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Bible verses about Satan
(From Forerunner Commentary)

God gives Satan an interesting title in Job 41:34: "He is king over all the children of pride." There is no doubt who this is describing! James 4:6 and I Peter 5:5 both quote a version of Proverbs 3:34: "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." The king of pride is Satan, and his children are those who show his characteristics (John 8:44).

Consider this in the light of Proverbs 13:10: "By pride comes only contention, but with the well-advised is wisdom." Satan means "adversary." He is against others, an opponent, the adversary of God and the very ones he is king over! The leader is the adversary of his own children! Revelation 9:11 adds two additional names: "And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon." Abaddon means Destruction and Apollyon means Destroyer. The king of pride is a destructive and destroying adversary.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Contention, and Unity


 

Satan is a master of deception, and he destroys through misinformation. Revelation 9:11 names him Abaddon (Destruction) and Apollyon (Destroyer). Jesus calls him the father of lies (John 8:44), and Revelation 12:9 says he "deceives the whole world."

From Adam and Eve's encounter with him in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), we can see how he works. Sometimes, he will "bend" truth just enough to ensure it does not say quite what God said ("Has God indeed said . . ."). If he must, he will tell bald-faced lies ("You shall not surely die"). For following his twisted but attractive reasoning, there is an implied promise of gratification ("You will be like God . . ."), but his intent is always to confuse, divide, and destroy.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Flood Is Upon Us!


 

We have been the unwitting slaves of an invisible, perversely intelligent, deceitful, powerful, and heartless master who is the god of this world (II Corinthians 4:4). He has created cultures with ways of life appealing to our self-centered natures. He stimulates our spirit through corrupt music, literature, art, and religion. He diverts our attention from more important concerns of life by means of entertainment with erotic visual and auditory impact. He has enslaved our minds by appealing to the desires of the flesh and of the eyes and the pride of life (I John 2:16) almost from the time we were born. He confuses us by hiding or shading the truth, denying absolutes, distorting reality, emphasizing vanity, and making available such a spectrum of opinions that disagreement is the standard operational feature of life. He pits us in competition against each other and makes us feel defensive, insecure, and untrusting.

By the time we are adults and God calls us, it takes a miracle mightier than God ever expended liberating the Israelites to even begin to free us from the demonic clutches of the pharaoh of this world, Satan the Devil!

John W. Ritenbaugh
After Pentecost, Then What?


 

Satan is entirely subject to God's control. In Eden he must listen to God's sentence, making no response (Genesis 3:14-15). In the book of Job, he cannot touch Job until God permits, and even then he cannot cross the line to kill him (Job 1:12; 2:6). Matthew 4:10-11 clearly illustrates the extent he is under God's authority: "Then Jesus said to him, 'Away with you, Satan! For it is written, "You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve."' Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels, came and ministered to Him." When Christ commands him to depart, he leaves! Finally, in Revelation 20:1-3, Satan is bound and cast into a bottomless pit, and in verses 8-11, he is released for a time at God's discretion then cast into the Lake of Fire.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sovereignty of God: Part Five


 

The important thing to us is that we should not become so proud that we think that we can handle Satan easily. He has a great number of tools to bear upon us. Yet, on the other hand, there is no need for us to be overly concerned about him either, where we are looking for demons behind every tree as the cause of every problem that we have. We can do enough damage ourselves. Nevertheless, we do need to understand that he is around and he is still active, and if we are not aware, we can be vulnerable.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 4)


 

Are the Devil and his demons real? The gospels leave no doubt that Jesus believed that the Devil and demons exist and that they have evil influence in and over human beings. Knowing that these powers of darkness are dreadful forces of evil, Jesus spoke of them with a serious intensity and authority. He also did not hesitate to declare openly the evil manifested in people's minds and bodies as coming from the source of evil, Satan the Devil.

Demons are angelic beings who rebelled with Satan and were expelled from heaven with their master. According to examples in Scripture, the Devil's power is exercised in a three-fold way: 1) directly by himself, 2) by the demons who are subject to him, and 3) through human beings whom he influences and/or possesses. People who have rejected God's authority and love are in subjection to the supernatural power of Satan and his wicked way of life. A person's personality and will is taken over by these deceiving, lawless spirit invaders.

When possessed, the human body and mind are intruded by a spiritual parasite, causing conflict and disharmony. Like hypnosis, demonic possession cannot take place without a willing subject. Satan entered Judas because the man opened up an entranceway for the Devil by betraying the Son of God. Judas first entertained a thought from Satan before Satan himself entered, as the apostle John explains, "The devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot . . ." (John 13:2, 27; see I Samuel 16:14; I Kings 22:21-23).

When a person loses control of himself, Satan can take control, and evil spirits have the opportunity to enter suddenly. In addition, immorality often precedes demon possession. When a person gives in to his sensual desires or to hatred and greed, he sets himself up for possible possession, or at the very least, strong demonic influence.

Most people are at least somewhat demon-influenced through Satan's broadcast of his evil attitudes and are enticed to sin (see Ephesians 2:2; Revelation 12:9). A quick glance at society reveals a perverse influence to pursue wickedness. An evil thought is introduced into the human mind, and human desire is motivated to pursue the yearning: "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death" (James 1:14-15). Demon influence begins with subtle suggestion and enticement, but it can later lead to a person's becoming demon possessed, captive to the Devil, and as his slave, sinking into deep degradation.

Evil spirits can take possession of human bodies. People sometimes invite demons to do so, and they become intimately acquainted, even friendly, with them. They are then called "familiar spirits" (Leviticus 19:31; 20:6, 27). God instructs ancient Israel to put to death anyone who intentionally invites a demon to enter him. Once possession takes effect, sensuality and violence become more evident, as the person finds it difficult to resist the demon's will. Physical, mental, and spiritual disorders increase exponentially during possession, and the confusion, anguish, and mental filth caused by unclean spirits can result in insanity.

Not all disorders are the result of demonic possession (Matthew 4:23, 24; 10:1; 11:5). However, insanity, epilepsy, blindness, fevers, and various mental illnesses are frequent accompaniments and symptoms of demon possession (Matthew 12:22; 9:32; Mark 9:17, 25; Luke 11:14-16). Even so, Scripture does not necessarily identify these disorders with demon possession, though they may have been aggravated by these dark powers.

In the case of the demon-possessed man in Matthew 8, he obviously suffered from some sort of insanity. Demon possession is not just another name for madness, as they are clearly distinguished in Matthew 4:24. The Gadarene demoniac's disease was the result of his own wickedness, and the extreme demonic element added to his madness.

The apostle Paul mentions that the Gentiles sacrificed to demons (I Corinthians 10:20; also Leviticus 17:7; II Chronicles 11:15; Psalm 106:37), and demon possession is still an undoubted fact in many areas of the world. The Devil, as the prince of the power of the air, regulates the present way of life of the world, working in children of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2). People yield themselves to his authority, and as a result, they become slaves to this evil power (Romans 6:16).

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Two Demon-Possessed Men Healed (Part One)


 

Genesis 3:1

The marginal reference for subtle is "cunning." "Cunning" is almost always used in a negative sense. Someone who is cunning is skilled in ingenuity or deceit, selfishly clever, crafty. "Cunning" describes those who use their smarts, intelligence, wits to get the best of the other fellow by using whatever deceitful, underhanded means available so they "win."

In the Bible, serpents are depicted as a paradoxical combination of wisdom and evil—beautiful yet repulsive. They have a fluid grace if viewed from a safe distance, but they are to be feared because they strike from hiding places and strike without warning. A serpent symbolizes craftiness that mesmerizes its victims. The contrast with a lamb, a symbol of Jesus Christ, is stunning.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Spiritual Mark of the Beast


 

Genesis 3:1

In this first message to mankind, Satan sows seeds of doubt as to whether God can be trusted. Satan's very first words were, "Has God indeed said. . . ?" Spoken or not, this sentiment that God is untrustworthy, and that His Word is suspect, has been a regular feature in mankind's relationship with God ever since.

The Gnostics were no exception—in fact, they are a prime example. In its most basic sense, Gnosticism is knowing, but its knowledge, while sometimes including the Word of God, does not have it as its foundation. Instead, more than what was contained in Scripture, Gnostics valued what they experienced, what elders told them, or what they learned from "angels," astrology, or chemistry (alchemy). Thus, we see elements of Gnosticism in Galatians: a mixture of "lucky days," to which they ascribed spiritual significance (part of their worship prior to conversion) and a belief, brought in by Judaizers or perhaps even an "angel" (Galatians 1:8), that justification could come by works of the law.

Judaism, though it has its roots in the Old Testament, sees God's Word through the lens of Hellenism (Greek thought) and the traditions of Jewish scholars and teachers through the centuries. The Galatian Christians gave God's Word lip service, but did not depend on it as the source of their beliefs and practices. If they had, they would not have returned to pagan "days, months, seasons, and years," nor believed that justification could ever result from good works—a concept that is read into the Old Testament, but not actually found there.

Similarly, the Colossian Christians were affected by an ascetic form of Gnosticism that included "ordinances" (KJV) or "regulations" (NKJV) that are not found in God's Word but were the commandments and doctrines of men (Colossians 2:20-23), as well as demons, the "basic principles of the world" (Colossians 2:8).

This same distrust of God's Word is readily seen in today's Catholicism and Protestantism. The Catholic Church holds that Scripture is only one of three sources from which its dogma is derived—the other two being divine revelation and the writings and traditions of previous Catholic saints. The Bible, while generally utilized as the source of doctrine, can be easily overridden by the words of a Pope or other theologian, living or dead. Once again, human words and traditions are considered more trustworthy than God's.

In some respects, Protestantism has a higher regard for Scripture. However, it, too, accepts the traditions of men in such beliefs as the Trinity, the immortality of the soul, going to heaven, observing Christmas and Easter, and venerating the first day of the week (which the Catholic Church rightly points out makes sense only if one accepts Rome's authority, for there is no scriptural authority for keeping any day holy but the Sabbaths).

Modern Gnostics who believe in "progressive revelation" have also succumbed to this first of Satan's ploys. While God does reveal things to us, the critical point is that what is revealed—if it truly comes from Him—will never contradict what He has already revealed in His Word. "God is not a man, that He should lie" (Numbers 23:19). Yet progressive revelation advocates believe that their revelations are more authoritative than the Bible, rather than complementing and harmonizing with it, making them ripe for satanic influence under the guise of God revealing something new to them. They may sincerely believe that God speaks to them, yet they simultaneously mistrust what He has already said in inspired Scripture. They tend to shy away from Bible study, concluding that they do not need it since God speaks directly to them, and if there is anything important, God will let them know.

Romans 10:17 tells us that "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." But Satan knows this too and believes that, if he can undermine the trustworthiness of God and the validity of His Word, he can destroy the faith necessary for salvation. Currently, the Bible's legitimacy is undergoing an intense assault. Due to popular Gnostic writings like the Gospel of Judas and the Gospel of Thomas, as well as The Da Vinci Code book and movie, many people are questioning why we have the Bible that we do and wondering if something in the ancient apocryphal writings, if it were known, would change Christianity as we know it. Rather than quibbling about this or that point of doctrine, Satan seems to be gunning for the whole package by asserting that the Word of God is subject to the whims of men and thus cannot be trusted. At every turn, faith founded in God's Word is being undermined.

