Last week we looked at Satan’s disruptive tactics as the “accuser,” accusing God to humanity and accusing humanity to God. We also saw him as the “enticer of lusts.” This week, we continue our look at this enemy, knowing that understanding one’s enemy is a precursor to defeating that enemy.
…so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. – 2 Corinthians 2:11, ESV
He is a Hunter
The apostle Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5:8 that our “adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
The roar of a lion can be an overwhelming and frightening thing if one is standing close by the lion when that roar occurs. It is tempting to read this characterization from Peter and see it as a warning to stay away from roaring lions. That may be the case and it is good advice to do so. But I believe there is an even better lesson we can pull from this verse.
When does a lion roar? Is it while he is hunting? Is it when he is hiding in the thicket, watching the doe across the field? No, the lion does not roar while hunting.
When the lion is in predator mode, he is as silent as he can be, stealthily moving from one spot to the next, imperceptible. And when he is in position for the final attack, he moves with astonishing speed and power, taking down his prey with impressive ease.
Then he roars!
A lion’s roar is a warning to others, saying, “This is mine. I caught it and I am the one who will devour it.”
Lions also roar to declare control over territory and to communicate with other lions from whom they may have become separated while hunting or roaming. But when the lion has you in its attack path, you will not know it until he is right on top of you.
So, it is with Satan. Don’t look for Satan in the roar. Look for him in the thicket. He is a hunter.
He is an Impersonator
While the lion hides in the brush to camouflage himself, sometimes Satan is standing directly in front of us and we do not recognize him for what he is. While calling out some false, lying apostles, the apostle Paul said the following:
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. – 2 Corinthians 11:13-15a, ESV
Jesus warned us about this as well, saying, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15, ESV).
I have met so many in the body of Christ who are far too trusting, accepting any charlatan as having “a word from the Lord” entirely on the basis that they claim it to be so. How blindly foolish of us!
The people of Berea were considered noble precisely because they did not blindly accept the word of Paul and Silas. They received it with eagerness, yes, but they examined the scriptures every day, verifying, validating, and confirming whether or not what Paul and Silas said was true.
Trust, but verify.
Never forget, that Satan is highly adept at twisting scripture. The first thing he said to Eve was, “Did God really say…?”
He is a Liar
There is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. – John 8:44b, NASB
Everything Satan says should be treated with great suspicion. As the messages of the world fill your ears, it is critical that you understand you ARE being lied to. Don’t fall for it.
He is a Deceiver
And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. – Revelation 12:9, ESV
Three times from Paul and once from James, we are told, “Do not be deceived.” Not to make light of scripture, but that seems like a silly thing to say.
The tricky thing about being deceived is that we don’t know we are deceived. That’s because we are deceived! Right? So how can we prevent being deceived when we are deceived? It’s like trying to “eat your own head.” You just can’t do that.
You can lie to me, and I may or may not know it. It is possible that you are lying to me and I know it, and you know I know it. But one who is deceived does not know they are deceived. They believe something and are acting on information that is blatantly false and they have no idea this is the case. That is one who is deceived.
The propensity for deception is the reason behind my becoming fairly animated with those who build a faith-life, or a doctrine, based on how they “feel” about something. “Oh this just feels so right. I know God is in this.”
Really? How?? Because you feel it? The lion is about to roar!
But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3).
So, how do we avoid being deceived? I believe it is the Bereans again. Verify everything (even this blog posting) against the standard of scripture. Search the scriptures daily to determine if what you are hearing, seeing, reading is true. Test what I say, what the TV sitcom says, what the musician on the radio says, what the silver-screen movie says. Verify all of it against scripture, and you will not be deceived.
He is Bound, but he’s Loose
Some believers get pretty cocky where Satan is concerned. It is almost as though they are talking smack to Satan like a boxer or an ego-inflated UFC fighter. “I bind you Satan. I’m gonna take you down, and wrap you in spiritual chains, and I rebuke you, and forbid you, etc.”
Even Jesus did not speak to Satan in this way. And consider Jude 9, “But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’“
Satan is not one with whom we should toy around. It is true that he is somewhat bound, and he does have limitations, almost as though he is on a leash. But that by no means makes him safe or impotent.
Consider this – A rabid dog on a leash is indeed bound, but he is also loose, depending on where you are standing. If the dog is staked by the door on a ten-foot chain and I’m on the sidewalk fifteen feet away, is he bound? Yes, he is. But if I am five feet from the door, is he still bound? Yeah, he’s still bound, but he’s also loose!
Don’t play around with Satan. He’s not to be feared, but neither is he to be taken lightly.
He is a Blinder
Satan has blinded the minds of unbelievers. They are blind but believe they see. In fact, they believe they see more clearly than those who genuinely do see.
But Satan has blinded their minds, “to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4b). In this sense, this is the flip-side of the liar and deceiver. Not only does Satan speak lies, he also obscures truth.
He is a Huckster
I love a good magician. My wife does not. She feels lied to by their magic, but I don’t mind it. I know it’s a trick and they know I know it is a trick.
What I do not care for at all is one who will pretend to do the miraculous in order to deceive. And we know this happens.
The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception – 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10a, ESV
Do not be bowled over by the supposed signs and wonders. Just because something appears powerful and amazing does not mean it is of God. I was once asked by an objector, “What? Are you saying this is not real?” I responded, “No, not at all. I am saying it is not of God.”
Remember Jesus’ stern warning about this:
On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ – Matthew 7:22-23, ESV
Jesus did not say the signs and wonders were unreal, just that they were not done in service to him, even when they were done “in his name.”
He is Not a Caricature
It is important for Christ-followers to understand that Satan is not a toy for our amusement. He is not a silly cartoon-caricature jokester, twisting dogs’ tails and dipping schoolgirl pigtails into ink wells. Satan wants nothing less than the post-resurrection defeat of Christ through the death of the human soul.
We are at war, and the war is not with the person next to us, or in front of us, or our partner in marriage, or our political adversaries. The enemy is Satan.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12, NASB)
Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war – Psalm 144:1a, ESV