Are Christians to rebuke Satan or resist Satan?


Hi. I love your exhaustive presentation of the literal days in Genesis!  I am praying about how best to present this to our youth pastor, who is an old ager and teaches it privately to the youth.  Thank you.

My question involves prayer and whether we as God's children ought to directly speak to or rebuke Satan?  I do not see any instance in the Bible where anyone initiates a conversation with Satan. Only Jesus directly rebukes him, and as far as I can see from the Scriptures, even He does not initiate the dialogs, Satan does.  If we are to "...fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..." are we not turning our eyes from Jesus to speak to or rebuke Satan?  I do not think we are to directly speak to Satan or rebuke him, corporately or privately in prayer.  I would like some help in defending this scripturally.  Further, I heard a sermon by one whom I respect and they had taken the verse "RESIST the devil and he will flee from you" (resist G436 anthis-tay-mee from G473 & 2476  Strong's to stand against, oppose, withstand) and changed it to "REBUKE the devil and he will flee from you" (rebuke H1605 gaw-ar' to chide; corrupt, rebuke, reprove). Thank you for answering this for me!


Sadly it is true that people are not always careful to speak at God taught. "If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen" (I Peter 4:11). Even seemingly small modifications can lead to large differences in understanding.

There are two occasions when Jesus rebuked Satan. Once was when he was being tempted in the wilderness "And Jesus answered and said to him, "Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'"" (Luke 4:8). The second occasion was when Satan influenced Peter to give the Lord bad advice. "But He turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men'" (Matthew 16:23). In the latter, Jesus is not actually saying that Peter was Satan, but instead stating that Peter was being an advocate of Satan, whether he realized it or not.

What is interesting is that there are two other occasions when Satan is rebuked, but only indirectly. "Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. And the LORD said to Satan, 'The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?'" (Zechariah 3:1-2). A similar incident is recorded in Jude, "Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!'" (Jude 9). Notice that in both cases the though the angels opposing Satan knew that Satan was in the wrong, yet they realized their place in the universe. God will take care of Satan and Satan stands condemned by God's word and not our own. Even in rebuking, we must be careful not to place ourselves in the judgment seat of God.

It is not our place to condemn Satan. He already stands condemned before the Lord. But it is necessary for us to resist the Devil's schemes.

"Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded" (James 4:7-8).

Notice that resisting Satan means leaving sin. That is how we resist Satan.

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world" (I Peter 5:8-9).

We resist Satan by staying strong in the faith and not allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed by trials.

"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand" (Ephesians 6:11-13).

Satan is trying to lure us away from God by getting us to sin. God requires that we put up a fight against temptation. We are not to make Satan's work easier. "'Be angry, and do not sin': do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil" (Ephesians 4:26-27). It is for this reason that Paul also urged forgiving others. "Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices" (II Corinthians 5:10-11). When we get angry or hold a grudge against another person, we give Satan an opening to work his mischief against us.

None of this requires talking to Satan. We know what Satan is up to because the Lord has warned us. It is our duty to put up a fight, being watchful for his plots and schemes.

Let's use Peter's illustration for a moment. Imagine we are wandering in a region populated by lions. Which method will gain us greater safety?

  1. As we walk, yelling out periodically, "OK, listen up all you lions out there! Get out of my way! I'm coming through! Don't you give me that hungry look. I'm not your dinner."
  2. Walking carefully, watching the brushes and where we step. We pay attention to the behavior of lions and try to avoid crossing paths with them. If they attack, we put up a fight in hopes they will give up for the moment and find an easier meal elsewhere.

It is the later that God urges us to do against Satan and his minions.

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