There are a number of subjects in the Scripture that bear study outside of the typical subjects that most Bible studies concentrate on, one of which is who the Devil, or Satan is, and how he operates. This is not done to glorify him, but is rather like studying the tactics, strategy and capabilities of an adversary. Granted, we cannot withstand the attacks of Satan by ourselves, but require the protection of our LORD and Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, by the Holy Ghost which is sent from the Father at the express petition of the Lord Jesus Christ. Were it not for this protection, we would be swept away and taken like the rest of the world. In short, we have no defense against the Devil outside of Christ.
However, a study of who the Devil is and how he operates is not supposed to give us a defense, but rather is to give us an understanding of events as to how and why they occur, so that we might be stronger in faith, greater in discernment, and better able to know what we ought to do in a given situation. After all, the Scripture does provide considerable information about who the Devil is, what he does, and how he chooses to do it.
There is a context to everything. That fact ought to be understood by all, but is frequently not, as we tend to want to think of things in isolation, unconnected with everything else. The reason for this is that it makes things much easier to understand. While that is true with quite a few things, it is manifestly not true with everything. It is much like discussing the subject of color and what it is. This being the case, it is convenient to use the illustration of a discussion on color to understand how knowing and understanding context is so utterly important and essential for a more full and accurate understanding of our existence. Additionally, it will assist us in understanding how it relates to the actions of Satan with regard to us, and the LORD who created us. With that, let’s examine the property of color and see how our understanding of it relates to context and the importance of context.
To begin, most individuals will tell you that color is a result of reflected light off an object that the light shines on. Hence, the color of the object is the frequency of the light that the object reflects, absorbing to a greater or lesser extent all other frequencies of visible light. This is true. But, it does not even begin to express the full extent of the property of color and what that property is. Neither does it give us an accurate context in which to examine how color is generated in the first place. However, if the context of an individual’s understanding of the property of color is only the frequency of the light the object reflects, then one is missing a rather significant aspect of the property of color, and certain things pertaining to color will ever remain a mystery.
The reality is that the physical property of color is inherent in the substance or object. We can understand this by understanding how light is generated in the first place. We can generate light by the simple application of energy to an atom, causing the electrons in the outer shell to jump to the next higher energy level. When the electrons drop back to their normal energy level, they give off that excess energy as photons of light at a given frequency. This frequency the photons are imparted with translates to either visible or invisible light. However, since we cannot see invisible light, we will restrict ourselves to the discussion of visible light as that is where we perceive color.
Since the property of color is directly tied to a specific frequency of light in a certain narrow spectrum, we then can determine which substance will produce what specific color based upon the frequency(ies) the substance imparts to the photons of light as its electrons produce them while dropping back to their normal energy levels. However, that is only part of the equation, as we also perceive color in objects and substances that are not having excess (relatively speaking) energy applied to them. While true, this statement does not take into account that energy is being constantly applied to everything we see. It is much like the person who reads the standard air pressure gauge, thinking that 0 PSI on the gauge means there is no air pressure present. The reason for this is the implicit assumption that normal air pressure is 0 PSI. Hence, it is a perception that is not true, yet nonetheless there. If it were that no air pressure were present, then there would be no atmosphere, no air present at all. Hence, what the standard air pressure gauge reads is the difference between approximately 14.7 PSI and whatever pressure is present at the port of the gauge. This distinction is not insignificant.
Even so, there is energy from various sources constantly being applied to every substance we can see. Because that energy is being applied, there is a resultant response from the atoms, and thus electrons of those atoms, which reveal various properties of the substances, one of which is color. The mere fact that light shines upon a substance means that energy is being applied to it, and one of the ways it responds is by displaying the property of color. Hence, an object that has the property of absorbing all luminescent energy applied to it properly appears as black. An object that reflects all light energy applied to it appears as white (pure white light being all colors in the visible light frequencies combined), and any substance that allows all luminescent energy to pass through it, absorbing and reflecting none, appears colorless.
