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Denver’s Dark Night Reveals Satan’s True Identity

Posted July 23, 2012 by Steve Hafler


Another massacre on the Front Range.  This week our Dark Adversary has revealed his true murderous character and intentions once again.  A rogue gunman wearing full tactical gear mercilessly and systematically unloaded his arsenal into infants, children, and adults. 12 dead; 58 wounded.  Theatre 9 at the Century 16 multiplex cinema in Aurora became a killing field.

People react.  We must react.  Sorrow.  Fear.  Anger.  Doubt.  Cynicism.  We even risk becoming jaded with life.  Fatalistic.  Even worse, we turn away from the only one who can help.  A New York Times article entitled An All-America City Turns Inward in a Search for Answers That May Never Come captures the hopelessness of many.  No satisfactory answers will come for a country whose god is often not much bigger than themselves – a nation content to openly reject God’s loving rule over them (Romans 1).

James Holmes displayed the character of his true “spiritual father.”  Jesus said in John 8:44  “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

At the risk of being over-simplistic in the wake of an atrocity I would like to answer the “why” question.  Why can something like this happen?  God’s Word gives a straightforward answer – it’s called sin.  Human beings are capable of horrific moral evil.  The names Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dhamer, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, and Bin Laden only scratch the surface of our megadeath history.  Even in light of all this we have taken a shallow view of sin resulting from our low view of God.  When sin does rear its hideous head above the surface of our manicured affluent American culture we are shocked.  We blame Nazism, Islam, terrorist groups, poor education, or drugs.  Jesus followers do not have the luxury of smoke screening the real issue.  Blatant moral evil affirms the truth about the depravity of men and the danger of unbridled sin as revealed in Scripture.

The problem is threefold:

  1. We have underestimated the nature of sin (both ours and others).
  2. We have have been ignorant of Satan – who he is, how he works, and how he utilizes this world to appeal to our flesh.
  3. We have been carried along by the raging current of our culture’s worldly values and it’s love for violence and sensuality.

Romans 1:28-32 “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, … They are full of … murder… They are…  inventors of evil,… heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

God has told us how things would be in these last days.  2 Timothy 3:1-5  “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.   For people will be abusive… heartless… treacherous.”

Are we really shocked at pure undiluted evil?  Are we surprised when people pay millions  of dollars each year to see it acted out in front of them on the big screen?  Movie after movie.  Game after game.  We must not deny the influence of our culture upon our children.  We can not ignore the Satanic attack against the family which is crippling our society.  Maybe we ought to be shocked at the clarity of God’s Word.

In Genesis, before the flood, there was one particular sin mentioned in connection with God destroying the world by a universal catastrophic flood.  Genesis 6:11 “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.” Genesis 6:13  ”And God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth.’”

God’s Word also says:

  • Psalm 11:5 “The Lord… hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.”
  • Proverbs 6:16-18  “…the LORD hates… hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil.”
  • John 8:44  “… the devil… He was a murderer from the beginning… he is a liar and the father of lies.”
  • John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”
  • 1 John 3:8  ”Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”

Satan is a sadistic, brutal, murderer who can appear as if he has your best interests at heart.  He will lure you in only to destroy you.

In Mark’s introduction to his account of the Gospel we are given a glimpse of a spiritual dimension – a supernatural conflict.  And no surprise that Mark introduces us to God’s adversary.  First, in Mark 1:10-11 we see the heavens torn open, the Spirit of God descends, and a voice comes from heaven.  Then, in Mark 1:12-13 the Spirit immediately thrusts Jesus out into the wilderness where He is tempted by Satan for 40 days.

In Mark’s introduction we are quickly reminded that we are part of a true spiritual struggle.  A supernatural conflict.  In the wilderness God’s Son confronts God’s adversary.  It is interesting from this account that:

  1. Jesus is too important for Satan to ignore.  We need to ask why?  Because of who Jesus is (and Satan knows the truth).  Revelation 17:14 says, “the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings.”  Revelation 19:16 says, “On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” So the adversary in this championship bout consistently assaults Jesus personally with everything at his disposal (the desire for food, religious architecture, all the kingdoms of the world, and even God’s Word).  Satan is relentless because he knows the truth about the bottomless pit, hell, and the Lake of Fire.
  2. Satan has been in the business of tempting people for thousands of years.  And he is very good at what he does.  Satan knows the power of sin because he gave in to it’s power himself!  His resume begins in heaven, includes 1/3 of the angels, the first man and woman, the desecration of the Garden of Eden, and everyone until Jesus.  Up until this confrontation Satan has never met a human being he could not tempt with the expected result of that person sinning.  That is, until this Man.  The Last Adam, unlike the first, is victorious!  Romans 5:14; 1 Corinthians 15:22, 45.
  3. In the wilderness Satan seems to have the advantage:  (1) it’s desolate, (2) Jesus has been fasting and was hungry – the first line of attack Satan used on Jesus, (3) the Scripture Satan chooses fits the context (Psalm 91 – a wilderness context), (4) Satan’s deceptive ability to appear as one to help (possibly much like the angels who served Jesus in v.13).  2 Corinthians 11:14 “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”

In my next post we will discuss in detail Satan’s true identity revealed by the names given to him in Scripture (Satan, the Devil, Beelzebub, Belial, etc.).

Satan confronts a Man who can finally triumph over him (because Jesus is the God-man).  It is Satan who fails.  God’s Son defeats God’s adversary and Jesus ultimately triumphs over him at the resurrection.  1 Corinthians 15:57 “But thanks be to God, awho gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Jesus said in John 10:10 “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

1 John 3:8  “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”

Have you dealt with you sin problem?  Sin is so serious and heinous that it is punishable by the Judge of all the earth, without contest, with a sentence to a literal hell for eternity.  Romans 6:23 “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” There is no hope of over-turning this sentence unless a deliverer chooses to die in your place – paying the full penalty for your sin.  And Someone did!  2 Corinthians 5:21 “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

The Gospel is “good news” because it offers the free gift of God’s grace.  Satan is defeated, the redemption price has been paid, and sin can be forgiven.  Are your sins forgiven – or does your life remain under the wrath of God who must judge?  Would you, right now, call out to God for mercy, confess and turn from your sin, and believe that Jesus died to pay the penalty for you?  God graciously reveals to us the exceeding sinfulness of sin so that we might run to Him for help.

For a further explanation of the Gospel see here




[This post was originally published on July 23, 2012 at:]