Monday, July 5, 2010

The Existence and Personality of Satan



It’s been said, time and time again, “the greatest trick Satan ever pulled, was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.” However, he does exist; and he is real. Satan is real because God explicitly says he is real in the Bible. As believers, with regenerated spirits and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we can see Satan for who he is; and we can recognize his methods and his “tricks”. For an unbelieving world, it’s easy for people to say “c’est la vie” or, such is life; and dismiss the things they see going on around them to just the way things are.
In this paper, we will discuss the existence of Satan and his personality. We’ll take a look at what we know of his origin, some of his actions in the Bible, and how he goes about operating in this world. In his personality we’ll look at his cunningness, his hatred for mankind, and his willingness to do whatever it takes to try to thwart the plans of God. It’s important for us to understand that evil doesn’t just happen; and all evil cannot be attributed to Satan alone, as there will be a time in the future during the Millennium where Satan and his demons will be far removed from mankind, and yet man will still rebel against God; but Satan certainly plays a big part in the evil that happens on this earth, as we’ll see.
Satan’s Origin
“We have no genesis of the devil in the Bible as a direct statement. The Bible is not his full history. It gives no intimation of his birth and no description of his creation. The Bible is only concerned with the devil as he has part in the great crisis of man’s history, and only gives us occasional glimpses of him in his work of ruin and death as explanatory, or as putting his acts in striking contrast and opposition to the works and aims of Christ.”
“Peter in his first epistle gives the angel crisis and fall as one of the signal events which illustrates God’s justice, its certainty, and fearfulness. He says, “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.” Jude speaks after the same order of God’s inflexible wrath when he tells us that, “the angels kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day” (Bounds, 1922, p. 11-12)

As we can see from the above, the Bible doesn’t really speak about when or how Satan was created, because ultimately, in God’s plan and purpose for mankind it’s really not all that important. What is important to God is that we as believers understand how Satan works against us and is constantly doing so. “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.” (Eph. 6:11 NIV) “He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap.” (1 Tim. 3:7 NIV)
We do however get a glimpse of his beginnings as he was cast from heaven to earth in the book of Ezekiel:
“You were anointed as the guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.” (Ezek. 28:14-17)

Although we don’t know exactly when Satan was created, we do see here that he was created as a special creature by God, who was to serve a special purpose; but his own arrogance and self love caused him to be cast out of the presence of God to become the arch enemy of not only God himself, but God’s other special creature: man.
Satan’s Existence
As was stated above, one of the greatest tricks Satan ever pulled was convincing an unsuspecting world that he didn’t exist in the first place; however, he does exist and believing anything else is dangerous to one’s eternal soul. As Walter Wink states:
“Nothing commends Satan to the modern mind. It is bad enough that Satan is spirit, when our world view has banned spirit from discourse and belief. But worse, he is evil, and our culture resolutely refuses to believe in the real existence of evil, preferring to regard it as a kind of systems breakdown that can be fixed with enough tinkering. Worse yet, Satan is not a very good intellectual idea. Once theology lost its character as reflection on the experience of knowing God, and became a second level exercise in knowing about, the experiential ground of theology began to erode away. “Although mythologically true” Morton Kelsey writes, “the devil is intellectually indefensible, and once it was realized that the conception of the powers of evil was “only” a representation of people’s experience, no matter how accurate, the devil began to fade.” (Wink, 1986, p.9)

