It is, without a doubt, one of the most precious truths in all of the Bible. From the lips of Jesus Himself to the seventy upon their return from their first mission’s trip, in this PODCAST you will hear Him say, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.”
Fact: Satan is a fallen foe.
Fact: The devil has been defeated.
As we have discussed for the past two weeks, Fact: Satan is not losing the war; he has already lost it.
There is a day coming, sooner rather than later, when in the words of John, “The devil who deceived them (will be) thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20).
There is a day coming, sooner rather than later, when at the mere mention of Jesus’ name, “every knee will bow (including the devil and every one of his demonic minions)… and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” (Philippians 2).
The day has already come when, in the words of James, “the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror,” (James 2).
So yes, Satan IS a fallen foe. The devil IS — right now, in real time — a thoroughly defeated foe.
Consequently, there is a verse. Or more accurately, a part of a verse. A half of a verse. One that is buried in the very back of the Bible. In the Apostle John’s first letter, chapter 4. Fourteen words (in the NASB) to be exact. One sentence we will now highlight and underscore and amplify.
A precious truth that perfectly frames any discussion of spiritual warfare and our vulnerability to what Paul described as “all the schemes, strategies, and deceits of the devil.”
A fundamental fact of our faith that you will now hear, and cherish, in this PODCAST.
This truth is as follows:
“…greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
This truth is further unfurled as we look at the preceding verses, where verse 2 talks about the Spirit of God and verse 3 talks about the spirit of the anti-christ. So, the contrast that John is writing about is this: the Spirit of God that is in you is absolutely greater than the satanic spirit that is in the world.
But the fact of the matter is even better than that! Did you know that all three members of the Trinity dwell in you? Not just the Holy Spirit. This is a three-out-of-three proposition, as described later on in the same chapter of 1 John:
15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him
And, we see further evidence in Paul’s letter to the Romans:
“…Christ is in you…” (Romans 8:9)
And then for good measure, there’s 1 Corinthians 6:19.
“…do you not realize that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you…”
God is in you. Christ is in you. The Holy Spirit is in you.
Put this all together and you have “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” Which means that you and I do not have to fall prey to all the schemes, strategies, and deceits of the devil. We have the power, residing within us, to stand firm.
The devil is a defeated foe.
He can be resisted, as we read in James 4:7,
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
You have – at your fingertips – more power than Satan can even dream about. You have the power and ability to stand firm, face the devil, and force him to flee. Now, it’s not our power, obviously. We, alone, are powerless against the devil. But, with the power of the Almighty God residing in us, the devil is already defeated.
Satan cannot touch you or me, unless we give him permission.
He is not a foe to be feared. We are never told to fear the devil. We’re told to understand him and be mindful of how he works, but never to fear him. Which begs the question: How then, do we end up giving him permission to influence our lives?
One way is to allow bitterness to take root in our hearts.
Hebrews 12:15 brings this to light:
Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.
We all will agree that bitterness is a bad thing. But how is it a gateway to Satanic influence?
Well, the author of the epistle to the Hebrews knew his audience and knew they would be familiar with the Torah. We see the answer to the bitterness question and how it is a cancer of the soul that can devour a person from the inside out.
I am making this covenant with you so that no one among you—no man, woman, clan, or tribe—will turn away from the Lord our God to worship these gods of other nations, and so that no root among you bears bitter and poisonous fruit. (Deuteronomy 29:18)
Bitterness, left unresolved can lead to someone turning away from God. And, by the laws of nature, if someone turns away from one thing, they will always turn toward something else. In this case, unresolved bitterness will turn someone away from God and toward Satan. It’s that simple.
Consider the story of Simon the Black-Magician that we see in Acts 8…
9 Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, 10 and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” 11 They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. 12 But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.
14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
20 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”
24 Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”
At some point in Simon’s life, his heart was filled with bitterness, captivating him to the degree that he was blinded to his own selfish desires. As we see from Peter’s omission, Simon’s activities in witchcraft were just a symptom of what truly plagued Simon – a heart filled with bitterness.
Luckily for us, there is an antidote for bitterness, and we read about it in Romans 12:19-21,
19 Never take vengeance into your own hands, my dear friends: stand back and let God punish if he will. For it is written: ‘Vengeance is mine. I will repay’.
