Standing Firm Against Satan
Our War with Satan
Class Session 1
By Pastor Ron Jones, www.titusinstitute.com
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
This week we are beginning a study on what the Bible says about Spiritual Warfare and how to deal with Satan’s temptations in our lives. There is a spiritual war going on that Satan is waging against God and all those who are God’s children.
His desire is to set up a rival kingdom of angels and humans who are committed to his evil goal of rebellion against God. God has allowed Satan to set up this rival kingdom within limits that God has set.
If we are to stand firm against Satan, we need to know how he works and how we can stand firm against him.
The NT has some very clear teaching on spiritual warfare and how we are to deal with Satan in our lives.
We are going to study the major NT text on this subject from Eph.6:10-17 where Paul talks about standing firm against Satan and putting on the Armor of God. We will also study other Bible passages.
So let’s jump right in.
Turn to Eph.6:10
When Paul wrote Eph. 6:10-17 he had spiritual warfare on his mind.
He had spent the first five chapters telling the believers of their wonderful position in Christ and how that demanded an obedient response. But one important aspect remained for him to tell them.
They needed to know that while the believers were attempting to grow spiritually in all the truths that Paul had taught that they were going to face an adversary who was going to attempt to thwart them in their spiritual growth.
They need to be prepared for his attacks.
You see, we need to remember that we are in a war and that we are going to face attacks of the enemy and we are going to need to stand firm against him so that we will not be spiritually defeated by him.
Paul’s’ desire in this passage is to:
Make us realize we are in this war (which is the right mental attitude) and instruct us how to be victorious in this war (which is the right spiritual action)
If we realize this and prepare for it, we will be able to withstand it and come out stronger as a result.
Eph 6:10-17 is divided into five points.
The way to victory
Let’s begin with:
I. The preparation
How do we prepare for battle with Satan and his hosts? How do we make ourselves ready now before he attacks so that when he does we will not be defeated?
There are two things we need to do to prepare for battle:
Depend on the Lord’s power and put on the full armor of God
Let’s look at the first point:
A. Depend on the Lord’s power
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”
The very first thing Paul talks about is strength and power.
No matter what you say or what you do in warfare, victory belongs to the strong. Diplomacy is great before the war begins, but once it begins, only strength matters.
And in a war with Satan and his demons, diplomacy means nothing, only strength matters, only power matters.
This is especially true because Satan cannot be reasoned with. He has no characteristic in him that would cause him to show the slightest mercy or grace. He knows only rebellion against God and only destruction and he desires to enlist as many as he can in his campaign against God no matter what the consequences for people.
Satan can only be forced to flee from us because we are protected by the Lord’s power.
So, Paul begins with strength and power, but not our own.
“Be strong” (v.10) is passive and has the idea of “be strengthened” or “receive strength” from another source.
It does not mean to “make yourself strong and powerful.”
We, as human beings, do not have the strength in ourselves to stand against a supernaturally powerful evil angel like Satan or one of his demons.
We are no match for Satan in our own power. But the Lord is and that’s whom we receive our power from.
“In the Lord” means “in union with Him.” “To be strong in union with the Lord” means “to receive spiritual strength from the Lord in our battle with Satan.”
“Mighty” refers to all God’s omnipotent and infinite power that He possesses. Used of a human, it would refer to all the strength of the muscles in a person’s body.
“Power” refers to all that power being used. It concerns the actual using of his power, such as in lifting a weight. This means don’t flex your muscles, flex God’s muscles.
This means that Christians are to use God’s mighty infinite power to defend against Satan’s attacks.
What kind of power does God have? Does he have the power to defeat Satan?
1. God has unlimited power, Satan has limited power.
I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.
God can do all things because he has infinite strength and power!
2. God is sovereign over Satan and rules over all his activities.
The Lord said to Satan, "Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger."
The Lord said to Satan, "Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life."
God gives Satan permission to attack Job who is a believer and puts limits on it. God is the most powerful being in the universe. His power is infinitely superior to Satan’s. All of Satan’s works are under God’s control. God allows Satan to work. God allows him to have a kingdom for a temporary period of time.
