Calvary Road Baptist Church

“ONGOING ENCOUNTERS WITH THE DEVIL”

 

Have you ever carried on a conversation with your thoughts, discussing issues or options? Are you sure your conversation with yourself was actually a conversation with yourself and not a consideration of thoughts or idea planted in your mind by someone else or something else?

This morning I bring to you a message from God’s Word about the Devil, Satan, who was originally named Lucifer. Please recognize that the Word of God is focused on God’s gracious dealings with mankind, reaching its pinnacle in the redemption that is provided by God’s eternal Son Jesus Christ, the virgin-born, crucified, raised-from-the-dead, ascended and exalted One Who is enthroned at God the Father’s right hand on high. Therefore, the Devil is not central to the scriptural revelation. That the Devil is not central to the story of the Bible does not, however, mean the Devil is not important, and important to you. It means that as a mere creature, even though he was the first of God’s creatures, he is a paltry weakling in comparison to the glorious and majestic Savior of sinful men’s souls Who fashioned him before time began, Who he has opposed almost since the beginning, and against Whom he has no chance of victory. However, he is capable of inflicting great harm by means of his access to the human mind.

By way of introduction allow me to simply state a few details and opinions related to the Devil’s origin and downfall that sets the stage for men’s ongoing encounters with the Devil. This should be important to you in light of our Lord’s warning to the Apostle Peter in Luke 22.31, a warning you would be wise to pay attention to:

 

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.”

 

I am persuaded God, specifically the Second Person of the Triune Godhead, the preincarnate Christ, created Lucifer and the host of angels prior to the creation of the physical universe and all that herein is. Before there was time and space and matter there was God, the great Three-In-One. He, specifically the Second Person of the Trinity, by whom all things are created, John 1.3 and Colossians 1.16, brought Lucifer into existence, thereby making him the first of all God’s creatures. He was perfect in both his beauty and in his ways when he was first fashioned, Ezekiel 28.12-17.

Once Lucifer and the heavenly host were created, it is my impression from God’s Word that they were bystanders and witnesses to God’s creation of the time-space-matter continuum referred to in Genesis 1.1, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” I say this because of the LORD’s response to Job in Job 38.7, when in His questioning of Job about His creative activities that Job was not witness to, we read these words to Job about the LORD’s creative activity:

 

“When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”

 

The descriptions “morning stars” and “sons of God” in that verse are poetical descriptions of the angels that existed before God created the heaven and the earth, those same angels being witness to and then reacting to God’s astonishing display of creative power and wisdom by shouting for joy at the spectacle of this universe’s creation before their eyes. Sometime after Genesis 1.38, when every one of God’s creatures was pronounced very good, and Genesis 3.1, when the Devil made use of the serpent to tempt Eve, this first of God’s creatures was somehow transformed from an anointed cherub of beauty who was on the holy mountain of God to a despicable and malevolent opponent against God who had led one-third of the host of heaven in rebellion and was cast down as lightning.[1] Why did the Devil sin against God?

My own opinion is that following the creation of this planet earth God assigned Lucifer here as his place of ministry. However, Lucifer rebelled at what he thought was a humiliating demotion for service in so lowly a place, prompting him to lead a revolt against God in a failed attempt to elevate himself to the lofty heights of God’s throne room.[2] Being cast down and now warped by his twisted and wicked mind to strike against God and all that is God’s, he has ever since been opposed to the plan and purpose of God in a tireless effort to thwart God’s will and diminish God’s glory. If only Lucifer had trusted God, Who was not consigning him to a place of humiliating insignificance, but was in fact giving to him as a place of service the one location in the entire universe where God’s Son would be born of a virgin and then die for sinful men’s souls.

Everything is now set. The Devil and his fallen angels are known to exist in opposition to God and God’s people. Therefore, let us in survey fashion briefly look at a number of ongoing encounters with the Devil:

 

First, THE DEVIL’S ATTACK AGAINST ADAM AND EVE

 

Genesis 3.1-7:   1   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 the garden?

2       And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

3       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.

4       And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

5       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.

6       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.

7       And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

 

I will assume you are somewhat familiar with Genesis chapter three, or that you are wise enough to carefully consider what we have read showing the Devil’s initial onslaught against the human race that forever changed the spiritual topography of planet earth. I am sure you agree that it would be folly, indeed, to intentionally remain ignorant about your most dangerous enemy. What I would like to specifically point out to you about the Devil’s successful attack that plunged the human race into the darkness of depravity was what he chose to do and not do, and who he chose to do it to and not to.

