JUST WHO IS SATAN?

Eve met Satan in the Garden of Eden and this led to mankindís fall into sin. Who is Satan, where did he originate, and what power does he really possess?

When we think of Satan, or the devil, we think of a creature with horns and a tail, in a red suit, carrying a pitchfork. This harmless comical figure is exactly what Satan would like us to believe he is, but he's not like that at all. No way is he a "funny little man" in red leotards. 1 Peter 5:8 says, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour." Satan can be real charming and persuasive. He can appear in a very beautiful form, even as an angel of light, flattering us with lies, and exploiting our weaknesses, which, incidentally, he knows intimately. His arguments may seem logical, but they're poison to our souls. Most of the time we aren't aware that it's Satan whispering in our ear until it's too late. He sometimes uses other people and sometimes he uses our own minds to lead us astray. If you think about something long enough you'll eventually do it.

Satan is referred to in the Bible over 150 times. The very name Satan means adversary, enemy, or accuser. In Greek, it means "devil". He's also called Beelzebub, Belial, the Great Dragon, the Serpent, the tempter, and Lucifer. Every religion has a counterpart of the Satan of the Bible. Don't speak of Satan in the past tense because he is alive and well today.

Who is Satan and where did he come from? What are his powers? Should Christians really be afraid of him? Let's see if we can find some answers. Click on Ezekiel 28 to see that Satanís first position was in heaven. Ezekiel writes some strange things in chapter 28. His statements are apparently directed to the king of an earthly kingdom, Tyre, but what he says can only pertain to someone who is not a typical, mortal, man. Ezekiel 28:12-13: "Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyre, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. 13. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardis, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and thy pipes was prepared in the day that thou wast created."

We know that Ezekielís message is directed to a created being, but not a human king. This creature had been in the Garden of Eden, and from the Bible we know that only Adam, Eve, and Satan were in that garden. Since Ezekielís statements are obviously not directed to either Adam or Eve, that leaves only one created being that Ezekiel is speaking to, "Satan".

Ezekiel goes on to say in verses 14-15: "Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. 15.Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee."

No mortal man could have been the anointed cherub that covered Godís throne. No mere man could have walked in the midst of the stones of fire which are a part of Ezekiel vision. No man walks on Godís holy mountain. Only one very special created being could be there, the one God created for that place of honor, the cherub who covered the Most High God with his wings as God sat on His throne.

What happened to this beautiful creature who occupied a special place in heaven? Ezekiel 28:16b. "Therefore I will cast you as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy you, 0 covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire." What changed this perfect and marvelous cherub? What provoked such wrath from God? SATAN'S PRIDE!

Ezekiel 28:17a. "Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness." Satan, at one time, had occupied the highest and most cherished position in God's heaven. Satan wasn't content with this high place in heaven even though he had been the most beautiful creature ever created by God, covered with precious stones. He was so impressed with his own power and beauty that he imagined himself above God. He attempted to take the place of the One who created him. Satan's power was so persuasive that he actually convinced one-third of the angels to join his rebellion. We know from this that even the angels have a free will and are capable of deciding who they will follow: Would it be God or Satan?

Every man and woman has to make this decision. We have a free will, capable of making a choice between good and evil. We can rebel against God like Satan. Satan didn't succeed, and we can't either. Satan had to pay the price for his rebellion against God and we will too, if we reject God's authority. Godís wrath was directed against Satan, and it will be directed against us. God gave us freedom to make this choice but we'll eventually get the consequences of that choice.

We measure time by our own experience. A day to us is one revolution of the earth. It takes a year for our earth to circle the sun. Our understanding of time is limited by our own circumstance of being on this planet God named earth. God, on the other hand, isn't limited by what we call time. Because of this it's difficult to determine just when some of these events take place in the Scriptures, especially in the realm of Godís unlimited concept of time. The war in heaven is just such an event. In the vision John had on the Isle of Patmos he got a preview of what will happen when Satan leads a revolt against God.

In Revelation 1:19. John wrote of "things that were, things that are, and things to come." Since this passage is in John's vision of the future, I understand that this is yet to happen. Revelation 12:7-9, "And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." We're also warned in Revelations 12:12b, what Satanís being cast out of heaven into the earth will mean. "Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time." Since John put the fall of Satan from heaven under the third category of his book, "Things to come," I believe this war in heaven is yet to come and that it will be during what Jesus called the Great Tribulation, the last
3 1/2 years of the Tribulation.

