Know Your Enemy! – XII

May 31, 2013

Ephesians 6:10-18

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

Let’s go back to Ephesians 6 and camp out there for the next several blogs.  You see, this is the classic scriptural passage dealing with The Armor of God.  Paul introduces the subject in verses 10 and 11:

    Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.  Put
    on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of
    the devil.

We have learned in earlier blogs that the devil is wiley.  If you examine closely the description of “…the anointed cherub who covers…” in Ezekiel 28:12 through 19, it becomes evident that God lavished adornments on this angel – who is named Lucifer in Isaiah 14:12 – which added to his beauty and station.  In Matthew 10:16 Jesus said to His disciples,

    Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.  Therefore be wise as
    serpents and harmless as doves.

The Lord is not saying that snakes are especially smart!  But snakes in scripture are often a reference to Satan (see Genesis 3:1, 14, 15; Revelation 12:9, 14, 15; 20:2).  What He is saying is that to survive in the world as His witnesses, Jesus’ disciples need to have the wisdom of the devil – but not the venom.  The implication is that Satan is wise and wily!  And he plays us as skillfully as Yo-Yo Ma his cello – if we let him!

So we are told “…to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11).  Obviously, we can’t do that ourselves!  He is much more powerful than us.  Jude warns us in Jude 1:8 and 9 about ungodly men posing as Christian leaders and teachers.  One of their characteristics was their light despising of authority – both human and spiritual:

    Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil
    of dignities.  Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil when
    he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling
    accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”

Now Michael the archangel was no slouch!  He is a high and mighty angel!  But he respected the dignitary before him – yes, the devil is here called a dignitary (“one who holds a high position” – Webster).  Michael rebuked Satan in the name – and so in the power – of Jesus!  So must we!

So we are told in Ephesians 6:10, “…be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.”  If that was it, with no further specific instruction, it would be no better an exhortation than saying, “Have a good day”!  Sure we are to “be strong in the Lord”.  And that strength must be “…in the power of His might.”  But how….?

How?  As I said at the beginning, that is the subject of the next couple of blogs.  And when we learn how to “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil…”, then Paul will also see Ephesians 6:13 fulfilled in us:

    Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand
    in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

The battle is intense and exacting!  Every piece of armor is important!  Its proper use requires knowledge and training!  But the result at the end is that you and I will be found standingnot a casualty lying dead on the battlefield of life!  And though there may be wounds and battle scars, we will stand to hear our Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant…” (Matthew 25:23).

Know Your Enemy! – XI

May 29, 2013

II Corinthians 10:3-5

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

When planning to engage an enemy in battle, we must know where the fighting is going to take place.  You see, if we meet our enemy on heavily wooded mountains, the strategy – and even our choice of weapons – will be different than if we are fighting in a desert setting.

It seems too many Christians are not aware of the arena in which our enemy, the devil, wars.  But Paul makes it quite clear in II Corinthians 10:3-5, and I especially like the way it is translated in the King James Version:

    For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:  (for the weapons
of our warfare are not carnal [of the flesh], but mighty through God to the
pulling down of strong holds); casting down imaginations, and every high thing
that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity
every thought to the obedience of Christ….

Do you see three key words in this scripture that indicate just where it is that we are to meet our enemy?  “…imaginations…knowledge…thought….”  What do these three words suggest?  Why, the mind, of course!  It is in the mind where our battles with the devil are fought.  And if we can win the battle of the mind, then we can win the battle over temptation and sin – over our general tendency to rebel against God, allowing Satan to have his way with us.

There are other scriptures that support this concept.  In Proverbs 4:23 it says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”  To the ancient Hebrews, the concept of the heart in this context was much more than the beating, blood-pumping organ.  It would be similar to what we might mean when we say “I believe with all my heart….”  But it even goes beyond that.  It means the whole inner person, and includes the mind.  So we could say, “…out of the mind – the whole inner person – spring the issues of life.”  Jesus said it this way in Matthew 12:34, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”  He could well have said, “…out of the abundance of the heart the hands move…the feet walk…the life is lived”!  Any action that comes out of our life goes through the mind first, however briefly!

