Growing into spiritual maturity is no easy journey. There are many obstacles that attempt to hinder our progress, including the world and the flesh. Today, we will examine the final hurdle to be overcome: the Devil.
Unfortunately, popular culture seems more obsessed with trivializing Satan than with representing him accurately. Often, he is depicted as having horns and a tail and as one whom men can easily conquer. Yet Scripture never depicts the Devil in this manner. We are told, for example, that he is a lion who is on the prowl, searching for his prey (1 Peter 5:8), which is a metaphor for his power. He is more intimidating when we consider that he commands an army of demons (Eph. 6:11–12) and often appears as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14).
Satan is more than a match for us in and of ourselves. Thankfully, however, this is not true of the Lord God Almighty. No matter his strength, the Devil is merely a creature. The Christian faith does not teach a dualism where the Devil is equal to God in power; rather, Satan and his minions are subject to the will of our Creator (Job 1–2). They can only go as far as the Lord allows, and their work is included, mysteriously, within God’s sovereign plan to redeem His creation.
Temptation is perhaps the most well-known work of Satan (Gen. 3:1–7), but equally potent are his actions as the “accuser of the brethren” (Rev. 12:10). Zechariah 3:1–5 is an excellent illustration of the Devil’s role as our accuser. Satan accuses the high priest Joshua of his sin (v. 1). As in Joshua’s day, our enemy comes to us when we have transgressed God’s law, telling us that we cannot be forgiven and have been rendered useless in our Father’s kingdom.
The Lord’s response is to rebuke Satan (v. 2), reminding the Devil that He has plucked Joshua from the flames of divine wrath. Then God dresses Joshua in pure garments (vv. 3–5), an act that pictures how our Father clothes His people with Christ’s perfect righteousness. Therefore, we who live a life of repentance in Christ must not allow Satan’s accusations to prevent us from fulfilling God’s commands. Instead, we must remember that no accusation can stand against us as we confess and forsake our transgressions (Isa. 54:17; 1 John 1:8–9).