It has been said that those who are “born again” take the devil seriously.2 We who believe in the trustworthiness of the Bible are not guilty of disbelieving in his objective existence. We, above all, should take the devil seriously. Very seriously.
But our sincerity does not guarantee that our conception of the devil is accurate, even with the aid of evangelical books and messages that explore the reality of spiritual warfare. Yes, I believe that we are much better equipped to stand against our enemy because of the writings of those who have warned us of his schemes and reminded us of our resources to fight against him. As a young pastor, I was introduced to spiritual warfare by those who knew more about our enemy than I.
However, along with much helpful advice, some distortions have crept into our thinking that could play into the devil’s hands. Though they do not expressly state it, some writers imply that Satan can act independently of God; they speak as if God becomes involved in what the devil does only when we ask Him to. Because Satan is the “god of this world,” they think this means that he can be free to make his own decisions, inflicting havoc wherever and whenever he wishes.
I respectfully disagree.
Of course, all evangelicals concur that the devil will eventually be defeated; but for now, some teach he is free to do pretty much whatever he pleases in the world. The Satan of many of the so-called deliverance ministries is one who calls his own shots and wields his power, limited only by the broad parameters God has laid out for him. Satan, according to this theology, sets his own agenda and is free to harass us without much interference from the Almighty.
We need to be reminded of Luther’s words that even “the devil is God’s devil.” We have forgotten that only when we know who God is can we know who the devil is. Blessed are those who are convinced that the prince of this world has become the slave of the Prince of Peace.
Lutzer, Erwin W., and R. C. Sproul Jr. 2015. God’s Devil: The Incredible Story of How Satan’s Rebellion Serves God’s Purposes. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
The title of the book, God’s Devil, is a paraphrase of Martin Luther’s teaching on the Devil. It will equip your people to understand and defeat our enemy. It is available on Amazon, as well as part of the Good Questions Have Groups Talking subscription service. (Like Netflix for Bible lessons.)