A left turn here – If this is true, then there is no such thing as an unpremeditated murder – or any unpremeditated action!  That sure would throw a wrench into the works of the legal defense system!

But back to our premise – If all our actions first go through the mind before they are manifest in our life, then it stands to reason that if we win the battle of the mind, we win the war over Satan and sin!  So the time to defeat the devil’s suggestions, leadings and temptations is not when we are about to do them, it is when the first inkling of doing them comes into our mind!

All this points to another of Satan’s tactics – he has access to our minds!  Now, there is no indication in the Bible that he can read our minds, but he has made a study of human beings generally – and you and me individually – to know our weaknesses and where to plant temptations that work best to lead us into sin.  So it behooves us to also study human makeup generally and especially our own selves – our weaknesses and our strengths – specifically.  As was inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi according to the Greek writer Pausanias, take heed to the admonishment, “Know thyself.

So the spiritual battleground is the mind.  And if you control the battle of the mind, then the words and actions that come out of your life will reflect that victory – all for God’s glory!

Know Your Enemy! – X

May 27, 2013

Ephesians 6:12

(All quotations are from the New King James Version)

Back in Know Your Enemy! – VI,  published on May 17, we looked at the numbers of angels and demons.  According to what Jesus said in Matthew 26:52 and 53, He could call more than six legions of angels to come to His assistance.  A Roman legion at full strength comprised 6,000 soldiers, so Jesus could have summoned at least 72,000 angels!  Also, according to Revelation 12:3 and 4, Lucifer, in his rebellion against God, was joined by a third of the created angels who then became demons.  So the 72,000 Jesus could have called represents two thirds which means the devil has at least 36,000 fallen angels – demons – at his disposal!  There are probably many more than just a total of 108,000 created angels, but still, considering the power of angels, it is an awesome number!

Some people have the idea that fallen angels – demons – are little mischievous creatures who run around causing glitches and troubles for us humans – kind of like Murphy’s Law demons!  But Ephesians 6:12 provides another picture, and it shows a formidable force under the devil’s command.

    For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against
    powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of
    wickedness in heavenly places.

Jesus spoke of Satan’s kingdom in Luke 11:17 and 18 when some were accusing the Lord of casting out demons by the prince of demons:

    Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house
divided against a house falls.  If Satan also is divided against himself, how
will his kingdom stand?

Any kingdom that currently exists or has existed in the past has always had governmental structure.  Satan’s kingdom, which is of this current world system – “…the kingdoms of the world…and their glory…” (Luke 4:5, 6) – has such a structure.  It is not haphazardly thrown together, but is organized to run efficiently to accomplish the devil’s evil purposes.  We get a hint of that structure in Ephesians 6:12: “…principalities…powers…the rulers of the darkness of this age…spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places…” – row upon orderly row of competent demons administrating the kingdom of the evil one to carry out his desires.

First is “principalities”.  These are powerful demons who are called princes.  In Daniel 10:13 and 20 we get a peek at these princes and their assigned territories.  In verses 13 and 20 “…the prince of kingdom of Persia…” is mentioned. And also in verse 20, “…the prince of Greece….”  These are not human princes.  They are evil spiritual beings who are assigned to various kingdoms or nations to keep that portion of the devil’s kingdom under the his dominion.  A mighty demon was in charge of the Persian Empire.  Another was in control of Greece’s domain, which was the most powerful kingdom in the world until the Roman Empire came into prominence.

The city of Tyre on the eastern Mediterranean coast was an economic  powerhouse in Old Testament times.  So influential in world affairs was this city and the kingdom it represented, Satan himself was the ruling spiritual prince.  In Ezekiel 28, the prophet speaks the words of God concerning this city.  He begins the chapter addressing the human king of Tyre.  But starting in verse 12, the one addressed is no longer the human king, but the spiritual power behind the king – the one who was “…the anointed cherub who covers…” (Ezekiel 28:14) – the devil himself.

