Martin Luther Collection: Luther, Martin - A Mighty Fortress Is Our God: CHAPTER VII: SATAN AND THE PEOPLE OF GOD

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Martin Luther Collection: Luther, Martin - A Mighty Fortress Is Our God: CHAPTER VII: SATAN AND THE PEOPLE OF GOD

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The work of Satan as it relates to the Christian is that he is lying to and deceiving them about the results of their choice between independence from God and submission to Him; he is hindering their work and witness and he is accusing them before God. These activities fall under the two main titles of the Wicked One in his unceasing warfare against the people of God, which titles are: (1) Adversary and (2) Accuser.


The name Satan means “adversary-one who opposes another in purpose or act.” (Thayer’s Greek Definitions) This work of opposition as it is directed toward the people of God takes to main forms: (1) Lying and Deceiving, and (2) Hindering.

Lying and Deceiving

Satanic opposition to the people of God takes the form of lying to and deceiving them about the end result of their choice between independence and autonomy from God (relying on the flesh) or their duty of submission to God. Satan would have every Christian believe that they will only be happy, fulfilled, even spiritual and godly only by fulfilling the desires of the flesh (being carnal) (Rom_8:7; 1Co_3:1-4; Eph_2:3). But the Scriptures are clear that this is fatal for the Christian-it is the sin unto death (1Jn_5:16 and see above). The only two things Satan likes better than a carnal Christian is (1) a sinner’s soul in Hell and (2) his throne setting in the place of God’s.

Another way that Satan deceives both the unregenerate and the people of God is by appearing good and harmless. Spiritual believers are weary of hearing “its just a little fun,” or “it is a matter of preference, no one should judge,” or “since the Bible does not speak directly about it, it is fine.” God’s Word is clear: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” (2Co_11:13-15) “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils (demons).” (1Ti_4:1)


The Devil is tirelessly at work to hinder the work and witness of the believer in Christ. “Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.” (1Th_2:18) “Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.” (Rom_1:13) “For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you.” (Rom_15:22) The apostle Paul was intimately familiar with the hindering power of Satan and every sincere Christian who is busy at the work that God has given him to do knows this satanic hindrance as well.


From the time of Job who was falsely accused by Satan before the throne of God, until the time that he is removed once and for all from God’s holy presence, the Devil has accused the people of God. When this evil work of Satan is finally ended, Heaven itself will break forth in praise. “And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.”

The Christian can do nothing to stop this evil work of Satan. However, our Lord Jesus is both our Advocate and Intercessor. He it is that pleads His own blood on our behalf. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1Jn_1:8-10; 1Jn_2:1-2) “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” (Rom_8:34) “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Heb_7:25)

The Believer’s Position “In Christ”

From the believer’s position in Christ, Satan can do nothing to him except by Divine permission and that only for our good. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Rom_8:28) The verse, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (Jam_4:7), has been misquoted and misunderstood by many. Let it be said loud and clear: THE CHRISTIAN HAS NOTHING WITH WHICH TO RESIST THE DEVIL IN SUCH A WAY THAT HE WILL BE SO AFRAID AS TO RUN AWAY! The way in which believers are required to resist the Devil is twofold: (1) by reliance upon the power of the Holy Spirit, and (2) by remaining separate from the evil, satanic world system, the cosmos diabolicus.

Reliance Upon the Holy Spirit

God has imparted to the Christian no inherent power to fight Satan. The believer’s only power against the Devil is not his power at all, but the power of the Holy Spirit residing within his body. In the book, Changed Into His Image, Jim Berg discusses the unconditional requirement that the child of God rely on the Spirit of God for all spiritual power.

That leadership of the Spirit toward Christlikeness takes place as we obey Paul’s admonition in Eph_5:18 to “be filled with [controlled by] the Spirit.” The Greek verb he uses in this passage for “filled” is an imperative. That mean sit is a command. God must command us to yield to the Holy Spirit’s control because we are not automatically so inclined. We naturally wish to control ourselves.

The Greek verb is also in the present tense. That means it is something that should be continually happening in the present-here and now. It should be an ongoing action. It means “keep on being filled with (controlled by) the Spirit.” Lastly, it is also a verb that is in the passive voice, meaning that Someone else does the empowering. It is done to us. We do not do it ourselves. The Holy Spirit is the One who empowers us when we choose to cooperate with Him. The filling of the Spirit refers to the supernatural work of the Spirit within the believer whereby that believer is enabled or empowered to become like Christ (sanctification) and become useful to Christ (service). (Jim Berg, Changed into His Image, pg. 8)

Separation From the Cosmos

Since the believer is not part of the cosmos, but has been saved out of it, it remains the Christian’s duty to keep himself from all aspects of it except from the obvious fact that he must live here, among the people of the cosmos as a witness as long as it pleases God to keep him here. Concerning this, God has spoken and no further comment is necessary. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Rom_12:2) “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.” (Gal_1:4) “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col_1:13) “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (Jam_1:27) “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. (Jam_4:4) “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2Pe_1:4) “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.” (2Pe_2:20)

The Believer’s Victory Over Satan

Jesus Christ has won the victory over Satan. He is the defeated enemy of God. In order for the believer to enter into this victory, only one thing is necessary, that which is abundantly simple, the same thing which brought us into the family of God in the first place-faith. “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. (1Jn_4:4) “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. (1Jn_5:4)

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom_8:31-39)