Let me ask a question…What is the first thing that comes to your mind when I say the word “Satan”? Take some time to allow the question to sink in to your mind, and I will come back to it later. Those familiar with the Bible have probably been directed towards I Peter 5:8-9 at some point. Here is what Peter says in case you are unfamiliar:
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”
Peter closes out his first letter by reminding those to whom he is writing that Satan has one goal, and ONLY one goal: to destroy people. Throughout the letter, Peter is deliberately repetitive about this theme of perseverance through suffering and persecution. Then he gets to the end, and he exhorts the people to be watchful because Satan is prowling around like a roaring lion. So, what is the connection? Why close this letter by bringing Satan’s methodology and scheming ways into consideration? I am certainly not a theologian, but I believe the connection is this…Satan wants to take control of the mind, and there is a tendency for human beings to allow Satan an opportunity or a foothold to do this during difficult seasons.
Let me go back to something I just mentioned because it is imperative to understand…Satan wants to take control of the mind. Mark that down. Write it on a note pad. Save it somewhere. Why is this so vital to grasp? Because understanding Satan’s ultimate goal helps us to properly defend against him. Let me explain. Earlier in the letter, Peter tells his readers to “prepare your minds for action” (1:13). The Greek-English translation here does not fully encompass the breadth of what Peter is trying to portray. The ESV provides a footnote saying the literal translation is “to gird up the lions of your mind,” which is a much more concise translation. Not to get lost in cultural non-sense, but Peter is pulling from an ancient Oriental practice and in essence what he wants his readers to know is this: you must be extremely intentional and cognizant of what you allow to enter into your heart and mind. Satan is smart. He is crafty. He is destructive. And he knows that turning someone away from God starts with the mind. If a mind is filled with evil and prideful thoughts, external actions will come. I believe the New Testament writers make it clear the ultimate goal of Satan is not to coax someone into cheating on their wife, but to fill their heart and mind with lust. The goal is not to produce murderers, but men and women whose hearts and minds are filled with anger and bitterness.
All of this goes back to the question I asked at the beginning…What is the first thing that comes to your mind when I say the word “Satan”? Let me propose a new word…HATE. You see, I believe in this culture we view Satan much more like a cute lion in a local zoo as opposed to a roaring lion who exists solely to destroy our lives. I think Satan is cool with that. I was hanging with a good friend recently, and he talked to me about a time when his marriage was essentially hanging on by a thread. One night, as he was praying for some direction, God opened his mind to the grand scheme of Satan to destroy his marriage. The plan went back to his honeymoon…13 years prior. He explained to me how one harmless drink of alcohol eventually led to a marriage and a spiritual life that was in shambles. Satan took something harmless in nature and ran with it. In that moment he said something to me I will NEVER forget…”Frank, when I saw Satan’s plan to destroy my marriage and my life was thirteen years in the making, it was the first time I actually hated him. And when I started hating Satan, I was in position to fight back against him.”
I think if we were honest with ourselves, most of us would admit we really do not HATE Satan. This is problematic. It is problematic because we allow Satan to hang around outside our minds when his only goal is to eventually get inside and take control. Our thoughts, motives, and actions are more geared towards self-satisfaction and entertainment than holiness. We watch movies, listen to music, and engage in conversations that blatantly degrade the name and nature of God, and most people chalk this up to spiritual maturity. “I am at a point in my life when I can watch that stuff and it does not bother me.” Really? I find this disheartening. If we knew the level to which Satan goes to destroy our marriage, our friendships, and our relationship with God, I believe we would be more cautious about what we allow to enter our minds. Does it not anger you that Satan’s only objective is to pull you away from anything and everything good and holy, especially God, and he will take any situation or circumstance, no matter how minuscule, as an open door to take control of your mind?
So, I am challenging you to develop a healthy disdain for Satan. Maybe you have never thought about hating Satan. I will be honest, it was a new idea to me as well until a few weeks ago. But when I came to realize Satan has a master plan to destroy my life, I began to strongly disdain him. Consequently, I am now more conscious of what I watch, listen, and the direction of my thoughts. My hate for Satan has pushed me more towards holiness and love for God. Hopefully it will do the same for you.
I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen!