Of Devils and Demons
February 24th, 1974 @ 8:15 AM
1 Peter 5:8-9
Of Devils and Demons
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Peter 5:8-10
2-24-74 8:15 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing with us the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled Of Devils and Demons. It is a strange thing that, in preaching through the Book of Peter, we left off last Sunday with verse 7 [1 Peter 1:7], and we begin today with verse 8 and 9 [1 Peter 5:8-9]. And it is a strange thing that the text should be in a category and in a circumference that at present so enthralls and intrigues the people of America. So many of our people have gone to see “The Exorcist,” and demon possession and demonology is a very current topic of conversation in every area. But I am not preaching this sermon because of “The Exorcist,” which I have not seen, nor because of the fad of speaking of demons.
What I am doing is preaching through the Book of Peter, and I have come, as I said, to verse 8 and 9. And this is the text: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith” [1 Peter 5:8-9].
Now let us look at the words of the text first. The imagery that lies back of what Simon Peter is writing is that of a shepherd guarding his flock at night. And out in the darkness there is a stalking lion, and he is admonished, the shepherd is admonished to be awake, to be vigilant, because that stalking lion is walking around, circling the flock in the night, seeking which one he will devour.
So the words of the text are exactly like that. They start off with two exclamations, “Nēpsate, grēgorēsate” now you have it translated here, “Be sober, be vigilant,” nepsate. Just one word in the imperative, “Be sober,” nephō means “to be sober, to be temperate,” that’s good. “Grēgorēsate,” gregoreō means “to be awake.” You can say, “Be vigilant,” but it means, “be awakened, watch,” we would say. So it starts off with those two exclamations, “Nēpsate! Grēgorēsate!” [1 Peter 5:8].
Now, we have a “because” here—no, there’s no “because” in the text, it just starts off with those two exclamations. “Be sober! Watch! Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” [1 Peter 5:8]. Diabolos; always in the Scripture, there is one Satan, there is one prince and sovereign ruler over all the kingdom of evil, and he is called in the chapter in Revelation 12, in that one verse he’s called “the dragon, the serpent, the Devil, and Satan” [Revelation 12:9]. There is just one. There are many daimōnioi, demons, fallen angels, but there is one prince and sovereign ruler over that fallen kingdom of waste and darkness. And here he’s called diabolos, the devil, the slanderer, the adversary, “as a roaring lion walketh about,” seeking which one, he’s looking at all of them. He looks at you. He looks at you all the time. He watches you. And he’s picking out which one, which one, he may devour [1 Peter 5:8].
You know, it’s a funny thing how we use eating—the word—and burning. Is it “burning up” or is it “burning down?” Does the house burn up or does it burn down? Do you swallow food? Do you swallow it up or do you swallow it down? Isn’t that a funny thing how we use language? Swallow up, we swallow up somebody. We swallow down.
Well, the Greek always is down. The house kata, it burns down. And when you swallow, in Greek you swallow down, katapinō; the lion, “as the devil is a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he can swallow down,” katapinō, swallow down. “Whom resists,” anthistēmi, now you are familiar with that word—histēmi is the word for “stand” or “place”; anti is “against.” So anthistēmi is to stand against, steadfast. And here’s another word you all are familiar with, “stereo.” Isn’t that a strange thing? “Whom anthistēmi, stereo,” the Greek word here is stereoi. That is, stereoi, stereos, means “firm, established.” I presume they get that into a stereophonic sound, a full, firm, and established sound. “Anthistēmistereoi in the faith”—those are the words of the text. Now let’s look at them. Simon Peter speaks here of Satan, diabolos, as a devouring lion, stalking the whole earth, seeking which one he is going to katapiein, going to swallow down, devour [1 Peter 5:8].
May I speak first of the beauty of his person? In the twenty-eighth chapter of the Book of Ezekiel, Satan is beautifully and meticulously described. He is described as being “perfect in beauty” [Ezekiel 28:12]. Now isn’t that something? “Perfect in beauty”; his robes, his covering, are precious jewels, and he walks in the glory of iridescent light [Ezekiel 28:13].
In 2 Corinthians chapter , verse , by inspiration the apostle Paul calls Satan, “An angel of light” [2 Corinthians 11:1]. His name Lucifer means “light.” In those medieval miracle plays––and any schoolboy has been introduced to those; all of you youngsters have read of the miracle plays in the medieval ages, the precursor of great dramatic effort on the part of the English people under Shakespeare and to this modern day, the miracle play––in the miracle play Satan was always depicted, graphically so, as a person on the platform with a red suit with horns, with tail, with pitchfork, a very manifestly diabolical character. But that is a caricature. It is the diametrically opposite of what Satan actually is. Out of all of the creation of God, Lucifer was the most gorgeous and the most beautiful, and he walked amidst the stones of burning fire [Ezekiel 28:14-15].