That will be this "short time" John wrote about. Meanwhile, Satan has access to both heaven and earth and he goes about his admitted purpose of accusing the brethren. [Believers in the Lord Jesus.]

Revelation tells us about Satanís final defeat after he's bound a thousand years and then turned loose. But until that time, Satan is loose on this planet, deceiving men the same way he deceived Eve and the angels. This will cause the eternal destruction of the soul of any man or woman who believe him instead of God. Nonbelievers are destined to spend eternity in the lake of fire the same way fallen angels and Satan are. We know that at one time Satan was in a high position in heaven before he rebelled against God. We know that he had been in the Garden of Eden to tempt Eve and cause man to sin. It may well have been in the Garden of Eden when Satan made his move to gain control over God. He successfully tempted Adam and Eve to follow him there, and the angels who fell may have joined him at the same time.

What was Satan doing from the time he lost his position as the anointed cherub and until his defeat by Jesus' death and Resurrection from the tomb? Job gives us some insight on this. Click on Job 1. We'll also see that Satan's power, even though it's considerable, is limited by God. Job 1:6-7 "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it." Itís apparent here that Satan was allowed to enter heaven and go before the throne of God and Satan was free to go back and forth between heaven and earth. What was Satanís purpose before the throne of God? To tempt men to disobey God! Satan brought an accusation against Job and challenged God in verse 11, "But put forth Your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse You to Your face."

Satan was implying that Job was righteous because God had blessed him. Satan accused Job of fearing God in order to gain riches, and not for any other reason. He challenged God to remove the hedge of protection around Job, and then see if Job would still trust Him. God had faith in Job, and Job didn't let Him down. This is Satanís role after his rebellion against God.

Satan right now is the accuser, the one who brings charges against Godís people here on earth. Revelation 12:10b "for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night." He's trying to separate man from God so that we'll follow him. Satan wants to bring others down with him.

The story of Job gives us insight into just what Satanís real powers are, and that God has set limits. Satan couldn't touch Job until God gave him permission. Why? Because Job was a righteous man and God had put a hedge around him. Only God, and Job himself, could remove that hedge. Satan couldn't touch him until either God said he could, or Job tore it down by turning away from God. This is a lesson for Christians that is very important.

We can tear down our hedge. Many Christians fear the power of Satan more than they trust the power of God. We tear down our hedge with doubt, by not trusting God in everything. We're doing exactly what Satan wants us to do by not placing our lives and future completely in Godís hands. Satanís ultimate desire is to be worshipped. If he can't achieve that, he'll settle for being feared. When Christians take their eyes off of Christ and start thinking too much about Satan, then bad things begin to happen in our lives. When we, ourselves, let down that hedge, we allow Satanís power to touch us.

When God allows adversity to confront us in order to strengthen our faith, far too many Christians attribute this to the work of the devil instead of realizing that God is in control even then. When we attribute our troubles to Satan, we're actually worshipping him by acknowledging his power. Satan does have power on earth. In 2 Corinthians 4:4 Paul calls him the "god of this world." If we slip out from under God's protective hedge, we're open to Satan's influence as the god of this world. He can bring this in the form of whatever our weakness may be. He makes worldly things seem desirable and fulfilling, but those are his lies and will destroy us. Remember, Satan fell and he wants as many followers as he can to go to hell with him. He may think that if he collects enough followers he may yet overthrow God in that final battle.

When Jesus told His disciples that He was to be crucified at Jerusalem Peter rebuked Him. Jesus said to Peter, "Get thee behind Me, Satan." Satan had entered a crack in Peterís spiritual armor. After the Last Supper, Jesus said to Peter, "Simon, Simon, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. Luke 22:31" Peter had been with Jesus for over three years and witnessed countless miracles. He was the first one to declare that Jesus was the Son of God, yet he wasn't immune to Satanís deception.

In view of that, think about the vulnerability of we Christians today. There's a difference between being vulnerable to Satanís attacks, and being persecuted for your faith. Christians can expect persecution from those who are of this world. Jesus told us to be ready for this.

John 15:19: Jesus said this. "If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you."

