In his book, “The Art of War”, Sun Tzu wrote 2400 years ago, “It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.” We must understand our enemy, the devil, and his kingdom, his motives, his tactics and know ourselves and our weaknesses and where the devil attacks us- for we are all in a spiritual battle.
Jesus gave Cephas the name “Petros” (English: Peter) or “rock”- in Peter’s relationship with Christ he would one day become that solid rock, immovable, faithful to His Lord and Savior, even unto death by crucifixion. Names are important in the Bible, as they speak of a person’s character. Here are some of the names given to the prince of the kingdom of darkness.
- Satan (Job 1:6), which means “adversary”- an adversary of God and His Kingdom plans and His kingdom citizens. He’s also called, “the adversary” (1 Pet 5:8-9).
- Devil (Matt 4:1): one who falsely accuses and slanders, who slanders God and His words, such as in the Garden (Gen 3:1-7), and one who accuses the brethren (Rev 12:10).
- The Father of Lies (Jn 8:44)
- Prince of the Power of the Air (Eph 2:2), god of this world (2 Cor 4:4) and ruler of this world (Jn 12:31, 14:30, 16:11)- these titles speak of his authority and domain.
- The tempter (1 Th 3:5)
- Thief (Jn 10:10)
- Destroyer (Jn 10:10)
- The Evil One (2 Th 3:3)
- Dragon and Serpent, “who deceives the whole world” (Rev 12:9)
Jesus ascended into heaven after accomplishing the work of redemption (Rev 12:4-5). Satan and 1/3 of the angels who rebelled with him were cast to earth (Rev 12:4,9) to make war against the Christ (Rev 12:4), against Israel who bore the Christ (Rev 12:13) and against “her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (the church)” (Rev 12:17). His fury in these last days is great for “he knows his time is short.” (Rev 12:12)
Satan has a hierarchy as the prince of demons with authorities, cosmic powers and spiritual forces (Eph 6:12) underneath him. His domain is earth. He is “the ruler of this world.” (Jn 12:31) The title deed of dominion over the earth was passed from man to Satan in the Garden, when man despised his birthright and God-given authority to rule over the earth under God’s authority (Gen 1:26). Man sinned against his King, the Lord, and death entered the world through man’s fall as man gave into Satan’s temptation, the one “who had the power of death” (Heb 2:14, Gen 2:17, Rom 6:23). This death even cursed the creation, causing it to groan under the “bondage of corruption” (Rom 8:21). The title deed to earth was reclaimed by Jesus Christ (Rev 5:1-10, Rom 5:12-20) who purchased us, redeeming us with His blood, “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” (Col 2:15). But in “this present darkness” (Eph 6:12), “this present evil age” (Gal 1:4) Satan has authority over this sin cursed earth. He has authority over all souls except believers in Christ, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 Jn 5:19). Satan can only do what God permits him to do. The locusts, a demonic horde, “Have power to hurt people…they have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit.” (Rev 9:10-11) The four horses in Revelation were “permitted to take peace from the earth” (Rev 6:4) and “given authority over a forth of the earth, to kill.” (Rev 6:8).
Satan’s Work in Unbelievers:
- Blinding them to the truth “to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of Christ” (2 Cor 4:4)
- He “prowls around…seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet 5:8-9)
- He establishes strongholds of darkness (2 Cor 10:3-4)
- He leads people in idol worship (Rev 13:14-15) He is the author of false religions, disguising himself as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:4). His leaders in false religions “disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness” (2 Cor 11:13-15). Some were said to be of “the synagogue of Satan.” (Rev 3:9) He works in these religious systems through “signs and lying wonders” (2 Thess 2:9) deceiving those who “did not receive the love of the truth.” (2 Thess 2:10) Instead of humbly accepting the gospel, many chase after false religions and philosophies and would rather “learn the deep things of Satan.” (Rev 2:24)
- Satan and his demons can inhabit the bodies of unbelievers (Lu 22:3-4)
Satan’s Work in Followers of Christ:
- The devil seeks to get a foothold into believer’s lives through sin that isn’t confessed and repented of- one example is anger (Eph 4:27).
- He schemes against us (Eph 6:11) and tempts us (1 Thess 3:5) to forget our high calling of following Christ.
- He can use believers in sin to accomplish his work, such as when Peter was used by Satan to tempt Jesus to abandon the cross. Jesus rebuked Satan’s message spoken through Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!” (Mk 9:32-33).
- Satan can puff up new leaders in the church with conceit (1 Tim 3:6-7).
- Satan pursues hindering the spread of the gospel and missionary work- he hindered Paul from returning to Thessalonica to further disciple the new believers (1 Thess 2:18).