God has already put many boundaries on Satan, which he cannot cross when it involves God’s children. Satan is very limited in regards to what he can do in our lives. He cannot touch us spiritually. He can only deceive us, as we shall see.
Since Satan is more powerful than us and God is more powerful than Satan, Paul says to use God’s power in your life against Satan and you will be victorious.
Flex God’s muscles, not your own. This is what we must do to defeat the attacks of Satan and his demons. This is why we don’t have to fear Satan in the sense of terror because we are defenseless, but rather we fear Satan as we fear fire. We know what it can do, we are careful in keeping it contained.
How do we use God’s omnipotent power when Satan Attacks?
First – depend on it
“Be strong” implies that we need to depend on God to work in our lives to defeat Satan and we are to depend on him by putting on the armor of God.
To bring out his second way of preparation and later to show us the way
to victory, Paul uses the image of a Roman soldier wearing his armor and
ready for battle.
B. Put on the full armor of God
At this time, Paul was in prison and was guarded by a Roman soldier. A Roman soldier, not dressed for peacetime, but fully equipped militarily for war. He was a soldier in an army, which conquered and controlled the Mediterranean world.
Paul was imprisoned under house arrest guarded by a Roman soldier when he wrote this letter to the Ephesians and the letters of Philippians and Colossians. So he was familiar with the armor of a Roman soldier.
So, Paul tells us that God has provided us a spiritual armor to fight Satan with an “armor of God”
What we have to do with this armor is “put it on.”
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
The armor is useless unless you put it on. If a Roman soldier or army soldier went out to battle with no helmet, barefoot, no gun or belt just in shorts and a t-shirt, he would be wiped out
In football, if a player’s helmet pops off, the player is in serious trouble.
Now “what does “put on the armor of God” mean practically?
This is a metaphor, a comparison. “Armor” refers to “certain characteristics we need to have in our lives.” “Put on” means to make these characteristics a part of our lives, a part of the regular pattern of our lives.
So, “breastplate of righteousness” refers to the characteristic of righteousness. “To put on the breastplate of righteousness” means to make righteousness a part of your life, the regular pattern of your life. So, when Paul says, “put on the armor of God” he means make these characteristics a regular part of your life and when Satan attacks, you will defeat him.
Also, this is a command, not an option. It does not mean to “keep putting it on over and over,” but “to put it on and leave it on.” Develop these as a regular pattern of your life and you will be able to stand firm against Satan whenever he attacks.
“Put on” also has the idea of commitment, making a commitment to make each of these characteristics of the armor a part of our lives.
Don’t ever be caught without it. That is, we are to make these characteristics a regular part of our lives so that when the attack comes we won’t be knocked down spiritually by it.
We don’t know when Satan’s attacks are coming, so we have to be ready all the time. If you don’t have a particular characteristic as a part of your life before the attack, it will be very difficult when he attacks.
That’s the whole issue. We don’t need to be watching every second for satanic temptations coming our way. We don’t need to have a spiritual paranoia. Rather we are to develop certain characteristics in our lives that keep us prepared at all times for Satanic attack.
If we are living lives characterized by righteousness even though we will sin during the day, Satan will not have the opportunity to deceive us because we already have committed ourselves to lives of righteousness.
“Full armor” shows that every one of these characteristics must be a part of our lives if we are to defeat Satan. If you are missing any part, Satan will hit you there. He will attack your weakest link.
If David Beckham, the professional soccer player, came on the field out with no shoes on, wouldn’t you want to step on his feet if you were on the opposing team? I would
What is the armor? There are six pieces of the armor or six characteristics we need to put in our lives.
1. Belt of truth
2. Breastplate of righteousness
3. Shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace
4. Shield of faith
5. Helmet of salvation
6. Sword of the spirit
These are the characteristics that need to be in our lives, every one of them, all the time, on a daily basis. Characteristics of godliness are the same as characteristics of Christ (Rom.13:14) which are the same as the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal.5:22-23).
