Summary: God's word shows us that Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. Satan is our enemy. We know him only too well. Who we need desparately to know is Jesus, so that we can deal with the devil and have victory over him and his lies.
Many of you spoke with me last week about how important it is to know more about our enemy, the devil. There is a need to know our enemy, as Heath Smith reminded me, and it is clear from scripture as Jesus tells us, "We need to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves." (Matt. 10:16) Paul also says, "We are not ignorant of the devil's schemes." (2 Cor. 2:11)
When I think of studying about Satan, I'm reminded of the comment made by an elderly lady in church one time: She said, "I wish they wouldn't talk about the ten commandments, it puts too many ideas in young people's minds."
I don't want to put too many ideas of Satan into your minds, but I do want to put what God's word would tell us. Let me explain: There is no stand alone study of Satan in the Bible as there is of God and Jesus. There are only brief mentions of him here and there in context with what God is doing. That is the way the Bible presents the information about the devil and that is the way I will attempt to preach about him. I am loath to go beyond what is written or even present it differently than in the context in which it is written. The purpose of the Bible is not to help us get to know Satan, but to help us know God and His will for our lives. This much is clear: 1. God is always the hero of the Bible who ultimately gives victory to all who are faithful to Him. 2. Satan is the villain who, though he causes great pain and suffering, even to God and God's people, he ultimately loses, as does everyone who follows in his wickedness and lies.
Furthermore, in the Bible we see that there is nothing in God that is unholy or evil, but there is nothing in Satan that is holy or good. It appears that at his creation, Lucifer was beautiful and good, but his pride destroyed him, and he became the adversary and accuser or Satan. (Isaiah 14:12-15, 1 Tim. 3:6-7) The Bible's clear message is that the good and holy God has full authority over the unholy and evil Satan. Yet, just as God has given us free will and allows us to choose life with Christ or condemnation in hell, God has granted Satan enough rope to hang himself. The great accuser of God and adversary of God's people stands under God's authority and God even turns Satan's devises against himself to accomplish God's purposes.
Last week we began to look at the works of the devil and how God sent Jesus to destroy them. Our study started with the fall of man into sin as recorded in Genesis 3 and then we looked at Job 1-2 where Satan's name is mentioned 15 times out of the 19 times it occurs in the Old Testament. In Job we see that Jesus words are true. Satan is a liar and a murderer. His desire is to bring down whomever he can and disrupt the glory of God.
Today, let's turn to the New Testament where we have a much clearer view of this enemy and his devices.
When we leave the Old Testament and turn to the New Testament, it is like the lights of the spirit world are suddenly turned up. We leave the somewhat shadowy spiritual view of the Old and enter the world where Jesus was born. The Gospels! Spirits are common in them. As the story of Jesus begins, an angel appears in the temple and in dreams and to shepherds. Also a multitude of the heavenly host praise God in the night that Jesus is born to the shepherd witnesses. The spirit world is visibly present to these people. The Holy Spirit calls John and commissions him to baptize. He is promised that the one on whom he sees the Spirit come down and remain on as a dove is the Light of the world, the Lamb of God, sent to take away the sins of the world.
And Jesus comes. He is baptized and John witnesses the Spirit’s decent upon Jesus and God the Father even speaks audibly from heaven to affirm Jesus as His beloved Son! It is an amazing series of clear spiritual encounters and interruptions into our physical world. The first appearances are all spiritual beings from God. But then, soon after Jesus is baptized, the enemy arises and appears. The villain, Satan, comes to tempt Jesus.
Matthew, Mark and Luke all mention this event. Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness where he spent 40 days fasting and praying. Matthew specifically tells us: Jesus went into the desert to be tempted by the devil. So Jesus faced the enemy up front and personal. Many have wondered how this could be, that the Son of God could be tempted by evil. But when he came here to earth, Jesus emptied himself and took the form of a servant, he took the very nature of a man, and that includes the ability to be tempted. Hebrews states firmly, that Jesus was tempted in all ways like we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 2:14-18. Jesus understands what it is to be tempted. He is a merciful High Priest who has suffered temptation, but Jesus remained faithful. He did not sin.