It’s important to our understanding of why the Church is under attack to understand the “tension” between God and Satan. We saw it first in the Garden of Eden when God said this to the Satan-possessed serpent:
“Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life. And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:14-15
Satan is a defeated foe, cursed by God, but that does not mean the devil is not active and powerful in this world. Fortunately, we know what Satan does, how he does it and why he does it.
Satan gained a powerful advantage with the human race after Adam and Eve sinned against God. We know it as the “sin nature.” Satan knows it as “leverage.”
Sin became part of the nature of every person born into the world. That sin nature makes people susceptible to Satan’s will. Cain’s jealous, murderous rage against his brother is an example. Satan was so successful in using sin in his attack on the human race that God seriously considered bringing an end to life on earth.
“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.’ But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Genesis 6:5-8
Even as “sin” is one of Satan’s greatest tools against the human race, so “grace” is one of God’s greatest tools for the human race. God’s “grace” is why the world is still here and not destroyed.
Even though every person on earth died, except for Noah’s family, the dreaded sin nature was still active on earth and Satan was still the enemy of God and man. God, understanding the sin nature and how Satan would use it, established a very firm law following the Flood. It hearkened back to what I believe is Satan’s primary reason for attacking humans – God created people in His “image” (Genesis 1:26-27). Satan hates God and anything that “looks like” God. That includes us.
“Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man. And as for you, be fruitful and multiply; Bring forth abundantly in the earth And multiply in it.” Genesis 9:5-7
God made a covenant with Noah and his family that He would never use water again to destroy the human race, but that did not mean Satan would give up trying.
The devil used the sin nature to lead people to build a city and a tower “whose top is in the heavens” to make a name for themselves “lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the earth.” (Genesis 11) Their fear was based on God’s command to “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” (Genesis 1:28; 9:1) They wanted to do what they wanted to do, not what God wanted them to do.
How did God respond to that? He confused their language and “scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.” (Genesis 11:7-9) Why did He do that? “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” (Genesis 11:6-7) God intervened to protect people from themselves.
That’s what God does – He protects us. Think about what He did in the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve sinned against Him. What would have happened to the human race if they had remained in the Garden and eaten from the Tree of Life?
“Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”—therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.” Genesis 3:22-24
God intervenes in history to provide and protect those He created in His image. What He did after confusing language and scattering people across the planet was to choose and bless a particular family so they would be a blessing to the world. God chose a man named Abram from the lineage of Noah’s son Shem.
“Now the Lord had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-3
The story of Abram (Abraham) is a story of the battle mankind has with the sin nature and how God rescues because of His Love and Grace. Though Satan is not referred to by name during the life of Abraham and his family, we know that the devil was involved because of what the Bible teaches about Satan’s attacks on the people of God.
We also know some important things about how the devil attacks God’s people through the story of Job and his family.
“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it. Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?’ So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face! And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person. So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” Job 1:6-12
This is a revelation that pulls back the curtain on what happens in Heaven. The angels present themselves before the Lord and Satan sometimes comes with them. Satan accuses people who please God and God allows the devil some space to carry out limited attacks on people.
Job’s response to the calamities that befell his family are an amazing testimony to his faith in God.
“Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.’ In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” Job 1:20-22
Even when Satan went before God and accused Job a second time and received permission to attack Job physically, Job did not sin with his lips (Job 2). What did happen to Job during this very difficult personal time was to come to a deeper understanding of the sinfulness of man and the perfect purpose of God – and so can we.
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”