Then Paul tells us why we need to put on the full (whole) armor of God.
C. The purpose of the preparation – to stand firm
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
v. 11 “take our stand”
“Take our stand” can also be translated “stand firm.” The purpose of wearing the armor is so that we might be able to stand firm. This word Paul uses many times in this passage, emphasizing what our victory over Satan is all about. This is what God wants us to do when Satan attacks. God wants us not to fall, not to give into temptation, but to stand firm in what we believe and doing what we know to be right. We are to stand firm for Jesus Christ.
And what are we to stand firm against? “the devil’s schemes” (v.11)
Here, Paul gives us the enemy and how he attacks us.
Let’s look at the enemy. If you are going to fight a battle effectively, you’re going to need to know whom it is you’re fighting.
Sports teams always spend time studying the other team and their tactics so they won’t be defeated by them. We should spend time studying Satan’s tactics especially if God reveals it to us.
II. The enemy
A. Our enemy is the devil, the slanderer.
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
“Devil” literally in the Greek means “slanderer,” that is “one who slanders another.”
Slander is making false statements, lies about someone else in order to damage their character and reputation before others.
This is what the devil is, a slanderer against God. He lies about God so that others may think falsely about God, who he is, what he is like, and what he desires for us.
The “devil” is called by several names in Scripture, “Satan,” “Evil one,” “Serpent.” Each brings out an aspect of his character.
The ultimate object of Satan’s slander is always God.
The devil who is a fallen angel, angelically powerful, more powerful than
man, is our enemy and he commands a powerful army.
III. The Battle – how Satan attacks us.
A. The Strategy of Satan in the Battle - deception v. 11
In v. 11 Paul describes for us how Satan is going to attack. God gives to us Satan’s strategy. This is crucial if we can know how the enemy is going to attack then we can be ready for the attack.
In ancient days, if an army knew the enemy was going to attack on horseback with swords, they would plan accordingly if the enemy was going to attack on foot with bows and arrows, they would plan differently for that.
So, it’s so important to know how the enemy is going to attack. How Satan attacks is revealed to us in v. 11.
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
v.11 “the devil’s schemes.”
He attacks through “schemes” which means “well-planned out deceit, strategic lies.”
”To deceive” is to make someone believe a lie to gain something for the deceiver.
I deceive you when I get you to believe something that is not true – a lie, so that you will do what I want you to do. This is what “schemes” are. They are “well-planned out deceit, strategic lies’ perpetrated everywhere.”
The devil is a slanderer, which means he is a liar. His primary method with which he attacks human beings is through lies to deceive them into believing something false about God or God’s plan in order to get them to rebel against God.
“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
The Jews believed the Satanic lie that being a physical descendent of Abraham was enough to enter the kingdom of God (v.37). True faith and repentance of the heart were not needed.
Jesus rebukes them saying that they were, in fact, children not of God, but of the devil. They believed his lies rather than God’s truth. Jesus reveals Satan’s chief weapon, lies.
He lies about who God is, what God is like, what we are like, what God desires for us to do, how to be saved, etc., etc., etc. This is how he attacks us – through lies.
These “schemes” “strategic deception or lies” are ones that will be effective against us if we do not give the proper defense.
The purpose of his lying is to get believers to disregard the revelation of God and not follow it.
An example of how Satan does this comes from Gen.3:1-4.
v. 1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, `You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
v. 2 The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,
V.3 but God did say, `You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "
v. 4"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. 5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
This is how he worked in the garden. First, he tried to create doubt about what God had really said. In v. 1 he asked “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree of the garden?”
Then in v.4 he said, “You surely shall not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God knowing good and evil.”
He lied about the consequences of sin and implied that God was a liar. He said that there was going to be no death as a result of eating the fruit.
He also lied about God’s motive and character. When he said, “God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God” he was implying that God didn’t want Adam and Eve to be like him and experience all the benefits of that life. He was implying that God was motivated by jealousy and selfishness.
