Tuesday, May 2, 2017

S.T.A.N.D. on Who Satan is Not--Spiritual Warfare VII

I have been on vacation and now I am back!  Thank you for reading my blogs.  Remember that STAND means:  Spiritually Trained And Not Defeated.  The more intelligence we gather, the more we know our enemy and the less power he has over us.  

We are going to explore this biblical profile of Satan from Ezekiel  28:11-19 (NIV). The prophecy is aimed at the King of Tyre, whose own fall describes Satan’s to a tee. Whether the fall is that of a king or an angel, pride destroys the beauty within and drives that individual from God’s holy presence and influence. 

11 The word of the Lord came to me: 
12 “Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “‘You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you… Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared.
14 You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you.  You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones.
15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you.
16 Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned.  So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones.
17 Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor.  So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.
18 By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries.  So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching.
19 All the nations who knew you are appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more.’”
             
Let’s begin.  The fall is a sad one. 
The word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.'"
This is a lament. God takes no pleasure in castigating this king whose pride has become such an abomination. Likewise, God took no pleasure in casting Satan out. The lament comes from remembering what Satan was and what he has now become.  The bigger they are, the harder (and from greater heights) they fall. Satan was beautiful, and filled with wisdom.  But wisdom without humility is arrogance.  Arrogance was the seed that grew inside of Satan, leading to his downfall.  He had forgotten the One Who bestowed that beauty and wisdom on him in the first place.

You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you… Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared.
Satan was in the Garden of Eden.  But with arrogance already brewing in his heart, did he really enjoy the sight-seeing tour of God’s creation, or was he on a secret scouting mission to see what God had made and how he could sabotage it?

You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you.  You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones.
Despite Satan’s resumé that he hands out to us, he is not omniscient.  He cannot be everywhere at once.  He is a created being.  Thus, he has limitations.  As a fallen angel, he can move to and from the spiritual realm to the physical: "One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, asked him, 'Where have you come from?'
Satan answered the LORD, 'From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.'” (Job 1:6-7 NIV)  But, as a created being, he has limitations.  Don’t let him tell you otherwise.  He had beauty, honor and amazing power.  No longer.  But, and this is key in understanding spiritual warfare: Satan still has a presence on earth.  He still accuses God about us.  He still accuses us about God.   

You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you.
What was that “wickedness”?  Pride, pure and simple.  Look at all he possessed.  It wasn’t his beauty that tripped him up.  It was forgetting Who bestowed that beauty, that wealth, and that position of a guardian cherub upon him in the first place. He started looking to himself, and thought, at some deep level, that he was responsible for what he had.  God warns His own people of falling prey to that same kind of thinking:

"When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today."(Deut. 8:10-18 NIV)

This is exactly what Satan did.  He probably said in his heart:  My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.  I did it.  And it’s all for ME.  That’s pride at its ugliest.

Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned.  So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones.
Pride leads to entitlement.  Entitlement says:  I want MORE!  I shouldn’t have to settle!  Why?  Because I deserve it!  Thinking you deserve more means that if others do not agree with you, then you have to take it.  If persuasion doesn’t work, then take it by force. Sin motivates, alienates and then retaliates.  Do not forget this simple truth.  That sin in Satan’s heart led to his expulsion from God’s presence.  Once out of the redeeming holy presence of God, Satan was under the full sway of his prideful heart.  Satan lost his position of being a beautiful angel in God’s holy court and resented that greatly.  Nothing makes you strike even harder than suffering a loss you do not think you deserve.

Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor.  So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.
Now corrupted by pride and sin, Satan loses whatever heavenly wisdom he possessed and trades it in for darkness: "Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.  For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere." (James 3:13-17 NIV)  The result of Satan’s corruption?  A one-way ticket out of God’s holy influence.

By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries.  So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching.
Any good, any beauty, anything of value that Satan once possessed is gone.  His sin and grasping for more corrupted his very being.  Satan has been reduced. His power, glory and beauty are as ashes now. 

All the nations who knew you are appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more.
When Jesus returns, Satan will receive his final sentence: he will be no more.  Until then, Satan will raise hell in God’s creation.  Satan’s target will be God’s most prized possession in all of creation:  us. Satan’s goal was and continues to be to have us doubt God and His Word, thus weakening our faith.  The weaker we are, the better target we are for Satan.  Wolves take out the weakest members of a herd.  Satan is no different.  OK, there’s the profile. Let’s now focus on what Satan is not.

Satan is not everywhere at once.

He cannot be everywhere at once.  That alone is reserved for God: "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast."  (Ps. 139:7-10 NIV) 

Satan only feels omnipresent because he doesn’t work alone.  He has a wolf pack of fallen angels working with him: "And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him." (Rev. 12:9)

Satan is not equal to God, because he is a created being.

Satan aspired to be God, but he was not and can never be.  God declares,
“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord,
   “and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me
   and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
   nor will there be one after me.
I, even I, am the Lord,
   and apart from me there is no savior.” (Is. 43.10-11 NIV)

Satan is not all-powerful.

He is diminished because he was cast out of heaven.  He has power, yes, but it is limited:  "And he [Jesus] said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.’" (Luke 10:18 NIV)

Isaiah declares:  "How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit." (4:12-15 NIV)

Satan is a dog on God’s leash.

God put limits on how far Satan could go with Job.  If Satan had unlimited power, this would not have been possible: "And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand.  So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.  (Job 1:12 KJV)

Satan’s weapons are not invincible.  He just likes to pretend they are.

We know otherwise, because of who we are in Christ:  
"But in that coming day
    no weapon turned against you will succeed.
You will silence every voice
    raised up to accuse. 
These benefits are enjoyed by the
    servants of the LORD;
    their vindication will come from me. 
I, the LORD, have spoken." (Is. 54:17)

Satan is not able to operate on this planet unless he has a person to influence, 
inhabit or control to do his bidding.

Christ fills our heart and does His Kingdom work here through us when we allow Him to do so.  Satan is a counterfeit of Christ.  Satan likewise fills our heart and does his kingdom work here through us when we allow him to do so. When we have an empty, prideful, angry, lustful, wounded or irreverent heart (or all of the above), we provide the open door for him to slither in and do his work in us.  Maybe we have not given him outright permission, but he is on the prowl for someone whose heart’s door is even slightly open: "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first." (Luke 11:24-26)

This person’s heart here is empty.  It appears swept and clean to those seeing the person from the outside, but its emptiness is disturbing.  Why is it empty?  Has pride replaced God’s presence?  Has anger drowned out God’s voice?  Has lust for the flesh replaced love for God’s Spirit?  Have deep wounds waved away God’s healing touch?  Has irreverence wrapped its ugly arms around a once respectful and sensitive heart that used to love the things of God? The physical realm hates a vacuum.  The spiritual realm is no different.  Emptiness doesn’t stay that way for long.  To quote a Bob Dylan song, “Ya gotta serve somebody.  It may be the devil, or it may be the Lord, but ya gotta serve somebody.”

OK, we have established that Satan has limitations.  We should not overestimate Satan and his power. But we should not underestimate it, either.  If we are in a war (remember, we put on the “full armor of God” not our dancing shoes) then we need to know our enemy.  What he can and cannot do, who he is and where this war is going is essential intelligence we need from the front lines.  The Word provides the necessary information.   In my next blog, we will focus now on what our enemy is.

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