Satan's work, and the Christian

A disturbing trend within Christendom is the focus and emphasis on Satan and his work in this world, instead of the supreme work of God and His powerful and glorious manifestation of Christ's life in His children (Gal 2:20, Col 1:27).

There's no biblical foundation for this strange, yet prevalent fascination with satanical work and the powers of evil which have caused many Christians to include in prayer...yes, prayer communications with Satan, i.e., "Dear Lord, help _____ as they suffer. And Satan, we bind and forbid you to..."

Our focused thoughts and meditations are supposed to be on the Almighty and what He has done for us through Christ—all that is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8). Accordingly, our minds are to be captivated by Christ and His magnificence, not Satan and his wickedness (John 16:33, 2 Cor 10:5).

Two of the main reasons I believe Christians are enslaved and crippled by fear rather than soar in faith (Is 40:31) is because:

  1. There's too much concentration that the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion seeing whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8), instead of focusing on the first part of 1 Peter 5:8 which says, "Be sober-minded; be watchful". Rather than read God's Word in context, we ignore the powerful exhortation from our Father and spotlight our enemy's activities, giving special attention to the works of darkness and our emotions.
  2. We're prideful and unrepentant. We prefer to blame all our sins and the sins of others on Satan, rather than consider that Satan is probably not even involved in our lives because we sin so well without him. We forget the greatest enemy we have is within ourselves and not outside of us (cf. Romans 7:15-25).

Our pride, self-righteousness and sense of entitlement causes us to believe all of us have every and/or any spiritual gift we desire, and power to do whatever we deem fit and necessary. Rather than take pride and boast in Christ alone, we take pride and boast in the title "Christian". In doing so, we foolishly forget the one who called us to Himself also called us to humility, sacrificial love and slaves to righteousness (Lk 10:20).

It is not fitting for a child of God to boast in what we think we can do, but our boasting should be in the One who freed us from the captivity of our depraved minds and our flesh's sinful desires; living by the power of Christ and the will of God the Father, who does all things in accordance with His Word (Jer 9:23-24, 1 Peter 4:11).

In the passage below, we see that Satan is flustered because he is bound by God Almighty alone and must have God's permission to work any evil against God's people, and even so, is limited by God to the degree of affliction that he can impose upon one of God's chosen.

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have You not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse You to Your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
~Job 1:6-12

Again, God reveals to us how even the archangel Michael, who sees the face of God (which we do not) and has greater power than us, dealt with the devil.

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ....Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.
~Jude 1:3-4, 8-10

Finally, Luke records what can happen to foolish and presumptuous people who have no true faith in God, nor do they humbly submit to His authority, but arrogantly desire to appropriate Jesus' all-powerful and holy name to do their bidding.

Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
Acts 19:13-16

Rather than cast out the evil spirit, these foolish and arrogant sons of Sceva experienced a terrible and frightening reverse type of exorcism. Instead of commanding the spirits, they were overcome by them (Proverbs 16:8).

Listen to this short 2-minute clip by Pastor John MacArthur regarding such practices by false teachers and preachers and sadly, even true children of God who have been seduced to believe they can pronounce any judgment or command over any spirit—without any authority; therefore without any power to make anything they say come to pass.

I share all this not as one over any of you, or better than any of you, for there was a time I too, was seduced by my pride and false teaching to pray the same way. But now I shudder to think that I used to include Satan in my prayers, rather than pray to the LORD Almighty alone, who graciously and mercifully hears and listens to my pleas (Ps 116:1-2).

Satan doesn't listen to me or you simply because we are Christians. None of us have any authority or power over Satan or his demons without positively knowing we've been given that authority directly by Jesus Himself. Only Christ the risen Lord has all authority and power to command evil spirits, and He appointed only 14 apostles (including Judas Iscariot, Matthias who took Judas' place and Paul) and various others while He was still here (Lk 9:49-50) to have authority over evil spirits.

I assure you, neither Satan nor his demons are afraid of me. And they're not afraid of you either. But they do shudder at the presence of the Almighty and obeyed the few whom Christ gave authority. And because of God's great mercy and protection on His often foolish children, the demons cannot do to us what they did to the sons of Sceva who were not believers.

However, let us be careful not to give way to our pride and continue this blasphemous practice because God keeps us even while we play the fool. If we claim to love the Lord Jesus, and truly abide in Him, it ought to pierce our hearts and wrench your souls to know that believers who entertain this vile practice, give cause for God's holy name and word to be reviled.

So next time you think Satan is "attacking" you, do what God says, resist him (James 4:7) and turn to your Heavenly Father and ask Him for His protection, guidance and binding of Satan, that is of course, if it is His will.

Remember, as a child of the Almighty, anything that happens to you, whether "good" or "evil", know it is all in the economy of God's good and loving work in your life; to conform you all the more into the likeness of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (Job 2:10, 2 Sam 16:10-12, 2 Cor 4:16-18, Rom 8:28-29).

This is why, unlike the world, though hardships cause us deep pain and sometimes bitter tears, we can find joy in the midst of sorrows. Because we can trust the mighty hand of God to afflict us, we find peace and security; knowing His love will strengthen us, not crush us (2 Cor 4:7-10).

"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."
-2 Corinthians 4:16-18, ESV