The devil deceived Eve. She believed his lies.
What kind of lies does he try to feed us in our present age?
Lies dealing with sin.
1. Sex outside of marriage is not a sin; it is seeking our needs to be met since our husband or wife isn’t meeting them.
2. Marrying an unbeliever is not a sin for believers; it is a last resort and necessity if you want to get married.
3. Lying is not a sin; it is a necessary evil.
4. Stealing or cheating is not a sin; it is surviving.
5. I can continually treat my spouse or family harshly and it will have no serious consequences.
6. Marriage can exist between two members of the same sex. It’s natural.
Lies about the character and nature of God.
1. God is not sovereign or powerful enough to help us in the trial we are in.
2. God doesn’t love us or he would not have put us through this trial.
3. Disobeying the law is okay if it’s for my convenience or for a good reason.
4. If I sin, God’s forgiveness will work everything out later.
These lies are very subtle, but very effective.
Ask yourself when you are tempted, “Is there something I am being
tempted to believe about God that is not true or to believe about his Word
that is not true?”
B. The Power of Satan in the Battle - Invisible evil spirits dominating and directing the unbelieving world
Satan and his demons dominate and direct unbelievers throughout the world.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
1. Their power and authority over the unbelieving world defined
After Paul defines the strategy of Satan to use lies in our lives, Paul wants us to understand how powerful these lies can be because behind them is a powerful enemy.
He does this not to make us so fearful of them that we hide. Rather, he desires that we understand how important it is to trust the Lord and make sure that we have godly characteristics in our lives to stand firm against Satan.
It is like fire. It is important to take basic safety precautions. That takes care of the problem.
To motivate us to get serious about our Christian lives and to show basic caution comes from understanding the power of fire. The actual prevention of it is not difficult. Most of us do not experience home fires because we take basic precautions because we understand the potential destruction of fire to our lives.
It is the same in our struggle with Satan and his demonic host.
He begins by showing us how close to home the struggle with Satan and his demons can be.
v. 12 “For our struggle”
The Greek word “struggle” is a word used for a personal struggle, not a group struggle.
It refers to the fact that each of us as believers will have personal and intense spiritual struggles with Satan’s lies and be tested whether we will stand firm in our commitment to the Lord.
Satan’s weapons are specially selected lies to get you to distrust God or believe something untrue about God to get you to sin. Lies based on your weaknesses and tendencies. He will bring people into your lives to perpetrate these lies.
This is not a physical encounter he is talking about, but a spiritual one.
“For” in v.12 means “because.” We need to be strong in the Lord and put on the full armor of God because we are struggling against a powerful angelic force which is engaged in a battle against each of us that is personal and intense (but limited by God).
The words “flesh and blood” refers to the flesh and blood of human beings. These fallen angels are not flesh and blood. They are not human; they are spirits, which mean they are invisible and powerful. We are not fighting men, but an organized spiritual army.
It does not mean that we don’t face human enemies who spread Satan’s lies or persecute us, but the real struggle is not against them, it is against the evil spirits behind them.
This is not an equal fight both sides equal in intelligence and power, not a wrestling match between two of the same weight, but one 5’ 1” guy against a 7’ muscular guy.
There is urgency in Paul’s pen. This is not to scare us; it is to make us careful.
“but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
We are not fighting a group of flunky demons with red suits, horns, and tails, but demons that are darkly eminent in place and dignity.
These descriptions do not refer to different ranks of demons but to demons as a whole.
Paul describes all the demons with their leader, Satan, as a whole group in four ways.
1. They are rulers – they have subjects they rule
2. They are authorities – they have authority to dominate and direct fallen man
3. They are powerful rulers over the whole world of darkness
4. They are evil spirits operating in the invisible spirit realm.
1) They are rulers – they have subjects they rule - unbelievers
v. 12 They are “rulers”
They rule over fallen human beings. Being “rulers” over fallen man has the idea of domination and direction. They dominate fallen man and they direct them to accomplish their goals.
