Satan: What are the basics about him?
Some introductory principles:
As shocking as this may be to some, unlike what is typically thought of him, Satan is one who wants good things in the world, but independently of God. We find in Scripture that Satan wishes to be like God, not unlike Him, as commonly believed. As you read this Scripture from the Bible that discloses this, note the five I wills of this passage. In his pride, Satan thinks of himself as one who is greater than God.
13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
But notice what the passage goes on to say about his end.
15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to 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 [speaking of Satan] that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; [Emphasis added]
What things can be attributed to Satan?
It is extremely important to realize that most of the things that are attributed to Satan and his influence are of man’s flesh, his sinful nature, not Satan. This is but one of many areas where most people have been fooled by him. This passage and others show how foolish it is, generally speaking, to blame Satan for the things mentioned in this passage.
19 Now the works of the flesh [a reference to man’s sinful nature] are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, [Emphasis added]
On the other hand, and contrary to popular opinion, Satan is a promoter of good. Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, makes a very revealing statement about this.
“Next to the lie itself, the greatest delusion Satan imposes—reaching to all unsaved and to a large proportion of Christians—is the supposition that only such things as society considers evil could originate with the devil—if, indeed, there be any devil to originate anything. It is not the reason of man, but the revelation of God, which points out that governments, morals, education, art, commercialism, vast enterprises and organizations, and much of religious activity are included in the cosmos diabolicus [the devil’s world system]. That is, the system which Satan has constructed includes all the good which he can incorporate into it and be consistent in the thing he aims to accomplish. A serious question arises whether the presence of gross evil in the world is due to Satan’s intention to have it so, or whether it indicates Satan’s inability to execute all he has designed. The probability is great that Satan’s ambition has led him to undertake more than any creature could ever administer.” [Emphasis added]
Yes, Satan wants the good to be done independently of God. Satan and his followers, his ministers, promote what we may call religious righteousness. Here is the biblical evidence of that.
II 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]
How subtle this is! It is by Satanic influence that people suppose they can do good deeds and gain the approval and praise of God. They suppose that, if there is a heaven, they can get there on their own, that is, through their own efforts, their own works. They have no use for God’s provision in the matter.
Whose lead are you following?
During our Lord’s earthly ministry, Christ spoke of the religious leaders of Israel, ones who promoted good, as children of Satan. Notice our Lord’s revealing comments about them.
37 I know that ye [here Christ is speaking to a group of religious leaders in Israel] are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.
38 I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.
39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.
40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.
41 Ye [again, addressing the very “religious” leadership of Israel] do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.
42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.
43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. [Emphasis added]
This act of murder that is spoken of here is like that of Cain murdering his brother, Abel. Cain and Abel were sons of Adam and Eve. It is important to note that Cain was a “religious” man, having brought an offering unto the Lord. However, that offering was rejected because it was one of his own doing, contrary to what God had prescribed.
Ever since that time, Satan has been one who has promoted much of the world’s good, but he wants all this “good” to be done independently of God and His will. Killing and other such sinful activities are things he only promotes when people get in the way of his wishes. Otherwise, he wants a peaceful and united world that is under his controlling influence.
As seen in the John 8 passage, Satan was the main promoter of much of what the religious leaders of Israel were doing in their work to have Jesus crucified. But little did they know that their promotion of the execution of this Jesus of Nazareth was going to play into God’s hands as it did, providing a way of salvation for all mankind who would accept His work by faith.
I Corinthians 2:7-8
7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. [Emphasis added]
This is such a wonderful example of how God can take anything, any event or circumstance of life, and turn it for our good.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. [Emphasis added]
As brilliant as Satan is, God is far greater in every way. What a wonderful source of encouragement that is!
I John 4:4
4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. [Emphasis added]
God’s Word, the Bible, is the only totally reliable resource for learning about Satan and all he is doing in the world. Therefore, studying the Bible and learning God’s Word should be our main priority every day. Taking a part of every day for this can make such a fabulous difference in one’s life. What is so important for us to realize concerning Satan is that the one resource we have by which to resist his influence is the Word of God. Apart from having a mature knowledge of it, producing true wisdom in us, we are fully vulnerable to his influence. As an example of this, Jesus Christ, in the time of His earthly ministry, was able to resist Satan’s influence only by His knowledge and application of God’s Word. It is no different for us. The great example of this principle is found in the three temptations of Jesus by Satan recorded in the Bible.
1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him. [Emphasis added]
Never be so foolish as to assume that you can outsmart Satan and his organization on your own. Only by one’s knowledge and application of God’s Word can we win in that situation.
What is Satan’s origin?
Satan has not always functioned as he does today. Originally, he was without sin and was created as a beautiful and brilliant angel in service to God, his Maker.
