Beware of the Lion

Kenya, Africa, has produced a significant number of champion distance runners. Why is this so? A reporter at the Sydney Australia Olympics asked that very question to Kenyan marathoner Kip Lagat.  He asked If it had something to do with their training.  Legat replied, “It’s the road signs, “Beware of lions”.  Many school children in Kenya have to walk to school, but most do not walk, they run!  Can you imagine being concerned that your children might encounter a hungry lion on their way to school.  A good Kenyan mother who loved her children would certainly warn her children of the danger, wouldn’t she?  She would hope that they learned to run when it was time to run.

  • Frankly, this is sound Biblical advice as well.  Peter warns all of us of a lion that roams every neighborhood in the world.  “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (2 Peter 5:8).  Peter’s stern warning is the basis of our study this month.  We have an enemy; one who desires to devour us.

I.  Who is Satan? This is not a simple question. Although the Bible teaches the certain existence of Satan, or the devil, as a real person, it does not give a lot of details about him. Man’s fertile imagination has produced fanciful depictions and theories about Satan. You probably have an image of him in your own mind that may have come from these images. The Bible is the only reliable source of information about our enemy.

A. Satan is introduced in Genesis. (Gen. 3:1) He is later clearly identified in Rev. 12:9 as “that serpent of old, called the devil and Satan.”  There is no explanation of his origin. He is simply there in the garden, in the form of a serpent. He immediately is depicted as the adversary of God, and the tempter of men. As Jesus tells us later, we learn that he is the father of lies (John 8:44).

1.   Isaiah 14:12-15 is often associated with the origin of Satan. The text describes one known as Lucifer who attempts to ascend to the throne of heaven but is cast down to the ground. These words were addressed by Isaiah to the king of Babylon, and it is speculative to declare a further connection with Satan. But there are implications in Scripture that Satan is a spirit being who was formerly an angel. 2 Peter 2:4 speaks about angels who sinned and were “cast down to hell”.  Jude also alludes to angels who left their proper domain and are reserved for judgment.  (Jude 6) John tells us that Satan has sinned from the beginning.

2.  In the O.T. He is first identified by name Satan in the book of Job.(1:6)  The term “satan” literally means adversary or enemy. He is also identified as the “devil” (diabolos) in the N.T. which means accuser.  We will see how these designations fit his character well.

3.  There are several other biblical terms used to identify him through description. Satan is referred to as the tempter (Matt 4:5; 1 Thess 3:5); Beelzebub (Matt 12:24); Enemy (Matt 13:39); Evil One (Matt 13; 1 John 2:13-14; 3:12, 5:18); Belial (2 Cor 6:15);  Great Dragon (Rev 12:3);  and Father of Lies (John 8:44);   The terms used to describe Satan help us see his character more clearly, and in that we can defend ourselves from his destructive purposes.

4. 2 Corinthians 2:1111 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices. The word for devices here is noema (no-ay-mah). The first definition of this word is perception or thought. It also is translated as scheme. Interestingly it is used again in 2 Cor. 10:5, where Paul says we must cast down the strongholds of evil and bring every “thought” into captivity to Christ.

  • We see here that Satan’s devices, are not physical things like the magician would use to trick his audience. His device is a thought or perception that appears to be true, but it actually false.
  • It also indicates that Satan has plans. He does not work from the cuff. HE schemes against us through deception and evil people and bad circumstances.

5.   He is the ruler of this world. Immediately after Jesus predicted His death on the cross, God spoke from heaven to verify Jesus’ words. He then told his disciples: John 12:30-31This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. Twice more in John Jesus referred to Satan as the ruler of this world (14:20; 16:11) Jesus was not referring to the physical creation. That is certainly under God’s control, as the miracles taught. But the world refers to the conglomerate system of thought and activity that opposes God. ISBE describes this use of world as “humanity in its sinful aspect, the spirit and forces of fallen humanity regarded as antagonistic to God and to good,” Satan is in charge of everything that opposes God. You cannot serve this world and God at the same time. (James 4)

II.  What Does Satan Do? How does he accomplish his purposes (schemes).

A. Satan Lies: Gen 3:4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. The serpent lied. As we mentioned earlier, Jesus said in John 8:44 –  44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

1. Jesus calls Satan a murderer from the beginning: The lies of Satan, and subsequent sinful behavior they led to, brought both physical and spiritual death. 1 John 3:2 describes Cain, who killed his brother, as “of the wicked one”.

