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Know Your Enemy: Satan

I am a Christian pastor who wishes to bring glory to God in all that I do, and to help people through my writing to know Him better.

satan-and-the-bible

Introduction: Clearing up the Myths

It was Sun Tsu who wrote the book, 'The Art of War.' And in it he said:

'So if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss."

But what if that enemy is unseen? Those of us who have lived through the pandemic of 2020 certainly know about unseen foes. A virus that cannot be seen with the human eye has killed large populations of this world. And the greatest fear that we have had is the fear of the unknown. We have come a long way in finding out about our invisible enemy but there is still much to be learned. And the more we find out about it the more confident we will become that we can control and maybe even eradicate it one day.

However, if we believe the truth of the Bible, viruses are not our greatest adversary. Neither is it a person or a country. In fact, it isn't flesh and blood at all. Paul tells us:

"Finally, be strong in the LORD and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:10-12).

The Scriptures tell us that there is an unseen spiritual reality going on all around us and there is an evil being, known as Satan, who leads his forces against God and all those that follow Him. And He, with his demonic followers, is out to destroy you, your family, your church, your country, your eternal well-being, and all that you hold dear.

It was C.S. Lewis who said:

"There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or magician with the same delight."

Of course Mr. Lewis was referring to the demons when he was speaking here, but I believe that this quote can easily be used of Satan as well. If you read the Bible, it assumes the existence of Satan and the demons just as it assumes the existence of God. And it warns us of them. For instance Peter in I Peter 5:8 states:

"Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."

So it is important to know and understand just who it is that we are up against.

Much of what the world thinks they know about Satan does not come from the Bible. He is not some cartoon-like figure with red skin, horns and a tail, that holds a pitchfork and is the ruler of hell. And he certainly is not equal in power to God, though Scripture says that he's quite powerful.

He is a created being just like the rest of the beings in this universe, and his power and cunning are no match for the God who created him. Also, he was not created evil. God did not create Satan to be the wicked person he has become. Rather, Satan, or the Devil, chose to rebel against a holy God.

With these things in mind, let us find out what Scripture says that he truly is.

I. He is a Creature

First of all, the Devil is a creature. By this I am referring to the fact that there was a time when Satan didn't exist. Unlike God, who is eternal, Satan had a beginning. As with all creatures, he was created by God.

If we can assume that Ezekiel 28:11-19 is referring to Satan, which seems to be the case, that passage clearly teaches that he was created. That means that he does not possess all the attributes of the one true God. For instance he is not all-present like our Lord. He cannot be everywhere at once. He also isn't all-knowing. He is very bright but doesn't possess all knowledge. And he is not all-powerful. Once again, he is extremely powerful, and none of us could take him in a fight alone. But our God is greater than he.

Also, being a creature, Satan has to answer to Almighty God. The only reason that the Devil was able to rebel in the first place, was that the Lord has allowed him his free will, just as He has allowed us ours. But God could crush Satan if He wants to, and will ultimately defeat him in the end.

Just one example of the Lord's sovereignty over Satan is found in the book of Job, where he comes before God and has to get permission before doing anything to Job. Job is a righteous man who follows the Lord in everything. Satan tells God that the reason Job is so righteous is that the Lord has pampered him and given him everything. Satan says that if the Lord will allow him to do something to Job then this saint will gladly curse God.

The Lord allows this to prove the righteousness of his servant, and the rest is history. Though Job loses his riches, his family, his health, and though his wife tells him to curse God and die, he remains faithful. Satan is proven wrong, and Job is rewarded by the Lord. We can see from this that even though Satan has chosen to rebel, he isn't ultimately in control of this universe, God is, and His purposes will win out in the end.

II. He is a Spirit Being

And not only is the Devil a creature, he is also a spirit being. From Ezekiel 28 we can glean that Satan belongs to the order of angels called cherubim (28:14). Apparently he was the highest created angel (verse 12). In the book, God tells Ezekiel to take up a lament against the King of Tyre. However, Ezekiel goes beyond just talking about the earthly King and speaks of Satan, the Spirit who was controlling him. We read this concerning the Devil:

"This is what the Sovereign LORD says: "'You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: carnelian, chrysolite and emerald, topaz, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones." (Ezekiel 12b-14).

Also, we see in Jude 9 that Satan was a very powerful spiritual being. In fact he was so strong that Michael the Archangel didn't want to dispute with him over the body of Moses.

Some have called the Devil the Archangel over all of the evil angels that rebelled against God. Today, even though Satan is fallen, he still retains a lot of power. The Bible refers to him as the prince of the power of the air in Ephesians 2:2. He is also referred to as the god of this world (II Corinthians 4:4).

