I remember when I was younger, I would daydream about my future husband. Of Course he had all these great qualities. As a teenager my first priority would be that he was good looking, but I wanted him to be smart too. And I wanted him to have a great personality and just enjoy my company. And to top it all off, I wanted him to be romantic. I wanted him to really show that he wanted me. I bet this sounds like most girls’ dream guy. Well, believe it or not, I met someone who possessed all these qualities…but it did not turn out the way I hoped.
As a matter of fact, you have met this person too. And I bet it didn’t turn out any better for you, even if you don’t realize who he is or that you have encountered him. I promise you have and he most certainly made a mess for you too.
Who is it, you ask? Satan. The Devil. Lucifer. The tempter. The serpent. No matter what name he goes by, it’s not good.
Just think about it… Have you really been trying hard to abide? To live in grace? To show God’s love? To do all the things you think you should do as a Christian? But no matter how hard you feel like YOU try, YOU just can’t do it. Well, don’t be too hard on yourself. First of all, we weren’t designed to do it all alone. God wants us to use his power. But second of all, you have an enemy out there, and he is doing his best to keep you from abiding. To keep you from grace. To keep you from God’s love. He wants you to fail miserably in your relationship with Christ because not only will that keep you from growing in Christ, it will probably prevent many others from growing as well.
I know many people don’t want to talk about the devil. They don’t want to take him seriously. And I can understand why. He’s nasty and he makes us uncomfortable and it’s just not easy to think about something – someone – that evil walking around this world with us. Well, whether we like it or not, he is here and he is working hard to make our job more difficult.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t have any hope. It doesn’t mean we can’t handle it. The more we know about the devil, the more prepared we will be for his games. We can be on the offense instead of trying to survive on the defense. It’s easy to get defeated in this everyday life when you are constantly listening to the devil, but if we know who he is – who he really is – and if we also know who God really is, then an earthly victory will be guaranteed.
And let’s not be fooled. Satan meets all the characteristics of a dream mate – on the surface, at least. I want to look at four of his “good” qualities and what that really means for us as Christians. The more we know, the better prepared we will be for this battle.
1) The devil is personal.
In the first chapter of Job, Satan has seemingly crashed a party with God and his angels. Of course God doesn’t seem bothered. Instead he starts bragging on Job. Do you see how great Job is? Do you see how he respects me and turns away from evil? God asks. (I love that God is bragging on Job here. It really gives us some motivation.) The devil argues that of course he is faithful to God because God has placed a hedge around him. Job has never had a reason to doubt God. Do you see what is going here? Satan is paying attention. He knows who Job is. He knows all about Job.
Guess what? He knows all about you too. He knows your weaknesses, your insecurities, your temptations, but don’t think he stops there. He know what you enjoy most, he knows what motivates you, he knows what encourages you. He knows it all and he will use even the good stuff against you. He is the worst sort of stalker. Not only has he watched you to the point of predicting your next move (worse than Google), but he is also whispering sweet little lies in your ear.
But guess who else is personal? God! And what he whispers in your ear is not a lie. It is the truth. The ultimate truth and he doesn’t just whisper in your ear. He will shout it from the mountain tops if that is what it takes to get you to listen. Hebrews tells us that His word is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit.” His words won’t tickle our ears and beat around the truth. No, his words cut straight to the heart and show us a life changing truth.
2) The devil is attractive.
He is not the grim reaper. He is not the red man with horns at halloween. He is not all these ugly things society tries to convince us he is. He is everything that looks good to us that God realizes is not. He is the new car we can’t really afford. He is the good looking co-worker paying us too much attention. He is the massive cinnamon roll that only Sugar N Spice can serve. He is the television show that is oh so good, but really no good at all.
I mean, think about it. Judas was one of the disciples. He stood next to Jesus. He listened to his teaching. He had to feel the Spirit radiating off of Jesus, yet the devil made thirty pieces of silver look really good. Who knows what lies the devil fed to Judas? Maybe something similar to what he told Adam and Eve in Garden? I mean, they were in such similar situations. And think about Adam and Eve… the Garden had to be beautiful. If our world is so amazing and it is touched by sin, just think of how breath-taking the Garden was. But the devil managed to make knowledge look more attractive than the beauties of the Garden of Eden.