David C. Grabbe
Whatever Happened to Gnosticism? Part Three: Satan's Three Heresies


 

Genesis 3:4-5

Through distrust, Satan seduced Adam and Eve away from submitting to the most wonderful, lovable, giving, concerned, sensitive, and helpful Personality in all creation—God. Can you imagine that? The Devil convinced them that God could not be trusted!

Distrust is a powerful incentive whose fruit is divorce. Our first parents sinned and division began. The world has not been united since. When there is distrust, faith evaporates. Fear, anxiety, and depression escalate, and the motivation to be personally secure and free from the hassles of coping intensifies. The "fight or flight" mechanism kicks in.

John W. Ritenbaugh
In the Grip of Distrust


 

Genesis 3:5

The Devil asserted that by taking of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, human eyes would be opened—implying wisdom and enlightenment—to allow a person to know good and evil as God does. Immediately, Satan places the emphasis on knowing, but it is contrasted with living eternally. Satan proposes that mankind should be like God in taking to himself the knowledge—the definition—of what is right and wrong, asserting that this is a good thing! In contrast, the Tree of Life represents a way of living in which the meaning of good and evil already exists, and eternal life involves submitting through the Holy Spirit to that definition and the Sovereign who is its source.

Likewise, the Gnostics are those who know—who pursue mystical knowledge that they believe holds the key to eternal life through advancing beyond the physical and into the spiritual realm. Recall that the Gospel of Thomas states at the very beginning that "whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death." Gnostics believed the key to eternal life was contained in right interpretation—knowledge—of those esoteric sayings.

The book of Revelation expounds on the Tree of Life in two places:

· To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7)

· Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into [New Jerusalem]. (Revelation 22:14)

The Tree of Life, then, is associated with a way of life—one that requires overcoming (growth against a standard of righteousness) and keeping (doing) God's commandments. The only ones who are allowed to partake of the Tree of Life are those who have changed themselves (with God's help, by His Spirit) to begin living in the same manner as He does. To those who submit to His standard of righteousness, then, He grants life that is both endless and of the same quality that He enjoys.

Satan, though, in addition to casting doubt on what God plainly says, and implying that God is unfair by withholding good things, offers a shortcut. He says, "You do not need to follow God's way, for it is obviously unfair and far too stringent. You can follow your own way. You can take knowledge to yourself of what is good and what is evil. You can be just like God in determining what is right and wrong." Adam and Eve took the bait, and ever since, man has rejected God's standard of righteousness in favor of his own.

This third heresy is easily seen in the antinomianism (literally, "against law") of the Gnostics, who may not have been against every law, but were certainly against any law—any standard of conduct or requirement of righteousness—that impinged upon their standard of conduct. Thus the ascetic Gnostics who grieved the Christians in Colossae held to manmade regulations of "do not touch, do not taste, do not handle" (Colossians 2:20-21), while rejecting the command to "rejoice" with food and drink during the God-ordained festivals. Similarly, mainstream Christianity will (rightly) use portions of Leviticus and Deuteronomy to point out God's abhorrence of abortion and homosexuality, but will claim that the same law is "done away" when it comes to the Sabbath and holy days. They have taken to themselves the knowledge of what is good and what is evil, establishing their own standard of righteousness.

A core issue of the Bible is whether we submit to God's governance or try to form a government based on our own perception of what is good or what works. God's way results in eternal life, but it comes with the obligation to submit ourselves to God. It requires keeping all of His commandments and overcoming our human weaknesses that do not rise to that standard. Satan, conversely, seeks to persuade us to do our own thing and to usurp God's prerogative in defining right living. He encourages us to be enlightened, to have our eyes opened, by doubting God and rejecting His way.

David C. Grabbe
Whatever Happened to Gnosticism? Part Three: Satan's Three Heresies


 

Genesis 3:6

The first humans failed their test of faith. They trusted what they "saw" rather than believing what God said—His words—and became the first example of man choosing to walk by sight rather than by faith. Humanity has followed this example ever since, proving that Adam and Eve's faithlessness was not an aberration but a trait of every human heart, including ours.

What were the consequences of this sin, this act of faithlessness? The answer is in Genesis 3:24: "So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life."

Adam and Eve's sin of faithlessness destroyed the close relationship they had with God. Because they did not trust Him, their lack of faith put a barrier between themselves and God. The broken trust, faithlessness, ruined that relationship just as it does in our human relationships.

Adam and Eve chose to follow the faithless Satan rather than the faithful God. Satan persuaded them to focus on what they could see rather than what God said. The strategy was so successful that Satan has consistently used it on humanity.

Satan is the prime example of faithlessness. Satan believes God exists, but his is a dead faith because it does not lead to right action. James 2:19-20, from the New Living Translation, forcefully points out the futility and foolishness of Satan's faith: "Do you still think it's enough just to believe that there is one God? Well, even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror! Fool! When will you ever learn that faith that does not result in good deeds is useless?"

Pat Higgins
Faith—What Is It?


 

Genesis 3:14

Fossils tell us plainly that before this time snakes looked as they do now, so God did not strip the serpent of legs and/or wings at this time, as some suppose in reading this verse literally. [In the same way, God did not suddenly create rainbows in Noah's day, but gave them new significance (Genesis 9:8-17).] God's words fit the facts better when taken figuratively.

His curse on serpents covers what they symbolize to men, which we can see when the verse is correctly translated. "More than" in Genesis 3:14 has the sense of "apart from," meaning that God sets the snake apart from other cattle or beasts to represent the Devil, the ultimate cause and originator of sin.

Thus, that the snake would crawl on its belly and eat dust is not literal but symbolic. Both of these figures, written in parallel clauses, signify humiliation. Snakes symbolize abasement or ignominy because of sin. Why? God wanted the snake to be a constant reminder, not only to humanity but to Satan as well, that the Devil's ultimate fate will be the humiliation of his gargantuan pride. He will cower on his belly before God and eat dust!

Isaiah uses a different figure, but the result is the same: "Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit" (Isaiah 14:15). Since, as far as we know, Satan cannot be destroyed, he must be humiliated and imprisoned. During the Millennium, God will do this by locking him in the Bottomless Pit (Revelation 20:1-3), and after he is released "for a little while" at its end, God will then cast him into the Lake of Fire (verses 7-10).

Ezekiel also brings out this humiliating end:

Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, that they might gaze at you. You defiled your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your trading; therefore I brought fire from your midst; it devoured you, and I turned you to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all who saw you. All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you; you have become a horror, and shall be no more forever. (Ezekiel 28:17-19)

The Bible, from beginning to end, repeats the certainty of Satan's ultimate humiliation and punishment. In Genesis 3, God makes sure Adam and Eve know that they had chosen the losing side!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The First Prophecy (Part One)


 

Numbers 16:3

This is an example of a person who is dissatisfied with what he has and stirs up others because of his ingratitude for what God had given him already.

The consequences of Korah's "taking action" are clear: God destroyed all these who rose up against Moses and Aaron—against Him. Does this pattern look familiar? It should. It is the age-old and oft-repeated sin of pride manifesting itself in ingratitude. Satan did the same thing (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:14-17). It was not enough for him to be a covering cherub at God's throne. It was not enough to have the lordship over the earth and one-third of the angels (Revelation 12:3). No, he wanted to resemble or compare to the Most High (Isaiah 14:14)! His pride led him to go to war against God, a battle he soundly lost (Luke 10:18). Revelation 12:7-10 prophesies that his pride will drive him to attempt another coup d'état before Christ's return.

This is where ingratitude can ultimately lead a person: into total rebellion against God. It lends to an individual feeling a false sense of worth, that he deserves more. If not checked, it becomes a plague of discontent that soon infects others, as Satan's ingratitude spread to other angels.

If this kind of attitude lands us in trouble, just what should our attitude be? A truly humble and grateful person will never rebel against God because he knows that even the very breath he breathes is a gift and calls for praiseful thanksgiving to the Father. Sharing this thanksgiving with others in the church works like soothing oil that helps to heal the body.

Mark Schindler
Ingratitude


 

Numbers 22:22

God was angry because Balaam went when He had specifically told him, "Don't go unless they come to you and ask you." Nothing in God's Word says that they did. Instead, it says that Balaam got up in the morning and saddled his donkey, and off he went.

God gave conditional permission. The condition was only if he was asked again, but he was not asked again yet went anyway. Balaam was one of those people who, if you give him an inch, he takes a mile. If he was not specifically told, "You shall not go," then he thought that meant he could go ahead and leave.

In like manner, there are those who think, "Well, because the Bible does not say 'Thus saith the Lord,' it is okay!" We can see many things in Balaam's character that are similar to what many people today mimic due to the fact that they are not listening to God either. God was very specific with Balaam, but all he heard was, "Go ahead!" He tuned out the part that began with if.

This is why God was angry with him. He was so angry that He came out against him, to stand in his way. Maybe the most intriguing detail here is that the word adversary is, in Hebrew, satan, which means generally "adversary, enemy, foe." God came out against Balaam the same way that Satan comes out against us, when God allows him to do so. God set Himself up as Balaam's enemy.

In reality, by leaving without fulfilling the conditions, Balaam chose to join Satan's side. God, then, visibly to the donkey but invisibly to Balaam, set Himself up as the adversary to Balaam.

Balaam showed God that he would do what Balak wanted him to do. In counterpoint, God will do something to try to get Balaam to change, to turn. God does not come out against Balaam as a normal enemy would—to do him harm—but to turn him around and give him a chance to repent. But Balaam would have nothing to do with that. He had set himself up as an enemy of God, and he never turns himself around.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Balaam and the End-Time Church (Part 2)


 

Deuteronomy 13:1-5

What is coming from the prophet's mouth? Something false. Who is this prophet speaking for, what supernatural spirit? It is not the spirit of God, but a demon speaking through a human being, inspiring and motivating him. God permits it and expects His people to put that person to the test. God expects us to be able to discern the spirit that is motivating the speaker. The test is to see whether we will remain loyal to God—loyal in terms of keeping His commandments.

Thus, the listener better have a good working knowledge of God, which returns us to II Corinthians 10:5, where Paul warns that reasonings will exalt themselves against the knowledge of God. This clarifies the devices that Satan will use to turn us aside. This also underlines our need to be able to thwart those devices. We need to have a good working knowledge of God—not things about God so much, but the knowledge of God the Person, the Being with whom we have a relationship.

Also, Deuteronomy 13 confirms that some of these false prophets will be able to do miracles, which Paul confirms in II Thessalonians 2, and John confirms in Revelation 11. What is in the New Testament is built upon what God has already shown in the Old Testament—that Satan's modus operandi will be carried through from one covenant to the other. We have to understand that such signs—the ability to do miracles—are not of themselves indications of authority from God. They must be combined with teaching that agrees with God's already revealed will.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 2)


 

1 Samuel 15:23

God hates rebellion! He hates the attitude of lawlessness it produces, as well as the crop of wicked fruit that results from it.

The prince of all rebellion is Satan the Devil, also known as "the sum of all moral impurities." Though we do not see this demon physically, the influence of this arch-rebel permeates our society. We need not look far to see children rebelling against their parents, artists rebelling against the status quo, and fringe groups rebelling against the government.

