The Adversary

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” —I Peter 5:8

ONE of the most successful devices of the devil is to convince people he does not exist, and in such a deceived state, many are unable to resist temptations that come to them. When enlightened people reject the image of Satan as a being with ‘horns’, a ‘tail’, and a ‘red suit’, they often reject the idea that he exists at all. But pitchforks, fire, and brimstone have no place in reality when considering who the devil actually is, and what his part was, is, and will be in the plan of God. He is described in the Bible as the “god of this world.”—II Cor. 4:4

When originally created, his name was Lucifer, and he was one of the most beautiful creatures in the universe. We find his description given in Ezekiel: “Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. … Every precious stone was thy covering. … Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.” (Ezek. 28:12,13,15) Although this prophecy is addressed as if to the “king of Tyrus,” it describes a spiritual being, not an earthly being. We read in verse 13, “Thou hast been in Eden”; and verse 15: “perfect … from the day that thou wast created.” This obviously is not describing an earthly king. It is clearly the description of a spiritual being who was, as verse 14 describes him, “the anointed cherub that covereth.”

There is no room for complacency about the might of Satan, for he is a marvelously powerful spiritual being. And we must not underestimate the activities of this supernatural adversary, for he is our greatest enemy. He is the adversary of God, the adversary of Jesus Christ, and the adversary of the people of God. Jesus called him the “prince of this world.”—John 14:30

Satan has, since his fall, always desired to destroy any who find favor with God. We see him behind the plot to get rid of a favored one of God when he filled Cain’s heart with such anger that he slew his brother, Abel. Abel simply had offered a sacrifice which was pleasing to God, while Cain did not. (Gen. 4:8) Again, at the time of Queen Esther, Satan filled Haman’s heart with such jealousy that he desired that all the Jews, God’s chosen people, should be massacred. (Esther 3:9) Later Satan was so influential with the religious leaders of Jesus’ day that they would do anything to remove him from the scene—even to the point of killing him. (John 11:53) His attempt to destroy the Seed of promise (Gal. 3:29) makes him the relentless enemy of the Christian, throughout the entire Gospel Age, even until today.

Although undeniably he is a powerful being, Satan is not ALL-powerful. Just before his crucifixion, Jesus said to Peter: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.” (Luke 22:31,32) The chosen apostle, Peter, claimed to be ready to go to prison and even to die for the Lord, yet within the next few hours he was to thrice deny that he even knew him. Surely, Peter was a strong character, but his own strength was nothing when it came to contending with Satan.

There is only one way to contend against so great an adversary, and that is with the Lord on our side. The words of the Apostle Paul bring out this thought very clearly. “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against wicked spirits [Margin] in high places.”—Eph. 6:10-12

This text is as applicable to our era as it was when Paul wrote these words to the Early Christians. Satan has allies who assist him by implementing his evil strategies. The mighty ‘fallen angels’, as well as those less powerful by nature, but possibly in high positions among men—wicked ones among the human race—are still under his control and will continue to be until “this present evil world” (Gal. 1:4) is brought to an end.

Even though Peter’s faith did temporarily fail him, he later became a pillar of the church. Thus he could, from personal experience, write the following words of advice to the church regarding Satan: ‘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.”—I Pet. 5:8,9

Why Did Satan “Fall” from God’s Favor?

Isaiah tells us why Satan, a being who had been created perfect, became corrupt, in this passage taken from the 14th chapter: “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! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, … I will be like the Most High.” (Isa. 14:12-14) His desire to be like the Most High did not mean that he wished to emulate the beautiful characteristics of his Creator, but rather to have the same mighty power and control which God innately possesses.

Just as the man, Adam, as well as all the angelic beings, had been created free moral agents, so also had Satan. He could choose to do good, or he could choose to do evil. God did not coerce him into remaining in harmony with him, with his laws, and with his principles. God did not have to use force because Satan had an innumerable multitude of reasons to enthusiastically serve the One who had created him, and who had provided every blessed condition necessary to continue his happy existence. But instead he chose to follow evil paths, to pursue a strategy of unbridled ambition that would, he believed, give him equality with God.

