Satan is convinced by authority, not words or formulas. Seven brothers found that out (Acts 19).
Enter Jesus. He declared war on the devil and plundered his goods. He defeated the devil first by using the authority given by His Father to cast out demons. Second, He lived a sinless life, giving Satan no room to attack. Third, He died on the cross, totally devastating the powers of darkness. As He faced His death, He said, “Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out” (John 12:31, Col. 2:14,15).
How do we shrink the devil? Same way. We have authority to cast out demons. We put on the armor, the righteousness of Christ. When deficient, we are subject to attack. If we believe lies, we are not wearing the belt of truth. “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the devil’s schemes.”
Satan doesn’t fight with raw power but with deception, intimidation, accusation, and temptation. We are told: “Resist him, firm in your faith” (I Peter 5:9). James writes, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7b). Send him running!
Third, our most effective strategy is dying to self. Christ died—we die. He had His cross; we have ours. Defeated at the cross, Satan is again disarmed when we die to ourselves. This strategy keeps us from focusing too much on the devil. Jesus spoke about Satan in two parables (the sower and the wheat and tares), and He referred to him on other occasions. The law of proportion suggests that He assaulted Satan most by doing what he came to do—die. He didn’t focus on the devil—we don’t either.
We’ve got two extremes: those who never feel we talk about him enough, and those who don’t think we need to talk about him. Peter gives us proper balance. In his naïve days, he was told that Satan was going after him. He shrugged it off with an unrehearsed vow of allegiance. Then Satan and a servant girl worked him over. Had not the Master seen the adversary’s advance and counterattacked with prayer, Peter would never have recovered.
Seasoned by service, he wrote of the enemy’s tactics. But it comes in the middle of the fifth chapter in two verses after a Christ-centered letter on how to die in the midst of difficulties. He writes, “Be sober, 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 experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world” (I Peter 5:8,9). His two-point strategy for dealing with Satan:
- Recognize. Sobriety enables us to see things as they really are. Watchfulness means that our eyes stay open. Peter gives three names to the enemy, first “adversary.” Our enemy is not the person who ignores us at church or those secular humanists. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood.” One reason for weakness is that we wrestle more often with flesh and blood than with Satan.
The second designation is “devil”, meaning “slanderer.” How freely he mocked the Almighty when talking with Eve: “Has God really said?” When God spoke favorably about Job in Satan’s presence, he responded, “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan likewise slings missiles of accusation at God’s children. The unguarded will be assaulted.
The third term is “lion.” The devil does not sit in a cave; he stalks. When God addressed Satan on Job’s behalf, He asked where he had been. The devil answered, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it” (Job 1:7). As he roams, he roars. God usually speaks in a still, small voice. Satan, defiant, agitates and stirs up. He tries to intimidate with his noisy growl. Fearful saints cower, while intelligence forces realize that his growl gives him away. (End of Part One. Part Two in three days).