Beware of Your Adversary, the Devil!
“Keep your senses, be watchful. Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.”—1 PETER 5:8.
1. What Adversary do Jehovah’s Witnesses have, but can he be foiled?
ARE you an unreservedly dedicated witness of Jehovah God? If so, you have a scheming adversary, a diabolical foe. Despite all he can do, however, that crafty enemy can be foiled. You can prove faithful to the Most High God, Jehovah. Without a doubt, you can thus share in vindicating your heavenly Father’s matchless name. Indeed, you can make Jehovah’s heart rejoice and can provide him with an answer to the Great Taunter. Yes, and you can gain the prize of eternal life in paradisaic happiness.—Proverbs 27:11; Luke 23:43; Revelation 2:7.
2. What did the apostle Peter say about our chief adversary?
2 To remain faithful to God, you must beware of your chief adversary. Concerning him, the apostle Peter wrote: “Keep your senses, be watchful. Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.” Yet, defense against this enemy is possible, for the apostle continues: “But take your stand against him, solid in the faith . . . After you have suffered a little while, the God of all undeserved kindness . . . will make you firm, he will make you strong.” (1 Peter 5:8-10) Especially do those words bring comfort to anointed followers of Jesus Christ. Yet, they also have true meaning for Jehovah’s servants who look forward to living eternally in an earthly paradise.
3. (a) Who stand ready to help us? (b) What foes does Satan use to accomplish his evil purposes?
3 If we are to beware of our Adversary, we need help, as well as knowledge of his tactics. Ready and willing to help all of us to maintain integrity are Jehovah God, Jesus Christ, the holy angels and the Christian congregation. On the other hand, we have our own imperfect flesh, this wicked system of things and Satan the Devil himself with which to contend. He is motivated by malice and is ever ready to enlist the aid of our other two foes to accomplish his evil purposes.—John 15:19; 1 Corinthians 9:27.
4. (a) By what four designations is Satan known? (b) Why does Satan deserve the titles “Devil,” “serpent” and “dragon”?
4 The very designations the Scriptures give our Adversary help us to understand his methods, his designs, better. He is referred to as Satan, Devil, serpent and dragon. (Revelation 12:4, 9, 10) His name Satan means “Resister,” or “Adversary.” (Job 1:6; 2:1) “Devil” means “Slanderer,” “Accuser,” or “Maligner.” Satan is also called the “serpent” because he used a serpent to deceive Eve in the garden of Eden. (Genesis 3:1-7) And he is termed the “dragon” because of his propensity to devour.
Satan’s Motives and Purposes
5. Satan has taken what position regarding Jehovah?
5 Satan the Devil, originally one of God’s heavenly sons, fell to opposing and slandering Jehovah. Satan’s purpose was to turn humankind away from God, so as to serve Satan’s selfish ends. The Devil’s course of action makes it apparent that he called into question the truthfulness of God, as well as mankind’s need to depend upon Jehovah and look to him for continued life and happiness. Implicit in Satan’s course is his questioning God’s right to rule and his manner of ruling. Jehovah is committed to the principle of ruling in righteousness and of having creatures serve him willingly out of love for him and for righteousness. On the other hand, Satan has taken the position that selfish gain is the more desirable motive. In other words, he contends that all intelligent creatures should be and are as selfish as he is.—Job, chapters 1 and 2.
6. What does Satan’s course reveal as to his motives?
6 For Satan to embark on such a course reveals that he let inordinate ambition become a consuming passion and motive. This is evident also from the apostle Paul’s warning against appointing a newly converted man to the position of overseer, “for fear that he might get puffed up with pride and fall into the judgment passed upon the Devil.” (1 Timothy 3:6) Yes, it did indeed betray a colossal self-conceit for Satan to dare pit himself against the Almighty, the Most High, the Universal Sovereign, the King of eternity, Jehovah God. (Genesis 17:1; 2 Samuel 7:28; Psalm 83:18; 1 Timothy 1:17) That the Devil’s overriding passion is self-exaltation, that he envied the worship that intelligent creatures were giving Jehovah God, was revealed by him when he offered Jesus Christ “all the kingdoms of the world” if Jesus would do an act of worship to him.—Matthew 4:8, 9.
