In his book The Art of War, Sun Tze writes, “Know thyself, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.” ( 知己知彼,百战不殆。… 不知彼, 不知己, 百战必殆。) In order to win a battle, one has to know him-self as well as his enemy. Failure to do so will result in sure defeat.

I received the following question on Monday in my email – “How should we understand Satan’s role and abilities in the light of the Holy Scriptures?” This is a pertinent question for all believers. We are engaged in a spiritual warfare. Thus, it is necessary for us to know the enemy if we seek to emerge victorious in this battle.

The infallible guide to know our enemy is none other than the Holy Scriptures. The Bible teaches much about our adversary and his demons. These include:

  • The origin, nature and position of angels.
  • The original state of Satan and his fall.
  • The names of Satan and what they reveal about him.
  • The character of Satan.
  • Satan’s present power and activity.
  • The duties of demons.
  • Our defense against Satan and the demons.
  • The end of Satan and the demons.

It is not possible to give a full treatment to the question within the confines of the weekly However, this week, it would be profitable for us to consider briefly the activity of Satan against different parties in this present age. (Material drawn and adapted from C. Fred Dickason)
Activity of Satan against God

  • Opposes God’s Person. Satan fell because he wanted to be like the most high God. (Isaiah 14:12-17) After his fall, he constantly seeks to op-pose God’s person and character. He is the one drives the antichrist spirit that is present in the world. This spirit is embodied and exemplified in the person of the Antichrist whom Satan will empower during the Great Tribulation. The prefix “anti” speaks of how the Antichrist desires to oppose and replace the one living and true God. 2 Thessalonians 2:4 tells us that the Antichrist of the Great Tribulation will oppose and exalt himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God will sit in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.Another example of Satan opposing God’s person and character can be seen in the court scene of Job 1-2. Satan directly confronted God, saying, “Doth Job fear God for nought?” (Job 1:9) By accusing the character of Job, Satan was insinuating that God was biased and unjustified in his dealings with Job.
  • Opposes God’s Work. This can be seen in Satan’s temptation of Christ in the wilderness of Judah in Matthew 4. The synoptic gospels also records his various attempts to prevent Jesus from going to the cross. One such attempt resulted in Jesus giving a sharp rebuke to Peter. “. . . Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.” (Mark 8:33). Satan also infiltrates churches by promoting (1) false ministers (2 Corinthians 11:13-15), (2) false doctrine (1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Peter 2:1, 15), (3) antichrists (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3) and (4) false believers (Matthew 13:38-39).


Activity of Satan against the Nations

  • Deceives the nations of the world. In Revelation 12:9, Satan is described as one who “deceiveth the whole world”. He is constantly deceiving the nations, directing them away from God and His Word, His agenda is to counteract God’s sovereign rule and plan. Satan also uses his demons to influence and direct the affairs of the nations. For example, Daniel 10:13 records a war that occurs between the godly angels and a fallen angel known as “the prince of the kingdom of Persia”.At the end of the Great Tribulation, Satan will be bound for a thousand years so that he will not deceive the nations anymore (Revelation 20:3). However, once he is released after the thousand years, Satan will immediately proceed to deceive the nations again, gathering them for a final war against Jesus Christ (Revelation 20:7-10).

Activity of Satan against the Unbelievers

  • Prevents the acceptance and understanding of God’s Word. In the parable of Christ in Matthew 13, Christ taught his disciples of “the wicked one” who will snatch the seed of the Word from the hearts of men. Satan will do his utmost to prevent men from understanding the gospel so that they will not believe the Scriptures and find salvation. He is thus labelled by the Apostle Paul as the god of this world who will blind the minds of people concerning the truth (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).
  • Promotes attraction to falsehood. This includes promotion of false religions and doctrines (1 Timothy 4:1-3) as well as false philosophies and lifestyles (Ephesians 2:1-3; 1 John 2:15-17). Satan is the one who energises the “sons of disobedience” to pursue the course of the world (Ephesians 2:3).

Activity of Satan against the Saints

  • Engages in spiritual warfare. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
  • Accuses and slanders God’s people. The name “devil” (diabolos) means “a slanderer”. Satan’s slanderous activity can be seen in how he accused Job (Job 1-2) and the high priest Joshua (Zechariah 3) before God. He is called the accuser of the brethren in Revelation 12:10. Nevertheless, God will defend the saints. The Bible tells us that the Lord Jesus is the faithful and unfailing advocate for all true believers (1 John 2:1-2).
  • Casts doubt on God’s Word. Satan will diligently seek to cast doubt on God’s Word, making us question His goodness and faithfulness. See how Satan casted doubt on God’s Word in Genesis 3:1-5. With the double-forked tongue of a serpent, he proclaims, “Yea, hath God said?”
  • Tempts Christians to sin. Satan is the age-old tempter (Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5). He will seek to corrupt the testimony of Christ in the saints by tempting them . . .
    • To lie (Acts 5:3)
    • To commit fornication and adultery (1 Corinthians 7:5)
    •  To be occupied with the cares of the world (1 John 2:15-17)
    • To be proud and rely on human wisdom (1 Chronicles 21:1-8; 1 Timothy 3:6)
    • To be discouraged (1 Peter 5:6-10)
  • Incites persecution. The book of Acts contains various accounts of the saints experiencing persecution because of the faith. The book of Revelation also records how the devil persecuted the church of Smyrna, and sent some of the believers into the prison. Indeed, all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12).
  • Hinders service. Satan will try to cast a spanner in the works when believers seek to labour for Christ. Consider the testimony of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:18 – “Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.” (1 Thessalonians 2:18) There is an old Chinese saying that was often quoted by Rev. Timothy Tow – “When God works, Satan also works”.
  • Infiltrates the church. Satan will attempt to infiltrate the church via false teachers (2 Corinthians 11:13-15; 2 Peter 2:1-19), false doctrine (1 Timothy 4:1-3; Galatians 1) or false disciples (Matthew 13:38-39). He will spare no effort to create ungodly strife and division in the church. The Corinthian church is an example of how a partisan spirit can develop in a congregation when man seeks to promote self rather than Christ when in reality they were severely lacking in spiritual knowledge and maturity (see 2 Corinthians 2:10-11). Problems can also occur when there is sin in the camp. For example, tale-bearing and gossiping seemed to be a problem of the Jewish church as seen in James 3.


Satan is a crafty and powerful enemy. Nevertheless, Satan is not omnipotent like God. In Job 1-2, the Bible teaches us that Satan can do nothing without God’s permission. The believer can stand against the wiles of the devil when he puts on the armour of God (Ephesians 6:11).

Dearly beloved, Satan is the age-old serpent who is most adept in lying, tempting and deceiving (John 8:44; Revelation 12:9; 20:3; Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5 ). He has been observing man since the garden of Eden. Consider how one should proceed to trap and deceive a man. You observe his weaknesses and plan accordingly. So similarly, Satan as the master of deception, and the highly intelligent and skilful observer of men, will know our shortcomings and predispositions intimately. He will then tempt us according to our weaknesses. Let us beware and turn to God for help against our adversary! “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)

Do not overestimate or underestimate the power of Satan. Study the Holy Scriptures and understand what he seeks to do. Do not be complacent but be always vigilant and watchful. “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3) Beware thine enemy!

Lovingly in Christ,
Preacher Clement Chew



  • C. Fred Dickason, Angels: Elect & Evil, rev. and expanded ed., (Chicago: Moody, 1995).
  • Renald E. Showers, Those Invisible Spirits Called Angels, (Bellmawr: The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, 1997).