Wrong Things People Say About the Devil

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

– 1 Peter 5:8

Do you believe in the devil? If so, what exactly do you believe about him? Unfortunately, for many people they are absolutely clueless when it comes to their greatest adversary, the devil. This can be seen by some of the false things they say about him.

Here are four wrong things people say about the devil:

  • “He is not real.” Many people believe that the devil is nothing more than a made up creature from the human mind. They view him as no different than a character found in Marvel comics or Lord of the Rings. Some even say that he is nothing more than a symbol of evil. And yet, the Bible teaches something different. According to the Bible the devil is just as real as God the Father and God the Son Jesus. He was there in the beginning tempting Eve (Genesis 3:1-5; Revelation 12:9). He tempted the Lord in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). Jesus preached about him over and over again (Matthew 13:39; 25:41; Luke 8:12; 22:31-32; John 8:44). You can’t reasonably believe in Jesus while refusing to believe in Satan. Jesus said the devil is real!
  • “He is Lucifer.” This is another common misunderstanding about the devil. The idea comes from Isaiah 14:12 (KJV). But a simple study of the context reveals the truth. In Isaiah 14:4, we learn that the “Lucifer” mentioned in verse 14 is actually the king of Babylon (probably a reference to King Nebuchadnezzar). The King of Babylon would be humbled and brought low by God. The devil is called by many names in the Bible (ex: Satan, the tempter, the evil one, the serpent of old), but “Lucifer” is NOT one of them! This misunderstanding has come from an abuse of Isaiah 14.
  • “He is equal to God.” While the devil may want you to believe this statement, it is wrong. The devil is nowhere close to being equal to God. He does not possess the qualities of deity. Unlike God, the devil is not all knowing (he did not know the outcome of the trials he put on God’s servant Job). Unlike God, the devil is not omnipresent. God is able to be everywhere all the time (Psalm 139:7-12). The devil is not! In fact, when Satan is resisted there is some sense in which he will flee from us (James 4:7). Unlike God, the devil is not all-powerful. God is sovereign and has unlimited power (Psalm 135:6). The devil is limited in what he can do. He could only do to Job what God allowed (Job 1:12). He had to ask permission to test Peter (Luke 22:31). God will not allow him to tempt us beyond what we are able to bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). Unlike God, the devil is not from everlasting to everlasting. God has no beginning and no end (Psalm 90:2). At some point the devil was created and chose to rebel against God.
  • “The devil is not a real threat in my life today.” This is the main lie Satan wants you to believe. But the Bible says otherwise! Scriptures say that the devil is very interested in you. In fact, he is the greatest threat you have in your life! He wants to be your spiritual father (John 8:44). He is scheming against you (2 Corinthians 2:11). He wants to seek and devour you (1 Peter 5:8). He wants to hold your soul captive and deceive you into doing his will (2 Timothy 2:26).

Satan is indeed a strong enemy. He is more powerful than us (Ephesians 6:12). But, thankfully, he is not more powerful than God! When we are strong in the Lord, and dressed in His armor, we will defeat the devil every time (Ephesians 6:10-11)! The devil knows this already. Do you?

– Shawn Jeffries

 

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Great Underdog Stories

Do you know what it means to be an underdog? Dictionary.com defines an underdog as someone “who is expected to lose a contest or struggle; one that is at a disadvantage.” We live in a culture that loves to root for underdogs. We especially love to do this in sports.

One of the greatest underdog sports stories in history took place during the Cold War in the 1980 Winter Olympics. The United States national team (made up of amateur and collegiate players) defeated the Soviet Union national team (which had won the gold metal in six of the seven previous Olympic games) in a medal round game. Team USA would go on to win the gold medal that year, while the Soviet Union took the silver medal. In 1999 Sports Illustrated ranked “The Miracle on Ice” as the biggest upset in sports history! It is a great story of an underdog defying the odds and experiencing victory.

Did you know that there are great “underdog” accounts also found in the Bible?

  • For example, there is the account of a little shepherd boy named David who had the courage to go out to battle against the Philistine giant Goliath (1 Samuel 17). All of Israel (including King Saul) was afraid to fight Goliath, but David had faith that God would give him the victory. He said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:37). For many that day it appeared that the young boy David did not have a shot of defeating the over 9 foot tall experienced warrior. But, with the blessing of God, David used a smooth stone and sling shot and knocked Goliath out. He then took the giant’s sword and cut off his head. When the Philistines saw their great solider defeated they fled in great fear.
  • There is also the account of Gideon leading the army of God to victory against the Midianites (Judges 6-7). Before sending Gideon’s army out to battle, God first dwindled down the number of Israelite soldiers from 32,000 to just 300. God used these 300 men to defeat several thousands. Through this experience God wanted to teach Israel to depend on His power and not their own (Judges 7:2).
  • In the time of the Roman Empire it certainly appeared that Satan was getting the best of the people of God. Christians were constantly being martyred because they were unwilling to worship the emperor as “god.” This fierce persecution caused some of the martyred to wonder when God was going to avenge and deliver their brethren from their oppressors (Revelation 6:9-11). Satan was certainly trying to do his best to use this world empire to destroy Christianity, but ultimately he would fail. The army of Jesus would prevail (Revelation 17:14). Today the Roman Empire is no more, but the kingdom of Jesus still stands (Daniel 2:44)!
  • And then consider the victory of God’s own Son on the cross for the sins of the world. After Jesus was betrayed by one of His own disciples, He went through a series of shameful trials, was mocked, scourged, crucified on a cross, and buried in the tomb of a rich man, it appeared that Satan had won the war. But three days later, on Sunday morning, some disciples went into the tomb and found it empty. Jesus had been raised from the dead (Luke 24:1-12)! His resurrection demonstrated that God the Father was pleased with His sacrifice for our sins and He was in fact the very Son of God (Ephesians 5:2; Romans 1:4). Through the resurrection we are given a living hope that if we follow Jesus’ teaching we can actually be saved and go to heaven (1 Peter 1:3-5). Through the resurrection Jesus defeated Satan and conquered two enemies that we could never defeat on our own – sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:54-57; Revelation 1:17-18).