Observe that the Devil’s attack was an attack of words. This is important because it established a pattern that has not changed down through the centuries. However, his words were false and not true. Observe also that the Devil conducted his escapade, not against Adam the spiritual head of the human race and Eve’s husband and spiritual leader, but against Eve. We minimize the impact and import of words these days, but that is a terrible mistake. The serpent’s words affected Eve’s thoughts, deceiving her.[3] Eve’s thoughts influenced her actions. And it was her act of willful disobedience, leading directly to Adam’s disobedience, that plunged the entire human race into sin.

 

Next, THE DEVIL’S PRE-FLOOD ACTIVITY

 

Genesis 6.1-7:   1    And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,

2       That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

3       And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

4       There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

5       And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

6       And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

7       And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

 

As the “sons of God” in Job 38.7 referred to angels (beings created directly by God), so in my opinion are the “sons of God” in this passage; angels, specifically fallen angels who attacked God’s plan by seeking to corrupt mankind. By what precise means they accomplished their goals we can only guess. We do not here see a display of might and power by fallen angels, but rather evidence of cleverness and ingenuity, almost certainly by means of words. God saw that the resultant wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

The LORD repented that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. Therefore, He destroyed man from the face of the earth except for Noah and his family. How did God execute His judgment of mankind? A worldwide flood over all the earth. Notice that no direct mention is made in this passage, or anywhere else that I can recollect, of God at that time punishing the Devil or any of his minions for their wicked deeds. No, God’s punishment was directed to those who participated in the Devil’s nefarious plan, including those who simply gave themselves over to sinful thoughts. The thought is the deed with God.

 

Third, THE DEVIL’S ATTACKS ON JOB

 

There are eleven verses in the first two chapters of the book of Job that contain references to Satan, in a brief history of what proves to be very surprising to most people the first time they read the chapters. Three things stand out in these two chapters: First, it is so obvious as to be undeniable that Satan is utterly accountable to the LORD. Indeed, the two occasions in which interaction between the LORD and Satan occurred in the two chapters were occasions when the LORD demanded an accounting of Satan’s actions. Second, the two times that Satan attacked the godly patriarch Job were attacks that were suggested by the LORD, both occasions reading, “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job?” Job 1.8 and Job 2.3. Third, while the Devil certainly exercises supernatural power to attack Job’s wealth, Job’s family, and then Job’s body, we now see in this third instance of an encounter between Satan and a human being that it is not really a power encounter. Satan’s use of power was strictly limited by God. This is always important to remember.

 

Fourth, THE DEVIL’S ATTACK AGAINST KING DAVID

 

First Chronicles chapter twenty-one contains an account of the Devil provoking King David to conduct a census of his men as a means of ascertaining the number of fighting men he had at his disposal.

Because of the length of the chapter, allow me to summarize what transpired. In verses 1-6 is recorded that Satan stood up against Israel and provoked David’s sin, the king then forcing his general, Joab, to number the people. Sinful because God wanted David to rely upon Him to ascertain when to go to war, and not make such decisions based upon considerations of military might. As soon as David took note that God smote Israel for what he had done he was sorrowful and expressed his regret to God for his sinful and foolish actions, verses 7-8. In response to his repentance God offered three chastisement options to David, three rods to choose from by which he would be beaten, verses 9-13. Rather than three years of famine or three months at the hands of his enemies, David chose three days of pestilence at the hand of the LORD that resulted in 70,000 dead, verses 14-17. In verses 18-30 we are told that King David purchased the threshing floor where the plague was stopped, built an altar and offered sacrifices, called upon the LORD, and the LORD responded “from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering.”

The word translated “provoked” in verse 1 refers to instigating someone in a bad sense to do something.[4] That the Devil made use of words against David is certainly implied if not stated outright. Thus, as in the case with Adam and Eve, we see here no evidence the Devil employed force as he did with Job, but rather once again words, thoughts, and ideas, to accomplish by subtlety something David then rather quickly realized was both wrong and foolish.

 

Fifth, THE DEVIL’S ATTACK AGAINST THE HIGH PRIEST JOSHUA

 

The high priest we now consider was a contemporary of Zerubbabel and is mentioned by the prophets Ezra, Haggai, and Zechariah.[5] He served at the time of the reconstructed Temple in Jerusalem, known as Zerubbabel’s Temple, following the Babylonian captivity. I read Zechariah’s vision in Zechariah 3.1-4:

 

1       And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.

2       And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?

3       Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.