Satan personifies rebellion. It was Lucifer's rebellious action that saw him tossed out of heaven and renamed Satan, Adversary:

How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God [angels]; I will also sit [rule] on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north [God's government]; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High." Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit. (Isaiah 14:12-15)

Lucifer, "Light Bringer," rebelled against the laws of God, thus he rebelled against God Himself. Desiring independence from God's legislation, he tried to depose God and become the sovereign ruler of the universe. Great chaos and destruction resulted among the heavenly bodies and on earth (Genesis 1:2) when God "cast [him] as a profane thing out of the mountain of God" (Ezekiel 28:16).

Because of his rebellion, we are today experiencing its evil fruit. Notice how Isaiah describes the reaction of people who will look back upon Satan's career after God finally binds him forever in the Lake of Fire:

Those who see you will gaze at you, and consider you, saying, "Is this the man [Hebrew ish, male, individual, person] who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world as a wilderness and destroyed its cities, who did not open the house of his prisoners?" (Isaiah 14:16-17)

These people are describing the effects of Satan's rule on this earth now!

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Should We Obey the Laws of Our Government?


 

Job 1:6-12

Notice that God Himself takes the initiative in setting this up, choosing the antagonist (Satan) and defining the parameters of what could be done. Can we say in the face of accounts like this that God only permits difficult trials to occur? Can we say He is not actively testing His children to see what is in them? Can we say He is not actively directing Satan to carry out the calamities He designs?

John W. Ritenbaugh
God's Sovereignty and the Church's Condition (Part One)


 

Job 1:6-7

Was he just telling another lie? He was traveling back and forth on the earth, and he described it as walking. When he came before God, it was some other place than the earth. Where does God reside? The Bible names heaven as the only place of God's abode. So Satan must have left the earth and traveled to be in God's presence because this conversation did not take place on the earth.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 3)


 

Job 1:6-12

This clearly illustrates that, despite having far greater natural powers than a man, Satan can do nothing against any of God's children that God does not permit. God is overseeing our preparation for His Kingdom, and the Devil is, in reality, a dupe in God's hands to that end. Verse 10 shows that God puts, as it were, a protective wall around us, commanding Satan, "This far and no farther."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Power Belongs to God (Part Two)


 

Job 2:6

Here is a principle that we can take great comfort in. As He does with Job, God also deals with us. God has set limits on what Satan or the demons are able to do with or to us. God deals with us according to the measure of our faith, our love, the measure of His Spirit within us. By faith, we have to deal with what He allows to occur, understanding that we love God for what He is and not because He has given us good things. That is an additional blessing.

We see, then, that from time to time we will have to overcome the demons that God allows to test us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 1)


 

Job 41:1-34

Are we reading here of something that could come awfully close to a fire-breathing dragon? Could this be a description possibly of Tyrannosaurus Rex? Is God describing something that Job was familiar with? Yes, He was describing something that Job was familiar with—whatever it is. If Job was not familiar with it, it would have made absolutely no sense to him.

This beast—the real king of beasts—does not fear anybody. We are looking at a description, probably figurative, of Satan the Devil in the form of a dragon, a Tyrannosaurus Rex-like symbol of Satan. The dragon is the real source of power for the Beast—a king of pride, a powerful beast beyond human control, ferocious, dangerous, repulsive, unmitigated power—the quintessential carnivore, seeking to devour.

No wonder Revelation 13:4 says, "Who can make war against the beast?" It gives every appearance of invincibility. A nasty fellow, if ever one was described. It is this beast that places its mark upon human beings. What is "the mark of the beast" in a spiritual sense? What kind of spirit emanates from this wild, ferocious, voracious system being described?

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Spiritual Mark of the Beast


 

Psalm 9:3

David's enemies were physical people. Our enemies, however, are Satan, his distracting world, and our human nature, which he has been molding in his image since our births. If we are not to "fall and perish," these enemies must be vanquished—it comes down to "them or us." If God does not fight the battle, we will ultimately lose because our flesh is weak; we have little spiritual power against our enemies, especially Satan and his devices (John 15:5). Striving to pray always puts us in His presence at every opportunity, and our enemies' power over us recedes and eventually disappears.

Pat Higgins
Praying Always (Part Four)


 

Proverbs 6:20-21

This begins a long section of instruction regarding adultery and harlotry. The first warning is to protect one's heart—not one's body—from her because the body follows the heart's lusts. Since Babylon, the Great Whore, is our spiritual temptation, this is a veiled admonition to steer clear of Babylon. Verse 26 reveals her predatory nature; she preys upon the precious lives of her victims like a cat preys on birds. Satan, the father of Babylon and its ways, "walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (I Peter 5:8).

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Nine): Babylon the Great


 

Proverbs 11:2

The proud hypocrite deceives himself into ignoring realities in the conduct of his life that the meek and humble person quickly recognizes and takes into account. The proud person's vanity pushes him into conduct that will end in shame. The humble person's attitude, on the other hand, is a vivid contrast, for his wisdom prevents him from pursuing the same conduct. This in turn produces even more wisdom when good fruit is produced because it reinforces his right decision.

This pride seen in Proverbs 11:2 literally means "boiling up," or we might say, "puffed up." It can mean "to overstep the boundaries." The proud person has an inflated opinion of himself and/or his possessions, abilities, powers, and accomplishments. This exists because pride has deceived him about his importance. He is the center of the world! The day is coming soon when everyone's proud ego will be deflated, and man's haughty self-regard will be stripped away.

This is exactly what happened to Satan. He got so full of himself that his pride tricked him into believing he could defeat His Creator in battle and take His place! He ignored the reality that he was the creation of God, and that God was thus superior to His creation in every way. His pride deceived him into underestimating the awesome power of God that he had seen demonstrated in the creation! It made him disregard the limited nature of his own power in comparison, making him think he was stronger than was true. It actually made him think he could be God!

This attitude is also at the foundation of Laodiceanism. Of what does God accuse the Laodiceans? "[Y]ou say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'" (Revelation 3:17). Their pride deceives them into believing they are self-sufficient. They have it all! They do not need anything! We should consider that in all probability the Laodicean does not say any such thing with his tongue. In fact, he is probably able to "talk the talk" very well and hypocritically put on a good show of righteousness. But God looks on the heart, seeing not only his public conduct but also his motivations and private conduct. The Laodicean is of the class that professes to know God but denies Him in works. God's judgment—the correct judgment—is that they are "wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Humility, and the Day of Atonement


 

Isaiah 14:12-15

"Lucifer" means "Light-Bringer" or "Day Star." Ezekiel calls him "the anointed cherub who covers," which means he was one of the chief angels whose wings covered God's throne in heaven. He is specifically shown to be a created being, possibly the most beautiful, wise, and perfect of God's creations.

But this mighty angel grew proud and vain in his beauty. He began to become envious of God's authority over the universe, and over maybe millions of years, he schemed to induce other angels to support him in an attempt to overthrow God. When he finally led one third of the angels (Revelation 12:4) to war against God in heaven, God cast him and his angelic troops back to the earth (Luke 10:18).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Basic Doctrines: Satan's Origin and Destiny


 

Isaiah 14:12-15

Satan is the archetype of the self-exalted being, beginning with his attempt to usurp God's throne. Nebuchadnezzar follows his example by his self-praise: "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?" (Daniel 4:28-37). The man of sin, the Antichrist, will be the most self-exalted human being on earth, and this same spirit of pride will drive him (II Thessalonians 2:3-4).

Martin G. Collins
Overcoming (Part 9): Self-Exaltation


 

Isaiah 14:12-15

It becomes clear, once we fit this together with II Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6; Revelation 12:3-4,9; and Ezekiel 28:12-14, that God assigned the angels to the earth under their commander, Lucifer (Heylel in Hebrew), who was the sum total of all that God could create by fiat in a created being, perfect in his ways until iniquity was found in him. We see a picture of a being of awesome beauty and power, of tremendous intelligence, and like us, a creature of free moral agency.

Something happened to that great being, and he began a campaign of deceit. He began to separate from God a number of the angels, undoubtedly using the reasoning that they should have more, that God should treat them better, that God was being unfair, that they did not have the liberty or the power that was due them. At some point he began to express, "I will be like the Most High."

Some commentators say that the Hebrew says in reality, "I will be God," not just like God. We can see what he wanted: complete power, authority, and control. He did not want to be under another; he did not want to be submissive. He did not want another being pulling his strings or controlling him.

He wanted to sit, as it says, on the mount of the congregation. So he decided, "I will make war. I will ascend into heaven." So the demons left their first estate, the realm of their authority, and they mounted up in war and attacked God. They were soundly defeated and cast down. Their first domain became a place of restraint, literally "a silo," a pit, where they were chained. This suggests that, as a result of their rebellion, they no longer have the liberty that they once had, but are now held in restraint. A great deal of their free moral agency was taken from them.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 1)


 

Isaiah 14:12-15

Probably all of us have thought that we know better than those in charge. Watch out! Thinking like this is not wrong in itself, but it is something that lodged itself in Lucifer's mind: "I know better than the one in charge," and in this case, it was God.

We can begin to see how his pride was beginning to exalt itself against God. It was moving to break the relationship between them. It was coming between Lucifer and God so that their relationship could not continue. Lucifer could not continue to serve God.

Most have felt that we have been overlooked, neglected, or abused. Most of us have felt rejected a time or two. Of and by themselves, these feelings are not wrong. But, again, we must beware, because these feelings can begin to generate pride. Such a thing fed Lucifer's feelings about himself. They simmered in him and made him angry, and he desired to assert his will to control the governance of all that was happening. "I will ascend to heaven," he said, and he tried to. We see the pattern here; we can see the process involved from beginning to end.

It ends in warfare against God, which is why a person of pride cannot have a good relationship with Him. A proud person cannot have faith in God, at least not very much. A small amount of faith can be there, but pride will definitely be a hindrance. This is why the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican in Luke 18:9-14 follows immediately after of the Parable of the Importunate Widow (Luke 18:1-8), which Jesus ends with, "When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on earth?"—because humility is essential to faith.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 6)


 

Isaiah 14:13-14

We can see in Satan how pride will show itself in us. Pride brings us into contention with God. It will exalt us into breaking one or more of His commandments, perhaps as a way of life. It will exalt us to deny what a scripture clearly says to defend a privately held belief (i.e., women speaking in church, hair length).

It will cause us to reject the leadership of the ministry, given to the church as a gift of God (cf. Jeremiah 43:1-2). It will exalt us into striving for positions of leadership in the church (study all of Numbers 16).

Pride will exalt us against brothers in the church fellowship so we do not really love them (i.e., gossiping about them, accusing, cutting them down [even in jest], never fellowshipping with them). It will make us contend with our brothers over scriptures that have little or nothing to do with salvation, but "winning" an argument will become very important to us so we will not lose face.

It is no wonder Proverbs 28:25 says, "He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife, but he who trusts in the LORD will be prospered." God resists the proud, but gives grace (gifts that prosper one spiritually) to the humble.