But the beauty that the devil sells is temporary. The knowledge of good and evil only showed Adam and Eve just how bad they were and I doubt that Judas ever even got the chance to spend his 30 pieces of silver. But God not only gave us many beautiful things here on earth, He has prepared a place for us in Heaven. An eternal space that needs no sun because of the glory of God shining around. A space where the walls are made of precious stones. A space where the streets are made of gold. An unimaginable space. That is the kind of attractiveness, the kind of beauty God has waiting for us.
3) The devil is pursuing.
Some of the most famous scriptures about the devil show him as a predator. In John 10, he is called a thief out to steal, kill and destroy and in I Peter 5, he is a lion seeking someone to devour. He is not waiting for someone to casually bump into him so he can start trouble. No. He is out looking for it. Do you remember what it says in the first chapter of Job? God asks Satan where he has come from and Satan replies, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” What do you think he was doing there? Taking a Sunday stroll. Yeah, I doubt it. He was stealing, killing, destroying and devouring whoever he could get his hands on.
He hasn’t changed. He is still out on this earth going to and fro. Turn on the news and you will see evidence of that. And just so you know, the unbeliever is not who he is really after. He has them taken care of for the moment. He is after the believer. He cannot take your salvation, but he can interrupt your testimony. He can distract you from God’s work. And he will. He will do whatever it takes to get you off track, to keep you out of God’s will for your life. He is working hard at doing just that, so you have to be working just as hard to keep him from being successful.
But don’t worry. You have the champion on your side. In Romans 8, it tells us, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” And it goes on to say, “ In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” His power, alive inside of us, gives us the power to avoid and evade the devil. He may be after us, but remember James 4:7 says “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” He may be pursuing us, but God has given us a way out.
4) The devil is smart.
Think about when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. Satan was very intentional with what he offered Jesus. First, it was food, after Jesus had fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. Then, he tempted Jesus with a test of God’s protection: If you are really God’s son, he will protect you. And finally the devil tempts Jesus by offering Him all of what God has – sounds a little bit like what happened in the Garden – if only Jesus would worship Satan. While it is easy to write this off as, well, He is Jesus… Remember that Jesus was also human. I am sure he was starved. I bet he even wondered if God really loved him while he was stuck in that wilderness, even just a little bit. And he may have even thought, if I am God’s son and I have all this power, why am I here right now? I am sure he had moments of weakness. I mean if he didn’t, I don’t know if we can call him human. That is one of our defining characteristics, if you ask me.
And with that being said, he knows your weaknesses too and he will use that to tempt you. He knows how to twist lies to make them appear as truth. He knows how to tell you things that make you feel like trash, or just as bad, feel like God. Either way, he is smart enough to use pretty much anything against us.
I know it sounds hopeless, but remember I have told you, we work for the Champion and he has given us all we need to be successful, no matter how smart the devil is. Ephesians 6:11 tells us “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” He has given us the armor of truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the Spirit, and the Word so that we may be able to stand firm against the devil.
We just have to make sure we know how to use each one of those things, and it won’t come by accident. This is not riding a bicycle. We cannot pull our dusty armor out of the garage thinking we know what we are doing when the devil has been planning an attack for ages. Don’t get me wrong. God will help us. He doesn’t abandon us, but if we wait until the battle rages to start preparing, then we have missed the point. We have to put on the armor daily. We have to be prepared at all times. David tells us in Psalm 32, “Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him.” Does life ever feel like a rush of great waters? I know at times it does for me. And guess what, because the devil is smart and and pursuing and personal he knows those are the perfect times to come after us. If we are not prayed up, if we have not made it a habit of putting on the armor daily, then God will be much harder to find.
So beware, there is a mate out there looking for you, and at first glance, he is smart, attractive, and personable. But if you let him get too close, things will not turn out as you hoped. Instead they will be a wreck. The opposite of what we envisioned.
On the other hand, God is out there too and he is looking for a relationship with us as well. And with him, things will not turn out as we have hoped either. They will turn out much better…