If I were picking out what Satan is like, what is he actually like, this is what I would do. In the days of the great war, the Second World War, I remember from time to time, on the front pages of the paper would be a picture of a beautiful and seductive girl. And the enemy would hire that girl to find secrets from a great general or a great governmental leader, and using her seductive beauty to get out of that general or that governmental leader the secrets and turn them over to the warring nation—that is a good idea of Satan, beautiful, alluring, but the purpose of what he does traitorous, disastrous.
All right, let’s take another. This is my idea of the real actual Satan—a theological professor, a theological leader, brilliant, gifted, eloquent, and he takes the young theologues and destroys their faith, denying the Scriptures as the inspired Word of God [2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21], denying the deity of Christ as the Son of God [John 10:30], and denying the power of the resurrection [Romans 1:4], and the great returning consummation of our Lord [Matthew 16:27]. That is Satan!
Out of an endless number of other descriptions, personalities, could I take just one other? This is my idea of Satan. A tremendously dynamic and important governmental leader, say, presiding over the great nation of America, and he leads our nation into deficit financing. That is, we live above our income. And Satan points out through that great political leader, “See those printing presses, just look at them . . . just look at them printing money, printing money, printing money. What an easy way to solve the economic necessities of the people, just that’s all, just touch the button.”
That’s Satan, for he hides from the face of the people that that is a painless way to rob the poor, to destroy the pensioner, and finally to plunge the nation into economic chaos, absolute ruin! That’s Satan. He uses the brilliant and the eloquent and the beautiful to accomplish unholy and disastrous ends. That is Satan.
Don’t ever persuade yourself that that drunk in the gutter in his vomit, that is Satan. Satan really is seated up there somewhere in a plush office, in a beautiful building, surrounded by the accouterments of affluence, presiding over a great empire making money by the millions, off of what his demoniac denizens are doing in driving this man to the gutter, or driving that car into the abutment and in blood, and in death, destroying thousands of people every year. But Satan is the one presiding over the empire. That is Satan.
May I speak second of the extent of his power? There is a mystery into which we cannot enter. In the second Thessalonian letter and the second chapter, and the seventh verse, Paul refers to the “mystery of iniquity” [2 Thessalonians 2:7]. In the Book of the Revelation, chapter 10, verse 7, the apostle John writes, by inspiration, that “the mystery of God will be finished at the sounding of the seventh trumpet” [Revelation 10:7].
We cannot enter into the mystery of iniquity, or the mystery of God that thus far, and now allows it. But at the heart of this universe there is conflict and challenge to Almighty God. Why does not God in the great authority and sovereignty of His deity, why does not God destroy evil, and destroy Satan, and destroy the kingdom of darkness? It is a mystery that God keeps secret to Himself.
We cannot enter into the mystery of evil. It is all pervasive. It is in heaven itself. And the power that Satan has is almost illimitable. Jude says that even Michael the archangel, when disputing with Satan over the body of Moses, “Michael durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee” [Jude 9]; Michael the archangel!
And up there in heaven, in the twelfth chapter of the Revelation, “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against diabolos and his angels” [Revelation 12:7]. At the heart of the universe there is conflict, war. And what you see in your heart and what you see in the headlines of the newspapers of the world is what you see in all of God’s creation: the extent, the confrontation of iniquity, darkness.
There are several things about the extent of that kingdom. One is this: Satan is the king and the sovereign leader over uncounted myriads of fallen angels. In the Bible they’re called “demons.” In the twelfth chapter of the Revelation it says that one-third, one-third of the angels of God fell with diabolos, Satan [Revelation 12:4]. One time in this pulpit, I took time to speak about that. We think, “How is it that an angel would choose Satan instead of God?” And I pointed out to us, “Why do you do it? And why does the world do it?” There is an allurement and an enticement and an invitation in Satan that we ourselves have not been able to refuse, nor did they. And he is king over one-third of the angels, the myriads of hosts of heaven.
In the ninth chapter of the Revelation, he is presented as the king, and he is called the king over these myriads of fallen creatures. And in the ninth chapter of the Revelation Satan is given two other names: “Abaddon, and Apollyon” [Revelation 9:11]. Those names––one is Hebrew, one is Greek––they mean “ruin, destruction, death.” The extent of his kingdom is not only in that fallen world which reaches up to the very throne of God in heaven, but the extent of his kingdom reaches over unregenerated and fallen men.
