Satan, Our Enemy The Apostle Paul tells us that “Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Cor. 2:11 NIV). But the subject of Satan is one that needs to be made clear today, because, even among some Christians, Satan is often dismissed with a smile as though he doesn’t really exist. It is quite true that, if this question – “Is Satan, the Devil, an actual literal, living personality?” – were put to the vote of Christendom at large today, we would find that he did not exist at all. Today, unfortunately, many believe that neither judgment, nor hell, nor Satan exist, and they reject these eternal realities because they clash with the easy-going, pleasure-loving spirit of our day.
However, in the Scriptures, the personality of the Devil is as clearly revealed as is the personality of Christ. Few realize the implications of denying his existence. If Jesus were not externally tempted to evil, then those three evil suggestions – to make stone into bread, to obtain the kingdom of the earth by devil worship, and to cast Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple (Lk. 4:1-12) – did not come from some living intelligence outside of Him, but from within Him! Such blasphemy we repudiate and abhor with all our heart. The Devil then, according to Scripture, is an actual, living, reasoning being.
The Popular Misconception Of Satan
Satan is not, as he is sometimes portrayed, a human form with a leering face, characterized by a low-cunning grin, with horns, hoofs, and forked tail, a completely contemptible, disgusting creature. No, the word in the original Hebrew, commonly translated “serpent,” is far more likely to have its sense in its secondary root meaning – “to shine.” Thus, mankind’s first impressions of him were those of beauty and awe. Since he was the highest creature in the spiritual world, the wisdom of Satan as he was created was admirable, but that wisdom became subtlety and craftiness after his fall.
Satan’s Dignity By Creation
In Jude we see dignity conferred on Satan by the archangel Michael, archangels being the highest of all creatures, higher than angels. Jude says, “Even the archangel Michael … did not dare to bring … accusation against him, but said, The Lord rebuke you” (Jude 9). Thus Michael acknowledges that Satan is so high that only the Lord can rebuke him, as only a superior can rebuke an inferior. Why does Satan get himself portrayed as so repulsive? It is a clever way to get people to feel less need to be on their guard against him!
Satan is “the prince of demons” (Mt. 12:24-26), demons being the angels who fell with him. And he is also “the prince of this world” (Jn. 12:31). It should be noted that the Lord does not challenge his ability to bestow the “power of the kingdoms of the world” (Lk. 4:5-6). But it should also be noted that Satan is the world’s usurping power; he’s a prince in power, but not by title!
Figures Of Satan
In Ezekiel 27-28, the kings of Tyre and Babylon are used, prophetically, to portray Satan to us. The prophet wrote, “You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God … You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you … Your heart became proud on account of your beauty and you corrupted your wisdom” (Ezek. 28:12-17 kjv). What poor child of Adam could ever be called “the model of perfection”?
In Ezekiel 28:17, we see that Satan’s pride was the first sin that broke the calm of eternity, and it stirred up a storm that has not yet ceased to rage. Note here that his wisdom became “corrupted” and as a result he became “crafty” (Gen. 3:1). As the Prophet Isaiah wrote, using the king of Babylon as a type, “How art thou fallen … O Lucifer … For thou hast said in thine heart, I will exalt my throne … I will be like the Most High” (Isa. 14:12-14). Such language would be absurd from the mouth of any mere king of Babylon!
Where did Satan, the Devil, come from? God did not create him as such. God is absolute good and ever only good. Nothing that is not good ever sprang from Him as its source. No liar or murderer ever sprang from His creative will, but our Lord calls the Devil a “murderer,” a “liar” and “the father of lies” (Jn. 8:44). He was not given the names “Devil” and “Satan” when God created him!
God must have given him these names later to express what he became after his fall, and that of man. He could not be called Devil, which means “Accuser,” until there was someone to accuse. Nor could he be called Satan, which means “Adversary,” until there was someone whose blessing he would oppose.
It is popularly and wrongly supposed that Satan is omniscient, because he seems to be able to act simultaneously in many different parts of the world, doing what is needed to maintain his kingdom. He, and the spirits that do his bidding, may indeed be able to communicate around the world instantly, but he is not omniscient. He does have superhuman skill to discover our thoughts and motives and use them to predict what we are going to do, but he does not have the power to prophesy what we are going to do, to infallibly foretell the future, as this is an attribute of God only (Isa. 41:23).
Our enemy is indeed formidable, but he is not all-knowing, all-powerful or omniscient. Young Christians today need not fear him, because they are just as capable as the young people of John’s day. As John wrote: “You are strong, and the word of God lives in you and you have overcome the evil one” (1 Jn. 2:14).
* Jennings, F. C., “Satan,” The Serious Christian, vol. 13, pp. 1-80, Loizeaux Publishers, 1975. Abridged and edited by Alan H. Crosby.
By F. C. Jennings
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org