The father and king of pride is an adversary. Whenever we witness contention that disrupts unity, where confusion and frustration are being produced, we can be sure that his dominant attitude is infecting the group. We need to examine ourselves to see where we may need to repent.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Contention, and Unity


 

Isaiah 14:13

Biblically, God's throne is in the north—way in the north of heaven. What Lucifer or Hillel had decided to do (he was already in the attitude of Satan) was to exalt himself and his throne by attacking God and supplanting Him.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Ezekiel 28:12-13

This passage deals with an unusual being of great beauty who was in the Garden of Eden. Precious stones are part of his covering, which probably means they were part of the clothing that adorned him. This being is a created being, not one who was born. In addition to that, he is—or was—full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. Obviously, God is not speaking of a human being. This personage was the sum total of all that God could create by fiat and put into a living being. In verse 14, He identifies him more clearly.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 1)


 

Ezekiel 28:12-15

Consider what he was. He was the pinnacle of what God can create by fiat. That is what is suggested in the wording of this passage - he was the "seal of perfection," the most perfect creation, full of wisdom and beauty. He was made with precious stones as part of his body. Music - beautiful music - was intrinsic to him. He had an exalted position as the "covering cherub." He walked where God ruled, amidst the fiery stones. He had it all. It should have been enough for him, but he began to think, "I'm still one step down from the top. I really don't have it all. I want to rise to the next level of management. I want to be the CEO of the universe. I think I'll overthrow God."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Ezekiel 28:14-16

Satan was the first one with the attitude of murder, and he has promoted it ever since. A murderer is a child of Satan with the same arrogant pride. Such a person will not enter God's Kingdom (Galatians 5:21; I John 3:15; Matthew 15:18-19).

Martin G. Collins
The Sixth Commandment


 

Ezekiel 28:14-17

Lucifer is not a snake, a serpent, or a crocodile. He is not what men like to picture him as being. He was a powerful, supremely intelligent, beautiful free-moral agent - an angelic one. But because he could not control his thoughts in making comparisons and evaluations, his intellect, authority, and his beauty led him to feel superior to others, to misuse them and circumstances solely for his benefit.

Perhaps even his knowledge of God's plan affected him. Perhaps he knew God was eventually going to create man and give him the potential to enter into the God-Family. Knowing how he was, with thoughts beginning to arise about how beautiful, intelligent, and powerful he was, and what an important position he had - and he would have to serve these clay things made in God's image, and prepare them to become greater than he? What a put-down! It is certainly possible that he thought such things, and maybe his pride motivated him to thwart that plan. His pride began plowing the way, to move him in another direction, one against God. He felt that he had a better way, which began with knocking God from his throne.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 6)


 

Ezekiel 28:15-17

God had created Lucifer a perfect spirit being, but He also gave him free moral agency, that is, the ability to choose to follow good or evil. Lucifer chose to become Satan the Devil, the Adversary, by allowing sin to mold his character. His rebellion against God sealed and hardened his evil nature, and now he opposes all that is good, right, and godly (Matthew 13:38-39; I Peter 5:8; Revelation 9:11; 12:9-10).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Basic Doctrines: Satan's Origin and Destiny


 

Ezekiel 28:17

The first recorded sin in all of God's creation involved pride. Not only was what Lucifer thought about himself the overall cause of his downfall, it also corrupted the wisdom that should have kept him from falling. Pride blinded him to its own existence and to the impossibility of what he was trying to do! It set in motion a reaction to God that continues to today.

Beauty should not be confined to how Lucifer judged his outward appearance, because it is later expanded to splendor. God says of him, "You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty" (verse 12). He "had it all"—good looks, brains, skill, and power! And it got to him. His very gifts, his strengths, deceived him into misjudging his value in comparison to others, particularly God Himself.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Contention, and Unity


 

Ezekiel 28:17

Here we see the very beginning of pride. The marginal reference reads, "your heart was made proud." In Job 41:34, as part of the description of Leviathan, Satan is called "king over all the children of pride." God describes no mere animal but rather uses an animal as a type of the Devil.

Satan's pride led him into war with God (Isaiah 14:12-14). He has passed this proclivity on to his "children," and their pride in turn leads them to divide from each other and enter into wars against each other as their father does. Pride is a vine that produces a multitude of evil fruits—so many that some call it "the father of all sin." As long as the seed of pride is alive, it has a very good chance of springing forth in ugly conduct.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Humility, and the Day of Atonement


 

Ezekiel 28:17-18

His own splendor blinded him to what was real and true. What was real and true is that God will always be supreme. He will always be the chief authority in the universe, and no created thing can supplant its Creator. It was total hubris—overwhelming pride—that caused him to do this, because he was discontent with his position, and he presumptuously thought he could overthrow God. He even tried to stage a coup, and God slammed him right back down to earth.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Daniel 10:8-13

This was an awesome being of power, so great that ordinarily strong, valiant men were so frightened that they ran. Yet something withstood this great being to his face and kept him from getting to Daniel for three full weeks. We cannot even begin to imagine the titanic struggle that went on between, say, Gabriel and this other being. There must have been such an awesome wrestling match as men have never been witness to.

Whatever it was that withheld Gabriel from getting to Daniel must have been awfully powerful. Notice too that this great struggle was going on without Daniel even being aware of it. Somehow a malignant demon tried to thwart Daniel's prayer from being answered.

But it was answered because, in verse 13, "Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia." It was not until two of them ganged up on this other being—two great, mighty archangels to subdue the other. The logical conclusion would almost have to be that the king of Persia mentioned here was none other than Satan.

This section in Daniel 10 really contains a great deal of encouragement. We can understand why the apostle Paul and the psalmist wrote that the angels are ministering spirits. They are ministering to the heirs of salvation. They are protecting us! They are standing between us and possible annihilation! We do not know how many times an angel has intervened to save our lives, to deflect the power of these malignant beings from us. It has happened repeatedly in some cases, not just in dramatic interventions, but where an intervention took place of which we were not even aware.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 1)


 

Malachi 3:11-12

We may get our groceries in the store and not give much thought to these things. However, we can begin to see that at this time in the history of God's church, and at this time in prophecy, the great Adversary, Satan, is all set to devour whatever, whenever, and wherever he can! We need the blessings and protection of God more than ever!

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Tithing


 

Matthew 4:8-9

Satan's power is over all the nations of the earth. That could be very frightening when we realize he can influence men in such a way that they are not even aware that they are being influenced toward evil. His power is so extensive that he is over all the nations of the earth. Jesus calls him the ruler of this world (John 14:30). He affects people's attitudes by moving our reasoning processes toward satisfaction of the self. He gives disinformation and stirs up our spirit.

Here is what is so perverse about this: It is not evil for one to take care of himself. What is evil is to make the satisfaction of the self more important than God or others. We are to serve God before all else (the great commandment), and the second is like it—we are on an equal par with others physically. Nowhere are we given the right or privilege by God to make ourselves greater than or more important than God or other human beings.

We can imagine the direction Satan is going to move us toward—to the point that satisfaction of the self becomes more important than conforming to what God says is the limit of our authority. In other words, he will push us toward making ourselves greater or more important than righteousness or truth.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 3)


 

Matthew 5:10

Strong's Concordance reveals that "persecute" (Greek dioko) means "to pursue, follow after or press toward." Vine's Expository Dictionary adds "to put to flight or drive away." Only within certain contexts does it take on the sense of oppression, ill treatment, abuse, tyranny, and even martyrdom and murder. Persecution is aggressive and injurious behavior carried out in a hostile, antagonistic spirit, normally by a group, but occasionally by one individual toward another. It is often carried out with fiery zeal, as Paul remarks about his persecution of the church (Philippians 3:6), but the persecuted must always remember that the fiery zeal bent against them is, according to Romans 10:2, "not according to knowledge." Thus Jesus, while dying on the stake, asks His Father to forgive His persecutors, "for they do not know what they do" (Luke 23:34).

In the Bible, especially in the New Testament, persecution is so pervasive that it is presented as a more or less expected terror. Jesus, the epitome of righteousness, is also the focal point of persecution. As such, He clearly reveals persecution's source. In John 8 the Pharisees challenge Jesus' assertion of who He was, and the ensuing discussion leads to revealing its source.

The Jews claim to be Abraham's descendants and never in bondage to any man (though at the time they were subject to the Romans). Their statement is partly true. Jesus readily acknowledges they are physically Abraham's descendants, but He adds in verse 40, "But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this." He implies that, if they were truly Abraham's children, their conduct would display his characteristics, and they would not be persecuting Him.

Satan the Devil is the source of persecution of those bearing and living the truth of God (verses 41, 44). At times he undoubtedly works through people whom he has duped and inflamed to unrelenting anger toward God's people so that the persecution appears to be entirely of men. But the Bible reveals the reality of Satan as the source.

The church bears the brunt of Satan's persecution because, as the body of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23), it is the group of people in whom Christ is being formed (Galatians 4:19). Jesus warns us that this will occur:

If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, "A servant is not greater than his master." If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. (John 15:18-21)

Thus, because of our relationship to Jesus Christ, persecution becomes our lot in life. Luke movingly describes this sense of solidarity and union with Christ during Paul's experience on the road to Damascus. Christ calls out, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" (Acts 9:4). Just three verses earlier, he writes, "Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest." Paul had physically and psychologically abused the members of the church, but Christ considers any attack against His church to be an attack against Himself personally.

His disciples can count on persecution. In fact, persecution serves as a sign of the authenticity of his relationship to Jesus Christ, as Philippians 1:27-30 attests:

Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.

The Bible also shows that the disciple's response to persecution is a veritable litmus test to determine that authenticity. Notice these two passages:

» But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. (Matthew 13:20-21)

» Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 24:9-13)

Clearly, God will count as righteous those who respond to persecution in faith.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part 8: Blessed Are the Persecuted


 

Matthew 5:21-24

The source of murder comes from the heart (mind, the core of an individual's character) where hate and anger are festered by Satan. If we have these evil traits in our hearts, we are fostering the spirit of murder. Thought precedes action and hatred precedes murder. If we hate someone, we break the sixth commandment.

Martin G. Collins
The Sixth Commandment


 

Matthew 7:13-14

True Christianity is not an easy way of life. Yet many of this world's religious groups that call themselves Christian would have us believe that accepting the blood of Jesus Christ is the end of all of our problems.

That claim, though, is misleading at the very least—and an outright lie at the most, depending on the material supporting such a claim. Many influences attempt to knock a Christian off the path entirely or in any case cause him to stumble. A Christian must be discerning, taking great pains to maintain his balance against three primary enemies: his human nature, the world, and Satan. Regardless of his age, social status, education, or gender, these foes dog his heels.

The Christian truly has a fight on his hands, if he is serious about glorifying God by his life and achieving the growth that will give God abundant evidence of his sincerity in seeking Him and being in His character image.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Two)


 

Matthew 12:25-26

The demons are a kingdom divided against themselves. Jesus is addressing a challenge that the demon He had just cast out of this person had been cast out by Satan. Jesus' argument is, "No, Satan would never cast out Satan." It would be stupid for Satan to cast himself out. He is not saying that under every condition Satan or other demons will not cast out other demons. Indeed, that does occasionally take place. They are very capable of doing signs and lying wonders. They can make it look as though somebody has been healed, when God has not done the healing at all, but simply by the removal of one demon by a demon of greater power.

One of the things that saves us is that the demons are divided against themselves. Because they are a kingdom divided against themselves, they cannot stand—they cannot get their act together because their character is such that they are always in competition with each other.

We can understand this when we recognize that the governments and most of humanity has been subject to and deceived by demons. Carnal, human nature, is a reflection of the nature of Satan and his demons. What fruit does that produce among men? Can men get along? No. The other side of the coin is that the beings who inspire, guide, direct, or motivate men not to get along with one another cannot get along with themselves either! The only thing that keeps them unified is that at the head of this organization is a demon of such awesome power that he is able to whip them into line from time to time to carry out his bidding. He does it by sheer force. They do not serve in love of him.

