Read - 2 Corinthians 11v14-15
Message - Scott Woodburn
Satan rarely kicks down the front door of any church - such an approach is much too noisy and much too public. Instead he operates quietly as church goers do his work by spreading gossip and division. He operates in the shadows behind a mask of righteousness. He much prefers the whispers in a carpark than a truthful discussion in full view of the fellowship. Paul tells us that Satan likes to disguise himself. He doesn't show his true nature, for if he did, we would see his rotten and repugnant self. Instead he disguises himself as an angel of light (v14).
That's interesting isn't it? We have bought into the myth that Satan has bright red skin, he has two horns on his head, a forked tail and a pitchfork. This description is not accurate. What does the Bible say about the accuser of God's people? Satan was not another God but instead was part of God's created order. Ezekiel 28v16 suggests that Satan was a "cherub" (angel) cast down from the mountain of God. We know that angels are ministering spirits sent out to serve God's elect (Hebrews 1v14) and therefore this was Satan's original purpose.
However in history past, Satan rebelled against God and was cast down to earth, with one interpretation of Revelation 12 suggesting that a third of angels fell with him. So when Christ meets and defeats the demons He is waging war against the fallen angelic allies of Satan. Jesus tells us that our enemy is both a murderer and a liar (John 8v44) and later Peter refers to him as a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5v8). Martin Luther's great hymn "A mighty fortress" describes Satan as being armed with great craft, power and cruel hate. This is our enemy and we shouldn't be surprised when he seeks to destroy the church of Christ.
We thank God today that while the Scriptures don't answer every question about Satan or his origins, we are told enough to make us ready to resist him. Paul is clear that Satan often does his work whilst wearing a disguise. He comes as an angel of light (v14). He pretends that he is still what he used to be. He manipulates us into believing that he is part of the team. He encourages us to consider his motives to be pure. Yet he is a liar. He comes only to destroy and to kill (John 10v10).
Indeed there are many within the church of Christ who take the same approach. They disguise themselves "as servants of righteousness" (v15a). What does this mean? False teachers, just like Satan, rarely come with a badge declaring them to be a false teacher. False teachers come sounding plausible, sounding sincere, sounding Christian, sounding good and yet there is a twist, a deviation, an addition. They take Christ and they try to add to Him or they take Christ and try to subtract from Him. All the while they smile and sing and gather a crowd around them.
It has always been this way. There was no golden church age when everything was wonderful. We meet the false apostles in Corinth, John tells us that even in his day "many antichrists have come" (1 John 2v18) and today we are still in danger from the devil's schemes. I'm not sure when you read these devotions, perhaps over a cup of coffee as the day begins. If so I'm aware that a paragraph or two about the devil isn't a joyously wonderful way to start the day. So let me say this. Make no mistake Christ comprehensively defeated Satan at Calvary. Our enemy may be filled with rage but only because he knows his time is short (Revelation 12v12).
Jesus came and bound Satan (Matthew 12v29) and to this day Jesus by the preaching of the Gospel sets Satan's captives free. Satan is not God's equal. Satan is not winning and today if we resist him, then he will flee from us (James 4v7). The devil, his angels and those who do his work on earth (wittingly or unwittingly) are part of the losing side. Their end will correspond to their deeds (15b). Christian rejoice! You are with Christ in this world and the one who stands with Jesus will never be put to shame.
Q24 How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet? Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by his Word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation.