Part 4 – What are we to do?
CHAPTER 5 – Living The Christian Life continued…
Our Conduct Or Behavior As Believers
The Christian life is
A WALK, A RACE, A WARFARE, FRUITFUL,
A LIFE OF PEACE, A REST, A LIFE OF PRAYER.
The Walk is One of Obedience (continued)
The third area of conflict for the believer is in how to deal with the devil.
The believer has a formidable foe in Satan, but God makes provision for the believer to be an overcomer (I John 2:13,14) and to withstand him (Eph. 6:13).
To gain an understanding of who this foe is according to Scripture, much can be learned concerning his character by the names used of him and what his deeds are as indicated in his names.
WHO SATAN IS
The earliest description of the devil is believed to be given in Isaiah 14:12-14. As Lucifer, he had been created by God as a “light-bearer” or “day-star” (the meaning of the name, Lucifer). But by acting in pride to be like the Most High, sin was introduced into the universe and the entire system of evil had its beginning. By this act Lucifer relinquished the high position for which he was created, and he began his work as destroyer, and opposer of God’s will and way.
In Genesis 3:1, the Scripture speaks of the serpent as the creature through which Satan tempted Eve and introduced sin into the human family. In Genesis 3:15, the curse is applied to the serpent which is a prediction of Christ’s victory secured over Satan through Christ’s work on the cross.
In Revelation 12:9 and 20:2, the final references to the serpent are made in Scripture, as that old serpent. Old in the Greek is the same as our English word, archaic. It carries the meaning of original or primeval. Then, in the next phrase, in Revelation 12:9, he is also identified as the Devil and Satan.
There are thirteen references to Satan as seen as a dragon in Revelation, chapters 12,13,16,20. As a dragon, he is described in his fall from heaven, having taken one-third of the angels with him in chapter 12:3,4. His attempt to destroy Jesus at His birth was also envisioned by John.
The dragon and his angels are described as being at war with Michael and his angels in Revelation 12:7-9. The result of the war was God’s casting the dragon and his angels out of heaven.
The dragon is then described in Revelation 12:13-17 as attempting to destroy the remnant of Israel in the last days of the Tribulation Period yet to come.
The dragon is described in Revelation 13:1,2,4 as empowering the person described as the beast…out of the sea who rules the nations during the Tribulation. Both the dragon and the beast will receive worship from unbelievers during this time, as well.
Demon forces are pictured as coming forth from the mouth of the dragon in Revelation 16:13. The demon forces will influence the kings of the earth to assemble their military forces for Armageddon where God will destroy them completely.
The final reference to the Devil as a Dragon is in Revelation 20:2, where we are told that he is to be bound for 1,000 years, which is the same time of Christ’s righteous rule over the earth.
There are 35 times in the New Testament that the term, Devil, is used concerning our enemy. The primary meaning of the word in the Greek is “accuser”. From his first accusation against God in Eden (Gen. 3:4,5), to the final description of him as the accuser of our brethren (Rev. 12:10), he indulges in making slandering accusations against God and his people, but he is able to be overcome…by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony…(Rev. 12:11). This statement, of how the saints from the Tribulation Period will overcome him, is true of believers of the present time as well. The phrase, by the word of their testimony, refers to the faithful witness of believers that Jesus Christ is Saviour and Lord, even if it will cost the person his life (as during the Tribulation Period).
The name, Satan, used nineteen times in the Old Testament and thirty-five times in the New Testament means opposer or adversary. Not only does he oppose the child of God, but he opposes God and everything that is good and just.
6. Beelzebub (Baalzebub – O.T.)
The name, Beelzebub, is taken from a name for a heathen god, as mentioned in the Old Testament, in II Kings 1:2,3,6,16, and means “lord of the flies”. The name as used in the Old Testament does not necessarily refer to Satan, but the name is used by the accusers of Jesus in the New Testament to refer to the devil as the prince of the demons. It was used in a blasphemous way against Christ on several occasions when He cast out demons. (See Matt. 12:24; Mk. 3:22; Lk. 11:15).
7. Father of lies, liar
Jesus used strong words in John 8:44 to describe the devil where He says, …he is a liar, and the father of it. Jesus says also before this statement that the devil was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.
8. The evil one, the wicked one
In Christ’s high priestly prayer in John 17:15, He states, I pray…that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil (margin, the evil one).
The same Greek word translated evil in the passage in John 17:15 is translated the wicked one in Matthew 13:19,38; Ephesians 6:16; and in I John 2:13,14; 3:12; and 5:18.
The meaning of the word translated evil or wicked has the idea of mischief, tragedy, and perverseness, and has in view the works produced by the devil.
In Matthew 13:38, the wicked one is the one who mixes the ungodly (the tares) amongst the righteous (the wheat) in God’s kingdom.
In Ephesians 6:16, the evil one (margin) is seen attacking with fiery darts, but the child of God is instructed to take the shield of faith to quench all the fiery darts.
In I John 2:13,14, believers who are described as young men are able to overcome the wicked one.
In I John 3:12, Cain is identified as being of that wicked one in the murder of Cain’s brother, Abel.