While the world may deny the existence of Satan, or at the very least ignore his existence, the Bible declares his it in numerous places; of which we’ll examine a few:
"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Gen 3:4-5, NIV)
“Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." (Job 1:8, NIV)
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." (Matt 3:1-3, NIV)
Notice how the Bible refers to Satan on three separate occasions; in Genesis, he is referred to as the serpent; in Job he is specifically referred to as Satan; and in Matthew he is called the Devil and the tempter. Jesus himself had conversation with Satan in the desert while he was being tempted. The Bible, God’s holy word, does not try to make the case that Satan exists; it speaks of him in the sense that he does exist; period. No matter how much the world and mankind would like to think that Satan is not real, it doesn’t change the fact that he is, and that he has a distinct purpose on this earth.
In summing up the existence of Satan, author Richard Mayhue states it very well:
“Earlier in this decade the devil rated a three page spread in Newsweek-“Giving the Devil His Due.” It contained a survey of how American theologians and pastors in general have debunked and demythologized Satan, making him nothing more than a vestigial religious figure who has been trivialized by a thousand superstitions. Kenneth Woodward, noted religious correspondent for Newsweek, concluded with the words the devil undoubtedly welcomed, “In these harrowing times, Satan’s cleverest ploy would be to convince mankind that a pallid, personal devil really does exist.” (Mayhue 1988, 2001 p. 16)
Satan’s Personality
“The Devil is a person of marked emphatic character. Character gives dignity, place and value to the person, or character degrades the person. Character is that which is inner, cut in and graven. Character abides, forms action and shapes life. Character is a fountain. It is the head and stream of conduct; character often versus reputation. Character is what we are. Reputation is what folks think we are. The real and the think are so often two worlds. It would be well every way if reputation were based on character, if the real and the reputed were one. A bad reputation may be coupled with good character. Then the times are sadly out of joint or the environments, and the folks are more sadly out of joint than the times. A good reputation may be but the veneering of a bad character. The devil has this characteristic with him. Reputation is based on character. They are one. His reputation is bad, because his character is worse.” (Bounds, 1922, p. 19)

As stated above, Satan does have a bad reputation, which is derived from his character. He has a bad reputation because he is bad. His character is immoral. His character can be seen in some of the names given to Satan from the Bible: Apollyon (destroyer), Accuser of the Brethren, Beelzebub (prince of demons), Deceiver, Slanderer, and our Enemy. Those names aren’t just given to Satan, he has earned every one of them, through his destructive nature and hatred toward the Holy God who originally created him.
In books such as The Satanism Scare, Satan is once again successful in trickery to convince such authors as David G. Bromley that he doesn’t exist. Mr. Bromley goes on to point out that his thoughts lead to the idea that an “all powerful, all good God would not allow evil to exist in His cosmos He creates, therefore evil cannot exist; but since we can see that it does exist, we can save God’s goodness by limiting His omnipotence, or save His omnipotence by qualifying His goodness; albeit by pinning the evil on someone else.” He goes on to say, “To avoid this choice, a variety of strategies have been employed over the millennia. One solution, however unsatisfactory philosophically, is to resort to the notion of a spiritual power antagonistic to God, such as Satan. The Old Testament has relatively few references to Satan as a personality. Most Hebrew thought before the second century B.C.E. accepted destruction and suffering as originating in God’s inscrutable will. But some Old Testament passages lent themselves to an interpretation that mysterious spiritual powers, subordinate to a God, often did destructive things. In some passages-most dramatically in the book of Job-this power is portrayed as having an independent, malevolent existence.” (Bromley, 1991, p.41)
As we can see from the above, part of Satan’s personality is deceitfulness. He not only convinces people that he doesn’t exist, but in turn convinces people that the very idea of him is to be a scapegoat for the evil committed in the world. If he’s to be explained away as just a character of some fantasy, by whom all the evil of the world is perpetuated, then there is no need for a belief in an all powerful God that would hold him back from conducting all the evil he could ever commit. So, in convincing people he doesn’t exist, he also convinces people there is no God, attributing all the good committed in the world to the goodness and kindness of the human heart.
Another part of Satan’s personality is pride. This particular trait is the thing that got Satan cast out of heaven and out of the presence of Almighty God. It wasn’t enough that God created Satan as probably the most glorious and powerful Angel, Satan wanted to be God; he wanted to ascend to the throne of God and have ultimate control. Lewis Chafer says in his book:
“According to the scriptures, the supreme motive of Satan is his purpose to become like the Most High and, though that purpose was formed before the age of man, it has been his constant actuating motive from that time until now. It is also the teaching of the scriptures that Satan is in especial authority in the present age, he being permitted the exercise of his own power in order that he, and his followers, may make their own final demonstration to the who universe of the utter folly of their claims and their abject helplessness when wholly independent of their Creator. This is definitely predicted in 2 Timothy 3:9 as the final outcome of the attitude of the world in its independence toward God: “They shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men.” (Chafer, 1990, p.63)