So, you see, there is always a power behind the power!  There is always a spiritual being – a demon – who is in charge of keeping his assignment under the dominion of Satan.  It should not surprise you that there is the prince of the United States of America, and the prince of the European Union, and….  You get the idea.

But it does not stop there.  There are lesser demons assigned to smaller or less significant nations, kingdoms, regions, states, cities, towns, and even families – all to keep their charges under the devil’s control!  I would not doubt that there is a demon assigned to specific churches and para-church ministries to hamper their testimony and their work for Jesus Christ.  And, since the idea of guardian angels is put forth in scripture – Psalm 91:11; Hebrews 1:14 – might there be enough demons at work in the world to be assigned to keep individuals either in an unregenerate state or ineffective as believers?

So you see, Ephesians 6:12 portrays a highly organized and powerful array of demons – Satan’s army – ready to do his bidding.  We are called to engage these evil forces.  And in the next blog we will begin to explore what God has given us for the battle – Spiritual armor and weapons – and how to use all our divinely-provided resources for His glory.

Know Your Enemy! – IX

May 24, 2013

Revelation 12:9, 10

(All quotations are from the New King James Version)

In Revelation 12:9 and 10 we learn another characteristic of our enemy, the devil:

    So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and
    Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels
    were cast out with him.  Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now
    salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His
    Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before
    our God day and night has been cast down.”

He accuses Christians constantly before God.  How he does this, since he also constantly roams the world to spread his evil, I don’t know.  Apparently, since he is a spiritual being, he is not restricted by all the physical limitations which is our lot in our fallen human bodies.  But the devil is a created being (Ezekiel 28:13) and does not possess, like the Creator, omnipotence (all power), omniscience (all knowledge) and omnipresence (everywhere at once).

But back to what he is called in our scripture:  “…the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night….”  Just how does he accuse us before God?  We get that picture in Job 1 and 2.  In Job 1:8 through 11 it says this:

    Then the LORD said unto Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that
    there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and an upright man, one who
    fears God, and shuns evil?”  So Satan answered the LORD, and said, “Does
    Job fear God for nothing?  Have You not made a hedge around him, around
    his household, and around all that he has on every side?  You have blessed
    the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.  But
    now, stretch our Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely
    curse You to Your face.”

And then in Job 2:3-5:

    Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there
    is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God,
    and shuns evil?  And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incite Me
    against him, to destroy him without cause.”  So Satan answered the LORD,
    and said, “Skin for skin!  Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life.  But
    stretch out your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely
    curse You to Your face.”

Now God knows all, and He can certainly see through the devil’s lying accusations.  But that does not stop the evil one from accusing God’s children!  And it seems, from the plain text of Job, that Satan actually changes God’s mind by his accusations so the Almighty will allow hard testing to come into the life of the believer.  But, if we read the whole Job account, we see that the hard testing actually brought forth a much greater quality of character in Job, something God plans for all His sons and daughters.

So it is with us.  Yes, the devil accuses each one of us before God.  And, by these accusations, God may allow hard testing to touch us.  But know this:  As it says in Romans 8:28:

    And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to
    those who are the called according to His purpose.

Remember that God’s purpose, according to Romans 8:29 is for us “…to be conformed to the image of His Son….”  Remember also in I Corinthians 10:13, that “…God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able….”  So, though we have one who constantly accuses us, we are also under God’s direction and protection.  And some day, this one who constantly makes accusations against us will get his……….!  Be encouraged, and not discouraged!

In our next blog, we will look at the organization of Satan’s army in Ephesians 6:12.

Know Your Enemy! – VIII

May 22, 2013

II Corinthians 4:3, 4

(All quotations are from the New King James Version)

Why is it that most of the world does not embrace Biblical truth (John 17:17) and Jesus Christ as the Living Truth (John 10:10)?  According to Global Christianity (http://www., “…there are 2.18 billion Christians of all ages around the world, representing nearly a third of the estimated 2010 global population of 6.9 billion.”  This number represents those who identify themselves as Christians.  But there are far fewer genuine Christians in the world than those who simply profess Christianity.  So lets say, for the sake of argument, there are one billion true Christians out of a world population of 6.9 billion.  Why so few?  Why do so many reject the truth?