We are told in Ezekiel 28 that Satan was created perfect. He was “full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.” But, to use Jesus’ words, he “abode not in the truth.” (John 8:44) He left the path of truth and righteousness by the exercise of his own willful ambition. The verse continues: “There is no [longer] truth in him [the devil]. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Satan knows the power of truth. That is why he makes it appear as though he personally supports truth. Paul wrote: “I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtility, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” (II Cor. 11:3,14) If anyone would try to make us believe that they have a correct understanding of God’s Word, when we know their doctrine contains a principle contrary to what is clearly taught in his Word, we may be sure that the beguiling ‘serpent’ is, once again, using his favorite method of attempting to ensnare us—he loves to twist the truth of God’s Word.

One of the most subtle wiles of the devil is the suggestion that we can please God now without suffering for righteousness’ sake. Satan used this pleasing approach when he talked with Jesus in the wilderness: “The devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them [the kingdoms of the world] … if thou therefore wilt worship me.” (Luke 4:6,7) But Jesus was not impressed or tempted. He responded, “Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”—vs. 8

The Judgment of Satan

God does not intend that Satan’s domination of mankind will continue forever. Speaking about his own death, Jesus said, “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” (John 12:31) Jesus assured us that Satan’s days are numbered, because “the prince of this world is judged,” and has been found unworthy of life. (John 16:11) And again, in Hebrews, we read, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he [Jesus] also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.”—Heb. 2:14

If we did not see the future as clearly described in God’s Word, we might conclude that Satan has indeed been successful in his rebellion against God. He succeeded in getting Adam and Eve to do his will, and to ignore God’s command. He continues to be the prince of this world, with powerful spiritual principalities and beings under his complete control; and he has been successful, to varying degrees, in deceiving some who might seek after God into worshiping him, Satan, and receiving their blessings and favor and wealth and power now, during this present life.

But the text in Hebrews 2:14 makes it very clear that his dominion over mankind will not last forever. The time is coming when he will be completely destroyed by the power of righteousness in the hands of our Lord Jesus Christ! This coming destruction is also prophesied by Isaiah. “[Thou hast said] I will be like the Most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell [Hebrew: sheol, the place of the dead], to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms?”—Isa. 14:14-16

Satan’s rebellion certainly was not something beyond our wise and omnipotent God’s control! Far from it! While Satan has been following his own strategies, he has also been used to provide the testing experiences which come to all who would follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Although the Bible speaks of Satan as being bound or restrained for a thousand years during Christ’s kingdom, it also says he will be released at the end of that period of time. Once again he will seek to entice others to follow his evil ways, instead of following God’s righteous principles.

By doing this he will again bring testing experiences to those who would seek to forever be part of God’s family. “When the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth … and they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone [picturing complete destruction].”—Rev. 20:7-10

We do not believe that the ‘binding of Satan’ has occurred yet. He still walks about “as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” We can resist him only by putting on the whole armour of God, and looking to God for our strength. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) “Neither give place to the devil.” (Eph. 4:27) We must never let him supplant our dedication to God with something else. We are told that one of his tools is using “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”—II Cor. 11:13,14

Those who are faithful to God even unto death become part of Christ’s body. As such they are united with Christ and will bring the blessings of the kingdom to the world of mankind. They will also have a part in the fulfillment of this prophecy: “The God of peace shall bruise [Greek: suntribo, ‘to crush completely’] Satan under your feet shortly.” (Rom. 16:20) When this occurs, the world will finally understand the meaning of the words spoken by God long ago in the Garden of Eden: “I will put enmity between thee [the ‘serpent’—the devil] and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it [the seed of the woman—Christ and his church] shall bruise thy head.”—Gen. 3:15

Haste ye along, ages of glory;
      Haste the glad time when Christ appears.
O! that I may be one found worthy
      To reign with him a thousand years.

A thousand years! earth’s coming glory!
      ‘Tis the glad day so long foretold;
‘Tis the bright morn of Zion’s glory,
      Prophets foresaw in times of old!—Hymns of Dawn

Dawn Bible Students Association
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