Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What Lurks in the Darkness?

As we read God’s Word, we learn about the devil and the demons, concerning what they know, what kind of character they have, as well as how they think and act. We know that Satan and the demons are simply created beings, fallen angels.

We want to be excellent about what is good and innocent about what is evil. So we don’t want to be experts regarding demons. But to learn more about them, let’s take a look at some of the Scriptures that teach us:

Satan and demons know Who Jesus Is
In Luke’s gospel, he specifically noted that Jesus is the Son of God. (Luk 3:38). There was a clear confirmation of that when John baptized Jesus. At that time, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased." (Luk 3:22)

This was no surprise to Satan and the demons. James teaches us that they know who Jesus is. “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” (Jam 2:19)

The demons are absolutely terrified of Jesus. We see this on the occasion when Jesus met the demoniac in the Gerasenes. Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; and shouting with a loud voice, he *said, "What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!" (Mar 5:6-7). The demons were speaking through the man, calling Jesus the Son of the Most High God. And they knew He had the power to torment them, so they begged Him not to do so.

The demons said to Him on another occasion: "Let us alone! What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are--the Holy One of God!" (Luk 4:34)

Demons also were coming out of many, shouting, "You are the Son of God!" But rebuking them, He would not allow them to speak, because they knew Him to be the Christ. (Luk 4:41)

Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and shout, "You are the Son of God!" (Mar 3:11)

So Satan and the demons absolutely know who Jesus is. And they know who God’s people are also.

But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, "I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches." Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. And the evil spirit answered and said to them, "I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" (Act 19:13-15). So clearly the demons and Satan not only recognize Jesus and know who He is, they also know about his servants, because Jesus lives in us!

Satan tempted Jesus to prove He is God’s Son
And the tempter came and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." (Mat 4:3)

Then the devil *took Him into the holy city and had Him stand 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 WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU'; and 'ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.'" (Mat 4:5-6)

The devil wanted the Son of God to worship him. Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of this world and said to Him, "All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me." (Mat 4:9). This was all just a continuation of Satan’s rebellion against God and his hatred for God. He will stoop to the lowest level and do the dirtiest, most evil things, even seeking to get God’s Son to worship him. He is filled with pride and dreams of having people worship him. His greatest joy would have been to see the Son of God do so.

Men challenged the Divinity of Christ
Just as the devil challenged Jesus to prove His divinity, men also did the same. The thief on the cross did this when he said, "You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross." (Mat 27:40)

The demons do no want to give up their territory
In the case of the Gerasene demoniac that I mentioned earlier, the demons did not want to give up their territory. “And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country.” (Mar 5:10)

satan and the demons come to kill, steal, and destroy
Satan is a thief and Jesus described His character well when He said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (Joh 10:10)

Satan is the adversary of every true child of God. Like a wild predator beast, he’s always out looking for someone to devour. That’s why Peter warned us to watch out for Him. “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1Pe 5:8).

This is evident from the book of Job where Satan told God he had been roaming about the earth. The LORD said to Satan, "From where do you come?" Then Satan answered the LORD and said, "From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it." (Job 1:7) And look at what his purpose was for roaming. He was not just enjoying the view or trying to add value to society! In the end, we know that Satan wanted to steal from Job. He was allowed by God to steal Job’s health and property. He wanted to get Job to curse God. He used Job’s wife to tempt him to do this. And he wanted to destroy Job. He was allowed by God to kill Job’s children and afflict Job with a horrible disease. But in the end, he was not allowed to take Job’s life. Satan was only allowed to do what God gave him permission to do. And although Job was a righteous man who lived a blameless life before God, the Lord used Satan to purify Job even more. In the end, God restored Job’s health and his wealth. The Lord gave much to Job, then He took it away. But in the end, God gave back to Job and He was abundantly blessed!

Satan loves death
He likes to make people become infatuated with death. Just like the demoniac who lived among the tombs. There was no one in those tombs except dead people. But Satan forced him to live there among them.

Satan likes to hurt people
Satan likes to hurt people, because they are made in God’s image. He takes pleasure in doing this, especially to those who know the Lord. Look at the woman who was bent over for 18 long years, because Satan had afflicted in her spine. This woman was bent double, and could not straighten up at all. Jesus said. "And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?" (Luk 13:16). When Jesus laid His hands on her, she was made erect again and began glorifying God. (Luk 13:13)

Another example was the demon-possessed boy that suffered from convulsions. They brought the boy to Him. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth. And He asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood. "It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!" (Mar 9:20-22). This poor boy could not stop the evil spirit from often throwing him into fire and water in an attempt to destroy him. Can you imagine being this boy’s father, walking through the marketplace with him, and as you are passing by an open fire, the boy has a convulsion and falls into the fire as though someone has pushed him. These people had to constantly rescue the boy from fire and water, so that he would not be destroyed. It must have been heart breaking. But Jesus cast out the demon and the boy was completely set free!

