We often hear reference made to “the world, the flesh and the devil”. In separate articles we shall consider these three enemies of the child of God in the reverse order, thereby highlighting their relative potential danger.
1. THE DEVIL
And so they voted the devil out,
And of course the devil’s gone,
But simple folk would like to know
Who carries his business on.
His Origin. In Luke 10. 17-20 the Lord, addressing His elated disciples, warned them of the danger of a childish and fleshly delight in the spectacular. Conversely, He ex-horted them to rejoice because their names were written in heaven rather than in the fact that the demons were subject to them. He reminded them that what they had done was only by means of the power of His name, whereas He had been present when the arch-enemy, Satan, fell from heaven.
Isaiah 14. 12-15 throws more light on the fall of Satan. We read there of Lucifer, son of the morning, expressing his rebellious ambition to ascend up. He reached the ultimate in blasphemy saying, “I will be like the most High”. His sentence swiftly follows, “Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit”. The oft-repeated “I will" of Isaiah 14 is in sharp contrast to the “not my will" expressed in Gethsemane’s garden by the One whose throne the enemy sought to usurp. God frequently uses persons and things in the Old Testament as types for our learning. In the person of the king of Tyrus in Ezekiel 28 we have foreshadowed the Devil whose dupe he was. There are things said of this king that could not apply to any earthly monarch. He is said to be full of wisdom, perfect in beauty, perfect from his creation until iniquity was found in him. The being typified by the king of Tyrus was a created being who fell, emphasis being placed upon his wisdom and beauty. In Eden in Genesis 3. 1 we read of Satan making use of the serpent which is described as more subtle than any beast of the field. The Devil, not being omni-present, works through agents human and demoniacal, and still uses the wise and beautiful of this world to deceive. He fills the platform, stage and even the pulpit with his represen-tatives of beauty and wisdom.
Described as “the anointed cherub that covereth”, he may well have had to do with the throne of God before his fall.
His Personality. One of the Devil’s masterpieces is his success in denying, through the medium of his servants, his own personal existence. However, the Scriptures inform us that the Devil speaks, he walks up and down, and with God’s permission has power over the elements and the believer’s health, see Job 1 and 2; Matt. 4. 1-11. He also accuses the brethren before God, Rev. 12. 10, and will be tormented day and night for ever, Rev. 20. 10. He is a real person.
His Titles. The Devil has various names and titles. He is called Satan (the adversary), the Devil (the accuser), the Dragon, the old Serpent, the prince of the power of the air, Eph. 2. 2, the prince of this world, John 14. 30, the god of this world (age), 2 Cor. 4. 4. He is likened to a roaring lion, 1 Pet. 5. 8, and an angel of light, 2 Cor. 11. 14. We must not under-estimate him or attempt to resist him in our own strength or wisdom. We shall need the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit until travelling days are done.
His Present Work. This is directed at two distinct com-panies, the lost and the saved. His activity toward the lost is summarised in 2 Corinthians 4. 3-4. As the god of this age he “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”. In his attack upon the saved he deceives, lies, tempts, persecutes and accuses before God.
Not only has he two separate targets but he also adopts two main lines of attack as both a roaring lion and an angel of light. Some only see him as a roaring lion, striking terror into the saints who are passing through fiery trials and terrifying persecution. How often the devil has outwitted himself in this, God not only delivering His own but using adversity to purify and develop a character suited to Him. When frontal attack does not prevail he then manifests himself as an angel of light. He propagates his counterfeit gospel of works which forms the basis of most religions, including a great part of that which masquerades as Christian. Many today have adopted the universal Fatherhood of God, the brother-hood of man and the leadership of Jesus significantly omitting reference to the Cross-work of Christ and His universal Lordship. In this New Theology, this modernism, there is a great display of worldly wisdom. The Devil’s gospel is a mixture of the social, political and religious and makes men too busy creating a heaven on earth to consider a heaven or hell hereafter. In this connection let us not forget the words of Paul, “though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed”, Gal. I. 8. We may take courage however from the fact that the Devil has not the attributes of Deity. He is not omni-present, omniscient nor omnipotent. Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world!
His Future. During the millennial reign of Christ the Devil will be bound for a thousand years in the bottomless pit, Rev. 20. 1-3. After this he will be released again for a season, when the incurability of the human heart will be indisputably and finally demonstrated, for the millennium, like all pre-ceding ages, will be followed by failure.
His Final Doom. Finally the Devil will be cast into the everlasting fire prepared for him and his angels, Matt. 25. 41, to join there the beast and the false prophet who will have been in the lake of fire for one thousand years already. He will then be tormented day and night for ever and ever, Rev. 20. 10.