Sunday, June 16, 2019

A Primer on Satan

This excellent and informative little article comes from the Reformation Heritage Study Bible (KJV):

Satan’s existence is attested in nine Old Testament books and by every New Testament writer. In the Old Testament the word Satan, meaning “adversary or accuser,” occurs nineteen times. The word appears to be employed both as a title (the Accuser; Zech. 3:1–2) and as a personal name (Satan; 1 Chron. 21:1; Ps. 109:6). Many of the usages occur in Job 1 and 2.

In the New Testament Satan is denominated most often as the devil (diabolos; occurring sixty times, forty times in the Gospels alone). This is a term that means “traducer or slanderer.” The word Satan itself occurs thirty-four times, half in the Gospels and Acts and half in the epistles and Revelation. Additionally, there are other New Testament names and titles for Satan: the accuser (Rev. 12:10), the adversary (1 Peter 5:8), Apollyon (Rev. 9:11), Beelzebub (Matt. 12:24), Belial (2 Cor. 6:15), the dragon (Rev. 12:7), the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4), the prince of the air (Eph. 2:2), the prince of this world (John 12:31), the serpent (Rev. 20:2), the tempter (Matt. 4:3), and a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8).

Satan is not an impersonal force but the chief fallen angel who rebelled against God (Isa. 14:12–15). He has all the traits of personality, such as intellect (2 Cor. 11:3), emotion (Rev. 12:17), and will (2 Tim. 2:26). Furthermore, personal pronouns are ascribed to him (Matt. 4:1–12).

From his very first success in tempting Adam and Eve to sin, Satan is seen as warring against mankind in general and believers in particular. In opposition to all the world, Satan blinds, deceives, and rules over men in wickedness (2 Cor. 4:3–4; Eph. 2:2; Col. 1:13; Rev. 20:7–8). In hostility to all believers, Satan roams “as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Satan incited David to sin (1 Chron. 21:1), accused Job and Joshua the high priest (Job 1–2; Zech. 3:1), corrupted Peter’s thinking (Matt. 16:23), and inflicted a thorn in Paul’s side (2 Cor. 12:7). Satan seeks to accuse all believers before God and opposes them with all his might (Rev. 12:10). He is aptly described as wily (Eph. 6:11), necessitating that the believer don armor for both offense and defense against him (Eph. 6).

Satan can be seen as executing four strategies against the believer...

First, Satan leads the believer off the path, enticing him with sinful fruit tailored to his taste. Satan knows the individual believer’s weaknesses and quickly capitalizes on them. Each believer must be wary of his areas of weakness and make fortifications against Satan in those places.

Second, Satan places mountainous obstacles along the way of spiritual discipline, making headway tedious and demanding. He confronts the believer with apparent impasses, many of which are common, such as busyness, loneliness, and weariness. With these and numerous other strategies, Satan attempts to discourage and overcome the believer. The believer must flee to the Lord as his strength and rock (Pss. 18:2; 28:7), employ the means of grace, and fellowship regularly with other Christians.

Third, Satan lays pitfalls for the believer by deceiving him about God and His truth. From the beginning (Gen. 3:4–5) Satan has corrupted the truth in immeasurable ways. The believer must bathe in the truth of the Word. He must ensure that scriptural truth is being set before his eyes, is ringing in his ears, and is dwelling within his heart and mind (Deut. 6:7–9; Josh. 1:8; Ps. 119:11).

Fourth, Satan continually opposes each step of sanctification. Because the believer’s progress is the Devil’s regress, Satan relentlessly impedes obedience. Christ is the remedy. When Satan throws snares to topple him, the believer must beseech Christ, who is his first love (Rev. 2:4–5). When Satan builds walls to bar him, the believer must look to Christ, who breaks blockades (Mic. 2:13). When Satan forges chains to bind him, the believer must implore Christ, who liberates captives (Luke 4:18).

Comfort is to be had, however, for Satan has already been defeated by the death and resurrection of Christ (Gen. 3:15; Rev. 20). His destruction is sure in the end. Until then the believer must recognize that his “sufficiency is of God” to triumph against Satan (2 Cor. 3:5).