Series on Genesis, I God's Creation, G The Confusion of Creation, Text:3:1, Title: Enemy Territory.

Introduction

Genesis 3:1 says, Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Mankind's views of the devil are complicated. For some he is a mythological character, for others a psychological construct invented to take the blame. Some people joke about him saying, "the devil made me do it," and others attribute to him divine characteristics and live in fear of his non-existent omnipotence. Today, more and more, there are those who worship the devil and demons and practice satanic religion. The Bible does not focus on the devil and yet it says more than enough to establish his existence and to describe his nature and abilities. Both Barna and Harris polls asked people if they believed the devil was a real being or just a symbol of evil. 52% of those identifying themselves as born again Christians said Satan was not real. 72% of Roman Catholics said Satan was not real. Since the apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 that the devil is our real enemy and is behind our other conflicts, it behooves us to take this opportunity to learn what the Bible says about him. The only people who don’t believe in the devil are the people under his power.

I The Derivation of the Devil

i John 3:8 says, He who does what is sinful is of the devil because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. Genesis 3:1 is the beginning of which he speaks, Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Without any introduction the idyllic scene of Eden is suddenly invaded by the evil one in the guise of a talking reptile. Though he existed before the world he is not eternal. There is room for only one totally independent and self-existent being and that is the Triune God. The devil would like you to think that he is God as in the oriental religious teaching of the Tao. The symbol of the circle divided by the curve half light and half dark, half good and half evil is the devil’s deceptive attempt to assert his equality with God. In Ezekial 28 and Isaiah 14 the devil is revealed as the true enemy behind visible enemies of Israel. Ezekial 28:2 says, Son of man, say to the ruler of Tyre, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: ”‘In the pride of your heart you say, “I am a god; I sit on the throne of a god in the heart of the seas.” But you are a man and not a god, though you think you are as wise as a god. Behind this ruler is a hidden ruler, Satan, for we read starting in verses 11-16, 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 model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.  You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you...So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. In Isaiah the enemy is called morning star or Lucifer which means light bearer.  But he was thrown into the outer darkness by the lowly man who is the light of the world. And I love God’s taunt in Ezekial, are you wiser than Daniel? A question directed to the ruler but really to the devil behind him. Though Daniel was a lowly man who served the living god, he was wiser. Oswald Sanders writes, “Lest we be “terrified by our adversaries,” it is well to remember that Satan’s power is not inherent but permitted. Romans 13:1 says all authority is ordained by God. It is not unlimited, but controlled as Satan sought permission from God to afflict Job in Job 2:1. It is God’s plan for the man made lower to rise higher in the triumph of grace. This we do in Christ which is why Martin Luther wrote, "one little word" shall fell our enemy.

II The Description of the Devil

Of all the names for the devil: satan, the serpent, beelzebub, abaddon, apollyon, the evil one, the tempter, the ruler of this world, the prince of the power of the air, a slanderer, a liar, a devouring lion, an adversary and an accuser, the one I shudder at most is Paul telling the Corinthians that Satan is disguised as an angel of light. He destroys human government through lust for power. John calls it the pride of life, boasting. Any student of history can trace this pervasive poison in political and economic intrigue. And there it is always framed in magnanimous and altruistic terms. Listen to the devil speak. He says to Jesus see all these kingdoms. just bow down to me and they are yours. Worship and serve God alone, says Jesus. The devil destroys human society through sinful desires. John calls it the lust of the flesh, pleasure. Any student of sociology can trace a similar pattern in the cycles of human history. People want to satisfy the flesh, and it always has a pretty face. Listen to the devil speak. He says to a self-denying Jesus, if you are hungry turn these stones into bread. Live not by bread alone but by the Word of God, says Jesus. And Satan destroys true religion through apostasy. John calls it the lust of the eyes, idolatry. Any student of church history can discern recurring heresies and apostasies through the centuries. In our own day there has been widespread liberalism and unbelief. God is love they say, He condemns nothing. Listen to the devil speak. Throw yourself off this cliff, the angels will hold you up. Thou shall not tempt God. He holds me up when he has a good reason. He is sovereign, says Jesus.