III. His Nature is Evil

Further, we can learn the true nature of our adversary from our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. In John 8 Jesus continues His debate with the Pharisees after the Feast of Tabernacles which had begun in the previous chapter. And He compares these Pharisees with Satan himself as he says:

"You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44).

From this synopsis of Satan's nature, it is imperative that we understand that we can never trust him to do or say anything that will be good for us or for the cause of Christ. He is a creature to be opposed, not by our own feeble power, but by the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

IV. He Committed the Sin of Pride

It needs to be noted that the original sin that Satan committed is the same one that many people are guilty of today. He was prideful. Paul identifies this sin in I Timothy 3:6 when talking about the appointment of elders and deacons in the local church. One thing that an elder or deacon shouldn't be is a novice, meaning new to the Christian faith. Why? Because he might be lifted up with pride and "fall into the condemnation of the devil."

We see his pride in Isaiah 14:12-14 with the five "I wills" of Lucifer, a name for Satan, meaning Light-bearer, or Light-bringer. Here is what the prophet tells us:

"How are you fallen from Heaven O Lucifer,

Son of the morning.

You have been cut down to the earth,
You who have weakened the nations!

“But you said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God,
And I will sit on the mount of assembly
In the recesses of the north.

‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High!

But not only is Satan prideful himself, sadly, this is also how he appealed to and deceived Eve in the Garden as well to entice her to sin. He told her that in the day that she ate the fruit forbidden by the Lord, she would be as God, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:5). And, more sadly, it worked!

And Adam, knowing the consequences of his actions, ate also. Now the rest is a sad history of separation by Adam's descendants from a holy God, and our need for Jesus Christ to save us from our own sins.

V. He Continues His Activities Today

Ever since Satan's fall, caused by pride, he has endeavored to thwart the plans of God. From the different names that he has, we can surmise that he uses a variety of methods to do this. He can have the fierceness of a dragon (Rev. 12:3), or the attractiveness of an angel of light (II Cor. 11:14). He adapts himself to suite the person and the occasion. However, the principle tactic that he uses is to offer a counterfeit kingdom and program from the one that God offers. This counterfeit, as we just observed, was first seen in the Garden of Eden when the serpent offered Eve the chance to be like God (Gen 3:5).

Later in history, with the temptation of Christ, we observe Satan again offering a counterfeit. He offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world without the necessity of going to the cross, suffering and dying.

Today he continues to promote a form of godliness, while denying its power (II Tim. 3:5). This is where his disguise as an angel of light comes in. He promotes a doctrinal system that may go to one extreme or another.

The first extreme is false asceticism. Asceticism is the doctrine that through the renunciation of worldly pleasures, it is possible to achieve a high spiritual or intellectual state. The other extreme is unbridled license. That is the mindset of: "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die." It is total giving in to your passions and pleasures, and not caring about the consequences.

1. His Activity with the Nations

The Bible talks about Satan deceiving the nations (Rev. 20:3). He makes them think that they can govern righteously and bring peace in the world apart from the presence of Jesus Christ. We see from Daniel 10:13, 20 that he uses demons to carry out his deception. This deception will be seen on a grand scale during the coming Great Tribulation, when Satan will cause the nations to accept the Antichrist as their savior. (Revelation 13:2-4). By the end of the seven year tribulation, the nations will follow him to their doom at the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:13-16).

2. His Activity with Individual Unbelievers

Not only does Satan deceive the nations, but he deceives individual unbelievers as well. II Corinthians 4:4 talks about him blinding their minds so that they will not accept the Gospel. A major way that this takes place is by the counterfeit that all religions or beliefs will lead you to God. Jesus said: "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no man comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Satan would have us believe that any way to heaven and the Father is acceptable. And of course, he uses all of the world's other religions and philosophies to do this. There are so many religious beliefs out there that are constantly trying to promote their ways, which include asceticism and license as I said earlier. And there is also the occult, with its fortune tellers, horoscopes and the like. Each does its part to keep the unbeliever away from the one true God (Col. 1:13; I John 2: 15-17).

3. His Activity with Believers

But just as Satan tempted our Lord, he also tries to tempt us as well. His aim is to cause the Christian to become unfruitful, losing his witness to the world. In this way, the progress of the Gospel is hindered. He does this in several ways. One of which is to tempt the believer to immorality (I Cor. 7:5). He also accuses and opposes the follower of Christ in various areas of our lives. For instance, he spotlights our sins. By this I mean that he accuses us before God when we sin, making us think that we can lose our salvation. Of course, our great advocate, the Lord Jesus Christ, takes our case, reminding the Father that He paid for all of our sins when he died on the cross (I John 2:1,2).

