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“Watchtower” Study: information for personal study
BE WATCHFUL—SATAN WANTS TO DEVOUR YOU!
“Be watchful! Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.”—1 PET. 5:8.
HOW HAS SATAN SHOWN THAT HE IS . . .
1. Explain how a spirit creature became Satan.
AT ONE TIME, he enjoyed a fine standing with Jehovah. At some point, however, this spirit creature began to desire the worship of humans. Rather than dismiss that improper desire, he nurtured it and let it grow until it gave birth to sin. (Jas. 1:14, 15) We know that creature as Satan, who “did not stand fast in the truth.” He rebelled against Jehovah and became “the father of the lie.”—John 8:44.
par. 1 (Jas. 1:14, 15) But each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then the desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin; in turn sin, when it has been carried out, brings forth death.
par. 1 (John 8:44) You are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father. That one was a murderer when he began, and he did not stand fast in the truth, because truth is not in him. When he speaks the lie, he speaks according to his own disposition, because he is a liar and the father of the lie.
2, 3. What do the terms “Satan,” “Devil,” “serpent,” and “dragon” reveal about Jehovah’s greatest enemy?
2 Since his rebellion, Satan has proved to be Jehovah’s greatest enemy, and he certainly has not been a friend of mankind. The titles given to Satan reveal the depth of his corruption. Satan means “Resister,” indicating that this wicked spirit creature does not support God’s sovereignty; rather, he hates it and aggressively fights it. More than anything else, Satan wants to see the end of Jehovah’s sovereignty.
3 As noted at Revelation 12:9, Satan is called Devil, meaning “Slanderer.” This reminds us that Satan has defamed Jehovah by calling him a liar. The words “the original serpent” bring to mind that tragic day in Eden when Satan used a snake to deceive Eve. The expression “the great dragon” brings to mind thoughts of a terrifying monster and aptly fits Satan’s savage craving to obstruct Jehovah’s purpose and destroy His people.
par. 3 (Rev. 12:9) So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him.
4. What will be discussed in this article?
4 Clearly, Satan poses the greatest threat to our integrity. For good reason, the Bible admonishes us: “Keep your senses, be watchful! Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.” (1 Pet. 5:8) In view of that warning, this article will consider three characteristics of Satan that underscore the need to guard against this unscrupulous enemy of Jehovah and His people.
par. 4 (1 Pet. 5:8) Keep your senses, be watchful! Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.
SATAN IS POWERFUL
5, 6. (a) Give examples showing that spirit creatures are “mighty in power.” (b) In what sense does Satan have “the means to cause death”?
5 Spirit creatures called angels are “mighty in power.” (Ps. 103:20) They are superior to humans and thus have greater intellect and strength. Of course, faithful angels use their power for good. For example, on one occasion an angel of Jehovah struck down 185,000 enemy Assyrian soldiers—a feat that would have been impossible for one human and difficult even for an entire army. (2 Ki. 19:35) On another occasion an angel used his superhuman power and ingenuity to release Jesus’ apostles from jail. That spirit creature eluded security measures, unlocked the doors, let out the apostles, and then locked the doors behind them—all of that while guards were stationed nearby!—Acts 5:18-23.
par. 5 (Ps. 103:20) Praise Jehovah, all you his angels, mighty in power, Who carry out his word, obeying his voice.
par. 5 (2 Ki. 19:35) On that very night the angel of Jehovah went out and struck down 185,000 men in the camp of the As•syrʹi•ans. When people rose up early in the morning, they saw all the dead bodies.
par. 5 (Acts 5:18-23) And they seized the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But during the night, Jehovah’s angel opened the doors of the prison, brought them out, and said: 20 “Go and take your stand in the temple, and keep on speaking to the people all the sayings about this life.” 21 After hearing this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach. Now when the high priest and those with him arrived, they called together the Sanʹhe•drin and the entire assembly of elders of the sons of Israel, and they sent out to the jail to have the apostles brought before them. 22 But when the officers got there, they did not find them in the prison. So they returned and made their report, 23 saying: “We found the jail locked and secure, and the guards were standing at the doors, but on opening it up, we found no one inside.”
