Satan has propagated historically idolatry. He’d love everybody to have a god as long as it’s the wrong one. He wants everybody to worship the god who isn’t there. That’s why the Bible tells us that the gods of the nations are demons. A person wants to worship a statue, and Satan will let him worship the statue and have a demon impersonate the god he or she thinks is in that statue.
Psalm 106:36-37 says, “They served their idols which were a snare to them. 37 They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons.” When they were sacrificing to idols, they were sacrificing to demons, for demons that impersonated the God they assumed to exist. Satan would love people to be religious as long as it’s the wrong god. Satan even promotes angel worship in Colossians 2:18.
Satan perverts people into a damning lifestyle. Ephesians 2:2-3, “in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath.”
Satan wants to get people trapped into an addiction. And Satan works in his own children by obsession and oppression. For instance through lusts. There are lots of different demons, apparently there are degrees of evil. Some of them, by the terms used to describe them, are especially wicked ones. Satan would like to drive people into the total abandonment to their lust.
Romans 1:24 says, “God gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves.” Verse 26, “For this cause, God gave them up to vile affections: for even their women did exchange the natural use for that which is against nature.” Verse 28, “Even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind.”
So it is about the body, heart, and mind. They were “filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity and whisperers.” “And even though they knew the judgment of God,” verse 32 says, “that they would commit such things are worthy of death. They not only do the same, but have pleasure in the others that do it.”
Satan oppresses his own people through sickness. The Bible record gives us accounts of people who were couldn’t speak by Satan and his demons; others who were made blind; others who had physical deformities; other who had epilepsy; people who actually had diseases that were propagated by Satan and his demons. Satan also oppresses his people through mental illness.
One of the great causes of mental illness is satanic effort. Read Mark 5 about the man living among the Gadarenes. They were trying to bind him but he kept breaking everything with which they bound him. And he was cutting himself, and he was crying out night and day. His insanity was caused by the fact that he was absolutely possessed by demonic hosts. He was a maniac.
In Mark 9:22, there was a suicidal maniac who was trying to kill himself as a result of demonic power. They not only cause much mental illness but also suicide is a result of the activity of Satan. The illustration of Mark 5 also points out that Satan can oppress his people not only through insanity and suicidal desire, but even masochism, where they’re hurting themselves.
Satan also, when God allows, can kill his own children. Revelation 9:1– 3 says, “And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. 2 And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. 3 Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.”
Verse 6, “In those days men will seek death.” Verse 14-15, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” 15 So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind.” Here is a satanic army. It’s a demon-inspired army that literally destroys one-third of the earth. God gives Satan the power to take life.
Satan works in his people to influence governments and nations. Demons have a network in the governments of countries like our own by which they control these countries. Read Daniel 10. Demons have been politicking since the beginning. When Satan was unmasked in Isaiah 14, and in Ezekiel 28, both times the prophet was speaking to a human ruler, but really behind that ruler was Satan.
In Daniel 10, certain nations were governed by men who were possessed by demons. So, Satan has always been active politicking. In fact, when he tempted our Lord in Matthew 4, he had the audacity to say to Him, “If you will bow down to me, I will give you all the kingdoms of the world.” Well, he could have done that because his demons controlled all these nations by possessing their leaders.
Ephesians 6:12 says, “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.” Satan has run the nations of the world by his demon hosts, but God has kept control of it by the Holy Spirit who is the restrainer, but never the less Satan is active.
How does he operate on Christians? Satan begins by creating doubt. What he loves to do is to make us doubt, to make us struggle with reality. In Genesis 3, what did he tempt Eve with? “Doubt God’s word; Doubt God’s goodness. Paul says next in verse 13, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
Another thing Satan does is motivate persecution. Revelation 2:10 says, “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Satan loves to persecute the Church. He’s always persecuted Israel.
Revelation 12:13 says, “Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman (Israel) who gave birth to the male Child.” Satan also likes to hinder church service. Sometimes it’s a tremendous struggle to get through everything to get to church to teach you. 1 Thessalonians 2:18 says, “Therefore we wanted to come to you. I, Paul, but Satan hindered us.”
Satan likes to hinder the ministry. And as soon as you run into first obstacle, “Oops, I’d better quit. Apparently it is not God’s will.” You better check it out well, because it’s Satan who hinders. And the more effective you are, the more he hinders. The apostle Paul went through his ministry with a terrible hindrance. He called it a thorn in the flesh. It was a messenger of Satan.
