Recently I felt led to consider Bible truth from an unusual perspective. Far too often believers struggle in everyday life to truly believe, to rely on, the amazing things God has done for us through Christ. Of course, the devil makes it his business to seek to undermine, to fight against that knowledge, to keep us in a weak and ineffective place. However, the fact that the devil resists truth does not mean that he does not know that these things are true! In one sense, the devil’s “faith” is often actually stronger than ours! I believe he is terrified that we will truly come to a practical knowledge of what we have and who we are in Christ.
So, who are we talking about? The Bible, in many places, portrays a very real being known as Satan, or the devil, who is in rebellion against God and His Son. He was created together with many other powerful spirit beings to serve God. However, moved by pride and selfish ambition, he not only left his exalted place but led a great multitude of others in his rebellion.
In Luke 10:18, Jesus told His followers, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” In Isaiah 14, the prophet is inspired to look ahead, not only to the great kingdom of Babylon, but to its fall. In verses 12-14, he is enabled to look, not just to the visible earthly kingdom, but to the real power that lay behind that kingdom. Remember the words of Paul in Eph. 6:12 where he wrote, “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.”
Through Isaiah’s prophecy, we gain a glimpse into Satan’s motivation in pursuing dominion over mankind. We see words like, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; … I will make myself like the Most High.” Surely, in doing what he did, he deceived himself into thinking he could actually succeed. And he deceived many others into following and submitting to him, forming the kingdom Paul describes, the real power behind the nations that rule among men.
Thus, we see him described as the “god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4), “the ruler of the kingdom of the air” (Eph. 2:2), “the prince of this world” (John 16:11). In Matt. 4:8-9, during the wilderness temptation of Jesus, we see the devil taking Jesus to a very high mountain, showing Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor, then offering them to Jesus in return for worship. Jesus did not dispute his claim over the kingdoms of the world but was steadfast in worshipping only God.
And yet, despite Satan’s self-deceived rebellion, it surely became quickly evident that God wasn’t through with man. Beginning with Adam and Eve after the fall and continuing throughout the Old Testament era he watched, and struggled against, a merciful God Who reached out to fallen man. Time and again, Satan did everything in his power to unite humanity under his rule only to see God intervene.
One clear example was his attempt to unite all mankind in building the tower of Babel. But God, knowing the evil that would result from Satan’s plans, and having His own plan and purpose, intervened, confusing their languages so people groups were unable to understand one another. The result was that they were scattered, and Satan’s plans frustrated. I’m sure glad that God is in charge!
I imagine that even at this point Satan still thought he could succeed one way or another, but he was beginning to learn the many things he came to “know.” One of them was that —
God Judges Sin
After the fall of Adam and Eve and their expulsion from the garden we see, over time, a pattern develop. It is simply this: God continues to reach out, preserving a remnant of true believers; the rest of a given population reaches a point-of-no-return where hearts are so given over to sin and darkness that they are incapable of responding to His outreach. By the time of the flood in Noah’s day I am sure that the devil was enjoying himself, ruling over the overwhelming majority of mankind who had become willingly deaf to God’s loving voice.
But there came the day when God rescued His remnant and everyone left behind died in the flood. All of Satan’s efforts to build his kingdom died with them. By the way, isn’t that how Jesus said it would be when He returned? Luke 17:26-27. Of course, then it will be fire and not water as Peter reminds us in 2 Peter 3:6-7.
We see the lesson driven home again in a dramatic way in God’s judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah. Gen. 19. Again, Jesus likens His coming to what happened then. Luke 17:28-29.
Over and over, Satan had to watch as God intervened in his efforts to build cities, nations, and empires devoted to his evil ways. He learned, the hard way, that God does not stand by forever; He does indeed judge sin. And, as he observed God in action, he began to truly know that —
God Has a Plan
It wasn’t just that Satan experienced God’s interference with the things he sought to do among mankind, he also, over many centuries, listened to the voices of God’s prophets who foretold many wonderful things to come. Of course, God, in His infinite wisdom, hid His plans and purposes even from someone as smart as the devil! In fact, even the prophets themselves didn’t understand the things they were inspired to prophesy. 1 Peter 1:10-12, Daniel 12:8-9.
By the way, that fact ought to caution those who believe they can understand God’s plans merely by studying the Old Testament. For one thing, the Bible is one book that no one can understand without the Author! For another, the New Testament IS the fulfillment of the types, shadows, and prophecies of the Old. Jesus came to establish an everlasting kingdom through an eternal covenant. See Heb. 10:1-18. All was concealed until it was “finished” at the cross!