Now, all that discussion should illustrate how our understanding of the property of color was seriously restricted and hindered because the context of our understanding of color (as merely being a result of reflected light) was limited. Hence, a much truer understanding of color comes from obtaining the proper context in which to view the property of color. This expanded context would now enable us to begin to determine how to produce, and not merely observe color.
In like manner, our understanding of the context in which we operate and how Satan operates either hinders our understanding of events, or grants us a true picture of how and why the events occur. That being (hopefully) clear, there are two specific contexts within which we must view everything:
I. All spiritual and physical environments that exist1 are squarely within the “box” the LORD God created. There is nothing outside the “box,” neither can there be. The reason for this is quite simple, as the LORD made clear in Scripture:
Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them shew unto them. Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any. (Isaiah 44:6-8)
2. There is a conflict, a war that is ongoing, in which everyone in creation is or was involved. It is imperative that we understand this, as a failure on our part to properly identify this context will affect our understanding significantly. The problem here is that our understanding must be correct to discern the type of conflict we are involved in. This conflict is one in which none of us has any choice about our involvement – we are, and will remain involved until the day of our death. Hence, it is essential that we understand this conflict, its context, and its ramifications. The overarching consideration in this conflict is that Satan hates the LORD God, and by extension, hates man. This also is well established in Scripture, but takes somewhat longer to establish than the first context:
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:26-27)
In the above passage from Genesis, it is made plain that the LORD God chose to make man in a certain specific way that was unique and different from all other creatures He had created. Man is not the same as the animals, and man is not the same as the angels. Rather, man is unique in that he not only has a soul, but is also capable of discerning and judging, capable of creating, capable of self-sacrificial love, and is both physical and spiritual. Man is fully aware that he exists, and seeks meaning for his existence. Man is capable of teaching himself and is capable of understanding things that range from the most simple to the extremely complex. No other creature is quite so well-rounded. The reason for this is quite simple, and is confirmed by James:
Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. (James 3:9)
Knowing this, we can also establish a principle in Scripture that we know is applied and functions throughout the world on a daily basis:
Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. (John 15:20-21)
We might understand this principle by the old saying “The friend of my friend, is my friend” and “The enemy of my friend is my enemy.” Hence, if two people meet, and they both are followers of a certain individual, it follows that they will, to a great degree, get along just fine. On the other hand, if two individuals meet, and one follows a certain person, but the other follows that person’s rival and competitor, it is a certain and sure thing they will not get along. Thus, in John, Chapter 15, the Lord Jesus Christ expressly states that those who hate Him, will hate those who follow Him. Since this principle is well established, it also follows that as Satan hates the LORD God, and man was created in the image of God, Satan hates man. Consider then the following:
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. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners? All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house. But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet. Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, and slain thy people: the seed of evildoers shall never be renowned. (Isaiah 14:12-20)
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. (I Peter 5:8-9)
It ought to be obvious that you do not murder and devour those you love. Neither does one destroy the labor of another if they love them. Yet, what we find in the passage from Isaiah and from I Peter is that the Devil seeks to devour, murder, and destroy man and the works of man. This is despite the fact that the vast majority of men on the earth do not follow the LORD God and do not even believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. It would seem that the Devil would not hate man, since man expresses little to no interest in the LORD and obeying the LORD. Yet this is not the case. Instead, what we find is that Satan seeks to destroy man, and uses man to strike back at the LORD, not caring that it results in the total destruction of the individuals he uses.
However, a particular hatred is reserved for the children of the LORD. We see considerable evidence of this from the Scriptures:
Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. (Daniel 7:23-25)
And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. (Revelation 13:1-8)
In both the passage from Daniel and the passage from Revelation, the time of the Great Tribulation is spoken of. This particular time in history is marked by the deliberate hunting down and killing of all who have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour. The beast (which is yet to come – but nearly here) will spare no effort in hunting down Christians. Those who turn to Christ and repent during this time will very quickly find themselves the target of a very aggressive government, ruled by Satan, in which no expense and effort will be spared to destroy them.
To be continued . . .
- Please do not be mistaken here: there exists only one of each. [↩]