6 Whereas faithful spirit creatures use their power for good, Satan uses his power for evil. And what power and influence he has! The Scriptures refer to him as “the ruler of this world” and “the god of this system of things.” (John 12:31; 2 Cor. 4:4) Satan the Devil even has “the means to cause death.” (Heb. 2:14) This does not mean that he kills all people directly. However, his murderous spirit has permeated this world. Moreover, because Eve believed Satan’s lie and Adam disobeyed God, sin and death spread to all mankind. (Rom. 5:12) In that sense, the Devil has had “the means to cause death.” He is what Jesus called him—“a murderer.” (John 8:44) What a powerful enemy we have in Satan!
par. 6 (John 12:31) Now there is a judging of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.
par. 6 (2 Cor. 4:4) among whom the god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, so that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through.
par. 6 (Heb. 2:14) Therefore, since the “young children” are sharers of blood and flesh, he also similarly shared in the same things, so that through his death he might bring to nothing the one having the means to cause death, that is, the Devil,
par. 6 (Rom. 5:12) That is why, just as through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because they had all sinned—.
par. 6 (John 8:44) You are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father. That one was a murderer when he began, and he did not stand fast in the truth, because truth is not in him. When he speaks the lie, he speaks according to his own disposition, because he is a liar and the father of the lie.
7. How have the demons shown themselves to be powerful?
7 When we oppose Satan, we align ourselves against not only him but all those who side with him in the issue of universal sovereignty. That number includes a sizable group of other spirit rebels, or demons. (Rev. 12:3, 4) Time and again, the demons have demonstrated their superhuman strength, causing great misery to those whom they have tormented. (Matt. 8:28-32; Mark 5:1-5) Never underestimate the power of such wicked angels or that of “the ruler of the demons.” (Matt. 9:34) Without help from Jehovah, we could never win our fight against Satan.
par. 7 (Rev. 12:3, 4) Another sign was seen in heaven. Look! A great fiery-colored dragon, with seven heads and ten horns and on its heads seven diadems; 4 and its tail drags a third of the stars of heaven, and it hurled them down to the earth. And the dragon kept standing before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she did give birth, it might devour her child.
par. 7 (Matt. 8:28-32) When he came to the other side into the region of the Gad•a•renesʹ, two demon-possessed men coming out from among the tombs met him. They were unusually fierce, so nobody had the courage to pass by on that road. 29 And look! they screamed, saying: “What have we to do with you, Son of God? Did you come here to torment us before the appointed time?” 30 A long way off from them, a herd of many swine was feeding. 31 So the demons began to plead with him, saying: “If you expel us, send us into the herd of swine.” 32 And he said to them: “Go!” With that they came out and went off into the swine, and look! the entire herd rushed over the precipice into the sea and died in the waters.
par. 7 (Mark 5:1-5) Then they came to the other side of the sea into the region of the Gerʹa•senes.2 And immediately after Jesus got out of the boat, a man under the power of an unclean spirit met him from among the tombs. 3 His haunt was among the tombs, and up to that time, absolutely no one was able to bind him securely, even with a chain. 4 He had often been bound with fetters and chains, but he snapped the chains apart and smashed the fetters; and nobody had the strength to subdue him. 5 And continually, night and day, he was crying out in the tombs and in the mountains and slashing himself with stones.
par. 7 (Matt. 9:34) But the Pharisees were saying: “It is by the ruler of the demons that he expels the demons.”
SATAN IS VICIOUS
8. (a) What is Satan’s goal? (See opening image.) (b) From your own observation, how does this world reflect Satan’s vicious spirit?
8 The apostle Peter likened Satan to “a roaring lion.” According to one reference work, the Greek word translated “roaring” denotes “the howl of a beast in fierce hunger.” How well that describes Satan’s vicious disposition! Although the whole world already lies in his power, Satan is hungry for more victims. (1 John 5:19) To him, the world might be a mere “appetizer.” In effect, Satan has turned his attention to the “main course”—the anointed remnant, who are accompanied by their companions, the “other sheep.” (John 10:16;Rev. 12:17) Satan is intent on devouring Jehovah’s people. The waves of persecution he has unleashed against Jesus’ followers from the first century until now give evidence of his vicious spirit.
par. 8 (1 John 5:19) We know that we originate with God, but the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.
par. 8 (John 10:16) “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those too I must bring in, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.
par. 8 (Rev. 12:17) So the dragon became enraged at the woman and went off to wage war with the remaining ones of her offspring, who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness concerning Jesus.
9, 10. (a) How did Satan try to hinder God’s purpose with regard to the nation of Israel? (Give examples.) (b) Why did Satan have special reason to focus his attention on ancient Israel? (c) How do you think the Devil feels when one of Jehovah’s servants commits a serious sin today?
