God created everything. This would include Satan. Looking at the timeline presented in the Bible we know that Satan and his bunch of rebels were kicked out of Heaven before the creation of Adam and Eve. Satan was the best and brightest of the angels. But he had a flaw. He wanted to be like God – Really, he wanted to BE God. This naturally caused a rift between God and Satan, and of course God wins. With Satan, 1/3 of the angels departed from heaven (we know them now as demons). If we know that Satan fought against God because he wanted to be like God, we can draw some conclusions.
1. Satan is not God thus,
2. Satan is not Omnipotent (All Powerful) and,
3. Omniscient (All Knowing) and,
4. Satan is not Omnipresent (Everywhere at once).
These four simple points cover a lot of area. Because Satan is not God, he cannot know everything that is or will be, and he cannot be with us all of the time and He can (and will be) defeated!
All of these points are critical to gain understanding of our common opponent. Satan is an aggressive opponent, and knows how to attack people. This statement implies a level of omniscience. However, we have already established that he is not omniscient. So how does he know? I believe Satan is an excellent observer of human behavior. Let’s be honest – he has had thousands of years of observations to draw from.
Observation is a highly effective strategy that is often used in business, sports and war. People are taught to watch for cues that indicate what people are thinking, how they might respond, when to press, and when to lay back and let it ride. Anyone’s personal experience is limited to maybe 20 to 30 years of active observation. Satan, though, has all the years going back to Adam and Eve to draw from. This gives me reason to believe that while Satan is not omniscient he certainly can provide a very educated guess as to how you will respond to temptation.
While we are all created uniquely, we all are prone to various kinds of temptations which are not unique. Our mistakes are not the first of their kind in human history. This is Satan’s tactical advantage over us. He knows that while we are unique in our creation, our response to temptation is not. After thousands of years of observation of personality types, and responses, he knows how to trip a trigger and crawl into your life. There is hope, though… See 1 Corinthians 10:13 While Satan has millennia of experience tripping people up, God, though the Holy Spirit, has been equally practiced at helping God’s people deal with sin… More on this later.
Everyone has their pressure points. Do you believe that it is a coincidence that the same issues appear over and over in your own life? I never thought about it until recently. Then it finally dawned on me: Satan is real, Satan is clever and Satan is a very astute observer.
The attacks can be sudden, and from out of nowhere. There can be long pauses between attacks (demonstrating Satan’s lack of omnipresence). Rest assured, if you are making an impact for God, if you are beginning to grow in your faith, or beginning in your path towards the truth, you will attract his attention and his ire. This is where understanding your opponent’s tactics will really help you.
Satan deals in half truths. He wants to present you an option that appears to be in the nature of the Bible and God’s word. This is the trick of Satan. 2 Corinthians 11:14 says that Satan masquerades as an angel of light. Here is an example. If you are beginning to grow in your faith, then it is fair to say that you are trying to rid yourself of some bad habits. Stress is a fantastic way to push people back to a default habit or personality trait. Apply a little stress, and the normal person will revert. Let me use examples out of my own life. Things like success are a difficult temptation for me because, while I have my moments, I am not a humble guy. Another example for me is fear of betrayal. Satan knows my weaknesses, and knows what I need to see in order to feed my arrogance and paranoia. But this is not limited just to me! Satan’s desire is for you to revert. God’s desire is for you to succeed by becoming more like His Son – See Ephesians 5:1-2.
Look at these startling statistics. The Bible mentions Satan over 180 times, Jesus mentions him 100+ times. Despite that, 60% of believers believe that Satan isn’t a real living being, but rather a symbol of evil. The greatest achievement of Satan is to have convinced the world that he doesn’t exist. Not only has he convinced the world but also believers.
If you are a believer let me boil it down a little more strongly…You are willing to have faith that Christ was born of a virgin, Christ is the son of God, Christ lived without sin, Christ died on the cross for your sin’s, Christ was resurrected, and God created angels, …Do you really think it is so farfetched to believe that Satan is real?!
Next time, we will look at specific strategies for defeating this very real and active enemy, but as a preview you may want to take a look at the following passages: James 4:4-7; Ephesians 6:10-18 & Romans 6:6-13.