guardian. He had access the mountain of God. Then his heart was filled with pride and his wisdom was corrupted because of his love of splendor.
We know that God will expose him to ridicule.
We know that God will seat Jesus on the throne of David in spite of the devil’s best efforts to keep it from happening.
Why does God even allow a fallen creature like the devil to continue to exist? I do not think that I know all the answers. However, I want you to think with me.
In the book of Revelation, chapter 20 tells about a thousand years when Jesus will reign on the earth. For this period of time the devil is chained and locked in a dungeon. At the end of the thousand years, he is let out of the dungeon. True to his nature the devil immediately sets about deceiving the nations. He gathers a great army to fight against the Lord.
Why would God do this?
He has the devil captive.
The earth is full of peace and prosperity. Why would God turn the devil loose?
We could ask the same question about why God let Job suffer.
God does not answer all the questions. But, if we look at Revelation and at Job, we see that God wanted Job to love and serve Him because He is God, not for the things He gives.
God will turn the devil loose knowing the devil will deceive, and this has to be the point.
Will people stand fast?
Will people love God and not just love His gifts?
Hebrews 11:6 tells us that the way to please God is faith.
Abraham pleased God because of his faith.
Hebrews 10:38 says, “And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” (NLT)
From this I take it that part of God’s purpose in letting the devil exist is so we have to make a choice.
I do not think that this is the whole story, and I believe when God wipes away all tears and does away with all suffering we will understand more of why He has done what He has done.
However, in the present there will always be those who hate God and those that love God.
The point is that the devil is a creature and is therefore limited.
He is not like God.
He cannot be in all places at once. He does not know everything. He is not all-powerful.
We do know that the devil is organized.
Ephesians 6:12 tells us: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (ESV)[ii] The rulers, authorities, cosmic powers and spiritual forces listed here are grades or ranks of demons.
In Daniel 10 there is recorded an interaction between an angelic messenger and Daniel. Verse 20 says, “He replied, "Do you know why I have come? Soon I must return to fight against the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia, and after that the spirit prince of the kingdom of Greece will come.” (NLT)
There is a spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia and there is a spirit prince of the kingdom of Greece. Here we see organizational structure and planning on the part of the devil.
He also has helpers.
In Revelation 12:9 we are told the devil and his angels are cast down to the earth. In verse 4 of chapter 12 in describing the dragon we are told, “Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth.” In combination with Daniel 8:10 we understand that possibly one third of the angels of heaven followed the devil when he fell.
In Matthew 25:41, Jesus tells us that hell was prepared for the devil and his angels, alluding to the fact that the devil has helpers.
While the devil is not all-powerful and present everywhere, his organization and large numbers of helpers make his presence felt everywhere and his power great by force of numbers.
1 John 5:19 tells us, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” This is not because he is like God in any way.
He controls the world by force of numbers, organizational structure and evil intelligence, in much the same way as humans might seek to gain control of the world.
The devil’s main tools are deceit and temptation.
He works in our thoughts. He and his helpers are somehow able to whisper to us in our own voice so that we think the thoughts are our own.
Along with this trickery, there is the fact that the devil and his helpers were originally angels. Therefore, they come to us acting like they are angels.
The Apostle Paul tells us this in the book of 2 Corinthians. In the church at Corinth, there were men who entered in boasting of their own greatness so as to preach and teach for profit and to gain a following. The Church in Corinth was soon in a mess.
In writing to correct the problems, Paul says:
13 These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve.”
Here we see the fact that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. And, we also see that his servants disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.
Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces of darkness.
No matter how great, powerful, clever and devious the devil is; he is not worth comparing to our God.
He is a creature.
His rebellion has failed.
Jesus rose from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on High.
Our victory is complete.
The Bible in all truth says, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4, ESV)
One final thought:
1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. 2 We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. 3 Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. 5 And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
Our faith in Jesus is the victory. No matter what trap the devil has you in, God can deliver you today.
Cry out to Jesus.
Talk to Jesus right now. Where the battle has gotten too close to home ask Jesus to come in and take over.
[i] Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Steam, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved
[ii] The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles