Resist Steadfast in the Faith

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” —I Peter 5:8,9

IS THERE a personal Devil, an enemy of God and of man? If so, who created him, and why does an all-powerful God of righteousness and love permit such a being to exist? Throughout the ages these questions have been pondered by sincere, thoughtful persons. On the one hand, some have concluded that the Devil is a hideous looking creature with cloven hoofs and a spiked tail, whose chief business is to preside over the alleged torture of the unsaved dead. And, on the other hand, the claim is made that the Devil of the Bible is merely an evil principle, widespread and powerful in its opposition to God and to righteousness, but not a personality.

To us it seems obvious from the Scriptures that there is a personal Devil. He is, we believe, of a higher order of creation than man, invisible to man. This powerful being was created perfect. Under the title, “King of Babylon,” he is referred to as “Lucifer, son of the morning.” (Isa. 14:12) He fell from his perfection and from his loyalty to the Creator when pride and ambition developed in his heart. Isaiah wrote further concerning him: “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: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.”—Isa. 14:13,14

Various names and titles have been given to the fallen Lucifer in the Bible. He is referred to as “that old serpent, the Devil and Satan.” (Rev. 20:1) In John 12:31 he is described as “the prince of this world,” and he is also thus depicted in John 14:30 and 16:11. In Ephesians 2:2, Satan is described as “the prince of the power of the air,” and in II Corinthians 4:4 as “the god of this world.”

Through the various references given to us in the Bible concerning him we are able to gain a fairly comprehensive understanding of his many methods of attack against the Lord’s people. The first activity of Satan described in the Bible is recorded in Genesis 3:1-5. This is the account of the manner in which he deceived mother Eve. He asked Eve if it were true that God had said she would die if she partook of the forbidden fruit. She affirmed that this was true, and Satan’s contradictory reply was: “Thou shalt not surely die.”

Satan Attacks God’s Word

Here was an attack on the integrity of God’s Word, and this has been one of Satan’s methods of attack against God and his people throughout the ages since. In this first instance Eve was deceived, although Adam was not; and so it has been since—many have been deceived by Satan’s lies, while a few in every age have remained steadfastly loyal to the Word of God. The importance of this on the part of God’s people is emphasized in Isaiah 8:20, which reads: “To the Law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word … there is no light in them.”

It was not until the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai that the word of God began to be made available in written form. Prior to that, God spoke to his people largely through his holy angels; and this, in fact, continued until the first advent of Jesus when an angel announced the birth of Jesus and declared it to be “good tidings of great joy to all people.” (Luke 2:10) Meanwhile, the prophetic writings of the Old Testament were added to the books of the Law, and these Spirit-inspired writings became a part of the written Word of God—that part which we now refer to as the Old Testament.

Throughout these books of the Old Testament rings the harmonious theme song of the Bible, the great kingdom plan of God to redeem and restore mankind to life—the life which was lost when our first parents disobeyed divine law in the Garden of Eden. In this melody of divine love there is presented the hope of a coming Messiah—the Christ—and it was this Christ whose birth was announced by the angel. By his birth the plan of God had taken a step forward in development.

The New Testament Born

Without much delay the teachings of Jesus were recorded in the four Gospels; and in due time there came the Book of Acts; the epistles of Paul, James, Peter, Jude, and John; and the Book of Revelation. Thus the New Testament was added to the Old Testament to give us the complete Word of God. It is this vast storehouse of truth which our Heavenly Father has used throughout the Gospel Age to nourish and strengthen his people as new creatures in Christ Jesus. And how wonderfully the precious truths of the divine plan do refresh us as day by day we feed upon them!

But Satan has always been on the alert to disparage the Word of God and to render it ineffective in the hearts and lives of those who receive it. A reference is made to one aspect of this effort in Luke 8:11,12. This is part of the parable of the sower, in which we are told that the seed which is sown is the Word of God—not literally the Bible, of course, but the glorious Gospel message of Christ’s kingdom, the main theme of the Bible. Concerning the seed sown by the wayside, we read, “Then cometh the Devil, and taketh away the Word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.”—vs. 12

Here we find Satan endeavoring to prevent the Word of God from taking root in the lives of those whom God is calling. Perhaps many of us have wondered why it is that so often, when we see someone beginning to take a keen interest in the truth of God’s Word, that interest so quickly wanes. Jesus has given us the answer. In the case of Eve, Satan insisted that God’s Word was not the truth, and in this parable we see him snatching the Word from the hearts of the newly interested.

But Satan was not satisfied with the harm he could do by snatching away the Word of God from the hearts of individuals who might be getting interested in it. As time went on, a much more ambitious scheme unfolded. Paul foretold that there would cornea great falling away from the faith, and this did indeed occur. The most holy faith of the Scriptures was maintained throughout the days of the Early Church by the apostles’ encouragement to adhere strictly to the Word of God. Paul complimented the Bereans, because they searched the Scriptures daily to see if what he was telling them was true. The insistence on a “thus saith the Lord” for every item of truth was one of the basic safeguards of the Early Church.

