Should We Fear Satan?
Anxiety disorders are the number one mental health problem of the world; so fear is a very serious issue that we’re dealing with. Fear of anything other than God is mutually exclusive to faith in God. That’s how important it is. Fear is a powerful motivator—for both good and evil. We’re going to culminate this with some real steps you can take to overcome some of the irrational phobias that have developed from childhood.
Fear has to have an object. We categorize fear by its object. In order for the fear object to be legitimate, it has to have some power or presence that threatens your inner self. Fear shows up for our protection, but in order for fear to be legitimate, it must be both potent and imminent. All you have to do is take away just one of those attributes, and it no longer functions as a fear object.
If you could have a way to test this, I’m confident that almost any church you would go to in America, the people there have a much greater sense of fear of Satan than they do of God. When you fear Satan more than God, you are elevating Satan as a greater object of worship.
If someone walked into see a secular psychologist and said they were struggling with some fear issues and hearing voices, they would automatically be diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic—and prescription medicine is more than likely how the psychologist would deal with it. Now the problem with that is understanding what mental health/mental illness is. Most mental health workers define being mentally healthy as being in touch with reality and relatively free of anxiety. Let’s look at that for a moment. In touch with reality. What is reality? Or rather, WHO is reality? The ultimate reality is God; nothing exists apart from Him. And relatively free of anxiety—there are 25 uses of the word “anxiety” in Scripture, 5 of which are positive. The point that’s made is that, if you have an important exam or if your child is late coming home one evening, you should feel a bit of anxiety. You should pray or study or do whatever you need to do; this anxiety prompts you to respond responsibly to whatever crisis you may find yourself in. That’s a God-given thing!
Unfortunately any kind of conflict that we have with Satan results in an emotional response of fear—if you don’t know the truth. So how should you understand mental health from a true, Christian perspective? I agree that you should be in touch with reality. If you were a mentally healthy person as a Christian, you would have a true concept of God and a true concept of who you are in Christ. If you knew that God loved you, had forgiven you, was everywhere present, was omnipotent, that you were His child, that you were seated with Christ in the heavenlies, that you have authority to carry out the work that He had, that you have a peace of God guiding your heart and mind in Christ Jesus, and your life is characterized by the fruit of the spirit—would you be a mentally healthy person? Absolutely. Christianity is a proponent of mental health—of a mind that is at peace knowing you forgiven, loved, and accepted unconditionally.
Now, I don’t want to minimize the fear of Satan because the truth of the matter is that it paralyzes people in fear all around the world, and it has ever since the Fall. At the beginning of creation, God created Adam and Eve to rule over the birds of the sky, the beasts of the field, and the fish of the sea, but when they sinned, they forfeited that. And the devil became the god of this world, a title that Jesus gave him. In the Old Testament, essentially there was only one kingdom. God’s effort at that time to thwart that was to bring prophets to call the people back to God; however, the kingdom of God isn’t really introduced until Christ is on the scene. So the whole world lay in the power of the evil one until Jesus returned.
You can’t have two kingdoms side by side operating together. You cannot have two sovereigns ruling in the same sphere at the same time; so that had to be solved. God had told us at that time that Satan was the ruler of this world, “the prince of power of the air.” In setting up for the church-age, Jesus chose the 12 and called them to follow him. For a year they followed Him. Then it comes to a very defining point in Luke 9 where He sends the 12 out on their own. Luke 9:1-2 tells us, “And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.”
When it comes to kingdom-thinking, there is no bigger issue than authority: who has the right to rule? Satan has been disarmed, yet he still has power and presence—but he is no longer potent! He was defeated at the cross. The church was elevated to be seated with Christ in the heavenlies, and it’s that position that Jesus could say to the church, “Go into all the world and make disciples.” But you can’t give the Great Commission without the previous verse, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples… (Matthew 28:18-19). You can’t delegate responsibility without authority. The power is ours too as stated Ephesians 1; He prays that our eyes would be opened and that we would know the power that has been extended toward us who believe. Now that is something that every believer possess. Listen, beloved; this is the answer for every child of God that exists. Being seated with Christ in the heavenlies is not some “pie in the sky” theology, but it is the position that we have in Christ that guarantees that we have authority—not over each other—but over the kingdom of darkness.
