Our adversary is the devil. He is a real being, a fallen angel. He’s with God and with God’s people, the enemy of our souls. He is described in Revelation as being the accuser of the brethren.
I have already quoted that verse from Peter where it says
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.1 Peter 5:8-9
If you are a believer today, you have an enemy. You need to know that he’s not a passive enemy. He is not sitting back, he’s a real enemy and he wants to devour you. He wants to destroy your faith.
But we have a Saviour who is greater than he is and that’s why we can call on the name of Jesus and know that he’s able to deliver us.
Satan seeks to afflict, to oppress, to knock out God’s children, drag them into sin, into unbelief. We have to cry out to God to deliver us.
Satan has human agents who can do us harm as well, and we can call on the Lord to deliver us from them but
You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.1 John 4:4
There is a power that is available to you and to me in Jesus Christ.
There is one difference between human enemies and the devil which is that human enemies can be redeemed and can change but the devil cannot. The devil is actually doomed to spend eternity in hell and nothing can save him from that fate. There’s no point in praying for him.
On the other hand, a human oppressor can be saved and can change. That is why Jesus said
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.Matthew 5.43-48
One of the really inspiring stories to read about people who are suffering, persecuted for their faith in countries of persecution is the way that so often they end up praying for their persecutors.
I read Richard Wurmbrand’s book Tortured for Christ and others, and you see just how God told him to pray for those who were persecuting him. And it may seem like a lost cause, but it may actually cause them to be saved.
There is always a possibility that the wicked can change their ways and you’ve got a supreme example of that in the Book of Acts in the person of the Apostle Paul who was the most vehement opponent of Christianity, who sought to arrest and to persecute the Christians, throw them in prison.
Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”
Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”
6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”
Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”Acts 9.1-6
Saul of Tarsus met Jesus on the road to Damascus and became the most fervent and powerful evangelist, teaching the Word of God, going from place to place to preach the Gospel, suffering for that cause, and writing a huge portion of our New Testament to tell us how to live as Christians.
So, the unredeemed persecutors can be redeemed, the Devil can’t be. Therefore, Wurmbrand could pray for them.
Paul says to us in Romans,
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.Romans 8.28
God will ultimately vindicate His elect. Even though we may be in difficulty and distress in this life, we may not actually get our vindication in this life, and though the persecuted Christians who die for their faith will spend years in prison, we will be with Jesus in eternity and also at His Second Coming. And, when Jesus comes again, He is going to separate those who are redeemed and have a place in the world to come from those who are not redeemed and those who are excluded.