KNOW YOUR ENEMY
It may surprise you to know, with all the goodness of God around you, that you have an enemy. Actually, he’s God’s enemy. Since he is against God he is called “the adversary” which in Hebrew is pronounced “ha satahn” from which we get the name Satan. It’s a title, not his name. He is also known as “the devil,” which comes from the Greek word diabolos, which means slanderer or accuser. That tells you about his character and how he attempts to influence people. His name was originally Lucifer and he was one of God’s highest angels until pride overcame him and he decided he would like to be God rather than of God. So he led a rebellion in heaven and one-third of the angels, now called demons, mutinied. Only it didn’t work out as they thought it would and God, who knows everything, hurled them out of heaven and, it appears, expelled them to the earth, which continues to be a battleground between God and Satan. Behind all the distrust or rebellion against God, behind all the lies, hatred, antagonism and rebellion in the world, behind all the quarrels and the wars, all the sickness, suffering and sorrow in the world, is Satan and his demons.
They work undercover to rob, destroy and kill and are the instigators of stress and striving that rob us of peace. Each of these tells us about Satan’s nature while God’s nature is to bless, to provide and to prosper. And God is always just (as in brings justice) so He gives us free will. We each get to choose just as Adam and Eve got to choose, whether we will act out of God’s nature or Satan’s nature. We can trust God’s goodness on our behalf and obey Him, or live a life of independence from God, or even in rebellion against Him. The truth is, we were created to be one with God, just as we were meant to fulfill the will of God flowing through us. Now that you are God’s, His goodness will continue to flow through you to others. Again, it is a choice. We can react with Satan’s nature or with God’s goodness. If you ask God to help you be more like Him, He will do so. It may take a while until you’re free of old habits and responses, but every experience with God enables us to become stronger in him. On the other hand, yielding to the devil by disobeying God will weaken you. Thank God for repentance that restores us when it is heartfelt.
All this may be new thoughts to you and it may sound scary that perfectly nice people would be under the influence of Satan in any way. But think of it this way. What do we call anyone who has ever stolen even the smallest thing? A thief. Do you know of anyone who has not told a lie? What do we call someone who lies? A liar, the same name that Satan is known as. Have you or that nice person you know ever taken the name of the LORD in vain? That’s blasphemy. Have you ever wished that someone was out of the way so what they have could be yours? That is covetousness, or you could even have harbored murder in your heart if you wished them really ‘out of the way.’ Those are sins which the devil has instigated. Even the nicest of people are influenced by the devil. From arguments to wars, the devil is in there, trying to take over the world and be God. But it’s not a contest. “The earth is the Lord’s and all it contains” (1 Corinthians 10:26 ).
When we come to know Yeshua, we start to become aware that there is a force that is against God and His goodness, and consequently against those of us who belong to Yeshua. But that’s where the Holy Spirit can empower us to live above anything that Satan tries to put into our lives. We can pray and stand against him. And we can become aware of his tactics. For instance, temptations are not from God. Eve was tempted by the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). It will almost always be something along those lines that would draw us to sin. Lust is saying, “I want it and I want it now.” Pride is thinking more of ourselves than of others, or even of God. We can call upon the Lord to help us stand against these temptations, and agree with God’s Word rather than our own demanding character. We can ask the Lord to strengthen us and believe that He will because He always hears us when we pray according to His will. Yeshua knows what it is to be tempted by the devil. He went through it! (See Matthew 4.) He’ll empower you to just say “No!” Once you are aware of what is a ploy of the devil, you can just turn to the Lord and turn away from it. The devil’s only power is to get you to believe what he’s lying to you about. But God’s word is Truth. If you believe God, the devil has no power over you. The battle is in our minds. But God’s Word says, “Submit therefore to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Giving praise to God and worshipping Him will also turn a spiritual attack of the devil into victory. Also reading God’s word and filling your heart with His truth and His promises will cause the devil’s lies to flee from you. God’s Word, the Bible, is as a shield to protect us.
DENYING DISSENTION We must be aware that the devil tries to bring division between people, especially between Believers. But we are not each other’s enemies; we have a common enemy whom we call satan or the devil. The Bible tells us that a believer in Yeshua “must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:11). Never agree with the devil against another Believer or even an unbeliever by gossiping. Satan is the “accuser,” God never is. It is the devil who is behind accusations, incriminations, or speaking against another person. God forgives and “does not take into account a wrong suffered” (1 Corinthians 13: 5), meaning we should not keep alive a recounting of how you were wronged in your mind and heart. The devil and his demons remind us constantly of reasons we have a right to be angry and unforgiving toward others.
Remember, all this happens in our minds, so your own thoughts may accuse you of wrongdoing, even against yourselves. He may even try to get you to dislike yourself. Don’t respond to the devil’s accusations. This does not mean we condone sin or wrong or injustice. Those must be dealt with. God hates sin and injustice. But we can do so by “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). We might be angry about sin or injustice; Yeshua was. There is a righteous kind of anger that rises up inside of us against sin and injustice. But we must be careful not to respond with more sin. The Bible tells us we can “be angry but sin not” (Ephesians 4:26a). Further, we must turn our anger over to God and let Him deal with it. “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26b). We, however, have the power to come out of agreement with what Satan may have been telling us about ourselves or others. He may have even been lying to us all our lives so that we are influenced by things that aren’t really true or good for us. But thanks be to God, God gives us the power to turn toward belief in what God says about us. You can say, “I come out of agreement with that lie of the devil, in Yeshua’s name” and be free of it. That sounds simple but if you will believe God’s promises to you, God will change you to be aligned with His goodness toward you, not from crisis to crisis but from “glory to glory.” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
YOU ARE IN CHARGE OF WHAT YOU THINK
You need not be preoccupied with Satan and you don’t need to fear him. Yeshua has defeated him and it is by faith in what Yeshua has done to defeat him that we are protected. We were given power in Yeshua’s name over demons and the devil himself. As you grow in the LORD, you will learn to take the authority God has given us in the name of Yeshua to win spiritual battles to rescue others as well as things in your own life. Remember, “God has not give us a spirit of timidity (or fear), but of power and love and discipline.” Discipline can also be translated as “sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7). That’s a good verse to memorize and let sink down in your spirit. Occasionally, we need to have someone pray for us and take authority over a demon that has been plaguing us, perhaps for years. Ask the Lord to lead you to someone you can trust who is mature and discerning who has experience in setting people free. Yeshua told His disciples that this should be a normal part of being a believer: “In My name you will cast out demons.”
