02 Satan-The Destroyer
TWO: The Destroyer
1 Peter 5:8 (KJV) Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
Luke 22:31 (KJV) And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:
Revelation 9:11 (KJV) And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.
Matthew 12:22 (KJV) Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.
Job 2:6 (KJV) And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.
1. SATAN’S TARGET: YOUR BODY
If Satan cannot defeat you by deceiving your mind, he will then try to destroy your body.
As the serpent he deceives; as the lion, he devours.
If we believe his lies, then we will destroy ourselves.
But if we resist his deceit, then he will attack our bodies.
Job is the prime illustration of this kind of attack.
He lost the fruit of his body—his children.
He lost the means to sustain his body—his flocks and herds and wealth.
And he lost the health of his body when he contracted a loathsome disease.
His friends sat in silence for a week, for they saw that Job was in great agony. Even Job’s wife was so overwhelmed by her husband’s trials that she suggested, “Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9).
Satan did a thorough job of attacking Job’s body and all that related to it.
When you read the Gospel records you discover that Satan, through his demonic helpers, attacked and sought to destroy the bodies of various people. He caused one man to be dumb (Matthew 9:32, 33), and a woman to be bent over and disabled (Luke 13:11-17) He even attacked a child and tried to get him to destroy himself in the water or the fire (Matthew 17:14-18). There is no escaping the awesome fact that Satan wants to attack and destroy your body.
Why does he want to do this? For several reasons.
To begin with, your body is God’s temple.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (KJV) 19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
Philippians 1:20 (KJV) According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.
God is invisible; the world cannot see him. Jesus Christ has returned to heaven and cannot be seen. But we Christians can be seen, and it is our conduct in the body that glorifies and exalts the Lord.
Matthew 5:16 (KJV) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
God wants to use your body as a vehicle for revealing him to a lost world. Unconverted people are not likely to read the Bible to learn about God, nor books of Christian theology; but they will read our lives.
1 Peter 2:9 (KJV) But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
This means that when Satan attacks your body, he is attacking the one means God has of revealing his grace and love to a lost world. Creation reveals the power, wisdom, and glory of God, but Christians reveal the grace and love of God.
Not only is your body God’s temple, but it is also God’s tool.
Romans 6:12-13 (KJV) 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
When God wanted an ark constructed, he used the skill of Noah and his family. When he wanted the tabernacle built, he used the hands and minds of Bezalel and Oholiab and their helpers (Exodus 36:1 ff.). Jesus used the hands of his disciples for the distributing of the bread and fish. He used their lips and tongues for the preaching of the gospel. If God is going to get his work, done in this world, he must use the various members of our bodies, empowered by the Spirit of God.
Satan knows that he can hinder God’s work by attacking God’s workers and putting their “tools” out of commission. The Greek word translated “instruments” in Romans 6:13 can be translated “tool” or even “weapon.” Just as God the Son had to take on a body to accomplish his work on earth, so the Holy Spirit needs our bodies. The members of your body are tools in the Spirit’s hands to help build the Church here on earth. Never underestimate the importance of your body. Never minimize the care of your body. The Christian who is careless about his health or safety is playing right into the hands of the destroyer.
The third reason Satan attacks your body is because your body is God’s treasury.
2 Corinthians 4:7 (KJV) But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
When God saved you, he put the treasure of eternal life within your body. You have the very life of God within you! God did not give you this great treasure simply to protect it—an earthen vessel is not the safest place for a treasure! He gave you this treasure that he might invest it through you in the lives of others.
For example, God deposited this spiritual wealth in the Apostle Paul
1 Timothy 1:11 (KJV) According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.
Paul invested this treasure in Timothy.
1 Timothy 6:20 (KJV) O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:
2 Timothy 1:14 (KJV) That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.
Timothy, in turn, was to invest this treasure in the lives of others.
2 Timothy 2:2 (KJV) And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
In other words, the safety and success of this spiritual investment is in the hands of weak human beings! The treasure is in an earthen vessel! Satan can rob the world of spiritual wealth by attacking the bodies of believers.
Finally, Satan attacks your body because it is God’s testing-ground.
1 Corinthians 9:27 (KJV) But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
The image here is that of the Greek games. Each participant had to qualify and keep the rules or he was not allowed to compete. If after he won a prize he was found guilty of breaking the rules, his prize was taken from him. Jim Thorpe, one of our greatest American athletes, had to return his Olympic medals because it was discovered he had earlier played sports for money, which is against Olympic rules.