A man is made, created, to be a creature of worship. He will worship somebody. He will follow something. And if a man does not follow the true God, he will follow Satan. It’ll be one or the other. And in the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Matthew in the forty-first verse, the man that follows Satan finally comes under the complete control of Lucifer and is sent away into the eternal, everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels [Matthew 25:41].
Not only is he king over fallen angels, not only is he king over fallen and unregenerate men, but he is also head of a kingdom of darkness in this world [Colossians 1:13]. As there is a kingdom of light presided over by the Son of God [Acts 26:18], there is also a kingdom of darkness presided over by his infernal majesty, Lucifer, their king.
One day in Istanbul, in Istanbul, I ate dinner with Dr. Black and his wife. He was the president of Robert College, a Presbyterian school in Istanbul. He had married a Bulgarian, and he was in Bulgaria when the communists took it over. And he said to me, “I cannot understand it. I watched it with my own eyes. I lived through it in my own days.” He said, “Children will inform against their parents, knowing that the information they give the authorities means death for the father and the mother; but they will inform against them just the same.”
And he made the remark to me, he said, “I think that kingdom of atheism is the kingdom of darkness, and I think it is presided over by Satan himself.” I think he’s correct. There is a kingdom in this world of atheism, of Christ rejection, of blackness, of darkness, of ultimate ruin and death! And the king over that empire is Lucifer, Diabolos, Satan.
The extent of his power can also be seen in his command of the elements and of disease. Satan does that. He ruined the first creation in Genesis 1:2. He ruined the second recreation in Genesis 3. And he is the master and the commander of the elements of this world and of the diseases that waste our bodies. Upon a day, a messenger came to Job and said:
The Sabeans have come, and they have taken away all of the livestock, and they have murdered the servants who watched over them . . .
And while he was speaking another came and said, And lightning fell from heaven and burned up the flocks . . .
And while he was speaking, another came, and said, winds came from the wilderness and overturned the house and crushed the children.
And while Job was lamenting, he was cut down with a loathsome disease.
[Job 1:13-19; 2:7]
Who did that? Who does the Bible say did that? The Bible says Satan, under the permissive––and this is the iniquity, the mystery of iniquity [2 Thessalonians 2:7]––Satan, under the permissive will of God [Job 1:12, 2:6], Satan stirred up the Sabeans and the Chaldeans to steal the cattle and to murder the servants. And Satan sent the lightning from the clouds, and he sent the winds that crushed the children [Job 1:13-19], and he sent the loathsome disease that humbled Job into dust and ashes [Job 2:7-8]. Satan did it!
In the Book of Luke, the Lord Jesus says, “This woman with an infirmity bowed over and could not raise herself for eighteen years,” Jesus says, “she was bowed down by Satan” [Luke 13:16]. Satan did it. And in the twelfth chapter of the second Corinthian letter, Paul says that thorn in the flesh that God refuses to take away is “a messenger from Satan to buffet me” [2 Corinthians 12:7]. That’s his power. When you see these storms, and these winds, and these violences that crush men, that’s Satan’s hand. And when you see these diseases that waste our bodies, that’s Satan’s hand; God never intended that. He’s an intruder and an interloper.
We see his power also in the facility with which he enters the human mind and the human heart; and he’s been able to do that from the beginning. Not only destroyed Eden [Genesis 3], but he brought the whole world into rejection of God and only righteous Noah, just Noah and his family [Genesis 6:1-7:24]. He plunged the whole earth into idolatry, except Abraham [Joshua 24:2]. He destroyed Israel into disobedience and captivity [Deuteronomy 8:19; 2 Kings 17:6-8]. He took the life of our Lord [Matthew 27:26-50]. And he walks around, seeking which one of us he can devour [1 Peter 5:8]. Nēpsate, “sober,” grēgorēsate, “watch!” he seeks you. And in a thousand avenues and in a thousand forms does he come into our minds and into our hearts.
“Well, pastor, how is there deliverance? ‘Anthistēmi stereoi.’ How am I to resist, to face him? ‘Firmly established,’ how am I to do that?” In the faith, in the faith [1 Peter 5:9], there’s only one way to resist a being who is greater than we, more powerful than we, and in a thousand seductive ways seeks our destruction and ruin. He’s smarter, stronger, greater, mightier than we. How do we do it? Just like that, “In the faith, in the faith” [1 Peter 5:9]. Our Lord said, “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none” [Matthew 12:43]. Then he said,
I will return to My house from whence I came out: and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh unto himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they come in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.
“I resist the devil! I won’t let him in my heart. I won’t let him in my house. I won’t let him in my business. I will stand face to face, anthistēmi, I’ll place myself face to face with him; and I’ll do it stereoi, I’ll firmly plant myself against him.” You’re like a match. You’re like a piece of paper in a burning holocaust of conflagration. He just ruined you like that.