You may find that once a harassing demon is gone from your life, you can enter into Yeshua’s peace much more. The best way to avoid being harassed by the devil is to not open the door to him in the first place. It is the authority of Yeshua’s name that demons must obey. Yeshua “is the name which is above every other name” (Philippians 2:9). In other words, what He says goes. He has given us the authority over demons so when we tell them to go in Yeshua’s name, they must go. You can tell them to go from your own life as you come out of agreement with what they’ve been lying to you about all this time. Thank God for the name of Yeshua. He is the God who saves! The Bible tells us that satan has held man captive through the fear of death. Death and hell go together. Both are separation, from life, from God, and from all goodness. Through His death and resurrection, Yeshua took the keys out of Satan’s hands — the “keys of death and Hades” (Hell) (Revelation 1:18) — which is to say that He took authority away from him. Yeshua now holds those keys. For that reason, the devil can’t threaten you with fear of death. When we know even if the worst thing happens to you and you die, you get to go to heaven where there is no fear, no pain, no suffering and no loneliness.
There is only love, the perfect liberating love of God. As we have said, all the troubles in the world are due to the instigation of the devil who works behind the scenes unknowingly to most people. But we who are Yeshua’s are aware of his tactics and we can overcome them with wisdom in the Lord and what we call spiritual warfare. “The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.” (2 Corinthians 10:4). Those “fortresses” are usually in our minds, the ways we’ve been thinking that are not for our own good. Do you have any of those thoughts? How do we overcome them? “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of [Messiah]” (2 Corinthians 10:5). For every lie and every negative or threatening thought the devil puts in our minds, there is a promise of God to be employed on our behalf to “trump” the lie. Open your Bible and see what God shows you. Memorize verses that speak to you about issues in your own life. With the help of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word, you can begin to replace those negative thoughts with what God says. His words are truth and life. Choose life! (Deuteronomy 30:15, 19)
HOW TO AVOID GOING TO HELL
In this day in which we live, numerous people have experienced both being taken to heaven and hell by the LORD and lived to tell about it. He has allowed people to experience one or the other, sometimes both, and then sent them back to life here to tell of the reality of each place. Hell is beyond anything you can imagine of horror, terror and darkness. It is for people who have chosen darkness rather than light. Darkness is about hiding from truth. Yeshua put it this way: “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). Evil will never go unpunished even if it doesn’t happen immediately. Nothing goes beyond God’s knowledge or His justice. “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; (however) mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). For those who are truly repentant ant, even evil can be forgiven. Yeshua has also said, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12). Hide nothing from Him. His mercy will overcome all judgment when we confess any sin or let Him in on our darkest secret place. He knows anyway, but He waits for us to let Him in, then He will work to free us from those places in our hearts. Then you will find that “the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth” (Ephesians 5:9). Those are easy qualities to live with.
QUESTIONS TO PONDER
1. Read Isaiah 14:12-14. (Note: These verses are about Lucifer, who was the star of the morning indicating a high place in God’s presence, but who forfeited his position as one of God’s most authoritative angels. Lucifer was his name, but remember that he became God’s adversary (satahn in Hebrew) and so bears the title of satan.) Read Ezekiel 28:14-17. This too is about satan. What does it tell you he was created to be like? What happened in :15-17?
2. Read John 8:44. What does that tell you about satan’s character? Read 1 John 5:19. God has allowed him power for a time before the final judgment. How far does his power extend? Read Luke 22:24. Can you see how satan might have been the instigator behind this dispute? In what way? In what way is that like satan’s character and goal?
3. Read Genesis 2:16-17. How many trees could they eat from? What was the restriction? What would be the consequence of eating from it? Read Job 2:2 Who is roaming around on the earth? (Note: We find satan in the Garden talking to Eve having disguised himself as a serpent/snake.) Read Genesis 3:1. How many trees is he trying to make it sound like the restriction involved? Read verse :4. How does this line up with 2:17? What (Who) is he trying to get her to doubt? Read 2 Corinthians 11:3. What happened?
4. Read Matthew 4:1-11. In each of these scenarios satan was attempting to try and get Yeshua to succumb to temptations to accomplish things that were very real to Yeshua. What might they have been regarding verses :3, 5, 8? Read Matthew 4:9. This is satan addressing Yeshua while offering to bribe Him. What was satan’s ultimate goal? With what did Yeshua counter these temptations? Read 1 Corinthians 10:13. What does this tell us about dealing with temptations? Are there any temptations you deal with in your life? Do you now see who the “tempter” is behind those temptations? What verses might be your weapons against the enemy of your soul?
5. Read John 17:15. What is Yeshua praying for His disciples (us) here? Read 2 Corinthians 10:4-5. While we are in the world, there is a battle against evil. How do we fight that battle? “Fortresses” are in our minds. How are we to tear them down? Knowing what you have just learned, is it possible that every thought you have is not your own but could come from the enemy? Read Hebrews 4:12. How can the Word sort out where your thoughts come from?