“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”1 PETER 5:8
The apostle Peter has forewarned us that we have a deadly enemy. However, it is impossible for us to effectively combat and be on guard against him, except if we know about him and the devices he uses. It is distressing how many have discounted the existence of Satan, esteeming him nothing more than a mythological being or a “little red guy with horns and a pointy tail.” Let us consider what the Bible tells us about our adversary.
Some Terms To Define
Satan, from the Greek ‘satanas’ and Hebrew ‘satan’; literally, adversary, one who opposes another in purpose or act. (Job 1:9-11; 1 Chronicles 21:1; 2 Thessalonians 2:9, etc.)
Devil, from the Greek ‘diabolos‘, literally, accuser, slanderer. (John 8:44; Revelation 12:9-10, etc.)
Lucifer, from the Hebrew ‘heylel‘, literally, light-bearer, bright one (Isaiah 14:12). This term only appears in Isaiah 14:12, and in context refers to the king of Babylon. It is not a reference to Satan as some suppose. “The identification of Isaiah’s Lucifer with the Devil began with Saint Jerome and other Fathers of the Church, who held that Jesus implied the identification when He said, ‘I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.’ (Luke 10:18). Consequently, in Patristic literature, Lucifer is used as a synonym for Satan.” (Ibid.)
[Jerome, Latin Vulgate, 384 A.D.]
Who Is Satan?
He is a created being. The Scriptures tell us that all things have been created by God (Colossians 1:15-17). Thus, it follows that if all things were created, Satan likewise was created. However, he was not created evil, for “…You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with You.” (Psalm 5:4). It would be contrary to the nature of God to create an evil being (James 1:13). It is thus concluded, though created good, chose evil, and has gloried in unrighteousness from the beginning (1 John 3:8; John 8:44).
Note that the Bible reveals nothing to us about the origin of Satan (ie. when / how / why he chose evil). We know that a number of angels were cast out of heaven on account of their sinfulness (Jude 6; 2 Peter 2:4). As good angels heed the Lord, the wicked angels (demons) heed Satan, who is identified as “…the prince of the power of the air…” (Ephesians 2:2); “…Beelzebub, the prince of the devils….” (Matthew 9:34; 12:24), and “…the god of this world.” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
We know that Satan is a being with power. He has kingdoms (Luke 4:6). He has thrones (Revelation 2:12). He has synagogues (Revelation 3:9). He has children (1 John 3:10; John 8:44; Acts 13:13). He has ministers (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
Further, we know that he is a condemned being. Hell was prepared for him (Matthew 25:41). He is guilty of pride (1 Timothy 3:6). He is guilty of sin (Jude 6; 2 Peter 2:4). He is the father of lies (John 8:44). The fact that he is condemned is what makes him dangerous. Peter says that he, “…walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
The Limitations Of Satan
He is NOT All-Powerful. God has established boundaries for Satan (Job 1:12; 2:6), and has given those who will serve Him protection against Satan’s power (1 Corinthians 10:13). The time of Christ was witness to the fullest extent of Satan’s arsenal. Demon possession was a common manifestation of the spiritual battle which was being waged. However, the end of demon possession was prophesied (Zechariah 13:1-2). Jesus conquered Satan and destroyed his works (Matthew 12:22-30; 1 John 3:8). The Lord came to judge and defeat Satan, and indeed, He has (John 12:30-33; 16:11; Revelation 12:9-10; 20:2)
Today, Satan acts within the constraints of a man’s personal choice (poorly exercised free will). We will not be involuntarily dominated by him. By clothing ourselves with the message of the gospel, and conducting ourselves according to its precepts, we can stand against the wicked one (Ephesians 6:11-13). The only way he is able to touch us is if we allow him to. A vicious animal, whether chained or caged, is still able to bite and injure you if you get too close!!
A wonderful attribute of the Lord is his omnipresence (all-present). Satan does not have such an ability. He can be resisted and he will flee (Luke 4:13; James 4:7).
Satan, Temptation and You
Satan’s ability to cause us to sin is is dependent upon our own desires (James 1:13-14). He presents sin as being pleasurable (Hebrews 11:25). He presents sin as being beneficial (Genesis 3:4-5). He presents sin as being a personal right (Genesis 3:5). He presents sin as being the right way (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).
By knowing and avoiding his schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11; 11:3), we are able to resist him and overcome him (1 Corinthians 1:13; Ephesians 4:27). Jesus has been given as the perfect example (Matthew 4:10; 16:23; Hebrews 4:15; 12:1-3).
What Can We Do About Satan?
Know and trust that the Lord has already defeated him. It was prophesied (Genesis 3:15) and accomplished (Hebrews 2:14-15). When Christ was crucified, no doubt Satan believed he had gained the victory, but when Jesus arose from the dead, Satan’s power was destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:55-57). Thus, put your faith in Christ (1 John 4:4).
Realize that obedient faith crushes Satan (Romans 16:19-20). Therefore, be alert (1 Corinthians 16:13; 1 Peter 5:8); be armed (Ephesians 6:10-13); exercise self-control (James 1:14-15); and know the way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13).