A Foe From The Beginning
Matthew 4:1-11 (Jesus speaking in verses 4, 7, 10)
1Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 2And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. 3And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. 5Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple. 6And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 8Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 11Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
Luke 10:17-20 (Jesus speaking in verses 18-20)
17And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. 18And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. 19Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
1 Peter 5:8
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
Current attitudes about Satan tend toward two extremes. On one end of the spectrum are those who ignore Satan, considering evil to be merely the absence of good. On the other end of the spectrum are those who are obsessed with Satan’s power, attributing every problem to attacks of Satan and living in fear of him.
Neither of these views can be supported from Scripture. The Bible depicts Satan as a powerful being, yet, he is not all powerful nor present everywhere and he has already been defeated by Christ.
If we try to confront him in our own power, he is indeed dangerous to us; however, Satan has no more power over us than we choose to give him. When we resist the devil by the authority Christ has given us, we will be victorious.
In the drama of redemption, the devil has been the persistent foe of God from the beginning. To understand the distressing conditions in the world and to meet the adversary’s attacks victoriously, it is important to know what the Bible says about this enemy of God and God’s people.
The Bible characterizes the arch-enemy of God in many ways:
Ye are of your father the devil…
John 8:44 (Jesus speaking)
…a liar and the father of it
John 8:44 (Jesus speaking)
John 8:44 (Jesus speaking)
Ye are of your father the devil and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar and the father of it.
…the prince of this world
John 14:30 (Jesus speaking)
Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in me.
John 14:30 (Jesus speaking)
…the god of this world
2 Corinthians 4:4
2 Corinthians 4:4
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
…the prince of the power of the air
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
…your adversary the devil
1 Peter 5:8
1 Peter 5:8
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.
…the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan
And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years.
Here are two passages of Scripture to suggest the original nature of Satan and to portray his fall from Heaven.
First passage: Isaiah 14:12-15 (The LORD speaking)
12How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
This passage describes the attitude of Lucifer, the five occurrences of the words “I will” in verses 13-14:
“I will ascend into heaven;”
“I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;”
“I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation in
the sides of the north;”
“I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;”
“I will be like the most High.”
He lifted up his heart in self-will against God and was punished for his rebellion.
Luke 10:18 (Jesus speaking)
I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
Second passage to suggest the original nature of Satan and to portray his fall from Heaven:
Ezekiel 28:11-17 (The LORD speaking)
11Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 12Son 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. 13Thou 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 thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. 14Thou 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. 15Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. 16By 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. 17Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou haste 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.
Because of his pride he was debased from his original position. As the prince and god of this age he is extremely busy opposing the purposes of God.
We all know that Jesus Christ is divine, but in order for Him to redeem us from sin, it was necessary that He become human. Although He was a perfect and sinless human, He suffered death on behalf of sinful mankind who deserved death.
The story in Matthew 4 (Scripture above), the temptation of Jesus in the desert, underscores His humanity. After He was baptized by John and before He began His earthly ministry, Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. Jesus fasted 40 days. He was challenged by Satan in the form of three temptations.
The only way that Jesus Christ could redeem us was by taking the difficult way of the cross.
Satan made these three attempts to turn Jesus aside from doing the will of God. In his challenges Satan admitted that Jesus is the Son of God. He even quoted Scripture to try to persuade Jesus to prove His Deity before the appointed time.
Satan tempted Christ to perform a miracle for His own comfort, by turning stones into bread. There are many rocks and stones in Jerusalem. Maybe the devil knew that these flat stones would remind Jesus of His mother’s barley and wheat cake that she had made for Him.
Jesus was always ready with a quotation from the Word of God. He used it for comfort, for exhortation and for rebuke. On occasion He used it to overcome the temptations of the devil.
Jesus responded to the devil’s challenge by saying, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4) Jesus always tried to turn men’s minds from lower to higher desires, from “barley bread” to “living bread.”
Then the devil took Jesus into the Holy City and set Jesus on the pinnacle of the Temple. The devil used the Word again.
And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
The devil had taken his cue from Jesus and started quoting Scripture too, but he distorted it and used it out of context and he omitted the last half of the content of the first verse to keep thee in all thy ways.
For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
Jesus responded to the devil by quoting from
Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God…
This verse in Deuteronomy 6:16 refers to the incident in Numbers 20:7-1 when Moses claimed credit for getting water from the rock and consequently fell into the sin of pride.
Matthew 4:7 (refers to the temptation by the devil)
Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
Third passage to suggest the original nature of Satan and to portray his fall from Heaven:
The most deadly of Satan’s “ifs” is in the third temptation. He offered Jesus the empires of the world. Now the kingdoms of the world were not his to give, but we may also regard as “worldly kingdoms”
and they were his to give, but they are momentarily worldly kingdoms.
Satan sets a heavy price on all his ifs.
Matthew 4:10 (Jesus speaking)
Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
Herein is the Christian’s victory: God must be first. Nothing can be right that pulls us away from our devotion to God.
To each of the devil’s offers Jesus responded with a Scripture from God’s Word.
The Bible is a multifaceted book; its range covers all the needs of man. Whatever our difficulties or confusion we can find light and guidance in God’s Word.
And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.
Jesus’ clear, calm decision and His resolute will had defeated the tempter in all points. The battle over, angels came and ministered to Jesus.
Luke 10:8-10 (Jesus speaking to his disciples)
8And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: 9And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
When Jesus chose and commissioned the 70 disciples, He commanded them “to heal the sick.” When they returned from their mission they were surprised that they had the divine power to bring healing to the sick and even to cast out demons.
They returned full of joy, exclaiming Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name (Luke 10:17, above). This was not some sort of magic; rather, it was His authority that Jesus gave the 70 when He sent them out, which allowed them to have victory over demons.
Christ, perhaps looking further than any of their present individual victories, saw the final downfall of the evil one, Satan, falling as lightning from heaven (Luke 10:18, above).
Christ didn’t want pride to enter into their hearts.
The 70 had been given special powers and they recognized those powers as not being their own. Yet, how natural it was for them to place the emphasis on the US and the outward results produced by their ministry.
Luke 10:20 (Jesus speaking)
Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
It is possible for us, too, to be so busy with our various activities, duties and responsibilities, so active in doing good, that we fail to rejoice in and praise God for our personal blessings as the children of God…that our names are written in heaven, also.
Jesus was telling the 70 to thank God for what they had accomplished but not to stay there. There are greater possibilities than these if they will take a longer look at their commission.
1 Peter 5:8-9
8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
The apostle urged his readers to watchfulness. This should not be surprising. We need to be watchful because of the uncertainty of the future.
Peter said that our enemy, the devil, has conduct like a roaring lion seeking his prey. Since lions can run fast for only a short distance, they depend mainly upon the element of surprise to take their prey.
When a lone male lion is stalking a herd of animals, he walks slowly, keeping pace with the herd off to one side so as to give the appearance that an attack is not imminent. At the same time he will growl constantly, to create confusion and fear among the herd of animals.
When the lion has spotted a weak or slow animal or one that has become separated from the herd, he will attack suddenly and swiftly.
That’s why we as Christians should not leave off any garment from the “whole armor of God” as described in Ephesians 6:13-18. If one item is left off, the devil is sure to attack that area of our lives.
10Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For 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. 13Wherefore 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. 14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness. 15And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.
Got your armour on?
Truth, verse 14
Righteousness, verse 14
The gospel of peace, verse 15
Shield of faith, verse 16
Helmet of salvation, verse 17
Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, verse 17
Praying always in the Spirit, verse 18
Watching, verse 18
Have you put on the armour of God?
If not, do it now!
Author: Nannie Mae Jordan
(Transcribed by Joyce Carter Transcribed and Formatted by Jerry Knight)