If you're a strong Christian living for the Lord you'll be a target of Satanís attack. He's the "god of this world," and you're an enemy alien to him. He usually leaves those who are no threat to him alone and the un-saved already belong to him. Satan will attack the area in our Christian lives where we're most vulnerable, particularly our children and our marriages. Count it a blessing that you've been considered such an enemy of Satan that you've been chosen as a target. Wear your armor of faith from Ephesians 6 and God will bring you through whatever Satan throws at you. The world is the kingdom of Satan, but he's only been given temporary custody.

The nations of this world belong to him, along with their riches and power. He has the authority to share their power and wealth with anyone he chooses. We see Satan's control in the leaders of our country as well as the rest of the world today. Luke 4:5-6 tells about this. After Jesus had been baptized by John, He went into the wilderness forty days and was tempted by the devil. "And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, showed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will give it." His authority won't last forever. Jesus died on the cross, and three days later arose in victory over death. He defeated Satan and spiritual death and hell.

Satan is sneaky. In pre-flood days Satan tried to corrupt the blood line that would produce the Redeemer by allowing angelic beings to produce children by human women. God thwarted his plan by destroying them all in the flood. Only the Godly line of Seth, Adam's son, was saved, and that was Noah. Satan tried his best to destroy the early Christian church. By placing men of his choosing in positions of power in the Roman Empire he attempted to wipe out the believers in Christ. The Herods, Nero, and later rulers persecuted and killed Christians. The more vicious the attacks, the more solid the faith became. Satan didn't succeed in destroying Christianity, but he's still trying. His tactics have changed. Where he failed in the early church, he is, unfortunately, succeeding today. Many deny the virgin birth, the resurrection, and that Jesus is the Son of God. Some Bible scholars say the Scriptures are valid only for the time they were written and not for today's society. Some claim theyíre forgeries, written long after they happened. What Satan couldn't accomplish from outside the Christian church, he's accomplishing from within.

But there are still many who have held to Godís Word, and have resisted the efforts to change Christianity to please men. The need is to change men to please God.

Is Satan the lord of hell? No! Since hell is a holding place for the unrighteous until final judgment, it was neither created by, nor is it presided over by Satan. The highest reward Satan can give you is to lead you to eternity in hell. At the end of the 1000 year reign of Christ on earth, Satan, hell, and death will be cast into the lake of fire at the Great White Throne judgment.

We can't escape the responsibility for our actions by saying "The devil made me do it!" Most often, the devil doesn't need to make us do it. We bring most of our problems on ourselves through disobedience to God's Word. James 4:7 tells us how to deal with the devil. "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."

The primary mission of Christians is to bring as many lost souls into Godís kingdom as possible. Satan will try his best to divert us from this in any way he can. God is offering you salvation today. Tomorrow may be too late.

The angels who followed Satan in rebellion against God, and, more importantly to us, all those whose names are not written in the "Book of Life" will also go with Satan for eternity. His eternal home is hell. We know from Scripture that Satanís kingdom is this world, not hell. The kingdom of God is not of this world, and if Christians try to live too much in this world we're leaving ourselves wide open to Satanís influence in our lives.

Many Christians today blame all their problems and troubles on Satan. It's true that he'll try to prevent believers from doing the Lordís work on earth in any way he can, but he's not responsible for all of our personal difficulties. We're responsible for what we do. God devoted two chapters of Exodus to tell us that. I know that was under the Law, but I don't see where God ever rescinded it.

Conclusions about Satan:
Satan is a being that God created in heaven.
He existed before God created the earth and Adam and Eve.
He was not just an ordinary angel, but the covering cherub above the throne of God.
He was the most beautiful and gifted of all created beings in heaven.
He had a free will, capable of obeying or rebelling against God.
He chose to rebel and persuaded one third of the angels to join him.
Satan and his angels will be cast out of heaven to earth.
Satan was given authority over the kingdoms of the earth.
He can give this authority to those he chooses.
He can't touch the righteous without Godís permission.
He can make sin appear beautiful to those he deceives.
He is a liar and will twist Godís Word from Scripture.
Satan is the accuser of men before the throne of God.
He will attack Christians if they let down their guard.
He has already been defeated by Jesus Christ.

We have a full set of armor to wear against him, but he can wriggle through the smallest opening. Paul, in Ephesians 6:13-17 tells us that our armor consists of peace, take hold of the shield of faith, put on the helmet of salvation, and arm yourself with the sword of the Word of God. If we examine the spiritual armor Paul talks about, we find that all of it is in the front. There is no armor covering our back. If we turn and run, there is no protective shield covering us, and Satanís darts can get to us.

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