STUDY 1 – KNOW YOUR ENEMY
The Bible makes it absolutely clear that our battles might appear to be against flesh and blood but they are actually against spiritual forces of evil. (Ephesians 6:12) Our aim therefore is to find out more about these spiritual enemies and how they operate, for only then will we know how to counteract them. For this reason we begin with a detailed examination of the enemy.
THE GOD OF THIS WORLD
We know him as the Devil or Satan or Lucifer but we will start with the title which the Apostle Paul gave him, which is ‘the god of this world’.
The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the glorious gospel of Christ… (2 Corinthians 4:4 NIV)
How did he become the god of this world?
To understand how this happened (for it certainly was NOT the Creator who made him such!) we must go back to the very beginning.
Then God said, “Let us make man (humankind) in our own image, after our likeness, so they may rule over (have dominion and authority over) the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, over the cattle (animals), and over all the earth. (Genesis 1:26-28 NIV)
This authority over the earth is confirmed in the book of Psalms, as well as by Jesus himself.
The heavens are the Lord’s, but the earth has He given to the children of men. (Psalm 15:16 NIV)
Jesus answered, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, “You are gods”’? So men are called gods, men to whom God’s message came – and the Scripture cannot be set aside or cancelled…” (John 10:34-35 NIV Jesus was quoting from Psalm 82:6)
God’s intention from the very beginning was to create a world in which, and over which, mankind, who was created in His image, would rule as gods, having full and complete authority.
So, the question arises, what happened that in the beginning mankind was created as the god of this world yet Satan now has that title? When and how did the switch take place?
To answer this we have to go back to the Garden of Eden. (It would be a good idea to read these passages in full in your own Bible.)
The full account and sequence of the creation of the world. Genesis 1:1 – 2:3
A brief introduction to the fuller account of the creation of man. Genesis 2:4-6
The creation of man and the planting of the Garden. Genesis 2:7-9
Man’s God-given task. Genesis 2:15
Man given freedom of choice – to obey or to disobey. Genesis 2:17
God decides that it is not good for man to be alone. Genesis 2:18
He brings all creatures before Adam to be named, but among them there is not one suitable to be a helper – one who would be truly complementary to him. Genesis 2:19-20
So God creates the woman, who is taken from his flesh (and with whom he becomes one flesh in the covenant of marriage). Genesis 2:21-24
They live in the Garden in complete innocence – perfect, without sin or corruption, and without even the knowledge of sin and corruption. Genesis 2:25
But was God so thoughtless or callous that he left these two innocent babes unprotected and alone in the Garden to be preyed upon by that wicked pervert, Satan? That is certainly the impression one gets from the traditional interpretation of events!
The Scriptures do not tell us when or how the angels were created, but we know that they were there when the world was created.
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth… when the morning stars sang together and the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 34:4-7 NIV)
We also know why they were created.
Are not the angels all ministering spirits (servants) sent out in the service [of God for the assistance] of those who are to inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:14 Amplified Version)
We can presume from this that God sent an angel (or angels) to the Garden to be ministering servants serving Adam and Eve, to whom He had given the title and authority of gods of this world.
Now, who would He send?
“You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
You were in Eden, the garden of God;
Every precious stone adorned you:
ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl.
Your settings and mountings were made of gold;
On the day you were created, they were prepared.
You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you.
You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones.
You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you.
Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence and you sinned.
So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God,
And I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones.
Your heart became proud on account of your beauty
and corrupted your wisdom because of your splendour.” (Ezekiel 28:13-17 NIV)
When the above is read in context (verses 11-19) it is a prophecy by Ezekiel made to the king of Tyre. However, it is clear to the meanest intelligence that verses 13-15 & 16b-17 are not addressed to any human being. No descendant of Adam is created perfect. (In fact, strictly speaking, the descendants of Adam are born, not created in the sense implied in this passage.) No descendant of Adam was in Eden. No descendant of Adam is a cherub! This was an ordained guardian cherub – an angelic being. Ezekiel must be addressing the angelic power behind the king of Tyre.
Is there another biblical example of a spiritual power behind an earthly throne?
Yes, there is. In the book of Daniel.
In chapter 8 (verses 15-26) and chapter 9 (verses 20-27) the angel Gabriel is sent to interpret visions to Daniel. In chapter 10, Gabriel visits a third time, but note (verses 12-13) that he says that though he had been sent on the first day that Daniel had begun praying, he had been resisted by the prince of the Persian kingdom and had been detained till Michael (one of the chief celestial princes) came to help him.
