In broken English, the former witch, now a believer in Jesus, took my arm, looked me in the eyes, and said, “Pray for me! Daily I am spiritually attacked, and I am weary of the war.”
I was in my late 20s when my husband and I took our first short-term mission trip together. We traveled to Brazil to build two rooms in a small church, the only evangelical presence in a city of almost half a million.
I met the former witch one day at the church. She was younger than she looked until she started talking about how Jesus saved her from her sins and freed her from the enemy’s stranglehold. When she talked about her Savior’s love, her eyes lit up and a smile spread, taking years off her face. I will never forget that day as our group was leaving and she grabbed my arm, asking me to pray for her.
For the majority of my life, I rarely thought about the spiritual world. I knew there are angels and demons, that Satan is our enemy, and that God allows him to currently rule this world’s system (John 12:31; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 5:19). I was always leery of those who believed every obstacle in their path, like the flat tire they encountered on the way to church, was the enemy trying to trip them up. As I have matured in my faith, I now see the balance between never thinking of Satan and his followers and seeing signs of them everywhere.
Who Is Satan?
Scripture describes an evil leader God has allowed to rule this present age. Today, many refer to him as Satan, meaning “accuser” or “adversary.” He does not have a straightforward story in Scripture, no groups of verses that fully explain who he is and his purpose in God’s story of redemption. However, we are able to sketch a picture of him, how he became God’s chief enemy, and what his fate will be.
In Genesis 3, Satan possessed a serpent and deceived Eve into eating the forbidden fruit. This act led Adam to eat the forbidden fruit, too, bringing sin into all the world.
Ezekiel 28:11–19 and Isaiah 14:12–15 describe a heavenly, created being who once was in the Garden of Eden, succumbing to his prideful desires and leading a rebellion, resulting in being thrown out of heaven. Three of the four Gospels record when Satan tempted Jesus in the Judean wilderness (Matthew 4; Mark 1; Luke 4).
His end is clear: an eternity of torment in the Lake of Fire.
Finally, in Revelation 12, 19, and 20, we learn of his fate. Satan will deceive the masses through the Antichrist until Christ’s return. Then he will be bound for 1,000 years until he is released and leads one final rebellion against his Maker. But his end is clear: an eternity of torment in the Lake of Fire.
The reformer Martin Luther once said, “Even the devil is God’s devil,” meaning Satan cannot do anything outside God’s holy will. This truth should bring believers in Jesus great comfort. Yet Satan is powerful, and God has allowed him temporary reign over this present age. Satan lusts for power and fame. We see this as he tempts Jesus in the wilderness, trying to assert his authority on the Maker of heaven and Earth.
He is like a lion looking for someone to devour.
He wants to deceive and kill what is closest to God’s heart—those made in His image. The apostle Paul warns us that Satan comes as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). The apostle Peter warns us he is like a lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Men and women are all made in God’s image, making us unique among creation and a target for God’s enemy.
Satan’s prideful heart will one day result in his eternal damnation, but he will not go down without a fight, taking any image-bearer he can with him. When we look at our world and culture, it’s no surprise that acts like abortion are seen as good, many believe they can change their gender, witches and mediums are seen as partaking in holy work, and false teachers look and sound so close to genuine teachers of God’s Word that weak-minded Christians are easily deceived.
Yes, a battle not of this world rages around us. But how involved should Bible-believing Christians be in fighting Satan and his followers?
It is ultimately not our battle to fight. Scripture does not avoid talking about those who actively seek the spiritual world. In Leviticus 20:27 and Deuteronomy 18:10–12, God told Moses that any sons of Israel who practice witchcraft or are spiritists, interpreters, or mediums should be put to death. God doesn’t say these people are false or deceiving others; more importantly, He says they are detestable to Him. He commands their death because the spiritual world is real, and it is not for humans to entertain outside the protection designed for us in Scripture.
Sadly, the former witch we met in Brazil was used by Satan and his followers in the spiritual world for years before Jesus rescued her. Because of her past, she may be vulnerable to attacks by the enemy in ways many of us will never encounter.
More than 2,000 years ago Jesus left this earth and said He was sending someone who will be with us forever: our Helper, the Holy Spirit (John 14:16; 15:26). The Spirit strengthens us, comforts us, and works everything out for our good. He intercedes with the Father on our behalf (Romans 8:26–28). He fights our battles for us. Through prayer, studying Scripture, and obedience, we are using the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10–24).
Satan is pleased with those who are obsessed with him, trying to fight him and his followers with their own strength. He is also pleased with those who do not think about him or his tactics. The place of a committed Christ-follower lies somewhere in between. Be alert, be ready for the enemy’s attacks, but also rest in the One who died in our place and who created everything, including the enemy of this present age. One day He will make all things right forever.