Discipleship: Why the Devil May Care
From the Bible we know that there are other powerful beings in heaven known as angels. Most of them are benevolent, friendly and helpful. They often appear in the Bible as agents or messengers for God, or serving and protecting human beings. Although angels occasionally manifest themselves in something resembling human form, they are not bound by physical limitations. They are created, eternal beings in the spirit world.
We cannot, as human beings, enter that world. We were created to live in a physical environment, dependent on air, food and water. However, the Bible tells us that it is God’s intention that humans will eventually become immortal and enjoy eternal life in a spiritual realm.
If we are to properly understand our relationship to God and the spirit world, we must understand God’s purpose for giving us physical life. If our concept of the overall purpose of life is vague or muddled, we are vulnerable to ideas and practices that can undermine that purpose.
The astounding destiny of the human race is clearly revealed in the Bible, but it has been tragically misunderstood and misrepresented. Perhaps because the truth is so astounding, there are many false ideas and theories about the purpose and potential of human life. So let’s repeat this important point: Human beings were made with the capacity to become more than they are now. It is God’s intention that humanity eventually become immortal and enjoy eternal life.
Before he was crucified, Jesus Christ told his followers that he was going to prepare a place for them, and added, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3). If we look to Jesus Christ for guidance, he will lead us to our destiny in a sure, safe and certain way. That is the positive and encouraging news about the spirit world.
Unfortunately, not all that is in the spirit world is good, beneficent and helpful. There is a dark side. You cannot understand the spirit world without understanding the role of Satan, the devil, ruler of the powers of darkness, leader of the forces of spiritual evil.
Although most people have some form of belief in God, many find it harder to believe that there is a devil. That is exactly what the devil wants. If he can be thought of as a figment of our imagination, a bygone fantasy of medieval superstition, he has the perfect disguise to perform his role of adversary of God and enemy of mankind.
The Bible reveals that Satan was once a powerful angel. He became perverted, wrapped up in his own power and beauty. In an outburst of envy and jealousy, he led some of the angels in a rebellion against the authority of God. The rebellion was repulsed, and the chief rebel became known as Satan (“the Adversary”), and his cohorts became demons. (See Luke 10:18 and Revelation 12:4.)
Satan remains in opposition to everything God stands for. He knows what God’s plan is, and he is intent on subverting and thwarting it. Jesus told us to pray to God to “deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13). He knew that Satan holds a special hatred towards the human race, made in God’s image, and is committed to its destruction.
The devil’s strategy is to appear as a benefactor and friend of humanity. As the apostle Paul warned: “Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).
Satan and the demons would like to be our spiritual guides. They know that few of us would choose them voluntarily, but we can be deceived, when we are tempted by curiosity or ignorance, to seek the spiritual world in the wrong way. However, the apostle Paul told us that we need not be “ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11).
Satan’s first “device” was to persuade Adam and Eve into disobeying God. From that day to this, he has not ceased to look for opportunities to deceive and confuse their descendants.
Many of Satan’s strategies may seem like harmless fun. Some provide a thrill, a spiritual “high” or even temporary relief from stress. But they will lead into a web of evil that will destroy whoever goes there. That, of course, is Satan’s ultimate goal—for you and every human being.
Therefore, anyone who seeks help from the spirit world must understand that there is an evil and deceitful enemy waiting to lead the unwary astray. Do you think we are overstating the case? The Bible warns us with good reason to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness” (Ephesians 5:11).
Satan is wily, cunning, deceitful. He works deceitfully, quietly, insidiously. He knows how to arouse our curiosity, and he can play on our insecurities and fears. So let’s examine some of these unfruitful works of darkness—Satan’s devices—and see them for what they are.
Charles Malik represented Lebanon at the original United Nations Conference in San Francisco in 1945. After that Conference, he expressed the following feelings:
“When we look ahead to the years of peace, we find that distressingly little is being contemplated to be done in this conference in the realm of the mind and the spirit…. Unless we secure the right conditions for spiritual and intellectual health, I’m afraid all of our work in this conference may prove to have been in vain.”
Forty years later, Dr. Malik returned to San Francisco to attend the organization’s Fortieth Anniversary Conference. In an interview, he gave some remarkable insights concerning the role of Satan in today’s world:
“These discussions never touch on the fundamental questions of people’s wills, people’s attitudes, people’s state of the heart, state of the soul, state of their mind, what they believe. It’s all machinery. It’s all form. It’s all framework.
“That’s the weakness of the United Nations. It cannot deal with fundamental issues of human mind, and heart, and thought, and intention, and will.
“There’s an old wisdom in the Middle East with which we are fully acquainted…. One of the important things that we talk about is the devil! [That is] one basic thing that you find everybody believes in every village in Lebanon, in every village in Egypt, everyone. Nobody talks about it here, because you have outgrown this old wisdom.
“The devil has penetrated human hearts everywhere. In your heart, and in mine, the devil is contending with Christ…. We believe that the devil is at work in the midst of all these events. And while the devil is at work and has not yet been completely conquered, vanquished, we will never have peace.
“You think the United Nations is going to bring about peace so long as the devil is around?”