Yesterday we examined the question of whether Satan is real. We reviewed what the Bible has to say and concluded that Satan is real and at work in our world. Today we are going to examine how Satan works and how we can recognize what is from Satan and not from God.
1-SATAN WORKS BY BRUTE FORCE. In the Genesis account, God tells us how the battle between good and evil will progress. “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. It will bruise your head, and you will bruise His heel.” The blow to Satan will ultimately be fatal–evil will die. The damage to the heel will be bad in this life, but not eternally.
The Bible is full of descriptions of Satan’s brute force–the repeated captivity of Israel, the slaying of the babies by Herod, the crucifixion of Jesus, etc. Satan frequently enters his workers to make brute force happen. In John 13:27, Satan entered Judas. In Matthew 16:23, he attempted to enter Peter, but Jesus rebuked him. In our world today, he enters people, especially when invited or not resisted. Every day we see examples of this on the front page of our newspaper.
2-SATAN WORKS BY SOWING BAD SEEDS. In Matthew 13:24-30 Jesus told a parable to explain a second way how Satan works. It is almost impossible to tell the difference between a tare seed and a wheat seed. Satan sows seeds that are not always obvious at the time. It is not always obvious who is sowing the bad seed, as verse 25 says the sower of the bad seed comes at night.
3-SATAN WORKS BY IMITATING GOD’S GOOD THINGS. In 2 Corinthians 11:13-14, we read, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And don’t be surprised, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” In the parable, the tares were not removed until the harvest because it would do too much damage to the wheat to rip them out. So also, evil will not be removed from our lives until the harvest when the fruit of our lives can be seen. God allows perverse forms of marriage and sex to continue to exist, but in the end, the results of these perverse things will be clear.
Once we understand how Satan works, we can know what comes from Satan and not from God. Mathew 7:15-20 tells us to “watch out for false prophets who will come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them … every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit … thus by their fruit you will recognize them.” The next three verses have these evil workers claiming miracles in the name of Christ. People can claim anything, but Jesus says, “Depart from me you workers of iniquity, I never knew you.” We find Paul reaffirming that in 2 Corinthians 11:15.
Jeremiah 23 gives five tests we can all make of religious leaders to see if they are good leaders or false prophets.
1-Vs 9-14 Do they have high moral standards?
2-Vs 16-17 Do they offer false hope?
3-Vs 21-22 Do they have integrity and oppose evil?
4-Vs 29-32 Do they speak where God has not spoken?
5-Vs 33-36 Do they state their opinions as God’s Word?
There are plenty of cheap imitations of the Lord’s Church out there, as you can see by turning on your TV. The religious teachers that fail the tests Jeremiah laid out are Satan’s workers, and they are all around us. That is how Satan works.
There will be a final answer to Satan. In the bad seed parable of Matthew 13, the master says, “Let them both grow together until the harvest time and at harvest time I will tell the reapers ‘Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” It isn’t up to us to make the final judgment because the long-term result of Satan’s activity will make it clear. In Revelation 20, an angel binds Satan and casts him into the fire. The dead, both small and great, will be judged according to their works.
–John N. Clayton © 2018