THE MIGHT OF SATAN
‘Simon, Simon, behold, Satan asked to have you, that he might sift you as wheat: but I made supplication for thee, that thy faith fail not.’ — Luke 22:31,32
There is nothing that makes an enemy so dangerous as the fact that he remains hidden or forgotten. Of the three great enemies of the Christian, the world, the flesh, and the devil, the last is the most dangerous, not only because it is he that, strictly speaking, lends to the others what power they have, but also because he is not seen, and, therefore, little known or feared. The devil has the power of darkness: he darkens the eyes, so that men do not know him. He surrounds himself with darkness, so that he is not observed. Yea, he has even the power to appear as an angel of light. (Matthew 4:6; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 11:14) It is by the faith that recognizes things unseen that the Christian is to endeavour to know Satan, even as the Scripture has revealed him.
6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. KJV
2 Corinthians 4:4
4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. KJV
2 Corinthians 11:14
14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. KJV
When the Lord Jesus was living upon earth, His great work was to overcome Satan. When at His baptism He was filled with the Spirit, this fulness of the Spirit brought him into contact with Satan as head of the world of evil spirits, to combat him and to overcome him. (Matthew 4:1,10) After that time the eyes of the Lord were always open to the power and working of Satan. In all sin and misery He saw the revelation of the mighty kingdom of the very same superior, the evil one. Not only in the demoniacs, but also in the sick, He saw the enemy of God and man. (Matthew 12:28; Mark 4:15; Luke 13:16; Acts 10:38) In the advice of Peter to avoid the cross, and in his denial of his Lord, where we should think of the revelation of the natural character of Peter, Jesus saw the work of Satan. (Matthew 26:23; Luke 22:31,32) In His own suffering, where we rather speak of the sin of man and the permission of God, Jesus perceives the power of darkness. His whole work in living and in dying was to destroy the works of Satan, as He shall also at His second coming utterly bruise Satan himself. (Luke 10:18; 22:3,53; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Romans 16:20; Colossians 2:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:8,9; 1 John 3:8)
Matthew 4:14:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. KJV
10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. KJV
28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. KJV
15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. KJV
16 And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day? KJV
38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. KJV
23 And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. KJV
31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:
32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. KJV
18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. KJV
3 Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.
53 When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness. KJV
31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. KJV
11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. KJV
20 And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. KJV
15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. KJV
2 Thessalonians 2:8
8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: KJV
2 Thessalonians 2:9
9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, KJV
1 John 3:8
8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. KJV
His word to Peter, compared with the personal experience of the Lord, gives us a fearful insight into the work of the enemy. ‘Satan hath eagerly desired you,’ says Jesus. ‘As a roaring lion, he walketh about, seeking whom he may devour,’ says Peter himself later on. (1 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Corinthians 2:10; 1 Peter 5:8) He has no unlimited power, but he is always eager to make use of every weak or unguarded moment. ‘That he might sift you as wheat:’ what a picture! This world, yea, even the Church of Christ, is the threshing-floor of Satan. The corn belongs to God; the chaff is his own. He sifts and sifts continually, and all that falls through with the chaff he endeavours to take for himself. And many a Christian is there who does fall through in a terrible fashion, and who, were it not for the intercession of his Lord, would perish for ever. (1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Timothy 1:20)
1 Corinthians 7:5
5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. KJV
2 Corinthians 2:10
10 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; KJV
1 Peter 5:8
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: KJV
1 Corinthians 5:5
5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. KJV
1 Timothy 1:20
20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme. KJV
Satan has more than one sieve. The first is generally wordly-mindedness — the love of the world. Many a one is pious in his time of poverty, but when he becomes rich, he again eagerly strives to win the world. Or in the time of conversion and awakening he appears very zealous, but through the care of the world he is led astray. (Matthew 4:9; 8:22; 1 Timothy 6:9,10; 2 Timothy 4:10)
9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. KJV
22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead. KJV
1 Timothy 6:9-10
9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. KJV
2 Timothy 4:10
10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. KJV
A second sieve is self-love and self-seeking. Whenever any one does not give himself undividedly to serve his Lord and his neighbour, and to love his neighbour in the Lord, it soon appears that the principal token of a disciple is lacking in him. It will be manifest that many a one, with a fair profession of being devoted to the service of God, fails utterly on this point, and must be reckoned with the chaff. Lovelessness is the sure token of the power of Satan. (John 8:44; 1 John 3:10,15; 4:20)
44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. KJV
1 John 3:10
10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. KJV
1 John 3:15
15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. KJV
1 John 4:20
20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? KJV
Yet another sieve, a very dangerous one, is self-confidence. Under the name of following the Spirit, one may listen to the thoughts of his own heart. He is zealous for the Lord, but with a carnal zeal, in which the gentleness of the Lamb of God is not seen. Without being observed, the movements of the flesh mingle with the workings of the Spirit, and while he boasts that he is overcoming Satan, he is being secretly ensnared by him. (Galatians 3:3; 5:13)
3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? KJV
13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. KJV
O it is a serious life here upon the earth, where God gives permission for Satan to set his threshing floor even in the Church. Happy are they who with deep humility, with fear and trembling, distrust themselves. Our only security is in the intercession and guidance of Him who overcame Satan. (Ephesians 6:10,12,16) Far be from us the idea that we know all the depths of Satan, and are a match for all his cunning stratagems. It is in the region of the spirit, in the invisible, that he works and has power, as well as in the visible. Let us fear lest, while we have known and overcome him in the visible, he should prevail over us in the spiritual. May our only security be the conviction of our frailty and weakness, our confidence in Him who certainly keeps the lowly in heart.
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. KJV
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. KJV
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. KJV
Lord Jesus, open our eyes to know our enemy and his wiles. Cause us to see him and his realm, that we may dread all that is of him. And open our eyes to see how Thou hast overcome him, and how in Thee we are invincible. O teach us what it is to be in Thee, to mortify all that is of the mere Ego and the will of the flesh, and to be strong in weakness and lowliness. And teach us to bring into prayer the conflict of faith against every stronghold of Satan, because we know that Thou wilt bruise him under our feet. Amen.
1. What comfort does the knowledge of the existence of Satan give us? We know then that sin is derived from a foreign power which has thrust itself into our nature, and does not naturally belong to us. We know besides that he has been entirely vanquished by the Lord Jesus, and thus has no power over us so long as we abide trustfully in Christ.
2. The whole of this world, with all that is in it, is under the domination of Satan: therefore there is nothing, even what appears good and fair, that may not be dangerous for us. In all things, even in what is lawful and right, we must be led and sanctified by the Spirit, if we would continue liberated from the power of Satan.
3. Satan is an evil spirit: only by the good Spirit, the Spirit of God, can we offer resistance to him. He works in the invisible: in order to combat him, we have, by prayer, to enter into the invisible. He is a mighty prince: only in the name of One who is mightier and in fellowship with Him can we overcome.
4. What a glorious work is labour for souls, for the lost, for drunkards, for heathen; a conflict to rescue them from the might of Satan. (Acts 26:18)
5. In the Revelation the victory over Satan is ascribed to the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 12:11) Christians have also testified that there is no power in temptation, because Satan readily retreats when one appeals to the blood, by which one knows that sin has been entirely expiated, and we are thus also wholly freed from his power.
New Life, Rev. Andrew Murray
18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. KJV
11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. KJV