Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. [1 Peter 5:8-9a (MSG)]
There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist and a magician with the same delight. [C. S. Lewis]
If asked to name your enemies, what would you answer? Unless you are embattled in a bitter lawsuit, you might say China, Russia, North Korea, or your fiercest business competitor. While you might even claim you have no enemies, would you think of mentioning things like discontent, doubt, resentment, discouragement, greed, despair, envy, pride, fear, or bitterness? Would you mention Satan, our greatest enemy—the one who so generously gives us those unpleasant gifts? Probably not; yet Satan is far more dangerous than any nation, terrorist group, or cyber-criminal. Although his purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy, Satan rarely gets the recognition he deserves. Because we frequently think of him as a cartoonish character with horns and a tail, wearing red tights, and carrying a pitchfork, Satan doesn’t seem real or dangerous—but he is!
Our enemy is thrilled when we picture him as the silly red devil depicted on a can of Underwood deviled ham. If we recognized him as the repugnant fiend he is, we’d immediately flee in terror. Satan and his demons, however, are spirits, not beings, and have no physical likeness. We may not be able to see them, but we can see the destruction they leave behind with one glance at the day’s news.
Satan fell from grace when he opposed God and, as God’s adversary, he opposes God, His people, and His truth. “Satan” is the Hebrew word for adversary or opponent and “devil” is from the Greek diabolos, meaning accuser or slanderer. All that and more, as the father of lies, tempter, and sower of weeds, our enemy will do everything possible to thwart God’s purpose and destroy all that God loves.
Let’s never forget, however, that Satan is not, never was, and never can be God’s equal. Wanting to be God rather than God’s servant, Satan is more like a promising executive who grew proud, discontented, and jealous of his boss (the founder and owner of Heaven, Inc.). After Satan attempted a hostile takeover, the management easily defeated and fired him. Leaving with about a third of the original employees, Satan opened Evil, Inc. in direct competition. In an effort to destroy God’s customer base, Satan lies, cheats, and steals and offers an inferior counterfeit product that appears to be cheaper but costs far more in the long run.
Unfortunately, we seem more wary of the false advertising we see every day in the media than we are of Satan’s empty promises. While we might be able to spot a deal too good to be true in a magazine ad, we’re often oblivious to Satan’s subtle schemes. Even though the best he can offer is an eternity in hell, we keep falling for his lies. Like a good fisherman, he baits his hook according to the appetite of his prey!
A cunning enemy, Satan wants our souls far more than the most persistent telemarketer wants our money. If he can’t take our souls, he’ll use every tactic in his arsenal to hinder our witness and service. Limited in power, Satan is fighting a battle that was lost with Jesus’ resurrection; his final destination is eternal punishment in a lake of fire. That, however, doesn’t keep Satan and his demons from their malicious activities. Knowing how much God loves His children, Satan wants to wreak as much havoc and cause as much collateral damage as possible before the end. Let’s not play into Satan’s hands by failing to take our enemy seriously. It’s a matter of life and death!
Jesus once said that Satan was a thief. Satan does not steal money, for he knows that money has no eternal value. He steals only what has eternal value – primarily the souls of men. [Zac Poonen]