Satan is craftier than we expect and stronger than we know. Today, R.C. Sproul teaches that while our enemy poses a great threat to us, he is no match for our omnipotent Redeemer.
The New Testament speaks of Satan as one who manifests himself, as we say in philosophy, sub species boni—under the auspices of the good. The Scriptures warn us that Satan manifests himself as an angel of light. He is the prince of darkness in reality, but he has this ability of metamorphosis, this ability of disguise, of traveling incognito and disguising himself as an angel of light. He doesn’t pop up like he would to Dr. Faustus and say: “Let me have your soul. I’m Satan. I’m the bad guy.” No, he’s much too crafty for that. He will come to us under the cloaks of goodness. He will appear as a minister, as a priest, as a religious leader; all the outward appearances seem to be good. This is his MO. And that’s why we’re called to be warned against this one who comes disguised as an angel of light. That’s one metaphor that the New Testament uses.
Another one is that drawn from the animal kingdom. Satan goes about as a roaring lion seeking to devour those whom he will. Now to the Jew, the image of the lion is the image of supreme strength. The lion is the king of the beasts. He is the one who was most powerful. It seems when we hear that image that Satan is going around this world as a roaring lion seeking to devour whom he will; we have to feel like what chance do we have against him? He is so powerful. And yet we’re also told by the New Testament, resist Satan, and he will flee from you. I have this mixed image of Satan in my head, on the one hand of the clear and present danger of this voracious lion who’s on the prowl. Then I see this lion turning and running down the street yelping with its tail between its legs, like a smitten dog. Jesus also comforts us in the New Testament, comforts us by saying, “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” One of the things that I’ve rejoiced about in the Christian faith is that we aren’t dualists. We don’t believe that there are two equal and opposite powers at work fighting to a Mexican standoff in eternity, in the universe. A good God and a bad god. No.
Satan, however powerful, however sly, however guileful and crafty he may be, he is still a creature. As a creature, his power is limited. He is potent, but he is not omnipotent. Only God is omnipotent. He is smart, but he’s not omniscient. He has minions and legions of demons at his beck and call to help him execute his plans, but he himself is not omnipresent. He can’t be in more than one place at the same time. I doubt if he’s ever showed up in my life; he’s too busy going after the big game than to waste his time with me or with you. He’ll send one of his junior-grade demons to do the job with me, and that’s usually all it takes anyway. But the point is, he has this whole host of helpers, but they are all finite. They are all creatures. They’re no match for God. They’re no match for the Holy Spirit. That’s the good news.
The bad news is left to ourselves, we’re no match at all for any of them. Do you remember when Jesus predicted that Peter would betray Him, deny Him? And Peter said, “Never. I’ll never do that.” Remember what Jesus said? “Simon, Simon, Satan would have you and sift you like wheat, but I’ve prayed for you. I have put a hedge around you, Simon. I’ve put My name on you. I’ve put My mark on you. Don’t think that you’re going to stand against Satan by yourself. You’re duck soup for Satan. He sifts you like wheat. You’re nothing. You’re putty in his hands, but I have prayed for you.”