Dealing with the Devil (Part 1)

Introduction

Recently, I started Scripture Journaling. Scripture Journaling is the process of writing out individual passages from the Bible to meditate on them, usually daily. I found a themed plan, entitled "Dealing with the Devil," by The Ruffled Mango.[1] I decided to start with this plan and share both my journal and my thoughts on the passages. I'm also chronicling the experience on my new YouTube channel. I hope you'll join me!

Genesis 3:1-5: The Serpent in the Garden

In the garden, when Satan makes his first appearance, he actually reveals a lot about his strategy:
  • He approaches Eve when she is alone
  • He twists God's words
  • He envokes FOMO (fear of missing out)
  • He offers Eve something she already has
  • He, likely, utilizes the fact that Eve added to God's Word

Alone

The only thing God said was not good before the fall, was that man be alone (Genesis 2:18). Satan captializes on the the fact that we are weaker and more vulnerable when we are alone. There are many passages in scripture reminding us not to forsake fellowshipping with our fellow believers (e.g., Hebrews 10:24-25) . When we isolate ourselves, we become vulnerable and Satan will leap at the chance to devour us.

Twisting Scripture

Satan manipulates us by taking scripture out of context and twisting it to fit his purpose. Often, he uses our weaknesses to make these incorrect interpretations of God's Word sound good. That is why it is important for us to know God's Word, inside and outside. By meditating on the Word and strengthing our relationship with God, we will be able to discern Satan's manipulations.

Fear of Missing Out

We always think we're missing something or that there's something better out there. Eve could eat from any tree in the garden except one, and that wasn't good enough. There are over 2,000 types of fruit in the world,[2] all of which would have been available in the garden. The odds that the fruit on the tree of knowledge was the best fruit in the garden would have been roughly 1 in 2000 or 0.5%, and just Satan convinced Eve that she was missing out by not being able to eat this fruit.

False Gifts

Satan lures Eve to eat the fruit by suggesting that in doing so she will become like God. The irony is that she is already like God. God created man and woman in His image, gave them dominion over the earth and the ability to create. Not only was Satan offering Eve something she already had, the ramification of his suggesiton almost cost her that very object. Once man ate from the Tree of Knowledge, we lost our dominion over earth (we gave it to Satan), we lost our ability to be good like God, and we were cast our of our palace (the garden). It is important for us to know that God has already made us heirs to the kingdom. As long as we follow Him, everything belongs to us anyway!

Adding to the Word

God told Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit, but when Eve talks to Satan, she says they're not even supposed to touch it! This is the beginning of a pattern with mankind (just look at everything Israel added to what God said). It's also a crack in God's perfect law for Satan to weasel into. Imagine this: Eve has convinced herself that part of God's rule is that they can't touch the tree, but she (or the serpent) is touching the tree and nothing bad has happened. This leads her to doubt anything bad will happen if she eats the fruit. However, it's based on faulty logic because God never said they couldn't touch the tree. We have to stick to the Word as written to avoid these types of situations (Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18-19).

Job 1:6-12: Satan Accuses Job

At the beginning of Job, Satan goes before God. Based on the context that "Satan" means adversary in Hebrew,[3] it is is implied that Satan frequently uses this time to complain about or accuse mankind. Instead of waiting for Satan to call out a particular person, God offers Job as an exemplary human. Satan is not convinced, arguing that Job only loves God because God has made Job successful. God then allows Satan to take Job's possessions and good fortune.

Why Did God Allow This?

The major question is why did God allow Satan to test Job? I think there are a few reasons for this, all of which apply to us today:

First, people often think they know everything until they are proven wrong. Satan had his mind made up about Job and the only thing that would prove him wrong was seeing it for himself. God already knew Job's heart and knew how everything would play out, but Satan did not.

Second, to prove to the sons of God who were also present. When Satan appears before God, the sons of God are also present. There are many intrepretations of who that refers to, but like Satan, these are limited beings who do not know the outcome of the test. If they were within earshot, some might have agreed with Satan, so God had to prove to them, as well, that there are faithful humans.

Third, to teach Job a lesson. (Sidenote, did you know "Job" means hated in Hebrew?[4]) Job was a bit self-righteous and in the end, though he never wavers in faith, God does have to chastise him. Sometimes we need to be reminded to have humility, because no matter how great our faith, we still fall short.

