There are many ways that we have tried to share the Gospel, the “good news” of Jesus, over the years.
Back in decades past, Christians would often challenge non-Christians with questions like these: “If you died tonight, where would you go?” We would pull out the Four Spiritual Laws and show the person their need for Jesus to be saved from sin.
Or we would take our unsaved friends to a tent meeting or to see a known speaker. My mother speaks of going to an evangelistic crusade as a teen that scared her to pieces, but not enough that she “got saved.”
Today, we are more apt to hear a feel-good message, stating we don’t have to be alone or wandering aimlessly. You can live in hope if we believe in Jesus because God has a plan for your life.
I believe this is true. I’ve even blogged on a past Freedom Friday about how God does have a specific plan for us.
There is another message out there that I don’t often hear. I imagine it’d really get some folks’ attention if we started our evangelistic messages with this statement:
“Satan has a plan for your life.”
I suppose to those who believe in good and evil, to those who know there is a real enemy, this isn’t a very encouraging message. And to those who think of Satan as a little red guy with a pitchfork and horns, it just seems downright outrageous.
My mentor Mike Olejarz, dressed up as Satan,
to sign copies of CS Lewis’ “Screwtape Letters”
The Bible tells us that Satan is real. Given that he fell from heaven and was believed to be an angel (Luke 10:18, Isaiah 14, Jude 1:6), I doubt he has red horns and a pitchfork.
What do many Christians believe about Satan?
We like extremes in Christianity, and this is not exception.
One extreme sees a devil around every corner. Someone with this mentality stubs his toe and screams, “Get thee behind me, Satan!”
The other extreme knows there is an enemy, but pays him no mind. When they think of Satan, they imagine that little red, horned creature hanging out in a fiery place somewhere far, far away.
Neither perspective is particularly helpful or accurate.
What is Satan’s plan for us?
Jesus stated clearly what Satan’s plan for us is:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”
Satan’s plan for us is to steal, kill and destroy God’s best.
We see this throughout the Bible, first in Genesis, when the serpent said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” In convincing her to eat the fruit, her connection with the Source of Life (God) was broken, her intimate relationship with Him ended, and she and the man had to leave the garden, where they had walked with God in the cool of the day.
Satan incited David to take a census of Israel, which was not requested by God or blessed by Him (1 Chronicles 21).
Satan came alongside Joshua the high priest to accuse him (Zechariah 3:1-2).
Satan tempted Jesus during His 40-day fast in the desert (Luke 4), and then left Jesus until an opportune time.
Satan spoke to Peter somehow in order to try and convince Jesus to avoid crucifixion (Mark 8:33).
Those are just a few examples.
How does Satan affect us today?
It’s unlikely that most of us will have Satan come and speak to us, as Jesus did. But Satan can still influence us today.
Despair. Hopelessness. Defeat. Discouragement. Doubt.
He is the dream killer, the hope stealer, and the life destroyer.
He does these things by asking us to question God’s goodness. The serpent’s question in the Garden of Eden was really, “Is God withholding good things from you? Is He really trustworthy?”
How should we respond to Satan?
We can respond as Jesus did in the desert: with truth from God’s Word.
“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5
We don’t need to walk around in fear of the enemy. As I shared earlier this week, God gives us protection from him. But we are called to be aware that he exists. This is the middle ground of the two beliefs I shared above.
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.” (1 Peter 5:8, 9 NLT)
We are children of God and through Jesus Christ, we have overcome the evil one (1 John 2:14).
Jesus’ statements about Satan’s purpose are not the end of the story:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
That’s good news indeed!