20-21 … these are God’s words: ‘Therefore if your enemy hungers, feed him; if he thirsts, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head’. Don’t allow yourself to be overpowered with evil. Take the offensive—overpower evil by good!
Now, not only did Simon have a problem with bitterness, but he had another problem Simon was obsessed with money. Three times in the story regarding the beginning of his spiritual journey, Peter referred to money as he supernaturally peered into Simon’s heart.
He craved wealth.
Now, I know that money is an incredible tool that can be used to bless the world. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that money is the root of all evil. However, it does say in 1 Timothy 6:6-10,
6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
It’s this love of money – greed and discontentment – that led to Judas’ demise as well, as we read about in John 12:1-11,
Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. 2 A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him.3 Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance.
4 But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, 5 “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” 6 Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself.
So, if God’s answer to a bitter heart is to instill in that repentant person a giving heart, the antidote for a greedy heart is to have a contented heart.
Another gateway that may for Satanic influence in our lives is a perversion of personal purity. We read about this in the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans:
24 So God let these people go their own way. They did what they wanted to do, and their filthy thoughts made them do shameful things with their bodies. 25 They gave up the truth about God for the lie, and they worshiped God’s creation instead of God, who will be praised forever. Amen.
So, what is “the lie” that lies at the heart of all this? It’s the very first lie ever told in the entire Bible: You can be like God, knowing good and evil. But, how does God know good and evil? He defines it. He decrees what is good. He writes the rules of morality.
When God writes the rules of morality, it looks like this:
…man will leave his own father and mother. He marries a woman, and the two of them become like one person.
25 Although the man and his wife were both naked, they were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:24-25)
One man married to one woman for their entire life without shame.
But, when man writes his own rules of morality it looks like this:
26 God let them follow their own evil desires. Women no longer wanted to have sex in a natural way, and they did things with each other that were not natural. 27 Men behaved in the same way. They stopped wanting to have sex with women and had strong desires for sex with other men. They did shameful things with each other, and what has happened to them is punishment for their foolish deeds.
28 Since these people refused even to think about God, he let their useless minds rule over them. That’s why they do all sorts of indecent things. 29 They are evil, wicked, and greedy, as well as mean in every possible way. They want what others have, and they murder, argue, cheat, and are hard to get along with. They gossip,30 say cruel things about others, and hate God. They are proud, conceited, and boastful, always thinking up new ways to do evil.
These people don’t respect their parents. 31 They are stupid, unreliable, and don’t have any love or pity for others. 32 They know God has said that anyone who acts this way deserves to die. But they keep on doing evil things, and they even encourage others to do them.
What does a society look like when man writes his own rules of morality? It looks like the one we live in today. This is why I say that a perversion of personal purity is a definite gateway to allowing the devil to influence our lives.
Finally, and I can’t stress this gateway enough, but we need to be on guard against the willful exposure of ourselves to false teaching.
Paul warns Timothy of this in 1 Timothy 4:
God’s Spirit clearly says that in the last days many people will turn from their faith. They will be fooled by evil spirits and by teachings that come from demons.2 They will also be fooled by the false claims of liars whose consciences have lost all feeling. These liars 3 will forbid people to marry or to eat certain foods. But God created these foods to be eaten with thankful hearts by his followers who know the truth. 4 Everything God created is good. And if you give thanks, you may eat anything. 5 What God has said and your prayer will make it fit to eat.
The prison of bitterness, the prison of greed, the prison of perversion, and the prison of believing error. Man’s propensity to be teach and be lured into believing false teaching goes all the way back to the beginnings of Christianity, as we read in 1 Timothy 1:3
3 When I was leaving for Macedonia, I asked you to stay on in Ephesus and warn certain people there to stop spreading their false teachings. 4 You needed to warn them to stop wasting their time on senseless stories and endless lists of ancestors. Such things only cause arguments. They don’t help anyone to do God’s work that can only be done by faith.
How can we combat this? Paul tells Timothy (and us) how in 2 Timothy 1:14,
Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you.
Guard the truth! That’s what we need to do.
Which brings us back to 1 John 4:1-4
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.
4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
So, to force the devil to flee, we need to fervently guard the truth!