6. The Satan and Demons

Spiritual Beings

Theme: 6. The Satan and Demons

Summerstrand 1 September 2019 18:30

INTRODUCTION

The storyline of the Bible presents a populated spiritual world, full of creatures who are in rebellion against their Creator, just like humans. Let’s look at the video for episode six of our series to learn more about the powers of spiritual evil in the story of the Bible.

VIDEO

Video on the Satan and Demons

Watch the video The Satan and Demons – 78,1 MB

Spiritual Beings are copyright 2019 by The Bible Project and are available for viewing at www.thebibleproject.com“.

SERMON SIX: THE SATAN AND DEMONS

Who is Satan?

Variety of images

Satan is depicted with a variety of images:

  • serpent (Gen 3:1; Isa 27:1; 2 Cor 11:3; Rev 20:2),
  • (sea)-dragon (Isa 27:1; Rev 12:9),
  • dark desert creature, and king of death (Hebr 2:14; the rider on the pale horse – Rev 6:8).

Variety of titles

Satan has a variety of titles from which one can deduce what he is up to. He is:

  • the tempter (Peirazōn – Matt 4:3; 1 Thess 3:4) – the one who uses our desires against us; the one who wants to get us to sin – that is his goal: to make you sin, because then you lose your sense of God and his forgiveness;
  • the liar (Joh 8:44) – the one who misleads people with ideologies;
  • the deceiver (Planōn – Rev 12:9) – the one who confuses and misdirect people with false teaching;
  • the evil one (Ponēros – Matt 6:13; 1 John 5:18-19) – the one who inspires evil and mayhem;
  • the devil, which in Greek means the slanderer (diabolos – Matt 4:1; Rev 12:10; 20:2) – the one who undermines our integrity;
  • the Satan, which in Greek means the accuser or adversary (Satanas – Job 1:6; 1 Chr 21:1; Zech 3:1-2; Mark 1:13; Matt 4:10) – the one that undermines our confidence and boldness for the gospel.

Satan is thus the personification of evil and rebellion against God. From the beginning he is the one behind darkness and disorder. He is the one that distorts God’s words and works in the hidden form of the serpent in Eden.

He is obviously not the only one to rebel against God. Adam and Eve joined the serpent in disobedience to God. Cain murdered Abel because he followed the leading of the evil one, as John tells us in the NT (1 John 3:12).

So, the picture we get of human history is that the human rebellion against God is interwoven with the spiritual rebellion of Satan and his Demons. The whole sinful world now is in the power of the evil one, as John also states in his letter in the NT (1 John 5:19).

Satan wanted to be God. He did not want to serve under God. Precisely the temptation he put before Adam and Eve in Eden – did God actually say? (Gen 3), undermining God’s authority – as well as before Jesus in the desert – worship me and you will receive the kingdom (Matt 4), tempting Jesus to circumvent the cross.

Where does Satan come from?

The origin of Satan as a perfect spiritual being who rebelled against God before creation may be found from a theological reading of Isa 14:12–15 and Ezek 28:12–19. Although the historical referent in these passages is not Satan, but the wicked kings of Babylon and Tyre, the hyperbolic language seems to describe someone more than human (Isa 14:13-14; Ezek 28:12-14).

From Isaiah 28 one might then deduce that Satan could have been one of the cherubim who rebelled against God.

But, if you take this interpretation to be valid, it would be even more probable that Satan was one of the seraphim (Isa 6:1), because of his early identification with the serpent in Eden. The seraphim have serpent-like features as we see in Isaiah’s vision which would suit the description of Satan. It would also make sense of the pictures of him as a sea-dragon.

What does Satan and his demons do?

Satan is the ruler of the fallen sons of God, the rebel Elohim (Gen 6), whose offspring was the Nephilim, the great warriors (Gen 6:4; Numb 13:33). One of them, Nimrod, built Babylon (Gen 10).

