2000-11-10 - The Great Defeated Deceiver
2 Corinthians 11:14, "And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light."
An Indiana "farmer" was the victim of a cruel prank when he believed that he received a phone call from the authorities, busting him for growing marijuana in his back yard. During the alleged conversation, the man was told that if he brought the plant, roots and all to the station, charges would not be pressed. Believing the call to be true, he cut down the eight-foot plant and carried it into the lobby of the Sheriff's office. He was then placed into custody by surprised officers, for suspected felony cultivation.
Obviously this man was the victim of a hoax that someone played on him. Someone fooled him by pretending to be an officer and getting him to incriminate himself. When I read this story, I reflected a bit on it and thought about how satan so easily deceives us. He deceived Achan in Joshua 7:21. "When I saw among the spoils, a beautiful mantle from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold fifty shekels in weight, then I coveted them and took them …."
The result of Achan's coveting? He paid with the lives of his sons, daughters, animals, and himself. Sounds harsh, and it is harsh, but sometimes we need to remember how serious a thing it is, in God's eyes, to fall into the trap and snare of the devil. The Old Testament, especially the historical sections, are great reminders to us of these things.
Remember even how satan tempted Christ in the fourth chapter of Luke, verses 1-13. The temptation was with outward objects. Food, kingdoms, and then satan turned the Bible upon Christ in the last desperate attempt to get Christ to yield to his temptations. Satan is the great deceiver, and it seems to me that the principal method of his tempting efforts is with things. Eve, in the garden, was tempted by a thing. Achan, as noted above, was tempted by things, and frankly examples could be multiplied forever.
But if things are not your area of struggle, remember that satan has many ways to tempt us. He tempted Joseph sexually with the wife of his boss, Genesis 39:7. Peter was once rebuked by Christ with "Get behind me, satan." (Matthew 16:23) Peter said the words that Christ rebuked, but Christ did not rebuke Peter; he rebuked satan. Peter, one of Christ's disciples even, had become, at that time, a tool of satan. Wow!!! That is a wake-up call, isn't it?
Satan also works by internal suggestion. 1 Chronicles 21:1 "And satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel." David did the deed, and yet satan gets the Biblical rebuke. In John 13:2, we read, "The devil put it into the heart of Judas to betray him." Again, satan is the great deceiver. We could really go on and on.
It is an amazing thought how little thought we give satan. I don't know what you do in your churches, but I will tell you what we do in mine. We sing about victory and about the love of Christ. I'm all for that. We pray about pressing needs in our congregation, and we thank the Lord for His grace and mercy to us. I am all for that. In my church, in the Presbyterian tradition, we hear preaching that is done lexically, which simply means we basically go through one book of the Bible at a time, verse by verse. I think that is a good system.
But what amazes me is that I hear so little of satan, and yet the Bible gives him a defeated, but menacing place in our lives. He is still active. He is our adversary. He is called "the god of this world," 2 Corinthians 4:4. And this is why we take up the shield of faith, Ephesians 6:16. "In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one."
Scripture says much about satan, and I wonder if one of the reasons we hear so little of him, and think so seldom of him, is for the very reason that he is the deceiver. I want to be the first to say that satan is defeated. But if Scripture be true, and I believe that it is, satan is living and active now on the earth. One day he will be cast down to where his proper home is, but for now, we must deal with his temptations and deceptions. It would be good for us to examine our hearts and our lives, in serious contemplation, and look for those areas where satan may have deceived us, and taken a foothold in our lives. And, of course, then we should seek to eliminate the front line that may have been established.
Soli Deo Gloria,