In I John 5:18, everyone who is born of God is protected from the wicked one, who is not permitted to touch the believer, who is to “keep himself”.
9. Prince of this world.
There are three Scriptures that record Christ’s naming of Satan as prince of this world.
In John 12:31, Jesus states, …now shall the prince of this world be cast out. This probably refers to the truth that Christ’s impending death on the cross is the basis for Satan’s final defeat, prophesied in Genesis 3:15, and fully accomplished in Revelation 20:10.
In John 14:30, referring to the phrase, the prince of this world, Jesus is informing the disciples that Satan can find no point of weakness in Jesus to attempt to overcome Him during His passion and death, when Jesus stated that …the prince of this world…hath nothing in me (has nothing to get me). Jesus also indicates there is an alliance between the world system and the devil.
In John 16:11, Jesus again mentions the prince of this world, and then states that he (Satan) is already judged.
Jesus explains in John 16:8 that there will be the coming ministry of the Holy Spirit in reproving the world of judgment. In verse 11, Jesus explains that the reproving of judgment will be because the prince of this world is judged. His judgment has been secured through Christ’s death and resurrection.
A different description of Satan as prince is given in Ephesians 2:2,which says,
…in times past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience.
This reference suggests that Satan administers the affairs of the world and its dominions from his position above the earth, in close proximity to it. In Ephesians 6:12, the spiritual wickedness in high places (margin, in the heavenlies) would carry a similar connotation as to the sphere of Satan’s rule. In contrast to an unbeliever’s walk according to the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2), the believer, on the other hand, is placed …in heavenly places in Christ Jesus… (Eph. 2:6), a position superior to that of Satan’s dominion!
10. The god of this age (world).
In II Corinthians 4:4, the term, “god,” is used in regard to Satan, a term found only in this one passage. The term, “god,” is qualified, however, by the additional words of this age (world). The word for age or world is a different one from the one used in the Greek in the phrase, “the prince of this world” (See “Prince,” name #9 above). In the previous use, “world” has the primary sense of the material world, including persons living in the world system. In this passage in II Corinthians 4:4, the better translation is god of this age. The significance of the phrase is that Satan is in a position of controlling the present order of things, but only for the present time, not forever. For the person who is living as if the present time is one’s only interest, Satan is in the place of God in his life and in his concerns.
The Scripture then explains in II Corinthians 4:4, that the god of this age (world) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, Who is the image of God, should shine unto them. The total context of the verse then changes the meaning of the word, “god,” as applied here to Satan, from assigning to him any true sense of deity, to the idea of considering him “god” from man’s viewpoint only.
Satan is shown to resist what God truly desires for unbelieving man, that is, to hear the gospel and be able to come to the light. As long as the unbeliever is deprived of knowing the gospel, Satan is in the place of God in that person’s life.
11. Angel of light.
In II Corinthians 11:14, it states,
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
The statement serves to explain the fact that Satan’s chief tactic is to deceive people in appearance as an angel of light, while he creates darkness and rules in a kingdom of darkness in regard to spiritual things.
In I Peter 5:8, the child of God is admonished,
Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil, like a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour;
Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
The word, adversary, is the translation of a Greek word which has the thought of an opponent in a lawsuit. But in the passage of I Peter 5:8, it is combined with the phrase, the devil, like a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. We are presented with the purpose of Satan which is to destroy the child of God. The picture of a roaring lion (that) walketh about speaks of his stalking behaviour, waiting for a moment of weakness to enable him to attack and destroy the individual. But the believer is able to resist Satan as the believer is steadfast in the faith. This will be explained in the section to follow, How The Believer Is To Overcome The Devil.
13. Accuser of the Brethren
Revelation 12:10 previews the final end of Satan with rejoicing by the redeemed in heaven because …the accuser of our brethren is cast down, who accused them before our God day and night. The concept in the term, accuser, is a complainant-at-law. Evidently Satan is bringing accusations against any believer when sins are committed in an attempt to mock God and redemption through Christ. His accusations are dealt with by Christ as our Advocate with the Father (I John 2:1).
Having seen “Who Satan Is”, as described by his names, the believer needs to understand that Satan seeks to interfere with the work God wants to accomplish in the life of the believer. The believer will want to be on guard against the devil’s devices, learn what he, the believer, can do to avoid Satan’s tactics, and continue to make progress in spiritual growth, in righteousness, and in godliness.
Next Week: Part Five continued: How The Believer Is To Overcome The Devil
Copyright © 1996 A. Ward Brandenstein
Used with permission.
A. Ward Brandenstein
Pastor Ward earned an M.A. in Guidance and Counselling from Eastern Michigan University after taking special courses in psychology at Wayne State University, and earned a Bachelor of Theology (Th.B.) from Baptist Bible College and Seminary with Greek and Hebrew studies, and earned a diploma from Philadelphia Bible Institute (now Cairn U.), including New Testament Greek studies. His knowledge of the Bible and close walk with God are appreciated by all who know him and have sat under his teaching. Pastor Brandenstein and his wife Rose Ann reside in California, teaching college level singles and married couples, young professionals, and retired pastors and missionaries.