Our Prowling Adversary
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”- 1 Peter 5:8–9
Having considered much of what the Bible has to say about angels, we will turn our attention to Satan, the devoted foe of God’s people. Over the centuries, the church has identified Satan and his demonic minions as good angels who have become evil. There would seem to be support for this notion in such passages as Job 1:6, which explains how Satan came before the Lord when the “sons of God” came to Him. Other texts, including Luke 10:18 and Revelation 12:7–9, point to a fall of Satan from heaven that indicates the presence of Satan and demons in the heavenlies during some period of time. Given that angels are routinely depicted as working in the heavenly places, it is reasonable to conclude from these passages that Satan and demons were once angels with full rights to the heavenly areas (see Jude 1:6).
Traditionally, Satan’s fundamental sin that led to his fall has been identified as pride, which led him to try to usurp God’s rightful place as Lord of all. Hence, there arose the belief that one could attack the devil by assaulting his pride through mockery. Such mocking often took the form of silly depictions of Satan with such things as horns, a tail, and a pitchfork. Yet we dare not let these cartoons prompt us to forget that the demonic powers seek to steal, kill, and destroy. As 1 Peter 5:8–9 indicates, Satan prowls around like a hungry lion, looking for men and women whom he may devour. Now, we do need to be careful about overestimating the influence that Satan wields. He is not equal to our Creator and is finally subject to His sovereign decree (Job 1:1–2:10; Eph. 1:11). Still, the devil is powerful and evil, a foe whom we cannot hope to defeat unless we are on God’s side.
Scripture describes Satan as our “adversary” (1 Peter 5:8), who as the number-one foe of God’s people is also the top enemy of God’s people. Despite his power, the devil and his minions are more apt to come after us indirectly, craftily sowing doubt about the goodness and wisdom of the Lord like he did with Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:1–5). Jesus says the adversary is the “father of lies” whose most frequently used weapon is deceit (John 8:44).
Peter’s example shows us that we are most likely to succumb to the devil when we place our confidence in ourselves to withstand him (Luke 22:31–34, 54–62). We can fight Satan off only by standing in Christ, resisting him with biblical truth in the power of the Holy Spirit (James 4:7; 1 John 4:4).
Since Satan’s favorite weapon against us is deceit, the only way to counter him is with the truth. That is one reason why it is so important for us to be armed with a sound knowledge of Scripture, which is the very truth of God Himself. As our minds are renewed through the study of the Lord’s Word, we are prepared to succeed in spiritual warfare against the devil.
Passages for Further Study
1 Chronicles 21:1–17