Read Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 2:6-10. He makes it plain that, not only was God’s wisdom hidden from men, the devil himself would not have crucified the “Lord of glory” had he understood. Up until this time the devil knew that God judged sin and that He had a plan; he just didn’t understand it. Thank God!
He Knows Who Jesus Is
And yet, even before the cross, the devil and his demons certainly knew who Jesus was. After He was born, sometime before He turned two, Satan inspired King Herod to kill all the children under two years of age in Bethlehem, hoping to eliminate Jesus and hinder whatever God was planning. Of course, the Lord had warned Joseph and Mary who fled to Egypt for a time.
It is obvious that Satan knew who Jesus was during the wilderness temptation. The fact that Jesus had become human, humbling Himself to being born as a little baby, submitting to flawed human parents, and growing up to be, for a time, a carpenter, did not hide WHO He really was. Satan knew. And His temptations demonstrate his knowledge.
He Knows Scripture
And Satan no doubt knows the Bible better than we do. When Jesus answered the first recorded temptation with a quote from scripture, he immediately quoted scripture right back to Jesus. Matt. 4:5-6. Of course, he twisted its meaning and purpose, something we who follow Jesus need to be aware of. We truly need a humble heart and a relationship with the Author to rightly understand His Word. I’m glad He is faithful!
Beware of those, for example, who turn the loving instructions of the Lord into “laws.” Satan’s purpose in such tactics is to cause us to suppose that our acceptance by God depends on our own efforts to keep His “laws.” But that is not how salvation works! It is true that God instructs us in godly living, but His salvation is about a new heart and a new spirit that enables us to live a new life. It is about Christ in us the hope of glory! Thus, every “command” is really a “promise” to help us to be the person He has purposed us to be!
He Knows His Destiny
Even before the victory of the cross we see evidence that the devil and his followers knew their destiny. They fought as hard as they could to prevent it, but they knew! In Matt. 8:29 we see demons crying out, “’What do you want with us, Son of God?’ they shouted. ‘Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?’” Somehow, they knew their destiny, that there was an “appointed time” when they would be judged by God.
Jude 6 refers to this truth in these words: “… the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.” No matter what God, for His purposes, allows in this present age, there is an end. And the devil knows it.
He Knows He Was Defeated at the Cross
Before the cross, Satan saw what he believed to be an opportunity to finally “win” in his war against God. But it wasn’t long before he realized that, in his ignorance, he had been utterly defeated – forever! And so many scriptures make that plain as it is at the heart of the message of the gospel!
Jesus declared it even before He went to the cross. In John 12:31 He said, “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.” I wonder if any demons were close enough to hear His words! Thank God, they were powerless to prevent them from coming true!
Paul wrote clearly about this in Col. 2:9-10 where he said, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.” He enlarges on that “fullness” in the following verses including the forgiveness of our sins. Then in verse 15 he adds, “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
People in the first century understood what he meant by a “public spectacle.” When a nation, such as Rome, conquered its enemies, it often made that victory clear to its citizens by a public celebration in which the defeated king and his generals were paraded like chained slaves before all the people. They didn’t just hear about the victory; they saw their defeated foes, humiliated before their very eyes. There was no doubt. And God desires that everyone He calls to the kingdom should be able, with the eyes of their hearts, to see that “parade,” and celebrate the victory that Christ won.
In Eph. 1 Paul shares his deep desire that his readers understand the greatness of God’s power available to believers. In verses 19-21 he writes, “That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”
Satan is well aware of the victory that was won at the cross and all that followed. The moment Christ rose from that sealed tomb, and then when He ascended back to heaven, the devil knew that he had not only lost the battle but that he had lost the war! I’m not sure what Satan thought when he heard Jesus say, “It is finished” but it became very clear as God’s eternal plan unfolded!
He Knows About the Blood
In Rev. 12 we see this victory pictured. The devil is portrayed as a great dragon who leads the whole world astray. But we see a war in heaven and the dragon and his followers being defeated and cast to the earth. The result was a great proclamation:
Rev 12:10-11 – “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”
Satan is well aware of the significance of the blood our Savior shed upon the cross. He is well aware that when people turn to the Savior in heart repentance and faith, that blood cleanses from ALL sin! Hallelujah! We finally have an answer that he cannot overcome! He makes every effort to distract us from that truth, trying to get us to focus on our weaknesses and failures but He knows the power of the blood! What are you relying on?
