Satan, the enemy of our souls, understands that the key to any battle plan—if an army wishes to render their enemy powerless—is to first divide and then conquer. Therefore, we know that one of Satan’s primary strategies is to keep the body of Christ divided and powerless. Jesus proclaimed very clearly that Satan’s kingdom could not stand if it were to be divided: “But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?’” (Matt. 12:25-27) Don’t think for a moment that Satan does not also understand this truth!
Let us consider the following Scripture for a moment: “…in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” (2 Cor. 2:11, NIV) I remember reading this Scripture as a young believer and thinking to myself, “What schemes?” God began to open my eyes to some of Satan’s schemes. One of his greatest schemes is to keep the church divided.
There is a saying these days: “You got played!” It means that someone else has manipulated you into doing their bidding. For far too long the church has been getting “played” by the enemy with regard to Christian unity. I have attended hundreds of churches and have heard thousands of sermons in the search for Christian unity; I can honestly say that I have heard more sermons that seemed to be directed at other churches, denominations and Christian brethren than I have heard preached against Satan. Have we truly lost sight of who the real enemy of mankind is?
Ever since Jesus taught that “the kingdom of God is within you,” (Luke 17:21) Christianity has become so personal and individualized that it has lost much of its outward focus and purpose. For this reason, I believe that the Christian church has lost sight of the worldwide spiritual battle that is going on around us and what part we are to play in it. While it is very true that we are in a battle for the individual souls of mankind, this was intended to serve a much bigger agenda. Our individual conversion was not intended to just be about us; we were recruited and enlisted as soldiers in a spiritual army. [2 Tim. 2:4] It is not a coincidence that the Scriptures are full of references to warfare and the use of military terms. However, our enemies are the spiritual forces of wickedness in the spiritual realm [Eph. 6:10-18] and the objective is for authority and dominion over this present creation. This war has been constantly waged since the Garden of Eden. We also believe this war will reach a climax in our generation. Therefore, in order for us to understand our role in this conflict, let us start from the beginning – or in this case, before the beginning.
Prior to his rebellion and subsequent fall, Satan was an anointed Cherub named Lucifer – an angelic being who was full of wisdom and beauty. It appears that he even walked in Eden, the garden of God, prior to his fall. [See Ezek. 28] However, the power and authority he had been bestowed with was apparently not enough and he attempted to overthrow God. [See Isa. 14]
After God created the heavens and the earth, He gave dominion and authority to mankind (under His Lordship) over all of His creation. [Gen 1:26] It appears that Satan, who had by then fallen out of favor with God, did not like the fact that God gave this power and authority to mankind, since it was his lust for power and authority that caused his downfall in the first place.
However, when Satan—disguised as a serpent—got Adam and Eve to transgress their covenant with God by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, when Adam sinned, he ceded man’s dominion of the kingdoms of this world to Satan. We can see this in Christ’s temptation in the wilderness.
During Christ’s second temptation, Satan took him onto a high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.” (Luke 4:6) Jesus never once disputed this claim. After all, Christ could not have been tempted with something that Satan did not have the authority to give. On three separate occasions, Jesus referred to Satan as “the ruler of this world” [John 12:31, John 14:30 and John 16:11] Paul refers to Satan as “the god of this age.” (2 Cor. 4:4)
However, after the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, God made the following prophetic promise: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” (Gen. 3:15) Here we must understand the dual application of this Scripture.
While theologians have correctly interpreted this prophesy to mean that Adam’s seed, Christ [Luke 3:23-38], would disarm the spiritual forces of wickedness at the cross, [Col. 2:14-15] it also refers to mankind as the seed of Adam. Christ has ascended into heaven [Acts 1:9] and has given this authority to His followers. [Matt. 28:18, Mark 13:34, Luke 10:19-20 and Rev. 2:26] The advancement of His kingdom over the kingdom of darkness is what we are to be advancing and praying for. [Matt 6:10] Of all the things that Satan is trying to prevent, this has to be priority number one.
Satan’s strategy from the very beginning was to stop the Kingdom of God from being manifested upon this earth. Since the fall of man, God has been working to reestablish man’s dominion over the kingdoms of the world under His Lordship. We can clearly see repeatedly through biblical history that Satan has tried to prevent the kingdom of God from advancing.
1. He first tried to get Pharaoh (a type of Satan) to murder Moses (a type of Christ and mediator of the first covenant) as a baby. He was responsible for the mass genocide of children. [See Ex. 1:15-22] He failed!
2. Next he tried to get Herod (a type of Satan) to murder Christ (who is the Christ and mediator of the second covenant) as a baby. He was also responsible for the mass genocide of children. [See Matt. 2:16] He failed again.
Even though Satan failed to stop Christ by having him murdered as a child, he did not quit when he suffered that defeat. Even though he failed to kill both Moses and Jesus as children in order to prevent the kingdom of God from advancing even further, he knew that he could still succeed if he could get Him to sin and disqualify Himself from being the spotless lamb who would die for our sins. Again, he failed. [See Matt. 4:1-11] Since he could not get Christ to sin, he tried to stop Him from fulfilling the mission that He was sent here to accomplish—dying on the cross for the sins of mankind. [See Matt. 16:21-23] Again, he failed.
Since all of Satan’s attempts to derail Christ failed, he has had to “settle” for the next best thing: going after mankind. He first does this by attempting to keep people from being saved. In the parable of the sower, Jesus taught us that the birds of the air that stole the seeds were in reality Satan, who tries to steal the Word of God that is laid upon the hearts of mankind so that they fail to receive salvation. [Luke 8:12]
Even so, Satan is not entirely successful. However, he does have one last card up his sleeve. If he could not kill Christ or keep from going to the cross and he cannot succeed in keeping people from getting saved, his last line of defense is to keep those who do believe from being united or, as Jesus put it, “One.” This is, in fact, Satan’s last stand. He has no ground left to give! It is his last stronghold!
Once the universal church understands these truths, Satan will be crushed under the feet of the church and this will usher in the end of the church age. The Apostle Paul told us, “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions… and the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.” (Rom. 16:17-20) Note what Paul said here: “the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.” He did not say that it has already happened. The church must regain the understanding that Satan is the sower of disunity. Therefore he must be exposed and rooted out of his last remaining stronghold before the church will experience the fullness of the glory of God.