4       And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.

 

We do not have the time to explore this Messianic vision given to Zechariah except to take note of two things and then draw a conclusion: First, the angel of the LORD is the preincarnate Christ. Is it not wonderful how He interceded on behalf of Joshua? Next, Satan stood at the high priest’s right hand to resist him. To resist him how? Perhaps by whispering in his ear or otherwise putting thoughts into his mind? The one thing I want you to recognize from the vision of this encounter is that it is not a power encounter. Satan would not dare engage the angel of the LORD in a contest of might and power. Rather, this is a truth encounter that Satan, the liar, loses.

 

Sixth, THE DEVIL’S ATTACKS AGAINST THE SAVIOR IN THE WILDERNESS

 

Most who have read from the gospels realize that after our Lord’s baptism by John the Baptist took place He was tempted of the Devil in the wilderness for forty days and nights, which was an intense season of spiritual testing and opposition when He was physically at His weakest.[6] Most people wrongly conclude that His wilderness temptations were the only times Satan tempted the Son of God, they were the times when His temptations by the Devil were most explicitly recorded for our instruction.[7]

Though the Devil subjected the Lord Jesus Christ to three rounds of temptation during His forty days of fasting, it is once more interesting to note that the encounters were never power encounters wherein the Devil challenged the Son of God’s power and might. He knew better than to try that. They were in each instance truth encounters, the Devil doing his best with words, and the Son of God responding to each of the challenges He faced by prefacing each instance in which He recited God’s Word by saying, “It is written,” “It is written again,” and then saying “for it is written.”[8]

 

Seventh, THE APOSTLE PAUL’S COMMENTS ABOUT ENCOUNTERS WITH THE DEVIL

 

The Apostle Paul has two primary passages devoted to instructing believers concerning encounters with the Devil, Ephesians 6.11-18 and First Timothy 4.1-2:

 

11     Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12     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.

13     Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14     Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15     And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16     Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

17     And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

18     Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

 

1       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;

2       Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.

 

May I point out two important facts from these two passages?

First, make sure you never forget that the whole armor of God prepares you to stand against the wiles of the Devil, not his power. Want to know why? Because encounters with the Devil are never about power; yours, his, or God’s. The encounters are always about the truth, with God being true, with the Lord Jesus Christ being the Truth, and with the Devil being a liar, the father of lies, and a liar from the beginning. He lied to Eve, he probably lied to the angels who followed him in the rebellion against God, and he has been lying ever since.

Second, make sure that you remember the important difference between those who depart from the Christian faith and those who are able to stand in the evil day. It has to do with your handling of the truth. Do you employ the truth, or are you seduced away from the truth and sound doctrine by the Devil and his demons who are persuasive liars? It is the truth which will make you free.[9]

 

Finally, THE APOSTLE PETER’S COMMENTS ABOUT ENCOUNTERS WITH THE DEVIL

 

Peter’s comments amount to two verses, First Peter 5.8-9:

 

8       Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

9       Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

 

While the child of God is never urged to fear the Devil, we are directed to be sober and to be vigilant in preparing for and dealing with his sudden attacks which can bring about great harm. What are we to do when attacked by the Devil? Peter directs his readers that we are to resist the Devil in the faith, just like our brethren in other parts of the world do. Paul more fully shows us how to resist.

Why are we never ever to fear the Devil? We are never urged to fear anyone but God. Remember what the Savior said in Matthew 10.28:

 

“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

 

To be sure, there are other passages in God’s Word that provide insight about encounters that people have had with the Devil, that spirit-being created by God who is our one true and persistent enemy. However, the few high spots we have touched on provide almost everything the believer needs to know about his dealings with the Devil or with the Devil’s minions the demons, who are fallen angels.

Though Satan and his followers are supernatural beings who are certainly more intelligent, more experienced, and more powerful than any human being, we have seen that in all but a few instances in those passages that record encounters or that encourage appropriate response during an encounter with the Devil, the encounters are what I have chosen to call truth encounters rather than power encounters. On occasion God may permit the Devil to make use of his superior power, but the vast majority of his encounters are episodes in which he seeks to advance a lie and thereby separate someone from the truth of God’s Word. By that I mean God’s plan for His people is not for us to engage in spiritual conflict by attempting to play a game of one-upmanship, thinking we can counter the Devil’s moves in our own lives or in another’s life with some display of spiritual power or might in Harry Potter fashion. It simply does not work that way. Even when Job was attacked by the Devil on two occasions his dealings were always with God. Remember that. The archangel Michael’s defense against the Devil was “The Lord rebuke thee,” Jude 9. The most any Christian is ever been commanded to do in response to an attack on him by the Devil is to resist him in the faith as a defensive tactic and to pray as an offensive tactic.[10] Beloved, that is how we fight our unseen adversary. To attempt to deal with supernatural foes any other way is foolhardy and doomed to failure. The enemy is determined to see you destroyed and your life and loved ones ruined.

