disagreed with his Father's decision and, through his great persuasive arguments, convinced his followers not to obey their
Father. If you will, a line was drawn in the sand separating the two classes of angels. All those who followed God were on
one side, and those who opposed God were on the other side. Those who were not on God's side were physically removed from
the confines of heaven.
But Lucifer hasn't given up. The war
that started in heaven is still raging here on earth.
In any conflict, there has to be an objective, or goal. Our Father's objective
is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). Satan's goal is "that all men
might be miserable like unto himself". However, just having a goal doesn't mean it will be achieved. As anyone who
has ever played chess, or even checkers, knows that to win you need to have a strategy. There has to be some sort of a plan
to help you achieve your goal. Our father has a plan for our salvation. Satan also has a plan of how to achieve his objective.
But, in any conflict, a wise combatant thinks ahead and plans a counter move to the move he thinks his opponent will make.
Since his opponent will do the same, then a counter-counter move must be planed.
Our Father made his first
move when He created the earth. Satan then made his move on Adam and Even in the garden of Eden. God countered with teaching
Adam and Eve about the atonement. Satan countered by tempting mankind to indulge in the pleasures of the flesh. God countered
by sending His Son to earth as a sacrifice. Satan countered by tempting Christ into corrupting His mission. Christ successfully
blocked that move. Satan then countered by inspiring the Pharisees to have Him killed. Bad move. That only played into God's
strategy. So Satan went back to tempting mankind. God counters by offering repentance. Satan counters through persuasion
that our sins are beyond forgiveness. And so the conflict goes on.
In our conflict with Satan, we too need an effective
strategy for out-maneuvering him
But this is not a physical
contact war. This is war of words. This is a conflict of ideas. This is a struggle for control over the hearts of men. This
is a mind game. We are bombarded with persuasive words coming from both sides; one to follow the plan of God, our Father,
and the other to follow the plan of Satan. Unfortunately, however, in this contest for our souls, God plays fair; Satan
doesn't. Satan uses deceit, trickery, lies, half-truths and any other under-handed tactic he can think of in order to win.
In the very beginning of the battle on earth, he offered Eve that which was forbidden
by God. She told him, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in
the midst of the garden, God has said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said
unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die" (genesis 3:2-4). Satan called God a liar, while it was he who was doing the
lying! What audacity! And, Eve herself later admitted she had been beguiled (deceived, tricked) by the devil (Genesis 3:13).
makes this battle even worse is that Satan changes his strategy from person to person. To some he will lure them with the
pleasures of the world, while others he will lure them into a vow of poverty. To some he will tempt with the praises of
men, while others he will persuade to shun notoriety. To some he will entice to do wickedness, while others he will entice
to act godly. While God is consistent, Satan will whisper whatever he thinks the person wants to hear, carefully leading
them off the road to salvation. He even uses such words as "love", "peace", "unity" and other
similar terms to mislead some into thinking they are serving God, when, in reality, they are falling prey to God's arch
we recognize Satan when he makes his move? Although at times it can be obvious, there are other times when his attempts to
lead us astray are very subtle. However, if he is going to persuade us to follow him, then he must convince us in some way
to accept his ideas. This is why it's important for us to understand the nature of the war in heaven. The first rule in
any contest is to know your opponent. In the National Football League, one team will play another team once each weekend.
But during the rest of the week, each team reviews video tapes of its upcoming opponent's previous games to understand their
strategy and how to counter it. In any military conflict, it is of tremendous value for one side to learn as much as it can
about the other side's goals, plans and tactics. And so it is in our conflict with Satan.
that motivates Satan is pride - self righteous, arrogant, conceited, egotistical pride. It's the type of pride that seeks
for the praise of others and the type that pursues power, with the intent to gain control over people. It's this type of
pride that, when things don't go their way, causes such people to become angry, seek revenge, act disobedient and rebel
against authority. These are Satan's trademarks. Closely associated with these are the tendencies of fear, doubt, and despair.
On the other hand, God's trademarks are love, service, peace, patience and humility, with its accompanying tendencies of
hope, faith, and courage.
