A Study of Satan, 1 of 2
By Allen Webster
people think that if you believe in the devil, you never really graduated from
childhood. Or as one put it, “belief in
a personal Satan is part of mankind’s nursery furniture.” The Bible, however, is not unclear about the
existence or work of our adversary. It
should be enough to say that Jesus believed in Satan and talked often of him
(e.g., Matthew 25:41; John 8:44). Satan
is found in the Bible 55 times (19 times in the Old Testament; 36 in the New
Testament). Devil is found 59
times (all in the New Testament). An
analysis of these texts gives us much detail about our enemy.
Origin: From where
did the devil come?
Satan was on the scene as early as the
Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1). But since
he is not introduced and no account of his birth or creation is given, how are
we to know his origin? Consider that there
are only three kinds of beings: Deity, angels and human. Satan is not divine since he is obviously
subject to God (cf. Job 1). He is not
human because he possesses powers superior to humans (cf. Matthew 4). Therefore, he must belong to the class of
angels. God does not create evil (James
so he must have been created good and became evil (like man). It follows then that Satan is a rebellious
angel who was judged by God and fell from holiness to wickedness. Jesus indicated this when he said, “I beheld
Satan as lightning fall from heaven” (Luke 10:18). Peter adds to our understanding when he wrote, “For if God spared
not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into
chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment” (2 Peter 2:4). Pride seems to have been the cause of his
fall (1 Timothy 3:6). The angels who
fell with him make up his army of spirits opposed to God and God’s people (Ephesians
6:10-13; Luke 11:18; Jude 6).
Nature: What is
the devil like?
He is a slanderer (Job 1:7-8; Psalms 109:6). Devil means “slanderer” or “accuser.” Satan slandered Job, but, take heart, God defended him. When Satan accuses us before God (or to
ourselves), we should remember that Jesus is defending us as our Advocate in
heaven. Take comfort—a faithful
Christian’s case is in good hands (1 John 2:1-2; Romans 8:31-39; Revelation
He is a counterfeiter of God (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43; 2 Corinthians
11:13-15). He seeks to confuse men and one of the
easiest ways is to duplicate—with significant but hard to notice changes—God’s
creations. In the parable of the tares,
the enemy (Satan) sows tares (a poisonous plant that looks like wheat) among
the farmer’s wheat (God’s world). Satan
is in the religion business! He has counterfeit
gods, counterfeit religions, counterfeit Bibles, counterfeit churches and
counterfeit preachers. He might prefer
that we all become atheists, but he is content with us being idolaters or
participants in false religions. The
only way to determine the difference between the genuine and the fake, is to
shine the light of God’s Word upon it in careful examination (1 Thessalonians
5:21; 1 John 4:1).
He is a liar, deceiver and murder (John 8:44). Since the Garden, he has been lying to us, and has brought death to
every single person who has lived here, starting with Adam and Eve (except, of
course, those translated like Enoch and Elijah and those living presently). Paul warned, “But I fear, lest by any means,
as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted
from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).
He is the ruler of this world (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 1
John 5:19) and the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4). He has more followers presently than God does (Matthew 7:13-14). In fact, the only times the “good guys” have
outnumbered the “bad guys” were when Adam stepped into the Garden and when Noah
stepped off the boat. Nonetheless, when
God gets ready to enforce his will, Satan will bow just as will the knee of his
every devotee (Revelation 22:2-3; cf. Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10).
He is our adversary (1 Peter 5:8-9). The word Satan means “adversary.” Though we do not see him, he is there laying
traps for us (2 Timothy 2:24). He is a
soldier against whom we struggle in hand-to-hand combat. Paul explained,
“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand
against the wiles of the devil. 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” (Ephesians 6:11-12).
He is a destroyer (Revelation 9:11; Abaddon means “destruction”). It is his goal to wreck every couple’s marriage, every person’s health,
every mind’s sanity, every heart’s peace, every maiden’s virtue, every
friendship’s bond, every good work’s capability, every servant’s ministry,
every church’s harmony, every sermon’s effectiveness and every soul’s destiny.