Influence or Intelligence?

Jesus told him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written …“—Matthew 4:10

Some of the names given to the Devil in Scripture show him to be a real personality. In the passage that is before us today, Jesus is seen in direct confrontation with the Devil, even engaging in conversation with him. Some liberal theologians explain this in these terms: Christ was having a conversation with the dark thoughts that arose within His nature, so any “devil” that was present was subjective, not objective.

If we allow the notion that Christ had dark thoughts within His nature, then the whole scheme of redemption tumbles like a pack of cards, for a Savior who is not perfect could never fully atone for our sins. As Dr. Handley Moule puts it: “A Savior who is not perfect is like a bridge broken at one end and is not a reliable passage of access.” Once we try to get around Scripture, create endless difficulties for ourselves and end up looking foolish. Far better to accept the Bible as it stands and believe its testimony on everything.

It is actually to Satan’s advantage to get us to believe that he is not a personal being, for if there is no personal devil, there can be no personal resistance. Don’t allow yourself to be deceived into thinking that the term devil is a synonym for the evil influence that is in the world. The Devil is more than an evil influence; he is an evil intelligence. Only when we recognize this fact will we be motivated to take effective steps to resist him.


Father, help me see that the first step in spiritual warfare is to “know the enemy.” For until I know and understand my enemy, I will not be able to defeat him. Deepen my knowledge of these important truths, I pray. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

1Jn 3:1-8; Heb 2:14; Jn 12:30-31

Why was Jesus made manifest?

What did He declare?

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