Mary Magdalene was one of Jesus' most devoted followers. She must have had a troubled past, because the Bible tells us in Luke 8:2 that Jesus cast seven demons out of her. Yet she was part of Jesus' close circle of friends, and she, along with other women disciples, contributed financially to support Jesus' mission. When Jesus was crucified, Mary bravely stood near the cross and watched Him die.
On the morning that Jesus was raised from the dead, Mary came to the tomb with the other women to tend to His body with embalming spices. There she earned a front-row seat to watch the greatest miracle in history. When she saw that the stone had been rolled away from the sepulcher, she looked inside and saw two angels, one at the head and one at the foot of the grave. When she turned around, the resurrected Jesus was standing there, and He called her name: "Mary!"
His loyal disciple was so shocked to see Jesus alive that she grabbed Him. She could see Him with her eyes, but she wanted to feel with her hands that it really was her master. Jesus then said to her, "Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God'" (John 20:17, NASB 1995). Not only was Mary one of the key witnesses of the Resurrection, but Jesus commissioned her to tell His male followers that He had overcome death.
In the days of Jesus, women were not even trusted to be witnesses in a court of law, yet Jesus broke that tradition by calling a woman to announce this glorious news. Mary reminds us today that Jesus still calls broken, unqualified, and marginalized people to spread the Good News of His love to the world.
Jesus Faces Satan
As soon as Jesus began His ministry in Israel, He had a dramatic encounter with Satan himself. While Jesus was fasting and praying for 40 days in the wilderness, the devil came to oppose Him. Just as Satan had tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to turn away from God, Satan invited Jesus to fall down and worship him. But unlike Adam and Eve, Jesus was not deceived by the serpent. Jesus quoted Scripture to Satan all three times He was tempted, and Satan eventually left Him. (See Matt. 4:1–11.)
That was not Jesus' last encounter with Satan or his demons. Right after Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John to be His disciples, they went to a synagogue in Capernaum, and a demon-possessed man began to cry out loudly. Jesus rebuked the spirit, and the man went into convulsions until the demon came out. (See Mark 1:21–26.) This scene was repeated often. Jesus cast out so many demons from people, in fact, that the common people were amazed and said, "What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him" (Mark 1:27b).
The Bible teaches us that Satan is a personal, spiritual being who is the ultimate enemy of God. He is not a fictional character. Satan is real, and he has a whole host of followers known as demons, or evil spirits, who serve in a sinister hierarchy to fight against God's plans. You do not have to be afraid of the devil, but as a believer in Christ you must know your enemy.
Here are some truths you must know:
1. The devil is a fallen angel. Satan was originally created as an angel to serve God, but he was cast out of heaven because of his pride. (See Ezek. 28.) The Bible says the devil is a master of clever disguises and that he prefers to appear as "an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11:14). Without spiritual discernment, most people don't even recognize that the devil is working.
2. Satan has a kingdom. Because of man's sin, Satan gained access to manipulate and control this world temporarily. First John 5:19 says: "We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one." This means Satan and his dark armies of demons can pull strings, tempt people and lure sinners to do wicked things. Satan hates God, and he uses hate, war, violence, immorality, child abuse, injustice, division, witchcraft, poverty, disease, drugs, alcohol and idolatry to destroy the people God made. Speaking of Satan, Jesus said: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy" (John 10:10). Satan's kingdom is built on wickedness and absolute evil.
3. The devil is not all-powerful. God is omnipresent, but the devil doesn't have that kind of influence. Satan cannot be everywhere at one time. Jesus said He saw Satan "fall from heaven like lightning" (Luke 10:18)—referring to the moment when our enemy was cast out of the highest heaven. Satan posts his demons in various regions, but he is not watching us 24 hours a day.
4. Christ has defeated Satan. When Jesus died on the cross, He disarmed satanic powers and made a public spectacle of them (Col. 2:15). Satan's authority has been taken from him, and all he can do now is lie, steal, kill and destroy—much like a renegade terrorist army—until the church finishes the job of preaching the gospel to the world. Satan knows his end is near.
5. Christians have power over demons. Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He announced: "These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons" (Mark 16:17a). Many times in the book of Acts we see instances in which followers of Jesus cast out demons. Movies such as The Exorcist tried to glorify demons and make them seem all-powerful, but Christians do not have to be afraid of unclean spirits. Demons must leave when we command them to go in the name of Jesus.
6. The devil will eventually be sentenced to hell. Jesus said hell "has been prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matt. 25:41), and Revelation 20:10 says after the final judgment God will throw Satan "into the lake of fire and brimstone," where he will be "tormented day and night forever and ever." That is what the devil fears most.
The kingdom of God is so much more powerful than the kingdom of Satan. If you are a believer in Christ, you have no reason to fear the devil. We should not be ignorant of Satan's schemes, and you should develop discernment to know where he is working, but you do not have to be afraid of him. The apostle Paul's words in Romans 16:20a (MEV) remind us of our victory: "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet."
We know that one day, because of Christ's victory on the cross, Satan will be forever defeated.
Read articles like this one and other Spirit-led content in our new platform, CHARISMA PLUS.
J. Lee Grady was editor of Charisma for 11 years before he launched into full-time ministry in 2010. Today he directs The Mordecai Project, a Christian charitable organization that is taking the healing of Jesus to women and girls who suffer abuse and cultural oppression. Author of several books including 10 Lies the Church Tells Women, he has just released his newest book, Set My Heart on Fire, from Charisma House. You can follow him on Twitter at @LeeGrady or go to his website, themordecaiproject.org.
Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
Great Resources to help you excel in 2019! #1 John Eckhardt's "Prayers That..." 6-Book Bundle. Prayer helps you overcome anything life throws at you. Get a FREE Bonus with this bundle. #2 Learn to walk in the fullness of your purpose and destiny by living each day with Holy Spirit. Buy a set of Life in the Spirit, get a second set FREE.