READ: Psalm 124, Zechariah 3, Matthew 6, 1 Timothy 1
REBUKING THE DEVIL
In the ministry we have some powerful enemies. Zechariah tells the story of post-exilic high priest Joshua standing before the presence of the Lord, with Satan standing on his right hand to oppose him (Zech. 3:1). It is interesting to note that God’s election does not mean His isolation from trouble, oppression, or resistance. If we are strolling along through life without any spiritual warfare against us, it usually signifies we are of no threat to the powers of darkness. Incredible demonic resistance and opposition is ever the hallmark of those who best advance the Kingdom.
Where Kingdom advancers often stumble, however, is in their response to Satan’s opposition. It is far too common to hear Christians today trying to rebuke the devil rather than letting Jesus do it. “The Lord said to Satan, ‘The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you’” (3:2)! This is a sentiment echoed by Michael the archangel in Jude 9. We have no business thinking we, in our own strength, can dominate the devil. If the Lord had not been who was on our side, we would have been swallowed alive, overwhelmed, and soul drowned (Psalm 124:1-5). When Satan opposes us (and he will), we are to let Jesus defend us. We do this by not saying much to the devil other than: “The Lord rebuke you!” It is easy to fall into the trap of giving too much attention to the devil. We ignore Satan not because he is insignificant; we ignore him for he is too powerful for us to deal with in our pitiful strength. The only way to deal with Satan is to refer him to a higher power: “Take your accusation to Jesus, you slimy serpent. I am under His protection. He will answer for me!” Those that engage in a battle of wits with Satan always lose. Those that refer Satan to Jesus (for the Lord’s rebuke) ever win.
Referring Satan back to the Lord keeps us humble. When we are used of God, we too quickly assume it is because we are strong or capable of opposing Satan. We are not and never will be strong, which is why the critical philosophical base of our spiritual warfare is the understanding that God is the one who rebukes and defeats the devil. We are used of God [and the glorious gospel of the blessed God is committed to our trust (1 Tim. 1:11)] because we are weak. God enables us, counts us faithful, and puts us in the ministry (1 Tim. 1:12) as He did for Paul, as a pattern of grace (v. 16). Paul for all the prowess kept two things in perspective: God allowed him to minister although he FORMERLY was a blasphemer and insolent man (v. 13) and although he PRESENTLY (v. 15) is the chief of sinners. The other reason we don’t dare take on Satan is because his opposing accusations are true. We can’t legally defend ourselves, we are guilty; so we just refer Satan to Jesus. Satan’s rebuke is the prevailing blood of Jesus. We rebuke Satan by pleading the precious blood.