9 In his attempts to hinder God’s purpose, Satan shows himself to be vicious in yet another way. A famished lion feels no pity for its prey. It feels no compassion before the kill and experiences no remorse afterward. In a similar way, Satan has shown no pity for those whom he tries to devour. For example, think about how often Satan the Devil must have been lurking somewhere when the Israelites succumbed to such sins as sexual immorality and greed. When you read about the tragic consequences that befell immoral Zimri and greedy Gehazi, for instance, can you “see” the roaring lion reveling in his conquest?—Num. 25:6-8, 14, 15; 2 Ki. 5:20-27.
par. 9 (Num. 25:6-8) But just then, there came one of the Israelites bringing near to his brothers a Midʹi•an•ite woman before the eyes of Moses and of all the assembly of the Israelites, while they were weeping at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 7 When Phinʹe•has the son of El•e•aʹzar the son of Aaron the priest saw it, he immediately rose up from the midst of the assembly and took a spear in his hand.8 Then he went after the man of Israel into the tent and pierced both of them through, the man of Israel and the woman through her genital parts. At that the scourge on the Israelites was halted.
par. 9 (Num. 25:14, 15) Incidentally, the name of the Israelite man who was put to death along with the Midʹi•an•i•tess was Zimʹri the son of Saʹlu, a chieftain of a paternal house of the Simʹe•on•ites. 15 The name of the Midʹi•an•ite woman who was put to death was Cozʹbi the daughter of Zur; he was a leader of the clans of a paternal house in Midʹi•an.
par. 9 (2 Ki. 5:20-27) Ge•haʹzi the attendant of E•liʹsha the man of the true God said to himself: ‘Here my master has spared this Syrian Naʹa•man by not accepting from him what he brought. As surely as Jehovah is living, I will run after him and take something from him.’ 21 So Ge•haʹzi chased after Naʹa•man. When Naʹa•man saw someone running after him, he got down from his chariot to meet him and said: “Is everything all right?” 22 To this he said: “All is well. My master has sent me, saying, ‘Look! Just now two young men from the mountainous region of Eʹphra•im from the sons of the prophets came to me. Give them, please, a talent of silver and two changes of garments.’” 23 Naʹa•man said: “Go on, take two talents.” He kept urging him, and he wrapped up two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and gave them to two of his attendants, who carried them before him. 24 When he reached Oʹphel, he took them from their hand and put them in the house and sent the men away. After they left,25 he went in and stood by his master. E•liʹsha now said to him: “Where did you come from, Ge•haʹzi?” But he said: “Your servant did not go anywhere.” 26 E•liʹsha said to him: “Was my heart not there with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is it a time to accept silver or to accept garments or olive groves or vineyards or sheep or cattle or male or female servants? 27 Now Naʹa•man’s leprosy will stick to you and your descendants forever.” Immediately he went out from before him a leper, white as snow.
Satan rejoices when one of Jehovah’s servants commits a sin (See paragraph 10)
10 Satan had special reason to focus his attention on ancient Israel. After all, that nation was to produce the Messiah—the very one who would crush Satan and vindicate Jehovah’s sovereignty. (Gen. 3:15) Satan did not want the Israelites to thrive, and he was vicious in his efforts to contaminate them with sin. Do not imagine that Satan felt sorry for David when he committed adultery or had any sympathy for Moses when that prophet was no longer qualified to enter the Promised Land. On the contrary, Satan no doubt rejoices when one of God’s servants becomes stained with serious sin. In fact, such victories may be among the things the Devil uses to taunt Jehovah.—Prov. 27:11.
par. 10 (Gen. 3:15) And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring. He will crush your head, and you will strike him in the heel.”
par. 10 (Prov. 27:11) Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice, So that I can make a reply to him who taunts me.
11. What interest might Satan have had in targeting Sarah?
11 Satan had particular animosity for the family line that would produce the Messiah. For example, consider what happened shortly after Abraham was told that he would become “a great nation.” (Gen. 12:1-3) While Abraham and Sarah were in Egypt, Pharaoh had Sarah brought to his home—evidently so that she could become his wife. However, Jehovah intervened and saved Sarah from this moral predicament. (Read Genesis 12:14-20.) Shortly before the birth of Isaac, a similar incident occurred in Gerar. (Gen. 20:1-7) Was Satan behind the scenes on those occasions? Did he hope that Sarah, who left prosperous Ur to dwell in tents, would be seduced by the luxurious palaces of Pharaoh and Abimelech? Was Satan thinking that Sarah would betray her husband—and Jehovah—and enter an adulterous marriage? The Bible does not say, but we have good reason to believe that the Devil would have been delighted to render Sarah unfit to bear the promised offspring. Satan would have suffered no pangs of guilt that a good woman’s marriage, reputation, and standing with Jehovah would have been marred. How vicious Satan is!