 

Every day we face a fierce battle with the devil. He is our greatest enemy and his mission is to seek and destroy us spiritually (1 Peter 5:8).  He is a strong enemy and against him on our own we are truly “underdogs.” But as David demonstrated against Goliath, when we put our faith and trust in God, no enemy can stand against us. Not even an enemy as strong as Satan.

Use the next few days to deeply meditate and express thanksgiving to God for the victory you have if you are in Christ (Galatians 3:26-28). Thank God that if you are in Christ, through the death and resurrection of His Son, you have everything you need to defeat your greatest enemy.

– Shawn Jeffries

The Temptations of Jesus

After being baptized by John, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where He fasted for forty days and nights (Matthew 4:1-11). Fasting is when a person makes a choice to eat no food (the only thing he would consume was water). It was often done to show devotion to God and was often accompanied by prayer and Bible study.

Most fasting was only done for a short period of time (a day or even part of the day). But Jesus fasted for forty days! That was an incredibly long period of time. Jesus was not trying to set a world record for the number of days He could go without eating. Instead, He was beginning His ministry and this was a time to think about His work and devotion to God.

Since the Lord was also fully man while on this earth, it was at the end of the forty days of fasting that He became hungry. The devil (or tempter) then came to test Him. He knew that if he could persuade Jesus to sin, then God’s entire plan to save us would be destroyed. Jesus as a sinner could not die for the sins of the world (2 Corinthians 5:21). But instead of giving in to Satan’s temptations, Jesus resisted every one of them!

I want to encourage you to read Matthew 4:1-11 this week. As you do consider the following points:

  1. The things Satan offered were not wrong within themselves.  The first temptation involved turning stones into bread, thus satisfying hunger (certainly there was nothing wrong with eating!). The second one involved jumping off the highest point of the temple and letting God save Him. The third one involved Jesus ruling the kingdoms of the world.
  2. Yielding to these temptations would have demonstrated a lack of trust in God.                                                                                                                             a.  In the first temptation, Jesus could have easily turned those stones into bread. But He knew that God had a plan to provide for Him, and submitting to Satan’s suggestion would have been a failure to trust in God’s plan. Even though He was extremely hungry, Jesus humbly resisted Satan’s idea and once the temptation ended, angels came and ministered to Him (Matthew 4:11). It is likely that these angels gave Jesus the food He needed. Satan wanted Jesus to think “God will not take care of you.” He was wrong!                                                       b.  In the second temptation, Jesus could have thrown Himself off the temple and commanded angels to save Him. But again, He trusted that God would come to His aid once this ordeal was over. In fact, it is interesting that Satan misapplied Psalm 91:11-12 to persuade Jesus. These verses are about trusting in God’s care, but Satan tried to use them to teach the opposite! Jesus certainly recognized this and refused to let Satan put God to the test (Deuteronomy 6:16).   c. In the final temptation, Satan promised Jesus that if he bowed down and worshiped him, he would then give Him all the kingdoms of the world. This temptation failed because Jesus knew that was God’s plan anyway (Revelation 11:15). God was going to give His Son all the kingdoms to rule over as Lord, but it was going to be accomplished through Him suffering and dying on the cross. Satan wanted Jesus to take the shortcut! Jesus refused to worship Satan and trusted His Father.
  1. Jesus defeated Satan by doing two things:                                                               a.  He answered each temptation by using scripture (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10). He knew the scriptures and accurately applied them. Let’s follow His example (Psalm 119:9-11; 2 Timothy 2:15; Hosea 4:6).                                                                        b. But beyond quoting and using scripture, ultimately Jesus defeated Satan because He trusted His heavenly Father. He trusted in what the scriptures promised and God took care of Him. In God’s time Jesus received food, strength, and the kingdoms of the world. Trusting in God the Father led to the best outcome, and the same will be true in our lives today (Proverbs 3:5-8).

From this account we see that the devil is a ferocious enemy. He was alive and active in the time of Jesus, and the same is true today (1 Peter 5:8). But when we know and trust in God’s word we too can defeat him! Always remember that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). There is always a way out of temptation. As James 4:7 says, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Did not these very things happen in the case of our Lord (Luke 4:13)?

– Shawn Jeffries