When Moses recalls the Babylon story where God scattered the nations according to the sons of God, he called them (lesser) gods and demons (Deut 32:17 – šēḏîm; cf Lev 17:7; Ps 106:37). So, demons are active in nations and in pagan religions, as we saw already in the previous sermon on the Elohim.

There are also demons at work on a personal level, exploiting our weaknesses, also working in our minds. In fact, Jesus viewed all suffering as the consequence of these evil forces and not only drove them out of people and healed the afflicted (Matt 4:24) but died to free us from their power once and for all (Gal 1:2; Col 2:15).

Here is a list of some of the things demons do: [1]

  • Demons harm and torment people and cause self-destructive and isolating behaviours (Saul in the OT: 1 Sam 16:14-16,23; 18:10-11; 19:9-10; various people in the NT: the boy with seizures: Matt 17:14-17; people troubled by unclean spirits: Luk 6:18; the woman with the disabling spirit: Luk 13:11; people afflicted with unclean spirits: Acts 5:16; a man with an evil spirit that overpowered people in extreme violence: Acts 19:16).
  • Demons cause dissension amongst people (an evil spirit, sent by God, that caused dissension between the tyrant Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem, leading to his downfall: Judges 9:23-25).
  • Demons cause illnesses and handicaps (the Syrophoenician girl: Mark 9:17-29; the demon-oppressed man that was blind and mute: Matt 12:22). Of course, illnesses and handicaps are also caused by a number of other factors – germs, viruses, calamities – but then these things also happened because of the fall, for which the Evil One is ultimately responsible.
  • Demons inspire false prophets (as the prophet Michaiah revealed to king Ahab: 1 Kings 22:21-23).
  • Demons incite war, as we see in the final war of Armageddon: “13 And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. 14 For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.” (Rev 16:13-14). Again, there are other factors, as with all these things. But one cannot discount the spiritual side of earthly conflict.
  • Demons lead people away from God. That is why we have to test the spirits to see whether they are from God. And we will know that they are from this world if the world listens to them (1 John 4:1-6)! We will know them when people depart from the faith that was delivered to us (1 Tim 4:1-2). The Bible says it is the work of deceitful spirits and demons.
  • Demons are identified with pagan gods, as we saw previously in the topic of the Divine Council (1 Cor 10:20-21; See also Deut 32:16-17; Ps 106:36-39; Rev 9:20).

How do they do it?

1. The devil uses our desires and needs against us:

  • It starts by us not acting on the Word. The devil then makes us forget the message. The devil takes the word out of our hearts, as we hear in the parable – Luke 8:12. We have to do the Word otherwise we will never make it part of our lives.
  • His power increases in us as we fall for his deceptions. He deceives us by false teaching (2 Cor 2:10; Eph 4:14; 1 John 4:6 – a “spirit of error”; 2 Tim 2:14-26). He misleads us by worldly wisdom (James 3:13-18). He let us believe lies – John 8:44 – because, after all, he is the father of the lie. And by that he blinds us to the truth.
  • He uses our desires and needs to tempt us to sin. And when we succumb to worldly lusts, to the seduction of the moment (Jas 4:1-12; Rev 12:7-11) to the temptations of the flesh (1 Cor 7:5), we sin. And the end of sin is death.
    • Satan works through our anger (Eph 4:26-27).
    • He works through our anxieties and concerns (Matt 13:22).
    • Satan works through our greed and our lack of self-control to make us sin. That is what happened to Judas. His greed became the instrument for the devil to put an idea in his heart to betray Jesus – John 13:2. But, remember, Satan put the idea into Judas’ heart to betray Jesus, but it was still Judas that acted on the impulse.

2. The devil uses trials and tribulations against us:

  • He uses suffering (1 Pet 5:1-9);
  • He threatens our faith (Eph 6:10-20);
  • He uses legal processes (Luke 12:11; Rev 2:8-11 – Church of Smyrna);
  • He uses political and economic powers (Luke 12:11; 1 Pet 5:13; Rev 17-18)

3. The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers

But the most pervasive problem of the deceit of the devil and all his forces is that:

“The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers.” (2 Cor 4:4).