7. Why did not God at once execute the rebels Satan, Adam and Eve?
7 Of course, Jehovah God could have executed Satan and the first human pair as soon as they transgressed. But because of the issues Satan had raised, and out of mercy for Adam’s yet unborn offspring, God permitted the Devil to live and try to prove his boastful challenges. At the same time, Jehovah thereby gave those of mankind who wanted it the opportunity to try to rule themselves apart from God and his righteous principles.
Deception as to His Existence
8. How has Satan deceived mankind as to his very existence?
8 Satan resorts to many and varied designs to forward his purpose as Adversary of Jehovah God and, if possible, to turn all humans away from the rightful worship of their Creator. One of these designs is his getting people to believe that he does not even exist! This makes it possible for them to become his easy victims. Thus, today, in many religious circles it is fashionable to believe that there is no such person as Satan the Devil. For example, a poll taken by the Center for Policy Research in New York City reported that in 1974 more than half of Americans did not believe completely in the existence of a personal Devil. Even many clergymen do not believe in the Devil’s existence as a person.
9, 10. How do the Scriptures establish the fact that the Devil is a person?
9 But the Scriptures leave us in no doubt that there is a personal Devil. They show that a person spoke through the serpent, deceiving and seducing the first woman, Eve. The book of Job further establishes the existence of Satan as a person, for it tells of his speaking with Jehovah God, impugning the integrity of God’s servant Job. Moreover, the Gospel writers Matthew, Mark and Luke record that Jesus Christ was tempted by the Devil. That such temptations must have come to Jesus from an outside source is clear not only from what we know about Jesus’ perfection and personality but also from the nature of Satan’s third temptation. How could Jesus fall down and do an act of worship before an evil principle or idea? Significant, too, are Jesus’ repeated references to Satan as a person and as “the ruler of this world.”—John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 8:44; Matthew 4:1-10; 12:26; Luke 10:18.
10 Jesus’ apostles also identified the Devil as a person. Paul indicated that true Christians are not ignorant of Satan’s “designs” and the apostle warned them against the “machinations of the Devil.” (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:11) As already noted, Peter urged fellow believers to beware of their Adversary, the Devil. And the apostle John testified that “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one” and that “the Devil will keep on throwing some [Christians] into prison.”—1 John 5:19; Revelation 2:10; 1 Peter 5:8.
Satan’s Device of False Religion
11. What has Satan done with man’s instinct to worship?
11 Satan’s design to keep people blind involves his use of false religion. (2 Corinthians 4:4) Man was created by God with the need to keep in touch with his Creator by means of worship. Satan has deflected this instinct by appealing to selfishness and promoting ignorance of pure religion. To accomplish his purpose he “keeps transforming himself into an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14) As a result of such deception, humans engage in thousands of different kinds of false religion.
12. How should we view false religion and interfaith?
12 All false religion is actually a product of Satan, for Paul stated: “The things which the nations sacrifice they sacrifice to demons, and not to God.” Jesus said: “He that is not on my side is against me, and he that does not gather with me scatters.” Furthermore, Christ allowed no room for interfaith, but said: “No one comes to the Father except through me.”—1 Corinthians 10:20; Matthew 12:30; John 14:6.
13. In what ways has Satan exploited man’s curiosity regarding the occult?
13 Satan exploits man’s curiosity regarding the occult and the condition of the dead. By such totally unscriptural devices as talking with the dead, or spiritism, fortune-telling, astrology and black magic, he has ensnared countless numbers. In fact, today there is an ever-increasing interest in such things. This has gone to such an extreme that some are actually worshiping the Devil himself.—Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 19:26; 20:6; Deuteronomy 18:10-12.
Satan’s Appeal to Pride
14, 15. (a) What means did Satan use to get Eve and Cain to serve his purpose? (b) What further examples does the Bible give along these lines?
14 Satan succumbed to the temptation of pride. Accordingly, he awakened in Eve a proud, selfish desire to be like the Most High God, and thus he succeeded in turning our first parents away from the worship of Jehovah God. Satan doubtless used a similar approach with Cain. Noticing how chagrined Cain was because his brother Abel received divine approval, the Devil could fan that chagrin into murderous envy.—Genesis 4:3-8; 1 John 3:11, 12.
15 Throughout the history of humankind, Satan has been able to use as tools those who are proud—such men as Nimrod, the Pharaoh of Egypt in Moses’ day and Assyrian King Sennacherib. (Genesis 10:8-12; Exodus 5:2; Isaiah 36:7-10, 16-20) Today Satan holds multitudes in his grasp through pride: pride of race, pride of nationality, pride of education, pride of social status, and so forth. All of this serves the Devil’s purpose by causing people to turn a deaf ear to God’s message.
