Who is Satan and what is he? There are various views on this. Some believe Satan is the personification of evil but not an actual person or being.1 Harold Wilmington describes how many cultures throughout history have believed in an invisible evil power:
There is scarcely a culture, tribe, or society to be found in this world that does not have some concept or fear of an invisible evil power. This has been attested by Christian missionaries and secular anthropologists alike. Witch doctors, shrunken heads, voodoo dolls, and totem poles all give dramatic evidence of this universal fear. Only eternity will reveal how many millions of human beings have been cruelly slaughtered upon thousands of grisly, blood-soaked altars worldwide to appease some invisible evil power. One may well ask where this fear came from and of whom are they afraid.2
However, Scripture teaches Satan is not just an invisible evil power, nor a personification of it. He is an actual being (cf. Job 1:6-12, Matt 4:1-11, Rev 20:1-3, 7-10). In fact, outside of God, Satan apparently is the most powerful being in the world (cf. Jude 1:9). His name means opposer, enemy, or adversary. He is the chief of the fallen angels and constantly works to oppose God and his will (cf. Rev 12:7-12). In the Old Testament, Satan is mentioned in 8 books, and in the New Testament, he is mentioned in 19 books.3 Because he opposes God, he opposes God’s people and seeks to keep unbelievers from coming to God. Since he is our enemy, we must understand him and his tactics if we are to defeat him. In 1 Peter 5:8-9 (NIV), Peter says, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…” If we are unaware of our enemy, not knowledgeable of him, or simply unconcerned, the consequences may be devastating.
In this study, we will consider our enemy, Satan and his demons, so that we may stand strong in the faith when attacked, defeat him, and rescue others from his grasps. James 4:7 says, “So submit to God. But resist the devil and he will flee from you.” May this be true of us in Jesus’ name. Amen!
Copyright © 2021 Gregory Brown
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1 Ryrie, C. C. (1999). Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (pp. 156–157). Chicago, IL: Moody Press.
Related Topics: Satanology