A Bible Exposition Of Various Passages
Perhaps you grew up in Christian tradition as I did, learning that Satan is the great enemy of both God and Christians. He was formerly the highest archangel, Lucifer. Originally created by God as the most impressive angel, he was full of wisdom and beauty.
But Lucifer took pride in his wisdom and beauty, he coveted the glory that was due to God, and he rebelled, being cast down from heaven by God and banished to hell where he now resides and rules.
When Lucifer fell, and became Satan, he took one-third of the angels with him in rebellion, who now form a host, an army of evil spirits. Currently, Satan splits time between deceiving the world and torturing unbelievers in the lake of fire.
Some of what I just said is true, some of it is false, and some parts of what I said are conjecture. It’s no secret that there is a great deal of confusion surrounding the person of Satan. Satan is a person, not a human person, but a person in that he possesses individual attributes and a unique identity.
One theologian explains this confusion surrounding the person of Satan:
Through the centuries, Satan’s identity has been going through a process of change. His identity has become a blending of Scripture, tradition, and speculation. The arts, literature, and mythology have all made their contribution to his distorted identity.
Examples of this include:
- Allegorical interpretations of the Old Testament by the early church Fathers (Tertullian, Origen, and Hippolitus.)
- Literary works such as Dante’s The Divine Comedy written in the 1300s, from which we get the Inferno and John Milton’s Paradise Lost written in the 1600s
- Add to that bad theology that deliverance ministry and breaking strongholds and binding Satan.
And you begin to trace out the ingredients that have been baked into this current notion about Satan. Well, I don’t claim to be the definitive authority on the topic of Satan. I’m not a Satanologist.
But out of an earnest desire to understand what God teaches, I have labored to study and think through these issues. What I am going to present today is my effort at synthesizing the biblical data concerning Satan.
A doctrine such as the doctrine of Satan doesn’t have the same level of unanimous precision. So, take the deity and humanity of Christ—there is a longstanding tradition of biblical interpretation and doctrine. Less consensus when it comes to Satan.
At the outset then, we must note up front that Satan is to a degree still shrouded in mystery to us. We simply don’t have enough data in the Scriptures to tell us answers to so many questions that we might like to have the answer to.
- How did the first sin enter the heart?
- How long was it between when God created the universe and the first angel fell?
- Can angels still fall today?
- What is the exact mechanism by which Satan influences individuals—we know he spoke audibly to Eve through a serpent, but how does he influence people today? Is he on your shoulder whispering to your subconscious? Is he able to read your thoughts and he works by affirming the ungodly ones and stirring them up in your heart?
- And so on and so on…
And it’s always a challenge for us when we don’t have as much data as our little minds want. Concerning this lack of data, one commentator warned:
There are fewer than 120 verses that refer directly to either Satan or the devil, and the overwhelming majority of these verses are found in the New Testament. The Bible’s lack of attention to Satan is justified, however, for God and not Satan is its focus. This limitation of biblical information to this intriguing and perplexing subject leaves it dangerously open to speculation, distortion, and confusion which ironically helps Satan to accomplish his evil purposes.
By design the emphasis in Scripture is on God, and not His comparatively weak enemy, Satan. But the lack of data gives Satan an opportunity to have a heyday and sow confusion concerning his identity.
Today we will go stroke by stroke as we paint a picture of who Satan is and then next week examine how we deal with him.
Some of what we look at will be a slam dunk so to speak. Scripture is plain and clear and we will hang our hat on those truths. It will correct errant thinking.
And then some areas that we have less clarity, I will give you a synthesis of the biblical data, but we can’t be definitive on those things.
Does that sound fair?
There are two areas that we are going to explore concerning Satan. The first is how we should understand Satan, and the second is how we should respond to Satan.
Our outline is:
2 Tools for Withstanding the Enemy
1.Recognizing His Person (Individual Identity)
- His Origin
- His Personality
- His Descriptions
- His Schemes
- His Boundaries
2.Resisting His Program