Satan on the Prowl
By Rev Tan Eng Boo
Lest Satan should get an advantage of us:
for we are not ignorant of his devices
(2 Corinthian 2:11 KJV)
I was in Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve when I noticed a White-bellied Sea eagle perched on a tree trunk. I decided to move quietly and try to photograph this raptor. This is the biggest sea eagle in Singapore.
As I moved quietly towards the eagle, the raptor’s head suddenly turned 180 degrees around to see who was coming behind. You wouldn’t want to miss this shot, would you? I was amazed to see how alert the eagle was.
Nature provides me with some astonishing lessons I can view through biblical lenses. I don’t think I can be as alert as this eagle. I am not able to turn my head 180 degrees around to see what or who is behind me. With this picture in mind, I was reminded of how important it was that we should be alert against Satan and his devices. Don’t be caught unaware by his schemes.
Satan on the prowl
"Where have you come from?" said the LORD to Satan. "From roaming through the earth," he replied, "and walking back and forth in it." (Job 1:7). The apostle Peter in 1 Peter 5:8 warns the believers that Satan is always prowling about, and especially so now. He is busy moving about with a specific objective: seeking someone to devour. These words are well known to us, but few will understand the gravity of the threat. Most of us have not experienced the focused attack of the devil, leading to destruction and death. John Piper says, “The phrase means, “to swallow whole,” like the fish did to Jonah: it’s the same phrase in Jonah in the Septuagint. Your adversary, the devil, wants to just make you disappear, vanish. You are out of here. You are gone.”
Therefore, we are told to be watchful. Be alert always because the adversary’s intent is the believers’ destruction. He is a vicious enemy of the saints of God. He is also called “your adversary”. Remember who your enemy is. He is Satan. He is the chief enemy of God’s people.
The devil’s devices
He has many devices to use against the saints of God and he has taken full advantage of them. But let me mention just one of them. It is “discouragement”. This is one of his most effective tools in his arsenal. John W. Yates II illustrates it this way:
It was advertised that the Devil was putting up for sale all of his tools. On that date the tools were laid out. They had prices marked on them for public inspection, and there were a lot of treacherous instruments: hatred, envy, jealousy, deceit, pride, lying, and so on. Laid apart from the rest of the Devil’s tools was a tool, but it was worn more than any of the others and was priced very high. “What’s the name of this tool?” asked one of the customers.
“That,” the Devil replied, “is discouragement”.
“Why have you priced it so high?”
“Because discouragement is more useful to me than all the others. I can pry open and get inside a man’s heart with that when I cannot get near him with any other tools. It’s badly worn because I use it on almost everyone, since so few people know it belongs to me.”
Oh yes, discouragement! I have been in the Lord’s work for over 40 years and I have seen “discouragement” as one of Satan’s most effective tools. By being aware of it, you will be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Remember the words of Jesus to Simon Peter: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31, 32). Satan is out to get you at any moment and anywhere. Discouragement will be thrown at you. No matter who you are in church, and especially when you are doing something for Jesus, you will face it head on. It can be disheartening at times, and you will feel like giving up and quitting the task. Sadly, many have succumbed to the devil’s scheme. Will you be one of them?
I speak for myself that discouragement is no stranger to those in the pastoral ministry. Through the years, I have learned to do what David did in the face of discouragement:
“And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God” (1 Samuel 30:6 KJV).
My dear reader, today if you face discouragement, take note of what David did. He made a conscious effort to trust in the Lord and to reject fear and discouragement; you should make the same choice when you are discouraged. (Read through 1 Samuel 30)
How to overcome the devices of the devil?
It is one thing to know the devil’s devices. It is another thing to know how you should deal with it when confronted. James says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:7, 8). “Resist” has the idea of “withstand”, or “to stand our ground”. By standing our ground, Satan can be overcome. Peter says, “Resist him, firm in your faith” (1 Peter 5:9). We do so by being ruled by the Word of God. “It is written” (Matthew 4:4).
I have experienced the Lord’s grace when I apply His Word in my life. He has not failed me all these years of my ministry. You can be victorious, too. I am always encouraged by the words of Jeremiah: “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16).