Never Give Up! Never Surrender
Why does Satan continue to fight God? These two adversaries have been dueling since the first moments of Creation. Though Satan does not know the future, he has access to massive amounts of data. He can read the signs. He can follow trends and make projections more efficiently and intelligently than any human analyst or any AI. So why doesn’t he surrender? He can’t win; he’s fighting God. It’s a losing battle.
Why does anyone fight? Every battle has a winner and a loser. Both get hurt in the process. The loser could just as easily be one side or the other. War has no guarantee except pain. With the uncertainty of winning and the certainty of losses, war would seem to lose its appeal. Still, Satan fights with God. He does so for the same reasons humans fight.
Though Satan’s first battle with God in Heaven did not end well, his second attack achieved (from his perspective) a positive outcome. Since Satan didn’t reach his goals through a direct assault, he circled behind and tried a more subtle approach. He attacked through God’s proxy – humans.
It would appear that Satan’s chances of success with humans were infinitesimally small. What could Satan possibly offer them when God had provided so much? And then Satan saw his slim chance, his one avenue of temptation. God gave a single prohibition – the Tree.
Satan watched with anticipation and amazement. I wonder if his shock equaled God’s sorrow as Eve and then Adam ate of the fruit. When they succumbed to temptation, it emboldened Satan to keep fighting. “Maybe I can win this!” It gave him hope. Every time a human yields to his ungodly desires, he provides Satan a win and hope for more.
That day marked the war’s beginning and its end. Humanity became a part of Satan’s forces. God has been wooing them back, one by one, ever since. God told the audience of three that though battles would continue, Eve’s Seed would ultimately be the war’s Victor (Gen. 3:15). God spoke Satan’s doom before Satan’s first victory was a day old. It takes more than God’s trash talk to discourage Satan or convince him of his ultimate defeat. And even if he does acknowledge, at least in his own mind, his inability to ever prevail against God, winning is not the only reason to fight.
They Fight Because They Enjoy Fighting.
My brother and I used to play chess. His win and my utter defeat were the inevitable outcomes of each match. We both knew it. My many losses convince me my only victory was a result of his grace. We still played because the challenge was enjoyable. So was the company.
Other competitors in other arenas will echo the enjoyment of challenging an opponent even when that opponent’s skill is far superior. What teenage sportsman would refuse an opportunity to face Michael Jordan, Mario Andretti, or Pele in their prime? Winning is outside the realm of possibility, but the experience of challenging a superior opponent serves to improve the skill of the lesser opponent.
Do you know anyone who enjoys fighting? It doesn’t take much to get them going, and they’ll argue about anything. They don’t debate because the subject matters to them, but because they like getting people riled up. A much darker example of this is the soldier who discovers a depraved thrill from executing people. Fighting can be fun.
While some of these ideas carry over into the spiritual realm, not all of them do. God gets no enjoyment from battling Satan. Their contest does not involve pawns on a chessboard, a ball that goes in a container, or a keyboard and mouse. The consequences of their battle aren’t virtual; they’re real. The pieces don’t go back in the box; they go in the ground. People are dead when this battle is over, and God takes no pleasure in anyone’s death (Ezek. 33:11). Satan does, however.
Satan gets a sick pleasure from the failure of God’s children. Satan is the accuser (Rev. 12:10), and our sin gives him ammunition against God. Can’t you see him laughing with glee as Samson like a donkey turned the stone to grind wheat? It was Satan who received the most enjoyment when David brought Bathsheba into his bedroom. On the other hand, Job stifled Satan’s joy and supplied it to God when Satan’s prediction about him did not come to pass. The outcome of every battle gives pleasure either to Satan or God.
They Fight To Stall.
Numerous battles have served the purpose of delay. The combatants didn’t fight to win but to stall their adversary and shift the momentum from one side to the other. The passage of time allows for the repositioning of assets and the arrival of reinforcements for a strategic advantage. The opposing coach calls for a timeout as the kicker is lining up for the field goal. Military and law enforcement members lay down cover fire to get people out of danger and to move resources into a better position. Stalling can be a useful strategy.
