Sunday, January 20, 2013


There is no other subject that lends itself to more non-biblical concepts, even superstitions, than does the subject of the "devil." There are those who make this enemy of the believer as powerful as God, meaning they think of him as being omnipresent, and even omniscient thinking that he can read your mind. Others make him the silly stuff of Halloween. They are incorrect on both counts of course, yet, he is powerful, deceitful, and a force that has to be reckoned with if the believers journey is to be effective and completed with faithfulness.

So, to approach the subject of the "devil" with thoughtfulness and even mixed feelings on my part, is a given. But if we're to be faithful to the text of scripture and if we are willing to face reality we have to admit that the devil is real [an angel albeit fallen] and he's our enemy. It may very well be that his greatest delight is for believers to NOT talk of him so he can be left in the dark as to his existence, motives, and methods. Either that OR to believe the silly, superstitious, even comical approaches some people take when they do talk of him.

 Either way he wins, or as one of my friends says when our basketball team wins, "Winner, winner, chicken dinner." He doesn't mind winning either way.

Well, what is it we need to know about this enemy?  I'm glad you asked. 

I think we need to know several things about him but I'm aware we'll never adequately cover the subject, so let's address three things that may help....

HIS START....   

First, we see in Revelation 12:7 what is described as an event in heaven where angels rebelled [resulting in two classes of angels, good and bad or fallen and faithful] and in verse 9 it says, "So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, [linking him to the Garden fiasco] called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels [the fallen or bad]  were cast out with him." (Revelation 12:9)   [There may be other veiled references such as Ezekiel 28 as well.]

For Revelation 12 to use the phrase "that serpent of old" is clearly a reference back to the Garden of Eden where he appeared to Adam and Eve with his accusation against the motive and character of God which brought about the fall. 

In this passage he's also called "The devil." In Greek it is "diabolos" which means "accuser or slanderer" and, while it is descriptive of what he did in the Garden about God, it is describing his present work against believers as well. It seems to be a continuous thing with him.

Then, he's called "Satan" which means "adversary" and his adversarial action is against both God and His people. That's why Paul said, "Be sober, be vigilant: because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour."  [1 Peter 5:8] There are at least forty names given him in scripture but these are sufficient for my purpose.


Since he is now "the god of this kosmos,"  [world]  he, along with the fallen angels he controls, has a certain authority in that realm. You will recall that at the beginning of the ministry of Jesus he faced the temptation experience where it records, "Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory, for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours." (Luke 4:5-7)

There was no argument from Jesus about this stated fact, so we can accept that there is some kind of authority given to the devil in being the "god of this world." This is why Paul the Apostle said this," Whose minds the god of this age has blinded, [since he has some power or authority over fallen man he can do that ] who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them."  [2 Corinthians 4:4]  You will notice that the tactic the devil uses as the god of this world is a masterful one of "blinding minds of unbelievers." 

But notice that the "blinding" has to do with only one thing in this verse. It is a blindness to the gospel of Christ. There is a reality to the bondage of the human race to sin, but the idea that the devil will be found focusing his attention in the places where sin is rampant might be a bit misleading. 

Rampant sin is certainly the RESULTS of his work and is widespread, but that is not where his Focus would be found it seems to me. You will find his focus another direction. His focus of attack is on the gospel message. It is there where his destructiveness can be seen to be at work in scripture.

As Christians our life in Christ will no doubt result in our sharing mercy by feeding the hungry, lifting the fallen in society, and even helping the addicted with their struggles, but our FOCUS must never fail to be the message of Christ and His Cross which opens the door and allows the light to shine on anyone who believes. It is the gospel of Christ that announces the hope for fallen man and the way out of our fallenness. 

So the devil's FOCUS is to keep that light from shining and dispelling that blindness. This is why the "true gospel" must never be lost, diminished, or neglected. Paul wasn't ashamed of it and we must not be as well. [Romans 1:16] Living the life and sharing the message go hand in hand.

