Eph 6:11 Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
So who or what are these rulers and authorities and powers of this dark world? Who are these spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms?
1 Peter 5 8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith,
The chief of our enemies is the devil. And he has his minions. We aren’t call on to defeat the devil, or his minions. Christ has already done that. We are called simply to stand firm in our faith, to resist the devil so that he flees from us. But it is good to know our enemy. We thought in our first session of this series about the schemes of the devil – we are not ignorant of his devices. We looked at the kinds of temptations he uses to trap Christians. ACCUSATION, Lies and DECEPTION, DIVISION, Stubborn DISBELIEF, PRIDE, LUST, FEAR, IDOLATRY and all kinds of DISTRACTIONS from entertainment to celebrity.
Tonight we will look at what else the Bible tells us about the devil and his forces of evil.
The devil has different names in the Bible. He is also called Satan (Luke 10:18) which means Accuser or Slanderer. He is the Tempter. He is the Dragon and the Serpent Rev 12:3, 9. He is called the Destroyer (Rev 9:11) the Prince of the power of the air (Eph 2:2) and the Ruler of this world (Jn 12:31, 14:30, 16:11). He is also known as the Evil One, and Beliar or Beelzebub – the worthless one, the prince of the demons.
We learn from Ezekiel 28, Isaiah 14 and Revelation 12 that Satan is a fallen angel, the leader of a rebellion before time began where one third of the angels rejected God’s authority and were cast out of heaven to become the demons.
Ezekiel 28 begins with a lament against the earthly “Ruler of Tyre”, the enemy of Israel. But then it goes on to talk about a different figure called the “King of Tyre” in language which seems to refer to an individual who is very different from a mere human.
Ezek 28 11 The word of the LORD came to me: 12 ‘Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: “This is what the Sovereign LORD says:
‘ “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
13 You were in Eden, the garden of God;
every precious stone adorned you: carnelian, chrysolite and emerald,
topaz, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl.
Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared.
14 You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you.
You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones.
So there was this supernatural figure in Eden, a guardian cherub. But everything went wrong when this angel became proud and rebelled against God
15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created
till wickedness was found in you.
16 Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned.
So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, guardian cherub,
from among the fiery stones.
17 Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom
because of your splendour.
So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.”
Jews and Christians have understood this lament against the King of Tyre to refer actually to the devil. There is something similar in the taunt against the King of Babylon in Isaiah.
Isaiah 14 12 How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!
13 You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.
14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’
15 But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit.
So here again we see an angel cast out of heaven because of pride. And Christians have read Revelation 12 to describe the fall of other angels who followed the devil in rebelling against God and became demons.
Revelation 12 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. 4 Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. ….
7 Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient snake called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
So now the devil and his minions the demons, or evil spirits, are in a continual war against God and the battlefield is this world God has created and the hearts and minds of every human being. It was the devil, the ancient serpent, who deceived Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. And the devil and his demons are still leading the world astray today.
1 Timothy 4:1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.
The devil and his demons are the rulers, the authorities, the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms, which Paul warns about in Ephesians 6. It is good to know our enemy. But we should not be discouraged! Because our enemy has already been defeated. Christ has won the victory!
1 John 3:8 For this purpose Christ was revealed – to destroy all the works of the evil one!
Let’s start at the very beginning and remind ourselves of one important fact. Christ was the creator of everything that exists and that includes the devil and all the demons. All the forces of evil were created by Christ and are subject to him.
Colossians 1 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Then let us remember just who Jesus is. The Son of God. The Logos. The Word become flesh.
Jesus was different from every other human being in a number of ways but particularly in this respect. Since Adam disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, every human being who ever lived has been trapped by the devil. Everything in the world has been and still is in the grip of the devil. Except Jesus
Ephesians 2:2 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
But note what Jesus says about the devil in John 14 30 I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, HE HAS NO HOLD ON ME
1 John 3:8 For this purpose Christ was revealed – to destroy all the works of the evil one!
This is demonstrated clearly in Jesus’s acts of deliverance. Jesus came to release the prisoners and set the captives free – to set people free from evil by driving out demons.
Here is what Jesus said about his own deliverance ministry.
MATTHEW 12 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 ‘Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house.
In that little parable of disarming the strong man, the strong man represents the devil and Jesus is represented by the person plundering his possessions which is a picture of Jesus driving out demons. Jesus was able to command the demons because he had already “tied up” the devil. And Jesus accomplished that at the very beginning of His ministry when he was tempted by the devil in the wilderness. Jesus was tempted. But He did not give in to temptation. Jesus was the first human being ever who did not give in to the devil’s temptations. He proved there that He was stronger than the devil. So it was there in the wilderness that Jesus “bound the strong man”. Demons would have to obey Jesus!
But the ultimate victory of Christ over the devil took place on the cross. This is how Jesus explained his death on the cross in the week before he died.
JOHN 12 23 Jesus replied, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
The hour has arrived. The hour which Jesus had been anticipating every day of his life was getting very close indeed. It would be a vital hour not just for Jesus but for the whole world, the whole of humanity in every age. Jesus would be glorified – but not through his resurrection but through his death.
John 12 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.
The judgment and the salvation of the whole world would hang on that one hour. For Jesus it would be the hour of his departure – the hour Jesus had to leave the world in death. But that be the hour when the devil was finally defeated and the grip of evil on the world would be broken.
It was the cross, not the resurrection, which was Christ’s victory over the devil and all the powers of evil.
Colossians 2:15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross
And it was by his death that Jesus set human beings free from the grip which the devil has over us all.
Heb 2:14 14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
Christ has defeated the devil. And one day the devil will face his just desserts for all the pain and destruction he has caused. In the parable of the Sheep and the Goats Jesus said this.
Matthew 25 41 ‘Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels
Eternal judgment and punishment is waiting for the devil and all his minions.
Revelation 20 7 When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. 9 They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
UNTIL THEN OUR VICTORY OVER THE DEVIL COMES FROM CHRIST’S VICTORY
We don’t need to be afraid in this battle. Christ has already won the war. The devil is already completely defeated on the cross. We are just involved in the “mopping up” operations.
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.
So we are called simply to resist the devil and he will flee from us. To put on the armour of God and stand firm, with truth, righteousness, gospel shoes, faith, salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, the weapon which God has given us to confront and resist and rebuke the devil.