We could go into more detail, but you get the picture. As we noted earlier, the Bible calls Satan a "roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." (I Peter 5:8). The word devour is the same Greek word used to describe the way the Red Sea swallowed up the Egyptians when they were pursuing the Hebrews (Hebrews 11:29). This is a vivid picture of the ultimate goal of Satan to completely drown the believer's testimony and his usefulness.

Conclusion

This brief study might best be brought to a conclusion by a short, presumably true, story by an anonymous author, about Napoleon Bonaparte:

It seems that Bonaparte, with his staff officers around him, once spread a large map of the world on a table before him, put his finger on a kingdom colored red, and said to them, 'Messieurs, if it were not for that red spot I could conquer the world.' That red spot was the British Isles.

In like manner Satan might place a huge map of the universe before his cohorts, put his finger on a place red with the blood of the Savior, and say to them, 'If it were not for that red spot, I could conquer the universe.'

That red spot is the Cross on Golgotha's Hill where the Lord of glory died to save sinners from Satan's power.

We could say much more about this evil creature and the Lord willing, I will in the future. However, from what we've seen, it is clear that the Bible teaches that Satan is a real person. He is not just some personification of evil that men have made up.

And, while he must not be taken lightly, at the same time, If we are Christians, we mustn't be terrified of him either. Jesus Christ came for the purpose of destroying the works of the devil (I John 3:8).

Even though he is still operating, he has already been defeated! And in Christ alone we can escape his tyranny. One day his activity will cease and he'll be thrown into the Lake of Fire forever (Revelation 20:10). The magnificent fact is that our God wins in the end. That means we do as well. Praise the Lord for the victory that we have through our Lord Jesus Christ!

© 2011 Jeff Shirley

Comments

Jeff Shirley (author) from Kentwood, Michigan on April 03, 2012:

Thanks for your comments. I appreciate you stopping by. God bless.

Jobanski on April 03, 2012:

There are so many different theories about Satan (Lucifer). Mr. GTalk pieced together clues as to who and what Satan (Lucifer) is. The conclusion coincides with scripture and God's plan. For ex. Satan was created by God and must obey him. He does have power, but is limited. He is a person, but does not have a tangible body.

Jeff Shirley (author) from Kentwood, Michigan on January 07, 2012:

Thanks again. May God bless you as you seek His truth.

Alexander Gibb from UK on January 07, 2012:

I didn't realize we were arguing, I was commenting on a very interesting topic that I am studying at the moment. However I do respect your wishes and look forward to reading all your Hubs in due course.

Jeff Shirley (author) from Kentwood, Michigan on January 07, 2012:

I don't wish to argue back and forth as to what we believe regarding the verses in question. From what I and many other evangelical scholars have gleaned from these passages, they cannot be talking about more than just earthly kings. However, if you disagree, that is fine. But what this argument is doing is leading people to do just what Satan wants. That is to get away from who and what he is. We need to focus on the reality that is set forth in Scripture that Satan is a real person. He was not created evil, but chose through pride to rebel against the God of the universe. He is still in rebellion and is seeking to destroy God's people. But we don't have to give in to him. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we can overcome.

Indeed God will have the ultimately victory and Satan will be condemned to Hell. But for now he is still a powerful adversary whom we need to deal with.

By the way, I hope you got a chance to read the rest of my hubs on this subject. I enjoyed doing them, and I hope you'll find them of interest.

Alexander Gibb from UK on January 07, 2012:

‘…These passages say things that lead one to believe that they are talking more than just to earthly kings, but rather to the kings and Satan who energized them…’ In my opinion, a Doctrine of such importance cannot be constructed on passages that ‘lead one to believe’, without support from more conclusive evidence in the Bible.

‘…By ‘Satan who energized them…’ Are you suggesting that Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom owed its success to the Devil? God decreed that four kingdoms would rise up prior to the kingdom of God being established. Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom was the first of these…Dan 2:21; Dan 4:32.

‘…Jesus uses Ezekiel 14:12 to describe Satan's fall…’?

‘…we learn that he still had some access to it in Job 1:6 and 2:1…’ Where in the Bible was he thrown out of Heaven prior to the Book of Job?

‘…Revelation 12:8-10 talk about Satan being thrown out of heaven again…’ How many times does the Bible state that he was he thrown out?

‘…there is sufficient data in Scripture to learn that Satan is indeed a real personality and that he is the enemy both of God and His people...’ On this I agree. My point is that all the conjecture regarding his person and origin, taken from Apocryphal writings and commentators such as Dake and Larkin, cannot be substantiated by Scripture.

