Looking for the Devil in the wrong places

 

Question: Is it possible that we’ve been looking for the Devil in the wrong places? 

Why do we so rarely associate these revealed characteristics with the evil one? Scripture says that, “the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (I John 5:19). In this light, consider how common the 10 characteristics below are to human history.

Ten connections between the character and activity of Satan and the actions of humans:

  1. Discontentment: (Satan’s bait in Genesis 3)
  2. Conceit: (I Timothy 3:6 ) comp. (II Cor. 12:7ff.)
  3. Selfish ambition: (James 3:13-16)
  4. Anger: (Ephesians 4:26-27)
  5. Murder: (John 8:44)
  6. Lying and deception: (John 8:44; II Cor. 11:13-15)       
  7. Envy: (I John 3:12;Isaiah 14:12-14)
  8. Willfulness and rebellion: (Gen. 4, Cain w/ I Jn. 3:12; Isa. 14:11-15, will vs. will)
  9. Prideful arrogance: (Luke 22:31-34; I peter 5:5-9a; James 4:6-7)
  10. Sexual sin: (I Corinthians 7:3-5)

Steve Cornell 

 

Satan: A Biblical study

I. The Doctrine of Satan

A. The origin and fall of Satan:

1. The origin of Satan: Satan originally belonged to the highest ranking of angels. Satan was a guardian cherub, belonging to the group of cherubim angels. The cherubim appear to be those angels with closest access to God (Ex. 25:18-22; Ez. 28:14; 10:1-22; Rev. 4:6-8). The cherubim had the occupation of guarding God’s holiness (see also: Jude 9).

a. Ezekiel 28:11-15: The anointed Cherub. In the above passage the prophet Ezekiel is pronouncing judgment on the King of Tyre. In the first ten verses of the chapter, the prophet refers to him as the ruler of Tyre (28:1). There is an obvious change of content in verses 11-19 where the prophet speaks the word of the Lord to the King of Tyre. Ezekiel was evidently going behind the ruler of Tyre to the source of evil, Satan. The language of this passage could not have related to an earthly Ruler. The best understanding is that Satan is spoken of as the King of Tyre.

b. Isaiah 14:12: Lucifer – Morning Star. The name ascribed to Satan in the above passage is Lucifer which means Star of the morning, or Shining one. Satan’s origin was evidently one of beauty. He was of the supreme angelic host who had access to the inner circle of God’s presence.

2. The fall of Satan: It is apparent that God created angelic beings with a free will (or, in an unconfirmed state of innocence). Satan, as with all angels, could have chosen to maintain his blessed position. Yet he chose to rebel against God. The only scripture that provides explicit reference to the sin that occasioned the fall of satan is I Timothy 3:6. Several other scriptures provide possible insights into his rebellion.

a. Ezekiel 28:15-19: Several things may be noted in this passage about the fall of the anointed cherub.

1. Wickedness found in him: (v. 15) The wickedness was the sin of pride (v. 17a). See also I Tim. 3:6.

2. He merchandised sin: (v. 16a) Satan was not content to rebel on his own. He marketed his sin.

3. He was expelled from God’s presence; (v. 16b) The mount of God would seem to indicate God’s presence. Satan was expelled from his anointed position before the throne. Although Satan is still allowed access to God (Job 1:6-12; Zech. 3:1-2), he will one day ultimately be expelled from God’s presence (Rev. 12:7-13).

b. Isaiah 14:12-14: The cause of Satan’s fall.

This passage is evidently a reference to Satan. Take careful note of the great claims made in the text. The sin behind the fall of Satan was that of pride/conceit (see also : I Timothy 3:6; Romans12:3).

