Thanks for joining our study. Today we conclude a two-part series about what the Bible says about Satan in the New Testament. Last week I linked to a commentary about all the names used to describe the personification of evil.
Note that only a sampling of Satan-related verses is discussed here due to space considerations. For further study, here is a list. Also, in Vol. 104, we explored “The Temptation of Jesus,” which occurred shortly after His baptism and marked the beginning of His earthly ministry. It is believed that Jesus was never in danger of succumbing to temptation. However, He and the devil still had a dramatic confrontation that impacts today’s study, in that Jesus was always aware of the devil’s schemes and frequently chastised him in the gospels.
Let’s begin with a noteworthy confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees. They were the Jewish “holy” leaders threatened by Jesus’s teaching who plotted against Him after Jesus performed miracles that increased His following.
On this occasion in Matthew 12, Jesus had just healed “a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute,” and now “he could both talk and see.” The people were astonished by Jesus and asked: “Could this be the Son of David?” Cue the angry Pharisees who said: “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this man drives out demons.” Were the Pharisees imprudent to accuse Jesus of being the devil after He healed a demon-possessed man? Here is Jesus’s brilliant response:
” ‘Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you’” (Matthew 12: 25-28).
Centuries later, Jesus’s reply became part of our national political lexicon (see Vol. 43). However, the 1858 warning, “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” is usually attributed to Abraham Lincoln — three years before he was elected president.
Now we turn to Jesus talking about the devil’s work in the Parable of the Sower:
“ ‘When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart’ ” (Matthew 13:18-19).
What is the “message about the Kingdom?” That message is for those who receive Jesus as Lord and Savior; they will be offered the fruits of God’s Kingdom — forgiveness of sin and eternal life. But unfortunately, the evil one always tries to keep people from understanding this message as part of his battle against Jesus.
What follows next is the “Parable of the Weeds.” Here Jesus described the forthcoming “final separation of the righteous and the wicked” — an interpretation quoted from my NIV Study Bible. Part of the passage in Matthew reads:
“ ‘The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil’ ” (Matthew 13:36-43).
Always remember that during Jesus’s ministry, He is a war with the devil, as John reminds us:
“The one who does what is sinful is of the devil because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8).
Turning to John’s gospel, Jesus talks about His earthly mission — at war with Satan (the thief):
“ ‘I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep’ ” (John 10: 9-11).
Days before Jesus taught that lesson, He alluded to his forthcoming death on the cross:
“ ‘Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself ’ ” (John 31:32).
An explanation is needed for “time for judgment on the world.” God’s judgment on the world was Jesus’s death on the cross. But, although Jesus’s death looked like a victory for Satan, it was actually a defeat. Ultimately Jesus’s resurrection unleashed countless forces that changed humanity for the glory of God. (I recommend you read one of my favorite books, “What if Jesus Had Never Been Born,” about what Jesus set in motion.)
Finally, let’s close by reviewing some devil-related verses not in the gospels.
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (Peter 5: 8-9).
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11-16).
Today’s lesson: Jesus can help you stay strong against the enemy who targets all of us. But remember never to give the devil an opening! Instead, repel the devil by praying for strength through Jesus. Amen to that!
Myra Kahn Adams is a conservative political and religious writer with numerous national credits. Her book, “Bible Study For Those Who Don’t Read The Bible,” reprints the first 56 volumes of this popular study. Myra is also Executive Director of SignFromGod.org, a ministry dedicated to Shroud of Turin education. SignFromGod was a sponsor of the Museum of the Bible’s opening events for its exhibition about the Shroud of Turin, open through July 31. Contact: [email protected] or Twitter @MyraKAdams.
Cross-posted at Townhall and Substack.