Who is the devil, and what does he do? Is he the red creature with a tail and pitchfork of popular culture, or is he something else altogether? According to the Bible, the devil, also known as Satan, is a very real supernatural being who rebelled against God and opposes Him and His followers.
“In which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.” (Ephesians 2:2)
Satan is mentioned in Scripture in various places. The first is in the garden when he approached Eve to deceive her as to God’s intent and seduce her into disobeying Him. His purpose was to bring sin into the perfect world God created, and he succeeded.
Many of us heard this account throughout our lives, yet while children readily accept Bible stories without question, unless they understand the fuller picture adults tend to dismiss them as simplistic. Why is Satan opposed to God? Why did he want to bring sin into the world—what was its purpose? And what did this accomplish? The seemingly insignificant book of Job provides many insights into the bigger picture of Satan’s relationship to God, as well as his motivation for getting us to sin.
When the angels, the “sons of God,” presented themselves to the LORD (Job 1:6), Satan also came. The conversation that ensued between God and him seems to indicate that having attempted to usurp God’s rightful authority on earth in the Garden of Eden, he actually felt the earth was now his. God ultimately proved, through the consistent and unwavering obedience of Job, that this was not so, yet the account reveals Satan’s intent–his desire for everyone on earth follow him, and thus, to be its lord and master!
Each of God’s people is a foil to this plan. We are a thorn in his side, so to speak, because our faithfulness to our heavenly Master is evidence that Satan is not the true lord of this earth. Hence his persistent attempts to cause us to fall with whatever means possible. This explains not only Satan’s successful attempt to poison the earth with sin, but also his attempts to corrupt Job and later Jesus Himself, his present day attacks on us, and his future attempts to destroy those who remain faithful to God, as described in the book of Revelations. Even the strange and obscure passage of Genesis 6 about the sons of God taking for themselves wives of the daughters of men could conceivably be interpreted as a demonic attempt to infiltrate humankind with beings whose offspring are unredeemable, if we look at it in light of the fact that their goal is to thwart godliness with whatever means possible. So, how has God responded?
I John 3:8 says, “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” Jesus Christ’s purpose was to free mankind from the power of sin that entered our world at the Fall. Romans 5:6, 9, 19, 6:12, 14a explains it like this:
“For when we were still without strength [powerless to disobey sin’s temptations and enslaved by it], in due time Christ died for the ungodly [those without God–all of mankind!]…Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him…For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous…Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts…For sin shall not have dominion over you…”
God Revelations 13:8 tells us that “the Lamb [was] slain from the foundation of the world.” Jesus’ words on the cross, “It is finished,” carry the meaning of “It is accomplished” or “Paid in full.” God had a plan in place since the foundation of the world to buy us back from sin’s power!
Now, we have a choice. We are truly free to decide whether we will follow our Creator, Savior, and Sustainer God, or live in rebellion to Him; whether we will consistently on a day to day, moment by moment basis choose to do what He says is right, or whether we will choose the usually more immediately pleasurable but evil acts of sin. This is what Jesus meant when He said,“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it”(Matthew 16:25) and “…take up the cross and follow Me” (Mark 10:21). Following God may not always be the easier or more appealing choice; to the contrary, it will frequently be harder and less pleasant at the moment. But it is always the right choice, and we know that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Not only is consistent obedience evidence of our genuine salvation—of really belonging to Christ—it also gives us long term blessings, even in this life. While refusing to sin now may not seem pleasant, it is the equivalent of building our lives on a rock—on a solid foundation. As the years go by, it becomes apparent that doing the right thing was indeed the right thing to do, that God has blessed our obedience in very tangible ways that we would not have otherwise experienced, and that we have left a legacy of faithful obedience to our children and their children!
Thank You that You provided for a plan to free us from being controlled by sin, that we no longer walk according to the course–the sinful ways–of this world, or according to the spirit who now works in those who are disobedient. Amen.