Garreth L. Clair
In this life the Christian must constantly be at war with the forces of evil. We who have taken allegiance to Christ have a very potent enemy, the Devil. Because the Devil is an enemy of righteousness we must always be aware of his many devices. In this article, I want to give some attention to the devil, his agents, and their use of devices in carrying out their evil purposes.
First, let us look to the source of all evil, the Devil. We must never loose sight of the fact that although we cannot see the Devil he is very real. The Devil is a spirit being and can only be identified by the deeds which are performed by and through his agents (1 John 3:10; 1 Cor. 10:20; John 6:70; 8:44). From these passages of Scripture and others, we can observe the way the Devil works through agency, mankind. Since the Devil is an abstraction we must look to other sources to identify him and his activity. The most complete source of information about the Devil is the Bible; in it we can know him and his characteristics. Once we have adequately identified the Devil we may better know how to handle his activity pursued by his agents. The Scriptures tell us all that we require about the Devil so we may search the Scripture to become adequately informed of his character and continuing activities in this world as they affect God's people. The Scriptures tell us that the Devil:
1. Knows God (Jas. 2:19).
2. He knows the Scripture (Matt. 4: 1 -11).
3. He is the adversary of Righteousness (1 Pet. 5:8).
4. He is extremely powerful (Job 1:6-2:7; Jude 9).
5. He may transform himself into an angel of righteousness to deceive man (2 Cor. 11: 14).
From these references we are able to adequately determine the nature of the Devil (Satan). If we observe the facts about the Devil, we may be less likely to give place to his desires.
The Devil's Agents
Secondly, let us look at the agents the Devil uses to accomplish his evil purpose. As we observed already, the Devil cannot be seen by mankind so we may not know him except through the work and ongoing activity of his agents. The Devil employs men and women in his activity to corrupt righteous and good people. The Bible tells us that the Devil uses people in his schemes:
(1) According to 1 John 3: 10, the devil has children who work in his service; (2) According to 2 Corinthians 12:7 Paul was hindered by a messenger of Satan (see also 1 Thess. 2:18); and (3) According to Paul in 1 Timothy 5:15, some men were turning aside to do Satan's bidding.
As is evident from these three references the Devil will use men and women to accomplish his evil purpose. The purpose of the Devil is to corrupt the soul of any man or woman he can through any means. God is at war with the Devil and God's people are His only soldiers in the ever continuing conflict (Eph. 6; 1 Peter 5:8; Eph. 4:27). Since Christians are to oppose the Devil's children, we often find ourselves in bitter controversy with men and women of the world; that is to be expected because we are to be truly defenders of the faith (Jude 3). When in the course of defending righteousness we find ourselves abused, we need not fear for in the ultimate end we will win the conflict (Rev. 2: 10; 2 Tim. 4:6-8). The agents of the devil are not fools but are clever and designing; their aims are the same as those of their father, the Devil. We must not let personal preference or feelings get in the way of our better judgment based upon God's word in dealing with the wicked; we must give no quarter or compromise in any particular. The Devil will gain the victory when feelings or compromise enter the battle for truth and righteous principles; therefore, let us always be aware of these characters that the Devil uses for his soldiers.
The Devil's Devices
The third point in this study will deal with the devices that the Devil uses. In order to accomplish his evil purposes the Devil often uses devices; sometimes men are not aware of these devices and are caught completely off guard. In the following list, you may see one or more devices that have been used on you or someone you know. One thing that men must recognize is that many things the Devil will use may be classified as abstractions (devices that are not of material content); others may be materialistic in nature. Since the Devil uses the material and the abstract let us examine them one by one;
Materialistic devices used by the Devil may include;
Money may be the tool used by the Devil to draw one into his service, not the love of it the very essence of the green stuff. The Devil may use a new car to cause one to do ungodly deeds. One may gain the car through honest endeavor but may find it a hindrance to proper contributing of his income into the Lord's treasure. A new or better home may be the undoing of someone else. These things are not wrong to have but if they create slack in one's service to God they become wrong. Anything of a material nature which causes us to be less faithful in attendance, contribution, or faithfulness in any area may be wrong and sinful, although the item in and of itself is not sinful.
Indeed, in many instances, these material things can be well afforded by some and may not become a hindrance at all. Yet, many find possessions of a material nature hindrances to their faithful discharge of Christian character and responsibility. We must never let anything hinder us from faithfully performing our duties as sons of God, but must always count the cost when looking at the material things available to us in this world. Let each of us join with the understanding of Paul, we are not ignorant of his devices" (2 Cor. 2:11).
Things of an abstract nature may be more dangerous to men and women in the world and in the church than even materialistic things. To illustrate the nature of abstract things, we will use the passion, greed. Greed cannot be seen, it is an unseen motivator which ultimately may be manifest in robbery, burglary, fraud, and dishonesty of any stripe. Robbery, fraud, etc. are not the abstraction; they are the by-products of a heart filled with greed. In the Scriptures, there are several abstractions that we should be aware of. The abstractions are manifest by the fruits they bear. Some things that cannot be known about a man are:
(1) jealousy (it cannot be seen but is made manifest by ungodly deeds), (2) envy, (3) hate, (4) lust.
These are but a few of the abstractions used by the evil one in order to destroy man's soul; there are others. A list of some of the abstractions the Devil uses can be found in Galatians 5:19-26. Remember, the Devil may use those who consider themselves somewhat in the church; we must ever be mindful of his devices so that we can be constantly in a state of resistance against them. It is too easy to fall under the Devil's influence to discount the possibility of our own fall (2 Pet. 3:17).
Finally, let us consistently be on guard against the Devil, his agents, and the devices the Devil uses to draw us away from God. There can not be compromise with the forces of evil either in the world or in the church, we must always resist evil wherever it rears its ugly head.