In conclusion, therefore, let me set forth a simple strategy for the Christian when dealing with what may very well be an attack upon you from the Devil or one of his demons:

First, there is recognition of the Devil’s or of demonic activity. There are certain characteristics which suggest the activity of the Devil or demons: bizarre or violently irrational evil behaviour, especially in opposition to the gospel or to Christians (Mark 1.24; 5.2-5; 9.18; Acts 16.16-18; Revelation 2.10); malicious slander and falsehood in speech (John 8.44; First John 4.1-3); increasing bondage to self-destructive behaviour (Mark 5.5; 9.20); stubborn advocacy of false doctrine (First John 4.1-6); the sudden and unexplained onslaughts of emotions (such as fear, hatred, depression, anxiety, violent anger, etc.) which are both contrary to God’s will and inappropriate in one’s situation (note the ‘flaming darts of the evil one’ mentioned in Ephesians 6.16); and simply the deep spiritual uneasiness which might be called the ‘discernment’ (cf. 1Cor. 12:10) of spiritual evil.[11]

I would also suggest you give serious consideration to Satanic or demonic suggestion, especially if you were here last Sunday morning but inexplicably chose not to attend last Sunday night. I say that because anointed messages from God’s Word do not satisfy one’s appetite for blessing and truth, but only whets it. Demonic influence, on the other hand, diminishes one’s spiritual thirst for truth and hunger for righteousness. It is not the Holy Spirit that uses persuasive thoughts to recommend something other than coming to church again Sunday night. Such as that is typical of the father of lies.

Next, there is the proper response to the Devil’s or to a demonic assault. How should Christians resist the devil? The Apostle Paul’s discussion of the equipment for spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6.10-18 is a wonderful picture of preparing for it. In practical terms, all the positive resources of the Christian life are to be used to achieve what Peter advocates; “resist stedfast in the faith.” Folks, to resist means to push back. It certainly is not God who suggests that you pass up on prayer, on reading the Word of God, on praising God, on helping fellow believers, on rebuking the enemy (Luke 10.17-20; Acts 16.18), on renewed holiness of life (note ‘righteousness’ in Ephesians 6.14). The ‘the whole armour of God’ referred to in Ephesians 6.11 suggested you prepare for a fight. Therefore the command found in First Peter 5.9, “resist stedfast in the faith,” signifies that struggle is called for, and that defeat is not inevitable. Christians must resist any and all suggestions of doing wrong (remember, Satan uses words, i.e. thoughts). Resist and expect that the enemy will flee, God’s kingdom will advance, you will grow in faith and holiness through conflict, and God will take Satan’s plans for evil in your life and turn them to your good.[12]

However, this tactic, while it is wonderful for the blood-bought and blood-washed child of God, works not at all in the life of the Christ rejecting unbeliever. You, my unsaved friend, have no option but to flee from your enemy to the safety and refuge of Jesus Christ for forgiveness full and free. Only after you have trusted Christ to the saving of your eternal and undying soul will the Devil be cowered by the might and majesty of the glorious and enthroned Son of the living God. So long as you are lost and unforgiven you are subject to the cruel tyranny of the god of this world. Therefore, I urge you to flee to the soul safety of Jesus Christ without delay.

 

[1] Ezekiel 28.14; Revelation 12.4; Luke 10.18

[2] Isaiah 14.12-15

[3] 1 Timothy 2.14

[4] Francis Brown, S. R. Driver & Charles A. Briggs, The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew And English Lexicon, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1979), page 694.

[5] Ezra 5.1-2; Haggai 1.1, 12, 14; 2.2, 4; Zechariah 3.1, 3, 6, 8, 9; 6.11

[6] Matthew 4.1-11; Mark 1.12-13; Luke 4.1-13

[7] Luke 4.13; Hebrews 4.15

[8] Matthew 4.4, 7, 10

[9] John 8.32

[10] 1 Peter 5.9; Ephesians 6.18

[11] Wayne Grudem, The First Epistle Of Peter - TNTC, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988), page 196.

[12] Ibid., pages 197-198.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org