Friday, February 1, 2019

Making Fun of Satan

"Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made" (Genesis 3:1).

When we move from Genesis 2:25 to Genesis 3:1 we note a change in textual tone. The statement that the serpent was the craftiest of the animals strikes a discordant note in the harmony which had prevailed up to this point. In Genesis 3:1 we immediately read that this clever beast challenged God’s commands to Adam and Eve.

The serpent personifies Satan throughout the Bible, especially in Revelation 20:2. The serpent in Genesis 3 was a real animal, but it was used as Satan’s mouthpiece to deceive Adam and Eve.

When we think of Satan we are often inclined to envision the stereotypical little man in a red suit with horns and cloven hooves, carrying a pitchfork. This description is not found anywhere in the Bible but was born in the minds of some medieval church scholars. These theologians, who were very conscious of spiritual warfare, sought techniques to fight Satan and overcome his temptations. Peter tells us that Satan prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8), but we have James’ promise that if we resist him, this lion will flee in defeat (James 4:7). Such encouragements caused the godly men of the Middle Ages to seek ways to resist Satan.

They determined that Lucifer’s greatest sin and weakness is pride. Since a proud person cannot stand ridicule, these theologians used ridicule as their weapon against Satan. They wrote songs to mock him and drew cartoons poking fun at him. One of the most enduring and popular of these images was of Satan as a silly creature in a red suit with a tail and horns.

In the Bible Satan is exposed as a counterfeit angel of light. He deceives the world by advocating and offering that which often sounds good (but is not godly). He hisses subtle questions in our minds about the authority and inerrancy of God’s Word, planting seeds of doubt. His most cherished territory to stalk his prey is the church itself, the sacred garden where God meets men.

Satan is ultimately powerless against almighty God. However, we mere mortals should view him as a staunch enemy. His objective is to use every ounce of power to entice us away from a life committed to serving Jesus Christ.

Because we have forgotten why Satan was characterized in foolish ways in the Middle Ages, today we only laugh at the image and are oblivious to his being our staunch, powerful enemy. Do not permit his silly image to deceive you.