You might give the argument that many have not heard the truth and so they have not had the opportunity to accept it or reject it.  Of course Paul argues in Romans 1:20, “…they are without excuse…” before God.  But the explanation for this is another blog for another day.

The answer to “Why do so many reject the truth?” is found in II Corinthians 4:3 and 4:

    But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose
    minds the god of this age has blinded who do not believe, lest the light of the
    gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

Satan has the power to blind the minds of unbelievers.  He does not have the power to stop the light of gospel from shining in the world (see Psalm 19:1-4 and Romans 1:18-20; 10:9-17), just the power to keep people from seeing it!  So, apparently, he has access to the minds of human beings where he can plant ideas and temptations as well as blindness (see II Corinthians 10:3-5).  Jesus describes this satanically induced blindness another way in Matthew 13:3 and  4 in the parable of the sower, and in verses 18 and 19 in its interpretation:

    And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, a sower went
    out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came
    and devoured them …. Therefore hear the parable of the sower:  When anyone
    hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one
    comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received
    seed by the wayside.”

In the first case, the devil blinds the minds of unbelievers.  In the second, he steals the Word away before it can do its work in producing fruit – a new nature (or heart) from God.

But our Lord Jesus can reverse blindness and restore that which is stolen.  He healed blind men at least eight times in the gospels (Matthew 9:27, 28; 11:5; 12:22; 20:30-34; 21:14; Mark 8:22-25; John 9:1-7).  If He can heal physical blindness, He can certainly heal spiritual blindness!  There are none so blind as those who live in the presence of the radiance of the One who is “…the light of the world…” (John 8:12; 9:5) and yet prefer the darkness!  And why do they prefer the darkness?  Jesus dealt with that subject in John 3:18 through 21:

    He who believes in Him [Jesus Christ] is not condemned; but he who does not
    believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the
    only begotten Son of God.  And this is the condemnation, that light has come
    into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds
    were evil.  For everyone practicing evil hates the light, and does not come to
    the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.  But he who does the truth comes
    to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.

If a person insists on keeping to his godless ways, then the Almighty will allow him or her to proceed in that lifestyle, and – although it breaks God’s heart – to continue to follow the Satan all the way into “…the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death [hell].

Be sure you have put your faith in the One who can heal your satanically induced blindness and give you eternal and abundant life.  And if you have come to the light, continue to give forth “…the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ…” to the lost.  You never know when God will heal their blindness and bring them into the kingdom!

Know Your Enemy! – VII

May 20, 2013

I Peter 5:6-9

(All quotations are from the New King James Version)

One thing I have learned about our enemy is that he is an imitator, not an originator.  What I mean is he takes the things of God which are pure and perfect and copies them as, what you might call, a cheap imitation.  The problem is that cheap imitation has so infatuated most of humanity that they blindly pursue the imitation rather than discover the glorious real thing!  So most of the world follow the devil – all the way to hell!

I discovered another of Satan’s cheap imitations in I Peter 5:8 and 9:

    Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, walks about like a
    roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  Resist him, steadfast in the faith,
    knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in
    the world.

How is this an imitation of what God has done?  In Genesis 49, the patriarch Jacob prophesied concerning his twelve sons, the progenitors of the twelve tribes of Israel.  Of Judah, he said in verse 9, “Judah is a lion’s whelp [cub, offspring]….”  Our Lord came from the tribe of Judah, and in Revelation 5:5 He is identified as “…the Lion of the tribe of Judah….

