‘For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).’
In my experience very little is said from the pulpit about satan, and yet he is the adversary [antidikos] of Christ for as long as he has opportunity (2 Peter 3:7). Of course he is no match for Christ who has already conquered him (cf. John 16:33) by rising from the dead (Mark 16:6) and by making the same prospect of resurrection true for all who are in Him (Romans 8:11). As Christ rose from the dead, so shall all believers rise from the dead at His second coming (1 Corinthians 15:20, 52).
Satan has been vanquished; for all true Christians have already risen in Christ (1 John 5:20) in spirit. They have been enlivened by the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8) and they have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:14-16). They constitute His living body (cf. Romans 12:1) on earth. In that sense the Kingdom of God is already established on earth, as has been the case since the resurrection of Jesus. God’s will is being done (Luke 1:2) by those who love and obey Him (cf. John 15:14). His church is the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16, 17) and His house of prayer (1 Timothy 2:1).
Nevertheless satan continues his attacks on the church (cf. Revelation 2:10) and he would like to destroy it, but that will not be possible; for God’s will will be accomplished (Isaiah 55:11; Matthew 16:18).
I can understand preachers focussing on Christ (cf. Matthew 6:33), rather than on His adversary, but New Testament writers were keen to warn their brethren to be on their guard against satan (Ephesians 6:10-18). Therefore all who preach the gospel, i.e., disciples of Christ, should also warn of satan’s designs.
His desire is to bring down as many as he can (1 Peter 5:8) and to keep his victims in the realm of evil. Those who are not yet born of the Sprit (John 3:3-8) may be unaware they are aligned with him, and others may even rejoice in their rebellion against God. Some wilfully join forces with satan to attack and persecute Christians. We see persecution of this sort around the world, particularly in *China and **Iraq. In the former country many Christians have been imprisoned on account of worshipping Christ. Their meeting places have been destroyed because of government policies against organised religions. There have been beheadings of Christians in ***Nigeria.
The evil power of satan is patently obvious (Ephesians 2:2). He is cunning (Genesis 3:1-7) and deceptive. He seduces the unwary with his idols (Ezekiel 20:39) that appeal to the lusts of the flesh (Romans 1:24, 25). In worshipping them, satan’s victims are lured into dungeons of darkness where the only prospect for them is pain and death (John 3:19). Greed, self-indulgence (Romans 1:29; Ephesians 4:18, 19) and idol worship (Isaiah 2:8) inextricably suck them into a frightening blackhole of no escape, unless the Lord intervenes (Isaiah 2:19-21; 2 Peter 2:9, 10) and brings redemption (Titus 2:11-14) through the saving power of Jesus.
When we preach the gospel, which we [believers] all do by our actions and words, satan will try his utmost to discredit our witness. Therefore it is imperative for us to be on our guard (Ephesians 4:27; 1 Peter 5:8, 9) by always honouring God’s word and following the example of Jesus (Matthew 4:4). Every word that departs from our mouth should be said in love (Ephesians 4:29), unlike the words of those who love darkness (V.V. 17, 18) rather than light.
‘Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6:13, 14).’
*Mass arrests of Chinese megachurch members continue; some ‘violently beaten’
**Iraq’s Christians ‘close to extinction’
***ISIS ‘beheads 11 Christian hostages’ on Christmas Day in shocking new execution video in Nigeria