Satan is the father of lies. The essential battle where spiritual warfare takes place is in our minds. People are paying attention to deceiving spirits. People are seeing things in their rooms that are frightening them; people are hearing voices. Paul says in 1 Timothy 4:1, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.” Psychologists and psychiatrists call this a chemical imbalance. But how could a chemical produce a personality and a thought? How can our neurotransmitters randomly fire to create a thought you are opposed to thinking? Do you have a natural explanation for that? There isn’t one. You may narcotize the voices and quiet them down with medications, but now the patient’s ability to think and reason has gone out the window with it. Take away the medicine, and the voices are back. So you haven’t solved anything! In my experience, I have sat with hundreds and hundreds of people who are hearing voices and struggling with their thoughts to help them submit to God, resist the devil, go through our Steps to Freedom, and they walk home free. The best way to see the effectiveness is when I ask them to close their eyes and think about if it is quiet in their mind. This is where our the battle is; this is where the fear is eminating from—our minds! There isn’t a monster in this room with arms and longs; the devil doesn’t have any physical bodies around. If you know the truth, it will set you free.
There’s not a verse in the Bible instructing us to fear Satan; we’re to fear God. Omnipresent. Omnipotent. Jesus has instructed us to look at his hands, his side, his feet; he has taken the sting. The devil may be roaring around like a hungry lion, but he is impotent. The only power he has is what we give to him. Sometimes you hear things about spiritual warfare, and a little knowledge may frighten you—but the truth will set you free.
I have had my fair share of interesting spiritual attacks, I can assure you. One of the more interesting ones took me a while to understand. Let me first share a passage from Job 4:12-17, “Now a word was brought to me stealthily; my ear received the whisper of it. Amid thoughts from visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, dread came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones shake. A spirit glided past my face; the hair of my flesh stood up. It stood still, but I could not discern its appearance. A form was before my eyes; there was silence, then I heard a voice: ‘Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker?’” Folks, that is not the Holy Spirit. God doesn’t come to us stealthily; this is a classic illustration of the accuser of the brethren. This kind of attack happens all over the world. I often ask this question at speaking events all over the nation, “How many have been awakened at a precise time at night—like 3 in the morning?” Every time, there is at least a third of the crowd who raises their hand, and I assure them that this is a spiritual attack. If it happens again and again at a precise time, there isn’t a natural explanation for that.
The devil will do everything he can to remain under cover, but as soon as he’s exposed then it will go into some type of pretense of power. The whole point of that is to frighten you where fear is now controlling your life rather than faith. Stand your ground! Stand firmly in Christ and don’t be intimidated by that. We have the authority to do God’s will. Every believer can either walk by the Spirit or walk by the flesh.
I can give you information, but if you’re looking for transformation, you need an encounter with God. I don’t want to minimize anything—we’re up against the world, the flesh, and the devil; there is a lot of opposition to being a fruit-bearing Christian. And the more fruit-bearing you do, the more opposition you may even experience, but you can’t let that stop you. The more dependent upon God you become, the more peace you will have in your life. This is the eternal battle—the whole Bible is between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of God’s beloved Son, and we’re in that battle whether you like it or not! You can’t passively do it. You can’t put on the armor of God passively, and when you’re putting on the armor of God, you’re putting on the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our provision and protection; that’s our sanctuary—our spiritual position in Christ. This is our victory! And the devil doesn’t want you to know that. As soon as you realize who you are in Christ and the position that you have in Christ, the battle essentially is won; it’s already been won by Christ! There is power in knowing who you are in Christ and having the authority to do His will. This should be Christianity 101, and it is almost like new teaching in the church today.
This is so critically important. The truth will set you free, but you can’t have partial truths. You have to have the whole truth. You have to know who God is and know who you are.