The old serpent is almost sure to be lurking in our path!
(James Smith, "The Great Deceiver!" 1861)
"That old serpent called the devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world." Revelation 12:9
Our ENEMY. He is "that old serpent," full of subtlety, craft, and cunning. He is powerful, far beyond what most give him credit for — and brings the experience of six thousand years to bear upon his victims. None escape his notice, or remain unmolested by him.
He is full of bitter hatred to believers, because they love the Savior, and desire to honor Him. His malice is deep and dreadful, which prompts him in every way to seek to injure them. He hates them because . . .
they have escaped out of his hand,
they oppose his kingdom and government;
they hate sin, and pant, and pray, and strive for holiness.
He is a terrible foe, for he never wearies, and though foiled a thousand times — he will renew the attack! If he knows that he cannot devour us, he will do all he can to worry us; and though we may be off our guard — he is never off his.
His WORK. "He deceives the whole world." He deceives by misrepresenting objects.
He represents sin as harmless, painless, pleasant, and much to be desired.
He represents holiness as repulsive, injurious, gloomy, and undignified.
He represents man to himself as innocent, dignified, and deserving God's blessing.
He represents himself as man's friend, pitying, and wishing to elevate him, and make him happy.
He represents God as severe, cruel, revengeful, and almost implacable.
He represents the law as harsh, severe, and unnecessarily strict.
He represents the gospel as degrading to man, and very little better than the law.
He represents the Savior as a stern law-giver, an unbending judge, and one very difficult to please.
Indeed, every spiritual object is misrepresented by him!
Then by prejudices, errors, or superstition — he . . .
blinds the mind,
conceals the true nature of the gospel,
and hides the Savior from man's view.
"The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God!"
He makes use of all kinds of error, and all sorts of false teachers, to . . .
hinder God's work,
eclipse the glory of the gospel,
and destroy the souls of men.
If he can lull the soul into false security, his end is answered, and the doom of the poor creature is sealed!
If we were not so ignorant of his devices, or did not forget his unwearied activity, deep rooted malice, and fixed determination by all means to ruin souls — we would not trifle with him as we do.
The Extent of His SUCCESS. "He deceives the whole world!" We were all under his dominion once. We loved his service, believed his lies, and — but for the mercy of God, would have surely perished in our sins!
All around us we see Satan working, deceiving, and leading souls captive at his will. This should make us think and act soberly, as Peter says, "Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour! Stand firm against him, and be strong in the faith."
It should lead us to walk carefully, for the old serpent is almost sure to be lurking in our path!
It should lead us to examine diligently, lest we should be deceived; for if he deceives the whole world, with all its learning, shrewdness, and knowledge — we may well examine carefully, lest he deceive us!
It should lead us to pray fervently. Think of the power and subtlety of the old serpent! Have we not need to cry mightily to God, that he would keep us by His power, shield us by His presence, and preserve us by His grace unto His kingdom and glory.
It should lead us to watch daily, for in a sense, we are always in danger! If we sleep — Satan does not! If we are off our guard — he is ready to take advantage, in order to injure us.
O for wisdom to resist Satan, and overcome him!