par. 11 (Gen. 12:1-3) And Jehovah said to Aʹbram: “Go out from your land and away from your relatives and from the house of your father to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, and you will become a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who calls down evil on you, and all the families of the ground will certainly be blessed by means of you.”
par. 11 (Gen. 12:14-20) As soon as Aʹbram entered Egypt, the Egyptians noticed that the woman was very beautiful. 15 And the princes of Pharʹaoh also saw her, and they began praising her to Pharʹaoh, so that the woman was taken to the house of Pharʹaoh. 16 He treated Aʹbram well because of her, and he acquired sheep, cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels. 17 Then Jehovah struck Pharʹaoh and his household with severe plagues because of Sarʹai, Aʹbram’s wife. 18 So Pharʹaoh called Aʹbram and said: “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I was about to take her as my wife? Here is your wife. Take her and go!” 20 So Pharʹaoh gave his men orders concerning him, and they sent him away with his wife and all that he had.
par. 11 (Gen. 20:1-7) Now Abraham moved his camp from there to the land of the Negʹeb and began dwelling between Kaʹdesh and Shur. While he was residing at Geʹrar, 2 Abraham repeated concerning his wife Sarah: “She is my sister.” So A•bimʹe•lech king of Geʹrar sent for Sarah and took her. 3 Afterward, God came by night to A•bimʹe•lech in a dream and said to him: “Here you are as good as dead because of the woman whom you have taken, since she is married and belongs to another man.” 4 However, A•bimʹe•lech had not gone near her. So he said: “Jehovah, will you kill a nation that is really innocent?5 Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,’ and did she too not say, ‘He is my brother’? I did this with an honest heart and innocent hands.” 6 Then the true God said to him in the dream: “I know that you did this with an honest heart, so I held you back from sinning against me. That is why I did not allow you to touch her. 7 Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will make supplication for you and you will keep living. But if you are not returning her, know that you will surely die, you and all who are yours.”
12, 13. (a) How did Satan show his vicious disposition after the birth of Jesus? (b) How do you think Satan feels about young ones who love Jehovah and strive to serve Him today?
12 Jesus was born centuries after Abraham. Do not imagine that Satan thought that this infant was beautiful, cuddly, or precious. No, for Satan knew that this newborn child would grow up to become the promised Messiah. Indeed, Jesus was the primary part of Abraham’s offspring, the one who would later “break up the works of the Devil.” (1 John 3:8) Would Satan reason that taking the life of a baby was going too far? Satan has no noble code of ethics. And with regard to the child Jesus, Satan did not hesitate to act. How?
par. 12 (1 John 3:8) The one who practices sin originates with the Devil, because the Devil has been sinning from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was made manifest, to break up the works of the Devil.
13 King Herod was greatly upset when astrologers inquired about “the one born king of the Jews,” and he was determined to kill him. (Matt. 2:1-3, 13) To make sure that the job was done, he ordered the execution of allboys two years of age and younger who were living in Bethlehem and its districts. (Read Matthew 2:13-18.)Jesus escaped death in that unimaginable slaughter, but what does this tell us about our enemy Satan? It is evident that the Devil places no value on human life. He certainly does not have a soft spot for children. Satan truly is “a roaring lion.” Never underestimate his vicious disposition!
par. 13 (Matt. 2:1-3) After Jesus had been born in Bethʹle•hem of Ju•deʹa in the days of Herod the king, look! astrologers from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying: “Where is the one born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when we were in the East, and we have come to do obeisance to him.” 3 At hearing this, King Herod was agitated, and all Jerusalem with him.
par. 13 (Matt. 2:13) After they had departed, look! Jehovah’s angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying: “Get up, take the young child and his mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I give you word, for Herod is about to search for the young child to kill him.”
par. 13 (Matt. 2:13-18) After they had departed, look! Jehovah’s angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying: “Get up, take the young child and his mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I give you word, for Herod is about to search for the young child to kill him.” 14 So Joseph got up and by night took along the young child and the child’s mother and went into Egypt. 15 He stayed there until the death of Herod. This fulfilled what was spoken by Jehovah through his prophet, saying: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” 16 Then Herod, seeing that he had been outwitted by the astrologers, flew into a great rage, and he sent out and had all the boys in Bethʹle•hem and in all its districts killed, from two years of age and under, according to the time that he had carefully ascertained from the astrologers. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet, who said: 18 “A voice was heard in Raʹmah, weeping and much wailing. It was Rachel weeping for her children, and she was unwilling to take comfort, because they are no more.”
