We have an adversary. He is generally called the Devil or Satan. His various names describe his wicked position. It is no accident that, within the pages of Scripture, Satan (i.e., our “adversary”; Zechariah 3:1) routinely is denominated by such unseemly designations as: (a) the devil (i.e., slanderer; Matthew 4:1); (b) “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4); (c) “the prince of the powers of the air” (Ephesians 2:2); (d) the father of lies (John 8:44); (e) the “Great Dragon” (Revelation 12:9); (f) “Beelzebub” (i.e., prince of demons; Matthew 12:24). (g) the “wicked one” (Matthew 13:38); (h) “the prince of this world” (John 12:31); (i) the ruler of darkness (Ephesians 6:12); (j) “the tempter” (1 Thessalonians 3:5); (k) “accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10); (l) a “murderer” (John 8:44); (m) “the enemy” (Matthew 13:39); (n) “a roaring lion” (1 Peter 5:8); (o) a “serpent” (2 Corinthians 11:3); (p) “Belial” (i.e., “wicked one”; 2 Corinthians 6:15); and (q) “angel of the bottomless pit” (Revelation 9:11).
THE ORIGIN OF SATAN
Satan is a real individual. Many have completely dismissed the idea of Satan, but to do this is to dismiss the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures. It is to call the historical narratives concerning Satan mystical tales. If one takes seriously the inspiration of the Bible, the reality of Satan must be acknowledged. Satan is central to the thought of the Bible as a whole and especially the New Testament.
It is clear that the Devil is a created being. God is not able to be restrained as the Devil was (Job 42:2). The Devil is not an eternal being. The Devil would have been created at the same time as the other angels. This was during creation week (Exodus 20:11; Colossians 1:16). The Devil was present and functioning as the Satan by Genesis 3:1 (cf. Revelation 12:9). All God’s creation was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). The Devil was not created evil. He chose to be evil just as individuals choose today. If one does not accept the conclusion that the Devil is a fallen angel, then the only remaining option is Dualism (a good God and an evil God competing).
How and when did the Devil sin? Two verses strongly imply that the Devil was the first sinner (1 John 3:8 & John 8:44). 1 Timothy 3:6 implies that the Devil’s sin was pride. The Devil must have sinned before his actions in the Garden of Eden. Little information is revealed to us in this regard (2 Peter 2:4 & Jude 6). However, we can know that the Devil was created good, chose evil, and has been operating as the Satan since Genesis 3.
Satan has one goal in mind—to oppose God and His people. Rex A. Turner Sr. has suggested: “Satan cannot attack God directly, thus he employs various methods to attack man, God’s master creation” (1980, p. 89). In the Garden of Eden, the Satan works to discredit God and to cause mankind to fall. In the book of Job, the Satan accuses the righteous man of serving God for his own profit. In the New Testament the work of the Satan is further revealed as that of the tempter. He tempted the Lord Himself, he is said to have entered Judas, and asked to sift Peter. Satan presents himself as the one who should be followed and offers pseudo-blessings to all that would follow him. “Satan has an avowed purpose, to control the thinking of men. If he can control their minds, he can then consequently control their actions” (Pentecost 104). Satan’s dealings with man always have the same motivation—to cause man to turn from God and serve iniquity in hopes of pseudo-blessings.
How, then, does Satan influence us to sin? In 2 Corinthians 2:11, Paul spoke of the fact that “no advantage may be gained over us by Satan: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” The word “devices” in this text derives from the Greek noemata, which “refers to intelligent notions, purposes, designs, devices, etc.” (Overton, 1976, 5:3). In Ephesians 6:11, Paul admonished Christians to “put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” The word “wiles” derives from the Greek methodeias, from which we get our word “methods.” Methodeias “is from the Greek verb that means to trace; to investigate; to handle methodically; to handle cunningly…. The devil is a skilled artisan. He will deceive you if you do not work at the job of fighting back at him” (Overton, 1976, 5::3).
IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN
In the Garden of Eden, the Satan initiates his role as the tempter and deceiver of mankind. In the form of a serpent, the Satan deceived Eve by telling her that she “will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it our eyes will be opened, and you will be like God” (Genesis 3.4-5). However, Adam was not deceived. He sinned willfully by choosing the companionship of his wife over his relationship with God. Satan recreates this scenario in the lives of all people.
IN THE BOOK OF JOB
One of the most extensive scenes involving the Satan in the Old Testament is found in the book of Job. The Satan serves as the protagonist in Job’s epic adventure in the problem of suffering. The Heavenly court is described as “the sons of God.” Although he is a fallen angel, Satan is still an angel. It is not specified what the angelic host is doing or what the purpose of this Heavenly court is, but Satan says that he has been walking to and fro on the earth” in order to find someone to tempt or accuse before the Judge of all mankind.
Zechariah 3.1-10 represents one of the lesser known narrative involving the Satan. Tate outlines the story saying, “Joshua, the high priest in Jerusalem, has been charged in a legal setting by a figure called ‘the satan’” ( 463). The Satan accuses Joshua of being unfit for the priesthood which is demonstrated by the filthy garments which are said to be on him in verse 3. Joshua, the high priest, is declared innocent in this trial before Yahweh. He is then recommissioned. This scene is much like what is seen in the tragic beginning of the book of Job.
The ultimate destination of the Devil and the angels who follow him is revealed to us. Jesus said there is an “everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). Satan is not the ruler of Hell. Satan will be an eternal captive of Hell. He is not yet in Hell (1 Peter 5:8). Rather the Devil will be cast into it “forever and ever” on the Day of Judgment (Revelation 20:10).
God not only “bound” Satan, but sealed his ultimate doom. Our Lord will be victorious over Heaven’s Great Adversary, for “to this end was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (I John 3:8). It is via the power inherent in His own death and resurrection that He will “bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). The fate that awaits this traitorous tyrant is clear: And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where are also the beast and the false prophet; and they shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever (Revelation 20:10). Eternal punishment in hell has been “prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). God’s covenant pledge, made with our forefathers in Genesis 3:15, then will be fulfilled once and for all: “he [Christ] shall bruise thy [Satan’s] head.” The paradise lost of Genesis will have become the paradise regained of Revelation. With the earthly reign of Satan brought to an end, and the eternal bliss of God’s saints secure, then, surely, we shall be able to say with the psalmist of old: “This is the day which Jehovah hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).