They do not control every single decision and action of fallen man, but they do dominate and direct them through their lives.
The reason they are able to do this is because they have authority from God to do this. This authority is limited, but it is authority.
This brings us to the next description.
2) They are authorities or powers – they have authority and power to dominate and direct unbelievers.
v. 12 They are “authorities.”
This rule comes from authority that God himself has given to them over fallen man in judgment on fallen man and for God’s purposes. They have spiritual authority by God to dominate and direct fallen man. They’re limited in this authority.
They can only do what God allows them to do, but they have it. They have authority to accomplish a certain amount of evil in this world and to influence fallen man toward evil.
These two words, rule and authority, go together. You can’t have a rule without authority to exercise that rule. They go together.
Their rule and authority over fallen man is further defined by Paul in 2 Cor.4: 4.
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God
God has allowed Satan to blind the minds of those who do not know Christ and thus because they are blinded, they can be controlled by the lies of Satan.
This is the foundation of Satan’s rule over fallen man. They are blind to spiritual truth. Therefore, they cannot see God’s light of truth, so they are susceptible to the lies of Satan.
They then act in an unrighteousness manner as a result. The average person grows up spiritually blinded believing all kinds of lies. God is not there or God doesn’t care. Or God is cold and judgmental, or etc.
He sees in society others who believe the same thing and act accordingly which reinforces those lies of Satan. Satan then possesses key individuals to keep the whole thing going and everyone just follows.
Spiritual blindness is the foundation of their authority. Lies are how they lead. Satan does not need to possess everyone or speak audibly to unbelievers; spiritually blind people are easily fooled and led.
How wide is this rule and authority? Their rule and authority is worldwide,
all over the world.
3) They are powerful rulers and authorities in the whole world of darkness, of sin and error in the hearts and minds of unbelievers.
v. 12 They are “powers of this dark world”
They are “powers of this dark world” – rulers of the darkness of this age.
“Powers” means that they have the ability to dominate and direct.
The sphere of their action and control, their power is the “dark world.”
The “dark world” is not the physical earth or physical darkness.
“Dark world” refers to the sin, evil, and wickedness of all fallen humans and rebellious angels.
Satan’s lies form the basis of the beliefs and values of fallen man and express themselves in the sinful attitudes, words, and actions of fallen man all coming from Satan and his demons.
So, Paul is saying that the demons have powerful control over the sinful attitudes, words, and actions of fallen man based on their evil lies.
Fallen men love the darkness. This is what John writes in Jn.3.
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
Unsaved humans live in the kingdom of darkness.
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he love,
The kingdom of darkness is not a place, but a group of beings rebelling against God, both angelic and human.
We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.
The whole world (unbelieving human beings) lies in the power of the evil one. He does not mean the earth, the land. He means fallen humans who inhabit it.
This is why we as believers are not to love the world, the beliefs and values of blinded spiritual men.
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does - comes not from the Father but from the world.
For everything in the world – notice he doesn’t mention things, but cravings, lust, desires are from the darkness.
It is not talking about wanting to buy a nice car or about liking a car, but loving it as a symbol of prestige and power, and top priority in your life.
A car is not in darkness or part of the world until it is infused with improper importance by the attitudes and actions of fallen man based on the lies of Satan and his demons.
Satan rules the dark world of fallen human beings.
Jn.12:31 The ruler of this world
Jn.14:30 The ruler of this world
Jn.16:11 the god of this world
2 Cor.4:4 the god of this world
4) They are evil spirits operating in the invisible spirit realm.
v. 12 “…and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
“Spiritual forces” reminds us that demons are powerful and forceful spirits.
These are evil angels who have rebelled against God. Angels are spirits who are invisible and have no bodies although they are capable of taking on human form and inhabiting a human body.
Where do these spirits dwell? In the “heavenly realms”
The “heavenly realms” in other translations is the “spirit realm.” The term “spirit realm” is a general word used in the NT of the realm where all spirits live.