Jeff Shirley (author) from Kentwood, Michigan on January 05, 2012:

Thanks for reading the article. It is obvious that I disagree with you on Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28. These passages say things that lead one to believe that they are talking more than just to earthly kings, but rather to the kings and Satan who energized them. Jesus uses Ezekiel 14:12 to describe Satan's fall, and Revelation 12:8-10 talk about Satan being thrown out of heaven again. Though he was thrown out the first time when he rebelled, we learn that he still had some access to it in Job 1:6 and 2:1. He is called the accuser of the brethren and he obviously did this with the patriarch Job, which was why he was in heaven. In Revelation 12 he is thrown out, and can never have access again.

As far as having to go outside of Scripture to get the doctrine of Satan, that is not the case. Even if you completely leave out Isaiah and Ezekiel, there is sufficient data in Scripture to learn that Satan is indeed a real personality and that he is the enemy both of God and His people.

I invite you to read the rest of my articles and again am thankful for your visit.

Alexander Gibb from UK on January 03, 2012:

I have just discovered your Hubs and I look forward to reading them. ‘Satan and the Bible Part 1’ is my first.

My latest Hub called ‘Is Jesus Really the Bright and Morning Star: Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28’ is my first on this subject and may be of interest to you. I take a different view on these chapters and your opinion would be welcome.

The title of your Hub was the main reason I have written this comment. In my opinion, mainstream Christianity which puts great emphasis on the inspired Word of God, and rightly so, can only justify its Doctrine on Satan from writings out with the Bible.

Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 described the rise and fall of the King of Babylon and the King of Tyre respectively, and are not sufficiently supported anywhere else in Scripture to justify the ludicrous fantasies that are attributed to the Devil.

P S The picture of the lion is amazing.

Jeff Shirley (author) from Kentwood, Michigan on June 22, 2011:

Thanks! And I should have my next hub out on Satan by sometime this weekend, so stay tuned.

MusiciansMission on June 22, 2011:

GodTalk, this was a great Hub! I have been interested in reading some of the scriptures on the devil because in a study of worship I am doing with a worship team I play with, the leader brought up how Satan was actually created as the leader of worship. And was the angel of music and that he was not ugly but in fact the most beautiful of God's creation. And I never really knew anything about Satan except that he was a fallen angel that is evil and tempts us with sin.

This was a great hub and thanks for sharing the wisdom Christ gave you so that many may benefit in the Lord through your Ministries online!

Jeff Shirley (author) from Kentwood, Michigan on June 19, 2011:

Thanks lifegate for your encouragement. And thanks to you IntimateEvolution for your comments. However, I never said that Satan was human. I said that he is a person. You don't have to be human to be a person. Clearly, before Jesus became a man he was still a person, as are the other two members of the Trinity. A person is a being with intellect, emotions and will. In reading Scripture, we see that Satan has all three. Satan is a spiritual being, or spiritual person. He has no physical body.

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on June 19, 2011:

GT,

Anyone who reads the Bible at all will certainly become aware of the personality of satan. It amazes how those that know nothing about the Bible seem to think they know everything. Thanks for exposing the evil one for who he is.

Julie Grimes from Columbia, MO USA on June 19, 2011:

You said the bible says it states that Satan is human. NO it doesn't. Not even in Revelations. Nowhere in the bible does it says that the devil is human. NO where. You are clearly wrong. Try reading the bible word for word, instead of injecting your own definition. Maybe then you'd realize that you're wrong. Because you are.

Jeff Shirley (author) from Kentwood, Michigan on June 18, 2011:

Actually, if one accepts the Scriptures as a revelation from God, then the reality of Satan cannot be denied. Satan existed and acted from the earliest to the last books of God's revelation. Seven books of the Old Testament teach his reality including Genesis, I Chronicles, Job, the Psalms, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Zechariah. Every writer of the New Testament affirms his reality and his activity. In twenty five of the twenty nine passages in the Gospels which speak of Satan, our Lord is speaking. Notice such passages as Matthew 13:39; Luke 10:18 and 11:18.

If you read the Scriptures, Satan is said to possess the traits of personality. He shows intelligence (II Corinthians 11:3. He exhibits emotions (Revelation 12:17, anger; Luke 22:31, desire); he demonstrates that he has a will(Isaiah 14:12-14 and II Timothy 2:26).

Satan is referred to as a person in both the Old and New Testaments. In Job 1 and Matthew 4:1-2. And in the temptation of Christ in the wilderness Satan came to Christ and Jesus uses personal pronouns. So by doing this he attributes personality to Satan.

Lastly, if Satan were merely a personification that people have devised to express their ideas of evil, then he could not be held accountable for his actions, since there is no being to be held accountable. Yet Satan is held accountable by the Lord in Matthew 25:41. Thus to deny the reality of Satan is to deny the veracity of Jesus Himself.

Julie Grimes from Columbia, MO USA on June 18, 2011:

The bible never says that Satan is a real person. NO where does it say that. Maybe you need to read the bible.