1. Satan's Origin
Our sophisticated, scientific, materialistic generation does not want to be disturbed by the idea of a personal Devil. People do not even wish to acknowledge a personal God. How upsetting it would be to one's freedom to sin if people were to accept the reality of Satan! One sure fact of the Word of God, however, is that Satan does exist. If not, then certainly someone must be carrying on his work.
Who is mixing the fatal draught
That palsies heart and brain?
And loads the bier of each passing year
With ten hundred thousand slain?
Who blights the youth of our land today
With the fiery breath of Hell?
If the Devil isn't, and never has
Won't somebody rise and tell?
Who dogs the footsteps of the saint?
Who digs the pits for his feet?
Who sows his tares in the field of time
Wherever God sows His wheat?
The Devil is voted not to be,
And of course it must be true,
But who is doing the kind of work
The Devil alone can do?
The following scriptures teach the reality and personality of the Devil.
"When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the WICKED ONE, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side ... The ENEMY that sowed them is THE DEVIL; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels" (Matthew 13:19, 39).
"And supper being ended, THE DEVIL having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him" (John 13:2).
"But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?" (Acts 5:3).
"Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the WILES OF THE DEVIL. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:11, 12).
"Be sober, be vigilant; because YOUR ADVERSARY THE DEVIL, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8).
The subject of this message is the Origin of Satan. The historical basis of his beginning is unfolded in Ezekiel 28:11-19.
"Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD...Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty..." (Read the whole passage carefully).
This scene takes place in Heaven before God's Throne—previous to the creation of man. The description here is not that of the earthly King of Tyre alone although he was the very incarnation of pride and self-will. These verses definitely refer to one who had a special position at the Throne of God. God was referring to the angel Lucifer and could say of him, "Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty ... every precious stone was thy covering ... Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth ... perfect in thy ways ... till iniquity was found in thee ... Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty ... never shalt thou be any more."
Men often ask why God created the Devil. The answer is He never created the Devil. God created a pure spirit-being of great wisdom and glory, but this spirit dared to conspire against the Throne of God, and so the greatest of all the angels became the archenemy of God and man. It was pride that turned an archangel into the Devil. Lucifer was certainly of a special angelic order near the Throne of God. He was the cherub that led the worship of the universe. In his pride, however, he tried to direct to himself worship that properly belonged to God.
Until this time there was no sin. God reigned supreme among the angels in glory. Isaiah 14:12-14 tells of the desire of Lucifer NOW SATAN, to take God's place and pit his own will against the will of God.
"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High."
Let us notice clearly the pride and rebellion of Satan. Sin was born in him when he said, "I WILL ascend into heaven; I WILL sit upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I WILL ascend above the heights of the clouds; I WILL BE LIKE THE MOST HIGH." We have already seen this same truth in Ezekiel 28:15: "Thou wast perfect in thy ways ... till iniquity was found in thee."
This is the introduction of sin which is self-will against God's will. When God created mankind, Satan was once more on hand to try to ruin this creation. He succeeded because Adam and Eve chose SELF-WILL instead of God's will, and sin was born in the human race. From then on the entire human race inherited a sinful nature.
We see, therefore, that Satan tried to overthrow God's perfect, righteous, just rulership in order to obtain worship for Himself. He also tried to exercise power over the Lord Jesus Christ by tempting Him in the wilderness. Satan promised Christ, "All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me." (Matt.4:9).
God cast Satan out of Heaven because of his sin. "Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit" (Isaiah 14:15). In Luke 10:18 we read the words of the Lord Jesus, "I beheld Satan as lightening fall from heaven."
2. Satan's Work
A popular notion about Satan and his angels is that they are presently in Hell. This is not true. Satan and his angels are at liberty. Satan is a king and has a kingdom. We read in Ephesians 6:11, 12: "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against PRINCIPALITIES, against POWERS, against the RULERS of the darkness of this world, against SPIRITUAL WICKEDNESS in HIGH PLACES." From this we see that his kingdom consists of principalities and powers. He is "the prince of the power of the air" (Eph. 2:2) and "the god of this world" (2 Cor. 4:4).
To understand this better, let us notice that the Bible speaks of three heavens. (1) The heaven of the earth's atmosphere. "[God] gave us rain from heaven" (Acts 14:17). This is the area in which the birds move about. "...and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven" (Gen.1:20). (2) The heaven of the stars. Here are the "high" or heavenly places where the principalities and powers of evil have their abode (Eph. 6:12). (3) The Heaven where God dwells. It was to this "third heaven" that the Apostle Paul was caught up (2 Cor. 12:1-4). Paul calls it both the "third heaven" and "paradise." It is the abode of the triune God.
