Following Jesus: The Gospel Path Jesus Left for Our Safety
Matthew 4:1-11, 6:13, I John 2:15-17
Our Powerful Enemy
In describing the spiritual forces of evil against whom we must contend Paul says three important things about the devil. First, he is a great and powerful foe. Paul indicates this by the words used to describe the devil’s agents-’’rulers,’’ ‘‘authorities,’’ ‘‘powers,’’ and ‘‘forces’’-and by the fact that he warns us to take arms against them.
The result is that, although the devil’s influence is widespread, it is probably the case that neither you nor anyone you know has ever been tempted by the devil directly. In fact, in all the Bible we know of only six individuals who were tempted by Satan himself: Eve (but not Adam), Job, Jesus Christ, Judas, Peter, and Ananias (but not his wife Sapphira). No doubt there have been many others, but these are the only ones the Bible tells us of specifically. God is omniscient; that is, he knows everything. This is not true of Satan. Satan does not know everything. True, he knows a great deal, and he is undoubtedly a shrewd guesser. But the ways of God must constantly surprise him, and he certainly has no more certainty about what is going to happen in the future than we have.
Yet Satan is still a powerful enemy. It is not hard to demonstrate this. Reflect on the condition of Adam and Eve before the Fall. They were far more intelligent and much wiser than we can ever hope to be. They were more aware of spiritual issues than we are. They were closer to God. Indeed, there was nothing to separate them from God at all for they had not yet sinned. Yet they fell. And what is even more striking, the devil seems to have had very little trouble bringing their defection about. We are much more foolish than our first parents, as I said. We are spiritually insensitive. We are often far from God. And, as to the other side, the devil is undoubtedly a much better informed and wiser devil now than he was then ...
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