Consider how Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness.
The first two temptations, as recorded in Matthew, begin with, "If ye be the son of God" (Matthew
4:3-9) IF! Satan was taunting Jesus. He was trying to provoke him to pride in order to prove His
divine calling. This is what Satan was trying to do to Jesus. It would have been so easy for Christ to pridefully say, "I'll
show you!" But He didn't. When the first two attempts at this failed, Satan then tried to tempt the Savior with the
lure of power and glory.
Whenever we see these negative tendencies
in others, or in ourselves, we can then be sure that such people have become followers of Satan, knowingly or unwittingly.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, we see this type of behavior among those who claim to be followers of God because Satan has
successfully deceived many into thinking they are serving God while performing ungodly deeds. Outwardly this type of religious
person may seem to be pious in their appearance and actions, but when something goes against their beliefs, they become
a totally different person. For that matter, I'm sure Satan himself is nice enough when things are going his way. But when
people disagree with him, or he doesn't get what he wants, then all hell breaks loose in a violent rage.
and Sadducees of Christ's day are an outstanding example of this. They walked about acting pious, but inwardly they craved
the praise of men. They wanted people to view them as wise men of understanding, both spiritually and temporally, and, as
such, they always sat in the chief seats wherever they went. They acted dignified and holy in public, until Jesus dared
to correct their misguided notions and point out their hypocrisy. Then, instead of behaving as men of God should, they became
angry, bitter, vile, and viscous, even to the point of murder.
much of religious history we have seen horrible acts of savagery committed in the name of God. Today Jews and Arabs kill
each other in the Middle East because of religion. Catholics and Protestants kill each other in Ireland. Moslems and Serbs
kill each other in Bosnia. In America there are many Christian churches who seem to behave quite piously but who become
extremely hostile with other religions. They don't just doctrinally disagree with others, they openly attack them. Playing
into the hands of Satan, religion and race are tools used by Satan to keep man in confusion. Satan has very successfully
used religion to deceive people into following him.
But what about those who truly seek to do good in their lives. I know many Christians
who genuinely show forth the fruits of the Spirit and are totally lacking the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:17, 22). Has
Satan also led them away from the true path of salvation? Perhaps to some extent he has, but they haven't become his followers.
Instead, "these are they who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men". In such
cases Satan hasn't completely succeeded in his goal; he has only achieved a limited, and somewhat hollow victory.
To be tempted by the pleasures of the world is one thing; to become a follower
of Satan is quite another. However, one of Satan's successful strategies is to use the normal temptations of life to lead
us into his camp. Yet once there, it becomes difficult for people to see their error. They become blinded to the truth and
become defenders of that which is evil. That's why God has given us commandments. Following them is our safeguard against
Satan's slick, deceptive ways. When we fail to follow them, we tend to give into temptations easier, which plays into the
hands of the very person who seeks to destroy us. Paul taught that even Christians aren't exempt from this kind of strategy
(I Timothy 5:15).
"We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost
all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion".
This happens even to those who hold the priesthood of God. Unfortunately, we see husbands who are dictatorial with their
wife and children, local priesthood leaders who are rebellious of church authority, and members who are critical of their
faith. This type of behavior is not from God, but, rather, indicates that such a person is following the plan of Satan.
However, we don't have to become egotistical to be a disciple of Satan. Remember,
his goal is to make us miserable as he is. Can someone be truly happy when they possess the attributes of fear, despair,
hopelessness, self pity, pessimism, and doubt? And can people be miserable when they are filled with hope, faith, optimism,
self-confidence, and courage? The answer to both questions is no! Fear and doubt don't come from God, and neither can hope
and faith come from Satan. Therefore, whatever produces these tendencies tells us a lot about what source they come from.
is it important for us to understand the war in heaven? Without an understanding of who we are, why we are here and where
we are going, we can more easily be deceived into following the very person we should flee from. Without an understanding
of our adversary, we go into battle unprepared for the fight. Without an understanding of the nature of the conflict, we
blindly fall into Satan's trap.