OceanSide church of Christ
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SATAN: THE ENEMY OF THE SOUL
Victor M. Eskew
The most deadly enemy that mankind faces is Satan. He is described as being subtle (Gen. 3:1). He is described as a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). Peter refers to him as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (I Pet. 5:8).
Satan’s attacks against man started at the very dawn of time. Adam and Eve had been placed in a pristine garden. Its presence, however, was marred by the evil one who immediately began to tempt Eve to sin. Genesis 3 opens with a conversation that took place between the devil and the first woman. “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:1-5). Satan was forthright with his words. He was subtle as he turned the woman’s attention to the forbidden tree. Satan lied. Satan was a blasphemer who spoke against the words of God. Satan willingly made false promises to Eve. Sadly, Satan prevailed against the first couple. Devastating consequences came to Adam and Eve and to all men because they yielded to their enemy.
Later in the days of Patriarchy, we see Satan at work again in the life of a good man named Job. First, Satan took all of his earthly possessions including his ten children. Second, he afflicted the man of God with boils from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. Satan believed that no man would serve God for naught. He reasoned that if man were separated from God’s blessings that man would curse God. His attack was brutal. It caused extreme pain and deep grief of heart. Joy, peace, and, even life, meant nothing to Satan. He truly manifested himself as man’s evil adversary on this occasion.
During the earthly ministry of Jesus, Satan was at work with all his might. He began by enticing the wrath of Herod against the newborn King (Matt. 2:16). Satan struck again immediately following the Lord’s baptism. Matthew writes: “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil” (Matt. 4:1). Satan came against the Son of God with all the avenues of temptation: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. He was not fully aware of why Jesus had come to earth. He did not understand why deity had clothed Himself with flesh. However, he was intent on stopping the Christ. With Jesus being found in fashion as a man, Satan believed that he had a much better opportunity to destroy him.
Satan’s most desperate act against Jesus involved the cross of Calvary. He drove evil men to lie against the Son of God. He tempted spineless men to refuse to stand up for justice for Him. He influenced the Roman authorities to put an innocent man to death on a cruel tree. After a long night of mock trials and some six hours of writhing on that splintered tree, the Son of God was overcome by death. “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost” (Luke 23:46). At that moment, Satan had brought all of his forces against the Lamb of God. As He hung on the cross in death just outside the gates of the city of Jerusalem, it appeared that Satan was victorious. Jesus’ beaten and bloody body was evidence of the hatred that Satan has for all men.
Satan also worked against Jesus’ disciples. When Peter opposed Jesus’ words about His death and resurrection, Jesus rebuked him sharply with these words: “Get thee behind me Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matt. 16:23). Judas was another disciple that Satan influenced. John’s words about Judas are disturbing. “And supper being ended, the devil having now put in the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him” (John 13:2).
After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, the church was established. It grew by leaps and bounds. About three thousand were added to the church on Pentecost Day (Acts 2:41, 47). That church was united and extremely benevolent one to another. Her leaders were fearless as they stood before the Jewish authorities. Therefore, Satan was quick to get into the mix. When the proceeds of land sales were being given to the apostles, two disciples, a married couple, lied about the amount of money that they had actually received from the sale of their land. Peter attributed the actions of Ananias to the work of Satan in his heart. “But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? (Acts 5:3). Satan’s effort through this couple created one of the first disruptions to the unity of the church. Both Ananias and Sapphira died that day because of their lies.
All of these attacks upon man reveal many things to us about man’s archenemy. First, there is no man who is beyond the attacks of Satan. If Satan will do battle with the Christ, he will certainly come against us. Second, the devil uses all kinds of things to destroy man. Enticing trees, lies, false promises, power, money, and a host of other things are set before mankind to lead him into the pathway of death. Third, Satan has no feelings for his prey. He does not mind inflicting harm upon humans. Job’s boils and Jesus’ tattered body are clear evidence of this truth. Fourth, Satan does not care about the evil consequences that come to humans who submit to his will. Broken homes, failing health, lives filled with grief, physical death, and ultimate condemnation in hell are consequences that humans have received at the hand of Satan. These horrible ends will never deter him from his actions.
Satan is truly “the wicked one.” Over and over, he has displayed that he is man’s enemy. Man does not need to align himself with this foe. Instead, he needs to resist him with all his might. Fortunately, God has not left him without any protection from this adversary. Prayer, the Word of God, the Christian armor, a spiritual family, and the precious promises of God’s Word arm him against this evil opponent. My friend, make up your mind not to yield to this brutal being. Remember the words of Peter: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (I Pet. 5:8-9, emp. mine, vme).