The Bible teaches that there are two forces, one good and one evil; however, it does not teach that the two forces are equal. The Bible teaches that God is sovereign over everything and that Satan’s existence is only tolerated because he fits into God’s plan.
In Job 1:6-12, there is an interesting dialogue between God and Satan. Satan had to ask God’s permission before going after Job. Satan is God’s lackey, acting only with His permission.
Not only is Satan far less than God’s equal; Satan will one day actually glorify God along with the rest of creation. The Scripture says, “Therefore also God highly exalted Him [Christ], and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11). The Christian faith is not dualistic. Everything was created for one purpose, to glorify God. And even Satan will one day glorify God.
That is part of the good news, but there is more: The Christian is playing in a ball game that has been fixed. The contest has already been decided. The victory has already been won. Satan will come out on the short end of the stick. You can count on it because on the Cross of Christ Satan’s end was secured, and in the empty tomb the believer’s victory was made manifest.
The Scripture says, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Heb. 2:14-15).
The fact of Satan’s defeat, however, should not lull the Christian into believing that he or she is powerless. Martin Luther told his followers they ought to be very careful of Satan because he had years of experience on them. If the battle is to be won, it must be won by Christ in our lives, not by our power to resist and fight. As the writer of Hebrews goes on to say, “He is able to help those who are being tempted” (verse 18).
With that in mind, let me give you some practical helps for dealing with Satan.
God has given us the gift of prayer in the name of Christ, and that gift ought to be utilized. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He told them to pray to be delivered from “the evil one.” (See Matt. 6:13. The familiar King James Version reads, “deliver us from evil”; but the Greek actually implies a personal “evil one,” and most modern translations render it that way.) And when Jesus was warning Peter, He said, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32). When you are overwhelmed by temptation, burdened with the evil within your own heart and from others, depressed beyond the help of modern pop psychology, try praying in the name of Christ that Satan be banished. It is a powerful prayer.
The second tool God has given the Christian to appropriate the victory already won is faith. Faith is a part of our Christian armor, described in Ephesians 6: “In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one” (Eph. 6:16). Another word for faith is trust. Paul was saying that the Christian ought to be developing a walk with Christ that enables him or her to trust Christ’s ability to deal with Satan.
In the old movie My Bodyguard, bullies intimidated a boy at his high school. He talked one big, mean kid into being his bodyguard, and thereafter he was able to stand up to all the intimidation. You have a Bodyguard, and only a fool will wander far from Him.
The Christian can also appropriate Christ’s victory over Satan with watchfulness. Peter said, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion” (1 Peter 5:8). Don’t assume you are too spiritual to be attacked by the tempter; nobody is. Don’t think that because you have read your Bible and prayed you are free from the possibility of evil; nobody is. Don’t think there is some magic formula that will exempt you from the devil’s plans; there isn’t. The closer you draw to Jesus, the closer Satan will try to draw to you. If you know that, you will be watchful. After almost every spiritual victory in your life you will be open to doubt, pride, anger, and evil thoughts. Someone has said, “If you didn’t meet Satan this morning, it’s a pretty good indication you were going in the same direction.” To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
In order to appropriate the victory over Satan won for you on the Cross, be feisty in your resistance. The Bible says, “But resist him [Satan], firm in your faith” (1 Peter 5:9). James said, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). It’s dangerous to believe that if you do nothing, everything will be okay. God didn’t design the world that way, and He didn’t design you that way. You were meant to be active in your walk with Christ.
In order to appropriate the victory over Satan won for you on the Cross, be feisty in your resistance.
Now, please notice that I didn’t tell you to fight the battle yourself, or insist that your own heroic effort will defeat Satan. That isn’t what the Scriptures mean when they talk about resistance. The passage I quoted from James has two parts: “Submit therefore to God,” then, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” If you do that, Satan will know that you belong to Christ and that you stand with His hedge about you...so he will flee.
Do you remember in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy, the lion, the tin man, and the scarecrow finally reached the Wizard? The Wizard was an awe-inspiring figure frightening everyone except, of course, Toto, Dorothy’s little dog. Toto ran to the curtain and pulled it back, revealing a little man pulling the levers that controlled the gigantic, fake wizard. Satan is sort of like that wizard. If you confront him in the power of Christ, if you resist him, you will find that he isn’t as big as you thought.
There’s an old English proverb that says, “Fear knocked at the door, faith answered, and no one was there.” Apply that proverb to Satan and it fits: Satan knocked at the door, faith answered, and no one was there.
Truth is a strong weapon against Satan. Paul says, “Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth.” And again, “Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:14, 17). The best way to deal with the “father of lies” is to apply a heavy dose of truth. Satan will tell you that you are powerless against him; he will say you don’t belong to Christ; he will make you afraid and tell you the Bible isn’t true. When that happens, speak the truth: “When He [God] had disarmed the rulers and authorities [Satan and his demonic helpers], He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him [Christ]” (Col. 2:15). That is a fact, and you can stand on it.
Adapted from Steve’s book, If Jesus Has Come.
Check out our interview with Michael Heiser on his book, 'The World Turned Upside Down: Finding The Gospel In Stranger Things.'