They are a kingdom divided against themselves. They will fall and that is an advantage to us. Being rebellious, they are disorganized. They cannot get their act together. Far more important is they know God exists, and they tremble before Him. They are therefore restrained.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 1)


 

Matthew 13:24-25

Jesus illustrates two sowers of different character. In the Parable of the Sower, the sower stands for all teachers of God's truth, including Jesus. Here, "the sower" is exclusively Jesus. He is the "owner" (verse 27), and "the son of Man" (verse 37). The other sower is called "his enemy," "an enemy," "the wicked one," and "the devil" (verses 25, 28, 38-39). To describe this enemy, Jesus uses the word diabolos: the accuser, deceiver, liar, and betrayer, one who is against all that is true and righteous.

The enemy sowed in a field that was not his while the servants slept. This does not necessarily mean that the servants were not watchful and were thus to blame for the mixed field. The wording implies that it was the normal time for sleep, night. Satan's sly nature is revealed in his choice of the darkness for doing his diabolical work. Also, note that he does not bother to sow the wicked among the wicked, but the wicked among the good.

Martin G. Collins
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part Three): The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares


 

Matthew 13:24-29

Satan's malicious intention in sowing tares among the wheat is to cause problems and confusion (James 3:16). The bad seeds grow to become poisonous weeds that allow only the healthiest of the wheat to survive. Tares, like weeds, have never been a marketable product. "Tares" are actually darnel, a seed hardly identifiable from the wheat seed, and immature wheat and darnel look alike. To try to destroy the darnel would mean destroying much of the wheat, and separating one from the other would be beyond the servants' abilities. Only when the wheat has matured can the tares be detected. Then the tares are gathered together in bundles in the field and destroyed by fire.

Many who are not in the process of conversion resemble those who are. Just like true Christians, they go to church, pray, and read the Bible, but they are only religious hobbyists. Jesus calls them "sons of the wicked one" (Matthew 13:38), and being tares, they will be destroyed. The tares are not originally from the wicked one, but they develop character according to his strong influence. They are led by him and so are his children (John 8:44).

Martin G. Collins
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part Three): The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares


 

Matthew 16:21-23

Poor Peter was looking though a glass very darkly and suffering from the common human malady of selective hearing and understanding. All he seemed to hear and understand were those horrifying words about the suffering, the rejection, and the killing. Did he not hear Jesus telling them that His resurrection from the dead—one of the greatest turning points in all eternity—was soon to occur?

Peter had the powerful Satan whispering words of fear into his mind: fear for Jesus, fear of persecution, fear of his own death. Would any of us have fared any better than Peter? Satan, up to his old tricks, knew that one of history's most pivotal days was approaching and what the glorious outcome of Jesus' suffering and death would be. He wanted to make a concerted, eleventh-hour effort to prevent it from happening. How? By using human fear and reason—by frightening and tempting Peter into trying to talk his beloved friend Jesus out of even mentioning these two events: the greatest sacrifice and the greatest miracle in human history.

Jesus was no coward, of course, but He certainly did not look forward to the impending physical torture that He knew He must endure. He had the ability—if just through Scripture alone—to foresee it all in detail. Paul suggests that, even before His incarnation, Christ frequently pondered what He would have to experience: "He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once in the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Hebrews 9:26).

Staff
Death of a Lamb


 

Matthew 24:24-25

Increasing deception will mark the "end time." At a certain point, these deceptions will be augmented by signs and wonders—miracles! Whether they are true miracles or not, we do not know. Satan has the ability to do certain things of that nature. Whatever they are, they will seem to give credence to the ideas of the people who are doing them. If we are not careful, even the elect—if possible—could be deceived.

This phrase "if possible" has made some people wonder, "Can the elect be deceived?" Well, it is kind of a trick question. If they are deceived, then they are not the elect! This is because the elect do something that keeps them from being deceived! It is not as if God says, "Here's this one group. I am not going to let them be deceived." That is not how it works. They are the elect because they do not allow themselves to be deceived.

So it is not possible to deceive the elect. It is not because these people have a special "safety net" around them, so that they cannot be deceived. They cannot be deceived because they will not let themselves be deceived, which is why they are the elect. They are working hard so that they will not be deceived. And that is the group that we want to be part of.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Preventing Deception


 

Luke 4:6

Notice that the Devil has authority over the whole world, and he delegates authority to whomever he wishes.

Jesus refers to Satan as the "ruler of this world" (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). Christ recognizes Satan as the present ruler of the world. However, Satan does not rule alone. He has a whole army of fallen angels, called demons, at his disposal. The apostle Paul refers to these evil rulers in his letter to the Ephesians. "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). These demons may number in the multiple millions (compare Revelation 5:11 and Revelation 12:3-4).

God gives us an occasional glimpse in His Word about how these evil forces are used by Him to influence the rulers of nations. One such vignette occurs in I Kings 22. When Ahab, the evil ruler of Israel, is trying to decide whether to fight against Syria to retake Ramoth Gilead, Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, persuades him to consult his prophets first. All of his prophets tell him to proceed with the battle because God would give him a great victory. However, Micaiah, a true prophet of God, tells him that God had allowed an evil spirit to put lies into the mouths of Ahab's prophets. This is because it is God's purpose that Ahab be killed in the battle. Ahab shuns Micaiah, takes the advice of his own prophets, and is killed while fighting the Syrian armies.

In His prophecies regarding those things that will happen close to the second coming of Jesus Christ, God clearly describes how He permits Satan to influence the nations of the world in order to fulfill His end-time prophecies. In Revelation 12, God describes how there will be a great war in heaven sometime near the second coming of Jesus Christ. Satan and his demons will be cast down to the earth and will bring about great persecution on the church of God.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
The Great Conspiracy


 

Luke 10:17-18

Like a great lightning bolt streaking out of the sky, this brilliant angel, shining with all of his glory—glory given to him by God—was cast to the earth. Where did he fall? He fell right where we are, to the earth, and now we have to deal with him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 1)


 

John 8:42-45

Spiritually, Satan has been our father. We already have had his mark placed on us, and in our lifetime we have shown his characteristics. That is exactly what Jesus is talking about here: He knew that Satan was the spiritual father of these people because they carried his mark in the way they reacted to Him and each other.

Abraham had God as his spiritual Father, and Abraham did not attempt to kill the One who became Christ—in fact, He was hospitable to Him and honored Him. He was not hostile to Him in any way, but instead did everything in his power to submit to Him. But here were the people of Jesus' time trying to put Him to death. They were openly hostile to Him.

Our problem is not worrying about taking on Satan's mark—we already have it. Our concern is to control and overcome it because God is now our Father, and He has already enabled us to resist that mark in our lives. It is our worshipful duty to work with God, to strive to break free of that foul spirit's enslaving hold on us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Spiritual Mark of the Beast


 

John 8:43-47

They had literal ears, of course, but that is not what He meant. They heard the sounds, and the sounds formed into words, and words were comprehended to some degree, but they did not really relate to what He was saying. His words just did not hit the right chords so that they could make the right use of them. Jesus says in some exasperation, "Why do you not understand?" Then He goes on to explain why.

He explains, "You are unable to hear what I say." He is implying that the problem is inherent. It was as if He were speaking in one language, and they were hearing in another, so that what He said was totally incomprehensible to them.

John 8 deals with freedom or liberty. These people were in bondage, a kind of slavery, and they did not even know it. They said, "We have never been in bondage." They had a measure of political liberty, but even then, they were under the heel of the Romans. They had a certain amount of freedom, which they apparently considered enough for what they needed for their lives. Ordinarily, the Roman way was, once a nation was crushed, to give the people certain liberties, as long they behaved themselves.

We can see that Jesus was speaking of one thing, yet they understood it in an entirely different way. He was speaking within spiritual parameters concerning the Kingdom of God. They were hearing within political parameters, and thinking about the here and now. It just did not jive.

They became this way just as we do: They lived and operated in a world of lies. This is why Jesus mentions Satan, that he was a murderer and a liar from the very beginning. All the ways of this world - which seem to be so right carnally - are really nothing but behaviors founded upon deceptions, distortions, and falsehoods. To somebody reared in such a deceived environment, the truth of God comes out as so much gibberish. The mind simply does not relate.

John W. Ritenbaugh
We Are Unique!


 

John 17:20-22

Salvation can easily and accurately be described as "being at one with God." As long as we are separated from God, we do not have salvation. When we are "at one" with God, it means that we are becoming like Him, that we are walking along the same path with Him and will be saved.

Jesus Christ's death bridges this impossible situation for us. We can then begin to contribute to being at one with God. What remains yet undone, despite the gap being bridged, is a change in character and in attitude that must be worked in us in order for us to become like God. It takes living God's way for us to become like God. This is why humility is necessary.

We can see from Jesus' prayer and from our own experience (and from the history of man) that mankind is not at one with God, yet that is God's aim. Satan motivated Adam and Eve, and subsequently all the rest of mankind, to separate themselves from God. As long as Satan can keep us separated from Him, salvation is impossible. Satan's thinking, which was passed on to Adam and Eve and then to us, is that we all have the right to set our own standards or codes of right and wrong. He has convinced mankind that they have the same prerogatives and that these Satan-inspired, man-made standards can produce abundant prosperity, good health, peace, and a sense of well-being in our lives.

But they do not, and that is the problem! Humbling oneself means giving up that devilish notion and submitting to what God says. He has given us free moral agency to choose whether to obey His standards and codes, not the freedom to set our own.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Division, Satan, Humility


 

Acts 5:1-5

These two church members apparently did not take Satan into consideration. They listened to a lie and were divided, first, from God's church and then from life itself. What did Satan do? He moved them toward self-satisfaction to the point (the actual sin) that they lied to take credit for a greater sacrifice than they actually made.

The sad part of this is that no one asked them to donate the entire sale price of the piece of land. What happened was they committed themselves to it and then undoubtedly began to feel put on. "Hey, Sapphira, that's too much money." Maybe they began to think, "We didn't expect we'd get so much money from the sale of this, and it is too much to donate." They began to think, undoubtedly, of other uses that they could put the money to. "We could buy new clothes. We could improve the house. We could buy another piece of land as an investment and make even more from it."

They had apparently already told those who were in charge of the collection that they would contribute the entire amount of the sale, and when the time came to give the contribution, they gave only a part of it but let on as if it was the entire sale price. They kept the difference for themselves.

Who led them to dare to lie? Satan has a modus operandi. He will always move us in the direction of self-satisfaction at the expense of obedience to God, service to God, or service to others, so that we elevate ourselves over the others.

Is that not what Satan did originally? In his own mind, his vanity elevated him higher than the position God had given to him, and it then began to work on his mind so that he had to do something about it. This process repeats itself over and over again.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 4)


 

Romans 3:11

Paul, quoting David, writes, "There is none who seeks after God." Man is so deceived and imbued with his own system that no one knows what to look for! The Devil has so deceived the world (Revelation 12:9) that the true God is hidden. Satan is the god of this world because he is the source of its ways of life. All mankind worships and responds to him except for that small, elect group to whom God has revealed Himself.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The First Commandment (1997)


 

Romans 8:7

The carnal mind is hostile to God and subsequently to one's neighbor. Because Satan's spirit is hostile to law, all who bear his image are hostile to law, breaking laws, taking advantage of each other. They are self-centered just like Satan, interested only in the protection and the increase of themselves.