Satan wants to make me miserable, and he wants to make me quit, but I stay at it. And if God says that’s good for me to have that struggle to keep me humble, that’s fine. Because when I’m weak, then I’m strong. And with all of Satan’s hindering, he never short circuits God’s plans. He just filters out the weaklings. Satan also infiltrates the church. How does he do it?
Satan gets the church to take in people who appear to be Christians, but they’re really the Devil’s people. And then he gets them on the inside, and they really create havoc. They do it by having a lifestyle that doesn’t match up to what their claim is, and so it confuses the world as to what a Christian is. They become difficult to deal with. We don’t know how to handle them.
Satan infiltrates the church through false teachers. 1 Timothy 4 says it’s going to happen in the end times, through speaking lies and hypocrisy. 2 Peter 2:1 says, “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.”
Satan infiltrates the church through division. 2 Corinthians 2:5 says, “But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent.” Now, here we have a man who created trouble. Whoever he was, he was an immoral man and he needs to be disciplined. After that Paul wants that they cease punishment and turn to the gracious privilege of forgiving and restoring friends.
Once a person has been disciplined up to the point where he repents, he then should be restored. So Paul says, in verse 8, “Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him.” I want unity in the church. And you’ve got to have forgiveness to have unity. If you create this problem in the church by not forgiving the person, you’re going to have division in the church and a lack of forgiveness.
And verse 11 says, “You better forgive the person and you better love him, lest Satan should get an advantage of us, for we are not ignorant of his devices.” And what are his devices? He loves to split the church. And there’s no greater way to split the church than to have a disciplined situation, says Paul, where there’s an unforgiving spirit.” Satan’s strategy is church division.
Satan tempts us to sin. Now, he may do it through your flesh; he may do it through the world; he may do it with his demons; he may do it by himself. He is the tempter. Satan tempts us to trust in our own resources. You know why? Because you can’t handle Satan in your own resources. I’ll give you an illustration. Turn to 1 Chronicles 21:1, “Satan stood up against Israel, and he tempted David to number Israel.”
I want to know how big a nation we’ve gotten, how big an army we’ve got. “And Joab answered, ‘The Lord make his people an hundred times as many more as they are but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants?” Look, if, we’re all working for God, what’s the difference how many we’ve got? Verse 4, “Nevertheless the king’s word prevailed against Joab. Wherefore Joab departed.”
Verse 7, “And God was displeased with this thing; therefore he struck Israel.” Who did it? Satan would love to make you trust your own resources. Satan tempts us to lose faith in God. Luke 22:31. Here we find the apostle Peter again. “And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired that he may sift you like wheat.’” Satan’s trying to throw you in the wind and blow away your faith.
But Jesus prayed for you that your faith fail not.’” In 1 Peter 5:8 says this, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the Devil, like a roaring lion walking about, is seeking whom he may devour.” Satan wants to destroy your faith. That’s why, Ephesians 6:16 says, “And above all, taking the shield of faith, with which you should be able to quench the fiery darts of the wicked.”
Satan loves you to speak lies. In Acts 5:3, he moved right inside Ananias and Sapphira. Peter looked at them and said, “Why has Satan entered you that you should lie to the Holy Spirit?” Satan wants to tempt you to immorality. He’s got the media now as his agency. 1 Corinthian 7:5, “Do not deprive one another and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
Satan wants to tempt us to be preoccupied with the world. 1 John 2:15 says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. But all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” The world is full things to lust for, to see on the internet and to be proud of the praise of men.
Satan also wants to tempt you to be proud. 1 Timothy 3:6 says, when you’re choosing pastors or elders in the church, it says, “Don’t choose a novice,” that means a recent convert, “lest being lifted up with pride he falls into the condemnation of the Devil.” Immature people with too much responsibility become proud and this goes to their head and their fall is great.
Satan loves to tempt us to discouragement. First Peter 5:6-7, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 casting all your care on him; for he cares for you.” Verse 10, “But may the God of all grace, who has called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, and settle you.”
And you know something? We have a great promise. In every bit of that temptation, dear beloved, James 4:7 says, “Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.” We also have our High Priest who looks over us. And we have the Holy Spirit in us to lead us away from all his evil temptations. We are as close to Him as our prayers. And we know that nothing can separate us from the love of God, Amen? Let us pray.