by Sister Luu Cam Van
Devil-the Fallen Angel-Supernatural being
Temptations come into our lives in many different forms. They are all around us, every second of everyday. They appear when we are strong, when we are weak, when we are happy, when we are sad and lonely. There are all sorts of distractions that keep us from focusing on or doing the right things. Everyday, we constantly struggle to make the right choices and, sometimes, we wonder why we are not too successful in our decision making!
How about the work of the devil in the world? When we watch/read the news, we wonder why serial killers could commit such horrific, unimaginable crimes! Most killers confessed that they kept hearing the devil voice telling them what to do and they did it. They often did not understand why they did what they did. Some even identify themselves as “Satan,” or “Master of the world.” Some believed that God told them to kill the person(s) because the devil was in them. Some do not even think they ever did anything wrong! Some feel that once they are outside of the prison’s walls, they will definitely kill again. They think they are “supernatural beings.” Some ended up killing themselves after committing those horrific crimes! Each of these killers is known as an icon of evil. Most of them joined a satanic cult or occult activities which were supposedly involved in “harmless activities” such as séances and fortune telling. As time went on, they were introduced to more serious and deadly activities such as homicides, rape or even cannibalism and necrophilia! To name a few: Son of Sam, Charles Manson, Henry Lee Lucas, Jeffery Dahmer, Otty Sanchez,…
The truth is the devil exists! We are tempted everyday! But we must know that temptations can be good for us. God permits temptation to release spiritual power in our life! We can be so strong and happy if we keep fighting faithfully to defeat the devil and his work. To resist temptations successfully, we must
- Pray without ceasing! Stay close to God.
- know who the devil is
- know the ways the devil manipulates us
- be aware of his presence in our world. This awareness not only helps us to fight the devil more effectively, it also helps us to realize that God’s children, no matter how serious their crimes, are the victims of the devil, and they need our constant prayers and love instead of judgment and hatred. Jesus Himself says this to the devil, “Of the nations, all who know you are stunned at your fate.” (Ezekiel 28:19) We must KNOW the devil in order to AVOID the devil!
So who is the devil? According to the Bible, the devil was “stamped with the seal of perfection, of complete wisdom and perfect beauty.”(Ezekiel 28:12)! The Lord says, “I made you a living creature with outstretched wings, as guardian, you were on the holy mountain of God,…Your behavior was exemplary from the day you were created until guilt first appeared in you because your busy trading has filled you with violence and sin….You became haughty of heart because of your beauty; for the sake of splendor, you debased your wisdom. I cast you to the earth, so great was your guilt…You are an object of terror, gone forever” (Ezekiel 28:14-19) So, the devil was used to be a “model of perfection,” and he was thrown down to the earth along with his great guilt and sinfulness. He is, to this date, still walking among us, trying to build a kingdom of demons on earth for himself through countless innocent beings! Jesus knows the devil’s existence and his cunning characters so well. He himself had to deal with the devil in the desert! That is why He strongly suggests that we “STAY WAKE, and PRAY not to be put to the test. The spirit is willing enough, but human nature is weak.” (Matt 26:41)
To better understand the ways the devil works and how to defeat him, let’s reflect upon The Temptation of Jesus in Luke 4:1-13. Through the temptation, one can see the devil’s cunning characteristics:
- The devil appears (not visible since he is a supernatural being) when we are full of God (spiritually) and when we are weak (both spiritually and physically) In Luke 4: 1-4, notice the devil came AFTER 40 days when Jesus was hungry. This is when anyone would say yes to temptations if they don’t put on the “armor of God.” The devil does not usually show up until we become weak. When we keep making bad choices, our spirit will become weak, and it is a good time for the devil to appear and tell us what to do. He knows when we are weak, he usually wins the battle.
- The devil is the most patient creature! He can always wait! He waited for 40 days (Luke 4:3-4) and when he came, he tried to tempt Jesus, not once, but three times (Luke 4:4-11) until he was exhausted.
- The devil is the most cunning and clever creature! As mentioned above, he was “the model of perfection” (most perfect, most wise, most intelligent, most powerful and most knowledgeable) He often starts with little temptations and moves on to more serious temptations. In Luke 4:3-12, Jesus faced three temptations. The temptations worked in order from smallest to greatest or from bad to worse:
- First temptation: Bread (…”command this stone to become bread”) is a form of addiction in our lives. These addictions usually appear to be insignificant matters which eventually and consequently form a bad conscience. When this kind of conscience is formed, the person will follow the only conscience that he/she knows. These addictions include pornography, sex, food, games, money, alcohol, drugs, etc… “Bread” here can also mean “no-big-deal” matters. They may include our tone of voice, an unkind word, negligence, laziness, restlessness, nasty letters we want to write, negative thoughts towards someone, problem (s) we encountered in the past, falling asleep or thinking what we need to catch up on while trying to pray or read the Bible, an unfriendly expression, a tendency to argue, be annoyed, or unkind, self-pity, rejecting God’s word,…They all seem small and do not really destroy us and others seriously right away, but….think about it, every malignant, cancerous growth starts with a very small, sometimes benign, tumor!
