Calvary Road Baptist Church

“ONGOING ENCOUNTERS WITH THE DEVIL” 

Have you ever carried on a conversation with your thoughts, discussing issues or options with yourself in your mind? Are you sure your conversation with yourself was actually a conversation with yourself, and not a consideration of thoughts or an idea planted in your mind by someone else or something else, without your permission and your awareness?

I bring you a message from God’s Word about the Devil, Satan, named Lucifer initially. Please recognize that the Word of God is focused on God’s gracious dealings with the human race, 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.[1] Therefore, the Devil is not central to the Scriptural revelation.

That the Devil is not central to the Bible’s story does not, however, mean the Devil is not essential and vital 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 utilizing his access to the human mind.

By way of introduction, allow me to state a few details and opinions related to the Devil’s origin and downfall that set the stage for humanity’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 pre-incarnate Christ, created Lucifer and the host of angels before creating the physical universe and all that therein is. Before there were time and space and matter, there was God, the great Three-In-One.

Excuse me, my Hindu friend. You are wrong about that.

Excuse me, my Buddhist friend. You are wrong about that.

Excuse me, my materialist friend. You are wrong about that.

Matter, time, and space are not eternal. God is.

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. Lucifer was perfect in both his beauty and in his ways when he was first fashioned. I am persuaded Ezekiel 28.12-17 refers to him: 

12 Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.

13 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.

14 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.

15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

16 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.

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, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. 

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 1.31, when each 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.[2] Why did the Devil sin against God?

My 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.[3] 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 several 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. 

They were instantaneously transformed from God-conscious beings into self-conscious beings. 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 remain ignorant about your most dangerous enemy intentionally.

What I would like to 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 tactic 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 Eve. Would you argue that tactic has changed?

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.[4] 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 using words. Did genetic manipulation occur? Were mighty fallen angels capable of gene splicing and other forms of DNA engineering? These are questions that come to my mind but which are not at all suggested by the text. What do we know? God saw that the resultant wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every imagination of his heart’s thoughts 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 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 apparent 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.[5]

Second, the two times that Satan attacked the godly patriarch Job were attacks that the LORD suggested, 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 exercised 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. God strictly limited Satan’s use of power. This is always important to remember. Satan can only do what he is permitted to do. 

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. Verses 1-6 records that Satan stood up against Israel and provoked David’s sin. The king then forced his general, Joab, to number the people by conducting a census. This was sinful because God wanted David to rely upon Him to ascertain when to go to war and not make such decisions based upon military might considerations related to the number of fighting men at his disposal. 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.[6] 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.

Do you keep track of the words spoken to you and your responses to those words to chart the wisdom of those who seek to influence you? Sometimes Satan provokes people by directly placing suggestions into their minds. But sometimes, he provokes people to speak foolish nonsense to you. Do you exercise care and caution in this regard? Choosing who you will listen to is almost as important as the decisions you end up arriving at. 

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.[7] 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 pre-incarnate Christ.[8] 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? That is the implication. I want you to recognize from the vision of this encounter that it is not a power encounter. Satan would not dare engage the angel of the LORD in a contest of might and power. Instead, 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, the Devil tempted him 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.[9]

Though 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.[10]

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. The Son of God responded to each of the challenges He faced by prefacing His responses to the Devil’s temptations by reciting God’s Word. He said each time, “It is written,” “It is written again,” and then saying “for it is written.”[11] That is undoubtedly a template for our responses to tempting words or thoughts. 

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

The Apostle Paul wrote two primary passages devoted to instructing believers about 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 crucial 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 your encounters with the Devil will never be about power; yours, his, or God’s. The encounters will always be 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.[12] 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 that will make you free.[13] 

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 vigilant in preparing for and dealing with his sudden attacks, which can bring about significant harm. What are we to do when attacked by the Devil? And remember that the attacks will almost always come in the form of words, thoughts, ideas in your thinking or introduced by others. 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 the Devil. But we ought to be able to formulate an educated guess. How do you counter words but with words? Ideas but with ideas? Lies but with truths?

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 much of what the believer needs to know about his dealings with the Devil or with the Devil’s minions, the demons, who are fallen angels, or with human beings who are tools to his ends.

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 responses 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 with God’s people 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 a Harry Potter fashion.

Spiritual conflict does not work that way. Even when the Devil attacked job 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 has ever been commanded to do in response to an attack by the Devil is to resist him in the faith, as a defensive tactic, and to pray as an offensive tactic.[14] Beloved, that is how we respond to an assault from 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, 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 needs to be a recognition of the Devil’s or of demonic activity. There are certain characteristics which suggest the activity of the Devil or demons:

I would also suggest you give Satanic or demonic suggestions serious consideration, especially if you inexplicably chose to miss one of these messages dealing with spiritual warfare. I say that because God’s Word’s anointed messages 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 different than coming to Church each time the doors are open. Such as that is typical of the father of lies.

Next, there is the proper response to the Devil’s or 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 beautiful picture of preparing for it. In practical terms, all the Christian life’s positive resources are to be used to achieve what Peter advocates; “resist stedfast in the faith.”

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 suggests 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 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.[16]

However, while it is wonderful for the blood-bought and blood-washed child of God, this tactic works not at all in the life of the Christ-rejecting unbeliever. My unsaved friend, you 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] Psalm 16.11; 110.1; Matthew 26.64; Mark 12.36; 14.62; 16.19; Luke 20.42; 22.69; John 3.13; 13.1; 14.2-4; Acts 1.9-11; 2.33, 34-35; 7.56; Romans 8.34; Ephesians 1.20; 6.9; Colossians 3.1; Second Thessalonians 1.7; Hebrews 1.3, 13; 8.1; 9.24; 10.12-13; 12.2; 1 Peter 3.22; Revelation 19.11

[2] Ezekiel 28.14; Revelation 12.4; Luke 10.18

[3] Isaiah 14.12-15

[4] 1 Timothy 2.14

[5] Job 1.6-12; 2.1-6

[6] 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.

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

[8] See footnote for Zechariah 3.2 from John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 1342, and footnote for Zechariah 3.1-8 from Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000), page 983.

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

[10] Luke 4.13; Hebrews 4.15

[11] Matthew 4.4, 7, 10

[12] Titus 1.2; John 14.6; 8.44;

[13] John 8.32

[14] 1 Peter 5.9; Ephesians 6.18

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

[16] 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.

[email protected]