These papers explore how to be filled with the Holy Spirit with the goal of being empowered to live a life that pleases God. This fourth part will examine Satan’s power, his methods, and how the Holy Spirit overcomes him. Then we learn from Romans 3 through Romans 8 how to be dependent on the Holy Spirit.
Satan versus the Holy Spirit
Key verse: “I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”1
Quick review: In the first two chapters of this study we asked:
- “Why do we need this study?”
- “What do we already know about the Holy Spirit?”
- “Why are we so ignorant about the Holy Spirit?”
- “Why do we need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit?”
- “What are the various ways the Holy Spirit empowers us?”
In the third chapter we saw:
- The Holy Spirit is the bridge between the temporal and the spiritual realms.
- There are four ways that we are empowered by the Holy Spirit:
- Sealing—one-time event.
- Walking/Abiding—continuous basking in Him.
- Anointing (baptism in the Holy Spirit)—special empowering for service.
- Completing/Conforming—our certain hope.
- Jesus experienced all four.
- We can’t lose being sealed.
- But we can lose Abiding and Anointing by grieving or quenching the Holy Spirit.
- The baptism of the Holy Spirit = Anointing.
- We each experience the Holy Spirit in unique ways.
- We shouldn’t try to tell the Holy Spirit how to work.
- There is a “second blessing.”
In the remaining three chapters we will ask:
- “What prevents us from being filled with the Holy Spirit?”
- “What enables us to be filled with the Holy Spirit?”
- “What does it look like when we are filled?”
- “Why be empowered by the Holy Spirit?”
- “How can we be empowered by the Holy Spirit?”
- “How can I become mature?”
- “Let’s ask to be filled by the Holy Spirit.”
You may be shocked by what we cover next but I think that it is essential in order to understand God’s provision of the Holy Spirit.
As we cannot emphasize enough, God loves us passionately. That is who He is—His very nature.2 He is determined for our very best.
But on the other hand, there is one who hates us equally passionately and is determined for our destruction: Satan.
We tend to underestimate Satan’s power in our lives. We think of him in a little red suit with horns and a forked tail. Instead, he is a deadly snake3 and he is responsible for all the pain, suffering and death that is in the world. We cannot resist Satan in our own power. It is only through the Holy Spirit that we can resist Satan.
- Satan is incredibly powerful. He even thought that he was powerful enough to become greater than God. In Isaiah he is described: “But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.'”4
- He originally was created as the essence of beauty: “You had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the ruby, the topaz and the diamond; the beryl, the onyx and the jasper; the lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; and the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, was in you. On the day that you were created they were prepared.” 5 He was created by God just as we were. Same word in Hebrew.
- He was in the second most important position in Heaven next to the Father Himself: “You were the anointed cherub who covers, and I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked in the midst of the stones of fire.”6
- Then he sinned: “You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you. …you were internally filled with violence, and you sinned. Therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God, and I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor.”7
- As the previous verse indicates, “I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings [on earth], that they may see you.” His punishment was to roam the earth. In Job 1:7 and 2:2, ‘The Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.”‘
- Therefore Satan hates God and he hates God’s creatures [us] and seeks to destroy us: “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”8
- We know the antichrist will appear in bodily form in the book of Revelation 9 but the spirit of the antichrist [Satan] already exists. In 1 John 4:4 it says: “…every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.” The “spirit of the antichrist” is the spirit of Satan—wicked and destructive.
- Even though he has been cast to earth, he is still immensely powerful and as dangerous as a cornered bear. “For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.”10
What methods does he use against us?
- The Law
- Ignorance of the power that is available to us
- Underestimating him.
But these have all been dealt with: “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”11
We would be totally helpless against Satan if Jesus had not sent His Spirit to dwell within us. Remember the verse about the archangel Michael: “when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!'”12 Therefore if even an archangel (who is infinitely more powerful than we are) can’t resist Satan, then we dare not depend on our own power (!) but instead depend continually on the Holy Spirit. He has given us power to resist because “…greater is He who is in you [the Holy Spirit] than he [Satan] who is in the world.” 13 Satan may be in the world but the Holy Spirit is in us!
You may remember when we studied the Parable of the Sower, the first category of people belonged to the devil since the seed (the Word of God) got snatched away before they believed. However, the remaining three seeds sprouted—they came to life.
Unfortunately, two of them never matured in order to bring forth fruit. This refers to the majority of Christians who go to church on Sunday—but that’s all they do. These people are of little concern to Satan; he can pretty much ignore them except he doesn’t want them to mature to bring forth fruit. Therefore, he keeps them ignorant or preoccupied with the things of the world.
But that fourth category, those that bring forth 30, 60 or a 100 fold, are terrifying to him. That’s us. We want to be anointed (empowered) by the Holy Spirit so we can bring forth fruit. That’s why we are in this study.
The prerequisite to being anointed is that we need to continually abide in the Spirit. I call this “basking.” [Define basking: warm, safe, relaxed, peaceful, soaking up the sunshine, at rest, content] If we do this, He will protect us from Satan. Otherwise God will allow Satan to pick on us.
Do you recollect in the book of Job how God “…made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You [God] have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.”14 Satan needed to get permission from God in order to afflict Job. He needs permission to trouble us too.
