Just as surely as you and I exist, satan exists. Though he is not all powerful–he is as far from it as you and I are–nevertheless, he does wield considerable power. Ultimately, however, he cannot now exercise any power over us that we don’t give him, because if we resist him, he will flee from us (James 4:7). To resist him takes considerable spiritual strength and faith because he attacks our weaknesses at our weakest moments (e.g., Matt. 4:1-3). Knowing his nature gives us something of an edge at defeating his offensives (II Cor. 2:11). By putting on the armor of God, we are enabled to stand against his villainous wiles and thereby are all his fiery darts are extinguished (Eph. 6:10-17). A few examples of how satan is described in the Bible helps us to know his insidious nature.
In the Apocalypse, satan is described as “abaddon” in the Hebrew and “apollyon” in the Greek, both words meaning destroyer or destruction (Rev. 9:11). While the context likely speaks of the destruction left in the wake of the advancing Roman army, satan is their spiritual leader. The Bible tells us that destruction and Hell are closely linked, for, as the wise man declares, “Hell and destruction are before the Lord…” (Prov. 15:11; cf. Job 26:6; Prov. 27:20). The goal of satan is nothing less than the complete and total destruction of our hope, our influence for good, our lives and our salvation.
Again, in the Book of Revelation, satan is decided as the “accuser of our brethren” (12:10). The image is reminiscent of our look behind the scenes in the Book of Job at how satan sought to bring Job down by accusing him of false motives in serving God. Undoubtedly, satan seeks to accuse us, as well.
These kinds of attacks clearly make him our adversary, as he is called by Peter: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8). In the fight for the salvation of our souls, he is our adversary. Jesus also described him as the enemy who sows the tares in the wheat (Matt. 13:39). We must remember that our battle is against satan and evil, that monster that brought sin, death and damnation into the world.
The apostle Paul uses the term “belial” to refer to satan. This word means “worthlessness.” Paul uses it in the context of fellowship, making it clear that Christ has no concord with belial (II Cor. 6:15). There can be no harmony with evil for the Christian. The devil doesn’t mind this association because that relationship only corrupts the good and the pure. Just as a little arsenic in good food doesn’t make the arsenic more agreeable, it just completely poisons the good food, a little goodness doesn’t harm the evil, or make the evil good, but the arsenic completely corrupts the good.
Surprisingly, Jesus referred to him as “the prince of this world” (John 12:31). While the Lord created the physical and spiritual creation, the devil, through his evil influence, has won most of the moral world under his control, whether they do so willingly or not. The spirit that now “worketh in the children of disobedience” is the spirit of the devil (Eph. 2:2). As the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2), he is the “ruler of the darkness of this world” (Eph. 6:12). Because of his power to blind the minds of those that believe not, Paul refers to him as “the god of this world” (II Cor. 4:4). While many acknowledge him as the god of this world through their blind acquiescence to his will, in the end the God of all creation will meet out Justice to him and his angels (Matt. 25:41).
Matthew describes the work of satan as one of temptation. Temptation is the lure to get us into satan’s snare, to be taken captive by him (II Tim. 2:26). Jesus was subjected to and defeated the temptations of this tempter (Matt. 4:3). Paul feared for the brethren in Thessalonica, lest they had submitted to the tempter, just as we might do also (I Thess. 3:5). We can overcome this temptation because God provides a way of escape that we may be able to bear it (I Cor. 10:12).
In this Halloween season it is unfortunate that many children, some the children of Christian parents, will be dressed up in devil’s outfits. Those who do so cannot possibly understand the evil satan has brought into the world and continues to spread or they would not take the matter so lightly as to have their children portray a sterilized version of him. All of the things that are wrong with this world–death, sickness, calamity, lying, cheating, molestation, murder, famine, and a million other sick violations of God’s will–are the direct result of his activities. How can this be trivialized or so easily dismissed? And, yet it is. Another of satan’s devices.
Eric L. Padgett