Satan’s power

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What does the Bible say about Satan? Why does he exist and what power does he have? What response should Christians have to Satan? Should we fear Satan?

What does the Bible say about Satan? Why does he exist and what power does he have? What response should Christians have to Satan? Should we fear Satan?

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  • 1. Jim Sutherland SHOULD CHRISTIANS FEAR SATAN? 1
  • 2. Picnic or Firefight?  At the First Battle of Bull Run (or First Manassas), “Expecting an easy Union victory, the wealthy elite of nearby Washington, including congressmen and their families, had come to picnic and watch the battle. When the Union army was driven back in a running disorder, the roads back to Washington were blocked by panicked civilians attempting to flee in their carriages.” 847 soldiers were killed and 2,706 wounded. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ First_Battle_of_Bull_Run#cite_note-27 2
  • 3. Blindsided Believers  A Barna survey in 2009 of 1,871 self-described Christians found that 78% believed in a “allpowerful, all-knowing Creator of the universe who rules the world today.”  40% strongly agreed that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.” 38% strongly agreed that the Holy Spirit is “a symbol of God’s power or presence but is not a living entity.” 39% strongly believed that a person can be influenced by demons or evil spirits. http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/12-faithspirituality/260-most-americanchristians-do-not-believe-that-satan-or-the-holy-spirit-exis 3
  • 4. Deal With the Devil Much?  Presbyterians sometimes stress the sovereignty of God to the point of minimizing or almost ignoring Satan’s power. We may be living too sheltered a life, where we aren’t a threat to Satan.  Charismatic, Pentecostal and Neo-charismatic churches openly confront the kingdom of darkness and are the fastest growing segment of Christianity (2.43%/yr.; Evangelicals, 2.28%, vs. Muslims 1.84% in 2013)1. They deal with evil spirits, demon possession, spirit priests, and the need for miraculous healings.  1Todd Johnson, Peter Crossing, “Status of Global Mission, 2013, in the Context of AD 18002025,” Int’l Bulletin of Missionary Research, Vol. 37, No. 1, p. 33 4
  • 5. May 31, 2013 Global News—Themes?  FINANCIAL EXCHANGE BLITZED BY MASSIVE MEMORIAL DAY CYBER ATTACK  PLAGUE OF CORRUPTION RISES ANEW IN INDONESIA  PAKISTAN’S TALIBAN REJECTS PEACE TALKS, CITING LEADER’S DEATH IN U.S. DRONE STRIKE  11 YOUNG PEOPLE VANISH IN KIDNAPPING FROM MEXICO CITY BAR  AP INTERVIEW: NIGERIA SEES OUTSIDE EXTREMIST HELP  SOFIA’S MAIN COURTHOUSE EVACUATED OVER FRESH BOMB THREAT  SWISS SHOOTING: TWO INJURED IN ZURICH'S LANGSTRASSE  IRAN'S SPONSORSHIP OF TERRORISM SEES "MARKED RESURGENCE" : U.S.  AFGHAN BATTLE LEAVES 31 TALIBAN DEAD 5
  • 6. Satan is Alive (Not Well)  Satan (Σατανᾶς ) means “adversary” and “devil” (διάβολος)     means “slanderer” (Louw-Nida). He is the “father of lies” (John 8:44), and was called the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2). He is cunningly evil in Gen. 3:1-15. He is a personality in the book of Job and came against King David (1 Ch 21:1) and Joshua the High Priest (Zec 3:2). Jesus treated Satan as real (Mat 4:10, 12:26; Lk 10:18, etc.). Peter, Paul and John treated Satan as a personality (Act 5:3; 1 Co 5:5; 2 Co 2:11; Rev. 12:9; 20:2,7). Who is more discerning? If that isn’t enough, look at Hollywood’s fascination with the devil and demons. 6
  • 7. Why “Why Evil?”  If God is good and all-powerful, why do the devil and evil exist?  The question, "why?" indicates we have an awareness, independent of our own natural, empirical existence, that there should be something better. For the materialist, whatever "is" is, by definition, "natural" and therefore, right. In the nature of the case notions of right and wrong are inherently irrelevant. If what is natural is right, then death and suffering must also be natural and right. Yet we, both naturalist and Christian, rebel against this conception. We feel something must be wrong with reality. From this predicament we ask: From where does this feeling come? Stanley Bamberg (Ass’t Prof. of Bible and Philosophy, Montreat College, http://www.pcahistory.org/HCLibrary/capo/premise/97/dec/p02.html 7
  • 8. God’s Nature and Evil  Jay Adams, in his book The Grand Demonstration, argues that God uses predestination and the existence of evil to demonstrate to all beings His full character, including His justice, mercy and power.  22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory-- (Rom 9:22-23 ESV)  9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. (Eph 3:9-10 ESV)  Another explanation is that Satan is “permitted to be God’s agent to present moral choice to man (Lu 22.31; cf. Mt 4.1)” (Friberg Lexicon). 8
  • 9. Satan in the Garden  Satan corrupted all humanity through enticing Eve and Adam to sin. Gustave Doré, 1866  That sin has been transmitted to every person— “in Adam all die.” 1 Cor 15:22.  All now die because Satan successfully tempted perfect people to sin (Rom 5:12). Death is now our last enemy to be destroyed (1 Cor 15:26). 9
