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Here are 10 things we should know about Satan. Continue reading . . . 

Here are 10 things we should know about Satan.

(1) Satan, like all other angels, was created at a point in time (Col. 1:16; John 1:1-3). Satan is not eternal. He is a finite creature. He is, therefore, God's Devil. Satan is not the equal and opposite power of God (contra dualism). His power is not infinite. He does not possess divine attributes. In sum, he is no match for God! At most, Satan is the equal and opposite power of the archangel Michael.

(2) We don’t know how or when Satan rebelled against God, as the two texts most often cited to account for this more than likely do not have Satan and his fall in view (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-19).

(3) Satan’s names reveal much about his character. The title Satan is used 52x in the Bible. It literally means "the adversary," the one who opposes (see Zech. 3:1-2; Num. 22:22,32; 1 Sam. 29:4; 2 Sam. 19:22; 1 Kings 5:4; 11:14, 23, 25). In Psalm 109:6 it has the sense of "accuser" or "prosecuting attorney".

He is also called the “Devil,” a word that is used 35x and literally means "slanderer" or "accuser" (diabolos; see 1 Sam. 29:4; 1 Kings 11:14. In Luke 4:2, 13; Rev. 12:9, 12). Other names or descriptive titles for Satan include Lucifer (?), the old Serpent (Rev. 12:9, 15, an obvious allusion to Genesis 3; cf. 2 Cor. 11:3; Rom. 16:20), the Great Dragon (Rev. 12:3, 7, 9, 17). He is a terrifying, destructive beast. He is also the Ruler or Prince of this world (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11) and the Ruler or Prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2).

Satan is also called the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4; but see Ps. 24:1; 89:11), the evil one (Matt. 6:13; 13:38; John 17:15; 1 John 2:14; 5:18), and the Prince or Ruler of demons (Matt. 10:25; 12:26-27; Luke 11:15; 2 Cor. 6:15). The name or title "Beelzebul" has been taken to mean "lord of dung" (i.e., god of filth), "enemy," "lord of the dwelling" (i.e., the dwelling of demons), and "lord of the flies," a title given to one of the pagan gods of the Philistines, brought over into Judaism as a name for Satan.

He is the Destroyer (Rev. 9:11), where the Hebrew word "Abaddon" could mean ruin or destruction, and the Greek term "Apollyon" exterminator or destroyer. Finally, Satan is the Tempter (Matt. 4:3; 1 Thess. 3:5), the Accuser (Rev. 12:10), and the Deceiver (Rev. 12:9; 20:3). He is a liar and a murderer (John 8:44; either an allusion to the murder of Abel by Cain or to the fall in Genesis 3; cf. 1 John 3:11-12), and a master of misrepresentation (2 Thess. 2:9; 2 Cor. 11:14-15).

(4) Satan operates according to a plan or a scheme (2 Cor. 2:10-11; Eph. 6:11). Although he is indescribably evil, he evidently is not entirely stupid!

(5) Satan works in active opposition to the gospel (2 Cor. 4:4) and seeks to thwart the missionary outreach of the gospel (1 Thess. 2:18).

(6) He is occasionally, but not always, the source of sickness (Acts 10:38; Matt. 8:16; Mark 9:17-18; Luke 13:10-17), and can inflict death as well as provoke the paralyzing fear of it (Heb. 2:14; see Job 1:13-19; John 10:10). He plants sinful plans and purposes in the minds of men (Acts 5:3; John 13:2; Matt. 16:21-23) and, on occasion, will himself indwell a person (Judas in John 13:27).

(7) He sets a snare or trap for people (perhaps with a view to exploiting and intensifying their sinful inclinations (1 Tim. 3:6-7; 2 Tim. 2:25-26), and will often test or try Christians (Luke 22:31-32).

(8) Satan incites persecution, imprisonment, and the political oppression of believers (1 Pet. 5:8-9; Rev. 2:10), is the accuser of the Christian. (Rev. 12:10; see also Zech. 3:1-2), performs signs and wonders to deceive the nations (Exodus; 2 Thess. 2:9-11), and seeks to silence the witness of the church (Rev. 12:10-12).

(9) He seeks to incite disunity and division (2 Cor. 2:10-11); promotes false doctrine (1 Tim. 4:1-3; Rev. 2:24; 2 Cor. 11:1ff.); manipulates the weather (when given permission to do so by God; Job 1:18-19; and perhaps Mark 4:37-39); and influences the thoughts and actions of unbelievers (Eph. 2:1-2). He attacks married believers in regard to their sexual relationship (1 Cor. 7:5) and exploits our sinful decisions, most likely by intensifying the course of action we have already chosen (Eph. 4:26-27). Of course, he often confronts us with various temptations (1 Chron. 21:1; 2 Sam. 24:1; 1 Thess. 3:5).

(10) Satan, together with all his fallen demonic hosts, will eventually be cast into the lake of fire to be tormented forever and ever (Rev. 20:10; see also Matt. 25:41).


Dear Sam,

Have you ever considered the interpretation of 2 Cor. 4:4 that says God is the "God of this World," rather than Satan? If so, what are the merits of this interpretation?

Second, I've heard you say many times that Satan cannot read our minds. Could you walk us through why you think that? I ask because I'm not so sure he can't read an individual mind, one at a time. I know he's not omniscient. But reading our thoughts doesn't seem to require omniscience but only a superior power that, presumably, angelic kind could have. After all, if Satan can occasionally indwell a human being (as in the case of Judas), then why could he not also read Judas' thoughts?

Dear Dr. What a great biblical summary of Satan. After reading your words, I hate him more than ever and at the same time I understand his tricks better. Thankyou.

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