The man in row eight seat number five of the church auditorium feels a battle raging inside him. The battle is for his soul. He had hoped his acquiescence to his children’s pleas to attend the Christmas presentation would bring some peace. He was wrong.
Their smiles were heartfelt when they introduced their dad to the pastor; dad had to force his smile. He can’t even manage to fake one now. The formerly external battle is now internal. God and Satan are fighting for his allegiance, and he is struggling just to keep his feet firmly planted in their present position.
Though the pastor’s message is to all who are present, the father feels as if the pastor directed it at him. The demonic forces, knowing that a soul is at stake, call for instructions. A one-word reply is all they hear: “Stall.”
The pastor pleads with dad. “Now is the day of salvation.” Satan’s forces counter, “It doesn’t need to happen today. You don’t want to rush into anything.” Back and forth the struggle goes until the pastor prays the final prayer and dismisses the people to their homes. A decision not made for God is a win for Satan. Stalling in itself can produce a victory.
Delay is Satan’s greatest weapon. Delay puts more check marks in his win column than any other tactic in his playbook. He knows that God intends on putting him in the Lake of Fire. He’s read the Book. If he accepts this as his end, he has nothing to lose by continuing to fight and everything to lose through surrender.
For humans, surrender is the only path to victory (Matt. 16:25; Rom. 12:1). We stupidly and stubbornly fight God in the same way a drowning victim vehemently resists her savior. She will die if she successfully fights off the one who is working to rescue her. Life comes through surrender.
Satan has no good options. You do. It makes sense for him to fight God. It does not for you.
They Fight Because Someone Commands Them To Fight.
Satan’s defeat is inevitable, but the defeat’s actualization is still in the future. Until then, God commands us to join Him in His fight against an enemy who camouflages his presence and whose power is incalculably superior to our own. How can we hope to win this daily battle? We cannot if we fight in our own strength or if we fight alone. So God supplies both His presence (Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5) and His power (Eph. 6:10).
Though God has called us into the fray, He doesn’t need our help to defeat Satan. A bloodied cross and a second-hand tomb give evidence of God’s accomplished victory. Jesus died, but He lives again. We were dead. In Christ, we too live again (Gal. 2:20).
A defeated enemy fights against resurrected saints. It would be wise of Satan to surrender. And like Gen. Cornwallis whose defeat equally amazed him, Satan could lament the day the world was turned upside down. What hope does Satan have of winning? Only the hope we give him through our refusal to put on our armor and join in the battle.
You can learn valuable lessons from anyone, even your enemy. There is not much for which you can congratulate Satan. Only one trait he possesses is worthy of emulating: his perseverance. He is unyielding in his refusal to quit. Jesus’ followers are not so eager to continue the struggle. Jesus prophesied the desertion of His troops would announce the approach of the war’s end (Matt. 24:12).
Thankfully, the valor Jesus’ followers fail to show and the objectives we fail to secure, do not determine our ultimate fate. Jesus settled that. He secured our forgiveness, our transformation, and our eternal home with Him. We add nothing to Jesus’ victory. In the final battles between Jesus and Satan, we are mere observers, not participants (Rev. 19:21; Rev. 20:9).
Satan’s strength, his subtlety, his stubbornness, and my security regardless of what he does or I do tempt me to lay down my weapons and head for the mess hall. What does it matter whether or not I fight? He loses eventually. Case closed. The Bible says I can defeat him daily (James 4:7), but why should I try? The more I prepare myself for battle, and the more I fight, the more of a threat I become and the more pain I invite. Fighting doesn’t make sense. Why fight?
Here’s why I fight. I fight at the command and for the glory of the One who delivered the deathblow to my enemy. He doesn’t need my help, but He requires my obedience. So I fight. I don’t fight for myself. I, like the Watchmen on Jerusalem’s wall, fight for my family, my neighbors, my co-workers, and anyone else who the enemy’s onslaught would destroy. I can’t afford to quit. And neither can you.
