One of the presidential candidates has received a fair amount of negative publicity for a speech he gave in 2008 in which he expressed his belief in Satan, not merely as a symbol of evil, but as a personal being. It seems that many in the media are surprised that anyone today still believes in the devil. In their arrogance they can’t fathom anyone entertaining such a thought. Their real problem is not whether Satan exists – it’s with the Word of God. Is the Bible in fact the authoritative word of a personal God? If it is then there is a devil. If it isn’t then they are right, Satan does not exist.
As someone who believes that God exists and that He has communicated to man through the revelation of His Word, I’m convinced that Satan too is real. 1 Peter 5:8 warns us to be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Ephesians 6:10 tells us to put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. The Bible presents Satan as a living, breathing being; therefore we need to take him seriously.
Having said that, I’m not someone who sees the devil (or one of his cohorts) behind every bush. Too many Christians blame demonic activity for every trial or problem in life when in reality we are responsible for many of our own problems. Bad decisions, sinful choices and failure to follow the Word of God can all result in problems.
On the other hand we should not write Satan off too quickly. We do so at our own peril. As the above verses indicate, the spiritual life is a spiritual battle. We have an adversary who would like nothing more than to defeat us. Spiritual warfare can take place at any time, however, I believe that there are two times when we are most open to attacks. One is when you are trying to live a godly life in obedience to the Word of God (which should be always – frightening implications!). The other is when you step out in service for God. Satan doesn’t want you to be successful in either venture so you shouldn’t be surprised if you face unexpected trials.
As I write this I am preparing for a week of annual evangelistic meetings in Haiti with my friend, Pastor Jean Admettre and the people of Third Baptist Church in Les Cayes. It is our desire to see a spiritual awakening in the city that will spread throughout southern Haiti and beyond. If we were ever going to face spiritual opposition you would think that this would be the time. Perhaps it is. Both Pastor Jean and I have been fighting through some unusual health problems recently. Several weeks ago Pastor Jean’s house was broken into and he was robbed. More recently his car was vandalized and again he was robbed of valuable possessions. I have had to pay out several thousand dollars in unexpected repairs to our home in the past six weeks – funds that were meant to pay for my trip. Are these indications of spiritual warfare? I’m not discounting the possibility. The last thing Satan wants is for the gospel of Christ to be heard in a country that is so spiritually dark.
If you are facing spiritual opposition remember that this is not the time to retreat. It’s the time to move forward in the power of God because we have His promise: You are of God, little children, and have overcome them (those who are against Christ), because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).
Paul’s words to the Corinthian believers are still relevant today: Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong (1 Corinthians 16:13).
Stay in the Word