- Second temptation: Devote oneself completely to the work of the devil (“…fall down and worship me…”) This is a higher level of temptation. The devil knows that when one belongs to him, body and soul, he can perform more destructive work to achieve his goal. One temptation worth noticing for its’ path of downward spiral is contacting with spirits through occult activities such as séances, Ouija boards, Tarot cards, fortune telling, etc…Nowadays, many people are actively involved in these types of activities not knowing how dangerous they are. They would start out with curiosity thinking it was not a big deal, but eventually, the devil would contact them and his evil’s force became irresistible. As a result, they fell into the devil’s trap. Some would do it for fun thinking it was not going to hurt them. The truth is these are not games and can be extremely dangerous. They can open a doorway and allow the devil to come into the physical world, and so often future problems arise. The Bible specifically forbids contact with spirits: “Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 19:31) or “There must never be anyone among you who makes his son or daughter pass through the fire of sacrifice, who practices divination, a soothsayer, augur or a sorcerer, weaver of spells, consulter of ghosts or mediums, or necromancer. For anyone who does these things is detestable to Yahweh your God.” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12) You can also read Deuteronomy 18:9-14; Acts 16:16-19 and Isaiah 8:19-20 to see how the Bible stands firmly against cruel pagan cults.
- Third temptation: Suicide. This is the highest level of temptation. It is the devil’s ultimate goal! (“…jump down and the angels of God will protect you…” ) Temptation often lurks in the false belief of one’s own strength.
- The devil himself never performs the work to achieve his goal. We are the ones who make the choices and do the work! It’s totally up to us to satisfy the devil’s desires. He just stands outside and keeps talking us into what he wants us to do. He is the ultimate terror, the mind controller! (“…command these stones to turn into bread…” and “…jump down…” and “fall down and worship me…” Luke 4:3-12)
- The devil is a perfect liar! In Luke 4, each temptation was presented to Jesus in such promising ways and hopeful outcomes. (“I will give you all this power and their splendor, for it has been handed over to me, for me to give it to anyone I choose. Do homage to me then it shall be yours.” (Luke 4:5-8) “…throw yourself down from here for it is written: He will command his angels concerning you to guard you and with their hands, they will support you.” (Luke 4:9-11)
- The devil does not give up easily. “Having exhausted every way of putting Him to the test, the devil left Him, until the opportune moment.” (Luke 4:13) Notice he left, but he will come again when we are weak and the game will begin all over again. When temptation comes from within, watch and pray up! (Matthew 26:41)
- The devil knows the Bible and will misuse them to suit his own plans. He quoted Scriptures to Jesus: “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written: He will command his angels concerning you to guard you and with their hands, they will support you.” (Luke 4:9-11)
- we do not have the power to resist the devil on our own. To resist the devil, we must put on the “full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground.” (Ephesians 6:13) A close relationship with God is a MUST to effectively cast out the devil in our midst. Pray up! Notice, in Luke 4, the devil tempted Jesus three times, and each time, He immediately defeated the devil with the Word of God? Here is how Jesus responded to the first temptation, “It is written: not by bread alone shall man live, but by every word of God.” (Luke 4:4) And the second temptation, He said, “It is written: The Lord your God shall you worship, and Him only shall you serve.” (Luke 4:8) Lastly, in response to the third temptation, Jesus said, “It is said, you shall not tempt the Lord your God.” (Luke 4:12)
- Do not contact with the spirits through occult activities for any reason. Do not even try to study the devil’s work! It is extremely dangerous!
- The devil raises all sorts of distractions, especially when you are trying to read the Bible, pray, plan to perform acts of love, try to live a good life. He wants us to belong to his team!
- 4. If we resist the devil, he will flee. (Luke 4:13) We need to remember that temptation has a limit and where the devil makes a way in God provides a way out. “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation, will also make the way of escape.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
- 5. We need temptations. Every time we say no to whatever is appealing to us, we become stronger, more mature individuals. Eventually, we will possess a good conscience that helps us to make good choices all the time. We should try to act properly, but it’s even more important to deal with our thoughts and emotions first, since they are the source of our sinful actions. “Thou blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, that the outside too may be clean.” (Matthew 23:26)The devil knows this very well and he works with your mind and not your body. He knows we can become spiritually crippled by our sinful thoughts. However, we need to remember, impure thoughts are not sin. We all have impure thoughts of one type or another. They become sin only when we entertain or act upon them. We need to discipline our mind and decide what to think about-pure, kind, positive thoughts.
If you continue to read the Gospel of Luke, chapter 4, you will notice, as soon as the devil left, Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, began His work of mercy. Interestingly enough, His very first miracle was curing a demoniac! By defeating the devil with God’s word, like Jesus, we allow the Holy Spirit to work miracles through us.
May we live each moment with the Holy Spirit, our only Protector and Savior. Let us fight a good fight so we can be filled with God’s Spirit. With the Holy Spirit on our side, we can be walking miracles for ourselves and others.