Here is the basic drive of that spirit, its heart and core: overweening pride. Remember, Satan is "the king of pride." Overweening pride reveals itself in hostility, animosity, hatred, malice, deceit, anger, cunning, competition, resentment, bitterness, self-pity, and intellectual vanity. Every one of these attributes divides people against each other.

Consider how that spirit divided the Jews from Jesus. That spirit eventually led them to divide to the ultimate: They murdered Him. They took His life, defending themselves from the truth that He was preaching to them. The animosity, the hostility to God has never been shown more clearly in the Jews' relationship with Jesus Christ. What God tells us is we have the same spirit as those people. We have been marked.

This is only a partial list of this mark, a partial list of the spirit that emanates from Satan. All we have to do to add to the list is to think of those attitudes that drove Satan to persuade one-third of the angels, organize them, and then lead them into war against God, and we will discover the elements of that spirit emanating from the Beast and marking men.

Have we ever felt any of these attitudes toward some of our brethren in the church? Perhaps so strong that we do not want to be around them, so we do what we can to divide from them because they actually become repulsive to us? We become convinced that they are evil, unconverted, that we cannot control them so that they will do or be what we want them to do or be. When this happens, the mark—the spirit of this world—worldliness—might just be gaining the upper hand in our lives.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Spiritual Mark of the Beast


 

Romans 8:14-16

A Christian is one who has the Spirit of God. Notice the use of the terms "Father," "Son," and "children," while in other places, the terms are "Bridegroom" and "bride," all of which suggest a family relationship. A family of which God is a part is a spiritual organism, and we are in it in a spiritual relationship, gradually taking on the characteristics of that spirit Family. When scattering and division occurs within the church, it is because we are losing those God-Family characteristics and reverting to the characteristics of our former spirit father, Satan.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 4)


 

2 Corinthians 2:11

The New King James translates "devices" as "wiles." We could also translate this word as "contrivances," "techniques," "stratagems," "plans," "procedures," "plottings," or "schemes." Whichever we choose, he has ways that are designed to achieve a particular goal.

A device, stratagem, technique, or contrivance might be thought of as being a tool to carry out a certain function. But in this context (see the notes at II Corinthians 10:3-5) the implication is that the device is primarily mental. He is clever and crafty. He possesses ingenious subtlety, but he also has a modus operandi that presents us with clues about his influence and tends to give him away, rendering much of his cleverness inoperative and making him easier to defeat.

The idea is to catch him as he begins to use his devices to twist us mentally to agree to the line of reasoning that he wants us to follow. If we can catch it as it begins, we will not be entrapped by it. We know that Adam and Eve did not catch it, and they were led astray.

One of a Christian's primary defenses against Satan, of course, has to be a prior awareness of his modus operandi—particularly his desire to turn good into evil. Perhaps nothing could be more devilish than to do such a thing. And in this very context, Paul suggests that Satan can get to a person through a spiritual quality that is good.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 2)


 

2 Corinthians 12:7

Paul twice says, ". . . lest I should be exalted above measure." God gave him this "thorn in the flesh" so that the apostle would not get too big for his britches, as it were, because God had given him some revelations. That sort of communication from God could swell a person's head. Thus, the apostle says God allowed Satan to afflict him so that Paul would not venture beyond what he had been given.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Galatians 4:8

Before a person comes to know God, he serves those that are not gods by nature. Satan is the god of this world (I Corinthians 4:4), but he was not made to be so. In another place, I Corinthians 8:5, Paul says that there are many lords and many gods, but we know there is only one true God. Many beings attempt to pawn themselves off as gods, each of whom has a kind of "truth," or better, a "philosophy of life."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Truth (Part 1)


 

Ephesians 2:1-3

Satan subtly persuaded Adam and Eve that by taking the knowledge of good and evil, they would be like gods, and by this he inserted himself as a rival to God for man's loyalty. He implied that they could institute their own ways and standards. However, he concealed from them that he would influence mankind in establishing those ways and standards so that he, the god of this world, would be sovereign and obeyed. The result of this is that those who submit to him are made in the Devil's image, rather than God's.

Satan, eminently successful in his ruse, has been imitated by all mankind. By the time God calls us, we are thoroughly in his image. We are so indoctrinated into his way of life that even by nature we are children of wrath!

Satan cunningly hides something else from Adam and Eve: His brand of freedom to establish standards and to choose creates tremendous diversity and thus a constant and wearying confusion. When vanity enters this mix, the result is divorce in the family, social problems in the community, and on a larger scale, bloody warfare. Mankind has paid a horrible price for wrongly choosing Satan as sovereign.

From His nature of love and wisdom, God pre-determined what is right and beautiful, and He taught Adam and Eve His way of life, instruction now included in His Word. If we want to achieve His purpose and be in His image, unlike our first parents, we must limit our free moral agency to choosing whether to submit to the universal, life-encompassing standards He has already determined.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sovereignty of God: Part Six


 

Ephesians 2:2

Though written in the past tense, this section does not mean we are free from the influences broadcast by that wicked spirit. If we do not guard against them, we are fully capable of receiving his attributes.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Contention, and Unity


 

Ephesians 2:2-3

These verses link together many things regarding sin:

  • All have been involved in sin.
  • Sin is the force that drives this world.
  • This driving force emanates from Satan.
  • It motivates conduct involving flesh and mind.

Sin does negative things to us and others. If it were positive or even neutral, a loving God would be unconcerned about it. He would not lead us to repentance or demand that we repent of it. He would not command us to overcome it and come out of this world.

Satan is at the crux of sin. His name means "Adversary." He is against God and anything godly. In Revelation 9:11, he is called "Abaddon" and "Apollyon," and both of these names, one Hebrew, the other Greek, mean "Destroyer." Satan is a destroyer, and the spirit that emanates from him, that drives this world and produces sin, is a destroying spirit. We can broadly say that sin does two bad things simultaneously: It produces negative results and destroys.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Sin Is & What Sin Does


 

Ephesians 2:2

There is a direct connection between the prince of the power of the air - Satan - and this world. This must be true because this world is Satan's creation through unconverted men and women - the sons of Adam, as the Bible puts it. All of us have been sons of Adam.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Revelation 2-3 and Works


 

Ephesians 4:26-27

Has Paul not said, "Do not give Satan an opportunity to get a bridgehead, a toehold, to induce us into sin"? Sin brings death, and that is Satan's aim—to bring about death.

In this context, not giving place to the Devil is directly tied to a feeling—anger. Anger of and by itself is not sin. There is an anger that is godly, which we call "righteous indignation." But nursing an anger for the wrong reason—the selfish fulfillment of a desire—gives Satan the toehold that he needs. He can easily turn it into bitterness or a sinful conduct.

Having a desire is not ungodly or a sin in itself. God gave us feelings, even ones we might consider to be somewhat negative. Even something like anger is not by itself sin. Life would be terrible and bland without feelings. What we have to understand is that these are areas that Satan, if we are not alert, vigilant, and on guard, can turn what is a blessing from God into a toehold or bridgehead to sin. We must be careful of this. When the emotions get worked up (even positive ones), we can be pushed in the wrong direction.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 5)


 

Ephesians 6:10-14

Notice the number of times in these few verses that we are exhorted to stand. We must hold our ground as we fight against the pressures of Satan and this world. In verse 11, Paul tells us to "stand against" the Devil's tricks. In verse 13, he encourages us to prepare "to withstand in the evil day" and "having done all, to stand." In the next verse, he concludes, "Stand therefore" and put on the armor that God can supply.

There are two things to notice here. First, we are to stand firm. Paul does not instruct us to be agile or swift of foot. To the contrary, he advises us not to move; we are to stand on a firm foundation, as it were. We are to be securely grounded, rooted and unmoving. A person living a life of integrity is not shifty, but has solid convictions rather than preferences that vary with circumstances.

Second, Paul details the armor we need to "take up." He lists several pieces of "the whole armor of God," but "the breastplate of righteousness" deals mostly closely with integrity.

Most soldiers in Paul's day wore a breastplate, and even today, the most basic protection offered to police and soldiers is the armored or bulletproof vest. The Roman breastplate, primarily made of bronze and backed with leather, was worn around the chest, protecting the heart and other vital organs. In Paul's spiritual analogy, the breastplate guards the heart, the seat of our attitudes and emotions. In other words, if we are to stand firm in the truth, our heart must be protected!

Interestingly, the translation of the New Testament by J.B. Phillips renders "the breastplate of righteousness" as "integrity your breastplate." Paul instructs us to protect our heart, our love, and our emotions with a breastplate of integrity! As part of the equipment each Christian needs to stand firm in the spiritual war we have been recruited to fight, we must fasten integrity right across our chests to provide protection. What happens when a soldier takes off his breastplate? He opens his soft abdomen to attack; he is unprotected! Spiritually, the heart becomes vulnerable, apt to be turned away.

Mike Ford
Building With Integrity


 

2 Thessalonians 2:3

The apostle Paul prophesies of an apostasy in II Thessalonians 2:3, 9-12, and he prefaces it with a warning against being deceived. The great apostasy may already be fully underway, spurred by the rising tide of deception in society. With so much information available (Daniel 12:4)—along with so many ways to manipulate it—men find it extremely easy to deceive millions instantly. This is especially true for those who do not really believe the true source of knowledge, God and His Word. Thus, after subtle doctrinal changes, many of the brethren have fallen away.

The "coming of the lawless one," however, is still future. His rise to prominence and power will be accompanied by incredible miracles, but they will be false signs and wonders, lies produced by Satan to appear as if they are of God (see Revelation 13:11-15). He will use "all unrighteous deception," a hint that what he does and says will appear as righteous, yet someone who knows and loves the truth can see through it and avoid being deceived.

Satan will really pull out all the stops to deceive as many as possible, especially the called sons of God. The "lawless one" will be so slick that "all who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8). But, as Paul writes elsewhere, if we hold fast to "the pattern of sound words" that we learned, if we guard the truth, we will not be deceived.

Paul repeats these instructions to the Thessalonians in this context:

Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. (II Thessalonians 2:15)

The key to resisting deception is being convicted of the truth! The truth is what was first revealed to the apostles. As Jude puts it, "Contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).

As they saw the first-century apostasy coming, all the apostles warn about deceivers and urge the brethren to be certain of and stick to the doctrines of God. It is our surest hedge against being caught up in the deceptions of the end time that are already upon us.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Deceptions of the End Time


 

2 Thessalonians 2:9-12

Every day information concerning politics, economics, social issues, psychology, religion, conspiracy theories, foreign affairs, entertainment and education issues inundates us. How much of it is actually true? How much do we truly need to pay attention to?

The man of sin opposes Christ. He will even claim to be God, and Satan will enable him to work miracles. Just before Christ's return, he will lead evil's greatest challenge ever against all that is good. The focus of the attack will be the destruction of truth. Only those who "receive the love of the truth" will be spared. If one does not have it, he will be deceived, believe the lie, and be condemned. In this context, the lie is probably that this man is God or His main representative on earth, and that they should worship the beast and receive his mark at his word (Revelation 13:11-18).

Before the man of sin appears, Satan must lay some groundwork to prepare for his acceptance. What better way than to throw the world into quarreling and divisive and wearying confusion? People then yearn for some strong and seemingly wise hands to set things straight, so the nations can "catch their breath" and have a span of peaceful calm. In its wake, confusion creates directionless people, with little desire to change the status quo, whose minds are turned in upon themselves in an attempt to keep what they have.

Right now, humanity is being bombarded by religious disinformation ranging from bizarre, do-gooding New Age cults to the militant homosexual, lesbian and feminist attacks aimed at changing old-line Protestant and Catholic groups. Mainly within Protestant circles, the New World Order and other conspiracy theories abound, sometimes tenuously mixed with true prophecies of the Bible. Everywhere there are cries for tolerance of beliefs of every stripe, and in some sectors there are attempts to merge all religions into one.

Within God's church, we have seen a multitude of doctrinal changes alter one large group to the point that it is barely recognizable except by name. Other, smaller groups are badgered by peripheral issues like the calendar, sacred names and conspiracy theories. What we are witnessing are people subtly persuaded into an excessive concern for themselves. This distracts them from the focus God clearly states in Jesus' end-time message: Get ready for the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God.

Every message to every church group in Revelation 2 and 3 concludes with "To him who overcomes." Christ's intent is clear. Our judgment is based upon growth in overcoming flaws involving character defects, evil self-centered attitudes and relationship problems with fellow man.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Flood Is Upon Us!


 

1 Timothy 4:1-2

The source of false doctrine is demonic. Paul is writing of men who listen to, consider, follow, and then teach doctrines twisted from their biblical base (II Peter 3:16). He adds in II Corinthians 11:13-15 that, though the false doctrine comes through a man, the real source is Satan. The man is just a servant.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Damnable Heresies


 

Hebrews 2:14-15

Some religions make no mention of Satan as a reality. Others include him as a reality and enemy, yet they make little or no accounting of him actively working to destroy mankind and God's purpose. Jesus makes no bones about Satan actively working to destroy men. In John 8:44, in accusing the Jews of unbelief, He puts Satan's nature in plain words:

You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

Satan is clearly responsible for drawing Adam and Eve into the first of mankind's sins, opening the floodgate to the sins of all of their progeny, all physical and mental sickness, countless emotional agonies, and the billions of deaths that mankind has experienced.

God makes it clear that the wages—the ultimate penalty—earned by one's sins is death (Romans 6:23). The sobering truth of this matter is that it takes only one sin for God to impose the death penalty! He warned Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before they ever sinned, "In the day you eat of it you shall surely die" (Genesis 2:17). The death penalty falls immediately on anyone who sins, even if it is the first time!

Any religion that is without Christ leaves the door open to thoughts that salvation can be earned by means of good works. The idea is that the evil an individual has done in the past can be compensated for by doing good deeds. This is the very charge the apostle Paul lays against the Jews in Romans 10:1-4:

Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

In order for one to be justified before God and accepted by Him requires a righteousness that no man who ever sinned even one time can achieve. No amount of good works can compensate for even one sin. God will accept only the righteousness of One who has never sinned, and He will accept that payment only when a repentant sinner by faith believes.

Peter's statement in Acts 4:12 confirms that salvation is found nowhere else: "There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (emphasis ours). Christ's involvement in the forgiveness of sin for salvation is imperative; there is no alternative! Peter is not saying we can be saved or may be saved. The word "must" reveals necessity according to God's decree. Salvation is found through no other person and no other way of life except through the sacrifice of Jesus of Nazareth.

Salvation denotes deliverance or preservation from harm or evil. In this case, it is deliverance and restoration from the effects of sin. The result, then, is deliverance from eternal death (unless one goes on from that point to commit blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus says God will not forgive; see Matthew 12:31-32). This is because salvation begins upon one's repentance from his sins and faith in the sacrifice of Christ for the forgiveness of sins. This combination of acts justifies a person before God, and no human works, regardless of their quality or quantity, are acceptable for the forgiveness of sins.

Does any other religion have a Savior with the qualifications of Jesus Christ? No other religion offers such a magnanimous gift. Forgiveness, and therefore justification, is available only through that perfect sacrifice, along with the sincere repentance of a believing sinner who exhibits faith in the God/Man Jesus Christ and in God's grace. God will then give us of His Spirit.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is God's True Church Today?


 

James 4:4

To have a warm, familiar attitude with this world is to be on good terms with God's enemy. What does it mean, in more practical terms, to be a friend of the world? It is to adopt the world's set of values and wants, to desire what the world wants instead of choosing according to divine standards or divine truths.

In other words, if a person does that, he has actually made himself subject to Satan because Satan is the god of this world! That is a choice that we want to avoid. The worldly person will almost invariably choose to satisfy himself and take action on his desire, which eventually produces confusion, division, and war. It cannot be otherwise because the spirit of the world is the spirit of Satan, and laws are at work that will produce what they are designed to produce.

That was the problem in the congregation to which James wrote. If another apostle had been writing it, such as the apostle Paul did in I Corinthians 3, he would say, "You are yet carnal." These were converted people but still carnal, and they were showing it through their choices. It was not that they did not have the Spirit of God but that they were still so weak spiritually. They were choosing to fall back on what they had in the way of character, understanding, knowledge, and vision from the world, and by this, they showed that Satan was still dominating their lives.

This is understandable because Satan is a wily and powerful adversary—but he can be overcome and defeated. Christ did it, and we can too because Christ is in us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 5)


 

James 4:7

Resist and he will flee. What are we to resist? Notice the context. Resisting the urge to fulfill an unlawful desire would fit the context, because Satan is always trying to lead us into self-indulgence.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 5)


 

1 Peter 3:9

Peter is talking about turning the other cheek. Satan is always trying to move, motivate, guide, lead us toward self-satisfaction in every circumstance. If we are in a position or situation in which we are trying to defeat another, it is probable that he has a hold of us. Satan is competitive.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 4)


 

1 Peter 4:1-2

Looking at these scriptures in the light of I Peter 5:6-8, and understanding that Peter is writing with his thoughts on Satan in the background, our feelings are especially vulnerable because it is natural for us to feel that we are being taken advantage of or not being treated as we should be, and our emotions begin to run wild. Such a situation is tailor-made for Satan. He himself fell prey to such a circumstance. Either he will try to move us in that direction, or if it begins to happen even without him, then he will take advantage of it and move to affect our emotions even more.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 4)


 

1 Peter 5:8

The great deceiver, more often than not, works under cover of darkness. As a skilled and experienced hunter, he patiently stalks his prey, invisible to them (invisible is about as camouflaged as one can get!). His night vision is acute, his senses much sharper than ours. He sees us when we do not even know he is there!

Even now, he is stalking us.

Lifted up in their pride, he and his demons had the gall to hunt God's throne, but they were soundly routed (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:16-17; Luke 10:18). Now, as our adversaries, they hunt God's people, trying to pick off the weak, the ailing, and those who have grown weary and dropped back from the herd. He is always looking for a way to maneuver us into a position by ourselves where he can leap out of nowhere to maul us. Once he attacks, he causes great pain—but he does not go immediately for the kill. He pins us down and wounds us first. Even while in his grasp, though, we can call out for help. "The LORD is near to all who call upon him, . . . He also hears their cry, and saves them" (Psalm 145:18-19, RSV).

Mike Ford
Stalked by Satan


 

1 Peter 5:8

Christ is also symbolized as a lion, but not as a lion seeking to devour. Lion for Christ is used in the sense of "controlled, majestic power," but for Satan it is the symbol for one who is ruthless, stealthy, powerfully aggressive, bent on defending its turf, and destruction, often working from ambush. There are many similarities with the attributes of the "serpent."

A pride of lions will stalk and attack animals that are larger than they are—including wildebeest and water buffalo weighing thousands of pounds. It is a beautiful, deadly sight to watch lions working together as a team to bring a water buffalo down.

When lions attack, they do so through multiple attacks from every side. Eventually, one lion gets a grip on the throat of the water buffalo and kills it by strangulation. It is a slow and painful death. The water buffalo goes down, and the lions begin eating it before it is dead.

Satan is a lion, roaring, looking for and stalking whom he may devour. Male lions will even eat the young of their own pride to establish their dominance. It does not matter that they are related. If they are hungry, and a little kitten is around . . . one bite and it is gone.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Spiritual Mark of the Beast


 

1 Peter 5:8-11

This rebellion at the end of the Millennium is often overlooked in the joy of considering Christ's wonderful rule. Satan's influence is so powerful he can influence millions of people to follow him seemingly overnight. Having drawn away a third of the angels from God (Revelation 12:4; Isaiah 14:12-14) and overcome Adam and Eve, he has wielded almost total control over man.

His present power will be greatly magnified very shortly when he is cast down to earth to begin the Great Tribulation. He would deceive the very elect if it were possible (Matthew 24:24). It is no wonder Peter instructs us to be sober, to be vigilant, to resist Satan in faith that Christ might establish us in the end!

Staff
Holy Days: Feast of Tabernacles


 

1 Peter 5:8-9

Satan is a formidable enemy, to be sure, but in a personal sense, he is not as directly dangerous to us as the world or our own human nature. The chances of him confronting us individually are small in comparison to the influences of our ever-present hearts and the world in which we conduct our lives. Certainly, as our Adversary, he "walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (I Peter 5:8), but unlike God, he is not omniscient. While he can be only at one place at one time, he has many assistants.

We are far more likely to be confronted by one of his demon assistants than the Adversary himself, which is bad enough. However, he and his demons have constructed attitudes, institutions, systems, and entertainments into the course of this world, which they effectively use against us, even when they are absent from the scene. Most of their evil influence comes from the system.

We need to remember, though, that God has put a wall of protection around us, so demons can go only so far in their attempts to corrupt us and destroy our loyalty to God and His truth (Job 1:6-10). Their major responsibility before God at this time appears to be to provide tests for us to meet and overcome, in the same way God used Satan to test Job and to tempt Christ (Matthew 4; Luke 4). In this respect, they play a large role in helping us to recognize evil.

God gives us advice regarding them in I Peter 5:8-9: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world." In essence, His advice is, "Be self-controlled, be alert, and resist him!" Peter's first term, "be sober," urges us not to let fear of him fluster us to the point that we cannot think clearly. The second term, "be vigilant," charges us to be fully awake, to set ourselves in a state of watchfulness and readiness. The third term, "resist him," is a command not to turn and run but to stand firm.

This instruction lets us know that Satan is not all-powerful. With the protections God provides, including His continuous presence and alert regard for His children, Satan can be beaten. The same Jesus who has already defeated Satan is on His throne, overseeing our well-being. His protection is not something we flaunt, but is power we can rely on.

James 4:7 adds additional advice: "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." Again, the charge is to resist, but it is directly coupled with submission to God. Submission is the voluntarily act of placing oneself under the authority of another to show respect and give obedience. If we submit to God, Satan will flee.

Ephesians 6:11 parallels the other two instructions. "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." "Stand against" is yet another way of saying "resist him." "Stand" in the Greek indicates that one must hold fast a critical position as an army must do in warfare. However, it is not a passive term, describing something like an unmoving brick wall, but an aggressive, attacking term. In other words, we are to hold the ground we have already gained by going forward.

How, then, do we resist? How do we hold our ground by going on the offensive? We must return in thought to I Peter 5:9, where the first phrase is better translated as, "Resist him, standing firm [or solid] in the faith." Putting this into military terms, a soldier would be likely commanded, "Do not surrender! Do not give up any ground! Do not back down! Move forward with all you've got! Reinforcements are right behind you."