This may sound like a simple thing, but it isn't. In fact, Paul calls it a war. "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:12)  The word "wrestle" in the KJV can and is translated as "a fight or combat" in some other versions. You and I as believers are in a conflict and we are given some instructions which includes such things as being watchful because the devil is stalking us like a hungry lion, [1 Peter 5:8] and we are to resist him. [James 4:7]  

But we are no match for him if all of what I've said about him is true, so what's a believer to do? Can you overcome him? No, you can't. You and I are no match for him today. Then what are we to do? Paul said, "Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." (Ephesians 6:13)  
We as believers are simply told to "put on the whole armor of God." To fight? No, not to fight, because you and I are not going to be able to fight. Paul said, "And having done all, to stand."  

We have the enemy located and identified. The enemy is spiritual. It is Satan who heads up his demonic forces. But what we need now is to recognize what our part of the battle is to be. Paul identifies the arsenal that is available for the defense. Nowhere is the believer urged to attack and advance. The key in Ephesians 6  is the phrase "to stand." What does this mean?


Every piece of this armor in Ephesians 6 really speaks of Christ. We are in Christ in the heavenlies, and we are to put on Christ, by faith, down here in our earthly walk. As with our enemies the world and the flesh__ our hope is in the Cross and all it has accomplished on our behalf__ THAT is the gospel message and Satan hates it with a passion.

Here's why... 

The Cross has crushed Satan's head.

Genesis 3:15 says, " And 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." In this verse God’s plan is revealed, the gospel is proclaimed. As an acorn contains the mighty oak, so these words contain the entire plan of salvation.
  • Enmity – bruised heel, Satan to Christ.
  • On Friday about sundown, when they took the dead body of Jesus down from the cross, it appeared that Satan had won the battle.
  • Enmity - Crushed head, Christ to Satan.
  • On Sunday morning, the true Victor walked out of the grave, alive from the dead.

The Cross has destroyed the works of the devil.

1 John 3:8 says, "He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil."  "Destroy" means "to make powerless."

 When Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, He “pulled the plug” on Satan so to speak. Even his power over death is gone. Hebrews 2:14-15 says, "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he 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."

The Cross has set the captives free. 

Luke 4:18 says, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted,  to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised."

1 Peter 3:18-19 says, "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;" 

This is why we are free in the Grace of God and no one need live as a victim of the enemy because in Christ we are truly victors. A book several years ago written about the devil entitled, "Satan is Alive And Well On Planet Earth" unintentionally spoke only a half truth. He is "alive," but there is nothing "well" about his condition since the triumph of the Cross.  

The Cross has doomed the devil.

"And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it." [Colossians 2:15 KJV]

Jesus disarmed Satan. To “disarm” someone, one has his taken away (example: man with gun). This means that although Satan and his demons have great power, they have been disarmed and cannot harm us as Christians unless we “rearm” them by refusing to "stand."

To stand in Christ is what the armor is all about.

He is our truth___[the girdle]
He is our righteousness___[The breastplate]
He is our peace___[The feed shod]
He is our faith___[The shield]
He is our salvation___[the helmet]
He is our sword___[the Word of God] 

1 John 5: "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." 

It is our confidence and rest in the work of the Cross that IS the victory. Notice, it doesn't "bring the victory." Our faith in the work of Christ on the Cross IS THE VICTORY.

That brings us to the end of the story.

 At the cross Satan was disarmed, disgraced and defeated. The words of Martin Luther tell us what this means:

"And though this world with devils filled, 

should threaten to undo us, 

We will not fear, for God hath willed, 

His truth to triumph through us. 

The Prince of Darkness grim, 

we tremble not for him; 

His rage we can endure, 

for lo, his doom is sure; 

One little word shall fell him."

What’s that "one little word" that brings the devil down? 

It’s the name.. 


To be sure, our enemy the devil is still active [alive] in this world and the work of Christ on the Cross, while ours by faith, is yet to be accomplished for the whole of its intention for all of creation. But at His return His full intention WILL be accomplished. 

So we learn of Satan's final end in Revelation 20:10 where it says, "And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur.There he will be tormented day and night for ever and ever."

