Friday, January 23, 2009
How Does Satan Work
You may be surprised that Satan has personality, great power, and a sinister plan. You may have viewed him as some cartoon character with horns and a long tail, dressed in a red suit. That's another lie. Well, then who is this devil who wreaks such havoc in our lives? His original name was Lucifer, son of the morning (Isaiah 14:12), God's masterpiece (Ezekiel 28:12), and a guardian cherub (Ezekiel 28:14). He "walked...in the midst of fiery stones" (verse 14) and functioned as God's highest creation, perhaps leader over all the created angels. God employed Lucifer in revealing the great truths about Himself and counted on Lucifer to teach the angelic hordes about God, His person, personality, works, and plans. So originally the devil was a good angel, gifted by God and loyal in his actions. What happened? Lucifer envied God. He envied the worship God received, the adulation of the billions in heaven. He began to lust after what God possessed. He wanted to be like God, to take God's place (Isaiah 14:13-14). This led him to rebel and incite an attack on God unlike any war in human history. Some think World War II was bad. Yes, that war had an impact on the world. But in its scope and ultimate importance, this rebellion made WWII look like a wrestling match in kindergarten. Undoubtedly, God warned Lucifer, but ultimately God had to let Lucifer make his own choices. He would not force Lucifer to worship or even serve Him. Lucifer had the right to refuse, and he exercised it. When God warned him, Lucifer refused to repent and he persuaded a third of the angels of heaven to follow him in his rebellion. Perhaps he promised them places of power and some kind of weird notion of "creative freedom." Whatever it was, they followed and sank with Lucifer's ship. God defeated him summarily. God then created Adam and Eve, set them in a perfect environment, and subjected them to one test, giving them the right to choose-to choose either to obey ignore God. The test was whether they would eat of a certain tree's fruit that God had commanded them to avoid. At that point, Lucifer, ow Satan, stepped in and tempted the first human couple. But leading our first parents into sin, he immediately defiled God's perfect creation. That plunged the whole universe into as condition of spiritual death that only the death and Resurrection of Christ could repair. Today, Satan roams our planet looking for people he can enslave to himself. He uses lies to accomplish that end. His plan is to deceive us into thinking such thoughts as "Jesus was just a good man, His life and death mean no more than any other person's" and "No one needs some special act of faith in Jesus to find redemption." If Satan fails in that mission and people come to a personal relationship with Christ through faith, Satan tells those new believers another lie: "Spiritual growth, personal development, and learning God's Word are not important for spiritual maturity." The great deceiver says to believers, "Forget the church, because it's full of hypocrites. Find you own way in this world." And he teaches the world's philosophy of success: "Remember, health, wealth, and power are the primary elements of true success." If you want to understand Satan's sinister plan, a good place to start is Isaiah 14:12-14. Here you will find several important facts about the enemy. First, when Satan attacked God, he made five gargantuan, prideful statements of his objectives. His five "I Wills" are revealing. They are. 1. "I will ascend into heaven." 2. "I will exalt my throne above the stars of God." 3. "I will sit on the Mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north." 4. "I will ascend above the heights of the clouds." 5. "I will be like the Most High." Behind those boasts is his sinister plan. We can describe it this way. Satan then and now wants: 1. To ascend to god's realm and take charge. 2. To rule over all creation in God's place. 3. To lead in all worship services that were meant to worship God. 4. To break into God's most private secret haven. 5. To drive God out and take His place. Satan was vowing to assassinate God, to take His place and rule everything-no more; no less. At rock bottom, this is the ultimate expression of pride. "I will be number one, on my own, answering to no one!" God dealt with this upstart rather quickly and cast him out of heaven, defeating him with a mere word. All Satan's boasts crumpled to nothing, and he found himself somewhere in a whole new, God-created universe. Satan had blood on his mind, and he soon discovered this world called earth, populated by all sorts of amazing creatures, most notably two who were in many ways like the angels of heaven. God called them Adam and Eve, and He gave them total freedom minus one: They could not eat of a certain tree. If they did, dire consequences would follow. Wasting no time at all, Satan thought up Plan B and decided if he couldn't defeats God, he'd mess up God's handiwork so badly that God would have to admit failure and give up. That was and is Satan's sinister plan. He desires to defeat God and God's good plan. His first step would be to get these perfect folks out of the clutches of God. So Satan visited the Garden of Eden disguised as a serpent. This is one of his bedrock principles of deception: Never come as you are; always use a pleasant disguise. The serpent was the most "cunning" of all God's animals, according to Genesis 3:1. This means not only was he smart, but he was beautiful, friendly, and charming. Once he had possessed the serpent, Satan got to the point quickly. God had commanded Adam (probably not directly to Eve) the he couldn't eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, because if he did, he would die. This was a test designed by God to prove whether Adam and Eve would be loyal to Him and obey Him in a simple matter. All real obedience proceeds by us obeying God about seemingly trivial things. As the serpent, Satan asked Eve, "Has God indeed said, "You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" Satan's motive here was to get Eve to think the fruit was not only forbidden but that God was holding back something good. This would cast doubt on God's love for Eve. If God really loved her, He would not have kept from her any good thing. It's not surprising that Satan tells us the same lie today. "Why wait to have sex until marriage? God just wants to keep something good from you. There's no harm in it." And, "Go ahead and try those drugs. They won't hurt you. God knows they will make you more caregiver and even more intelligent, to say nothing of happier. In fact, that's why He doesn't want you to try them!" Satan always arouses discontent with what God wants and then assures us God is withholding it from us because He knows how happy it will make us. Or rich. Or powerful. Answering Satan, Eve said, "We may eat 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 it, or shall you touch it, lest you die'" (Genesis 3:2-3). Notice: God never said, "nor shall you touch it" (see His words in Genesis 2:17). Eve was already demonstrating an attitude of discontent toward God. The enemy found the spark he could fan into a flame. When we are discontent, we tend to distort God's Word. And Eve was ready to hear Satan's distorted rendering of God's command. At that point, Satan knew he could lie directly, He said, "You will 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" (verses 4-5). In essence, Satan was saying, "You will be the one who knows, decides, and determines good and evil. You'll be in control. If you eat of the tree, you'll be your own god; you'll call the shots-you will be the boss. You won't have God telling you what to do anymore!" Satan works through the flesh to tempt us to be dissatisfied with God and all He gives us. We are then more willing to grab and eat the "forbidden fruit." Only later do we realize the "apple" has worms in it. Satan persuaded eve to eat the fruit and Eve then went to Adam, who also capitulated. Moments later, the Bible says, "Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God" (Genesis 3:8). Sin always causes fear. We believe God will punish us severely for our mistake and that He will never show love to us again, which is one more lie of the enemy. The truth came out, though, as God went looking for Adam. "Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, Where are you?" (verse 9). The Lord hadn't rejected Adam or Eve even though He knew what they had done. He still loved Adam despite his sin. How does Satan work? His most powerful weapon is the lie. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.