  • 10. Satan’s Power  In the account of Job, Satan demonstrates:  Seeking behavior (1:7), as a lion to devour (1 Pe 5:8).  Power of death and destruction through nature—lightening and wind (1:16,19)  Power to throw into prison and kill through people (Rev 2:10)  Setting people against others to kill and pillage (1:15,17).  Malicious use of infection (2:7-boils).  “The whole world lies in [the power of] the evil one” 1 Jn 5:19     Influence? Sights? He is called the “ruler of this world” Jn 16:11. He told Jesus that he had authority over the earth Lk 4:5-6. He blinds the minds of unbelievers 2 Co 4:3-4. Evil people exist, going from bad to worse 2 Tim 3:13. 10
  • 11. Believers Can Be Hurt  The antichrist will kill God’s prophets of Rev. 11:7.  The fact that Christians must pray against temptation and put on the armor of God means that Satan’s power can damage believers. The fact of martyrs indicates Satan’s power.  Paul asked for prayer to be delivered from “wicked and evil men” (2Thes 3:2). The danger is real. There are wicked women, of course (Jezebel).  If we don’t come under attack, perhaps we can’t identify it, or we may not be a threat.  Perhaps we’re playing life too safe.  Unbelievers are never safe from their evil master. 11
  • 12. Konstantin Flavitsky, (1830-66) Christian Martyrs in Colosseum 12
  • 13. God’s Control Over Satan  God cursed Satan and predicted his demise in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:14-15).  Satan could only do to Job what God allowed.  God in some sense “disarmed” the rulers and authorities through Christ’s life and death (Col 2:15).  Through Christ all authorities were created in the first place (Col 1:16-18).  Satan is already judged by God (John 16:11), and the book of Revelation provides details. 13
  • 14. Jesus’ Power Over Satan and Evil  He chained angels whose sins were egregious (Jude 1:5-6; 2 Pet 2:4; Gen 6:1-4?).  “All things”have been handed over by the Father to Jesus (Luk 10:22; Mat 11:27).  At the cross the “ruler of this world” was in some sense “cast out” (John 12:31).  After Jesus’ resurrection:  Christ “has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.” (1Pe 3:22 ESV)  He is “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” (Eph 1:21 ESV)  He is “the head of all rule and authority” (Col 2:10 ESV). 14
  • 15. Satan’s End  At the end, Christ will deliver “the kingdom to God the     Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.” (1Co 15:24 ESV) He controls now, but will destroy later. God “will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Rom 16:20). Satan will be thrown out of heaven to the earth (Rev. 12:2-3). He will be bound in the pit for 1,000 years (variously interpreted--Rev. 20:2-3). He will be throw into the lake of fire to be tormented forever (Rev 20:10). He won’t be killed, perhaps because that is not painful enough to pay for his wickedness. 15
  • 16. Salvadore Dali Christ of St. John of the Cross 16
  • 17. God’s Protection  Christ’s death delivers Christians “from the present evil age” (Gal 1:4)—from being naturally controlled by it.  But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. (2Th 3:3 ESV)  We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. (1Jo 5:18 ESV)  He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, (Col 1:13 ESV) 17
  • 18. Disciples Vs. the Devil  The 12 apostles were given power over unclean spirits (Mat 10:1).  The 72 disciples were given power over demons. They are nameless disciples. I believe that we have similar authority to that of the 72.  Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. (Luk 10:19 ESV)  Christians go into the world in Jesus’ authority and even with His presence (Matt 28:18). 18
  • 19. The Need for Armor Soldiersofchrist.org.uk 19
  • 20. God’s Armor (Eph 6:10-18)  God supplies all the armor—His “dominating power” (Friberg).  He provides the truth in the Word (Jn 17:2), the righteousness of Christ (2 Cor. 5:21), the gospel message to preach (Rom 10:15), faith (Eph 2:8-9), salvation (Titus 2:11), the word of God (Heb 4:12), and welcomes all kinds of prayer (1 Tim 2:1).  We cannot blame God if we are bloodied in spiritual battle if we fail to put on ALL God’s armor. A soldier doesn’t go on patrol in jeans, T-shirt and barefooted.  This is our responsibility, not God’s. This explains why many Christians are defeated by Satan. God uses means. He could have protected us by a simple prohibition to Satan, but He puts us into battle. Why?  This armor is both defensive and offensive. (There is none for the soldier’s back.) 20
  • 21. Closing with the devil  The devil’s schemes (“methods”) can be on a national level.  Today in the USA, secularism (leading to relativism), scientism (leading to materialism and pragmatism) and hedonism (leading to dehumanization), are schemes. See Ravi Zacharias, Deliver Us From Evil .  Satan’s schemes can be on a personal level—aimed at the sin “which clings so closely” (Heb 12:1). These are our sins that we don’t hate.  This is wrestling. The short sword was designed for close combat. James and Peter also teach us to resist the devil (Jam 4:7; 1 Pet 5:9). 21
  • 22. The varieties of evil position  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Eph 6:12 ESV)  We probably do not have enough information to clearly differentiate among these powers—at least word studies do not give much clarity. However Jesus is clearly above all such powers (Col 2:15; 1 Cor 15:24; 1 Pet 3:22; John 12:31).  Amazingly, an ordinary Christian can stand firm against presumably the highest of the powers of darkness, in God’s armor.  What is an “evil day”? See 2 Kings 19:1, Esther 4:1, Job 1,Mat 4). This is not a hard day, but a day when we are locked into combat with the powers of wickedness. 22
