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Satan and his demons

“Spiritual warfare is real, guys.” These are the words of a personal friend of mine, who saw firsthand an exorcism taking place during a missions trip. This guy is not a “superstitious,” imaginative, or emotional person. In fact, he’s one of the most logical and clear-thinking people I know. But even he couldn’t deny the reality of spiritual warfare in our modern times.

That got me to thinking and researching. Scripture references abound, but I hope you’ll forgive me if I just go ahead and write what I know. If you want verses for any particular point, please request it in the comment section. (This is my way of saving time when I don’t have a lot, but I still want to post something.) A lot of these points were made by Mark Driscoll anyway in his sermons, so check them out when you have time.

First and foremost…

Not every evil is (directly) from the Devil.

True, he may have been the first to tempt Adam and Eve, but Satan is not the only thing we’re competing against. We also have our own flesh to deal with, which is full of sinful desires. The world is currently Satan’s domain, and he already has a lot of systems in place that we have to guard against. The Bible tells us that Satan is the “god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4) and “ruler of this world” (John 12:31, 32).

He doesn’t have to personally attack you or even send a demon to do it. A lot of temptation and deception is already in place, whether internally in our flesh or externally in the world.

Satan is a created being who fell from glory.

Some people like to portray it like an epic rivalry between God and Satan, but this is far from the truth. There is the Creator, and there are the created. Angels and humans are both among the created, and Satan is a fallen angel. By definition, that makes him clearly inferior to God.

While there is some speculation that Satan was the leader of praise and worship in heaven (there are mentions of musical instruments with him), we can’t be 100% sure. What we do know is that Satan—in his original sin of pride—rebelled against God and took a legion of angels with him. They were all cast out of heaven, and are allowed to remain for a time before God’s sovereign plan to destroy Satan and his demons once and for all.

Satan is powerful, but very limited.

Satan is undoubtedly gifted in many ways. His greatest skill is tempting through lies and deception. He’s not called the “Father of lies” for nothing.

Notably absent from his repertoire, however, are God’s attributes of omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. Satan cannot create or do anything outside of the restrictions that God has in place. Satan also does not know everything. He’s keenly aware of much of the past and present, and he also has plans for his future. But he cannot accurately predict anything beyond his own actions and perhaps what is already written in the Bible. (Yes, Satan knows the Bible, though I wonder sometimes whether he’s able to read Revelation.)

Please note that Satan is extremely intelligent and persuasive. Don’t think for a second that Satan isn’t smarter than you or me. He’s not only a higher being than us, but he’s had all of human history to practice his deception. In fact, even true believers are susceptible to his lies unless they are constantly on guard with the Holy Spirit. But we’ll get to that kind of stuff in a bit…

Finally, Satan is only one being. Unlike God, he can only be in one place and attack one person at a time. But he does have a legion of fallen angels (demons) to do his bidding…

Satan is extremely attractive (and prideful).

The Bible describes Satan as being perfect in appearance, fine like the most precious jewels. This contributed greatly to his pride and probably to his appeal. He was so appealing, in fact, that he somehow convinced other angels to follow him away from God’s favor.

Now, the Bible doesn’t really go into detail about all the happenings in heaven and the fall of Satan. Perhaps there was some kind of war, and maybe there wasn’t. I’m sure there’s a LOT more to the story than we will ever know (in this life, anyway).

There are at least 50 million demons, but maybe more.

It is written—or strongly implied—that Satan convinced a third of the angels to leave with him. Considering that in other parts of the scripture, John has a vision of 100 million angels in heaven worshiping God, that means there are at least 50 million demons (x/(100+x) = 1/3). There may be more, considering how many other angels were not present in that vision.

So, if there are over 6 billion people in the world, chances are that a demon is NOT attacking a particular individual. The demons, perhaps, can only attack about 1% of the population at once. Strategically, they are probably focused in on prominent people, whether political leaders, celebrities, or even spiritual threats to their agenda.

Spiritual warfare is very much about tiers and rank.

This isn’t a Rocky type of story, where the underdog can win with sheer will and scrappiness. It appears that the stronger being—whether angel or demon—always wins. So if a person is demonically possessed, it will take a stronger angel to drive it out. In Daniel 10, we see an angel struggling to beat a stronger demon, so he has to get the help of the archangel Michael (who is “the great prince who protects”).

Demons can influence everyone, but they can only possess nonbelievers.

In the Bible, you see numerous instances of true believers being influenced by demons, so we know that it’s possible. Heck, we even see Satan trying to tempt Jesus himself (or attacking godly men like Job).

One thing demons cannot do, however, is possess true Christians. Why is this? Because believers have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. He resides inside of us, and no spiritual being is greater.

