Peter portrays the devil as “a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8). Upon reading that verse of scripture we naturally envision the mighty king of the jungle stalking prey, ready to kill with swift and awesome violence and then rip open and hungrily devour its victim. But such an image does not necessarily fit the way the devil works to bring a soul to destruction.
“The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), but the primary focus is spiritual rather than physical death. Sin separates a person from God (Isa. 59:2). If he remains separated from God, that’s spiritual death. That’s what the devil is really after. He doesn’t have to kill the body to lead a soul into eternal condemnation. Satan usually works slowly, patiently luring a person deeper and deeper into sin through various temptations (Jas. 1:14-15). Often, the person does not realize how engulfed in sin his life has become.
Going back to Peter’s text, he stated that faith is the key defense against the devil: “Resist him in the faith,” (1 Pet. 5:9). In Paul’s list of the implements that make up the Christian armor he described faith as a “shield…with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” (Eph. 6:16).
Faith serves as an anchor in the stormy waters of trials and temptations. Sometimes, when things seem bleak faith is what guides a person through the storm and into the clearing skies of deliverance. As Paul stated, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7). John declared, and the old hymn shouts out, “Faith is the victory that overcomes the world” (1 Jn. 5:4).
Now, faith being so effective to keep us walking hand in hand with our Father, think of the consequences if the devil could shake, or even destroy, our faith. He works at doing exactly that through many different avenues.
The devil is very skillful at using adversity to chip away at a person’s faith. The loss of a job, financial hardship, serious injury, chronic or cataclysmic illness, difficulties in a personal relationship all provide potential avenues for him to wear down a person’s spiritual resolve. Satan whispers in the ear of a person who loses a loved one, particularly one who dies at a relatively young age, “Why would a loving God let this happen?”
He’s also skillful at undermining the foundation of people’s faith through social forces in society. Students in our public school system are being fed propaganda that challenges Christian principles on morality. Major university students are regularly subjected to attacks on their faith in God by instructors who openly push their atheistic views. The television, movie and music industries aggressively promote all sorts of violent and immoral conduct under the guise of entertainment. Government, news media and other powerful forces are pushing a social engineering agenda to normalize abnormal and subnormal lifestyles.
The devil does not have to turn a person into a murderer or a rapist or a bank robber or a swindler to get him to lose his soul. All he has to do is persuade him to lose his faith. No matter what confronts you in life, no matter what the devil throws at you, don’t let him win. Trust God, and He will see you through. Never, ever lose your faith!
Gary L. Hutchens