III The Devices of the Devil

The serpent, as the devil is called in Revelation, is described in Genesis 3:1 as subtle and crafty. The Hebrew word translated crafty is a used frequently in Proverbs to describe a man who is prudent. In satan it becomes clever deception. As he speaks in Eden the point of attack is the veracity of God. When we read on in Genesis 3 we see the failure of Eve and Adam to believe God’s word. The armor that we are to take up to guard against the wiles of the devil in Ephesians 6 centers on the word: the belt of truth, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit which is the Word of God. The devil's attack is at the Word in society, at the Word in the church, and at the Word in your life. He is a liar. David says in Psalm 119, Thy word is truth. Among the great number of books authored by C.S. Lewis is the highly provocative “The Screwtape Letters.”  In it the profound Englishman had the devil brief his demonic nephew, Wormwood, on the subtleties and techniques of tempting people.  The goal, he counsels, is not wickedness but indifference.  Satan cautions his nephew to keep the prospect, that is, the patient, comfortable at all costs.  If he should become concerned about anything of importance, encourage him to think about his luncheon plans; not to worry, it could induce indigestion. And then this definitive job description:  "I, the devil, will always see to it that there are bad people.  Your job, my dear wormwood, is to provide me with the people who do not care." My friend at Covenant seminary wrote, “Recently our congregation underwent some difficulties, of which I remain mostly ignorant. But all the churches I’ve attended since 1944 except Lansdale, PA Presbyterian (1975-1992; it was Reformed Presbyterian, Evangelical Synod and then Presbyterian in America) have had schisms. Over the years our local church here, founded shortly before we arrived in 1991, came to have the officers stand as a chorus in front of the congregation each time new men were ordained elders and deacons, and they’d sing a song about serving the Lord even though they’d be slain.I’d think to myself: “we live in a free country. schism is much more likely to occur than our elders being martyred.”  Has the devil been chuckling all along about our penchant for martyrdom and our blindness—or dismissive attitude—toward schism, rancor, gossip, what have you? “ C.S. Lewis would say, Yes.

IV The Dominion of the Devil

And through such demons Satan is active in this present evil age in Revelation 2:3 Jesus tells us that we dwell where the throne of satan is. Satan is the prince of this world. We often think that only satanic cults worship the devil. The Bible says there are two kingdoms and the one already here is Satan's therefore everybody belongs to him. The kingdom of God is an intrusion into Satan’s kingdom. What Jesus does is free us from Satan's dominion. He says to the unbelieving Jews in John  8:44, you belong to your father, the devil. Not only the Satan worshiper, or the drug addict, or the hardened criminal or the jaded skeptic but also the tiny new born is a child of the devil unless regenerated by God’s Holy Spirit. We tend to foolishly follow that non-christian world and life view which controls everything around us. Absolutely nothing is neutral. Everything in education, politics, science and even the family and the church is for or against God. We start on the losing side, but Jesus was manifested to destroy the works of the devil. With Jesus the blind see, and what they see is a world filled with devils.

V The Destruction of the Devil

The devil has blinded the minds of unbelievers who are captives in his snare, but what he does to believers is tempt and try them. Peter says he goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Early in the Bible story we find Satan afflicting Job, and then in the New Testament Paul calls his affliction a messenger of Satan. Peter denied the Lord because of Satan’s temptation. Jesus had predicted, Satan desires to have you that he may sift you as wheat, but i have prayed for you that your faith fail not. Paul says that we are not ignorant of Satan’s devices. All the devil’s efforts to undermine God’s grace are failures. As it says later in this very chapter, the seed of the woman will deliver a death blow to the serpent, crush his head. Here’s the time line. The devil is created an  angel of light; he rebels and is cast out of heaven; he succeeds in infecting God’s creation with his evil; as the god of this world he succeeds in wounding the Savior; his apparent success is undone on the third day by the resurrection. He is no longer able to stop the light from going to every nation and his realm of darkness begins to flee from the light. And, the end is in Revelation 20:18 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur and will be tormented day and night forever and ever.