“Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me” (Matthew 16:23, ESV)
Peter is the only disciple who was called “Satan” by Jesus. It was the strongest rebuke ever uttered by the Lord to any of the twelve – Judas included.
Moments after Peter was commended for his confession of Jesus as the Christ of God, he was being rebuked for insisting that Jesus need not die in Jerusalem. It was an echo of the temptations Jesus endured from Satan himself (Matthew 4:1-4).
Like Peter, Satan knew Jesus was the Son of God. Like Satan, Peter encouraged Jesus to avoid the cross. Peter had become “Satan’s catspaw” (Robertson).
It is sobering to consider that Satan can use our well-meaning nature against us. I suspect that all of us have been Satan’s unwitting catspaws at some point.
Peter learned this lesson the heard way, and later offered this advice:
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith (1 Pet. 5:8,9a).
Satan must not be dismissed or overlooked. His influence must be acknowledged. We do not want to be Satan’s catspaw.
Our adversary is permitted to be here to test our will, but not in the sense of proving our mettle to God, as if God has no idea what we might do. Rather, Satan’s evil can be used for our good, to draw us closer to God.
The temptations of Satan can be a source of strength. They produce humility and dependence. They increase our awareness of sin. They help us see the holiness of God.
We have a choice: we can utilize Satan’s tactics for our good, or we can become his catspaw for our destruction.
The choice is ours.