Two adjectives best describe Satan’s nature (his natural disposition, temperament, and character) and his job: seducer and accuser. Revelation 12:7-12 presents his agenda.
I. WE HAVE AN ENEMY
Satan is a seducer. He seduces and then he accuses. “Seducer” is one of the adjectives that appears in the context of Revelation 12:9. The Merriam-Webster dictionary says that to seduce is “to persuade to disobedience or disloyalty” and “to lead astray, usually by persuasion or false promises.”
Our enemy is also called an accuser. In the Greek language, “accuser” is kategoros, meaning “someone who makes a prodigious effort to create enmity between two people.” By this we can conclude that one of Satan’s main jobs is to blemish our image before God and blemish God’s image before us. He makes an effort to withdraw us from divine favor. Satan did that in heaven; he distorted God’s image before the angels. Because of his performance, “nearly one half of all the angels”1 followed in Satan’s footsteps.
When Satan mixes seduction with accusation, he slyly confuses us and makes us think that our actions are not serious, that everyone is doing it, that this is the norm, that our religion is outdated, that God doesn’t care, etc.
The second part of verse 12 presents a note of regret to the inhabitants of the earth. “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”
Ellen G. White says, “Satan is the great enemy of God and man. He transforms himself through his agents into angels of light. In the Scriptures he is called a destroyer, an accuser of the brethren, a deceiver, a liar, a tormentor, and a murderer. Satan has many in his employ, but is most successful when he can use professed Christians for his satanic work. And the greater their influence, the more elevated their position, the more knowledge they profess of God and His service, the more successfully can he use them. Whoever entices to sin is his agent.”2
This is a very unpleasant truth, but the context presents a solution. We do not need to be downcast or ashamed of our past or present. We do not need to give up because we do not have the strength to resist the traps the enemy is placing in our way. Verse 11 offers divine assistance for us.
"Do not think of Jesus as the friend of someone else, but as your personal friend. Never are you left to struggle alone." Ellen G. White, Signs of the Times, September 2, 1903, par. 3
II. WE HAVE A FRIEND
Our friend is Jesus. “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death” (Rev. 12:11).
The “Lamb” is our assurance, our banner, and our weapon against the enemy. Jesus’ blood is the fulfilling of the promise made in Genesis 3:15. When the verse refers to our victory through the blood, it makes specific reference to what Jesus did for us.
Our victory is assured when we deposit our trust in Christ’s atonement. In Patriarchs and Prophets, we read, “In all our helpless unworthiness we must trust in the merits of the crucified and risen Savior. None will ever perish while they do this.”3
In this quote, defeating Satan means overcoming his seductions and accusations, keeping our profession of faith despite the persecutions and risks. In some cases, these persecutions may require us to sacrifice our lives.
No matter what happens, the ideal is to “trust in the merits of the crucified and risen Savior.” In other words, God’s grace should be met with human obedience. Through Jesus, God’s grace frees us from the enemy’s seduction; Christ’s merits free us from Satan’s accusations. Divine grace and merits do not free us from obedience; on the contrary, they stimulate us to obey.
Although the believer’s assurance is absolute in the atonement, the believer needs to persevere, trusting in the crucified and resurrected Savior’s merits. If the believer stops trusting, he or she will lose the benefits of atonement.
To overcome Satan’s seductions and accusations, we need daily to lay hold of the Savior’s merits and always trust in divine favor. Our victory has already been assured in heaven and earth; we need only to take possession of these benefits. Ellen G. White says “To follow Christ is not freedom from conflict. It is not child’s play. It is not spiritual idleness. All the enjoyment in Christ’s service means sacred obligations in meeting of stern conflicts. To follow Christ means stern battles, active labor, warfare against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Our enjoyment is the victories gained for Christ in earnest, hard warfare. Think of this.”4
1 Ellen G. White, The Story of Redemption, 18.
2 ———, Testimonies for the Church, 5:137.
3 ———, Patriarchs and Prophets, 203.
4 ———, The Upward Look, 217
Jair Garcia Góis is the Ministerial Secretary in the West Central Brazil Union Mission.