God and good angels dwell in heaven.
In Eph.2:6 it is used of heaven where God and holy angels live and it is used of the realm where Satan and his demons live. All spirits inhabit the spirit or heavenly realms.
The spirit realm can be divided into two major parts:
1) the realm of heaven where God and his holy angels dwell and
2) the realm above and next to the earth, called the domain or kingdom of the air. This is where Satan and his demons dwell.
The evil angels dwell in the spirit realm below heaven and around the earth.
The kingdom of the air is the spirit region above the earth and next to the earth, but below heaven where God and his holy angels dwell.
Eph.2:2 “the ruler of the kingdom of the air”
in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
“The kingdom of the air” uses a physical term to describe the spiritual realm of Satan and his demons. The “air” is the physical atmosphere just above the earth and on the earth surrounding human beings.
The spiritual kingdom of Satan and his demons is the spiritual realm below heaven just above the earth and around humans.
The term “air” also tells us that these spirits do not walk around on the ground; they are aerial spirits in this spirit realm, moving around in the spirit realm.
So, God and his holy angels live in heaven, the upper part of the heavenly or spirit realm and Satan and his demons live in the lower spirit realm, the kingdom of the air.
When Satan and his demons rebelled against God, they were kicked out of heaven as their dwelling place. They can no longer live there.
However, Satan and his demons have limited access to heaven by God’s permission.
Job 1: 6-7
One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the Lord, "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it."
There are other passages that show demons have access to heaven.
1 Sam.16:14-17 and 18: 10 an evil spirit from God, allowed by God to torment
1 Ki.22:19-23 a spirit came forward who said he would lie, and the Lord sent him to do it.
However, this limited access will not last forever.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.
This verse tells us that Satan accuses us day and night before God. After this event, which happens some time in the future probably during the Great tribulation Satan is hurled out of heaven never to have access there again.
By the way, the idea that God could not allow Satan into his presence because Satan is evil is taking a human idea of holiness and projecting it on God, rather than allowing Scripture to speak and saying we don’t know how that is possible, but it is because he does.
Why does God do that? Because it keeps God in control and it is a continual rebuke to Satan and a continual glorification of how God continues to thwart evil and redeem people.
So why does Paul mention that they are spiritual forces?
To remind us that Satan and his demons are invisible. We can’t see them as they manipulate the world so we have to recognize their work, their lies.
How Does Satan Actually Communicate to Unbelievers to Influence Them To Do His Will?
How does he influence unbelievers to do his will? Does Satan put thoughts directly into the minds of unbelievers to do what he wants?
The Bible clearly indicates that Satan can influence human beings externally, but does not indicate that he can do it internally. That is, in the Scriptures, we see Satan using external means to influence human beings and accomplish his schemes.This can be seen in the way the Bible reveals that Satan tempted people during Bible times.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
When Satan tempted Eve, he did not implant a thought into her mind. He spoke to her through an external source, the body of an animal, a serpent. We know that this is Satan from Revelation 12:9 where Satan is called “the serpent of old.”
Satan does not communicate with Eve telepathically or implant thoughts in Jesus’ mind.
The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he speaks directly and audibly to him. He most likely appeared to him in spirit form and spoke to him audibly. He does not communicate telepathically or implant thoughts in Jesus’ mind.
Job 1 & 2
1:13-15 Satan brings upon Job’s cattle and servants crime and war through unbelievers
1:16 Satan brings lightning upon Job’s sheep and servants.
1:17 Satan again brings crime and war upon his camels and servants.
1:18-19 Satan brings a mighty wind upon the house of Job’s children and kills them all.
2:6-8 Satan brings “boils” (physical illness) upon Job’s body.When Satan tempts Job, all the temptations were external. If he can implant thoughts in our minds, why didn’t he just implant thoughts into Job’s mind? That would be far more effective. Even when Job’s wife turned from the Lord (Job 2:9-10), the text does not say Satan was involved in tempting her internally to turn away from God. So, in the only two cases that Satan is shown directly communicating a temptation (to Eve and to Jesus), it is always externally done. When we see Satan afflict Job, it is all external. That’s my point. So, there are three ways that Satan is shown to speak audibly to human beings that are revealed in the Scriptures.