Can you see where I am going with this?  Jesus Christ is the true Lion of God – Satan is the false lion, a cheap imitation of the One who is “…the way, the truth, and the life.” (emphasis mine).  And what does this imitation lion do?  He “…walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”  This is entirely in keeping with the descriptive characteristic applied to the thief – the devil – in John 10:10, “The thief does not come except…to kill…”; and John 8:44, “He was a murderer from the beginning….

Remember, Lucifer was created an angel – pure spirit – and spirits are not portrayed as needing rest or sleep.  So the devil spends all his time – 24/7 – seeking whom he may devour.  I have said before that we are not the primary targets that stand in the way of his destructive goal – to be God (Isaiah 14:14; II Thessalonians 2:4).  That primary target is shown in Revelation 12:4, where the great red dragon is seen standing before the woman (Israel), “…to devour her child [Jesus Christ] as soon as it was born.”  Satan did his worst in trying to destroy God’s Son, but, as it says in Revelation 12:5, “…her Child was caught up to God and to His throne.” – out of reach of the devil!  So whom does he seek now to devour?  Us – believers in and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ!  You see, if he can no longer touch the Son, he can hurt the Father by causing trouble for and harm to His other sons and daughters – you and me!

The evil one’s tireless quest to devour and destroy is seen in Job 1:7 and 2:2.  God asked Satan where he had been.  He answered, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”  Matthew Henry puts forth the idea that the devil’s roaming involves no rest.  In Job, the ceaseless roaming is emphasized.  In I Peter, the purpose of the walking about is emphasized:  “… seeking whom he may devour.

And so Peter warns us, “Be sober, be vigilant….Resist him, steadfast in the faith…”  (I Peter 5:8, 9).  In other words, be clear-minded, be ever-watchful, resist the devil, cling steadfastly to the true faith!

In another few blogs we will examine in detail what some of these terms mean applied to our Spiritual battles.  In the meantime, continue to learn more in getting to Know Your Enemy!  And the Lord will help you better to resist him.

Know Your Enemy! – VI

May 17, 2013

Matthew 26:52, 53 and Other Scriptures

(All quotations are from the New King James Version)

We are going to take a bit of a left turn in our study of Know Your Enemy!   It is related to the subject, and will help us to realize what we are up against in the spiritual battle to which we are called to be engaged as Christians.  What we will examine reminds me of something Jesus said in Luke 14:31:

    Or what king, going to war against another king, does not sit down first, and
    consider whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against
    him with twenty thousand?

In other words, when engaging in battle with the enemy, you should always have a reliable estimate of both the number of his forces and yours!  Also, you need to have an accurate idea of the strength and tactics of both armies before the battle begins.  To figure out the strength of Satan’s army compared to the Lord God’s army, we need to examine several scriptures and pull all the information together.

In Revelation 12:3 there is a reference to “…a great red dragon…” who is later identified in Revelation 12:9:  “…the great dragon…that serpent of old, called the Devil, and Satan….”  Here is what it says about the dragon in Revelation 12:3 and 4:

    And another sign appeared in heaven:  behold a great fiery red dragon having
    seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.  His tail drew the
    third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth….

This looks back to Lucifer’s rebellion in Isaiah 14:12-15.  Many Bible scholars think “the stars of heaven” is a reference to angels, as it seems to be in Job 38:7.  If this is so, then one third of the angels created by Almighty God followed Lucifer in his rebellion and fell with him, being confirmed in wickedness.  These became demons – Satan’s spiritual army who do his bidding.

Now we come to our featured scripture of Matthew 26:52 and 53.  Jesus had just been apprehended by the temple police sent by Jewish leaders and led by Judas Isariot to arrest and bring in the Lord.  One of His disciples – identified as Peter in John 18:10 – drew a sword and cut off the ear of the High Priest’s servant who was part of the mob accompanying the temple police.

    Then said Jesus unto him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the
sword will perish by the sword.  Or do you think that I cannot now pray to
My Father, and He will provide me with more than twelve legions of angels?”