13 Thou [speaking of Satan] 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.
14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. [Emphasis added]
What is Satan’s objective today?
We are warned about being ignorant of Satan’s strategy and tactics. Again, our only protection is God and His Word that needs to find a home in our thinking. Every believer should make it his primary objective to be able to make a statement such is this which the Apostle Paul made.
II Corinthians 2:11
11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. [Emphasis added]
Knowing Satan’s strategy and tactics takes the day-to-day learning of God’s Word. And you will be tempted to ignore that activity more than you ever thought possible. At the very heart of Satan’s objectives is his activity to do anything and everything he can to keep people from the truth, especially the gospel by which people can be saved.
II Corinthians 4:4
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]
I never cease to be amazed at Satan’s success in this. It is indeed rare to find people who understand the gospel by which people are saved in our time. If you ask someone what is necessary to get to heaven, even among professed Christians there’s mass confusion in how that question is answered. In my book, 22 Key Promises you can count on, I discuss this. I provide a list of things people suppose have something important to do with getting to heaven. Here is that list. These are all things people say they believe are involved in preparation for eternity and the means of getting to heaven.
I’ve been baptized.
I try to live a good life.
I’ve repented of my sins.
I’ve asked God to save me.
I went forward at my church.
I committed my life to Christ.
I try to live by The Golden Rule.
I do the best I can to please God.
I asked Christ to come into my heart.
I strive to live by the 10 Commandments.
I’m a member of … (they name a church).
I’ve asked God to forgive me of all my sins.
I’m hoping that the good things I’ve done will qualify me.
I think the good things I’ve done outweigh the bad I’ve done.
The reality is that not even one of these things has anything at all to do with the means of getting to heaven. Not one! But these things are commonly cited. Please note that none of these mentions anything about the cross of Christ and Him dying for our sins. Furthermore, not one mentions the resurrection of Christ and the great significance of that event, particularly as it relates to the gospel message for salvation. What a thorough and effective job Satan has done in blinding people, even regular church attendees, to the truth! I know of no plainer passage that explains the means to salvation than this one.
I 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]
Not one of those things I listed above mentions anything about the reconciliatory work of God in Christ. But people need to hear that truth and then believe it to be saved. There is no salvation provided apart from this. In other words, there are many people in every generation who think they are saved and headed to heaven. The reality is that they are not. And that is because they are depending upon their own works, rather than the one work of Jesus Christ [His death, burial and resurrection], as the one and only means to salvation and eternal life.
Are you serving in this ministry?
II Corinthians 5:18
18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; [Emphasis added]
The “us” here is you and me.
Even in His earthly ministry, Christ made it clear that He is man’s only means to salvation.
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. [Emphasis added]
We are ALL in the ministry, not just pastors and missionaries. There, too, has been great deception by Satan. We are all to be in “full time Christian service.” Evangelism is not just the work of the pastor and other church workers. The message of the gospel of Christ and salvation has been committed and entrusted to all of us.
II Corinthians 5:19-21
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word [or message] of reconciliation.
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ [we are all Christ’s personal representatives], as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
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]
Please notice again that in verse nineteen it says this message has been committed to us. How faithful have you been in conveying this message to others? If people in our time are to be saved and spend eternity in heaven, it will only be because there are some who will commit to giving out this message faithfully. Will you be such a person?
Will Satan succeed?
If you are a believer in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the basis for one’s salvation, you are a member of God’s team. Question: Will you live your life “on the bench” or “in the game?” God has offered us the tools by which to succeed in this unseen but very real warfare of which we are a part.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles [strategy and tactics] of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace [that’s the message of reconciliation];
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. [Emphasis added]
In answer to the question about whether or not Satan will succeed, the answer is no. He will win many battles, but he will not win this war. As the famous song puts it, “We’ve read the back of the book, and we win!”
To what extent will you be rewarded for your faithfulness?
Isn’t it great to know that despite our personal failures from time to time, we as believers are on the winning team? And, yes, “trophies” with eternal value for our faithfulness will be given out. These rewards God will provide will be things we get to enjoy throughout all eternity. We are qualifying for them NOW, in this life. Every faithful believer can look forward to enjoying God’s rewards forever. Choose to not let yourself get left out! Do every work you can to contribute to this victory. Again, the payoff is something you will get to enjoy for all eternity.
I Corinthians 3:13-15
13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. [Emphasis added]
II Corinthians 5:10
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. [Emphasis added]
In conclusion, let us all be ones who boldly present Christ to the people in our part of the world. Let us identify ourselves with people like the Apostle Paul and the attitude about all this that he had.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. [Emphasis added]