We have the God-backed promise that Satan will flee! Who can resist God's will? The key words here are "standing firm" and "faith." "Standing firm" or "solid" is used in the sense of "unmovable." When linked with faith in practical terms, it means we are absolutely sure or immovably convicted in the face of a strong test.

Overall, the apostles' instruction suggests that what we experience vis-à-vis Satan is common to this way of life. Their advice does not say that he will flee immediately, but flee he will. As used here, "faith" can be understood as either a personal trust in God or confidence in Christian doctrine, as either one fits the context. Ultimately, if we use our relationship with God properly, the confidence in Christian doctrine becomes trust in God Himself.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Two)


 

2 Peter 2:4

"Hell" comes from the Greek tartaroo, and it means "a place of restraint." God did not spare the angels, but He cast them down to a place of restraint, a kind of prison.

In Greek mythology, Tartarus was the lowest hell, the place where the Titans (who were defeated by Zeus) were restrained. It is described as being as far below Hades as heaven is high above the earth. As far as we can apply Greek mythology, we can understand that these angels were cast so far down as to be out of sight. Their place of restraint was so far down that one would think they would never be able to crawl out.

God is trying to get across that the angels have been defeated—cast down from heaven to the earth, as Revelation 12 shows. The earth, then, is a place of restraint, a prison, for them.

To add to the imagery, they are bound in "chains of darkness." This amplifies the thought that Peter is making: The demons are restrained. There is some disagreement among scholars whether Peter uses the word that is translated here as "chains" or whether he means "silo." Almost everyone understands what a silo is. To an American, it is a tall, cylindrical object in which grain is stored. To the Greek, a silo was an underground pit where grain was stored. Whether it is a chain or a silo, it does not matter. God is trying to assure us that the demons have been restrained.

They are being restrained because they are facing judgment. Unfortunately for us, they are restrained in the place where we live! The earth is the silo, the storage bin. We are sharing this place with them. Worse, as they would see it, we are intruders in their space. They consider us invaders.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 1)


 

2 Peter 2:9

Peter clearly understands that Satan is somewhere in the picture, and he wants us to be encouraged, to be filled with hope, because these ungodly people, though they appear to be gaining strength, are still under God's control. God knows how to deliver His people from their schemes—even as He delivered Noah, Lot, and others in the past from plots that were going on in their days.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 4)


 

1 John 3:7-8

This section shows that the Devil is the diabolical source of sin, that God's enmity against Satan is absolute, and that His enmity lies at the heart of His commitment to rescue man from Satan. He is doing it! He will do it! The major battle is already over: Christ defeated Satan. We are part of the mopping up operations, but the war goes on.

God will destroy. "Destroy" does not mean obliterate in the English sense, but it means "to break the power of." As an angelic being, Satan is not going to be destroyed in the way we think of destruction, but his power over mankind is absolutely broken because of what Christ did! He is still alive; He is still working, because God's plan, which we are part of, is being worked out. If we remain faithful, we will be victorious as Christ was.

On the other hand, if we use the English meaning of "destroy," God will destroy what Satan produces. He will destroy the system of this world that is against God. We know that in the Lake of Fire, God will destroy all of mankind that is unrighteous too.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 5)


 

1 John 5:19

"Lies in wickedness" should be translated "lies [under the sway of] the wicked one," as the New King James has it. John makes an all-inclusive statement of Satan's position in terms of the earth. The wicked one, the Devil, holds authority over all operations of all cultural systems on earth. He is the king, he holds authority, over what the Bible calls "the world."

John W. Ritenbaugh
What I Believe About Conspiracy Theories


 

3 John 1:9-11

Who is this Diotrephes? Perhaps a better question is, "Who does this Diotrephes think he is?" Was he an apostle? Was he an evangelist? Was he a pastor? Was he a leading man in the congregation? Was he an "ordinary" member? John does not say, but it is interesting that John mentions that Diotrephes just loved to have the preeminence among them. It almost sounds as if he was only a member of the church or perhaps an elder. We do not know.

One of his most marked characteristics is he liked to be "Number One." He had to be the important guy, the one everybody came to for answers to their questions, the one to make the big decisions. He even went so far as to say malicious things against John - one of the original twelve apostles. He prated against him with malicious words. He spoke down on him.

John was the disciple that Jesus loved, and here some little man, probably in the church at Ephesus, was talking against the apostle who had put his life on the line for the church many times, who had spent years in exile on the Isle of Patmos, who (tradition says) was put in a vat of boiling oil and was not harmed a bit, a man whom God was obviously with - and this Diotrephes thought he was so important that he could point out John's flaws to the rest of the congregation.

Then he started disfellowshipping people because they did not agree with him. He kicked people out of the church who wanted to fellowship with their brethren whom he had put out. John promised, "When I get there, I'm going to take care of this. I will call to mind all these things and make what this man is apparent."

Given the way he treated the congregation, Diotrephes was a "Satan in the flesh." What he did was evil, which is what John writes in verse 11: "Beloved, do not imitate what is evil." He is warning, "Do not imitate the actions of this man, Diotrephes. He is doing exactly what Satan did."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Jude 1:6-9

Jude is attacking false prophets, and thus men and demons are interwoven in the context. He indicts these false prophets for three sins:

1. Lust: They defile the flesh, allowing a feeling to take them over the edge into sin.

2. Rebellion: They flout authority in general, but primarily that of Christ. It is hidden in the Greek, but the word authority is really "lordship." It normally refers to Christ and His lordship over us.

3. Disrespect or disregard of spirit beings.

This third sin is interesting because he is saying that it is not that these false prophets will not talk about Satan, but their speech is gratuitous, despising, or denigrating of angelic powers. Their preaching suggests that these demons are not something Christians need to be concerned about. They side-step the issue.

Why would they do that? Because a false spirit is leading them, so they downgrade the existence and powers of demons through their preaching. This is clearly seen in Protestant Christianity, especially the mainline denominations that have gone to the point that they almost universally agree that Satan the Devil and his demons do not really exist. It shows how successful the demons have been in their deceptions.

On the other hand, there are evangelical or Pentecostal groups who talk about demons and Satan in a flippant, dismissive way: "Oh, we're going to put down the Devil tonight!" They say such things in their tent shows as part of their evangelistic campaigns. But what they are doing? They are putting Satan into a position where they seem to have power over him. They are so deceived.

The truth in regard to Satan is somewhere in between. The true church of God will have that truth, and they will understand that, yes, Satan is, he is powerful, but because of God, they do have power over him in that they can reject him and his deceptions. We are not puppets on a string, and he cannot influence us unless we give him the opportunity. If we are spiritually aware and can see him at work, we do not have to submit to him.

Jude is giving us signs to look for in the preaching of false ministers. They will denigrate Satan and his demons, there will be indications of lusts, and they will flout the authority of Jesus Christ.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 4)


 

Revelation 3:12

Because Christ criticizes Philadelphia very little, opens doors before her, and offers protection from the Tribulation, it is easy to think we "have it made" if we were or are part of Philadelphia. Yet Christ admonishes Philadelphia just as He does the other churches: Overcome! A Christian must never rest on his oars, no matter what his situation or era. We all must overcome the world (I John 5:4), our nature, and Satan to be granted salvation, and if we do, entrance to God's Kingdom is an absolute promise!

Staff
The Seven Churches: Philadelphia


 

Revelation 12:3-4

The dragon of verse 3 is identified as Satan in verse 9. This identification provides the lead-in to the introduction of the end-time beast in Revelation 13:1.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 1)


 

Revelation 12:4

Stars, a symbol of angels, is used, meaning his angels—demons—were cast out with him. The Devil and his angels were cast to the earth. We have insight here into a major battle that took place in heaven, one that Satan and his angels lost, and they were cast to the earth. Unfortunately, that is where we live.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 1)


 

Revelation 12:15

Revelation 12:15 shows the serpent, Satan, spewing a torrent of "water out of His mouth like a flood"! Aimed directly at the woman, that torrent is a diabolical and merciless attempt to sweep her away!

In John 7:38-39, water clearly represents God's Holy Spirit. This usage, in turn, has a direct connection to another usage important to this article and understanding Revelation 12:15-16. In this regard, Paul writes, "That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word" (Ephesians 5:26), and Jesus adds, "It is the Spirit [which] gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63).

Words, like water, have awesome power to do good or bad. They can give life like Jesus' words, or they can devastate and destroy like a flood of water when it is out of control.

Interestingly, Revelation 12:15 pictures this flood spurting from the serpent's mouth, the very place on the body where words emanate! This flood may someday materialize as a real army, but today Satan is inundating the world with such a torrent of appealing misinformation that some of God's people are being swept away. They are not yet lost because our God is more powerful than Satan, and He can save from the uttermost. But many are putting themselves into spiritual—and perhaps even physical—danger by being distracted from God's focus, the Kingdom of God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Flood Is Upon Us!


 

Revelation 13:1-18

Chapter 13 begins with a very colorful, almost overpowering, vision showing an overview of the political system that Satan works through.

There is just enough given here to connect this with the Daniel 2 and 7. What arises in Revelation 13 actually has its beginnings long before Jesus Christ, all the way back to Nimrod, showing a definite time progression. This is the system that rears its head at the end time, but the vision is given so that we will understand that this is the system that Satan has always worked through.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Revelation 10 and the Laodicean Church


 

Revelation 13:4

The dragon, a biblical symbol of Satan, will give the same power and authority to the ruler of this future empire as he promised Jesus Christ in the temptation described in Luke 4:5-7. Satan finally gets his wish to have someone worship him!

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
The Great Conspiracy


 

Revelation 13:4-7

Revelation 13 covers similar ground to what appears in Daniel 11. The Beast is not given this authority carte blanche, but will earn a great deal of it with his own abilities and the force of his personality, as well as with the energy and aid that the Dragon, Satan (Revelation 12:9), gives him. Of course, God makes all of this possible to bring about the end—so that all will work out according to His plan (see Revelation 17:17).

Nevertheless, the Beast is so formidable in battle that the whole world is convinced that he is invincible—"Who is able to make war with him?" Humanly, they are correct: No country or confederation can match him, and he ends up dominating "every tribe, tongue, and nation." What power! He will be able to hold that power only by military means.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Beast's Militarism


 

Revelation 13:16-17

Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:16-20 to look for fruit as a way of testing what kind of a spirit would emanate from a beast like this. Biblically, spirit is used to indicate "that which motivates." Spirit is invisible. It is immaterial, but what it produces is not, because it shows up on the outside of the person in behavior and sometimes in the spirit that radiates out from them.

In a spiritual sense, "the mark of the beast" is Satan's attitude. He is the great red Dragon, who gives power to the beast, and a great deal of power over mankind resides in the spirit that radiates from him.

It was Satan who created the original bad attitude, and he sustains it in humans when we permit these things to enter into our conduct and manipulate others to gain advantage and to achieve our self-centered objectives. Spirit is something that inclines the mind and, in this case, in a hostile anti-God, anti-law direction.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Spiritual Mark of the Beast


 

Revelation 20:1-3

Like everybody else, Satan has only the power God created in him and the latitude to use it only as He permits and no more. The power given to him is meted out for what God wants him to accomplish for His purposes. Seeing all of the horrible things happening on earth, we may suppose that his power is unlimited, but it most assuredly is not.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Power Belongs to God (Part Two)


 

Find more Bible verses about Satan:
Satan {Nave's}
 




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