Monday, November 11, 2013

The Devil is God’s Devil (Overcoming Satan)

            Reformed theologian Dr. G.C. Berkouwer said, “There can be no sound theology without a sound demonology.” It is imperative to understand Satan if we are to biblically live our life in Christ. Abundant life in Christ is lived in confidence but without fear. Satan is “the most crafty and subtle of creatures, He is the quintessential con artist working his scams via camouflage,”1 said Pastor Erwin Lutzer. The fear of Satan resides in many Christians, but a true Christian life cannot be lived under such constraints.

            Christians believe in the reality of evil. Evil is neither a myth nor an illusion. Sometimes Christians fear Satan so much that they are more preoccupied with Satan than with God.

Culture often terrorizes people through its narrative of evil. Evil eye, 2 an intentional or innocent look which is believed to bring a curse or bad luck on a successful person, is one of the manifestations of evil in certain cultures. This evil is seemingly warded off by a ritual.
           
There are Satan worshippers as well. Apparently, a primitive tribe in India is said to possess magical powers that levitates them by defying gravity, to sit on the leaf of a standing banana tree, to guard their village against enemies. They are devoted practitioners of black magic. Many Christians are deeply fearful of such black magic practitioners.
           
A Christian will only live out his life victoriously when he understands the inherent attributes of God and Satan. The nature of relationship between God and Satan will also throw sufficient light into a Christian mind so to understand his position in God.
           
God is uncaused; he is not a created being. In the very first verse, the Bible says, “In the beginning God…” (Genesis 1:1). This statement presupposes God’s eternal existence (Revelation 1:8). God is present everywhere (Psalm 139:7-12). HE is all-powerful (Matthew 19:26), and all-knowing (Hebrews 4:13). HE is God Almighty who has complete dominion over everything. Everything does not exclude anything, Satan included! God is the Holy One. God is good, gracious, loving, just, and merciful.
           
God created angels (cf. Genesis 1: 31), of which there are good and evil. The good angels are loyal to God; the evil angels oppose God, trying to destroy HIS work. Satan was one of God’s creations. But Satan rebelled desiring to dethrone God to set himself as the Most High, so God judged him (Isaiah 14:12-15). Satan sinned because of his pride to dethrone God. Satan was the originator of sin, so he enticed mankind to sin.
           
Satan is the evil one; love, justice, mercy and grace are not in him. Satan “masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). Satan’s goal is to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10). Satan is a liar. Satan is not omnipresent, omnipotent or even omniscient (Isaiah 46: 9). Satan does not know the thoughts of our mind, let alone our future. God alone knows everything. Satan is a very limited being.
           
The Bible explains a few crucial facts about the relationship between God and Satan:

(1) Satan has been judged by God for eternal destruction (Jude 1:6, Revelation 20:10).

(2) Satan is unable to perform deeds outside of God’s will (Job 1 & 2).

(3) Satan can only function within the boundary defined by God.
           
Thus God is in absolute control over Satan. Martin Luther aptly summarized the relationship between God and Satan as, “the devil is God’s devil.”
           
A true believer understands his God and his enemy well. The factual understanding that the loving God absolutely controls Satan infuses a great confidence into a Christian’s life. As the Christian grows in the Lord, he grows in confidence in God.
           
Having said this, it’s also a fact that man is created lower than angels:

(1) We do not have the ability to appear and disappear as the angels do (Luke 2:9-15).

(2) We live in the physical realm whereas the angels live in the higher spiritual realm (cf. Job 1:6) and can make their appearance in the physical realm.

(3) Man does not have the power to inflict sickness upon his fellow men but the angels have the power to inflict sickness upon mankind (E.g. Job).
           
God’s creational plan for mankind may have been that of subordination to the angelic beings but does this subordination extend into our existence? This is where a true believer’s factual understanding of his position from the Scriptures separates him from a nominal believer.