B. The titles and works of Satan:

1. Titles: Many things can be learned about Satan and his work through a study of his names and titles.

a. Satan: An adversary (Mt. 4:10, 12:26; John 13:27)

b. The Devil: An accuser, or slanderer: Scripture teaches that there are many demons but only one devil (Heb. 2:14; Eph. 4:27; Matt. 4:1,5).

c. The evil one: I Jn. 5:18, 19 (NIV)

d. The tempter: Matt. 4:3

e. The serpent: Gen. 3:1-14; II Cor. 11:3

f. The great dragon: Rev. 12:7-9

g. The accuser: Rev. 12:10; Zech. 3:1

h. A roaring lion: I Pet. 5:8; Job 1:7

i. A murderer and liar: Jn. 8:44

j. Disguised as an angel of light: II Cor. 11:14

k. Apollyon: the destroyer: Rev. 9:11

l. The ruler of the Kingdom of the air: Eph. 3;2; 6:11-12

m. The god of this age: II Cor. 4:4

n. The prince of this world: Jn. 14:30

2. Works: There are only three biblical passages where Satan may be observed speaking directly to someone else

    • Genesis 3 – slandering God to man
    • Job 1,2 – slandering man to God
    • Matthew 4 – attacking the God-Man

To gain an in-depth understanding of the nature of Satan’s work, these passages should be studied in detail. An overview of Satan’s work would include the following:

a. He promotes disobedience to God: Gen.3:1-6; Eph. 2:2

b. He possesses and works through people: Jn. 8:44; 13:2, 27; Acts 5:3

c. He causes sickness, calamity, and death: Acts 10:38; Lk. 13:16; Job 1:2; Heb. 2:14; Jn. 8:44.

d. He tempts people to sin: I Chron. 21:1; Matt. 4:1-11

e. He disguises himself and his workers: II Cor. 11:14, 15; II Thess. 2:9; Col. 2:18.

f. He encourages shortcuts to victory: Matt. 4:8,9.

g. He appeals to physical lusts and pride: Jn. 14:30 w/I Jn. 2:16; Eph. 2:1-3; I Tim. 3:6.

h. He promotes doubt about God=s character and word: Gen. 3:1-6; Jn. 8:44; II Tim. 4:3-4.

i. He hurls accusations against believers: Job 1; Rev. 12:10

j. He works through governments: Matt. 4:8; Dan. 10:13-20; Ez. 28

k. He works through his demons: (Other angels who fell with him): Jude 6; I Tim. 4:1-3; Rev. 12:9; Mark 5:1-20; 9:17-29; Lk. 9:37-43.

l. He blinds the minds of people so they will not accept the gospel: II Cor. 4:3,4

m. He prevents the Word of God from affecting certain people: Lk. 8:11-12

n. He promotes false teaching and false teachers: I Tim. 4:1-2; II Tim. 3:5; II Pet. 2:1-2; I Jn. 4:1

o. He places false believers among true believers: Matt. 13:38-40; Acts 20:28-30

p. He promotes envy and selfishness: James 3:14-16

q. He persecutes God’s people: Rev. 2:10; I Tim. 3:12

r. He opposes God’s servants: I Thess. 2:18

s. He will energize the antichrist: II Thess. 2:9,10

C. The defeat and destiny of Satan:

1. Satan’s defeat: At the cross Christ conquered Satan and secured the believers victory (Jn. 12:31; 16:11; col. 1:13; 2:14-15; I Jn. 3:8). While it is true that the battle continues in this age (Eph. 6:10-12; I Pet. 5:8) the outcome of the battle does not hang in the balances. The believer, through Christ, can be aware of, resist, and stand against Satan’s schemes (II Cor. 2:11; Eph. 4:27; 6:10-18; Js. 4:7; I Pet. 5:9). We must always be prayerfully watchful (Col. 4:2; Eph. 6:18; Mk. 14:38; I Pet. 5:8). Believers are safe from his ultimate designs (Jn. 10:28-29; Rom. 8:38-39).

2. Satan’s destiny: Satan’s destiny under the judgment of God is outlined in Scripture:

a. He will be ultimately cast out of heaven: Rev. 12:7-12.

b. He will be bound during the thousand year reign of Christ: Rev. 20:1-3

c. He will be released at the end of the reign of Christ at which time he will lead a final rebellion against God: Rev. 20:7-9

d. He will be cast into the lake of fire forever: Rev. 20:10

Final note: Scripture is repeatedly clear about our need to be alert to the strategy of the evil one. Jesus prayed that His Father would keep His followers from the evil one (John 17). The words of an apostle who knew what it meant to be “sifted” by Satan, gives the following words of warning: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (I Peter 5:8-9).

Steve Cornell