Many of us remember what happened one time when Bro. Thomas was dealing with a demon-possessed person. He felt led to press the demon to confess what he feared most. That demon fought and resisted – but finally had to admit that what he feared most was the cross and the blood that was shed there. They know! Do we? Shouldn’t we lift our eyes from our need to God’s perfect provision?
He Knows that Christ Rules
We referred above to the words of Paul who spoke of Christ, seated at the right hand of God, far above all other authority. Even before He ascended to that throne, He had told His disciples that, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Matt. 28:18. Based on that authority, they were to “make disciples of all nations.”
The great prophecies of the Old Testament were being fulfilled and Satan quickly began to realize his defeat. Think of the words of the prophet Isaiah recorded in Isa. 9:6-7 — “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.” Many other scriptures echo these words, such as Psalm 2, and Daniel 2:44.
1 Cor. 15 is devoted to the truth about the resurrection, not just of Christ Himself, but also of every believer who dies prior to His return. Paul speaks of the end of the age, but also of the reign of Christ that leads up to it in verses 24-27: “Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he ‘has put everything under his feet.’” How the devil must hate and fear that truth! But he knows it is true. He also knows that —
Christ Will Build His Church
After Christ’s ascension to the throne, I have no doubt that Satan remembered the words of Jesus to His disciples recorded in Matt. 16:18 where He said, “… I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” What a wonderful promise! The “gates of Hades” represent every sort of spiritual stronghold that Satan has built to imprison lost men and women, to blind their minds to the light of God’s truth, to chain them in darkness. But Satan cannot build a prison strong enough to keep Christ out, to prevent Him from rescuing every last one who will be part of the eternal kingdom He is building! He is well able to save the “worst of the worst”!
And remember His wonderful words in John 6:37 — “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” “All” is such a powerful word! Not one will be overlooked, forgotten. All will come and be received. Remember: “The Lord knows them that are his.” 2 Tim. 2:19.
Of course, not everything that is called “church” is Christ’s church. The world is full of “religion” that uses Christ’s name but has no real connection to Him or to God’s will and purpose. BUT, despite all of Satan’s efforts to hinder, God has a people in the earth. They come from every tribe and tongue and nation. They are “called” to the kingdom as God reveals in their hearts the light of the gospel and they surrender and believe.
Think of Paul’s testimony. What an unlikely candidate, one who zealously persecuted the followers of the One he regarded as a dangerous false prophet. He writes in 2 Cor. 4:6 — “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” And that’s how it works. And Satan cannot prevent it. And he knows it.
He Knows Who We Are
We see one example of this in Acts 19. In the process of the gospel being proclaimed in new territory, God bore witness to it by empowering Paul to perform many notable miracles, including casting out demons. Some Jews took note of this and began to try to cast out demons “in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Verse 13. Of course, spiritual power does not come from “magic words” or “formulas.”
One day they tried this and the demon in the man said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” Acts 19:15. It wasn’t long before seven men ran out of the house naked and bleeding from the beating they received from one demon-empowered man!
But the point remains: although “magic words” didn’t work, the demon knew who Paul was! I believe that demons recognize every true born-again believer, not because they are “special” in themselves but because Christ is in them. They have been born of an imperishable seed (1 Peter 1:23), sealed by the Spirit (Eph. 1:13), made a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). Demons knew who Jesus was when He lived among men; they still know Him when He lives in His own!
1 John 4:4 reminds us that, “… the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” And Satan knows it! He’s terrified that we will more fully realize it!
He also knows where we “sit.” We noted that in Eph. 1:21-22, Paul highlights the truth that Christ is “seated” at God’s “right hand” in the “heavenly realms,” far above every other power and authority. He begins chapter 2 by describing the true state of everyone before they are brought to faith in Christ. Essentially, we were all living under the power of Satan, sin, and death with no hope.
Then, in Eph. 2:4-8, Paul continues with these wonderful words: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
Think of the significance of those words! Where are we? “Seated with him in the heavenly realms”! How easy is it for us to “feel” like we are in a low place, down in the depths, weak, harassed by the devil. We see the devil as “above” us somehow. And yet God has “seated” us together with Christ. Where? In the heavenly realms! It often does not “feel” that way, but the devil knows it is true. He is not “above us” but rather attacking and harassing from below. In Christ, we are the ones in the position of strength. We hold the high ground. May God give us the grace to walk in that truth and learn to “stand our ground.” Eph. 6:13. God gave it to us in Christ! It is ours! And the devil knows it.