I don’t mean to scare you or make you preoccupied with Satan. My purpose is to make us aware of the power within us in the form of the Holy Spirit. Consider the verse: “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them [evil spirits sent from Satan]; because greater is He who is in you [the Spirit of God] than he who is in the world.”15
Before we go on, let’s correct some misconceptions that exist:
- Many people believe that the Holy Spirit is only mentioned in the New Testament. Not true. Remember He was even present at Creation.16 The terms “Holy Spirit,” “Spirit of God” or “Spirit of the Lord” are mentioned 39 times in the Old Testament. Furthermore, people before Christ were very aware of a spiritual realm as well as a physical realm since the term “spirit” by itself is mentioned 179 times in the Old Testament. However, many of those refer to both good spirits or evil spirits rather than just the Holy Spirit. There are extensive references to such spirits but they are beyond the scope of this study.
- Some teachers have erroneously claimed that the Holy Spirit only rested on His prophets in the Old Testament but didn’t dwell within them. However 1 Peter 1:10-11 says, “As to this salvation, the [Old Testament] prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.” [We have already realized that the Spirit of Christ is the same identical being as the Holy Spirit.] Likewise Ex 31:3-5 and Ex 35:31-33 say concerning the craftsman Bezalel, “I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship.”
In a parallel vein, some have mistakenly claimed that the Holy Spirit does not rest on but only dwells within a believer today. However, many New Testament verses show that He rests on believers today.
- “And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them…”17
- “you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”18
- “John testified saying, ‘I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.'”19
- “…but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”20
There are many other erroneous beliefs that could be easily corrected by simply reading the
Scriptures with an open mind and depending on the Holy Spirit to reveal their significance.
Teachings about the Holy Spirit
Introduction to the Holy Spirit—Romans 3 through 7
Now on a more positive vein, there are fascinating progressions of thought in chapters 3 through 7 of Romans that deal with our freedom from Satan’s control:
- Romans 3: “Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.”21
- Romans 4: “for the Law brings about wrath”22
- Romans 5: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.”23
- Romans 6: In the previous three chapters of Romans we’ve seen how Satan uses three things (mainly the Law, sin and the sting of death) to control and destroy people. However the main thrust of Romans 6 is that even though we were once slaves to sin and really didn’t have a choice, now that Jesus has died in our place, we are not obligated to obey sin anymore; we are now free to choose whether to sin or to walk in the Spirit. “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not [need not] be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”24
- Romans 7: Unfortunately as this chapter explains, we frequently make the wrong choice. Our habitual fleshly old man reverts back under the Law. “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?”25 This is just like the Israelites wanting to go back to the leeks and onions of Egypt after they had been set free. Also, Gal 5:17 says “the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.”
Romans 8 teaching on the Holy Spirit
- Romans 8: But then comes the triumph of Romans 8: “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”26
Notice that it is “the Spirit of life in Christ” that has set us free.This first verse is a wonderful introduction into the best chapter that teaches about the Holy Spirit. [You might want to open your Bibles to Romans 8 for the next discussion]
- [V3-5] “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” [How are the requirements of the Law fulfilled? By walking according to the Spirit.]
- [V6] “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” Remember in 1 Cor 2:16, “But we have the mind of Christ.” [So how do we have life and peace? By setting our minds on the Spirit.]
- [V9] “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.” [Does He? You were sealed.] “But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” [Do you?]
- [V10] “If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.” [Which spirit is he referring to? Our human spirit.] “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” [When does this occur? So our spirit doesn’t die? It can’t die because it is joined to the Holy Spirit who is eternal. Not so with the unbeliever.]
- [V13] “..if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” [Die physically? When does living occur? Both now and eternally.]
- [V14] “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” [Daughters too! How are we led?]
- [V15] “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!'” [Loving relationship.]
- [V16] “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” [Security.]
- [V26] “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” [Have you ever been unable to put your feelings into words?]
- [V27] “He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” [Guaranteed answer!]
Dependence on the Holy Spirit
Look at the example Jesus set for us. Although He was 100% God, He set aside His godly powers and became 100% man. That’s why He consistently referred to Himself as “the Son of Man.” Philippians 2:5‑8 says: “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”27 Human Jesus totally depended on the Spirit for everything.28 29 30 31 It may seem heretical to say but I believe Jesus did not do the miracles Himself but was the agent for the Spirit of God who worked through Him.
We need to follow His example of absolute dependence on the Holy Spirit. Then, just as He was, we will be empowered. Eph 3:13 says, “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us….”
- Satan is powerful.
- But the Holy Spirit is more powerful.
- Therefore bask in Him.
- Romans tells us so much about our Holy Spirit.
- Be dependent on Him.
To continue to the next chapter click here:
These papers are based on a six-week adult Sunday School study at Sisters Community Church in Sisters, Oregon, January 2020, led by Drew Berding. The title of the study was ‘The Holy Spirit Empowering the Life of the Believer.’
Photo Attribution: Morning Brew – unsplash.com
- 1 Cor 2:3-5
- 1 John 4:16, “We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”
- Gen 3:1, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.”
- Isa 14:13-14
- Ezek 28:12-13
- Ezek 28:14
- Ezek 28:15-17
- 1 Peter 5:8
- Rev 13:2, “And the dragon [Satan] gave him [the antichrist] his power and his throne and great authority.”
- Rev 12:10
- 1 Cor 15:55-57
- Jude 9
- 1 John 4:4
- Job 1:10
- 1 John 4:4
- Gen 1:2, “The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.”
- Acts 19:6
- 1 Peter 4:14
- John 1:32-33
- Acts 1:8
- Rom 3:19-20
- Rom 4:15
- Rom 5:11
- Rom 6:12-14
- Rom 7:24
- Rom 8:1-2
- Phil 2:5-8
- John 5:30, “I can do nothing on My own initiative.”
- John 8:28, “I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.”
- John 12:49, “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak.”
- John 14:10, “I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.”