The results of Satan’s pride can be seen in the book of Isaiah. “How you have fallen from Heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of the assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High!” But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit. (Isaiah 14:12-15, NIV)
“Accuser of the brethren” is yet another name for Satan, because it’s one of the things he’s very good at. In his book, L. F. McMurray paints a good picture of what Satan does to accuse believers in front of a Holy God. “The word accuser means: one who charges another with short comings or error, and: one who brings charges against another.” “According to the written word, Satan is the accuser, and man is the accused, but both have error where in Satan blames the brethren, and accuses God, and the brethren accuses man and Satan, and then blames God” (McMurray, 2006, p. i)
We can see Satan playing this role in the opening of the book of Job.
6 One day the angels [a] came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan [b] also came with them. 7 The LORD said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the LORD, "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it."
8 Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil."
9 "Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied. 10 "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face."
12 The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger." Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD. (Job 1:6-12 NIV)
We can also see Satan play this role in the book of Zechariah:
1 Then he showed me Joshua [a] the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan [b] standing at his right side to accuse him. 2 The LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?"
3 Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. 4 The angel said to those who were standing before him, "Take off his filthy clothes." Then he said to Joshua, "See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you." (Zech 3:1-4, NIV)
As we can see, it is definitely part of Satan’s personality to try to accuse believers in front of God. This derives from the standpoint that Satan can do nothing against God Himself. Satan is a created being, so try as he might, he can have no power over the Creator, which obviously infuriates him. Therefore, the only thing he can really do to have any effect is to attack God’s other created being, mankind. If he can lure us away from following God and lead us into the pit that has been created for him and his demonic followers, he knows that hurts God. He has made it his purpose to try and take us down any way he can.
The Slanderer is Satan’s second most referred to name in the Bible, and with good reason.
“With great emphasis Christ insists that he (Satan) is the father of that which is false. As the Greek has it, he has not stood in the truth. This has been rendered, he “abode” not in the truth. Now the English word “abide” has the secondary sense of remain, continue, with the implication in such a case as this, that he was once in the truth, but left it. To be sure, this idea is denied by the whole context and by the reason given, but a traditional background is much weightier than the context, and lifts the one statement, “he abode not in the truth” out of its surroundings in order to show that Satan was once in the truth and fell from it.” (
We can clearly see Satan attempting to slander even Jesus Himself in John chapter 8 by making people believe he was Samaritan and demon possessed:
42Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. 43Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don't you believe me? 47He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."
The Claims of Jesus About Himself
48The Jews answered him, "Aren't we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?"
49"I am not possessed by a demon," said Jesus, "but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 50I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death."
52At this the Jews exclaimed; "Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if anyone keeps your word, he will never taste death. 53Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?"
54Jesus replied, "If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word. 56Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad."
57"You are not yet fifty years old," the Jews said to him, "and you have seen Abraham!"
58"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" 59At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds. (John 8:42-59, NIV)
The implication here is this; if Jesus himself is not even safe from being slandered by Satan, then we certainly have to expect some of this in our own lives. He will try with all his might to discredit us and ruin our witness to those around us.
Satan has desires. He desired Peter, and he desires me and you. If he can bring us down he knows that hurts God, which is ultimately what he wants to do. Robert Love has a great article online in which he states:
"And the Lord said, 'Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.'"{Luke 22:31,32}
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour."{1 Peter 5:8} Satan desires and seeks after every accountable person. Everyone is important to him, especially God's children!
The Devil wanted Peter. The Lord said that He would pray for him, that his faith would not fail. We might be prone to feel, like Peter, that we will never forsake the Lord. However, Paul reminds us, "Take heed lest ye fall." (1 Corinthians 10:12)
Why did the devil want Peter? Every man is valuable to the Lord. The Lord reminded Peter of this when He said, "...What God hath cleansed, call not thou common." (Acts 10:15) No man is common. We may, at times, undersell ourselves, as may others; but the Lord knows our true value, and so does the devil. He also desires us.
