I want to write about Satan for a bit. I’d much rather write about how cool Jesus is, but I feel compelled to address the devil, mostly because he’s real and he sucks, but also, I’ve noticed he’s hardly ever mentioned in church. It’s kind of shocking how infrequently I hear anything about the subject. And I’m in a lot of churches. It’s an odd omission, since Jesus mentions him quite a bit, as do the apostles in their letters to the churches. Maybe we’re worried people will think we’re weirdos if we talk about evil spirits or something. Not a very dignified subject for us enlightened, post-modern Americans. Or perhaps we don’t really believe all that freakish stuff is real. I think CS Lewis said it well when he said, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”
In the beginning, God created another race of spiritual, free beings in addition to humans, called angels. One of them rebelled against God and tried to overthrow Him. As a result he was thrown out of Heaven and 1 out of 3 angels joined him (see Ezekiel 28:11-19). There is much to learn regarding the history of angels and demons, but I’m trying to be succinct. Basically, ever since that time, Satan and his followers are bent on revenge, hating God and everything good, especially those who trust in and follow Jesus. Satan is behind the scenes, promoting corrupt thinking, all kinds of heinous crime, violence, anything that goes against who God is and keeps us from being who God intends for us to be. The apostle Peter warned some early believers to “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” This is intense. You and I are part of an epic struggle! Paul tells us “We don’t wrestle with flesh and blood, but against rulers, against authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness…” (Ephesians 6:12)
Satan and demons are smart; much smarter than you and me. In my experience, they don’t announce themselves and say, “Hey, that person pissed you off; you should murder them.” They are subtle and crafty. They mostly seem to appeal to the parts of my self that are broken and skewed already. They usually just want me to believe the lie that things or experiences are better than God. Things like money (if I just had enough) or admiration or success or approval of others. I am far more likely to wrestle with discontent or self-absorption than with the desire to kill someone or steal something. Spending time thinking about myself works really well as a distraction to thinking about and experiencing the beauty and grace of God and being concerned with eternal, REAL things. We’re not talking about religious duty here. We’re talking about real LIFE and being truly free, people.
We have a lot to learn about this struggle. I’m convinced God means for us to not only fight these enemies ourselves by knowing, believing and speaking truth, but we are meant to fight for each other as well. Satan is a liar. Deception is his thing. He HATES us. When you are deceived, you don’t usually know you’re deceived. This is why we need not just polite, spectator church experiences, but deep, real relationships where we know if there’s a demon in our friend or spouse’s head, wrapping them up in lies and making them a slave! I’ve experienced being duped firsthand and it’s awful. It’s a gradual shifting of belief in and freedom in Christ to absolute soul slavery. It’s interesting to note that during that time I became more and more isolated, I wasn’t having real, honest conversations with anyone, I was stressed and totally exhausted in general.
Again, Satan is smart and he doesn’t fight fair. The Bible says he “waits for opportune moments”. Scary. He can deceive us in a million different ways. Satan would have us believe we are powerless, and that there is something other than Jesus that we must have to fulfill and complete us; that God is not enough. This is a lie. Jesus is what our souls long for and He’s the only one who can truly satisfy us in the deepest way, give our lives worth and meaning and ultimately fill up our souls. As sure as God has a plan for your life, so does your enemy, and it may not be anything super dramatic or physically life-threatening. It could be that he’s convinced you that the highest goal is to live a comfortable, secure life with a few acts of religious piety strewn along the way so you feel ok about yourself. God made us for so much more!! Let’s not settle for less than what God wants to give!
The wonderful truth is that we are not alone and we do not fight alone. Jesus fights for us, too. And He is way stronger than the devil. If we trust in Him with our whole lives, He puts His Spirit in us and it’s the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead! It’s vital that we really know and believe the gospel, cling to Jesus, and participate in authentic, Jesus-seeking community so we will be able to recognize when Satan or demons start harassing us and avoid falling for their crap. God made us to be free. Really free! He made us, He loves us and He knows what we need. It is my desire and prayer that you and I continue to walk in freedom.
Lizi Bailey lives in Griffin, Georgia with her husband, Matthew and their 5 beautiful children; Ezra, Silas, Lyric, Sunny and Daisy. She is a learner, singer, songwriter, musician and worship leader. Learn more at lizibailey.org or follow her @lizibailey.