THE CHRISTIAN'S VICTORY OVER SATAN
The Greek word nikao is found twenty-eight times in the Greek New Testament, and is almost always translated by the word "overcome." There are three important verses in which this word is used:
"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (Jn. 16:33).
"Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world" (1 Jn. 4:4).
"He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son" (Rev. 21:7).
If language means anything at all, these verses promise the child of God total victory over his enemy, the devil. But how does the Christian experience this promised victory? He does it by keeping the same fundamental facts in mind that any would-be victor would, whether in the secular or spiritual battlefield. Here then are four fundamental facts:
To either overestimate or underestimate in any of these four areas could prove to be a tragic error.
In one of his parables, our Lord warns of this very thing:
"For which of you, intending to build a tower, sits not down first, and counts the cost, whether he has sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sits not down first, and consults whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an ambassage, and desires conditions of peace." (Lk. 14:28-32).
Let us now examine these four facts the victor must be aware of:
- He must know his own weaknesses.
- He must know his own strength.
- He must know the weakness of his enemy.
- He must know the strength of his enemy.
- The weakness of the Christian.
"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned" (Jn. 15:5, 6).
In Romans 7:18, Paul refers to this very thing:
"For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not" (Rom. 7:18).
So then, the first basic fact a Christian must be aware of to assure victory over Satan is his own weakness.
- The strength of the Christian. This is the second vital principle to be observed in guaranteeing spiritual success. What, though, is our chief strength? The answer is:
"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Gal. 2:20).
"I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me." (Phil. 4:13).
- The weakness of Satan. Third, we must fully understand the weakness of our enemy. According to the Scriptures, the devil is powerless in the following areas:
- He cannot tempt a believer except by God's permission. This is brought out vividly in Job 1:8-12.
"And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Does Job fear God for nothing? Haven't you made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face. And the Lord said to Satan, Behold, all that he has is in your power; only upon him put not forth your hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord." (Job 1:8-12).
It should be noted here that in verse10 Satan told the exact truth, for God had made a hedge about Job. So, when a child of God is being subjected to some fiery temptation or trial, he should keep the following thrilling truths in mind.
First, God knows exactly how much his child can bear. "For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust." (Ps. 103:14).
Second, he will not allow Satan to go beyond this breaking point.
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (1 Cor. 10:13).
Third, he only allows the temptation in the first place to strengthen and purify us. In Genesis 50, Joseph reviewed with his brothers their former act of treachery in selling him into Egyptian slavery. He concluded:
"But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive." (Gen. 50:20).
James and Peter also affirm this third principle.
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." (Jas. 1:1-4).
"Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." (Jas. 1:12).
"Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." (1 Pet. 1:6, 7).
- He cannot stand to be resisted.
"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (Jas. 4:7).
But how does one go about resisting the devil? James answers this - by submitting first to God.
"Neither give place to the devil." (Eph. 4:27).
Satan enjoys a lively debate (like the one he carried on with Eve in Genesis 3), but he cannot tolerate being resisted. The Christian can successfully resist the devil if he does the following:
First, he must know how the devil attacks. Paul warns of this.
"Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices." (2 Cor. 2:11).
But what are his devices? During the final section of our study we will briefly consider the sixteen deadly devices of the devil.
Second, he must stand guard waiting for Satan to attack.
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour." (1 Pet. 5:8).
Third, he must have on the proper protection when Satan attacks.
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness: and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." (Eph. 6:10-17).
The Apostle Paul, of course, spent the last part of his ministry in a Roman prison (Acts 28). Doubtless he had many opportunities to watch his Roman guards put on their full battle armor. As the book of Ephesians was written during this time, it seems very probable that the Holy Spirit led Paul to take each piece of armor and apply it to the Christian fight against Satan. It has often been observed that Paul lists no armor protection piece for the back parts. The reason is obvious, of course. The Roman soldier was never expected to turn his back to the enemy.
- He cannot stand the blood of Christ, nor the positive testimony of the Christian.
"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death." (Rev. 12:11).
- C. M. Lewallen