Many people are unaware that we live in enemy-occupied territory. As a result, they are often booby-trapped and fooled into making all kinds of disastrous mistakes.

Dr. Emile Cailliet has expressed the danger in these words: “One of the neatest tricks Satan has ever performed is to convince so many people that he does not exist.” How true! And how many there are who go down to defeat because they do not know the enemy and how he works!

In his Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis pointed out: “Christianity agrees with Dualism that this universe is at war. But it does not think this is a war between independent powers. It thinks it is a civil war, a rebellion, and that we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel.

“Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.… I know someone will ask me, ‘Do you really mean, at this time of day, to reintroduce our old friend the devil—hoofs and horns and all?’ Well, what the time of day has to do with it I do not know. And I am not particular about the hoofs and horns. But in other respects my answer is, ‘Yes, I do.’ I do not claim to know anything about his personal appearance. If anybody really wants to know him better I would say to that person, ‘Don’t worry. If you really want to, you will. Whether you’ll like it when you do is another question’ ” (Mere Christianity, Macmillan, 1960, pp. 35, 36).

The fact is that from the very beginning of Genesis to the end of the Revelation, the Bible makes repeated references to Satan, clearly stating that he is a person—evil, malignant, and persistent—but that though he is extremely active now, his doom is sealed.

The names by which he is characterized in the Scriptures speak volumes, not only about who he is but also about what he does. He is called the accuser, the adversary, the angel of the bottomless pit, the devil, the enemy, an evil spirit, a liar and the father of lies, a lying spirit, a murderer, the power of darkness, the prince of this world, the prince of the power of the air, the serpent, the spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience, the tempter, the god of this world, an unclean spirit, the wicked one, and a roaring lion.

In the light of this revelation of the nature of Satan, what folly to deny his existence or belittle his power! Were it not for the fact that his ultimate defeat was accomplished at the Cross, that he cannot stand against the Word of God, the Sword of the Spirit, and that God has provided an invincible armor for me as a Christian, I would not dare to write this article.

Article continues below

We sing, “This is my Father’s world,” and it is, by creation; but for the moment there is a usurper on the throne, the “god of this world”—the devil. We are living in “enemy territory.”

Satan is doubly dangerous because he is the master of camouflage, even appearing as an “angel of light” to deceive the unwary. There are people and institutions today that are Satan’s servants, even as there were in the days of the Apostle Paul, who said of them: “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things” (Phil. 3:18, 19). Think of the danger for those who do not recognize the enemy and his work!

How can we tell? How can we know whether something is of God or of the deceiver? A Christian is given something like a spiritual mine detector. He is instructed to ask when in doubt: Does it honor God? Does it glorify his Son? Is it true to his written Word? Does it give evidence of the presence and blessing of the Holy Spirit?

As the committed Christian finds himself confronted with Satan’s counterfeits, the Holy Spirit warns: Be careful! Wait! This does not conform to God’s revealed truth!

Jesus repeatedly warned against the works of Satan. He said that it is the evil one who snatches the seed of the Gospel from the hearts of the ignorant and indifferent. Speaking of the weeds growing where good seed had been sown, he said, “An enemy has done this.” And at this point he gave a warning many ignore today, a specific warning against “weed-pulling,” because the wheat is pulled up with the weeds. Jesus’ word is, “Let them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn” (Matt. 13:30)—small comfort to Satan and his dupes, and a warning to over-zealous Christians.

Today, as always, Satan works to disrupt and destroy. The Apostle Paul, writing to the church in Corinth, says about the devil, “we are not ignorant of his devices.” We know his devices are legion.

Wherever the blight of Communism falls, the Church and Christians are sure to come under attack. Twenty-five years ago there were 8,000 Protestant missionaries in China. Today there is not one. Twenty-five years ago there were 275 Christian hospitals in China. Today not one is left. Eighteen years ago the most thriving church to be found on any mission field was in North Korea. Today every vestige of Christianity has been wiped out.

Article continues below

But Satan is also working his devious methods in the West. Secularism dominates most of the colleges and universities once founded by the churches. Materialism determines the goals of many men and nations. Entertainment and art worship the god of sex and lust. The reason is easy to find: “The whole world is in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19b).

For all of this, thank God, there is an answer. There can be victory and safety. Because of the works of Satan, there is the Cross. Because of him, there is the Gospel of Christ’s redemption. Because of him, we have power through the Spirit. Because of him, God prepared his own protective armor for the Christian (Eph. 6:10–18).

Man inevitably fails when he trusts himself. It is through Christ alone, “who loved us,” that we are more than conquerors. And we are given one weapon with which to carry on an offensive warfare against the devil: “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Our Lord gave a perfect example of its use when he was tempted in the wilderness. Satan has never yet been able to stand against it.

Let no man deceive you—Satan is real. On every hand we see the evidences of his presence and work. Just as hunters follow a trail, certain that there is a cause for its existence, so we can trace the trail of Satan throughout the world, both Communist and free. It is folly to ignore him and even greater folly to ignore the One who has conquered him. Satan’s end is sure: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides for ever” (1 John 2:16, 17).

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.