Babylon, Symbolic Capital of Satan’s Earthly Kingdom
Every kingdom has a throne and a capital city. Figuratively, Satan’s earthly kingdom is called Babylon, which is also Rome, according to Peter (1 Pet 5:13). Babylon is the appropriate symbol to represent Satan’s kingdom since all the people at the tower of Babel were of one mind to exalt themselves as god and be independent of God (Gen 11:4). Rome was capital of the known civilized world during the New Testament, a city known by everyone at that time as The City of Seven Hills (an idiom for Rome, such as calling New York City “the Big Apple”). Rome was the city of many kings or Caesars who demanded emperor worship. John wrote “the Revelation [unveiling] of Jesus Christ…to the seven churches which are in Asia” (Rev 1:1, 4) apparently during the reign of Emperor Domitian ~95 A.D. who had John the Apostle exiled to the prison island of Patmos “for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Rev 1:9)
Revelation in vivid symbolism has hundreds of references to the Old Testament and other New Testament passages and symbols of Rome that gave believers in the 1st Century church hope, encouragement and exhortation to persevere under tribulation. The visible kingdoms and authorities on this earth that seemed so powerful and were overseen by the “ruler of this world” (Jn 12:31, 14:30, 16:11) would crash and burn forever, but God’s invisible, eternal kingdom would triumph and King Jesus would reign over all the earth! In the meantime, He is here in the midst of His church, walking among the seven lamp stands- the light of the church on this earth (Rev 1:20).
John wrote of a beast with seven heads and ten horns which is Rome (Rev 12:3-4, 13:1, 17:1) and of a harlot named “Babylon”. “Here is the mind that calls for wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. There are also seven kings.” (Rev 17:9-10). The woman also sits “on a scarlet beast… with seven heads and ten horns… the waters that you saw, where the harlot sits are peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues” (Rev 17:1-6, 15, 18:2-5). Satan is king of Babylon, the world system opposed to Jesus Christ and His church, which is over peoples, nations and tongues. The harlot is “that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth.” (Rev 17:18) Babylon “has made all the nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” (Rev 16:19), indeed, the “whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 Jn 5:19) who “deceives the whole world” (Rev 12:9). The 1st Century Christians had no confusion over Babylon as many people seem to today as they misinterpret the book of Revelation- they knew precisely what John was referring to- it was no complex mystery or prophecy- it was their day to day experience of living in a world system that was opposed to King Jesus and His followers and headed for damnation.
The stern warning and promise of God to believers and would be believers is that this world and all its lusts are going to soon be destroyed, but “he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 Jn 2:15-17). Christ is coming back soon in fury to judge Babylon- He’s coming like “a thief in the night” (Mt 24:43, Rev 16:15) and “the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” (2 Pet 3:10 cf Heb 11:7). Indeed, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city.” (Rev 14:8).
Babylon has her anti-Christ’s and her false prophets- culminating with The Anti-Christ and The False Prophet. Jesus warned us in these last days that “many will come in My name, saying ‘I am the Christ’ and will deceive many…many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.” (Matt 24:5, 11, Rev 13:11-14). The spirit of anti-Christ is alive and powerful today (1 Jn 2:18) and we’re called to be sober minded and alert, watching and praying. We are to “test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world…this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.” (1 Jn 4:1-3). The middle chapters of Revelation, as they speak of the great tribulation, are first and foremost speaking to believers in the first century and then to believers throughout the present evil age. The call is for believers and would be believers to not live for this world and all its lusts, but to persevere its persecutions, for Christ is coming back and He will judge the world.
See the world system as Jesus sees it- hate the world system and the devil behind it and all the lust of it. See it as a seductive, foul, demonic consuming machine that devours all who are enslaved in it, for Babylon is “a dwelling place for demons, a prison for every foul spirit” (Rev 18:2). The cry of the Lord and of believers as evangelists is “Come out of her My people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive her plagues” (Rev 18:4, cf Heb 11:7). Know Babylon’s fate and tremble- and let it fuel the fire within you to share the glorious gospel of salvation to everyone who isn’t saved, who is under the sway of the evil one. God’s call is that there are two kingdoms, and we are not to “be unequally yoked with unbelievers, for what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what accord has Christ [King of Kings] with Belial [Prince of this world]? Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Cor 6:14-7:1)
Put all your trust in Jesus- know that this world is Satan’s turf- he presently has sway over its governments, systems, institutions and religions (other than authentic faith in Christ) and inhabitants that aren’t sealed in the Spirit (Rev 7:1-17). Live here as strangers and aliens, as sojourners (1 Pet 1:17) and pilgrims (1 Pet 1:1)- this world is not our home. We live in these tents (2 Pet 1:13, 2 Cor 5:1, Heb 11:8-10), but God our King has given us a permanent dwelling place (Jn 14:2) to call home, represented by His eternal capital city, symbolically called “Zion”, the “City of God”- where the dwelling of God is with man (Rev 21:1-7, chapter 22). Pursue Zion and the King of Zion, King Jesus, and flee Babylon and its darkness. Be like Noah (2 Pet 2:5, Heb 11:7), a preacher of righteousness, warning of the wrath to come. Be like Lot and flee Sodom, taking loved ones with you (2 Pet 2:6-9) and warning its inhabitants. “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev 22:20)