According to Wikipedia (, “A Roman legion…[was] typically composed of up to 6,000 soldiers….”  So Jesus could have called more than twelve legions of angels, or 72,000 plus angels!  So there are at least 72,000 good angels who do the bidding of God and, as it says in Hebrews 1:14, they are “…ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation….”  And if there are two thirds who did not rebel against God when they followed Lucifer, and if those two thirds are at least 72,000 angels, then Satan’s force is at least 36,000 demons!

Just think in terms of the minimum number of angels who are directed by God to minister to His children – how powerful are 72,000 angels?  In II Kings 18 and 19, there is described an invasion of Sennacharib, king of Assyria.  He came against Jerusalem and besieged it with a large and powerful army.  But God came to the rescue.  It says in II Kings 19:35,

    And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the LORD went out, and
    killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and
    when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses — all dead.

If one angel in one night can wipe out 185,000 enemy soldiers, what can 72,000 angels do?  Sure, there are 36,000 fallen angels demons – who do the devil’s bidding, and demons are nothing to trifle with!  But God’s got ’em beat!  I am so glad I am on the winning side!

Our next blog will continue to examine the characteristics of the devil, so you can better Know Your Enemy!

Know Your Enemy! – V

May 15, 2013

II Corinthians 11:13-15

(All quotations are from the New King James Version)

There is something we as Christians must know about our enemy.  It is related to our last blog in which we discussed that Satan “…is a liar, and the father of it.”  Let’s look at what Paul wrote in II Corinthians 11:13 through 15:

    For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into
    apostles of Christ.  And no wonder!  For Satan himself transforms himself into
    an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform
    themselves into ministers of righteousness; whose end will be according to their

The apostle is talking about false teachers who have wormed their way into the churches Paul has established in Corinth and elsewhere.  In verse 12 he describes them as “…those who commend themselves…measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves….”  These teachers are not wise, Paul says, and the opposite of being wise is being a fool – one who lives, according to Psalm 14:1, as if there is no God!

But a chief characteristic of such false teachers is that they transform themselves to look and act like apostles of Christ.  But in actuality, they are apostlessent ones in the Greek – of the devil!  “And no wonder!  For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” (II Corinthians 11:14).  If their master so transforms himself, the ones he sends will do the same!

The main point of this blog is – Satan is not what he so often seems to be!  He is a fraud!  He can look so good!  He can even appear as “…an angel of light…”!  Now, who wouldn’t trust an angel of light?  Such an angel would have to be sent from God, right?  NO!  But a lot of people have bought into this deception of the devil!

How can the evil one appear as “…an angel of light”?  Well, he was an angel in the beginning (see Ezekiel 28:12-16 and the discussion in the May 6th blog).  Apparently, he has lost none of his original beauty, but all of his original goodness!  Satan is not a red, horned, ugly devil with a tail and carrying a pitchfork, the one who reigns over hell!  He is active upon the earth today, with many minions to help him – demons.  He will only be in hell when the Lord casts him into that final place of judgment (see Matthew 25:41 and Revelation 19:20).

I will show you how easily this one who “…transforms himself into an angel of light…” can deceive people, even Christians who are not properly grounded in God’s Word.  In a Bible study that I have taught for the last eleven years, we are currently studying the book of Revelation.  When we started, I asked the 16 or so Christians in attendance to turn to Revelation 6:2 and read that verse:

    And I looked, and behold, a white horse.  And he that sat on it had a bow; and
    a crown was given to him; and he went out conquering and to conquer.

Now to whom,” I asked, “is this verse referring?”  Almost everyone in attendance (except my wife) replied, “It has to be the Lord Jesus.”  But it isn’t the Lord Jesus!  It is a picture of the antichrist in the first half of the tribulation, the first relatively peaceful and prosperous part of that final seven year period!  But if you don’t know what the real thing looks like, the devil incarnate sure looks good!  Then I had them turn to the real thing in Revelation 19:11 through 16:

    And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse.  And He who sat on him
    was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 
    His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns.  He had
    a name written that no one knew except Himself.  He was clothed with a robe
    dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.  And the armies of
    heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 
    Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should strike the
    nations.  And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron.  He Himself treads
    the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.  And He has on
    His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS, AND LORD

Which description is of the Lord Jesus Christ and which one is of Satan incarnate?  When you know the real thing, it is much easier to identify the false!

