Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

 4-12-03

What the Bible Says About the Devil


Introduction:

The apostle Peter 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,NKJV)

Peter is warning us that the devil is our enemy and that he wants to destroy us, and then he warns us to take him seriously and to be on our guard.  Satan doesn’t want us to study his characteristics and learn about his tactics.  He would much rather work behind the scenes and keep alive the erroneous belief that he is a “red skinned creature with horns, a forked tail, and a pitchfork, with smoke continually coming out of his nostrils.” This misrepresentation of Satan gives rise to the disturbing opinion that he is not a real person at all, but a mythological or fictional character, which only represents an evil influence in the world. However, the Bible clearly describes the devil and carefully outlines his strategy.  Listen to how the Bible describes the temptation of Jesus in Matthews’s gospel.

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.  Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”   But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”  Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down.  For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ” Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him. (Matthew 4:1-11, NKJV)

Let’s ask the Bible five questions about the devil, and listen to the answers:

First, “Where did the devil come from?”

Second, “What is the personality of the devil?”

Third, “How much power does the devil have?”

Forth, “What is the work of the devil?”

Fifth, “What is the destiny of the devil?”

We need to know what the Bible has to say about the devil, because it’s the only source of information available, which we can trust.  And besides who would know him better than the One who created him, and who sees everything he does.

Let’s begin with the question, “WHERE DID THE DEVIL COME FROM?”

Satan is a created being.  The fact that all things in heaven and on earth, were created by Christ and for Christ is stated in Colossians 1:16: “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.”  The simple truth that the devil exists causes us to conclude that he was created; and the fact that he is invisible means that he exists in the same realm as the host of heaven. We don’t know when the angelic host was created.  The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly when God created the angels, but it does imply that their creation preceded all material things as we know them, and that they were themselves preceded by the eternal existence of God. It says in the first two verses of John’s gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.   He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1-2, NKJV).  Here, the Word is the Lord Jesus Christ. Among the entire angelic host, Satan’s creation alone is mentioned in particular.  It says in Ezekiel 28:12-17, “…Tell him, 'The Lord God says: You were the perfection of wisdom and beauty.  You were in Eden, the garden of God; your clothing was bejeweled with every precious stone--ruby, topaz, diamond, chrysolite, onyx, jasper, sapphire, carbuncle, and emerald--all in beautiful settings of finest gold. They were given to you on the day you were created.  I appointed you to be the anointed Guardian Angel. You had access to the holy mountain of God…" 'You were perfect in all you did from the day you were created until that time when wrong was found in you.  Your great wealth filled you with internal turmoil, and you sinned. Therefore, I cast you out of the mountain of God like a common sinner…Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor…” The Bible doesn’t mention the creation of Gabriel, the archangel Michael, the cherubim or any other members of the heavenly Host; it only mentions Lucifer, who is also called Satan or the devil  This fact suggests the supreme place that Satan held in relation to all other invisible creatures of God.

The second question we asked was, “What is the personality of the devil?”

Very early in the Bible, in Genesis 3:1, we are told, “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”  We know from this verse that he is cunning, that he was a resident of the Garden of Eden, and that he perverts and distorts scripture. This is what Isaiah said about Satan: notice that he is given a heavenly title, “Lucifer, son of the morning.”  “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!   For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’  Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit. (Isaiah 14:12-17)  He is described here as proud and ambitious; he wanted to be like God, and he set his will against God’s will. He lost his position in heaven and he is under judgment because of his rebellion against God.

Next, as I read these verses in Ezekiel, listen for these characteristics of the devil:
Created with superior wisdom.
Appears to be beautiful.
Originally created as one of the heavenly beings.
Essentially evil.
Repulsive to those who know him.

“Behold, you are wiser than Daniel! There is no secret that can be hidden from you!…‘Thus says the Lord God: “You were the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.  You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold…You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you. …“Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you; You have become a horror… ” (Ezekiel 28:3-19)

In John 8:44 we are told that he is a liar, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

In 2 Corinthians, we are told that he is deceptive; he has the ability to change his appearance.  “For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14)

We are also told that he is not omniscient, omnipresent, or omnipotent. In other words, he doesn’t have God’s ability to know all things, to be everywhere at the same time, and he doesn’t have unlimited power. He must do what God orders.

There is yet another interesting indication of Satan’s personality; it’s the fact that he apparently has access to God. In Job 1:6 we are told, “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.”  The phrase “sons of God” refers to angelic beings that do God’s bidding. These beings were created and therefore are limited and in no way equal to God.  Here they are seen as gathered around the throne of God to report activities and to receive further orders, and Satan is right there with them.

Satan also has access to men, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)  The activity of Satan against believers is mentioned in various ways throughout the New Testament. Satan tempts believers to lie (Acts 5:3); he accuses and slanders them (Rev. 12:10); he entices them toward sexual sin (1 Cor. 7:5); he places obstacles in their path (1 Thess. 2:18); he causes persecution (Rev. 2:10); and he causes false-Christians to infiltrate among true Christians to promote confusion and division in the church (Matt. 13:38, 39).

The Christian’s defense involves being on guard, sober, vigilant (1 Pet. 5:8), taking a stand against the devil and resisting him (v. 9; James 4:7; Eph. 6:11–18).

The third question to ask is, “How much power does the devil have?”