Our enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil are defeated by the Cross in 2013 as in every other year. Live that out, in faith, this new year.

Paul B.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


As with so many words in scripture the word "flesh" [the Greek word is sarx] has several meanings. The word is used over 150 times and means, depending on the context, Physicality, as in 1 Corinthians 15:39,  the physical human body as in Matthew 26:41 and John 1:14, physical heritage or descendancy as in John 3:6 or Romans 4:1, the marital union as in Ephesians 5:29, and___well___ you can see what I mean.

The way "flesh" is spoken of in an evil sense is NOT a reference to the physical body because the body is not evil. In this post I'm addressing "flesh" as behavioral patterns that exist and are contrary to the character of God. It seems to me that it is used this way in places like Galatians 5:16-21 for example.  And then, that "flesh" is contrasted with the work of the Spirit as described in verses 22-23. This evil "flesh" is energized by the devil and is described, as I said, as sinful patterns of behavior in other places like Romans 7:18, 25 and Ephesians 2:3 as well.

This enemy called "flesh" that all Christians are plagued with cannot become better by reformation. Our only hope, which we will address a bit later, is in recognizing that the Cross has done its work on the "flesh" as well as the "world." [Galatians 5:23]

This kind of "Flesh" is NOT seen in scripture, at least as I understand it, as inherent or intrinsic within in man. In other words, you were not born with "flesh" as your enemy. Yet, it is NOT nascent, or newly developed either. It is a life-long developed way of living selfishly, pridefully, immorally, unethically, and a host of other things, that eventually build highways of behavior that are in opposition to the ways of God. Furthermore, I don't believe"flesh" is to be seen as your "old nature." There is a completely different word for "nature" in the Greek. It is unfortunate that the word "flesh" is made synonymous with "nature" by some theologians because the basic biblical meaning is lost, I'm convinced, when that is done. 

As stated, we bring about the existence of our own unique "flesh" by simply living in this fallen world. But our "flesh" becomes our enemy after conversion because the Spirit develops a new way of living and behaving that is in constant war with the old way we have developed by which we live life. Remember, the "flesh" is NOT who you ARE as a christian. It describes how you behave when not walking in the Spirit. So it is an enemy ONLY when the reality of the Spirit is introduced to our life and we are made a new creation in Christ. Those old patterns/highways of behavior we've developed through the years remain after conversion and do battle against the new person we are in Christ.

Let me give what I grant is a far too simple example. Early on [my childhood] I developed a pattern or way of feeling good about myself by helping people. This was my "flesh" way of getting my need for approval and especially from others. So when I did something to help others, all too often, it was REALLY so I'd feel good about myself. That's called self or selfishness in scripture. It isn't godly at all.

It LOOKED like I was doing it for others [at least to them] and maybe I was to a degree on the surface. But when honestly examined, it was FOR ME. That's basic selfishness and ego. But it appears that is the norm for all unregenerate life. That pattern was unknowingly fed by grateful people who appreciated what I was doing, it is true. But that particular aspect of my "flesh" was developed by my choices motivated by self. 

Now, get that boy converted, and I was. Get him doing pastoral ministry, and I did. WOW,  he discovers that he STILL struggles with wanting to feel good about himself by getting his strokes from helping others. Only now he realizes that, as a Christian, there is to be a different motive for ANY behavior. BOOM! You have an on-going struggle or battle of "flesh" against the Spirit and the enemy wins often it seems. Your "flesh" may look different than mine, but yours is no less an enemy to your walk in the Spirit than is mine.

Now we understand Paul's admonition at the end of Galatians 5 where he says, "And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us NOT be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another." [24-26] We can behave differently BECAUSE we are new in Christ  EVEN THOUGH we can still act out the patterns of our "flesh" when we're not willing to experience the way of victory. 

So the final issue is__How do we experience our victory over the flesh?