They Fight On Principle.
Even people who know they cannot win, fight to express their disgust over present circumstances. They fight on principle. What other reason could you give for why ill-equipped Texans would make their stand at a mission turned fort called the Alamo? Why else would a single individual position himself against a tank in Tiananmen Square? That man wasn’t just opposing a machine; he was opposing a system. There was no way for him to succeed, but he wasn’t going to die without voicing the need for change. He believed the wrong people with the wrong ideas were in power. Satan agrees.
Satan doesn’t agree the wrong people are in control of China; he believes the wrong Person rules the universe. Based on faulty estimations, he long ago convinced himself he could do a better job on the throne than God does. Humanity has been strengthening the foundation for his thinking ever since.
Instead of fighting Satan and submitting to God, humans do the reverse. Humanity’s failure to listen to God brought disastrous consequences. Sinful humans wrecked God’s beautiful creation and brought pain to themselves and those who came after them. God should have killed them immediately.
Yes, God destroyed humanity only a few generations after He created them. That made sense to Satan. Annihilation is an appropriate response to rebellion against God’s authority. It’s what Satan would have done even though it didn’t happen to him. But to give humanity another chance through a family whose sin went just as deep as those God destroyed had to seem foolish to Satan.
Every time God forgives, every time God heals a hurt humans created for themselves, every time He opens His arms to invite them into His presence again has got to cause Satan to scratch his head with utter befuddlement. What’s even more confusing is the sadness he sees on the face of God as God forever bars from His presence the humans who reject His love. Add to that the departure of God’s Son from Heaven to pay a debt He did not owe for people who largely would not respond to His offer positively, and God’s insanity or His incompetence is irrefutable.
It’s time for a change of leadership. “A vote for Satan is a vote for progress.” Anyone who watches history has to wonder what God is doing. Is there anyone at the helm of this ship?
Satan is right. God’s actions rarely make sense to us. But they do to Him. And whether or not they ever make sense to us, we get to be the beneficiaries of God’s insanity.
God has made no promise to explain Himself. He is under no obligation. If your standard practice is to require explanation and understanding before you opt in, then I guess you better put down your cell phone and stop driving your car. You don’t understand what makes them work either. Your lack of understanding doesn’t prevent you from enjoying them.
God wants you to enjoy Him too.
They Fight To Hurt And Destroy.
Every offensive Satan waged against God directly has failed. He will see no future success either. He has nothing with which he can harm God’s Person. But he has a powerful weapon he can use to hurt God’s heart.
Near the end of the biblical epic, Satan loses a hard-fought battle in Heaven (Rev. 12:7-9). He expresses extreme hubris by attacking God in His home turf with reduced forces. He fails. While that’s not a surprise to God, it is to Satan. His pride leads him to believe he will win every battle even though his experience tells him otherwise.
Heaven’s inhabitants rejoice but not because they won. Winning was never in doubt. They celebrate because Satan is finally permanently banished, and Heaven no longer has to hear Satan’s vile language (Rev. 12:10).
Most enemies surrender after a last, all-out failed attempt. Not Satan. He travels to a different battlefield – earth. And he attacks a different target – humans, first the Jews (Rev. 12:13) and then all Jesus’ followers (Rev. 12:17). Why? Because God’s children are the only means, Satan has to inflict pain on God.
Though Satan has no power to inflict direct harm on God, he can severely wound God indirectly through an attack on His children. They are the “apple of His eye” (Zech. 2:8). What parent doesn’t recognize the potential for pleasure or pain their children create? Satan’s most significant threat is not physical harm to God’s children. If he kills them, they go home to celebrate the victory. No, he subjects them to emotional harm through discouragement and doubt, and spiritual damage by recruiting them into active service.
A terrible storm and accompanying swell resulted in thousands of starfish littering the seashore. An elderly gentleman walking on the beach saw a boy throwing starfish back into the water. The man commented, “Your feeble efforts won’t make much of a difference.” After throwing another starfish as far as he could, the boy replied, “It made a difference to that one.”
