Of all our perennial, lifelong enemies, we seem most oblivious to the devil. Foolish, because he is the worst and most powerful. He is Beelzebub—lord of devils, prince of the world, ruler of dark powers, principalities, and spiritual wickedness in high places (John 12:31; Matt. 12:24; Eph. 6:12). He has power over death (Heb. 2:14). As to our own flesh that assaults us, all its sin is of the devil (LD 52; I John 3:8). Of all enemies, the devil is Satan, i.e., the Adversary, who sits in God’s temple as God, opposing and exalting himself over all that is called God (II Thess. 2:4).
Our ignorance is partly because the devil is a spirit who works sight unseen. An angel of glorious excellence, he kept not his first estate but rebelled against his Creator, taking legions of angels into perdition (Rev. 12:4). Arrogant, selfish, the devil loves no one (Is. 14:13). There is no grace, mercy, or peace in him, only hatred. The Murderer, he stalks earth, seeking whom he may devour (I Pet. 5:8). Maliciously and without pity, he provokes, oppresses, renders senseless, silences, throws down, vexes, torments, and takes captive at will (Matt. 17:15; Luke 9:42; Acts 10:38; II Tim. 2:26). Unable to procreate, he begets children by corruption, a brood of vipers in his image—self-lovers, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, trucebreakers, fierce, despisers of good, and false accusers—which is what “devil” means (John 3:8-10, 8:44; II Tim. 3:3). When finished, he will have defiled and killed every human being, and condemned countless angels, men, women, and children as devils with him to hell (Rev. 19:20).
Our other problem is that the devil works by deceit. He doesn’t fight fair. Serpent, he ambushes with subtlety, wiles, reproaches, and snares (Rev. 20:2; I Tim. 3:7). Hypocrite, he transforms himself into an angel of light (II Cor. 11:14). Idolaters unwittingly serve him (I Cor. 10:19-21). As a spirit, he uses many mediums, often those closest to us—the snake to beguile Eve, Eve to defile Adam, Adam to corrupt humanity, Peter to contradict Jesus, His own familiar friend to betray, and world and false church to slay Him. In the end the devil uses the Antichrist, his hand-picked false prophet, priest, and king to deceive the whole world (Rev. 12:9). The Liar, there is no truth in him (John 8:44). In this war, he is surrounded by a bodyguard of lies, the doctrines of devils (I Tim. 4:1)—God loves and desires to save all men; God hates sin but loves the sinner; mankind has the right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness; bodily exercise profits much; life consists in an abundance of things; the world created itself over billions of years (so no Adam or Eve, death is natural, and God is the author of sin), etc. As the Wicked, he perverts every way and word of the Lord (Acts 13:10).
Cast out of heaven by Jesus, the devil is come down to earth having great wrath because he knows he has but a short time. Knowing Christ and hating God, the devil expends his fury on the church, which bears His name and image, and gave birth to His Son (Rev. 12:12-13). He wreaks havoc in the church. He snatches the word from hard hearts lest some should be saved (Luke 8:12), sows tares among the wheat (Matt. 13:38, 39), slanders God (Gen. 3), uses world and false church to try the faith of the righteous (Rev. 2:10), stands at their right hand to resist them (Zech. 3), and accuses devilishly the saints before God day and night (Rev. 12:10).
There is certain hope in Jesus and victory through His grace. Christ has power and authority over the devil, manifest when He resisted him 40 days and cast out devils by His Spirit (Luke 4:2, 4:36, 11:20; Matt. 17:18). In death, He crushed the head of the Serpent (Gen. 3:15). The devil is judged, bound in hell, his power subject to Christ, soon to be cast into the lake of fire to be tormented forever (John 16:11; Jude 1:6; Rev. 20:10). But like all mortally wounded snakes, he still thrashes dangerously. So we must submit to God, be sober and vigilant (I Pet. 5:8), give no place to the devil (Eph. 4:27), and put on the armor of God to withstand his wiles (Eph. 6:11). Although devious and powerful, the devil is detected by the Word and flees from it (Matt. 17:21; Jam. 4:7). Because for this purpose Christ was manifest, that He might destroy the works of the devil (I John 3:8). And through prayer, preserves and strengthens us by the Spirit so that we are not overcome in this warfare, but constantly and strenuously resist our foe until at last we obtain a complete victory (LD 52).