Paul wrote to the Galatians to remind them that we are fundamentally new people. He said it this way..."I  have been crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me, and the life that I now live in the flesh [body] I now live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."  [Galatians 2:20]  That is our testimony as well. When we, in repentance, came to Christ, we were spiritually united with Him in every way. When He died, we died. When He was raised from the dead, we were raised. We should know that we HAVE BEEN CRUCIFIED! But then we HAVE BEEN RAISED together with Him as well. WE ARE NEW!! 

We must understand this, acknowledge this, believe this, and confess this to be true. This is foundational to walking after the Spirit.

That's who we are.

Now, with that biblically declared knowledge believed and rested on [faith] we can begin dealing with our enemy the "flesh." We know the "flesh" has been crucified, [Galatians 5:24] so it doesn't have dominion over us any longer. We can now behave like the NEW PEOPLE we are in Christ. For that to happen it takes our walking by faith and allowing the positive empowering of God's grace by His Spirit to over-ride any and all negative patterns of selfishness that may have formed in the desires of our "flesh." 

It is these propensities, first, for action___ idolatry, immorality, lust, greed, selfishness___ and then, reaction___strife, envying, hatred___ that are the old in us and which our enemy, the devil, [We will see this enemy next time.]  is able to plug into and tempt us to manifest his selfish nature.

As we accept the reality of who we are, and the Spirit does His work. Then we have to be honest about the old patterns, name them, [confess them] say "no" to them, and the battle is the Lord's. This is regardless of what your "flesh" looks like, selfishness, immorality, [sensual] strife gendering, lust, greed, covetousness, hatred or whatever. 

What we DON'T do, however, is try to suppress the "flesh" or train the "flesh" to godliness. We reckon it to be what it is, crucified, but because the Spirit is alive in us the battle is the Lord's. When we walk by the Spirit we will not carry out the desires of the 'flesh." It isn't trying to keep the flesh down and thereby walk in the Spirit. That would be, as I read someone say, "spiritual dyslexia." 

It is to walk in the Spirit, and when we do, His power is really there to enable us to mortify [cut off/say no to] any power [deeds] of the flesh. [Reread two paragraphs above.] It is a new life in Christ we now live by faith whose fruit is described in Galatians 5:22-23 as "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,  against such there is no law." This is a lifelong battle don't forget. 

That's how we are to live and act.

 I realize this is only touching the hem of the garment on this issue, but study it with this mind and remember that it is ALL a faith venture. 

Paul B. 

Saturday, January 05, 2013


The new year of 2013 will be different than the year 2012 in many ways. But, in some ways, no matter how many years Providence may grant us, they will always be the same. Our enemies remain the same. 

In simple language those enemies consist of the world, the flesh, and the devil. 

But the clear testimony of scripture is that all three are defeated and we are to walk in that victory over each. Let's look at some implications of this at the beginning of this year of our Lord, 2013, and in our first three posts of the new year.
The first one is our enemy___the world.
The scripture clearly says that we are not to love the "world." [1 John 2:15] In fact, James states in no uncertain terms that anyone who loves the "world" is an "enemy of God." [James 4:4]
The term "world" is used several ways in the bible however, so let's be clear about what "world" the scripture is really speaking of when it is declared to be our enemy. 
The scriptures speak about the created "world"__mountains__oceans__the beauty of nature itself__but these things are not our enemy. [The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof.] This "world" is, in fact, our responsibility. We are to take care of it [terra firma] and use it wisely as the first couple, Adam and Eve, was instructed to do. 

There is also the use of the word "world"  in scripture that speaks of the people who make up a society and refers to the people of any nation. However, God loves people [For God so loved the world] and has clearly expressed that love according to our gospel message concerning the work of the Cross and we are commanded to live in His example of that love. This, even with our enemies.

But the word "world," when spoken of as an enemy and NOT to be loved, is referring to a "world system" that is found to be in total opposition to the reality of God and especially His control over our lives. It is a philosophy of life opposed to God as the source of life. 

Anything that establishes a "system of values" found that is to be centered on man [humanism] and contrary to the purposes God has for us in love and the freedom of the Spirit is our enemy and is called our enemy in scripture. The principles that govern this meaning of "world" are force, control, greed, covetousness, self-centeredness, and sensual pleasure. 