2.  does not tsand in the truth – He attempts to give credibility to that which is false. He encourages people to accept partial truth as whole truth. Isn’t there some truth in all religions? Every false religion is from Satan. Every plant that the Father did not plant will be rooted up.

3.  The purpose of the lies is to deceive. Later in Genesis 3 , when God confronted Adam and Eve –  vs. 13 And the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

4. 2 Cor 11:13-14 “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.”  – Angels are messengers who in times past had delivered the message of God to men. If an angel spoke to you would you believe him?  Satan appears credible, so people easily believe his lies.

a.  The parable of the soils…Matthew 13:19 “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. – The wicked one comes and snatches away the good seed of God’s word from some people’s hearts before it even begin to take hold. Later in that same chapter Jesus says that Satan is the one responsible for sowing tares among the good wheat. (Counterfeits).

b.  If anyone in this world is deceived it is because of Satan. Rev 12:9  “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 2 Cor 4:3-4 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”

c.   Our principle weapon against the activity of Satan is the truth revealed in scripture.  ISBE makes this statement about Satan:  “it is perfectly evident that Satan’s power consists principally in his ability to deceive. It is interesting and characteristic that according to the Bible Satan is fundamentally a liar and his kingdom is a kingdom founded upon lies and deceit. The doctrine of Satan therefore corresponds in every important particular to the general Biblical emphasis upon truth. “The truth shall make you free” (John 8:32) – this is the way of deliverance from the power of Satan.  (from International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright © 1996, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

5.  Satan’s lie lead to sinful conduct. This is at the heart of what we call temptation. James tells us that we are enticed through the flesh. The temptations that comes so emphatically through the desires of the flesh are coupled with lies.   It won’t hurt anybody, its just this one time; this will really make me happy; This is the only choice I have, etc..

B.  Satan Destroys: In Revelation 9:11, the angel of the bottomless pit is called by the name Abaddon, which in the Hebrew means “destroyer”.  He seeks to destroy every good thing in your life.  He is that roaring lion.

1.  Satan’s ability to destroy (or completely devour) individuals comes through his ability to tempt people to sin. James 1:13-15  Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” Sin is naturally terminal. It is not just a single isolated event, but it becomes a life of rebellion and places the sinner under bondage.  In Romans 6:16 Paul warns us against “sin leading to death”.

2.  Satan was constantly attempting to destroy the life of Jesus. From the murder of the innocent children in Bethlehem to the cross itself, Satan was involved. Satan put it into the heart of Judas to betray Him (John 13:2).  Revelation 12 depicts him as a great dragon waiting to destroy the child as he was born.

3.  Jesus was concerned about Satan’s efforts to destroy His own apostles. Satan always targets leaders, and those who display conviction. Luke 22:31-32 And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32 “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (NKJ) Satan asked for Peter. I wonder if Peter though of this event later on when he wrote about that roaring loin seeking to devour God’s people. Peter knew what it was like to be stalked by the lion.  I see a few implications here:

  • Satan has to get God’s permission to tempt people. Satan is not sovereign, God is. That is a comforting thought, and identifies the true source of the resisting & conquering power I need.
  • God allows us to be sifted. Satan wanted to “sift” Peter and the other apostles as well. Sifting was the winnowing process whereby the wheat was separated from the chaff (or worthless hull of the wheat). Of course, without sifting the real wheat could not be identified and used. God allowed Satan to sift the apostles because He was going to use their wheat.
  • Those who have been sifted and given in to Satan (as Peter did) can return to Jesus. He has not answer for the penitent heart.

3.  Satan wants to destroy your family, your happiness, and your faith. Take a close look at what Satan did to Job. He took pleasure in destroying everything that Job cherished.

4.  We must resist him, and submit ourselves to God. James 4:7

C.   Satan Accuses – Rev. 12:9-11 “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. 11 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”

1.  One of the clear pictures of Satan in the O.T. is in the opening scenes of Job. It is Satan who is convinced that Job is not a true believer, and will fail of he is tested.  He effectively accuses Job of being disingenuous.  Job 1:9-11 –  So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing?  10 Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”

3.  Your Sin is Satan’s accusation. He stands condemned and wants you to be condemned as well. He knows his fate, and wants you to share in it.

Conclusion: Do you know how you will answer Satan’s accusation? Will you claim ignorance, or temporary insanity, or maybe you can tell Satan “You cannot accuse me I have never sinned?” – None of those answers will suffice. There is only one answer to Satan’ accusation of sin.

  • I Jn 2:1-2  My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
  • Rom 8:1 There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” –
  • Are you in Christ?  Or does Satan’s accusation against you stand.
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