It stands to reason that an earthly king would not have the power or authority to detain an angelic being. (He wouldn’t even know the angel was there!) It is clear that Gabriel was being resisted by the spiritual power behind the throne of Persia.
In the light of the passages of Daniel, we can come to the conclusion that the cherub described in Ezekiel was the ministering spirit sent to the Garden of Eden to serve Adam and Eve.
So, what exactly transpired that the most beautiful and perfect of all the angels – the guardian cherub – ended up in a serpent to tempt Eve?
The answer lies in a prophecy of Isaiah addressed to the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14:4-23.
Once again, we see that a portion of this prophecy (verses 12-14) is addressed to the angelic power behind the throne.
How you have fallen from heaven, O light bringer (Latin Lucifer) and daystar, son of the morning!
You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations.
You said in your heart: ‘I will ascend to heaven. I will raise my throne above the stars of God.
I will sit enthroned on the mount of the assembly on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.
I will ascend to the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”
It must, in all honesty, be noted that modern Biblical commentators do not all agree that this passage is addressed to Satan, or that Lucifer is one of Satan’s names. However, in the light of the fact that this passage has had a very long tradition of being accepted as referring to Lucifer, the angelic being, and in the light of the passages in Daniel and Ezekiel, I believe that it is indeed referring to the guardian cherub who was ordained by God to serve Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Just as he was the power behind the throne of a particular king of Tyre, so he was also the power behind a particular king of Babylon.
If you accept this, it explains quite clearly what happened to the cherub. He became proud and wanted to be like God. Pride and ingratitude always lead to rebellion.
So then, in prose, this is the story thus far:
God created the earth for mankind (or humankind if you want to be PC) and gave them full authority over it. He placed them in the Garden of Eden, to tend it and care for it. He sent his chief cherub to minister to them. Because of his perfect beauty, this cherub became proud. He looked at Adam and Eve, who had been created in God’s image and had been given authority, and became jealous. He coveted their God-like and God-given authority.
There was only one way open to him – he had to get those humans to yield their authority to him. They would become his servants instead!
Don’t you know that when you offer yourself to someone to obey him as a slave, you become a slave to the one you obey. (Romans 6:16 NIV)
Lucifer did not fear retribution or punishment because of two factors:
- He knew from the fact that God spent time with Adam and Eve in the Garden that He had a personal relationship with them. (See Genesis 3:8-9) They would be his (Lucifer’s) hostages!
He knew also that God would never go back on His word and take back the authority He had given them.I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered. (Psalm 89:34 NIV)God is not a man that He should lie nor a son of man that He should change His mind. (Numbers 23:19 NIV)
It remained only for Lucifer to put his plan into action.
When we closely examine his strategy, in Genesis 3:1-4, we will see how he has not changed one iota over the millenia. To this very day he uses exactly the same strategy to tempt us into disobedience.
- He disguises himself. …Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light… (2 Corinthians 11:14) He did not come to Eve as himself. He either entered the body of a serpent, or he somehow spoke through the serpent. We need to remember that in the perfect world, serpents were not deadly or dangerous. Eve would have had no fear.
Today, he either speaks deceptively through others or he speaks directly into our minds mimicking our voices and using “I”. You will think it is your own thought, but you are being masterfully deceived.
- He sows doubt in Eve’s mind. “Did God really say…”
- He twists the truth. “Did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the garden?” when he knew very well that God had said they could eat from any tree excepting the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
- He brings to Eve’s attention the one thing God has forbidden and ignores the myriad things God allows.
- He then lies. “You will not surely die.” In a way this was a half truth, because they did not drop down physically dead. The death was spiritual.
- He tells the truth but slanders God’s motive with a lie. “For God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good from evil.” It was true that their eyes would be open and they would know good and evil. But God had given the prohibition in order to give them the greatest gift – freedom to choose – not because he was selfishly keeping something good from them.
And the rest is history!
Eve falls for the deception, and eats the fruit, offering some to her husband. Take note that Eve had not been wandering around in the garden without Adam. He had been with her throughout! (Genesis 3:6)
And God held Adam personally responsible. If you refer again to the sequence of events in Genesis 2, you will be able to confirm that God had not given the prohibition to Eve. It was given to Adam, before Eve was created. Eve knew about it, so we can assume that Adam had told her.