And fourth, to teach us a lesson. The book of Job answers the ultimate queston of why bad things happen to good people. Just like we discuss Job's trials and come to knew understandings about how suffering relates to our relationship with God, Job and his friends did the same thing. In the end, they learned about their own flawwed thinking because of Job's situation. Sometimes, we are the friend learning from our friend's misfortune and sometimes we are the friend going through the misfortune.

Who Does Satan Accuse?

Since we're discussing strategy, a great question is who does Satan accuse. God presents Job as perfect because he has perfect integrity, fears God, and turns away from evil. I seems that these are therefore the principles Satan tries to accuse us of not having. Also, an important observation is that if we do possess all three of these qualities, it is likely Satan wants to prove we don't really have all of these characteristics.

Matthew 16:21-23 Satan Speaks Through Peter

In this passage, Christ attributes the words spoken by Peter as being from Satan. Christ identifies these words as a stumbling block and says the reason is because they put man's desires over God's desires. Satan uses us to express seemingly innocent thoughts that are actually contrary to God; though he can also use us to express thoughts that are obviously contrary to God as well. The major theme in this passage is putting self interest above God.

Peter loved Christ and did not want to see Him die—this is a human inclination and very natural. Many of us would have likely expressed the same sentiments had we been in Peter's shoes. However, it wasn't what God wanted. As a small child, I used to pray/wish the world never ended—that was self interest and self preservation, but it also serves Satan. Our selfish desires always serve Satan. In my case, if the world never ends, Satan is never punished for his deeds and is allow to continue ruling over our world. In Peter's case, if Christ never died, there would be no salvation.

It is important for us to identify our thoughts and discern whether they are of God or not, as well as, identify the speech of those around us. As yourself:
  • Why should I say this? (or why did they say it?)
  • Is it selfish?
  • Is it helpful?
  • Is it necessary?
  • Is it kind?

Matthew 4:1-11: Satan Tempts Jesus

Right before Christ starts His ministry, Satan comes to tempt Him. Christ fends off three attempts by Satan, each of which show Satan's tactics and the only way to respond.[4]

Temptations #1: Weakness

The first thing Satan does is attack Christ's weakness. After fasting for 40 days, it is not surprising that Christ would be hungry. Satan challenges Him to turn stones into bread. In this, Satan is both questioning His ability and tempting Christ to give in to the flesh's desires. Similarly, Satan will come to us when we are weak and tempt us to take something the flesh desires even if it's not appropriate.

Christ responds by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3.

Temptation #2: Promises

The second thing Satan does is attack the promise of God. Satan tries to get Christ to prove God is who He says He is. Satan wants us to believe we have the responsibility of answering for God or proving His existance, when that onus is on the Holy Spirit. Christ did not need to put Himself in harms way to prove God is God because both He and Satan already know exactly who God is. The same is true for us.

Once again, Christ responds by quoting scripture. This time He quotes Deuteronomy 6:16

Temptation #3: Desires

The final thing Satan does is attack a desire. Satan promises Christ rulership from the price of submiting to him instead of God. Like with Eve in the Garden, Satan is offering something already given. Christ is the Son of God, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The kingdoms Satan was offering to Him were already His. The catch in these situtations is not if you will have the desires of your heart by how you go about trying to get them. Satan's way, usually the easy way or a short cut, is temporary and comes at a high cost. However if we keep the faith and do it God's way, we get lasting results.

Christ respons by quoting scripture again, and quotes Deuteronomy 6:13.

The fact that Christ's only response to Satan is to quote scripture should remind us of the importance of knowing God's Word and clinging to it.

Conclusion

These verses focused on the strategies Satan uses to trip us up and helped me reflect on ways to prepare myself for his attacks.

References & Footnotes

  1. "June Scripture Writing Plan". The Reffled Mango; visited October 4, 2020
  2. "Alphabetical list of Fruits". Fruits Info; visited October 16, 2020
  3. Strong's H347. Job". Blue Letter Bible; visited October 17, 2020
  4. I am aware that this passage is not included in the original list. I just felt it was relevant to the study and decided to slide it in.

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About

Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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