The devil's greatest feat has been making most of the world believe that he doesn't exist. His second greatest feat has been making the rest of us terrified of him. I bought into both myths. I didn't believe he was real for close to twenty five years. And I got very scared of him — for all of a week. There was no real reason for it, but it helped me learn a few valuable lessons. I share them with you here.
Early last year a lay preacher of some repute visited me. Christianity was still very new to me and I eagerly soaked in everything that he said. As he left, he suggested I sprinkle holy water around my house every day.
"Why?" I asked. I had my house blessed by a priest less than two months before.
He said it was to keep it safe from the devil.
I frowned, not understanding. "What can the devil do to my house?"
"He can burn it down!" he thundered.
In moments, a burgeoning anxiety had turned into fear; I had not realized the devil was so powerful. I wasted no time in getting some water blessed and I began sprinking it all over my house each day, especially in the places where I thought the devil might be lurking!
Nearly a week went by before the Holy Spirit put an end to the fear driven routine. "What do you think you are doing?" he asked.
"Protecting my house," I replied. "Didn't you hear what that Preacher Man said? That the devil could burn my house down."
"And what will God do?" the Holy Spirit asked. "Stand to one side and let him do it?" He waited for a moment to let the question sink in before continuing. "The devil can't touch you as long as you are under God's protection. Remember that and don't be afraid. Ever."
That was the last time I have ever been afraid of Satan. True, he is dangerous, cunning and vile in a manner in which only Satan can be. He has harassed me beyond belief and I have little doubt he will continue to do so. But I have little fear of him; the truths I have learned make him about as scary as a witch in a badly written fairy tale.
These are the truths:
One: The devil is a vanquished foe.
He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it. (Colossians 2:15)
The "he" in this verse refers to Jesus; the "powers and authorities" that he disarmed refer to Satan and his cohorts. Not only did Jesus render them defenseless by his death and resurrection, he defeated them totally. He also made a show of his victory for our benefit so that we would realize that the enemy was finished forever! This is a fundamental truth which the devil is at pains to hide from us, because if we understand it, we will realize we don't have to fear the devil at all!
Two: The devil is a coward!
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
Satan is like a hyena (though in comparison the hyena is noble; he kills only to fill his stomach). Satan's most savage attacks come in times when we are weak and appear unable to defend ourselves. In moments when we are strong, he will come against us with a pack of his lackeys by his side like a schoolyard bully. In both cases, however, he will run away if you resist his attack. How can you fear a creature like this?
Three: We have the weapons to fight him!
Indeed, we live as human beings, but we do not wage war according to human standards;for the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments (2 Corinthians 10:3-4)
I have been cautioned numerous times against challenging Satan. I found the advice asinine. We are in a war against an opponent — a defeated opponent at that — who never stops attacking. The reason he keeps attacking is to frighten us into submission. The only way towards true liberation is by going on the offensive ourselves, attacking Satan wherever and whenever we can and exposing him for the vanquished enemy that he is. God has given us the weapons for it too, chief among which is his Word with which we can smash Satan's strongholds to smithereens!
Four: He cannot lay a finger on you without God's permission
"Then Satan answered the Lord, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not put a fence around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” The Lord said to Satan,“Very well, all that he has is in your power; only do not stretch out your hand against him!” (Job 1:9-12)
I believe that when Satan rebelled against God, he told his creator that he was far more powerful of the two. To prove it, he would make any further creation of God's subservient to him rather than to God himself. All he wanted was the freedom to do what he wanted, including putting fear into him. I imagine God accepted this challenge, laying down a few ground rules as he did so. One of them was that Satan could not harm a hair on the head of somebody faithful to God - without permission. The entire book of Job illustrates this.
The key to this, however — and every other statement made in this article about having no reason to fear the devil — is faithfulness to God. When the Holy Spirit told me that the devil couldn't touch me, he qualified the statement by telling me that this was effective as long as I was under God's protection. The only way that we can remain under God's protection is by being obedient to him. The instant we disobey God, we separate from him and bring ourselves under Satan's yoke. Satan is then free to do whatever he wishes with us, and if we ever wonder why there is sickness and so much misery in the world, this is why — because we step out of the umbrella of God's protection. But if we live a life that is pleasing to God, the devil is powerless to harm us.
Remember that and don't be afraid. Ever.
May the Spirit be with you.