WHAT SATAN CANNOT DO
A number of
years ago when I worked as a missionary, I would often come across and at times
work with fellow missionaries from different churches and denominations. Our
work was consistently based on sharing the gospel and in that way we were
certainly united on that point, but often during conversations and prayer times
I found that they seemed to give a place and authority to Satan that I did not
agree with. In time I developed a conviction based on my biblical understanding
that Christians can sometimes give too much importance to the devil.
First of all, 1 Peter 5:8 says "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour". The metaphor is clear that the devil is lion-like: prowling, anticipating and lying in wait for a moment of weakness to attack. A lion never would know what the next step of his prey is, but certainly through observation he could anticipate it. That instinct is a characteristic we humans have, we practice it all the time. If someone stops at a red light in front of us, we gauge our speed and stop appropriately. We do that by observation only; we are not in that person's head. As we get to know people such as a family member or spouse, we begin to know what makes them tick, the devil and his demons observe us and know our patterns and behaviors. The only way another being can know our patterns and behavior is by watching what we do, where we go, and what we say. In the last of half of Matthew 12:34 it says "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks". If bad things come out of our mouth often it’s because that is what’s in our hearts. Conversely, if we are feeding our heart with good things, that is what will come out of us. So the Bible teaches us that the devil can observe what we do and say.
Secondly; God is the only one who has the attributes of omniscience (all knowing) and omnipresence (in more than one place at a time). He is also omnipotent (all powerful) but we will only deal with the first two. In Isaiah 66:1 it states, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?’” The thought here is that God is infinite, He is Spirit, He is not confined to space and time, and He is everywhere. Psalm 139 says in verse 2 that God "perceives our thoughts from afar". Verse 4 says, "Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.” Added to His knowledge of knowing our thoughts, His omnipresence is clearly described in verses 7-8 "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there". Nowhere in the Scriptures does it mention that the devil has these attributes-only God. So by the non mention of it, that idea is not supported. We can never apply God's attributes to Satan. The devil is certainly a supernatural being as he was created originally as an angel, but the reason he became a fallen angel was because of his desire to supersede and replace God. The devil can anticipate what we are going to do, seeing that he sends his demons on his behalf and they report to him. So the only way the devil can anticipate what we are thinking is by observing our actions, what we watch, what we do, and where we go. He can also anticipate by what we say, if we slander, gossip, give in to our weaknesses, he can know these things, he can put things in our way and orchestrate situations that may cause us to fall into temptation.
Thirdly, the Bible does mention in John 12:31 that Satan is "the ruler of the world" or in Ephesians 2:2 "the prince of the power of the air" and in 2 Corinthians 4:4 the phrase "god of this world" is used. Satan's influence encompasses the world's philosophies, education, commerce and the list goes on based on his knowledge of the godless and rebellious human heart as his is no different. Once again please note that it is based on externals, not something internal. So his access is based on his ability to influence mankind and infiltrate demonically into areas that are his domain. Non-believers, people without God's Spirit, can be infiltrated that way. People who are believers may allow evil influences to overrule their devotion to God but never can the devil posses them. If we do not feed the Spirit within us we certainly can be influenced for evil, but that is because we have allowed ourselves to be misguided.
As we close, let us answer the question of how sinful temptation can originate. The three places from where sin can originate are the world with all its selfish ideas, the flesh (our humanness which is our rebellious will and sinful nature) and the devil himself. The world and the devil are both external against the believer and their influence is obvious. The only way a believer can be attacked internally is through giving in to our human weakness, known as the flesh or the carnal man, you can read about this in James 1:12-16. When we have believed and trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, we instantly receive the forgiveness of sin and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is a supernatural resource that God gives to us. Two verses illustrate our victory in God, Romans 8:31 reveals "If God is for us, who can be against us?”. The other verse is found in 1 John 4:4 “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world”. The Holy Spirit living in a believer gives us the victory, our responsibility is to feed ourselves spiritually and submit to the Spirit’s leading where we will always be protected from any evil that comes our way.
By: Pastor David Jones