But following the death of the apostles this situation began to change. True, the Bible was available then only in manuscript form, and copies were scarce. Many believers were forced to depend upon the knowledge of a few favored ones who possessed Bibles. The idea was extant that loyalty to the Word of God really meant loyalty to someone else’s understanding of the Word of God. This natural consequence of circumstances was taken advantage of, and as time went on the tradition developed that while the Bible was the supreme authority, it could be interpreted properly only by the church. And this viewpoint is widely held to this day.

Undoubtedly Satan had much to do with this subtle setting aside of the real authority of the Bible over the beliefs and lives of God’s professed people. The result was that human traditions slowly began to replace the beautiful, inspiring doctrines of the Bible. The Bible declared that “the wages of sin is death,” but the self-appointed interpreters of the Bible said, “No; the wages of sin is eternal torment.” The Bible affirms there is but one God; but these same men declared there are three gods, and that these three are one god.

The Bible taught that the future thousand-year Judgment Day of the world would be a blessed opportunity to accept Christ, obey the laws of the millennial kingdom and live forever. But the interpreters of the Bible said the Judgment Day would be one of doom; that it would be twenty-four hours in length, and that then all who died in unbelief would be consigned to a place of eternal torture in a fiery hell.

And so we might go on and on, discovering that essentially every precious doctrine of the divine plan of God’s Word became distorted by interpreters of the Bible. Yet it was accomplished so subtly that the majority of professed Christians suppose they are in harmony with the Word of God. This did not matter to Satan since his ruse had accomplished his purpose of plucking from the hearts of Christians the glorious kingdom hope set forth in the inspired Word of God.

The unmistakably clear teaching of the Bible is that the promised kingdom of the Messiah would not be established until after his return at his Second Advent. But Satan went to work on this beautiful truth also. Playing upon the ambitions of the human heart, he succeeded in causing nominal believers to accept the idea that the kingdom of Christ did not have to wait for Christ’s return, but could be set up to function through a great church-state system.

Satan had used this same foil in one of the temptations he presented to Jesus. He told the Master that if he would fall down and worship him, he would give him all the kingdoms of this world. (Matt. 4:8-10) Jesus met this temptation in the proper manner, by quoting a Scripture: “It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”—Luke 4:10; Deut. 6:13

While Satan failed in this attempt to lure our Master, he did succeed later, with some of Jesus’ professed followers. They saw the glamour of power and authority among men; and they sensed the enticement of high-sounding titles. So they gave up waiting for Christ to return to establish his kingdom, and undertook to do it themselves. What they reared up in their grasp for power, they called Christendom—Christ’s kingdom.

The fact that in their version of Christ’s kingdom there was almost continuous war, persecution, inquisitions, and thousands of tortures and murders, sickness and death, evidently did not seem strange or contrary to Christ’s true kingdom as presented to us in the Word of God. It seemed to count for little or nothing in their claims to kingdom authority. While real evidences of Christ’s true kingdom having been established were nonexistent, they chose to ignore the facts. They persisted in these errors, encouraged to do so by Satan himself.

However, there are some points which at least certain individuals seem to have difficulty accepting. In Revelation 20:4,6 the length of Christ’s kingdom is given. It was to be a thousand years long. The claim was made that their Christendom was presently enjoying this millennial kingdom. This was puzzling to some. A few realized that according to the promises of the Bible, the millennium would accomplish the restoration of the dead to life, and no dead were being resurrected. By tampering with the Word of God add inducing a copyist to insert the interpolation, “The rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished,” the matter was taken care of so no one would need to look for the resurrection at that time. This was, of course, another of Satan’s ploys.

The substitution of Christendom for the true messianic kingdom, in addition to reflecting a flagrant disregard for the teachings of the Word of God, also destroyed the hope of God’s people who were looking forward to the reality of the kingdom of promise. Once the church-state systems of Europe were established, the preaching of the Second Advent of Christ to establish the kingdom of heaven nearly ceased completely. Thus, with this one master stroke, Satan snatched from the hearts of believers the great kingdom theme of the Bible.

The Bible teaches, however, that the followers of the Master would look to each other for mutual help in their study of the Word. The Lord has placed various servants in his church such as pastors, teachers, and evangelists. (Eph. 4:11) And he expects all of us to help one another as much as we can to be faithful to the Lord and the truth. But in following this arrangement we should keep in mind that the Bible itself is the final word of authority. Even seemingly reasonable conclusions should be rejected unless they are in harmony with the plain statements of the inspired Word of God.

