One of my dad’s most memorable sermons, which he preached in more than one location, was actually a two-parter. The first part was preached Sunday morning. Dad warned that he was going to identify the source of the problems in the congregation. He used a wipe board or chalkboard, and only put the first initial of each one up there as he preached. He said that everyone should come back that night and he would disclose the full names that went with the initials. At one congregation, after the morning sermon, a large number of people came forward in response to the invitation. Sure enough, that evening dad put the full names next to the initials:
- Accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10)
- Adversary (1 Pet. 5:8)
- Beelzebub (Mat. 12:24)
- Belial (2 Cor. 6:15)
- Devil (Heb. 2:14)
- Enemy (Mat. 13:39)
- Father of lies (John 8:44)
- God of this world (2 Cor. 4:4)
- Prince… (Eph. 2:2; John 12:31)
- Roaring Lion (1 Pet. 5:8)
- Satan (Mat. 4:10)
- Spirit that works in the sons of disobedience (Eph. 2:2)
- Tempter (Mat. 4:3)
Now, in no way am I discounting the free will choices people make. James 1:13-15 very clearly places the blame of sin on the individuals choosing to act on their lusts and desires. One is not possessed or overtaken by the devil to do his will any more than a person is overtaken by God and made to do what’s right. But Jesus calls the devil the “father” of sinful behavior (John 8:44). John tells us that the one who practices sin is “of the devil” (1 Jn. 3:8). Those who sin are doing his will (2 Tim. 2:26).
Satan is at the heart of national, congregation, familial, and individual sin. We’re told to resist him (Jas. 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:9). The hopeful fact is that, with God’s help, we can always successfully do so. Let’s be aware that the devil does not want God’s children or His work to succeed. If he can thwart our efforts as a church to be united, faithful to God’s Word, evangelistic, and productive, he will do so. Knowing this, we should be more determined not to let him win!