1. He can take control of an unbeliever through demon possession and speak lies to others around them We see two kinds of demon possession in the NT, the obvious usually violent kind and the subtle non-violent kind.
Luke 4:33-34 displays the obvious usually violent kind.It says, 33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34 “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
When the demons speak from a demon-possessed person, they speak audibly from the mouth of the demon-possessed person, not necessarily through the mind of that person. Notice, the demon is speaking through the man’s body by using the vocal chords of the possessed man, but not necessarily using the man’s mind. The demon has his own mind and the ability to speak if possessing a human body. Notice, that the human being is not speaking from his own mind and telling you what the demon is telling him. He doesn’t say, “The demon says, ‘What have I…?’ The demon speaks directly to Jesus through the mouth of the human being.
Most likely, the demon takes possession of that part of the physical brain that controls the vocal chords and speaks or takes possession of the vocal chords (God does not explain this), and the human being’s mind is disengaged in some way. This idea of a demon using a human body without infiltrating the mind is further demonstrated by Satan use of the serpent to speak to Eve. He obviously used the animal body without infiltrating the animal’s mind. He does the same with human bodies. Most of the demon-possession that we see in the NT, the demon is this type of obvious usually violent kind where everyone recognizes the person’s possession. However, that is not always the case.
In Acts 16:16-19, we see the subtle non-violent kind of demon possession. It says, 16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her. 19 When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.
Based on what we know today about fortune tellers, there were two ways they could share demonic knowledge of the future: First, they could hear it from the demon that was possessing them or the demon could speak using the mouth of the fortune teller (channeling). If someone asked a question of the fortune teller, the demon could easily whisper the answer into her ear and she could tell her clients the answer. She could also “channel” the demon (releasing control to it) and the demon could speak to the clients. Fortune tellers can also be fake and have no demonic interaction, but the one in Acts 16 was not. This subtle demonic possession could apply to anyone who is involved in occultic activity. The possible difference between these two individuals is that the Philippian woman was allowing the demon to work through her and the man in the synagogue probably was not.
2. He can appear as himself in spirit form and speak his lies. In Matthew 4:1-3, Satan appears to Jesus in spirit form as himself to our Lord and speaks to him. 1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Satan appears to Jesus in spirit form as himself to our Lord as we saw above. Demons can appear in spirit form as themselves.
Can demons alter their Spirit form to appear as a dead human being? There is no Biblical evidence that they can, but we know that the spirits of dead human beings do not roam around. They are in Hades (Hebrews 9:27; Luke 16:19-31), so by the process of elimination, it has to be demons.
3. He can appear as an angel of light and speak his lies. Angels can also appear in spirit form.
Matthew 28:2-3 records these words: 2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
Angels in spirit form are not always appearing in such brilliance and manifestation of power. The guards at the tomb of Jesus needed to see the angel of the Lord in this display so they would faint. In Luke 1:26, Gabriel appears to Mary but there is no mention of this kind of display. That would have frightened Mary who was just a teenager. As an angel, Satan can also appear as an “angel of light.”
2 Corinthians 11:14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. Garland in his commentary on this passages writes, “Paul uses a Hebraic idiom, “an angel of light,” to refer to Satan as a shining angel.” (Garland, D. E. (1999). 2 Corinthians (Vol. 29, p. 485). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers) So, angels can appear in spirit form
These four descriptions show us we are dealing with powerful foes.
Next time we will look at how Satan and his demons use the world of fallen men they dominate and direct to attack us.
This is what I want to leave you with.
Ask yourself when you are tempted, “Is there something I am being tempted to believe about God that is not true or to believe about his Word that is not true?”
Look for his lies that you might be falling into believing and turn away
from them and hold to the truth and live righteously.