Satan can rob you of your rewards by attacking your body and getting you to break the rules. It is not a matter of salvation, but of rewards for faithful service. The athlete did not lose his Citizenship if he broke the rules; he only forfeited his reward, a shameful experience indeed.
1 John 2:28 (KJV) And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.
I cannot emphasize too much that your body is important to God. As God’s children, you and I must care for our bodies and use them for God’s glory. Anything in our lives that keeps us from doing our best must be abandoned Just as the mechanic takes good care of his tools, so the believer takes good care of the “tools” of his body.
Romans 12:1 (KJV) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2. SATAN’S WEAPON: SUFFERING
Satan wants to control the circumstances around the body so that the believer will suffer. He wants to touch the body and create suffering. All of this is illustrated in the story of Job.
First, Satan attacked Job’s body through the circumstances around him, and Job lost his children, his wealth, and the favor of his wife, friends, and neighbors.
Then Satan attacked Job’s person with a horrible disease. When Job looked around, his situation was painful. When he looked within, it was even more painful. And when he looked up, it seemed that God had forsaken him, although Job maintained his faith in God and was honored at the end.
It is important to note that God was always in control. Satan could not attack Job’s possessions until God gave him permission. Satan could not attack Job’s person until God allowed it. This reminds us of our Lord’s words to Peter.
Luke 22:31-32 (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.
Satan cannot touch the child of God without the heavenly Father’s permission. This is a great encouragement to us, for we know that whatever suffering may come to our lives, God has ordained it and is in complete control. The one thing God will not control is how we respond to this suffering, and it is here that Satan can gain his purpose.
Note, too, that there is more than one kind of suffering in the life of the Christian. There is natural suffering that we experience simply because we are human. We cannot prevent the gradual breakdown of the body as we grow old, though we can seek to delay it. We are subject to sickness and injury; we lose loved ones and friends as death claims them; we find ourselves slowing down when we wish we could speed things up. The inconvenience, and even the pain, of being a weak human being in a dangerous world cannot be blamed on the devil. All of creation is groaning because of the bondage of sin, and we Christians are groaning with it (Romans 8:18-23).
God sometimes sends (or permits) his children to suffer that he might discipline them. Our heavenly Father loves us too much to permit us to be rebels, so he chastens us that we might conform to his will.
Hebrews 12:5-6 (KJV) 5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
The word translated “discipline” in Hebrews 12 simply means “child-training.” The purpose of discipline is the maturity of the son. God’s purpose is not to persecute us, but to perfect us. Chastening is not the work of an angry judge as he punishes a criminal. It is the work of a loving Father as he perfects a child.
This chastening is not always because we have sinned. True, God does “spank” his children if they rebel and refuse to repent. David sinned against God and tried to hide his sin for a year or more. Read Psalm 32 and discover what David suffered physically, emotionally, and spiritually because he would not submit to God. But sometimes God permits suffering in our lives simply to build us up and help us mature.
Two storms in the Bible illustrate this truth.
Jonah disobeyed God and refused to go to Nineveh. He found a convenient ship to take him to Tarshish, but God interrupted Jonah’s escape by sending a storm. When the mariners threw Jonah into the stormy sea, the prophet was swallowed by a great fish. He describes his “living death” in the stomach of the great fish in Chapter 2 of his book. God had to chasten Jonah and almost take his life before the prophet would confess his sins and surrender to God. This storm came for the purpose of correcting God’s servant who had been disobedient.
But there are storms that come because we are obedient! One such storm is recorded in Matthew 14:22-33. Jesus had fed more than 5,000 people and they wanted to make him king. He sent the crowd away, and also sent the disciples across the Sea of Galilee in their boat. He went up to the mountaintop to pray. When the disciples got away from the land, a fierce storm arose and almost sank the ship. Please note: they were not in the storm because they disobeyed the Lord, but because they obeyed him. He was testing and perfecting their faith. Later he came to them and stilled the storm; but the entire experience revealed to the men how weak their faith really was.
