I heard a sermon a few weeks ago and was asked to identify how Satan was currently involved in my life, and it got me thinking about our enemy. When I was a young disciple, some of my brothers and peers in campus (mostly those who were raised in the church) blamed any negative circumstance in their life on Satan. I found it erroneous and perturbing, since scripturally I do not think Satan is the cause of every uncomfortable situation, difficulty, or desire to sin in my life. This led to a unhealthy swing in the opposite direction, where I essentially paid no attention to what Satan might be doing in my life(which in hindsight I think was also immature and incorrect). Now that I'm thinking about it again, I am curious what others have found *scripturally about 1. How involved is Satan in our lives? And 2. How to identify Satan in our lives. - Patrick Anderson, Clemson, SC
Patrick, great question. Unlike God, Satan is not omniscient, nor is he omnipresent; only God can exist everywhere. To support your thought that every temptation we have is not a cause of Satan-- correct. Often times (should I even say usually?) we lead ourselves into sin when, "by our own evil desires we are dragged away and enticed" (James 1:14). Paul alludes to this when discussing the perfect law in Romans 7:8-12.
However, we do see Satan specifically at work in what he deems as the most important of matters, those that would stir the course of history. In Luke 22:3 and again in John 13:27, we see written, not that Judas was tempted, or even that he had fallen to his own sin; rather, we read that "Satan entered Judas." Likely, because of the mass importance of this event in history, Satan wanted to do all he could do tempt Jesus to sin. Because he could not cause Jesus to sin in Matthew 4 or Luke 4, he saw this as the last opportunity to make the perfect sacrifice imperfect, thereby dooming the world for eternity. This was also to fulfill prophecies.
In our own lives, it is usually the case that Satan isn't directly involved with causing the sin of a disciple. "Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7) seems to suggest that Satan will move on and away from the disciple who resists, implying a season of rest from Satan's presence. How long this rest is from Satan is debatable.
I find it detrimental to consider the disciple that decides to oppose Satan aside from the work of the Holy Spirit. "But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 1:9) I find it too common for Joe Disciple to consider Satan as a force to be reckoned with. Rather, we should resist him, living in the Spirit of God, clothed with Christ, and *he* will flee from *us*, because he knows the power of God. We should venerate Satan, but not as a higher power than God.
Identifying Satan in our own lives is tricky, perhaps impossible. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
(Ephesians 6:12). Paul makes it clear that our struggle is not only against Satan, or even our own desire to sin. Our struggle is against so much more. Identifying *what* is causing us to struggle may not be the right question. Rather, we should identify what, when we are struggling, is expected of us from God to be righteous. ". . . and find out what pleases the Lord" (Ephesians 5:10) makes more sense than finding out who is causing us to not please the Lord.
Daniel C. Berk