Those who are trained by our government to spot counterfeit money are instructed more concerning the real thing, than on the counterfeit.  They are taught to be so familiar with what is real – the look (the apparent as well as the hidden features), the feel, the smell  – all the characteristics of the real – that they can spot a phony, a counterfeit right away!

Are you so familiar with the Lord Jesus Christ that you can spot the one who “…transforms himself into an angel of light…”?  There are a lot of “…false apostles, deceitful workers…” ready to lead astray those who are not properly grounded in the things of God.  Get in the Word!  Get so familiar with Jesus Christ and the truth He came to reveal that you will be able to spot something phony in a moment!

We will continue with this study of Know Your Enemy!

Know Your Enemy! – IV

May 13, 2013

John 8:44

(All quotations are from the New King James Version)

Let’s further examine the characteristics of our enemy, who is the devil, called (among other things) Satan.  As pointed out in the last blog, he is a thief, and his only purpose according to John 10:10 is “…to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.”  Also, recorded in Isaiah 14:14, his overriding motivation in all that he does is to overthrow Almighty God and be God himself.

Jesus adds another aspect of the devil’s character in John 8:44.  He is talking to the Jews, led by the members of the Sanhedrin in opposing the Lord and His work:

    You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.
    He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because
    there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources,
    for he is a liar, and the father of it.

That Satan is a murderer was already covered in John 10:10 in the last blog.  But here we also learn that he is a liar – “…there is no truth in him” – and the progenitor of all lies!  But his lies are clever.  He deals in half truths – or better said, in nine tenths truths!  What I mean is he will take God’s truth, cock it a bit to the left or right, and present it so it looks goodBut if it is not 100% true, it is not truth at all!

For instance, go back to the very first lie fostered upon our first parents in the Garden of Eden.  It is recorded in Genesis 3:1-5:

    Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD
    God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not
    eat of every tree of the garden’?”  And the woman said to 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 has said, ‘You shall not eat of it, nor shall you touch it,
    lest you die.’”  And the serpent said to the woman, “You shall not surely die.  For
    God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will
    be like God, knowing good and evil.”

First of all, Satan planted a seed of doubt in Eve’s mind in verse1.  He was, in effect, saying, “Are you sure God said this?”  But Eve was wrong in believing God had told them not to touch the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  In Genesis 2:16 and 17 it is recorded,

    And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden
    you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall
    not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Nothing is said about touching the fruit here!  It was Adam’s fault in not communicating rightly God’s command to his wife, for when that command was given, she had not yet been created.  So when Satan said, “You shall not surely die,” he was right – or at least half-right!  They wouldn’t die if they just touched the fruit!  And, as far as dying was concerned, they didn’t die physically when they ate it.  That came 900 plus years later (Genesis 5:5).  But they did die spiritually in that they were separated from God, and that happened immediately after eating (Genesis 3:8) – another of the devil’s half-truths!

Finally, the evil one told Eve that “…God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  Yes, their eyes were opened!  Yes, they did then know good and evil!  But what the devil neglected to tell Eve was that they would no longer be able to do the good, but only the evil!  Oops!  Just a little bit off from the truth, that’s all!!!

One more example:  When Satan tempted Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13) one temptation is recorded thus in Luke 4:5-7:

    Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms
    of the world in a moment of time.  And the devil said to Him, “All this authority
    I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me; and I give it to
    whomever I wish.  Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.

It was true that Satan had authority over all the world.  He still does.  You see, the first Adam had, as it were, delivered all the dominion God had given him over all creation (Genesis 1:26, 28) unto the devil when he obeyed him instead of God.  Now the tempter was offering basically the same deal to the Second Adam, Jesus.  Yes, Jesus would then have authority over all the kingdoms of the world, but what the evil one neglected to tell the Lord was that such dominion would be under the authority of SatanThe devil would then be above God!

