So, how are we to defend ourselves from the strategy of Satan? What, if anything can we do? Well, I hope you noticed a big difference between the way that Eve responded to Satan and the way that Jesus responded to Satan. Eve failed to resist the Devil’s temptation, while Jesus obviously succeeded. Jesus succeeded because he understood that the best defense one can have for any lie is to simply know the truth. The best defense is simply to have an answer at hand to respond to each lie of Satan.
I’ve written previously about the reasonable existence and reality of the personal being that we, as Christians, call “Satan”. You can examine the philosophical and Biblical evidence for his existence in prior articles. But once we are confident that Satan exists, it would be wise to try to understand how he operates, since evil often targets humans. In order to understand how Satan operates as he tries to impact our lives, let’s begin by summarizing his nature, for it is out of his nature that he acts to corrupt and ruin the lives of God’s children. A good place to start, as we examine what the Bible says about Satan, is simply with his name. Two words are commonly used to describe this being. The first name given to this being is “Satan”:
“Satan” = “Satanas” (GREEK) = “Adversary”
That’s an interesting name to give this fallen angel. He is God’s adversary, his opponent. This simple title tells us much about the nature of Satan. As an adversary to God, Satan opposes God; he is God’s opposite, and we already know who and what God is. God is truth:
1 John 1:5-7
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
God is light and truth, Satan is darkness and deception. The ‘other’ name typically given to Satan makes this clear:
“Devil” = “Diabolos” (GREEK) = “Slanderer” or “False Accuser”
Satan’s names say it all. From these two words, we already understand the nature of the Devil. He is God’s adversary because he is the opposite of God. Satan is all about darkness, deception and slander:
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. 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.
According to this passage, the very nature of Satan is that of deceit. But look again at John 8:43-45. Did you notice that Satan is not only described as a liar, but also as a murderer? According to this passage, Satan is a murderer because he is a liar. He murders by lying. In essence, this means that it is our acceptance of Satan’s lies that causes us to die:
Accepting a Lie = Death
These two things are related. Interestingly, we also know from scripture that something else leads to death:
For the wages of sin is death
According to Paul (the author of Romans) it is sin that leads to death, and one way to describe sin is simply to understand it as a lie – told by Satan – that causes us to act against the nature and desires of God.
1 John 1:8-9
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
We sin when we accept a lie rather than the truth that God has given us in His Word. This is important reality for us to understand, because it illuminates the strategy that Satan employs when trying to cause us to sin. Let’s illustrate the relationship between accepting a lie and committing a sin with a few examples:
What is Adultery? It begins by believing the lie that sleeping with someone other than your wife is acceptable if it satisfies a need in your life or can be done without your spouse knowing. This sin is committed when we reject the truth that God has already given us about the nature of adultery.
What is Stealing? It begins by believing the lie that it is acceptable to take something that is not yours if your situation is bad enough or if the person who owns the property does not ‘deserve’ or ‘need’ it. This sin is committed when we reject the truth that God has already given us about the nature of theft.
What is Murder? It begins by believing the lie that it is acceptable to take the life of another if they have angered you enough or if you personally think they deserve it. This sin is committed when we reject the truth that God has already given us about the nature of murder.
Satan’s power is the power of deception. This is his tool. It is Satan’s goal to convince us that God’s Word is not as important as our fallen human nature and desire. As I’ve written elsewhere, all sin is motivated by one of three desires that Satan can pervert in an attempt to cause us to sin: financial gain, sexual lust, and the pursuit of power. Satan has attacked these three areas of desire from the very beginning.