Have Christians Already Overcome Satan? - The Importance of the Word of God in the Life of the Believer
According to the Bible, Satan was created by God as a cherub, the most powerful angelic being.1 Some time after his creation and before the creation of mankind,2 Satan rebelled against God and took one third of the angels (now referred to as demons) with him into rebellion.3 He took on the form of a snake in the garden of Eden to tempt Eve.1, 4 Pride caused Satan to fall, ("your heart was lifted up because of your beauty")1 since he wanted to receive the worship due to God alone.5 For this reason, Satan hates God and His plans. He wants people to worship him and follow his evil ways. He does this through lies6 and deception.7 He opposes Jesus Christ - God who took on the form of a man to redeem humanity from their sin,8 and restore their relationship with Him. Jesus appeared to humanity to destroy the works of Satan,9 and will, ultimately, throw him into the Lake of Fire for all eternity.10 So haven't we, as Christians, already overcome the devil? Do we need to know scripture?
Does Satan attack Christians?
Some Christians seem to think that becoming a Christian makes one immune from attack by the devil. However, in His parable of the sower, Jesus clearly taught that Satan would come to those who heard the gospel and "snatch away what has been sown in his heart."11 In the book of Revelation, Jesus instructed the churches saying that the devil was going "to cast some of you into prison" and that they were to remain faithful until death.12 Obviously, these instructions make it seem that Jesus didn't think that Christians had completely overcome Satan. The Bible also gives believers instructions about resisting the devil:
- Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
- and do not give the devil an opportunity. (Ephesians 4:27)
- Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9)
Obviously, it would be unnecessary to resist the devil if we had already overcome him.
How do we resist the devil?
The apostle John says that believers can overcome Satan when "the word of God abides in you."13 When Jesus was tempted by Satan, He cited scripture to him (Matthew 4:1-1014). In addition, Paul tells us that the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God, is our only offensive weapon against the Satan (Ephesians 6:13-1715). In the parable of the sower, Jesus said that there were those who heard the word of God, but failed to take it in, and so were led astray by the devil (the seed that fell by the side of the road).11 So Christians resist the devil by knowing and memorizing scripture so that we cannot be deceived by the lies of Satan.6, 7
The problem of not knowing scripture
Jesus, in His instructions to the churches from the book of Revelation, gave an example of what would happen to a Christian Church that did not know the word of God. Jezebel, a symbolic name16 for a woman who was probably the wife of the bishop at the church of Thyatira, was teaching the Christians there to commit illicit sex acts and eat food sacrificed to idols.17 Those Christians who did not know the word of God fell to her teaching, since she was a self-proclaimed "prophetess of God."
So, not knowing the Bible has become a big problem for Christians who think that just believing in Jesus will make everything fine and dandy. Probably half of all the verses in the Bible are dedicated to teaching believers how they should behave and live their Christian walk. Christians must know the word of God or Satan will deceive them.
Jesus said that those hear the word of God and observe it are blessed.18 It is through knowing the word of God that we know what God wants and know when Satan is attempted to deceive us. The idea that Christians have already defeated Satan and that we will never be deceived into sin because we have merely claimed some confession of belief is a modern-day problem in the churches. If we were not susceptible to the schemes of the devil, scripture would not tell us to put on the armor of God, which includes the "sword of the Spirit" (i.e., the word of God). James tells us to resist the devil and he will flee, and Peter tells us to be sober and alert to the devil. So, even though Jesus has overcome the works of the devil, it is the Christian's responsibility to resist him until he is thrown into the Lake of Fire at the end of time.
- Basic Christian Theology Quiz
- Who is Satan?: What Does the Bible Say About the Devil?
- Movie Guide for The Passion of the Christ: Questions and Answers
- What Will Hell be Like?
- Was Adam With Eve When She was Deceived by the Serpent?
- Why Wouldn't God Want Adam and Eve to Have Knowledge of Good and Evil?
- Was Evil and Suffering a Result of Adam's Sin?
- Was Adam Created as an Immortal Being?
- "Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "You had the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. "You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The ruby, the topaz, and the diamond; The beryl, the onyx, and the jasper; The lapis lazuli, the turquoise, and the emerald; And the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, Was in you. On the day that you were created They were prepared. "You were the anointed cherub who covers, And I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked in the midst of the stones of fire. "You were blameless in your ways From the day you were created, Until unrighteousness was found in you. "By the abundance of your trade You were internally filled with violence, And you sinned; Therefore I have cast you as profane From the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the stones of fire. "Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, That they may see you. "By the multitude of your iniquities, In the unrighteousness of your trade, You profaned your sanctuaries. Therefore I have brought fire from the midst of you; It has consumed you, And I have turned you to ashes on the earth In the eyes of all who see you. (Ezekiel 28:12-18)
- According to the Bible all of the sons of God
(i.e., all the angels, including Satan) shouted for joy at the creation of
the Earth. However, Satan had fallen by the time humans were created.
"Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding... When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?" (Job 38:4, 7)
- And another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven, and threw them to the earth. (Revelation 12:3-4)
- And the serpent said to the woman, "You surely shall not die! "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Genesis 3:3-5)
- How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isaiah 14:12-14)
- "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies. (John 8:44)
- Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is
this you have done?" And the woman said, "The serpent deceived
me, and I ate." (Genesis 3:13)
And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Revelation 12:9)
- ...Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)
- the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8)
- And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Revelation 20:10)
- "When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road." (Matthew 13:19)
- 'Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.' (Revelation 2:10)
- I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. (1 John 2:14)
- Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." But He answered and said, "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'" Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, 'HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU'; and 'ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.'" Jesus said to him, "On the other hand, it is written, 'YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.'" Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, "All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Go, Satan! For it is written, 'YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'" Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him. (Matthew 1:1-11)
- Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:11-17)
- Jezebel was the name of the infamous wife of Ahab who was guilty of promoting idol worship in the Old Testament (1 Kings 16:31, 2 Kiings 9:22). Although the name is used symbolically here, it certainly refers to a real person or persons (possibly the wife of the head of the church at Thyatira, according to some manuscripts) who were misleading the people of God.
- "And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this... 'But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.'" (Revelation 2:18, 20)
- While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, "Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed." But He said, "On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it." (Luke 11:27-28)
We are what we think.
- 03/11/2014 02:06 AM
Engaging in Christ-Centered Conversation
Last week, my colleague Krista Bontrager shared her insights into Son of God and the TV mini-series from which the film was derived. Whether you choose to see Son of God in theatres (or any of the other faith-based films … Continue reading
- 03/07/2014 02:30 AM
Quote of the Week: John 15:26
But when the Helper [3rd] comes, whom I [2nd] will send to you from the Father [1st], the Spirit [3rd] of truth, who proceeds from the Father [1st], he will bear witness about me [2nd]. — John 15:26, ESV
- 03/04/2014 02:52 AM
“Son of God:” Representing the Bible on Screen
With the release of the Jesus biopic Son of God in theatres last week, this is a great time to engage in a conversation with others about the historical basis of Jesus. For those of you considering whether to see … Continue reading
- 02/28/2014 02:28 AM
Quote of the Week: St. Augustine
In your great wisdom you, who are our God, speak to us of these things in your Book, the firmament made by you. — St. Augustine, Confessions (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1992), book XIII, section 18, 326.
- 02/25/2014 02:44 AM
Music Points to a Creator
This February marked the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ arrival in America. My article “Beatlemania Plus 50: Can Christians Appreciate the Fab Four?” explored these musicians’ religious views and how believers can navigate choices in popular entertainment. The Beatles in … Continue reading
- 02/21/2014 03:27 PM
Quote of the Week: Restless Heart
The man doesn’t find the truth the truth finds the man. — Bishop Ambrose to Augustine, from the movie Restless Heart (Ignatius Press, 2013)
- 02/18/2014 02:52 AM
Reflections on a War Movie: Lone Survivor
I’ve seen most of the war movies made over the last seventy years (see “Ken’s Top 50 World War II Films”). I rank Band of Brothers, the 10-part miniseries produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks about the real-life heroism … Continue reading
- 02/14/2014 02:49 AM
Quote of the Week: Paul Helm
The classical Christian theologians, Augustine of Hippo, say, or Aquinas or John Calvin, each took it for granted that God exists as a timelessly eternal being. They accepted it as an axiom of Christian theology that God has no memory, … Continue reading
- 02/11/2014 02:01 AM
Beatlemania Plus 50: Can Christians Appreciate the Fab Four?
This month marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ first trip to America. I remember how depressed my family was following President Kennedy’s assassination, but how excited my siblings and I were to see The Beatles on our black-and-white television … Continue reading
- 02/07/2014 04:01 PM
Quote of the Week: Louis P. Pojman
In a sense, philosophy is just hard thinking about the important issues of life. — Louis P. Pojman, Philosophy: The Pursuit of Wisdom (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1994),12.
Last Modified October 22, 2007