The prophet Ezekiel tells us of when Satan was first cast out of Heaven. "Thou has sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God" (Ezek. 28:16-19). These verses refer to the time that Satan first sinned by rebelling against God's authority.
The Bible teaches that Satan is still able to enter God's presence, however. We read in the first and second chapters of Job that it was the custom in Job's day for the "sons of God" (angels), to appear at stated times in the presence of God and that Satan always appeared with them. "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them" (Job 1:6 and 2:1). When the Lord said to Satan, "Whence comest thou?" he replied, "From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it" (Job 1:7 and 2:2). Satan then was at liberty on the earth and had access to God. He is still at liberty in the heavenlies and on the earth. In Revelation 12:10 Satan is spoken of as "the accuser of our brethren", indicating that he still appears before God to accuse the Lord's children.
John saw in his prophetic vision a future time when Satan will no longer be able to come into God's presence. This is recorded for us in Revelation 12:7-9: "And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." At this time there shall be great woe on the earth because of Satan's wrath that he shall exercise through the Antichrist (Rev.13:2-8), for he will then know that his time is short.
We have seen, however, that at the present time Satan still has his abode in high places in the heavenlies and has access to God. Although he is the prince of the power of the air, he works in a special way on the earth. Peter also tells us this in 1 Peter 5:8: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."
When we turn to the Old Testament we find Satan walking about the Garden of Eden in the form of the serpent in order to tempt our first parents. "Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of this garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat" (Genesis 3:1-6).
This story shows us the relationship of Satan to man and man's sin. This teaching is very different from the current view of man which is based on evolutionary theory. According to current ideas, man is climbing a great ladder, pushing ever closer to the top, ever closer to perfection. He is evolving and improving in every way—physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, morally. The Bible repudiates such teaching which attributes man's ills to heredity and environment. Man is a fallen creature, a sinner from birth. He will never reach perfection, he will never even improve, nor will he ever enter Heaven, unless he is born again.
The Bible teaches that when God created Adam and Eve He placed them in the garden of Eden. He instructed them to dress and care for the garden. God then gave Adam a test of obedience in order to emphasize man's relationship to God. The relationship is that man is subject to divine authority. God promised death for disobedience. The word death in the Bible often means more than physical death. It usually includes spiritual death which is separation from God. Genesis 2:16, 17: "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for IN THE DAY THAT THOU EATEST THEREOF THOU SHALT SURELY DIE." God spoke here of both spiritual and physical death. Adam did not die physically the moment he sinned; he did die spiritually for he was immediately separated from God and their fellowship was broken.
After God instructed Adam and Eve about the tree, Satan came and tempted them. Eve listened to Satan's voice instead of saying, "Get thee behind me, Satan." This is exactly the way the Devil works today. He comes to young people and new converts and whispers to them to do this or do that, tempting them in things which are not right in the sight of God. Instead of turning aside they often listen to him speak. Martin Luther used to say, "You cannot stop a bird flying in your hair but you do not have to build a nest for him to rest." So it is with Satan. Satan may come to tempt you but if you are a believer the promise of 2 Peter 2:9 is for you, "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations."
Satan, the angel of light, deceived our first parents by questioning God's Word: "Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" Are you sure this is what God says in His Word? Perhaps God did not say that after all. Perhaps He did not mean what He said! Hell may not even be a literal Hell. And certainly God could not mean for us to accept the Bible literally when it contradicts modern scholarship and scientific teaching! Yes, our Adversary the Devil is very much alive today and is working to destroy the authority of God's Word, the Bible.
The Devil is not terribly interested in leading men and women into gross sin as you might expect. He would be satisfied just to get man's heart away from God. So he works in a special way in the realm of religion. He wants to substitute his own word for the Word of God. He wants men and women to be in subjection to him rather than to God. He substitutes his own lies for divine truth.
Through the influence of Satan the authority of God's Word is being questioned everywhere. Sunday school lessons which make a mockery of God's Word are being taught in many churches today. We are told that the book of Genesis is not reliable, that all the miracles can be explained naturally, that the virgin birth is incredible (even though the denial of this doctrine makes Christ a bastard), the new birth is but the religious development of man's best upreach, that the second coming of Christ is not true and has no literal acceptance when in reality it is the blessed hope of every believer. These are the lies of Satan, the god of this world. His lies are more palatable to the natural man than are the truths of God's Word.