“And it was not Adam who was deceived but the woman who was deceived and fell into transgression.” (1 Timothy 2:14 NIV) This clearly states that both sinned, but Eve sinned because she was deceived into it, whereas Adam was not deceived. He made a clear choice.
Pride – they wanted to be like God
Ingratitude – instead of focusing on all they had, they looked at what they didn’t have
They had sinned, yielding to the deception and in so doing also yielded their authority to the guardian cherub, who from that moment was also cursed. The fall of man was also the fall of Lucifer. You could even say that God had created Lucifer, but man created Satan!
Before the fall, all creation had been perfect. Now, the whole of creation was cursed and entropy set in. Everything began the process of physical death and destruction.
Despite all this, take note of God’s mercy.
- He immediately sends them from the Garden to prevent them from eating of the tree of life which would mean they would live forever in their cursed state. (Genesis 3:22-24) Physical death is a mercy. Imagine if we had to live forever with disease and other miseries!
- The tree He had chosen for the prohibition was the one which enabled them to distinguish between good and evil. Thus, even though man would from then on be born naturally sinful, he is able to distinguish between good and evil. In other words, he has a conscience. Imagine a sinful world where no one has a conscience!
- He promised a Saviour-Redeemer. Genesis 3:15. In fact, He had known from the beginning of creation that this would happen. …the Lamb who was slain from the creation (foundation) of the world… (Revelation 13:8 NIV)
This word only appears in the New Testament. The Greek is diabolos and it means slanderer.
“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44 NIV)
The one thing you can be sure of when you are under attack by the devil is that you are going to hear a pack of lies. What often makes these lies so difficult to detect is that he (as diabolos) is diabolically clever. As we have already seen in the Garden, he will come at you with a combination of truths, half-truths and distorted truths which screen the outright lies.
If you have a habitually negative thought pattern, then you are a sitting duck – you will be very easily deceived.
An interesting point. In the Old Testament, the word translated as devil in the King James Version (KJV) is translated as goat idol in the New International Version (NIV). The Hebrew word sa’ir means shaggy or hairy or goat. (As in Leviticus 17:7)
In the Old Testament the enemy is generally referred to as Satan (the Hebrew word is satan) which means adversary or opponent or accuser. (See Job 1:6; Psalm 109:6)
The same word is used in the New Testament. See Matthew 4:10 where Jesus addresses him as Satan. The Latin is satanas, also meaning adversary-accuser.
The passage in Matthew 4:1-11, which describes the temptation of Jesus, is particularly interesting as it uses two other terms to describe the enemy.
In verses 1, 5, 8 and 11, he is referred to as the devil (diabolos), which we have already seen means slanderer.
In verse 3, he is called the tempter. The greek word is peirazo which means to test, scrutinise or entice.
Now let’s gather everything we have seen so far with regard to who the enemy is.
He is the god of this world, man having ceded his authority to Lucifer, the guardian cherub, who from then on was known as Satan, the adversary-accuser and as the devil, the slanderer. He is a liar and a tempter. We also know that he is a master at disguising himself as an angel of light.
From this we can recognise the following principles:
- Until you come under the blood of Jesus, you are wittingly or unwittingly under the influence of the god of this world.
- Even if you are under the blood of Jesus, he still has access to your mind.
- Using a combination of truths, half-truths and lies, he will tempt you into disobedience and rebellion against God.
- When he has succeeded in tempting you into disobedience, he, the accuser and slanderer, immediately turns on you with the objective of tormenting you with guilt, thus completely destroying your peace of mind and your peace of heart, leading to depression. If he can depress you enough to commit suicide, his mission is complete because he is a murderer and his objective is to steal, kill and destroy. (John 10:10)
One last point of interest.
We know that Satan has a host of demons who do his bidding, but we do not know how or when this came about. The only clue lies in Revelation 12:1-9. It would appear that a third of the angels followed the Dragon (Satan). A war then took place in the heavenly realms in which Michael and his army of angels overcame Satan and his angels and threw them down to the earth.
However, because the Book of Revelation is Apocalyptic literature (a revelation of visions of the end times), it cannot be said for sure that this is what happened. It could be referring to what is yet to come. And even if it has already happened, it’s a mystery why so many angelic beings would choose to follow Lucifer after he had been cursed.
Coming against such a powerful enemy might seem like a hopeless cause, but God did not leave us defenceless. He has provided us with spiritual armour and spiritual weapons.
But before we learn about how to use these weapons, it is essential to understand the details of where and how the battle takes place. In the next study we will therefore take a close look at the battleground.