Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Two truths about the father of lies...

Further to Sunday's preach and subsequent blog-posting on 1 Peter 5 (find it here), I'm afraid I failed to make one more point clear regarding the devil. This is something I'm certain many of us carry, yet it is a false belief... The true Biblical understanding of this can and will benefit any of you who have struggled with such. I will firstly clarify my point on the inability of Satan to read our minds, and then clarify this extra fact that can make a big difference to our confidence in resisting him:

Firstly, regarding the fact that Satan is not omniscient ("all-knowing") like God, and thus cannot read your thoughts, I'll direct you to Wayne Grudem for elaboration on the subject. He tells it far better than I can:

"With respect to knowing our thoughts, the Bible tells us that Jesus knew people's thoughts (Matt 9.4; Mk 2.8; Lk 6.8, 11.17) and that God knows people's thoughts (Gen 6.5; Ps 139.2, 4, 23; Isa 66.16), but there is no indication that angels or demons [which includes Satan] can know our thoughts. In fact, Daniel told King Nebuchadnezzar that no one speaking by any other power than the God of heaven could tell the king what he had dreamed (see Dan 2.27-28). But if demons cannot read people's minds, how shall we understand contemporary reports of witch-doctors, fortune-tellers, or other people evidently under demonic influence who are able to tell people accurate details of their lives which they thought no one knew, such as (for example) what food they had for breakfast, where they keep some hidden money in their house, etc? Most of these things can be explained by realising that demons can observe what goes on in the world..." (Systematic Theology, p416)

You see, mediums' knowledge of dead grandparents' details, for another example, are a simple by-product of demonic observation over the years and so on. It's as simple as that. And when you know that your own thought-life is totally secure - private between only you and God - you have far less reason to fear the devil.

But there's that one more important fact:

As well as not being omniscient/all-knowing, neither is Satan omnipresent (everywhere at the same time) like God. We can all have in our heads this picture of the devil watching our every move, ready to pounce, making notes... Nope. He can only be in one place at any one time - he comes and goes (Matt 4.3, 11; Job 1.7-12). And I very much doubt he's bothered enough by me to be spending his precious time troubling me personally, while there's plenty of other brothers and sisters who are far more of a threat to Him. Which I actually take as a bit of a non-guilt-inducing provocation, to be honest!

The devil has many demons on his side that do his dirty work for him. When this work is attributed to Satan - even in the Bible - it is a reference similar to saying "Hitler invaded Poland". Actually, his soldiers did. See? Don't for one second let the devil become bigger in your head than he deserves. He is limited in his power and abilities, he is not all-knowing and he is not all-present. Do not fear. Take courage and know that in Christ we are safe and totally protected. James 4.7: "Resist the devil and he will flee" (which in itself proves that he can't be everywhere, or he couldn't flee, eh?). Just don't let your misunderstanding of him become another of the devil's lies that then holds you back... Stand firm!

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