ARE WE BEING STALKED BY AN ADVERSARY, A DEVOURER OF SOULS?
Who is he anyway? This enemy of ours who snatches away the word sown in the hearts of those who do not understand, the one who sows his evil sons among the sons of the kingdom, the one who would devour our souls if we give him a place.
Scripture gives him the following names: "Satan," "the adversary," "the devil," "the prince of the power of the air," "the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience," "the world force of this darkness," "the father of lies," "a murderer from the beginning," "the accuser of the brethren."
Jesus speaks of him as "the ruler of this world":
"...the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me."
But in his beginning he was created a wondrous personage, an angelic majesty.
"You were the one sealing a pattern, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God... You were the anointed cherub who covers (or guards) and I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked in the midst of the stones of fire.
You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you... Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty..."
"You said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God... I will make myself like the Most High... Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit."
The above Scripture describes Satan's beginning and his end. But it is his mid-life that affects us. When Satan sinned, God did not remove him from the earth where he was originally the covering cherub -- he still had entrance to the Garden of Eden where God also placed Adam and Eve, his new creation.
"And God said, 'Let us make man in our image, and according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.'"
Genesis 1:27, 28
We all know what happened. Satan staged a perfect coup, usurping that authority for himself. And he became the ruler of this world we live in, the prince of the power of the air, the world force of this darkness. So let us not deceive ourselves, treating him like some dufus we can shout down or as a mythical creature in the category of Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster; he has his sights focused on us who are seeking God and His kingdom. He will pursue us, assault us, anywhere that he can find an opening -- in our thoughts, our consciences, our fears, our emotions; anywhere our newly-born spirits are struggling with our flesh to gain control. And everywhere that the things of his world still enamor us.
"Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father..."
1 John 2:15, 16
Also anywhere that self-will, self-expression, self-grandizement, self-indulgence still rule supreme in our hearts and minds...
"Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith..."
1 Peter 5:8
"Be angry and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity (Lit. a place)."
Ephesians 4:26, 27
"Be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might, put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places..."
"Take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything to stand firm."
"...take up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one..."
There are fierce battles for our souls going on, one, from outside ourselves and the other from within -- the struggle between our flesh and our spirit -- our old man against our new man.
"...in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the the old self (Lit. man) which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth."
And Satan, the great dragon, the serpent of old, the deceiver of the whole earth, the one who stole man's God-given birthright to rule over the earth enticed Eve to join him in unrighteousness and rebellion with a lie specially crafted for her. And when she entertained his lie, finding it interesting and desirable, she gave him a place.
Not a shot was fired. All the devil needed to devour Adam and Eve and their pleasant world and ours was an opening, an entrance. But although that is the bad news, it is also the good news; he has boundaries -- he cannot get to us or get into us unless we give him a place. We can recognize him and repel his onslaught at the gate. How?
"Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."
And we can learn much from those who did not resist him and were also devoured.
"Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread ... was approaching. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how they might put Him to death; for they were afraid of the people."
"Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priest, and said, 'What are you willing to give me to deliver Him up to you?' And they weighed out to him thirty pieces of silver. And from then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Him."
"And during supper, the devil, having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot... to betray Him... Jesus became troubled in spirit, and testified, 'Truly I say to you, that one of you will betray Me...' Peter said to Him, 'Tell us who it is...' Jesus answered, 'That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.' So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas...
And after the morsel, Satan then entered into him... Jesus said to him, 'What you do, do quickly...' And so after receiving the morsel he went out immediately; and it was night."
John 13:2, 21-30
Devouring Judas was a two-step process:
Scripture is not clear about what was in Judas' heart that gave the devil an opening. But with our second man, Cain, it is clear -- jealousy and hatred were the openings.
"For this is the message we have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one, and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil and his brother's were righteous... Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer..."
1 John 3:10-15
And when Judas and Cain were devoured they became the devil's agents in the world, doing his will.
Satan devoured the Jewish priesthood:
"You are of your father the devil and you want to do the desires of your Father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, He speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar and the father of it."
And they along with Judas became his agents to crucify Jesus.
Then came a two thousand year onslaught by Satan and his agents to devour the o.v. church.
"At the end of the New Testament period, the enemy of souls found entry into the house of God, and caused God's people, the very heirs of redemption to turn aside from His way..."
And the Message to the Churches in Handbook 2 announces that he finally succeeded in our generation. (Handbook 2, Article 27)
That is why we who heard His message had to "come out" that we might not be devoured.
"Come forth from her midst, My people, and each of you save yourselves...
Depart! Do not stay! Remember the Lord from afar..."
Jeremiah 51:45, 50