Satan likes to oppress people

The apostle Peter said, "You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. (Act 10:38).

In the gospels we find that throngs of people came to hear Jesus “and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were being cured.” (Luk 6:18)

Satan likes to oppress people and cause them trouble. But Jesus alone has the power to heal all who are oppressed by the devil.

Satan and the demons are evil, some more so than others
Jesus described what happened when a person’s body is cleansed of a demon. If the person is not filled with the Holy Spirit afterward, the demon will seek to come back, but will be sure and bring reinforcements to help ensure he will not be kicked out again. "Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation." (Mat 12:45)

This shows us that demons are evil, but there are some unclean spirits who are much more evil than others. When they enter a person’s life, the state of that man is worse as a result of their presence.

Satan is a liar and murderer
One of his primary tactics is deception. Jesus said to the religious people who were attacking Him, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because 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.” (Joh 8:44). It’s pretty clear that Satan is a murderer and a liar.

Satan blinds people’s minds
The apostle Paul taught us that Satan is the god of this world. As such, he is in the business of brainwashing. He has blinded the minds of those who are perishing. Paul wrote: “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2Co 4:4). The last thing Satan wants is for those who are perishing to see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. So he is an expert at blinding their minds.

Satan leads people astray
Satan has been at work for thousands of years and he knows how to deceive people. Even believers need to be careful that they are not deceived also. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church saying, “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (2Co 11:3).

Satan keeps people in fear
One of Satan’s tactics is to intimidate people. He loves fear and uses all means at his disposal to try and make people afraid. Perhaps at the root of every fear is the fear of death. This is sort of the mother of all fears. And when a person fears death, they will do all kinds of strange things, which lead them into bondage. The writer of Hebrews wrote that Jesus came to “free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.” (Heb 2:15) How wonderful that Jesus frees us from the fear of death and all the slavery that goes with it.

Satan must ask for permission from God
It’s important to understand and remember that Satan can only do what God allows him to do. He is like a dog on a leash. He can only go as far as the Lord will permit him to go. But he always needs to get permission first.

Take for example, the devil’s plan to sift the apostle Peter like wheat. This was a major attack on Peter, which resulted in him denying the Lord and feeling condemned afterward. But listen to what Jesus said. He told Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32). You see, Satan had to ask permission to do that to Peter, and God chose to allow it. But Jesus prayed that Peters faith would not fail as a result of it.

The same happened in Job’s life. Satan had to approach God and ask permission to do what he did to Job and his family. And before he could do anything, God had to allow it. So he is not free to do whatever he wants. He is a created being with limitations placed upon him by God.

The devil and demons submit to Christ's disciples
Once we are saved, we have the authority and power over darkness and demons, because Jesus lives in us! When Jesus sent out the twelve disciples, He told them, "And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give." (Mat 10:7-8)

After Jesus sent out the seventy disciples in pairs, they returned later with joy over their newly found power. In Luke's gospel we read: The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." And He said to them, "I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven." (Luk 10:17-20)

Jesus has given us authority to trample on serpents and scorpions. He has given us authority over all the power of the enemy! In fact, while the disciples were out carrying out their mission, Jesus saw Satan fall from heaven like a flash.

Just in case you're thinking this power and authority was only given to the twelve and the seventy, God's Word assures us it was given to all who believe in Jesus. "These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues;" (Mar 16:17). It's not in our own name or might that we do these things but in the mighty name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

Putting it All Together
Satan uses three main tactics in his dirty work – deception, temptation, and intimidation.

Satan and demons know Who Jesus is and they are terrified of Him. Satan hates Jesus and tempted Him to prove He is God’s Son, which was the height of disrespect. He does not want anyone to find Jesus, so he blinds people’s minds to keep them from seeing the Light of Christ. He’s a liar!

Satan is a murderer and has been from the beginning. He comes to kill, steal, and destroy. He and the demons love death and seek to get people infatuated with darkness and death. They like to hurt, oppress, and trouble people. When they enter a person’s life, the state of that man is worse as a result of their presence.

We also know that once the demons gain access to a territory, whether a geographical region or a person’s life, they do no want to give it up. They are evil and some of them are more so than others.

They lead people astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. That’s why we believers need to be on our guard, so that we ourselves are not led astray.

Whether or not you know Jesus, you may be hurt, oppressed, or troubled by the devil. Perhaps he has used his tactics to lead you astray and destroy you. But you don’t have to stay like that. It’s so wonderful that Jesus has come to save us from all this. He alone has the power to set us free from the oppression and bondage of the devil. And once we are saved, we have the authority and power over darkness and demons, because Jesus lives in us!

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the Home page for this blog, and you can also find my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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