Satan Knows Our Destiny
Satan is well aware of all of the great promises in scripture regarding our destiny. He knows that this present age will end with judgment for him and all who follow him. But he is also well aware of God’s stated purpose, quoted above, to show the incomparable riches of his grace to us “in the coming ages.” And God is both willing and able to get us — every one of us — there safely regardless of what He may allow in this present age.
Despite all of his efforts to distract us from the truth Paul expresses in Phil. 1:6, the devil knows it is true. Paul writes, “… being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Are we as confident of that as the devil is?
And how Satan must cringe when he is reminded of the great truths recorded in the last part of Romans, chapter 8! Verse 28 reminds us that no matter what God allows, He works it all together for good to those He has called. That calling is for the purpose of making us like His Son. Then in verse 30 Paul writes, “And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” And each of those “steps” to the fulfillment of God’s purpose is in the “past tense.” In God’s mind and heart, they have already happened! That’s a powerful truth to reckon on!
And then in the following verses we see many of the things the devil uses to try to “separate” us from the love of Christ. In the end Paul writes, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 8:38-39.
Don’t forget: Satan can read! He knows it is true. He just tries his best to distract our minds from God’s promises, to keep us from actually believing and relying upon them.
And what wonderful words Paul writes to Timothy in 2 Tim. 1:9-10 — “He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
And all that God revealed to Paul’s heart caused him to declare in verse 12, “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.” Satan will surely go down fighting, but go down he will!
He Knows His Time is Short
After the declaration of victory recorded in the first part of Rev. 12, we read these words in verse 12, “Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” Prior to the cross the Bible records about 4000 years of earth’s history. During those years the devil worked tirelessly attempting to achieve his dream.
There have been about 2000 years since the cross. That seems like a long time to us but from the devil’s point of view it has been “short.” And, to top it off, he has been restrained from so uniting his followers as to prevent the world-wide proclamation of the gospel. And think about it: if Satan regarded his time of opportunity to be “short” in the first century, what does he think now?! Only God knows how long we have but every day is one day closer to that great day. And Satan knows it.
One particular image from Rev. 12 that follows the verse cited above is worth noting: the dragon “spewed” out of his mouth “water like a great river.” Note where that “water” came from: his mouth. What is Satan’s greatest weapon against God’s truth? Is it not deception? In John 8:44 we see these words of Jesus regarding the devil: “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 pattern of history is repeating: God is calling out His own; the rest are hardening their hearts and listening to the devil’s lies until there will be no more capacity for truth. Judgment will follow. Anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear is able to recognize what is happening in our world as I write. Every form of deception the devil can imagine is being spread by every means available to anyone that will receive it.
And we have never seen our world so “connected” as it is in our day. Young people today cannot imagine a world many of us remember well, a world without the internet, without cell phones. I’m glad that the devil is not the only one using these tools of communication! The Lord is faithfully calling and reaching His own, the ones He has foreknown from before the foundation of the world.
As never before, the whole world is in “the valley of decision” (Joel 3:14). Before Christ comes, every heart will be sealed one way or the other. No one will be undecided, “on the fence.” As Paul wrote in 2 Cor. 6:2, “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” When He comes, whose side will you be on?
For believers, never forget that God continues to carry out His plan. The devil is very aware of that fact, but he doesn’t know the details as they unfold. Neither do we! It follows that our need is to stay “awake,” “ready,” spiritually connected, “tuned in.” The Lord wants us to be an actual part of the outworking of His purposes and not mere spectators. We are not called to “hide in a cave” until Jesus comes. He is more than willing to lead us, step by step until that wonderful day.
I remember a vision that the Lord gave in our midst many years ago. A group of people were observed climbing a trail up a dark mountain. There was light on the path just ahead of them. At times they came to the end of that light with only darkness ahead. At that point they stopped and prayed until more light came and then went on. What a wonderful picture of what God seeks from us!
We don’t need to preserve “tradition,” nor do we need clever human ideas. We just need Jesus to lead us as He has faithfully promised to do. As He told his disciples, “… surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt. 28:20. The devil is well aware of that promise, and all the others. May we more perfectly walk in their light as the age comes to a conclusion in God’s perfect time.Return to Midnight Cry Messenger