Satan knew that if he brought Peter down, it would hurt the Lord. On one occasion, he tried to win Jesus over to his way but failed miserably (Matthew 4). The next-best thing he could do was to win over one of His ardent followers. I could do you more harm by hurting your child, or one of your loved ones, than in any other way. So, Satan knew if he was successful in winning over Peter, he could hurt Jesus.
Today, the devil would like to win over the elders--those who teach, counsel, shepherd, advise, etc. He would like to capture some of us preachers, and he has succeeded more than once. Modernism is the order of the day. He has influenced many away from the "Old Paths" into liberalism, institutionalism, humanism, Calvinism, (false teaching concerning imputed righteousness and the extended grace of God); to deny the organizational structure of the local church; to tend toward leveling sharp criticism at those who "contend earnestly for the faith," labeling them as negative; and, he has led others into disgraceful acts of immorality. (
Finally, Satan is the Father of All Lies. He led Adam and Eve astray in the Garden of Eden by twisting God’s word, and at the final battle between Satan and God he will lie to the nations and get them to follow him against the God of the Bible in a final act of rebellion. One doesn’t have to look too far to find that Satan is still leading people astray through his lies even today. One brief visit to the website “Satanosphere” brings us to an interview with the current High Priest of the Satanic Church, known simply as High Priest Gilmore.
Question: Does the Church of Satan truly consider itself “evil”, or does it in fact seek the abolition of the term?
Answer: “"Good" and "Evil" are purely subjective terms. Our beliefs and practices are beneficial to us, otherwise we wouldn't have adopted them, so we consider them to be "Good" for us. Others might be frightened of our championing of individuality and our willingness to judge and be judged, based on self-chosen standards, so they might see us as "Evil." As our founder, Anton LaVey, used to say, "EVIL is LIVE spelled backwards." So it is all a matter of personal perspective. We see ourselves in a Nietzschean sense as being beyond good and evil.” (
In summary, I think the infamous words of the late radio personality Paul Harvey speaks best about who Satan is and what he would like to accomplish.
If I were the devil...
If I were the prince of darkness I’d want to engulf the whole world in darkness, and I’d have a third of its real estate and four fifths of its population. But I wouldn’t be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree: thee.
So I’d set about however necessary, to take over the United States. I’d subvert the churches first. I’d begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve, “Do as you please.” To the young I would whisper that the Bible is a myth. I would convince them that man created God, instead of the other way around. I would confide that what’s bad is good, and what’s good is square. And the old I would teach to pray after me, “our father which art in Washington...”
And then I’d get organized: I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting so that anything else would appear dull and uninteresting. I’d threaten TV with dirtier movies, and visa versa. I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could. I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. I’d tranquilize the rest with pills.
If I were the devil I’d soon have families at war with themselves; churches at war with themselves; and nations at war with themselves; until each in its turn was consumed. And with promises of higher ratings, I’d have mesmerizing media fanning the flames.
If I were the devil I would encourage schools to refine young intellect, but neglect to discipline emotions; just let those run wild, until before you knew it you’d have to have drug-sniffing dogs and metal detectors at every schoolhouse door.
Within a decade I’d have prisons overflowing; I’d have judges promoting pornography. Soon I could evict God from the courthouse, then from the schoolhouse, and then from the houses of Congress. And in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion and deify science. I would lure priests and pastors into misusing boys and girls—and church money.
If I were the devil I’d make the symbol of Easter an egg, and the symbol of Christmas a bottle.
If I were the devil I’d take from those who have, and give to those who want it, until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. And what’ll you bet I couldn’t get whole states to promote gambling as the way to get rich.
I would caution against extremes, and hard work, and patriotism, and moral conduct. I would convince the young that marriage is old fashioned—that swinging is more fun. That what you see on TV is the way to be. And thus I could undress you in public, and I could lure you into bed with diseases for which there is no cure.
In other words, if I were the devil I would just keep on doing what he is doing.
Paul Harvey, March 16, 1993

One Accuser Too Many, Don’t Blame God L.F. Holt McMurray 2006 p.i Infinity Publishing 1094 DeHaven St. Suite100 West Conshohocken, PA 19428

Satan: His Motives and Methods Lewis Sperry Chafer 1990 p.63 Kregel Publications
P.O. Box 2607 Grand Rapids, MI 49501

Satan: His Personality, Power, and Overthrow Edward M. Bounds 1922 pp.11, 12
Fleming H. Revel Company London, England

The Satanism Scare David G. Bromley 1991 p.41 Aldine De Gruyter 200 Saw Mill River Road Hawthorne, NY 10532

Unmasking Satan: Understanding Satan’s battle Plan and Biblical Strategies for Fighting Back 1988, 2001 p. 16 Kregel Publications P.O. Box 2607 Grand Rapids, MI 49501

Unmasking the Powers: The Invisible Forces that Determine Human Existence
Walter Wink 1986 p.9 Fortress Press

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