If I had to break it down into tiers, it goes simply like this:

“S” rank (untouchable): Holy Spirit

“A” rank: Archangels, Satan

Lower ranks: Officers all the way down to lesser demons

Demons are not to be trifled with.

Even if we are true believers, we must proceed with caution when it comes to dealing with the spiritual realm. We need to constantly invoke the protection and might of the Holy Spirit. If we go into the situation with bravado—and dangerously, pride—then we might be setting things up for disastrous results. Demons can possess someone you might be trying to help and endow them with supernatural strength, strange voices, suicidal urges, and other bizarre influences. You don’t want them to harm themselves or you in the process.

Satan knows what he’s doing.

When Satan was tempting Jesus, how did he do it? Did he tell Jesus something like, “Come on, man, let us cut ourselves, shriek, and jump up and down naked while we pull out our hair”?

No, he knew Jesus would see right through him in a second. Instead, he actually used scripture in his futile attempt to tempt Jesus. He misinterpreted passages and took things out of context, but Jesus knew God’s word better to counter it. (Of course, there was no chance Satan would have succeeded, even though Jesus was in the form of a man, but that didn’t keep him from trying.)

Also, in 2 Corinthians 11:14, it tells us that Satan transforms himself into an “angel of light.” He’s not red with horns and a pitchfork, but rather, he uses his attractiveness to fool the unsuspecting. He might borrow from scripture (and slightly distort things) or even use half-truths to confuse those who don’t have the discernment bestowed by the Holy Spirit.

God can use bad things, like pain and suffering, to bring about a greater good. Satan does the opposite: he can use peace, tolerance, and prosperity to achieve his evil goals. He can even use a beneficial thing like science to convince people of error.

False teachers and false religions are tools of the Devil.

As a Christian, it might seem easy to spot false religions. Increasingly, however, the true gospel is becoming compromised to the point where culture and ulterior motives seep in and distort the message.

The Bible warns us of false teachers all the time. Again, do you think that Satan is going to have false teachers preaching, “Worship the devil! Kill your family and slaughter the innocent!”? No, of course not. He knows that people are not THAT stupid. Instead, he’ll slightly alter God’s word, and like a ship sailing a couple degrees off course, we’ll end up completely in the wrong destination.

Spiritual warfare is not outwardly prevalent in America.

You’re probably thinking that outward spiritual warfare doesn’t seem to happen often here in America, and you’re right. It’s somewhat rare. You won’t see many demon possessions or exorcisms taking place around the corner.

But why is this? Well, like I mentioned before, there are a limited number of demons Satan has at his disposal, so he can’t attack everybody. More importantly, Satan only pays direct attention to those who are a threat to his kingdom. And frankly, America is already killing itself spiritually. Satan doesn’t need to bother sending many of his limited troops to attack us directly.

Many liken American Christianity to the church in Laodicea (in Revelation 3), and sadly, that is the ONLY church addressed that didn’t have a single positive quality to it. The other six churches had at least one good aspect, but not Laodicea. To be fair, I’m sure there exist some pockets of “Philadelphia”-type groups or churches who resemble Ephesus (some good), but overall, Laodicea is the model for American Christianity. We are rich and lukewarm, and we don’t even know how lost we are.

One type of church that clearly doesn’t exist in America is Smyrna—the faithful and persecuted church—which was blameless in Jesus’ eyes. That probably exists only in third-world countries or places where it’s difficult and dangerous to be a Christian. They have so much blessing in store for them…

As mentioned earlier, I do believe that Satan targets a few prominent people, whether public figures or celebrities, and they’ll do most of the work for him. But the bottom line is that much of America already has the gun in its own mouth (as Mark Driscoll poignantly illustrates). Why waste precious bullets?

Satan doesn’t want Christians to be reading Revelation.

Revelation, tellingly, is the only book in the Bible that explicitly promises a blessing to those who read it and take it in. However, one of the enemy’s great victories over us is that he has convinced Christians to stay away from this book. It’s “scary,” “impossible to understand,” and “unnecessary” to know as believers. Or at least that’s what people have come to believe. In fact, a faithful brother of mine recently told me that a pastor got fired immediately after preaching once on Revelation. Can you see Satan grinning from ear to ear?

Think about it. If you were Satan, would you want people knowing your future plans and knowing what to look out for? Would you want them to read about your imminent defeat and utter humiliation, being shackled by a common angel? Wouldn’t it worry you that your plans would be thwarted, and wouldn’t your pride be wounded when people read of your hopeless campaign against the Almighty God?

I don’t know about you, but if Satan doesn’t want us to read something, that’s a pretty clear indication that I should be reading it more. I encourage all of you to study it faithfully and receive the blessings promised upon your lives. Plus, many believe we are in the last days, so it might be more relevant than you think to your everyday Christian walk.

The end times is the topic of my next post, but I hope I’m leaving you with something to think about for now.

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