  • 23. We can remain standing  Roman sandals had the advantage of spikes to allow a soldier to stand firm. http://www.christianarsenal.com/Christian_Arsenal/Full_Armor_of_God.html  The belt anchored the breastplate, sword and lower armor. Truth is the anchor of our mind.  “If you cannot love naked truth, you’ll never go naked for truth.” William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armor, Vol. 2, p. 50  Righteousness covers the vitals.  “…the hypocrite who fights to keep conscience on his side will go to the utmost link of his chain; he will do anything that will not separate him and his beloved lusts…..Thus the hypocrite can lay his sword so gently against sin in his own heart that it never feels a thing” William Gurnall, p. 79 23
  • 24. Taking the Gospel  Evangelism is an offensive behavior. We are to go with the gospel (Mat 28:18). Some wait for the lost to come to us (to “church”), and stay safely inside the walls. They are amputee-equivalents.  Beautiful are the feet taking the evangelist to pagans (Rom 10:15).  “It is such a unique message that no good news can come before it nor bad news can follow.” William Gurnall, p. 246  “They can believe it is good news when they can read it clearly in a cheerful life. When unbelievers see Christians sad as they hold the cup of salvation in their hands, they suspect the wine is not so good as preachers say it is.” William Gurnall, p. 258 24
  • 25. Other elements  The shield of faith absorbs what we don’t or cannot understand—such as the secret things of God (Dt. 29:29), or inexplicable behavior or circumstances. Faith comes from the word of God (Rom 10:17).  The helmet is the “hope of salvation” (1 Pet 5:8). This keeps us fighting until it comes.  The sword of the spirit is the two-edged sword of God, as the short two-edged Roman sword was used. This is how Jesus fought Satan during His temptation, blow for blow (Mat 4).  Prayer is part of the armor. This is the squad covering each other’s back. “Prayer” has the “element of devotion”, and supplication is urgent prayer or entreaty, in this context, for others (Thayer). This provides suppressing fire for others on the battlefield. 25
  • 26. Other Tactics  In general, submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee (Jam 4:7).  Prayer— “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Mat 6:13 NIV)  Jesus prayed that the Father would keep us from the evil one (John 17:15), not take us out of the world. We aren’t to retreat from the world, but go into all the world, such that the gates of hell cannot withstand our attack (Mat 16:18).  Be strong in the Bible to overcome the devil (1 John 2:13b-14). This is how young men overcame Satan.  We have the Spirit in us, so we know He in us is greater than “he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). 26
  • 27. Love God, Trust God, and Stay Close         9 Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place-- the Most High, who is my refuge-10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 12 On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot. 14 "Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. 15 When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation." (Psa 91:9-16 ESV) [this indicates the reference isn’t only to Christ] 27
  • 28. Is it dangerous?  “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Mat 10:16 NIV)  “Jesus was saying to his disciples then—and, by implication, to you and me now--“I am sending you to dangerous places, where you will find yourself in the middle of evil, vicious people. And you will be there by my design.” Jesus told them, “Go to great danger, and let it be said of you what people would say of sheep wandering into the middle of wolves. ‘They’re crazy! They’re clueless! They have no idea what kind of danger they are getting into!’ This is what it means to be my disciple.’”
  • 29. The Criterion of Danger “We don’t think like this. We say things such as, ‘The safest place to be is in the center of God’s will.’ We think, If it’s danger, God must not be in it. If it’s risky, if it’s unsafe, if it’s costly, it must not be God’s will. But what if these factors are actually the criteria by which we determine something is God’s will? What if we began to look at the design of God as the most dangerous option before us? What if the center of God’s will is in reality the most unsafe place for us to be?” David Platt, Radical, pp. 164-5
  • 30. Are we Decent or Dangerous?  “When we gather at the [church] building, we learn to be good. Being good is defined by what we avoid in the world. [e.g. idols] We are holy because of what we don’t participate in (and at this point we may be the only organization in the world defining success by what we don’t do). We live decent lives in decent homes with decent jobs and decent families as decent citizens. We are decent church members with little more impact on the world than we had before we were saved.” David Platt, Radical, ISBN: 9781601422217, p. 105
  • 31. Is It Safe?  As we’ve seen, it’s dangerous out there. Satan isn’t playing. So the only safe place is being “in” Christ and filled with the Spirit, using the tactics God has provided.  Those outside the kingdom of light are in mortal danger, and worse, every day.  Rather, the question should be, “Is this part of the work that God has given me to do, regardless of the danger?” (Eph 2:10). I believe that we are basically invincible until God no longer wants us here—calling us to Himself. 31