One by one, God wants to rescue. And one by one, Satan works to thwart His efforts. Satan sticks it to God every time a person dies without Jesus Christ. “You didn’t get to make a difference for that one.”
The only thing Satan gains by keeping people from God is the pleasure of God’s pain. Once a person is dead, they are of no use to Satan. It’s a colossal game of keep-away where humans are both the prize and the ones who decide the outcome.
At the conclusion of that heavenly battle spoken of in Revelation 12, an angel warns earth of Satan’s impending arrival. He says Satan is angry and that Satan recognizes he only has a “short time” (Rev. 12:12).
Satan is going down, and he wants to take you with him. Satan is bent on destruction (1 Peter 5:8; Rev. 9:11). He hates God and you. He’s following a scorched-earth policy. God loves you. He wants you to heal. You determine which one gets what he wants.
They Fight Because Fighting Is In Their Nature.
A scorpion, being a very poor swimmer, asked a turtle to carry him across the river on his back. The turtle’s first response was to refuse the request since it would make him vulnerable to attack from the scorpion. The scorpion promised he would not sting the turtle. Doing so would not be logical since it would result in death for both of them.
The turtle agreed with the scorpion’s premise and his request, so the two of them started across the river. Halfway through their journey, the turtle was stunned to feel the scorpion’s sting. “Why? Why did you sting me?” the dumbfounded turtle petitioned. “Now we will both drown. Where is the logic in that?” The scorpion sadly replied, “It has nothing to do with logic. Stinging is in my nature.”
Why does Satan fight? It’s the same reason any of us do what we do. It’s what we are. It’s in our nature.
Satan is evil. God is good. Neither one is okay with the existence of the other. There is no mutual respect. Good and evil cannot perpetually exist side by side. There is no yin and yang, no dark side and light side whose story continues to unfold so long as there is a market for it. This war will reach its conclusion one day. Until then, another war rages. It’s the war inside us.
Some of us have two natures. The first is our sin nature. This nature makes it easier for us to choose wrong over right in the same way it is easier to choose the pillow instead of the treadmill and BBQ chips instead of carrot sticks. We were born with the first nature. God implanted the second when we were born again. It motivates and empowers us to choose right even when right is not comfortable or convenient. The two natures continuously struggle for control. God will eradicate our old sin nature one day. The internal battle and the external battle the sin nature mimics will come to an end.
You may not believe you have a sin nature. Jesus said your nature would manifest itself in your words and actions (Matt. 15:19). Examine them. Are they good? Go deeper. Your thoughts and motivations even if they are never acted upon show what you would do if you could guarantee there would be no negative consequences (Matt. 5:27-28).
Sure, you may be better than the next guy, and you may allow that to convince you that you are good (2 Cor. 10:12). You can always find someone who is worse than you. And there will always be someone else who can use your sin as evidence of their righteousness. The only sure test of whether or not you are good is how you compare to God, the ultimate of good (Mark 10:18), and how you respond to His working in your life. Evil always fights good.
Are You Fighting God?
Religious people arrested some of Jesus’ followers and told them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus. After hearing what these Jesus followers had to say and seeing their transformation, one of the accusers was brave enough to re-examine his original thinking. He was forced to consider the possibility that he might be fighting against God (Acts 5:38-39). He knew that was a battle he could not win.
If you’re fighting against God, you can’t win either. So stop. Surrender to what God wants to do in your life. Start fighting with Him instead of against Him. You can’t lose if you are fighting by His side and in His strength!
Satan has nothing to lose by fighting God and nothing to gain by surrender. God has sealed Satan’s doom. If you do not have Jesus as your Savior, or if you are not living in obedience to Him, then you are fighting a battle whose outcome only God knows. It is an outcome you can determine.
I know this. God’s side will win. For now, you still have the option of changing sides. He’s drawing you to Himself, but you have to decide how you will respond. You have everything to lose by fighting God and everything to gain by surrender.
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 Adapted from “The Star Thrower” by Loren Eiseley; retrieved January, 2018.