Apostle Paul writing to the church in Ephesus asserts that the faithful in Christ are blessed “with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). A believer is blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ, not some. A true believer understands God’s sovereignty and his own position in Christ. Through his understanding of God’s sovereignty, the true Christian holds to his faith and hope in Christ when he faces trials (Matthew 7:24-25; Job 2:7-10). Because he understands God’s love, a true Christian remains in Christ and bears good fruit (John 15:4). A true believer is fully aware that he is seated with God in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6; cf. Ephesians 1:21). He is seated with Christ and above all rule and authority, power and dominion. His life is prayer-filled, for prayer is crucial in overcoming Satan (Mark 9: 29). Thus a true believer lives a victorious life, not a life subjugated by fear, but in absolute dependency on the Triune God.
           
A true believer knows he will be protected by God always. He knows that he will live and die for Christ. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego responded to King Nebuchadnezzar by saying, “…If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18). Life or death is immaterial to a true believer since he is in Christ. Material world is immaterial to him. He knows that the triune God has blessed him with an incomparably great power and protection from all harms and dangers of the Satan.

In fact, Satan was defeated even before his creation. This is the grand exhibition of God’s knowledge and incomparable power. God sent a divine being, an angel or the Lord himself, to rescue Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the blazing furnace. The Bible is replete with instances of God’s people overcoming Satan’s works. The greatest of all, the Lord’s victory over sin and death through his resurrection and ascension, assures every true believer that they are safe and victorious in God’s presence.
           
God protects us mysteriously yet marvelously. Rev. Billy Graham narrates the instance in the life of Rev. John G. Paton, a missionary in the New Hebrides Islands. “Hostile natives surrounded his mission headquarters one night, intent on burning the Patons out and killing them. John Paton and his wife prayed all during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. When daylight came they were amazed to see the attackers unaccountably leave. They thanked God for delivering them.
           
A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Jesus Christ, and Mr. Paton, remembering what had happened, asked the chief what had kept him and his men from burning down the house and killing them. The chief replied in surprise, “Who were all those men you had with you there?” The missionary answered, “There were no men there; just my wife and I.” The chief argued that they had seen many men standing guard — hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords in their hands. They seemed to circle the mission station so that the natives were afraid to attack. Only then did Mr. Paton realize that God had sent his angels to protect them.”3 The missionary did not see the angels since he was deeply engrossed in prayer and the Lord delivered him. The incomparable power of the Lord protects a true Christian.
           
God desires that we live a victorious life. The Bible screams that “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31). This was experienced by Rev. Paton on that night the natives surrounded them. Every child of God listed in the Bible experienced God’s protection and overcame the evil one. When Christ indwells in us, we have the incomparable power to be victorious.
           
But we must fight Satan’s deception. One of Satan’s subtle deceptions is to get the believers to doubt God’s presence. It’s at this point one’s faith suffers. Sickness, sudden death, financial loss may plant seeds of doubt in God. In such instances we may wonder where God is when we are hurting. During moments of trials, we should pray to God to increase our faith (Luke 17: 5).
           
Prophet Elijah had his own share of troubles, but he remained in God. Job was inflicted with the death of his loved ones and also with painful illness, but he never lost his faith in God. Apostle Paul was flogged and imprisoned, but he did not lose faith in God. The disciples of Christ remained strong in their faith despite all their troubles. Why?

Having experienced God in their lives, they never doubted God’s presence even though they experienced pain the Satan was allowed to bring into their lives. However, they were saved by God’s incomparable power. None were lost. Satan may kill our body, if God permits, but God will never allow the eternal destruction of those who believe in HIM. So why fear when God is here? Amen. 

Endnotes:

1 Erwin W. Lutzer, The Serpent of Paradise, 10.
2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evil_eye


3 Billy Graham, Angels: God’s Secret Agents, 2-3.

6 comments:

Remila Mathew said...

great stuff! Explained well with scriptural references.

Raj Richard said...

Thank you, Sister :)

Andrew Rodrigues said...

Good one, Pastor!

Raj Richard said...

Thank you Bro. Andrew. Praise God from whom all blessings flow :)

Clifford said...

Thanks Bro it is a powerful message God Bless You

Raj Richard said...

Thank you, Brother Clifford :)