Such a system may often be found in politics, religion, even in marriage and family life, which would render that system a "worldly" thing in biblical terms. 

1 John 5:19 says, "We know that we are of God, and the whole [here it is] "World" [any system that leaves the true God out] lies under the sway of the wicked one. [Speaking of the devil whom we will address later.] 

So it doesn't matter whether it is politics, religion, marriage, church or family, if it is built on forced control, sensual pleasures, gluttony, greed, or self-centeredness, it is our enemy and we are NOT to love it.  

Who would have thought?    

Not many think clearly about religion being "worldly" or a marriage being "worldly," except when immorality is found present, or a political system being "worldly." But by biblical definitions religion, church-life, and even marriage can be and are often found to be based on control, greed, self-centeredness thus being an enemy of the Spirit. 

The religion of the Terrorists would be easily classified as "worldly" by all of us. But a religious, forcefully male-dominated, selfish, greedy Southern Baptist local entity called a church [Southern Baptist being my heritage] or a Southern Baptist pastor's marriage and family life [again, my heritage]  built around control and force would biblically quality as "worldly" as well.

Our enemy the "world" is perhaps best understood when seen in the light of 1 John 2:16-17. It is there that we find this enemy broken down clearly into three aspects with destructive consequences.

Those aspects include first of all "The Lust of the Flesh." [Gluttony] This is to be understood as any of our appetites being given control over us or our purpose in life given over to gratifying the those appetites. Appetites are NOT, within themselves, sinful at all, but they are NOT to be esteemed as life itself. To "glut" means "to fill beyond capacity, to satiate, to indulge in excess." 

So, while the senses are not sinful as seen by it not being a sin to eat or drink to live, [Or to satisfy any other appetite we have.] when given over to gluttony in any appetite, whether it's for sex, food, drink, whatever, such appetites become a "worldly" thing as described in scripture and is our enemy. That, because to live to eat, or drink, over-indulge in sex, or gluttony of any nature, is opposed to the Spirit. 

The "Lust of the eyes" [Covetousness] is another aspect of our enemy the "world" as seen in scripture. This is a longing to possess, the desire to have, an eagerness to have at any cost. The "lust of the eye" is covetousness as the "Lust of the Flesh" is gluttony.

Then, the final aspect of the "world" mentioned in 1 John 2 is the "Pride of Life. [Self-centeredness] This refers to a vain display of who we are or what we have and an attempt to have the spotlight shine on us. Gluttony, covetousness and self-centeredness all reflect on what the "world" is with man as it's center and God dethroned in His purposes. What an enemy the "world" is!

We all develop our own personal patterns by which these three aspects of the "World" exert their influence on us and would dominate our lives and shape our thoughts without our, somehow, seeing the "flesh" [which we'll see next] as crucified or put "to death" is how scripture says it. 

So how, then, do we deal with this enemy of ours called the "world?"

Our defense is the work accomplished on the Cross by our Lord. 1 John 5:4-5 we're told that our defense is "faith in God" and the finished work of Christ. In other words, our victory according to 1 John 5:4-5 is NOT dependent upon us at all, but on our faith [a gift] in what He has done that produces our salvation experience in Christ as we rest on His finished work.  

We are saved [delivered] by faith, then, as we grow in our knowledge of and appreciation for our Lord and His work on our behalf and rest in that accomplishment, [living by faith] we overcome the world and it's pull on us. 

As you can see, our focus is NOT to be the enemy, the "world" but on the enemy's defeat at the hands of our Lord on the Cross. The world is a defeated enemy and we are to live in that victory.

Paul said in 11 Corinthians 5: 14-15 that the "Love of Christ: constrained him. [Drove him to do and not do certain things.]  The overwhelming love of Christ for us, manifested when He died for us on the Cross, calls forth our all in response. We have here a true scriptural basis for the great hymn by Isaac Watts :

When I survey the wondrous Cross
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pur contempt on all my pride.

Our enemy the "World" lies defeated by the Cross in 2013 as in every other year. Live that out in faith this new year.

Paul B.