by Mike Ratliff
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” (Zechariah 3:1-2 ESV)
About a week ago or so a fellow writer for CRN gave me access to a preview of the video of Bill Clinton speaking at the Liberal Baptist conference in Atlanta. When I first watched it I had to stop. I just couldn’t take his deceptive handling of his version of Christianity. I made a comment along those lines and my friend wrote back that I should watch it all. Why? It is imperative to know the enemy and how he works. To have an enemy implies that there is a conflict of some kind. Is there a war going on between God and His forces on one side and Satan and his forces on the other?
First let us take a look at Satan, our enemy. Who is he? Should we fear him? Satan is not God nor is equal with God in any way for he was created.
You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you. (Ezekiel 28:13,15 ESV)
God created him as the model of perfection, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
“Son of man, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord GOD: “You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. (Ezekiel 28:12 ESV)
He was in the garden of Eden and every precious stone adorned him.
You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. (Ezekiel 28:13 ESV)
He was anointed and ordained by God as a guardian cherub who was blameless in his ways.
You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you. (Ezekiel 28:14-15 ESV)
That described Satan before his fall. However, something went terribly wrong. His heart became proud on account of his beauty, and he corrupted his wisdom because of his splendor.
Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you. (Ezekiel 28:17 ESV)
He became filled with violence.
In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. (Ezekiel 28:16 ESV)
He led many of the angels in a war against God and his angels.
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world–he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Revelation 12:7-9 ESV)
He tried to take God’s place.
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit. (Isaiah 14:12-15 ESV)
Satan sinned. He is therefore credited with sinning since the beginning.
Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8 ESV)
Because of his actions, he was a murderer from the beginning.
You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44 ESV)
According to Jude 6 he abandoned his home in heaven. He was driven in disgrace from the mount of God and expelled (Ezekiel 28:16). He lost his place in heaven (Revelation 12:8), was thrown or hurled from heaven (Ezekiel 28:16; Revelation 12:9-12), fell like lightning from heaven to the earth (Isaiah 14:12; Luke 10:18), and was made a spectacle before kings (Ezekiel 28:17).
That is how Satan came to be where he is now and explains why he is the way he is. What is he up to now? He is kept in darkness and is bound with everlasting chains.
And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day– (Jude 1:6 ESV)
He is filled with fury, because he knows his time is short (Revelation 12:12). Not only does he have power (Acts 10:38), but he is the power of this dark world and is the spiritual force of evil in the heavenly realm (Ephesians 6:12). The whole world is under his control (1 John 5:19), and he leads it astray (Revelation 12:9). He roams the earth (Job 1:7; Job 2:2), and prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Needless to say, he is earthly and unspiritual (James 3:15).
Not only is Satan our enemy (1 Peter 5:8), but he is also an enemy of everything that is right (Acts 13:10). He can present himself before the Lord and make petition against us (Job 1:6-12; Job 2:1-7). Satan asks God for permission to “sift” us (Luke 22:31), and he accuses us day and night before God (Zechariah 3:1; Revelation 12:10). He lies and slanders; in fact, there is no truth in him (John 8:44; Revelation 2:9).
The devil twists the scriptures for his purposes and perverts the right ways of the Lord (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:2-13; Acts 13:10). He is cunning and deceives (2 Corinthians 11:3). He schemes and tries to outwit us (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:11), and is full of all kinds of deceit and trickery (Acts 13:10). He takes the Word away from hearts (Luke 8:12), and blinds the minds of unbelievers (2 Corinthians 4:4). He traps and takes captive (2 Timothy 2:26), binds (Luke 13:16), incites (1 Chronicles 21:1) and, in general, is a stumbling block (Matthew 16:23). He can fill one’s heart (Acts 5:3) and lead minds astray from Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3).
Satan masquerades as an angel of light, and his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). He is at work in those who are disobedient (Ephesians 2:2). He sows “weeds” (Matthew 13:38-39), and can work through anyone (Matthew 16:23; Mark 8:33). He can even display counterfeit miracles, signs, and wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9).
No one is immune to Satan’s temptations; he even tempted Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:2-13). But Satan could not prevail; he had no hold on Christ (John 14:30)!
Satan will put some Christians in prison to test them (Revelation 2:10), and he holds the power of death (Hebrews 2:14). But Christians are not powerless against him. The Bible tells us that faith extinguishes his flaming arrows (Ephesians 6:16), and if resisted, Satan will flee (James 4:7). He has been overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the testimony of Christian martyrs (Revelation 2:11). Christians have overcome him (1 John 2:13)!
