He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).
I want to start out at the very beginning and affirm that Jesus is in us and he is more powerful than Satan. It is no contest. Because Jesus is in us, we don’t need to fear Satan. However, we don’t want to underestimate him either. One way to keep from underestimating him is to see his abilities when he tempted Jesus. Think about it. Jesus is the perfect and pure Son of the Almighty and yet Satan had the hubris to think he could use his powers and his distortion of Scripture to tempt Jesus. Here are some of his tricks and his power.
- He observes when we are at a time of weakness. Jesus was hungry after fasting 40 days and Satan came to him with temptations (Luke 4:2). He will hit us with temptations when we are tired or even when we have just experienced some high point in our spiritual lives. He is a keen observer of humans and knows how to deceive us, just ask Eve (Gen 3:1-6).
- He tried to get Jesus to question his relationship with God. “If you are the Son of God … (Luke 4:3). In the same way he will try to convince us that we are not God’s children.
- He tried to get Jesus to use his powers in a way that would only satisfy himself by turning rocks into bread (Luke 4:3). He will also try to get us to do sinful things to satisfy our desires. He doesn’t have to work hard at that because it is part of our sinful nature; but that little egging on can easily tip us over the edge into sinful behavior.
- Satan’s power is demonstrated when he was able to show Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in a moment (Luke 4:5). Matthew 4:8 says he took Jesus to a very high mountain to do this. Luke 4:9 says he also had the ability to take Jesus from the desert to the pinnacle of the temple. This is mind boggling. He was able to move Jesus from place to place in a blink of the eye. Thankfully we don’t see God allowing Satan to do this to people, as far as we know. We know from Job that Satan is limited by what God allows, so we can be thankful for that (Job 1:12). That doesn’t mean that Satan can’t do other things to distract us, trick us (2 Cor 11:14), or hinder us as he hindered Paul (1 Thess 2:18).
- Satan wants us to worship him instead of God (Luke 4:7). One way he does that is by getting us to put our wants and desires ahead of God’s plan for us. When we sin to get what we want, we are worshiping ourselves and the things of the world and that is indirectly worshiping Satan (1 John 2:15-16).
- Satan tempted Jesus to test God and he did it by quoting Scripture (Luke 4:9-11). We fall for this temptation all the time when we pull “promises” out of Scripture that were never intended for us or we use legitimate promises to try to get God to do what we want instead of what he wants. When God doesn’t answer in the way we want, we become disillusioned, angry, and rebellious against God.
You may argue that Jesus was much more important than we are, therefore we are making ourselves more important than we should to think that Satan would bother with us. After all, there are millions of Christians and only one Satan. I can tell you, from Scripture, that Satan is able to more than we think because it says he accuses us before the throne (Rev 12:10), he is busy deceiving the whole world (Rev 12:9), he roams around looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). If he were too busy to bother us as individuals, then why does Scripture tell us to resist him (James 4:7), give him no opportunity (Eph 4:27), and to stand against his schemes (Eph 6:11)? Besides that, he isn’t alone. It is possible that if it isn’t Satan who is personally coming against us, it could be one of his demons because he has many servants (2 Cor 11:14). We need to be alert and not underestimate Satan. We also have to note that Jesus thwarted Satan’s attacks with the proper handling of Scripture. We can quench all his arrows when we have faith in Jesus and use his word as a sword against Satan’s attacks and our own evil desires that he uses against us.
I leave you with the same reminder as I started, “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).