SATAN IS DECEPTIVE
14, 15. How has Satan “blinded the minds of the unbelievers”?
14 Only by being deceptive can Satan turn people against the loving God, Jehovah. (1 John 4:8) Through deception, Satan keeps people from becoming “conscious of their spiritual need.” (Matt. 5:3) He has thus “blinded the minds of the unbelievers, so that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through.”—2 Cor. 4:4.
par. 14 (1 John 4:8) Whoever does not love has not come to know God, because God is love.
par. 14 (Matt. 5:3) “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need, since the Kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.
par. 14 (2 Cor. 4:4) among whom the god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, so that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through.
15 One of Satan’s greatest means of deception is false religion. How pleased he must be to see people worship their ancestors, or nature, or animals—anyone or anything other than Jehovah, “who requires exclusive devotion”! (Ex. 20:5) Even many who think that they are worshipping God properly are shackled to false beliefs and useless rituals. They are in a pitiable state, much like that of those whom Jehovah implored: “Why do you keep paying out money for what is not bread, and why spend your earnings for what brings no satisfaction? Listen intently to me, and eat what is good, and you will find great delight in what is truly rich.”—Isa. 55:2.
par. 15 (Ex. 20:5) You must not bow down to them nor be enticed to serve them, for I, Jehovah your God, am a God who requires exclusive devotion, bringing punishment for the error of fathers upon sons, upon the third generation and upon the fourth generation of those who hate me,
par. 15 (Isa. 55:2) Why do you keep paying out money for what is not bread, And why spend your earnings for what brings no satisfaction? Listen intently to me, and eat what is good, And you will find great delight in what is truly rich.
16, 17. (a) Why did Jesus tell Peter: “Get behind me, Satan”? (b) How might Satan deceive us regarding the matter of urgency?
16 Satan can fool even zealous servants of Jehovah. For example, consider what happened when Jesus told his disciples that he was about to be killed. No doubt with good motive, the apostle Peter took him aside and said: “Be kind to yourself, Lord; you will not have this happen to you at all.” Jesus’ reply to Peter was firm: “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matt. 16:22, 23) Why did Jesus call Peter “Satan”? Because Jesus understood what was about to happen. The hour approached when he would die as a ransom sacrifice and prove the Devil a liar. At that critical juncture in human history, it was not a time for Jesus to “be kind” to himself. Relaxing his guard would have been precisely what Satan wanted him to do.
par. 16 (Matt. 16:22, 23) At this Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying: “Be kind to yourself, Lord; you will not have this happen to you at all.” 23 But turning his back, he said to Peter: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, because you think, not God’s thoughts, but those of men.”
17 As we near the end of this system of things, we too are living in critical times. Satan wants us to relax our guard, to “be kind” to ourselves by carving out a niche in this world, thus losing our sense of urgency. Do not let that happen to you! Instead, “keep on the watch.” (Matt. 24:42) Never believe Satan’s deceptive propaganda that the end is far off—or that it is not coming at all.
par. 17 (Matt. 24:42) Keep on the watch, therefore, because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.
18, 19. (a) How might Satan try to deceive us with regard to the way we think about ourselves? (b) How does Jehovah help us to keep our senses and to remain watchful?
18 Satan tries to deceive us in yet another way. He would have us believe that from God’s standpoint we are unlovable and our sins are unforgivable. That is all part of Satan’s deceptive propaganda. After all, who is particularly and really unlovable in Jehovah’s eyes? It is Satan. Who is really unforgivable? Again, it is Satan. But the Bible assures us: “God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name.” (Heb. 6:10) Jehovah appreciates our efforts to please him, and our service is not in vain. (Read1 Corinthians 15:58.) So let us not be fooled by Satan’s deceptive propaganda.
par. 18 (Heb. 6:10) For God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name by ministering and continuing to minister to the holy ones.
par. 18 (1 Cor. 15:58) Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always having plenty to do in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in connection with the Lord.
19 As we have seen, Satan is powerful, vicious, and deceptive. How can we win our battle against such a daunting enemy? Jehovah does not leave us defenseless. His Word educates us about Satan’s methods, and “we are not ignorant of his designs.” (2 Cor. 2:11) When we understand Satan’s tactics, we are better able to keep our senses and remain watchful. But just knowing Satan’s designs is not enough. The Bible says: “Oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you.” (Jas. 4:7) The following article will discuss three areas in which we can fight Satan and win.
par. 19 (2 Cor. 2:11) so that we may not be overreached by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his designs.
par. 19 (Jas. 4:7) Therefore, subject yourselves to God; but oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you.
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