It’s all close to the truth, the promises that Satan gives.  It is about nine tenths truth and one tenth lie – which makes it all false!!!  So beware, “…for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (John 8:44).  He is oh-so-clever, and makes it all look so good!

We will continue with the enemy’s characteristics in the next blog.

Know Your Enemy! – III

May 10, 2013

John 10:10 and selected scriptures

(All quotations are from the New King James Version)

If you were looking for a person to share your home and expenses, with whom you could hang around and do things together, what kind of a person would you insist that one to be?  And if you found someone who seemed to have all the good qualities for which you were looking, would you want some references concerning him or her to help make sure this person was the right choice for you?  And if a reliable reference responded with some negative remarks, would you give these remarks serious consideration when making your decision?  What if this reliable reference said something like, “Be careful!  Stay away from this person!  He (she) is a clever thief, a pathological murderer, and surely he (she) will destroy your life!”  Would you ignore the warning or take heed?  Would you investigate more thoroughly the character of this person about whom the reference was given?  Of course you would!  You would be a fool not to!  If I found out that the reference given was right on, I would run the other way, putting as much distance as I could between me and the person in question!

Why, then, do people choose to hang around the devil?  Jesus said plainly in John 10:10, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.”  All conservative Bible scholars understand this reference to apply to Satan.  According to what the Lord is saying here, Satan has no other purpose “…except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.”  And this is not the only place in the Bible that explores the devil’s personality characteristics.  Let’s try to get a more complete view of just who our enemy is and what he is like.

We have mentioned this before, but let’s examine again the primary motivation of Satan’s character.  In the May 6 blog, Know Your Enemy! – I, We looked at Isaiah 14:12-15 – five “I wills”, culminating in Lucifer’s desire, “I will be like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:14).  The New American Standard Bible has it, “I will make myself like the Most High.”  This overriding purpose to be God has driven the devil all through the ages.  Even at the last, when he becomes incarnate as the antichrist at the end of the age, he still manifests that purpose.  It is recorded in II Thessalonians 2:4, “…he sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”  So he selfishly wants to overthrow God Almighty and take His place as ruler of all creation.

In his pursuit to be God, he has tried multiple times to thwart the Father’s purpose to manifest His Son Jesus Christ to the world as the only Savior of mankind.  In the Old Testament the Jews were threatened many times with extinction by various enemies, and Satan was behind them all.  He was the motivation behind Herod the Great who sought to kill the young child Jesus, but only succeeded instead in murdering the Bethlehem innocents (Matthew 2:12-18).  In Revelation 12:4 the devil (the dragon) is shown standing “…before the woman [Israel] who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child [Jesus] as soon as it was born.

But Satan’s coup de grace was to engineer the cross, the crucifixion of Jesus.  I know, it was all planned by God to redeem mankind “…before the foundation of the world…” (I Peter 1:18-20; Revelation 13:8).  But the evil one thought he had planned it.  It says in I Corinthians 2:8 that “…none of the rulers of this age knew [God’s plan]; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”  The “rulers of this age” are Satan and his henchmen – demons – who are the controlling powers behind the nations and societies of this world.  They did not know the divine strategy, and unwittingly became God’s pawns to fulfill His grand plan of redemption.  Too late the devil realized that what he thought was his ultimate triumph of killing Jesus insured his total downfall and destruction.  Actually, he hasn’t even yet fully realized his defeat  because he still thinks he can possibly overcome Almighty God!

In wanting to be God, Satan is the sworn enemy of the One True God who thwarts the pursuit of his desire.  He is only our enemy as we live for our Lord and allow Him to do His will in and through us.  We are not the main objects of the devil’s focus, God is.  But if he can hurt the Father by stealing, killing and destroying His children, then he will do it with evil delight.  So be aware – Know Your Enemy!  By knowing him you can better escape the snares he lays to entrap you.

We will continue to examine the devil’s character in the next blog.