Day 12 – Our Enemy, Part 1: Who He Is

John 12:27–31, 14:28–31, 16:7–11; Genesis 1:26–28; Luke 4:5–8

A key component of our developing false convictions is the work of our spiritual enemy, Satan. There are two schools of thought on opposite ends of the spectrum about the topic of personified evil (Satan) and neither is helpful. The first says that Satan was derived by ignorant people steeped in mythology, and that anyone believing such a thing is superstitious or uneducated. The second is the certainty that Satan and his minions are responsible for anything remotely negative that happens; if I sneeze it’s because a demon ran up my nose and not because of the dust I inhaled. I have found that the topic of Satan causes people to put their heads in the sand, but this is exactly what the Bible tells us not to do.

We know that Scripture supports the existence of the devil and demons because of the encounters Jesus has with them. But beyond mere existence, the Bible gives us a good picture of who Satan is, why he has power to act here on earth, and how he typically works. In John’s Gospel chapters 12, 14, and 16, Jesus refers to Satan as “the prince of this world.” A prince is given authority by the king to rule in a geographical region within his kingdom. Hence, a prince has real power and authority, though not ultimate power and authority. It’s kind of like a franchise. The owner of your local Burger King has real authority within that restaurant to hire and fire and manage affairs, but the local Burger King owner does not have authority over the entire entity called Burger King.

Jesus is saying that Satan has real power and authority on earth. But why would God give Satan that kind of power in his creation? He didn’t. We read in Genesis 1:26–28 that God gave dominion to humankind. When we rebelled against God, we inadvertently handed our God-given authority over to Satan. Jesus reinforces this in Luke 4:6–7 when he does not challenge Satan’s claim, “I will give you all the authority and splendor [of the kingdoms of this world]; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours” (NIV). He simply responds, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only’” (v. 8 NIV).

God meant it when he said humankind had dominion, rule, and reign in this world. He was serious enough to endure the mess we’ve made of his creation; serious enough to suffer and die to provide for its redemption; serious enough to allow the consequence of his enemy having authority and power in his own creation, if only for a time until he fully restores his kingdom here on earth.

Closing Exercise

Continue to ask God to show you if you are convinced of anything that is not true and that is causing you to behave contrary to your beliefs or fully live in God’s truth. Ask God to solidify his truth from 1 John 4:4: “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”