Well how do you do it? This is the way. “Here was a man who had an unclean spirit,” now you can just, there are ten million of them. Maybe he was a drunkard, what you call an alcoholic. Maybe he was a sexual pervert. Maybe he was a thief, an embezzler. Maybe he was a liar. Maybe he was a deceiver, I don’t know; whatever ten thousand of the spirits that are unclean that can almost destroy a man. This man said, “I’m going to get rid of it. I’m not going to drink anymore. I’m not going to lie anymore. I’m not going to steal anymore.” Just whatever it is that the man was afflicted with, “I’m going to reform.”
And so he does, and he walks the straight and narrow, and he’s a fine man. And that evil spirit that he cast out of him went around, and went around, and went around, and finally came back and looked into that man’s heart. And it was empty. It was empty. There wasn’t anything in that heart. It was empty, “though swept and garnished,” beautifully, just a fine, fine man with a fine, fine heart. But it was empty. So, that spirit went out and took with him seven others more vile and loathsome than himself. And they came and dwelt in that man’s heart. And his last state was worse than the first [Matthew 12:43-45]. He not only drank, but now he swore and cursed. And he not only nominally rejected God, he hated the church and hated the blood of Christ, just whatever it is that you just put there which is human nature.
Well, how do you resist the devil and how do you resist those evil lusts, and tempers, and things that afflict us from every point of the compass? How do you do it? What you have to do is you have to fill your heart with something to keep him out. There’s no room for him. Don’t have any room in my heart for all of those vile and evil things that ultimately destroy my soul and my life. I don’t have any room in my heart for them. Why don’t you have any room in your heart for them? Because my heart is filled with the blessedness of the Spirit of Jesus; don’t have any room in my heart for those things. Got Jesus in my heart [John 14:23], I have the Holy Spirit in my heart, and now when I am tempted, the Holy Spirit in my heart wars against the intrusion! [Romans 8:12-14].
I had a compliment yesterday. Shall I be egotistical enough to tell you? My good deacon in Muskogee, Carl Johnson, has an antique show out here called the “Dallas Antique Show.” So I went out there to look at his show. He’s one of the finest men in the world, Deacon Carl Johnson. So I met a couple out there from Muskogee, from my old church in Muskogee. Thirty years ago I was pastor there, thirty years ago. So they said to me, “You know, we thought that we saw you out here earlier, and we went up to the man whom we thought was you. We went up to him in order to speak to him and tell him that we were here. And as we walked up to the man, we overheard him say, ‘Damn’; and we said, ‘That’s not our pastor, Brother Criswell! That’s somebody else.’”
Aren’t you like that? Aren’t you like that? If you walked up behind my back and I didn’t know you were there, and you heard me using bad four letter words, wouldn’t you say, “That’s not our pastor!” Well, why isn’t it our pastor? He’s got another spirit in him. He’s not like that. He’s like this. Our pastor would be saying other words. He’d be using other language. He’d be employing other nomenclature. Why? Because that’s the way he is on the inside. And that is our deliverance. Always, it’s in Christ [2 Corinthians 5:17]. And if I’m in the Lord, I don’t ever need to be afraid, I just need to say, “O blessed Jesus, stand by me. See me through. Help me out. Give me victory. Fill my soul. Flood my life!”
And from that day when I let Jesus into my soul until the great consummation when I see Him face to face [1 John 3:2], it’s a song. It’s a blessedness. It’s a happiness, it’s a victory. It’s a triumph every step of the way, and better and sweeter and finer as the day goes on; “For He that is within us,” says the inspired apostle, “is greater than he who is out there” [1 John 4:4]. That’s the victory. It’s Jesus and the Spirit of the blessed Savior in our hearts [Romans 8:9-11].
You don’t ever need to fear all of that demon talk. And you don’t ever need to be downcast as though we were going to lose our battle, no sir. God is greater and stronger and mightier, and it delights our God to give the kingdom to His children [Luke 12:32]. He said so. It’s in His Book.
We must sing our hymn of appeal, and while we sing our hymn of appeal, somebody you to open your heart to the Lord, “I’d love to have Jesus in my soul, the Friend of friends to see me through.” If today you’ll open your heart to our God, would you come and stand by me? To put your life in the fellowship of the church, a couple, a family if for any reason God presses the appeal to your soul, come now. Make it now. Do it now this moment. The decision is made. “Here I am, pastor. Here I come.” I’ll look for you. I’ll be waiting for you. Make it now, while we stand and while we sing.