Who is the Devil anyway, and what does he do?
Satan is the Devil, the chief of the fallen angels. Since they were thrown out from heaven for usurpation of power and rebellion, they are here on Earth (see Re. 12.9; 2 Th. 2.4). They are the original anti-God even before we were created. Their main goal is to dissuade as many as they can from coming to God, and eventually take with them to their final destination – which is hell. When our first ancestors, Adam and Eve were created, Satan (as the serpent) was already there.
We could ask ourselves, why did God throw them on Earth, and not directly to hell? My best answer to that is, the LORD meant this present world to be a testing phase of life, and whoever overcomes sin overcomes the devils, and will then be among those taken to the next phase – the eternal life. This is both a test of faith and volitional love for Him – that is, a filtering stage.
Where is he and his cohorts?
They are everywhere in this world, invisible to the physical eyes of humankind. They are spirits, rulers of the darkness of this world (see Ep. 6.12). They cannot be seen, but their activities are manifested in the works of men and women all over the world.
How then, can we detect them?
Hardly really, especially if one does not understand the set-up of this world, its story, and where it is heading. Knowledge of the Bible is a must in order to somehow get a grasp of everything, and consequently gain the sense to detect them and their works.
A person who is under sinful activities barely realize that he or she is under the yoke of the devils. Sin has blinding effect on our intellect, and it captures our will (see Ro. 7.23).
First, let us realize the fact that these fallen angels, now called devils and/ or demons dwell in sin, or in darkness.They opposed the Almighty, the bastion of righteousness (or whatever things that are right), and so therefore they were thrown away on the other side – the side of unrighteousness or sin. They cannot go back anymore to their former state. The LORD has figured out they were incorrigible; otherwise, how could they be adjudged to be sent away to hell in the appointed time the LORD Himself has set?
In light of this, they reside in the sphere where the state of consciousness is anything but godly. Anything in the opposite of God is where and what they are. Anything against, or sinful to the LORD is their territory and influence. Anything ugly and despicable is what they are concerned about. Anything dishonest and corrupting is their specialty. Let us remember that the Devil is the father of transgression. He is its originator and hence, has become the influence for all mankind. Who else is?
Now, how do they do operate?
Actually, it is not too difficult for them to influence and enslave mankind to their brand of life. Why? It is because this is a fallen world we live in. Mankind is under the dominant influence of sin. Sins abound everywhere – just look around and it is not hard to observe that. We all know that the wages of sin is death . . .(see Ro. 6.23). Death expressed here is not death of the body, but of the soul – as opposed to eternal life. This is the big, big trouble about sin.
Ignorance is really the main problem. I am not talking about just any kind of ignorance – but the ignorance of God. A person ignorant of God and His ways is automatically an easy prey of the devils. Knowledge is power, and anybody without it is powerless; moreover, the person is not even aware that he is because of ignorance in the first place.
The Devil and company hit where we are weakest. And where is that? Our own carnality is the answer. It is our weakest link. What is carnality? It is the state of being carnal. The Latin root word is carn, meaning flesh.
So the dictionary defines carnal as:
- of or relating to the body
- relating to or given to selfish pleasures and appetites
- of or relating to the world
- earthly, rather than heavenly
The apostle Paul termed carnal activities as works of the flesh. He listed several of these activities as: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, . . . envy, murder, drunkenness, etc. (see Ga. 5.19-21) The commonly recognized seven deadly sins, namely: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride are all works of the flesh.
If a Christian still commits sin from time to time, it is because carnality or dominance of the flesh, is still there. Christianity should not be about prohibitions and restrictions, or the thou shalls and thou shall nots (for we will still be under the law); rather, it should be about total liberation from carnal mindedness. Paul sternly warned, for to be carnally minded is death . . . because the carnal mind is enmity against God. (see Ro. 8.6-7)
How to get rid of flesh enslavement?
- It is by a total change of mindset. A transformation can begin by the renewing of your mind as taught by Paul who went through the process (see Ro. 12.2). He was fully aware that carnal mindedness is death, hence the mandatory shift to spiritual mindedness. A dire need to go higher in our state of consciousness is a must, since carnality is the lowest state of man’s intelligence. A decision to renew one’s life is the beginning.
- Mortify the deeds of the flesh by not making provisions for it to fulfill its lust (see Ro. 13.14). Just imagine that our old body is crucified with Christ, as Paul teaches; in doing so, the body of sin is destroyed, hence we should not serve sin (see Ro. 6.6). This is figuratively getting nailed on the cross and dying from the old man or self in order to live anew.
- Here’s a tip: Differentiate need from want. Afterwards, retain your needs and get rid of the wants. Our flesh/body needs food, water, clothing, shelter, etc. Basic needs are necessary because they are required to sustain life, without which we could die. Wants are those things that we could go without and still live. Examples are: drunkenness, cigarette smoking, drugs, fashion fads, jewelry, feasting, wild parties, etc. If we stop smoking, we will not die; on the contrary, we could prolong our life. But if we stop eating or drinking water, we will surely die. This is just an example of the difference between need and want.
There are also necessities that have become needs in today’s living like: personal transportation, computer, television, home appliances, etc. We should be contented if we have these. Do we want an expensive flashy car for a means of transportation? Or we just need a decent car? Choosing the former is a choice in excess and pride.
We cannot just want all the beautiful clothes that we see in the department store. We cannot just want to have every latest gadget that comes in the market. We cannot just want the properties of others. Want is the jumping board for covetousness, envy, greed, lust, etc., and it could go as far as murder.
What did Christ say to Satan when he was tempted to turn stones into bread? “. . . Man shall not live by bread alone . . .”(see Mt. 4.4) This packs a wallop. This simply laid sentence was a gem of wisdom. This means mankind shall not live by food, or money, or material things alone. This was a slap on carnality and Satan’s face. Life is not just about living in the flesh and the material things we work and long for, but firstly, by the wisdom of God.
Contentment is a good defense against temptations of the flesh. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out, reasons Paul. And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content. Why so? Because . . . they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil . . .(see 1 Ti. 6.6-10). This what usually happens when we go beyond what is needed, when we want more, more, more . . .
Steadfast faith in God discourages the devils.
Fear and fear in them attracts them.; on the contrary, faith in God dismays them. The shield of faith blocks the tactics of the devil, explained Paul in Ep. 6.16. Job surpassed the calamities brought about by Satan in his life. He beat him by believing in the LORD all the way; moreover he thought the trial was going to turn his character into gold.
When unpleasant circumstances strike, the devil wants us to think that God does not care or has forsaken us, while in reality, all things work together for good to them that love God . . . (see Ro. 8.28)
In a nutshell:
Our direct adversary is not the devil; rather, it is our own carnality – for it is where they tease and can easily lure us. Our three objectives:
- first, we cut off our own carnality and worldliness, and we cut off the link for the devils;
- second, practice contentment in any given situation in life;
- third, top it off with steadfast faith in the LORD Almighty who booted them out of heaven, and they will flee. They will have no interest in us.