Satan's final effort in Genesis 3 was to convince Eve that if she would heed his lies rather than God's Word she would receive knowledge and wisdom that God was withholding from her. "For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" (v. 5).
This is the same false promise Satan dangles before the eyes of our high school and university students. They are taught that to be learners of truth they must accept the authority of modern scholarship over and above the authority of the Bible. It is the same lie of Satan that is being introduced in modern Sunday school curricula where enticing words are used to draw pupils away from the truth which is in Christ Jesus.
How wonderful it is to recognize the truth as it is in Christ and to submit ourselves to His Word which is able to keep us for time and eternity. In the words of Sir Walter Scott:
Within this simple volume lies
That mystery of mysteries.
Happiest they of human race
To whom their God has given grace
To read, to fear, to hope, to pray,
To lift the latch, to force the way;
Far better had they ne'er been born
Than read to doubt or read to scorn.
3. Satan's Character
Dr. William Cooke, in his Christian Theology (pages 631-632) speaks of the true character of the Devil:
The law of dependency is universal, because God alone is the fountain of all being and of all good. Every creature, however high in the scale of existence, is dependent on God, not only for its being, but for its goodness; and therefore its goodness or holiness can be perpetuated only by union with Him. Sin severs the soul from God; and severed from Him, the soul is deprived of His favour, and of His strength to uphold it in virtue and goodness; and deprived of His favour and sustaining power, it is thrown upon itself, and becomes actuated by its own selfish instinct; and as selfishness becomes intensified, there is no sin, however deep in guilt and malignity, that may not grow out of it. Such has been the direct effect of the apostasy of angels. The selfishness which engendered the first sin has, during the lapse of ages, produced and developed every malignant principle which now so darkly stains their condition.
Hatred of God produces hatred of all good—of all good in itself, and of all beings that are good, and of envy at their happiness. From hatred and envy springs the desire to corrupt whatever is good, and destroy whatever is happy. This desire seeks its end by stratagem, deceit, and all available means within reach. The archfiend is called 'Satan' which means an adversary; 'The old serpent' because of his guile; 'A liar,' 'a liar from the beginning,' 'the father of lies,' and 'when he speaketh a lie he speaketh of his own.' He is called 'Apollyon' which means Destroyer because he delighteth in destroying the souls of men, and as a 'roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.' Not only is he a destroyer, but 'a murderer,' a murderer of both bodies and souls; all his arts of seduction have murder as its ultimate object. All the sin and misery of our world for six thousand years, and all the sin and misery of its future history, and all the misery of hell, is not only the result of his agency and influence, but results in that which he and his minions find their gratification." Satan's essential character is one of pride. Ezekiel 28:17: "Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground..." This angel, who was created for the highest position and service, fell through pride.
1 Timothy 3:6 speaks of the danger of appointing a young and inexperienced convert to the office of bishop or elder. The reason a new Christian should not be given a responsible position is, "lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil." As God's judgment came upon Satan for the sin of pride, so the novice may fall into condemnation or judgment because of his pride.
Satan's character is also revealed by his lies. Jesus said in John 8:44: "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."
In this verse Christ points out that if we are not children of God by means of the new birth we are children of the Devil. When we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and receive Him by faith as our own personal Saviour, we become children of God. but before that time, we are sinners by birth and by practice.
Jesus said the Devil "abode not in the truth, because there is NO TRUTH in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it." As "a liar" the Devil not only misrepresents the Person and character of God, but he also distorts God's purposes and ways. Two Greek words are used in the Bible for sin. The first word, amartia, means to miss the mark. Satan missed God's perfect purpose and will to become the anti-god destined to the lake of fire forever. The other word, anomos, means without law, or lawless. It speaks of the rebellious nature of Satan as it was manifested in his original sin.
From this master deceiver springs all the untruth of our day. The plan designed by God our Creator was that man's chief end should be to glorify God and to enjoy him forever, but we live in a day when self substitutes for God. There is self-seeking, self-glorifying and self-planning on every hand. The result is misguided and ruined lives. Satan disowns the truth of God and has the power of deception. He is "a liar, and the father of it."
In contrast, Jesus reveals Himself as "the truth" (John 14:6). Christ came forth from God and is very God as well as very man. He was THE TRUTH manifested in the flesh and as the perfect Man He abode in the truth, doing only those things that pleased the Father. It is impossible for one to be of God and to reject the Lord Jesus Christ who was sent into the world by the Father. "Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?... Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father" (1 John 2:22, 23). No one can be a Christian and reject the deity and virgin birth of Christ. In John 8:24 Jesus said, "If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins."
The final manifestation of Satan, the father of lies, is revealed in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12: "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
The person of Antichrist will be Satan's last and most misleading deception for the whole world is destined to follow him. (Rev.13:4-8). Antichrist is called "the lawless one" because he is directly related to Satan and obeys his lies. The followers of this "man of sin" are those who reject God's truth. Because His Word is despised God will send strong delusion upon the unbelieving world that the people might believe a lie. In the end they will be judged for rejecting God's truth. The stage is already being set for this today. The rejection of God's truth is universal and Satan's lies have become an integral part of our present world system.
It is important that believers understand the relationship of this present world system to the Devil. The Greek word cosmos is found in the New Testament 187 times and is translated, with one exception, world. This world system is evil in character. Our Lord Jesus Christ "gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world" (Gal. 1:4). In the 186 uses of the word cosmos, it is related to Satan's influence and authority. The following are just a few of these verses: John 12:46; 16:8; 16:33; 17:14; 17:25; 18:36; Romans 5:12; 3:19: 1 Cor. 1:21; 1 Cor. 5:10; 11:32; Eph. 2:12; James 1:27; 2 Peter 1:4; 2 Peter 2:20.
This world system embraces all godless governments with their many conflicts, armaments, and jealousies. Included also is the philosophy of the world in education, culture, and religion. The world system is properly called the satanic system.
During the temptation of Christ in the wilderness, Satan declared that the kingdoms of this world are his and to whosoever he wills he gives them (Luke 4:5-7). During the Great Tribulation world-rule will be conferred by Satan on the man of sin.
Christ referred to Satan as "the prince of this world" (John 12:31). The Apostle Paul wrote that the Christian's warfare is "against the rulers of the darkness of this world" (Eph. 6:12). Read also John 14:30 and 16:11; Eph. 2:2; 2 Cor. 4:4; 1 John 5:19.
This message will help believers to see our proper place in this world and to understand that the ministry of the church is not to clean up the world but to preach the Gospel. Through the preaching of the cross of Christ, God is calling out of this world system a people to become members of His body which is the church. The cosmos is not a battleground whereon God is contending with Satan for supremacy. But God permits sin to go on that the lie may have its full revelation. This is truly a Christ-rejecting world system. Its princes crucified "the Lord of glory" (1 Cor. 2:8), and would crucify His followers today if they thought they could get away with it. The people of the world may favour some of the teachings of the Lord Jesus but salvation through His blood is spurned and rejected. Jesus said: "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you" (John 15:18,19).
Praise God! There is victory in Christ for every believer over the "god of this world" and the "present evil world" system. 1 John 4:4: "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." This world is not our home. Our home is in Heaven. That is why we live with eternity's values in view.
4. Satan's Defeat
The moment a person is saved through faith in the finished work of Christ on the Cross, the Devil begins to frustrate God's plan for that individual's life. He is the subtle foe of every believer. The Bible teaches that the Devil quotes scripture (Matt.4:6); he transforms himself into an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14); afflicts the body (2 Cor. 12:7); causes weakness that paralyzes Christian activity (1 Cor. 5:5); snatches away the seed of God's Word (Mark 4:15); sows harmful tares (Matt. 13:38,39); brings impure thoughts (1 Cor. 7:5); tempts us through pride (1 Tim.3:6); uses outward circumstances to hinder (1 Thess. 2:18); causes evil men to pervert the Gospel of Christ (Acts 13:10); seduces some from Christ by pleasure (1 Tim. 5:11,15); seeks to intimidate others by persecution (Rev. 2:10); sifts some quickly, like Peter (Luke 22:31); oppresses some for long periods, like the bent woman with the spirit of infirmity (Luke 13:16); buffeted Paul (2 Cor. 12:7); made shipwreck of Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Tim. 1:19,20); tempted Ananias to lie and Sapphira to hypocrisy (Acts 5:3); made one apostate—Judas (John 13:27) and he shall have other followers in these last times: "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils" (1 Tim. 4:1).
Not only should we thus recognize the work of the Devil, but we must also know our place in relationship to him. The Bible warns us that he is as a roaring lion (1 Pet. 5:8). We are commanded to resist him as the tempter to pride (James 4:7). We are forbidden to hold any discussion with him as the provoker to wrath (Eph. 4:27). We are instructed to fight with truth the one who is the foe to righteousness (Eph. 6:14). We are promised that the Evil One shall not touch us (1 John 5:18).
While we know from experience some of these attacks of Satan, we are certainly promised a life of victory. Let us consider an important passage in Revelation 12:7-11: "And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death."
Before we can have victory over our enemy we must have a knowledge of his ways. During the second world war the Battle of Dunkirk was fought primarily to learn certain facts concerning the enemy so that an all-out attack could be made towards victory. One high ranking officer reported that they went to France to learn ten facts about the enemy and returned with seven of them. This information helped in the winning of the war. Let us learn what the Bible teaches concerning the enemy of our souls and how we may triumph over him in practical ways.
This passage in Revelation 12 speaks of warfare. There is always a conflict between the Devil and the believer. In the verses just quoted he is called the great dragon, the old serpent, Satan, and the Devil. He is also called the accuser of the brethren. As the father of lies, he accuses us before the Lord and also to one another. How sad when believers use their tongues to criticize other members of the household of faith. Believers can lie the same as the unsaved and this is the work of Satan.
But let us notice in this passage that "they overcame him". There is victory over the Devil. Do you long to have victory in your life? Notice that they overcame him "by the blood of the Lamb." This takes us back to Calvary where Christ, God's Lamb, died in our stead by shedding His blood. When we are properly identified with Christ through the new birth, we are united with Him. It was through Christ's death, burial, and resurrection, and by virtue of His blood, that He brought defeat to Satan. The "blood of the Lamb" now becomes our victory. His victory is our victory for we are in Him and He is in us. The word by has the meaning because of and because He broke the power of sin and Satan by the shedding of His blood, we who are united with Him can participate in His victory. We are to reckon that Christ's victory is our victory wrought for us on Calvary.
We are here told that they overcame him also "by the word of their testimony." Faith in the death of Christ is to be followed by a witness to His living, powerful Word. It is not silence, nor is it argument, that defeats Satan, but a word of testimony which, of course, must be based on the Word of God.
There is nothing more powerful than a simple word of testimony. We are taught today that unless we are highly educated and have a degree, we are not able to fight the good fight of faith. No amount of education, however, can accomplish the work of a believer's Spirit-filled testimony. We would have more victory over Satan if we testified more to our relationship to Christ and the reality of His living Presence in our lives.
The word testimony means martyr and the testimony that will really count for Christ and against the Devil is the testimony that carries with it the martyr spirit. Christ did not count His life dear unto Himself. He taught that, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit" (John 12:24).
This is the need of the hour. God is surely speaking to believers to die to self and selfish ambitions. So many Christians seem to be so much a part of the present evil world system that they have lost the reality of dying to self and of presenting their bodies a living sacrifice to God. Our goal in life would appear to be one moulded by material and monetary considerations for the pleasing of self. Whereas, those who please the Lord must be willing to die to self and yield their lives to the Lord. This consecrated spirit is what is lacking today in our weak-kneed, wishy-washy, spineless, soft-padded, cushion-covered, easy-going, selfish, worldly, television-inspired, once-a-week to service type of Christianity. We have lost our power with God because we are not willing to die to self in order that Christ might live.
"They overcame him." We, too, can overcome the enemy and enter into the victory which Christ wrought for us on Calvary by proper identification with Him day by day. Let us be taken up with our risen Lord. Let us wage warfare against the Devil. Let us yield our lives as living sacrifices unto our blessed Saviour.
Yes, and let us praise God that there will be a final victory over Satan. God promised such a victory at the beginning of time. Genesis 3:15: "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." The day is coming when Satan's head will be completely bruised. We have this same promise in Romans 16:20: "And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." Time is growing short for the Devil so he is working overtime to frustrate God's plan for His people. But there is victory ahead.
In Matthew 25:40, 41 we read: "And the King shall answer and say unto them, ... Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." Hell was not made for men and women but if they continue on as the children of the Devil they will have to go to the Devil's abode. Only the children of God, born again by the Spirit of God, can go into the mansions of glory being prepared by Christ for His own.
During the Millennium the Devil will be bound. Following this one thousand year reign of Christ he will be loosed for a season. In Revelation 20:10 we have the account of his final doom: "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever."
Sound the battle cry! See the foe is nigh;
Raise the standard high for the Lord;
Gird your armour on, stand firm, everyone;
Rest your cause upon His holy Word.
Strong to meet the foe, marching on we go,
While our cause we know, must prevail;
Shield and banner bright, gleaming in the light,
Battling for the right we ne'er can fail.
Used with permission of The Peoples Gospel Hour, P.O. Box 1660, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 3A1 CANADA.