The prince of this world has already been judged: Genesis 3:15 says, “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” That was the judgment of God against Satan in the Garden of Eden, where he led Eve to sin.  There is a final judgment to come, but for now, Satan has not lost his position, and he has lost little of his power. His personal strength cannot be estimated.

The writer of Hebrews said that Satan had the power of death: “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.” (Hebrews 2:14)  This is one of the reasons why Jesus had to die on the Cross; it was to destroy the power and fear of death. Through his death and resurrection, He broke the hold that Satan had over men. That power has been surrendered to Christ, who has all power in heaven and earth. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelations 1:18)

Satan had the power of sickness in the case of Job; “So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. (Job 2: 7)  But remember, Satan only had access to Job, because God allowed it, and God put limits on what he could do to him.

Satan was able to sift Peter as wheat in a sieve. That is what Jesus told Peter, “And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.” (Luke 22:31). Satan already controlled Judas, but he had to ask for permission to “sift” the disciples and to tempt Peter.

Satan is not all-powerful and must comply with the limits set by the Lord.  “… God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

In Isaiah 14 we are told that he has weakened the nations, shaken kingdoms, and made the earth to tremble. Even though Satan has far greater power than we possess, Christians can have victory over Satan through the power of the Spirit of God and the blood of Christ.  That’s what it says in 1 John 4:4, “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”  The Spirit of God dwells in you and that Spirit is greater than men or devils.

The forth question is, “What is the work of the devil?”

Satan urges people to renounce God; that’s what he did to Eve, in the garden.

We are told in 2 Timothy that Satan opposes the work of God: “Therefore we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us.” Paul reminded these believers of the power of Satan, and he claimed that his return to Thessalonica had been “hindered” by Satan.

Satan also hinders the gospel; “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.” (Matthew 13:19)  It’s the unbeliever, who doesn’t understand the word of God.

Isaiah 14:12-17 is one of the many passages relating to the work of Satan. We have already read that passage. It reveals Satan’s original and supreme purpose.  He would ascend into heaven, exalt his throne above the stars of God, and be like the Most High. The supreme motive of Satan was to be like the Most High, and it guided all his activities. It was behind his approach to Adam and Eve, and they adopted Satan’s ideal, becoming self-centered, self-sufficient and independent of God. This attitude has been transmitted to us, in that we are all born with that old Adamic nature.

The Bible calls us “children of wrath,” and therefore we must be born again. But Satan does everything in his power to keep the unsaved from coming to faith in Jesus. One way he works to accomplish this goal is to promote false religious systems.  It says in 2 Corinthians, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.  And no wonder!  For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)  Such satanic delusions are now in the world, and millions are deceived by them. These false systems should always be tested by their attitude toward the saving grace of God, through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

The fifth question is, “What is the destiny of the devil?”

Just as the word of God is clear about the origin, personality, power and work of Satan, it is equally clear with regard to his destiny.

Paul had this to say in his letter to the Colossians, “He canceled the debt, which listed all the rules we failed to follow. He took away that record with its rules and nailed it to the cross.  God stripped the spiritual rulers and powers of their authority.  With the cross, he won the victory and showed the world that they were powerless.” (Colossians 2:14-15) By His death, Christ stripped Satan of his power; he can’t harm those who have trusted in Christ, because we are robed in the righteousness of Christ and our sins have been nailed to the cross. The judgment of Satan was delivered at that same cross, but the execution of the sentence is still in the future.  Satan must have read Revelations, so he knows his fate. But I would be willing to bet that he doesn’t believe it. I think he believes that he can still win, if he can just get a few more souls. But his destiny is predetermined by God; it will be as it is declared in the twelfth chapter of Revelations. And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.  So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.  Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.  And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.  Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” (Revelations 12:7-12) Satan will be cast out of heaven and confined to the abyss, making it impossible for him to be active and to deceive the nations. In this passage it talks about a war in heaven, and that sounds so foreign to the place where peace and happiness prevail. But the ultimate doom of Satan must begin, like the first sin did. In pre-time, that is, before the creation, Satan had an earlier fall; He was forced to leave the immediate presence of God, and was sent to the second heaven. 

Ephesians 6:10-12, speaks about spiritual wickedness, “Finally, my brethren, 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 the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. The battle that will take place in heaven between the angels of God and the forces of Satan will be mortal combat. But Satan, who was already defeated at Calvary, is no match for the archangel Michael and the angels of God. Finally Satan will be cast into the lake of fire to be tormented day and night forever. That’s what it says in Revelations 20:10, “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

Conclusion:

Many believe that Satan does not really exist and that the supposed person of Satan is no more than an evil influence that is in people and in the world. This conception is proven to be wrong because there is the same abundant evidence that Satan is a person as there is that Christ is a person. Scripture, which alone is reliable on these matters, treats Satan as a person as much as Christ.  If the personality of Christ is accepted on the testimony of the Bible, then the personality of Satan must also be accepted on the same testimony.

I hope that you may have learned something you didn’t already know about Satan. It is wise to know your enemy. But it is even more important that you know and believe in Jesus, because where you will spend eternity depends on it. Make sure you can say, “NOW I BELONG TO JESUS!” Then you will be able to sing this song with me.

Jesus, my lord, will love me forever,
From Him no pow’r of evil can sever,
He gave His life to ransom my soul,
Now I belong to Him;
Now I belong to Jesus,
Jesus belongs to me,
Not for the years of time alone,
But for eternity.

Amen.

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