Since his cosmic rebellion, Satan’s obsession has been to disrupt God’s fellowship with the apple of His creative eye; the very focus and pinnacle of time’s explosive, opening week – mankind.
His tactics of impediment are of record for the sake of informed, counter-combat.
The Garden Tactic – Confuse God’s Mandate (Genesis 3:1)
Satan’s initial disruption involved Woman (Eve) and her understanding of God’s expectation (“Yea, hath God said?”). He is careful not to ridicule her spiritual sensitivities, only to cast doubt on her limited perspective (see Scripturosity article “Yea, Hath God Said?”). “Can you be confident that the words are preserved rightly as given by God (Eve was not created when God explained the ground-rules to Adam) and, beyond that, are you satisfied in your interpretation and practical application of those words?”
If he can cast doubt on the authorship, the preservation, or the expectation, then the Record becomes far less authoritative and relevant.
The Desert Tactic – Confound Christ’s Meaning (Matthew 4:1-11)
Much has been written and spoken concerning this 3-phase assault that started and ended in the wilderness with an intermediate clash at the Jerusalem temple. The stake in the encounter is amply measured and condensed in the words of Matthew Henry. “That which Satan aimed at, in all his temptations, was, to bring him (Jesus) to sin against God (To despair of His goodness, To presume upon His power, and To alienate His honour), and so to render him forever incapable of being a Sacrifice for the sins of others.”
Satan has never been dissuaded, even in light of his forecast bruising at the hand of woman’s seed (Genesis 3:15), from the prospect of a perpetually cursed race and a foiled reconciliation. Now with the Seed-remedy fully clarified in the flesh, Satan approached his Adamic nemesis face-to-face in brazen desperation. Though weakened in the flesh, Jesus never wavered unsheathing and brilliantly flashing the sword of the eternal Word in response to Satan’s advances.
“This is observable,” Matthew Henry comments, “that Christ answered and baffled all the temptations of Satan with It is written. He is himself the eternal Word, and could have produced the mind of God without having recourse to the writings of Moses; but he put honour upon the scripture, and, to set us an example, he appealed to what was written.”
Satan’s attempt to draw the Last Adam into sin, as the first, was disappointed, but he still efforts to marginalize Christ and his role in the lives of men and women. While Jesus maintained focus on His passion and fulfilled the Edenic prophecy offering Himself in innocence for the whole of Adam’s guilty race, the Devil continues to deter mankind by muddling Christ’s person and purpose.
The Reckoning Tactic – Condemn Man’s Motives (Job 1:9)
The first two devices of disruption were to affect man toward God. This final maneuver is intended to agitate God toward man.
It seems that Satan’s “going” previously included a visit to the Job estate since he was keenly familiar with Job’s good life – both internally and materially. When God, in full awareness of Satan’s motives, referenced Job as a template of faithful integrity, Satan was cocked and locked with an accusatory query. “Doth Job fear God for nought (1:9)?”
Respected 17th century author and scholar Matthew Henry offers this insight into this devilish device.
“He (Satan) could not deny that Job feared God, but suggested that he was a mercenary (one serving merely for wages) in his religion, and therefore a hypocrite. See how slyly he censured him as a hypocrite,” Henry points out, “not asserting that he was so, but only asking, Is he not so?”
Satan’s purpose was to demonstrate to God that His love was wasted on mankind. Job was simply the representative case-in-point. If he could demonstrate that Job only responded with affection because of his good life (“Hast not thou made an hedge about him?”), then perhaps all followers are disingenuous and self-serving in their faith.
The cosmic accuser was trying to get God to question His prophesied commitment to and continued investment in humanity’s restoration (Genesis 3:15).
We see in John’s Revelation of things to come, that Satan will continue to employ this tactic even after the Seed of woman has long been victorious over the Curse through His bruising and until the moment he is finally barred from presenting himself before the Lord with the other sons of God. “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of the brethren is cast down, which accused them before God day and night (Revelation 12:9-10).”
It is not out of the realm of possibility that a personal hardship may represent your moment in the cosmic batter’s box to prove your faith and pronounce God’s goodness (see Scripturosity article “Innocent Suffering and a Loving God” – Part 3).
Do not fall victim to the enemy’s devices. 1) Elevate the Scriptures – your purpose lies therein. 2) Esteem the sacrifice – your rescue is in Christ. 3) Embrace the scrutiny – your adversity can be the Creator’s praise.
Though Eden was buried under the Flood waters (2 Peter 3:6), the purposed, Garden fellowship (see Scripturosity article “Mankind – Favored Not Fortunate”) is accessible to the seeker today. Sons and daughters of Adam, fulfill Creation’s purpose and courageously defend Eden’s fellowship.