Satan’s Useful Tool—Discouragement

One of Satan’s favorite tools is discouragement. All Christians face discouragement at times in their life. Even the Apostle Paul had battles against despondency. He spoke of one of his infirmities, labeling it “messenger of Satan to buffet” him. (II Cor. 12:7) Just what his problem might have been is not absolutely certain, but the important thing is that Paul recognized it was Satan who was making use of it to discourage him. Three times the apostle asked the Lord to remove this “thorn in the flesh.” The Lord replied, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”—vs. 9

Satan was not successful in discouraging Paul. The apostle testified, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasures in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”—vs. 9

Our theme text, I Peter 5:8,9, is related to this method of attack by Satan. Peter said, he goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. We are urged to resist him steadfastly in the faith, knowing that the Lord tests all his people in the same manner as he tested his only begotten Son. Every one of the Lord’s children has afflictions of one sort or another. They take many different forms: illness, death in the family, economic reverses, misunderstandings, and suffering for preaching the truth. Often Satan endeavors to convince us that if we were truly the Lord’s people we would not have these trials. By this insidious method he hopes to instill a fear that perhaps we are not sufficiently faithful to the Lord—that, because of this, he has withdrawn his favor and protection from us.

Many scriptures reveal the fact that the followers of the Master would be a sacrificing and suffering people. Our defense against this sort of attack on the part of Satan is reinforced by reminding ourselves of the countless assurances that the Lord will protect us from the trials and difficulties which are too difficult for us to bear, while we continue to endure the same trials as experienced by mankind in general. The proper Christian attitude as we endure, is to cast all our care upon the Lord, knowing that he does care for us, not according to the flesh, but as new creatures in Christ Jesus.

Other Tools of Satan

James wrote, “Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the Devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:5-7) Here James indicates that another of Satan’s methods of attack is to engender pride or ambition in the hearts of the Lord’s people. We are to resist these temptations by humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God, knowing that our promised exaltation will come in due time. Genuine promotion that is in harmony with the divine will comes from God, and is not self-planned or initiated. When we realize how little we are, and how our strength is only from the Lord, it is easy to remain humble, and to thwart Satan’s assault.

We could properly say that Satan is directly or indirectly associated with all influences which tend to divert the Lord’s people from their course of true faithfulness in serving him. We often speak of our enemies as being the world, the flesh, and the Devil, but Satan is at the head of this list! He works to our disadvantage as new creatures through the world and through our fallen flesh. How important it is, therefore, that we keep alert in order to detect his every approach, and be prepared to resist him through following the instructions and examples given in the Word of God. And we will receive strength, through prayer, to follow in the footsteps of our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ, the righteous.

Shortly after the fall, God said to Satan: “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Gen. 3:15) Jesus said to the scribes and Pharisees of his day, “Ye are of your father the Devil.” (John 8:44) Jesus could read their hearts, and recognize that they were part of the ‘serpent’s seed’. The ‘seed of the woman’ is Christ and his faithful followers. The foretold enmity of the ‘seed of the serpent’ against the ‘seed of the woman’ was manifested in the bitter persecution inflicted upon Jesus by the religious rulers of his day, and this enmity has continued against his followers with varying degrees of intensity ever since.

However, we know that through it all, the seed of promise will be victorious; it shall destroy the serpent by crushing its head. We are not ignorant of his devices. (II Cor. 2:11) We know that if we follow the Lord’s instructions in our good fight of faith, relying always on him to guide and strengthen us, we will neither be overcome nor foiled by the wiles of the Devil. We have the promise of ultimate victory! Paul encouraged us with these words: “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.”—Rom. 16:20

When this occurs, it will be the promised bruising of the head of the serpent. Although Paul used the word ‘shortly’ nearly two thousand years ago, the serpent’s head has not yet been bruised. Satan still goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour! He continues to appear as an angel of light to deceive and mislead! To resist him we must still have on the whole armor of God—all the great fundamental doctrines of the divine plan of the ages. But God is one who plans for the everlasting ages, and these years, though many by our measure, are ‘short’ as compared to the eternity of Satan’s demise.

We have the plain, understandable teachings of the Gospel of Christ which are “the power of God unto salvation.” (Rom. 1:16) Let us study these guides, binding them upon our hearts. And first, let us make sure that our understanding of these truths is in harmony with the Bible, God’s Word, and in agreement with the facts with which we are surrounded. Let us not be deluded like those in the Dark Ages who accepted the union of church and state as the established kingdom of Christ They forgot the promise that in the kingdom of Christ, war, sickness, evil, pain tears, and death, will be completely eradicated. They forgot that inquisitions, or bitter persecutions of fellow Christians were incompatible with God’s portrait of the messianic kingdom. The wonderful kingdom described in the Scriptures still lies in the future.—Rev. 21:1-7; Isa. 2:2-4

If we continue to prove faithful even unto death as did our Master and Lord Jesus—by the power of our Heavenly Father—we, too, will have the privilege of bruising Satan ‘shortly’ under our feet. We will have the privilege of putting the great adversary of our Heavenly Father—of our Lord Jesus, of the church, of the angels, and of the entire world of mankind—out of existence forever!—Eph. 1:10

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |