Identifying the Enemy

Too many of us have allowed the culture to shape what we expect to see if Satan or his minions come to influence us.  What does he look like? Is he a goat-man dressed in red with horns, a pointed tail and a trident?  What does he act like? Is he a drug-dealing, murdering rapist? Where does he work?  Does he have his underground headquarters in an inner-city slum or a pornography studio? The answer to all of these questions is NO!  Consider the following:

Satan wants to be “Christ-like” (Isaiah 14:12-14).  He wants people to worship himself instead of Jesus.  To do that, he must trick people into thinking he’s the most righteous spiritual man who ever lived.  He will be so successful at this that the world will believe he is the messiah, allowing him to walk into the temple thus putting himself in the place of God (Matthew 24:15).  Satan will outwardly look and act like the last person you’d ever expect!

Satan is a believer.  He believes Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day (1 Cor 15:3-4).  In fact, he was probably there watching all of it happen!  The Devil(s) believe, and tremble. (James 2:19)  He and his demons tremble because they will not repent.  It is repentance, not just belief, which sets apart a born-again Christian.

Satan goes to church.  He’s probably been going to church since long before you were born. Think about it: why would he waste time around other God-haters?  They are already on his side.  No, he works most tirelessly to divert and deceive those who seek to know God.  Those are the most threatening to the Devil’s plan.

Satan knows his Bible. He can quote passages by heart, even when the heat is on.  He intentionally misquotes it ever so slightly to get his way.  Consider Eden when he added just one word to tempt Eve (Gen 3:1).  Or when he tempted Jesus, quoting (and misapplying) God’s promise of angelic protection from Psalm 91:11-12.  Jesus replied: “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” (Matt 4:6-7)

Satan is an angel.  Our culture understands the word “angel” to be synonymous with a “good person.”  Yet, Lucifer is an angel and a beautiful one at that (Eze 28:13).  He took many others with him in rebellion (2 Pet 2:4Jude 1:6).  In fact, Hell itself was created for these angels (Matthew 25:41).  So, if you happen to meet an angel, remember there’s a fair chance it’s actually a demon.

Satan doesn’t judge people of other faiths.  There will come a day when all who are not in Christ will worship the Devil under a unified global religion (Rev 13:11).  Therefore, he encourages people who don’t worship Jesus Christ to continue in their ways unchallenged until the time comes for God to separate the wheat from the chaff and burn the workers of iniquity (Matthew 3:12) in the fire that shall not be quenched (Mar 9:44-48).

Satan accepts Jesus as Lord.  When he started out to test Job’s faith, he went before the throne and waited for permission (Job 1:6-12) after arguing for a time.  How often do we ask or wait on permission from God to do anything?  Yes, that man of sin, the son of perdition, knows all too well that he, along with the rest of the created universe, is in constant subjection to Jesus Christ – and he hates it.  Do you find joy in submitting to his power and authority?

Satan’s strategy of deception is to have every outward appearance of Christ, so it should not be a surprise that he does all of the things I’ve just listed.  This is why we must be exceedingly vigilant (Acts 17:11).  Test everyone and everything to see whether it is of God (1 Thess 5:21).  Test your preacher, theologians, scientists, and philosophers.  Test yourself to be sure you are indeed following God’s way to Heaven (Isa 55:8-9John 14:6).

So, how do we guard against the influences of that wicked deceiver?  First, I would argue that it’s not Satan we should be worried about.  It’s our own heart that is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” (Jer 17:9)  During the millennial reign of Jesus Christ, Satan will be bound and God’s perfect justice will rule.    Yet, even with him out of the picture for a thousand years, some will still rebel (Rev 20:11-15).  We will have no more “the Devil made me do it” excuses.  Let us look to our own sin, see the ugliness of it, then praise the Lord for lifting that burden up on the cross.