He has blinded them so that they would trust him and his false ideologies.

And we see the blindness in the world’s love for the three big temptations: money, sex and power (Rev 9:20). When we fall for those temptations we fall for the strategies and snares of demons.

They use our own desires and needs against us as well as the trials and tribulations we encounter in life.

How do we deal with it?

I want to use Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians as a starting point:

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” (2 Cor 10:3-6)

Paul is defending his apostleship to some false teachers that were opposing him and his message.

1. We acknowledge that we are engaged in a spiritual war

In the process he talks about the spiritual warfare we are engaged in, a war that is waged in our minds and lifestyle.

That is the first thing we should know and acknowledge.

And what Paul is telling us here, is that this spiritual war is waged with spiritual weapons.

And we use those weapons against all arguments and “lofty opinions” of people that want to destroy the knowledge of God coming from his revelation in the Word of God.

Our goal in spiritual warfare is to capture every thought to become obedient to God, being ready also to punish every disobedience till our obedience is complete.

That is the goal. To have everybody in the body of Christ become obedient to the Word of God in every respect of every aspect of their lives, in body, soul and spirit.

  • So spiritual warfare is against the secular worldview, those people that do not acknowledge God, that live in his world as if He doesn’t exist.
  • It is against the ideological frameworks of the different cultures, schools of thought in philosophy and religion, and those lifestyles that do not acknowledge God’s will for mankind as revealed in Scripture.
  • It is against the worldly morals and ethical frameworks that is based on humanistic and demonic ideas instead of on the truth of the Bible (cf 1 Cor 1:21 where Paul points out the flawed value of worldly wisdom and knowledge).

We are in a war of ideas. A war of the ideas of God about life. And the ideas of the world about life. And it is not only a conflict. It is an all-out war.

As James puts it in his letter:

“This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.” (Jam 3:15)

2. We fight this spiritual war with the truth

The truth of God in the Bible is our only weapon. But it is the “divine power” to change both our thought world and our behaviour, says Paul.

We bring the truth, even at great cost to ourselves, so that we can destroy the strongholds of unbelief and disobedience in people’s minds and lifestyles and commit them to Christ.

This is what the power of the gospel is all about. It is the power that God wields in this world through the influence of the gospel (Rom 1:16 and 1 Cor 2:4).

And the war is fought on the battlefield or the minds of people and that is the war we should be engaged in.

3. We fight together with and under the leadership of Christ

As Paul says earlier in the same second letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor 6:1-8), we fight this war with Christ.

1Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain …

4. We fight by being obedient ourselves

We take care to be obedient to Him ourselves:

We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger;

  • We give no place to the devil – Eph 4:27.
  • We resist the devil, and he will flee – Jam 4:7.

5. We use the weapons of righteousness

And then, we use the weapons of righteousness, a life lived in the right relationship with God:

by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise.

6. We present our bodies to the Lord

Spiritual warfare has to do with your own body and how you live in righteousness in everything that you do with your body:

13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.” (Rom 6:13)

7. We become transformed by the renewal of our mind

Spiritual warfare also has to do with your own mind:

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. (2 Cor 10:5)

That is what Paul also wrote in Romans 12, speaking of our bodies as well as our minds in our service to and ministry for God:

1I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom 12:1-2)

8. We fight with the power of God

It is essentially what Paul also wrote in the later letter to the Ephesians (Eph 6:10-20) about the battle against the schemes of the devil.

We take up the whole armour of God. And then he names seven pieces of that armour of God. It is ways of thinking and living:

  • We stand fast in the truth – we read and reflect and respond to the Word of God;
  • We live a righteousness life (Eph 6:14);
  • We are always eager to bring the gospel of peace (Eph 6:15);
  • We focus on growing in faith so that we can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one (Eph 6:16);
  • We seek our confidence in the salvation that Christ gave us;
  • We use the sword of the Spirit, our only weapon, which is the word of God. We overcome the evil one by the Word of God (Eph 6:17);
  • We pray at all times in the Spirit (Eph 6:18; cf 1 Thess 5:8).

