In the Spirit’s power, according to God’s Word, and with God’s armor, we must fight against two deadly enemies, the world and the flesh, in order to help advance the kingdom (Rom. 12:2; Gal. 5:16–26; Eph. 6:10–20). Ultimately, however, these two foes exist only because the Devil introduced sin into creation, tempting Adam to plunge humanity into evil. Satan is the third — and chief — enemy of God’s people.
Sometimes it is hard to recall the threat the Devil poses. Popular culture, after all, trivializes him as one who sits on shoulders of cartoon characters and comically whispers into their ears, twirling his pointed tail. Such depictions suggest that Satan is easily overcome, but God’s Word paints a far different picture. He is a lion on the prowl who seeks people to devour, indicating his strength (1 Peter 5:8). We realize that he is intimidating indeed when we see that he commands a demonic army (Eph. 6:11–12) and appears as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14).
In ourselves, we are no match for Satan. God Almighty, however, reigns supreme and is powerful enough to defeat the Devil, who is merely a creature. Christianity does not affirm a dualism that says the Lord and the Devil are equal in power; rather, the Devil ultimately serves the will of the Creator (Job 1–2).
Regarding Satan’s specific threat to us, one of his chief works is to tempt us to sin (Gen. 3:1–7). But the Devil is also “the accuser of the brethren” (Rev. 12:10), and accusation is his favorite weapon against believers. Each time we sin, Satan and his minions tell us that we are so awful that the Lord could never forgive us.
Today’s passage illustrates the Devil’s role as the accuser and what can be done to beat him back when he goes for our throats. Satan comes to accuse the high priest Joshua of his sin and filthiness. But the Lord rebukes Satan, reminding the Enemy that He has snatched Joshua from the fires of judgment. The Lord then clothes Joshua with a clean robe (vv. 1–5), giving the Adversary no further ground upon which he can stand and legitimately accuse the high priest of sin.
Of course, this text alludes to the righteousness of Jesus, the garment with which God clothes the repentant. If we are in Christ by repentance and faith alone, we can rightly remind Satan that none of his accusations can stand against us.