“Christians are not called to defeat Satan. God has already done that in Christ! Nor is it our mandate to “bind” Satan.” (Henry Blackaby, Richard Blackaby Experiencing God Day by Day p 305) That last sentence really does get me. Regardless of what you’d like to think, my Pentecostal friends, Satan is still a servant of God. Only God “binds” Satan, certainly not any human. Satan is not a being to play fast and loose with or get cute with. Satan has been around thousands of years, no doubt learning a great deal about human nature and how to use it against us. He was created to be the most magnificent, brilliant being by God Himself. So much so that he thought he could, maybe even should, be God. For a human being to trifle with Satan is stupid. While there are Christians who think that they can take on Satan, they will only end up looking stupid. Frankly those who do it make the rest of Christians look stupid, in so many ways. I’m not going to be charitable about this, because there are too many Christians out there who presume way too much. They feel it’s up to them to confront and battle and direct the Holy Spirit as to who, where etc. It’s kind of too bad, like so many other Christians who presume, how much better would it be if we were following the Holy Spirit’s leading, waiting for His guidance, instead of us presuming to be able to call down the Holy Spirit against Satan. Do you have some bizarre idea that God is not aware of what Satan is doing? Let’s let God do it and we do what He guides us to do. “You will find yourself fighting battles that Christ has already won!” Indeed, Satan was defeated by Jesus’ death on the cross, we were saved in Jesus’ sacrifice. Do we pray for Jesus’ protection and guidance. Absolutely, but there is a difference between asking for protection and presuming to direct it.
Does Satan attack? Certainly, not as much as we often like to think. Too often people invite demons in, versus their somehow being an innocent victim. Messing around with the occult, with drugs, alcohol, sex, letting Satan guide and shunning the Holy Spirit. Anytime we fail, or seem to get slammed down does not mean that Satan is attacking either. Often times it is our own failure and we’d much rather shift that on Satan instead of taking responsibility. Does Satan oppress Christians? Absolutely, but too often it is a Christian messing around where he/she shouldn’t be messing around and inviting the oppression. Can a Christian be possessed? I don’t think so. Greater minds than mine have made this case, suffice to say, if we are genuinely indwelt by the Holy Spirit, there is no room for any kind of demonic occupation.
To be sure: “ESV Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” I would never disagree with Paul that there are demonic forces acting on us, the world all around us is seeking to turn us away from Jesus to anything else. The Blackabys talk about the fact that Paul was certainly regularly opposed by demonically inspired people on a regular basis in the Book of Acts. I often feel that when others oppose me, the inspiration for this opposition is Satanic. Believe me I’ve seen it in the church. I honestly wonder sometimes how some “Christians” sincerely come to the conclusions they do and take the positions they take. Too often it seems to me, that they have an agenda that they think the church should be picking up on, instead of following the church’s agenda in Jesus.
Absolutely we will be opposed, as Christians, by Satan. If we are faithfully following God’s leading if we are being a faithful servant of Christ and doing His will, there will be those who will be inspired by Satan because they are convinced that their agenda is more important than the church’s the Body of Christ. The Blackabys make the case that we need to be sensitive to the fact: “Your adversary may be hopelessly in bondage to sin. Rather than retaliating, you should immediately and earnestly intercede for that person.” Absolutely you should keep that person in prayer, that they will be lead by the Holy Spirit and put aside their agenda and trust how the Holy Spirit wants them to proceed. Having said that, you don’t let them lead you in the wrong direction. Too often well meaning Christians will be more concerned about the “relationship” versus God’s will. If God is leading me and someone else is trying to take me off track at the risk of “relationship”, my relationship with the Father is far more important than any other person. There are simply too many people out there who are willing suckers for Satan, often for the most frivolous reasons, and expect you to just detour for them and their misguided agenda. We are always looking to build relationships with those who are Christian brothers and sisters and those who are not. But you have to use some genuine Christian discernment. You are pointing them to Jesus, not being led by their misguided “opinion”. Don’t get me started, how many times someone has expected me to fold up like a cheap cot to their uninformed, misguided opinion.
The Blackabys assert that others are often just “misguided”, sort of benignly, innocent, even “unwitting instruments of the spiritual forces of darkness.” (Ibid p 304) Yaaa, I’m not so sure. If these people were sincerely committed to their Christian walk, being true Christian disciples, I would make the case that they would not be so easily misguided, duped. Hey I’m sure I’ve been led astray and thought something was OK, or knew it wasn’t but worked overtime to rationalize it. But I would not expect to be coddled and excused, but that I would be confronted and held accountable. Sure, remember that they are probably being demonically affected, and hold that up in prayer. I can think of occasions in my life where I should be more actively praying for someone who is being misguided. Too many times someone has drowned because they made a well meaning attempt to save someone else, but let that person drag them in and in their panic overwhelmed their presumptive rescuer and ended up letting themselves and their rescuer die. Paul was never bashful about confronting those who opposed him in evil. I’m not saying get all Pentecostal on someone, but I am saying not to let them drag you down with them. They need to be opposed but only in the strength of the Holy Spirit, because if I go up against Satan that is a ridiculous mismatch. If the Holy Spirit confronts Satan to protect and guide me, well Satan will lose, game, set and match. I’m smart enough to figure out how I want to figure in that equation.
Satan is defeated, he is a clever opponent, he has nothing to lose and certainly he is going to oppose anyone who is being used and guided by the Holy Spirit. We who are serving Christ are going to have to expect to take a lot of hits from Satan. That’s a good thing, it means we are truly serving Christ. We should pray for relief and for the protection of the Holy Spirit, but we are also given the faith we need to know that we are also being guided by Jesus’ plan, not ours. That is also a good thing. We should pray that another person be relieved of their being influenced, oppressed, even possessed by demonic forces. But we should never be guided by them out of some misguided “compassion” on our part. They are only going to suffer, maybe destroyed and pull us down with them, somewhere we don’t need to go. Let’s be a positive, pro-active witness for Christ. Not dancing around or presuming to have gifts we don’t have or confronting demons in our own power, it’s just not going to end up well, more than likely being chewed up and spit out. Then we will be wondering why the Holy Spirit didn’t act according to our instructions and maybe even ending up just denying Christ entirely. Satan really doesn’t care how he gets you there, so long as it’s away from salvation and eternal life in Jesus.