Satan: What does he look like?
In every generation there are those who put on plays depicting characters of the Bible. Satan is one such character who is portrayed. Beginning long ago, actors portrayed him as a scary looking creature with a red outfit, a tail, two horns and holding a trident that looked much like a pitchfork. That portrayal has survived for centuries. However, the Bible doesn’t describe him that way at all. But what are we to think of it when the Bible portrays him as a snake?
1 Now the serpent [NACHASH = serpent] was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. [Emphasis added]
There are many who do not believe that this “serpent” in the Garden was really a snake as we think of one today. Whether it was or not there are some great lessons to be learned from it all. This event is typically referred to as the occasion of the fall of man because it was then that he first sinned.
12 Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: [Emphasis added]
Later, “religious” leaders are spoken of by John the Baptist as ones who are subtle and often poisonous like snakes in their words.
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? [Emphasis added]
Jesus speaks of them the same way because when such people open their mouths to speak, they “poison” them in their thinking with the things they say.
34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. [Emphasis added]
We have many such “religious” people in every generation who speak things about God and what He has said that are false but believed as true.
But what does Satan really look like and what else needs to be said about him? Probably the best description we have of him is revealed through the prophet Ezekiel. It is in his writings that we see him discussing a man who apparently had some of the attributes of Satan. Then in reading the passage you suddenly realize that Ezekiel begins speaking about Satan himself.
11 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
12 Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king [a man] of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum [we today might say—you beat all], full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
That doesn’t sound like an ugly scary-looking creature to me, does it to you? It is here in verse twelve that we begin seeing he’s describing Satan.
13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
Here we see that it was God who created him and clothed him as a beautiful creature. The covering with jewels suggests his great importance and the luster of his appearance. Even his voice was something of beauty. He’s not God, but a creature created by God.
14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth [speaking again of his position of authority over all the other angels]; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God [the seat of God’s authority]; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire [meaning he was with God in His place of rulership].
15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways [a perfect creation and without sin] from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
He was first created without sin. But as with the man in the Garden of Eden, God gave Satan free will. Like man eventually did, he used his free will to rebel against the authority of God.
16 By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God [speaking again of the throne of God]: and I will destroy thee [This hasn’t happened yet but one day will. It is stated in the past tense because it is so certain to occur.], O covering cherub [speaking of his rank], from the midst of the stones of fire.
17 Thine heart was lifted up [a reference to his pride—his arrogance] because of thy beauty [quite unlike the way he is usually depicted], thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.
Satan probably laughs at the way people depict him. He has them completely fooled in so many ways. So many don’t even believe he exists. The last part of verse seventeen is prophetic. It still has not been fulfilled but certainly will be.
18 Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick [his going about to secure the allegiance of other angels]; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.
This, too, has not yet been fulfilled. Yes, we know Who wins in the end. Despite all Satan’s beauty, wisdom, and power, he will not succeed. The details of this are described in other parts of the Bible [Revelation 20:10].
19 All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more. [Emphasis added]
The passage of Scripture that describes Satan’s fall from his high position and his most basic problem is found in the writings of the prophet Isaiah. Here we see him wanting to superimpose his own will over that of God’s. This that’s stated here is what brought about his fall.
12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer [one of his many names or titles], son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations [he has always promoted internationalism]!
Next, we see “The Five I wills of Satan” where he wishes to superimpose his will over that of God.
13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars [speaking of all the other angels] of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:[speaking of the position of authority he wishes to gain]
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Again, we will win in the end. We’ll get to share in God’s victory over him.
15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell [SHEOL = hell], to the sides of the pit.
16 They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man [ISH = man or individual] that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; [Emphasis added]
Again, we will definitely win in the end. Passages of Scripture speak of this. You just want to be sure you’re on the winning side. To do that you must accept by faith the provision God has made for your salvation. If you want to be saved from the same type of end that awaits Satan, you must put your faith in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as the sole means for that. Only this will enable you to have the righteousness God demands for your salvation.
2 Corinthians 5:21
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. [Emphasis added]
It is this truth more than any other that Satan works to hide from the unsaved. Being unsaved, he wants to keep them that way. So, he does everything he can to blind people to the truth, not only concerning his appearance, but the means for their salvation. He does everything he can to cause people to think he’s a made-up mythical character. In the process he also works to hide what we speak of as the gospel message that provides the only way for man’s deliverance from a terrible end. This is a major part of why we speak of this as getting saved.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4
3 But if our gospel [EUANGELION = the good news about Christ’s provision for our salvation] be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
4 In whom the god of this world [Satan] hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. [Emphasis added]
This next passage tells us exactly what has been done and what one must believe to escape the clutches of Satan to be saved.
1 Corinthians 15:1-4
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [Emphasis added]
Apart from accepting this one means for your salvation, you, too, will spend eternity in hell and the Lake of Fire. And if you think me telling you this is some sort of scary tactic, it surely is. Until we’re saved by accepting God’s provision for our salvation we should be scared, very scared. So, don’t delay! Put your faith in Christ now and be saved forever.
Satan has historically appeared in different forms. He has some control in how he appears to man. Because he is a spirit being, he has no physical form of his own. None of the angels have physical substance, even though they can appear to have such. They were all created to be of service to God who made them. They are spoken of in Scripture as ministering servants to God and to His people.
14 Are they [angels] not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? [Emphasis added]
These “ministering spirits” can and have appeared in a variety of ways. The ones who’ve sided with Satan in his revolt, work only to deceive. He even uses people who have been deceived to deceive and evangelize others. His most helpful servants have always been “religious” leaders of one kind or another.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15
13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. [Emphasis added]
Because Satan is the master at deception as an angel of light, he can appear as a beautiful, tempting, creature. He is by no means something ugly and repulsive as so many have been led to believe.