Are you a self-described Christian? In other words, do you consider yourself a Christian? Do you believe in an actual being known as Satan, or is he just a symbol of evil? A 2008 Barna Group survey revealed that 59% of self-described Christians either strongly agree or agree somewhat that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.” Twenty-six percent disagreed strongly and 9% disagreed somewhat with Satan being merely a symbol of evil. Eight percent weren’t sure what they believed (those would be the politically-moderate no doubt!).
Born-again Christians, those who say they’ve made a personal commitment to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, are twice as likely to disagree strongly with the notion that Satan is a mere symbol of evil. That means barely half of born again Christians believe that Satan is an actual being as described in the bible.
What’s even more confusing is half of the Christians who believe Satan is a symbol believe you can be under demonic influence.
Why the confusion? Because they’re either not reading their Bibles or they’re reading their Bibles and not believing them. With that in mind we are going to spend this week on the topic of demonology, the study of demons. This is not going to be some “exciting” study of the occult in the fashion of The Exorcist or Poltergeist movies; I know all too well the snare of such. We are going to take a walk through the Bible and look at satanic and demonic influences on human lives.
Where to begin? Well, as is always the case when I want to start a study, I always look to Jesus first. Did Jesus experience any type of satanic or demonic influence in His life on earth? Absolutely!
“Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry. And the devil said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.’ But Jesus answered him, saying, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”’ Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, ‘All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.’ And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.”’ Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: “He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you,” and, “In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”’ And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘It has been said, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”’Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.” (Luke 4:1-13)
So much going on here and so little space to comment!
First, Satan is real. If not, then Jesus was delusional from hunger and thirst and imagined the whole passage as recorded by Luke the Physician through the eyes of Peter remembering the Lord’s account of this temptation. As we will see this week, Satan is real and the Biblical account is exhaustive.
Second, Satan is very, very smart and wily in his attacks. He first attacks Jesus through His person, trying to tempt Jesus into meeting His fleshly needs. Jesus was hungry and no doubt a fresh loaf of bread would be a welcomed sight. Satan then tries to attack Jesus with power. Satan had the keys to earth, lost to him by Adam and he could give “all the kingdoms of the world” to Jesus should the Lord choose. Lastly, Satan tried to attack Jesus with pride by daring Jesus to prove that He was indeed “the Son of God.”
Jesus left us a wonderful lesson of how to deal with Satan’s onslaught; use the Word of God, of which Paul described as the Sword of the Spirit.
Lastly, verse thirteen is very revealing:
“Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.” (Luke 4:13)
So Satan the devil, an actual being, stopped tempting Jesus and left “Him until an opportune time.” What was this opportune time? It was in the Garden of Gethsemane:
“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, ‘Sit here while I go and pray over there.’ And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.’” (Matthew 26:36-38)
Well Bro Dave there is no mention of Satan in this passage. Oh he is there, so much so we see in Luke 22:43 that God sent Him an angel from Heaven to strengthen Him.
So why was this the opportune time for Satan to tempt Jesus? Oswald Chambers explains it best:
“It was not the death on the cross that Jesus feared in Gethsemane; He stated most emphatically that He came on purpose to die. In Gethsemane He feared lest He might not get through as Son of Man. He would get through as Son of God – Satan could not touch Him there; but Satan’s onslaught was that He would get through as an isolated Figure only; and that would mean that He could be no Savior. Read the record of the agony in the light of the temptation: ‘He departed from Him until an opportune time.’ In Gethsemane Satan came back and was again overthrown. Satan’s final onslaught against our Lord as Son of Man is in Gethsemane.”
Satan was defeated in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was warned of this in the Garden of Eden. Death was defeated on the Cross.
Satan’s onslaught upon Jesus was very real in the Garden of Gethsemane. So it is in the life of a Christian. He will wait for “an opportune time” to attack each of us. He never gives us a break. And he uses all types of techniques to get to us.
I said earlier this study would not be in the fashion of how movies depict the devil and his worshippers. However, that is what Satan desired of Jesus while tempting Him. Satan wanted Jesus’ worship and that makes this an important subject, devil worshipping that is.
More on that tomorrow…
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Copyright © 2012 David Jeffers