So, we sometimes suffer simply because we are human. We suffer, too, because we disobey the Lord and need to be chastened. We also suffer that God might perfect our faith and help us mature Not all suffering is Satanic in origin. But there is a kind of suffering that is Satan’s weapon, and that is what Job experienced It seemed that all of the calamities in his life had perfectly natural explanations: the Sabeans took the oxen and donkeys; fire from heaven (perhaps lightning) burned the sheep; the Chaldeans took the camels; and a great wind (a tornado?—wrecked his oldest son’s house and killed all of Job’s children. But Satan was behind all of them! When God gives him permission, Satan can use people and the forces of nature to accomplish his purposes.
As believers, we have this confidence: God is always in complete control. When God permits Satan to light the furnace, he always keeps his own hand on the thermostat! Job did not know what was going on behind the scenes. He had no idea that God was permitting him to suffer so that Satan might be silenced. The real battle was “in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Job’s home and body were only the arena in which the two combatants—God and Satan—were struggling against each other. Satan wanted to use Job’s body to defeat God, and God wanted to use Job’s body to defeat Satan.
When you find yourself in difficult circumstances, seek to discern through the Word and prayer whether your suffering is from nature, from God, or from Satan. Is God perfecting you? Is he disciplining you? Is Satan seeking to hinder your ministry or even destroy you? You cannot control the origin of your suffering, but you can control the outcome. How? This leads us to our next section.
3. SATAN’S PURPOSE— TO MAKE YOU IMPATIENT WITH GOD’S WILL
The only place in the New Testament where Job is named is James 5:11:
James 5:11 (KJV) Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
This verse indicates that Satan’s purpose was to try to get Job to be impatient and give up. Job did become impatient with himself and his critical friends, but he never lost his faith in God. Though he did not understand what God was doing, Job knew that he could trust God and that God would vindicate him in the end.
Patience is an important Christian virtue. Unless we have patience, we can never learn many of the truths that God wants us to learn, truths that will lead us into a deeper life and a more fruitful ministry.
James 1:2-4 (KJV) 2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Children are usually impatient; they cannot sit still long enough to get the things done that need to be done. “How long do we have to wait?” is the stock question of the child. Impatience is a mark of immaturity.
But impatience is also a mark of unbelief. “He who believes will not be in a hurry” (Isaiah 28:16, literal translation).
Isaiah 28:16 (KJV) Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
When you find yourself restless and nervous, anxious to “do something,” you can be sure you are not trusting God to work.
Hebrews 6:12 (KJV) That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Faith and patience go together. If we really trust God, then we will wait on him to accomplish what he has promised.
Impatience is not only a mark of immaturity and unbelief, but it is a mark of fleshly living. The flesh (the old nature) is always impatient, but the fruit of the Spirit is
Galatians 5:22-23 (KJV) 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
By nature, we are impatient; but the new nature within can produce patience as we yield to the Holy Spirit. Whenever you find an impulsive, impatient believer, you can be reasonably sure that that person is not walking in the Spirit, but is living by the energy of the flesh.
Impatience always leads to costly mistakes. Abraham became impatient with God and “married” Hagar, his wife’s handmaid, in order to bring a son into the world and fulfill God’s promise. A son was born, but he caused nothing but trouble! Abraham had to wait another fourteen years for Isaac to be born, and Isaac brought joy and blessing to the home.
King Saul became impatient and would not wait for the prophet Samuel to come. He rushed ahead of God’s will and offered the sacrifice, and this was the beginning of the end of his kingdom.
Peter became impatient in the Garden of Gethsemane and tried to kill a man with his sword! Instead of cutting the man’s throat, Peter only severed his ear; and Jesus, to save Peter’s life, healed the wound. Peter’s impatience almost cost him his life.
Satan knows that if he can make us impatient, he can lead us to do something stupid and get ourselves and others into trouble. Impatience is costly.
But patient endurance is enriching. Satan tempts us that he might bring out the worst in us, but God permits it that he might bring out the best in us. Job knew this; therefore, he said:
Job 23:10 (KJV) But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
God will never permit the enemy to put us through the fire without his having a definite purpose in mind. God wants to make you patient. We cannot learn patience by reading a book or hearing a lecture. The only way we can learn patience is by going through the trials that God assigns to us. The trials of life are the tools God uses to mature us, to build our faith, and to get us to trust the Spirit and not the flesh.