The Lure of Materialistic Greed
16. What success has Satan had in using materialistic greed?
16 Another device Satan uses to ensnare humans is materialism, greed, love of money, pride of possession. Thereby he ensnared the clergy of Jesus’ day who were greedy money lovers. (Luke 16:14) Using the lure of materialistic greed, “Satan emboldened [Ananias] to play false to the holy spirit.” (Acts 5:1-11) And no doubt the Devil used a love for material things and worldly pleasures to deflect Demas and other Christians from Jehovah’s service.—2 Timothy 4:10.
17. We have what especially notorious example of a person who succumbed to Satan’s use of greed as a snare?
17 An especially notorious example of Satan’s using greed to ensnare is that of Judas Iscariot. Not only did he become a greedy thief but greed was a factor in Judas’ betrayal of his Master. That his mind was bent in that direction is indicated by his protest at Mary’s greasing of Jesus’ feet with costly oil. (John 12:4-6; Matthew 26:14-16) How careful we should be that Satan does not overreach us by the lure of materialistic greed!
Satan Preys on Human Weaknesses
18. (a) What provisions did God make for man to derive pleasure from living? (b) How has Satan exploited these to man’s harm?
18 Among the various weaknesses to which Satan appeals is the craving for forbidden sensual pleasures. Jehovah God intended that we should enjoy many pleasures, and when these are enjoyed within the bounds of his will for us, they can result in much good and happiness. But Satan tempts humans to put these things first in their lives and to indulge in them in immoral ways that violate God’s law. Thus Satan caused 24,000 Israelites to succumb to the lure of Baal of Peor. (Numbers 25:1-9) Today the world has gone mad in its quest for sensual pleasures. Magazines, newspapers, motion pictures and television programs are ever more explicitly appealing to prurient interests. As Christians guided by God’s spirit, however, we must shun such temptations.—1 Corinthians 14:20.
19. (a) To what snare of Satan are young Christians particularly vulnerable? (b) Of what should young Christians be aware?
19 Another device of Satan is his appealing to the craving for pleasurable excitement. Young Christians are particularly vulnerable to this snare. Often, they go all out for various kinds of sports, both as observers and as participants. But this could cause them to become “lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.” (2 Timothy 3:4) With other youths the craving for excitement turns to forms of music and song that foster immorality and violence. Surely, there is great need for caution, for such things can lure young Christians away from the path of rectitude and virtue.—Psalm 16:11; 2 Peter 2:20-22.
20. How does Satan use fear?
20 Satan also uses the snare of the fear of man. It is natural to shrink from being ridiculed and to try to avoid suffering. Such fear has caused not a few to compromise in times of stress. (Proverbs 29:25; Hebrews 2:14, 15) With God’s help we will never permit that to happen in our case.
21. Why need we not be overcome by discouragement?
21 Another of Satan’s designs is his trying to discourage God’s servants so that they give up. The Devil certainly tried to do this with Job, causing him to wish he were dead or had never been born. Satan also tried this with Moses. (Job 3:1-13; 14:13; Numbers 11:10-15) Neither of these faithful men was swallowed up by discouragement. Rather, they conformed to the divine will. Like them, we need not be overwhelmed by any circumstances, for Jehovah can sustain us and will never permit the righteous to totter.—Psalm 55:22.
22, 23. To be able to stand firm against the “machinations” of Satan and not serve his designs, what must we do?
22 In view of Satan’s success in estranging the vast majority of humankind from Jehovah God, what must we do? As valiant witnesses of Jehovah, we must “stand firm against the machinations of the Devil,” against his devices, his strategems and his tactics. (Ephesians 6:11) Thereby we can prove him to be the base, boasting liar that he really is.
23 However, we cannot stand firm against Satan in our own strength, for he has greater powers, wider knowledge and far more experience than we have. To be able to stand firm against him, therefore, we need to take full advantage of all the aids that Jehovah God has provided for his people. Then we shall foil that crafty enemy!
Can You Recall?
□ What foes does the Devil use to achieve his wicked purposes?
□ Satan has taken what position regarding Jehovah?
□ How does the Bible prove that Satan is a person?
□ What are some means used by the Devil to ensnare us, and how can we avoid being overcome by them?
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Jehovah’s Witnesses do not succumb to fear of man