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.


Aussie John said...

You nailed it well! The doctrines in which I was raised concentrated on verses of Scripture such as 1 Peter 5:8, but never mentioned verse 9.

Scripture well demonstrates that it is only unbelievers who are truly vulnerable to Satan's power; those who are genuinely in Christ are protected from his spite(1John 5:18).

A very long time ago, whilst struggling to be free from the dross of the tradition in which I was raised, I was reminded that the battle was won, when Jesus declared, "It is finished!". I heard Johnny Cash sing the following words

There's a line that is drawn through the ages
On that line stands an old rugged cross
On that cross, a battle is raging To gain a man's soul or it's loss On one side, march the forces of evil
All the demons, all the devils of hell
On the other, the angels of glory
And they meet on Golgotha's hill
The earth shakes with the force of the conflict
And the sun refuses to shine
For there hangs God's son, in the balance
And then through the darkness he cries

It is finished, the battle is over It is finished, there'll be no more war
It is finished, the end of the conflict
It is finished and Jesus is Lord

Yet in my heart, the battle was still raging
Not all prisoners of war had come home
These were battlefields of my own making
I didn't know that the war had been won
Oh, but then I heard the king of the ages
Had fought all the battles for me
And that victory was mine for the claiming
And now praise his name, I am free.

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

That is one POWERFUL song. Thanks!

Debbie Kaufman has left a new comment on your post "OUR ENEMY____THE DEVIL":

Debbie Kaufman.

Your comment got tossed for some reason and I've not been able to recover it. So...I've taken the liberty of putting it up via my own comment. I'm sorry about that, but I did something wrong trying to post it. [Besides, she mentioned my new great grand-son and I didn't want anyone to miss that. LOL]

Here is Debbie's comment..

"Good stuff as usual. I find Satan to be one of the most misunderstood yet understood creatures of scripture. I guess that is what makes him wiley. Like God, if you make him a person of your own creation or thought instead of what scripture actually teaches about him, he can use that to his advantage. Thank you for again pointing us to scripture.

2 aside points. I am sorry I missed speaking with you last Sunday as I so enjoyed your sermon and congrats on being a great grandpa. He's beautiful."

Thanks Debbie.