The people of God are in a war. It’s a battle bigger than D-Day. But we’re not fighting against flesh and blood (other humans, especially believers in our community of faith), and definitely not with bombs or bullets, but with words (the gospel) that convict or condemn. This battle is a spiritual one known as the great controversy between good and evil. One of the foremost rules of warfare is to know your enemy.
Paul described our enemy as “the powers of this dark world . . . the spiritual forces of evil” (Eph. 6:12). We know him as Satan, the devil. Jesus called him “a murderer from the beginning,” “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). John the revelator described him as “the great dragon . . . that ancient serpent . . . who leads the whole world astray” (Rev. 12:9).
Satan has many names. He is a “con” who deceived one third of heaven’s angels, Adam and Eve, and now us, out of our material inheritance. He and his fallen angels are living creatures who know exactly what heaven is like. Yet they do every evil to keep us from that rich, everlasting legacy. He was the “guardian cherub” in heaven (Eze. 28:14-16), but he started a war and rebellion there because of his great pride and unsanctified motives. He was thrown down to earth (Luke 10:18; Rev. 12:9), where he conned Adam and Eve out of their heritage (Gen. 3:1-6).
Jesus is the one who protects sinners, transforms us into saints, and provides every resource to make us victorious.
Why do I write about him? First, because the more we know about our enemy, the better we can devise means of counteracting his moves and rejecting him.
Second, because our mission is to join Jesus in seeking and saving those who are lost. While we pursue it, Satan is a prowling, roaring lion, stirring up trouble among us so that we are distracted to focus more on politically or otherwise motivated policies than on our divinely inspired commission.
Third, it is Satan’s nature to destroy, kill relationships, distract us from worshipping in spirit and truth, destroy our emotional health, and devastate anyone who claims Jesus as Savior. The devil seeks our destruction. He is a fierce opponent, a deadly enemy, and we do ourselves a serious disservice if we discount his existence, take him lightly, or believe that we are capable of defeating him in our own strength.
But we can resist the devil by being sober, not being intoxicated with our own self-importance, being alert; because our adversary stalks us like a roaring lion.
Because Jesus is the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Rev. 5:5), Satan tries to duplicate His character; but Satan can be only “like a lion.” While Satan prowls and roars, seeking to devour God’s saints, Jesus is the one who protects sinners, transforms us into saints, and provides every resource to make us victorious.
We can successfully resist the devil by putting on the full armor of God (Eph. 6:13), submitting ourselves totally to God (James 4:7), and by claiming the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 12:11).
Hyveth Williams is a professor at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University.