Now, with all of that in mind, could we agree that there is a war still going on between God and His Kingdom on one side and our enemy Satan and his powers on the other? Yes, and it is very real. The more I get involved in this struggle the more it has become apparent to me that our enemy can and does use other professing Christians against us. They may very well believe they are not serving him but God, however, their actions reveal that they are deceived. I have learned in a very painful way to discern that I am dealing with one of these. There will always be a few characteristics that give them away. Remember, our enemy’s “people” operate as he does. How is that? It is through lies and deceit. He is the devil and that means he is a slanderer. He twists the truth in order to build doubt in the heart. This is what we must look for in those who come to us as angels of light, but inwardly are nothing more than Satan’s pawns.
They will often have a very convincing appearance of godliness. They use the right words and know a lot of Biblical jargon. However, when those points of contention come to bear such as The Gospel, Justification, Sanctification, the Nature of God, the Nature of a genuine Christian, Doctrine, humility, pride, spiritual warfare, etc. you will find at least one hot button in there where their true nature will be revealed. This can be one of myriads of things, but if we pray for discernment and wisdom, we will be able to spot them. One very telling thing I have found that differentiates these “folks” is the mention of “compromise” and “unity” and “experience” and “Biblical doctrine.” Their reaction to these things are very telling. Also, these people tend to be “universalists” to some degree. If the discussion leads to Spiritual warfare or Spiritual maturity, if they are a pawn of the Devil, they will respond with scorn against the need for either.
They will accuse all who are certain as being prideful. If these who are certain refuse to compromise then they are accused of being so prideful that they must be Satan himself. The cry is unity, unity, unity, at all costs! Compromise, compromise, compromise! To them the truly humble are compromisers who are totally uncertain about anything.
For those reading this who were upset by those last two paragraphs I have some reading for you to do. Start at Ephesians 6:10 and read through 6:20. If we weren’t supposed to stand and not give in to the lies of the enemy then why did Paul give us this passage? To stand means we are standing on something substantial. That is the truth of which we are certain. Our example on how to stand is found in Matthew 4.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. (Matthew 4:1-11 ESV)
This is why we must become totally immersed in the Word of God. We must know it. We must always be in prayer with a constant God focus. When we do this much of what calls itself the Church will hate us because we will not be all about unity at all costs, but will be all about the truth and God’s glory. This does not make anyone popular. John MacArthur has said that it is impossible for men to be obedient to God and be popular with the majority. He is right.
To those called to his level of discernment, the way is rugged. It can be confusing and treacherous. Our enemy is a wordsmith and is a deceiver at heart. He knows how to create chaos in our lives to the point that we become disoriented at times. At these times the words of whoever is being used by Satan to attack us will cut like a surgeon’s scalpel. We will believe that our entire being is being exposed in a way to cause us shame. What we hold as right will be twisted in our presence by our enemy to be made to resemble the worst evil and what we know to be evil will appear to be the greatest good. This is why we must NEVER respond to these things emotionally nor from any fleshly position. We must pray and respond with the Word of God for it is the only weapon we have that will make our enemy flee as we resist Him.
As we deal with these people we must also beware of a backlash of “guilt” that we are made to feel because we were “so harsh.” We must be careful here. This is the time to get to a quiet place to pour out our hearts to God. We must repent of what He shows us, but also praise Him and thank Him for helping us stand and not fall. When we do this, more than likely, we will find that those feeling of “guilt” were more fiery darts from our foe as he fled. Never be above asking for forgiveness of these fellows, but do not be surprised when they respond with Satan’s vileness.
God knows that we are fragile creatures who are subject to great emotional stress. He knows that we cannot remain in the front lines indefinitely without some relief. What we must be wary of, however, is to not become complacent during the quieter times. I have found that being in unrelenting battles can wear upon me. I become weary. However, there are times that that is the very moment when the most deceiving of our enemy’s pawns will appear like an angel of light. We must seek the Lord’s face here and plead for help because it is when we are weary that we can make huge mistakes by reacting emotionally in the flesh. This only creates fruitless arguing and hurt feelings that will eventually lead to a very long time on our knees confessing all of this to God, seeking forgiveness, strength, wisdom, and discernment.
Is there a war going on between God and His Kingdom on one side and Satan and his forces on the other? Yes! Sadly, most believers interpret the warnings in God’s Word about this war as it only being Satan trying to tempt Christians to sin. That is only a small part of this war. Satan also attacks the Church. He attacks the Gospel. He attacks the leadership of the Church. Not every Christian is equipped to fight this battle because most are not very mature and are enslaved to their flesh. These are no threat to Satan so they are not attacked. However, those who are maturing and are equipped with God’s armor are a huge threat to our enemy and his kingdom. Therefore, he attacks them. We must do as Paul instructs in Ephesians 6:10-20. We must take up the armor of God and put it on and use it as we bathe our lives in prayer and immerse ourselves in God’s Word. Then when the fiery darts come we will be ready.