When you find yourself impatient, you can be sure that Satan and the flesh are at work, and that you are in danger of making a wrong decision. When the circumstances of life are irritating, that is the time to beware! When family problems, friends, finances, or feelings are making life uncomfortable, then you can be sure Satan is near, waiting for an opportunity to attack.
But God has given you a defense!
4. YOUR DEFENSE THE IMPARTED GRACE OF GOD
Job is not the only saint who felt Satan’s attack against his body, for the great Apostle Paul had a similar experience
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (KJV) 7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
We do not know what Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was; but whatever it was, it buffeted him enough to make him pray three times for healing. (You will recall that our Lord prayed three times in the Garden that the cup might pass from him. When difficulties come, it is not wrong to pray for deliverance.) God did not answer Paul’s prayer, but God did meet Paul’s need. “My grace is sufficient for you.” It is the imparted grace of God that gives us victory when Satan attacks the body with suffering. Only by the grace of God can we have the patient endurance that we need as we go through the furnace.
1 Peter 5:10 (KJV) But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
Our God is “the God of all grace.” The Holy Spirit who indwells us is “the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29). God’s throne is a “throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16), and his Word is “the word of His grace” (Acts 20:32). It is grace from start to finish!
God’s grace is God’s provision for our every need. Grace is not a “mystical substance” that God pours into us when we have a need. Grace is God’s bountiful supply for our every need.
“Law” means that I must do something for God, but “grace” means that God does something for me. Grace cannot be deserved. Grace cannot be earned. Grace can only be given.
To begin with, you were saved by God’s grace.
Ephesians 2:8 (KJV) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
This means that “the riches of His grace” are now available to you (Ephesians 2:7).
God can give you grace for serving (1 Corinthians 15:9, 10)
for sacrificing (2 Corinthians 8:1-9)
for singing (Colossians 3:16, margin)
and even for speaking (Colossians 4:6)
It also means that God can give you grace for suffering, as he did with Job and Paul.
What steps, then, should you take when Satan attacks your body with suffering and tries to make you impatient with God’s will?
(1) Immediately submit yourself to God
a. If you rebel, you will give Satan another foothold in your life.
b. Tell God exactly how you feel, but also tell him that you love him and will trust him, come what may.
Job 13:15 (KJV) Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.
(2) Thank God for the trials.
Ephesians 5:20 (KJV) Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV) In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
This does not mean you enjoy the suffering, but only that you rejoice because you are suffering in the will of God and you know that he is in control. Satan hates it when believers thank God in their trials. When Paul and Silas sang and praised God in that Philippian jail, they completely ruined all of Satan’s plans! (Read Acts 16:14 ff.)
(3) Spend much time in the Word of God. It is the “word of His grace” (Acts 20:32), and the gracious promises of God will strengthen you.
Remember: we do not live on explanations, we live on promises. God did not explain to Abraham everything that he was doing, but he did give Abraham all the promises he needed to keep going.
Psalms 119:67 (KJV) Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. Psalms 119:71 (KJV) It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes. You will discover, in God’s Word the promises and encouragements that you need for each day.
Romans 15:4 (KJV) For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
(4) Look for ways to glorify Christ. Remember, God wants to use your body to glorify him, Satan wants to use your body to disgrace the Lord. Patience in suffering always glorifies God.
Unconverted people cannot understand how Christians can suffer and not complain or rebel. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.
1 Peter 2:20 (KJV) For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
1 Peter 4:16 (KJV) Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
In the midst of shame and suffering Paul and Silas glorified God by singing and praising his name. While he was being stoned to death, Stephen glorified God by praying for his murderers. Many of David’s psalms record the fact that he could praise God even when persecuted and rejected. Paul’s most joyful letter—Philippians—was written from Roman imprisonment when his life was in the balance.
As you follow these instructions, you will discover the Spirit of grace working in your life and imparting to you the grace of God. You will grow in patient endurance! You will experience God’s love and grace within, and this experience will more than compensate for the inconvenience and suffering without. God may not change the circumstances, but he will change you so that the circumstances will work for you and not against you. As I said before, you and I cannot control the origin or the operation of suffering, but we can (with God’s help) control the outcome.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (KJV) And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
If you 1ive to please yourself, then Satan will win. If you live to glorify God, Satan will lose. The imparted grace of God is the only weapon that can defeat him, and that grace can be found only in “the God of all grace.”