And most importantly:

9. We keep our hearts with all vigilance

The battle is deep within our hearts and within our minds.

God is at work in our heart and minds.

That we also need to know, because that will strengthen us. God works in our hearts through his Word and his Spirit (Rom 8). And we have to focus on that to let God’s will reign in our lives.

We read in the OT:

“The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the Lord.” (2 Chron 30:12)

As Ezra said to king of Persia, Artaxerxes:

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of our fathers, who put such a thing as this into the heart of the king, to beautify the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem.” (Ezra 7:27)

Solomon said:

“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” (Prov 30:1)

That is why your listening to the Word and doing the Word is so important. By that you work with God to have his will structure and sustain your life in Him.

But it is not only the Lord that works in our hearts. It is also the devil.

As we read in the NT:

“During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him.” (John 13:2)

Greed became the instrument for the devil to put an idea into Judas’ heart to betray Jesus. But, remember, it was Satan who put the idea into Judas’ heart, but it was still Judas that acted on the impulse.

That is the same with us. Whether it is greed or lust of false teaching. We have to say no and choose the way of God.

And the way to do it is not only to flee evil or resist the temptation. That is fine. That is what we should do. Avoid. Abstain. Resist.

But the place we should guard the most is our hearts and minds.

Therefore, the wisdom of Proverbs is still relevant for today: Keep your heart!

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Prov 4:23)

Paul warns the young Timothy to keep his heart and mind from deceitful teachings, because it comes from the evil spiritual realm:

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.” (1 Tim 4:1).

As James says:

“This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.” (Jam 3:15)

Do not fall for the way this world talks about money, sex and power. The way they want to have us live in this world as if nothing matters but your desires. That is no moral absolutes. That God does not matter.

10. We fight with the discernment that God gives us.

The Spirit gives to some “the ability to distinguish between spirits.” (1 Cor 12:10). And we are all called to test the spirits:

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)

We should listen to the gifts of discernment in our community and what they teach us about the testing of the spirits.

How do we do this?

We do this by testing every single idea with the teaching on Jesus:

“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.”  (1 John 4:2-3)

We do this by testing every idea with the teaching of the apostles, that is the NT Word based on the OT:

“We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” (1 John 4:6)

We should not listen to people who comes with another message than what the Bible plainly teaches. Paul warns the Corinthians against anyone who:

“comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed.”

And he adds:

“or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted.” (2 Cor 11:4)

He reminds the Ephesians that they were once caught up in a life:

“following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.” (Eph 2:2)

He warns the Thessalonians:

“not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.” (2 Thess 2:2)

BIBLE STUDY: THE SATAN AND DEMONS

  1. Begin with sharing what’s going on in your life at the meeting.
  2. Pray and commit yourselves to the Lord.
  3. Watch the video The Satan and Demons – 78,1 MB. What strikes you? What questions come to mind?
  4. Share what touched you in Sunday’s sermon.
  5. Read 2 Corinthians 10:3-6.
  6. What is spiritual warfare?
  7. What are the weapons of our warfare? (more detail in 2 Corinthians 6:1-8 and Ephesians 6:1-20).
  8. How do we destroy arguments and lofty opinions and bring every thought captive to obey Christ?
  9. What does punish every disobedience mean and what role does it play in the church?
  10. Why are we only ready to punish every disobedience when the obedience is complete? And how do we know that obedience is complete?
  11. What is God asking of us with this Scripture?
  12. Close in prayer.

[1] Martin Manser, Dictionary of Bible Themes (2009)

     

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    Tilla

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    Sien so uit daarna!

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    Willem Wiid

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    Ek is opsoek na verlede Sondag (20/10/2019) se liturgie. Kry dit ongelukkig nie opgespoor nie. Kry ook nie die afkondigings nie

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    Riana Carstens

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    Dankie!!!!!! N insiggewende opbouende preek wat die “Goeie nuus” boodskàp ook bevat. Baie baie dankie.

    Riana