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Satan (nachash /naw·khawsh/) or the Devil is the “accuser.” The Hebrew word for “Adversary” is from the verb meaning “to lie in wait, to oppose.” The Hebrew without the article means “an adversary” or “an enemy.” With the article it means “the Adversary” which is a proper name and denotes the personal Satan (Job 1; 2; Zech. 3:12). The Greek translation of Satan is “Devil.”

The personal identification of Satan with the Devil is asserted in Revelation 12:9. "And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him." Satan is a fallen angel and is the leader of fallen angels who deceive the world (Rev. 12:9). We live in a day when men pay “attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1-2).

Satan is a created spirit who fell and is opposed to God and seeks to destroy the plans of God and leads his people into rebellion. Only naturalistic theology could hold that it was a mere snake referred to in myth or legend.

Although Satan asserts a great influence and power at the present time, he is a conquered foe. "And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years" (Revelation 20:2). "And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10). There is hope for every Christian because, "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet" (Romans 16:20a).

In the fullness of time, God will demonstrate to the world the bankruptcy of the satanic deception and lie in Genesis 3:1-5. Satan is still trying to use the same methods of deception on men today.

Satan has clearly deceived the post-Christian mind into thinking he does not exist, or at least should not be taken seriously. He is always casting doubt on God’s holy character, and his goal is to be worshipped as God.

Modern society goes off in two opposite directions. It is either obsessed with Satan and sees him behind every rock, or completely denies his existence all together. 

Satan is the source of spiritual darkness. "The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God" (2 Corinthians 4:4). The power and dominion of Satan is real (Acts 26:18). The Bible does not teach dualism, however. Satan and God are not co-eternal, or co-equal powers. Satan’s kingdom had a definite beginning and it will have a definite end. Satan and his evil charades are under the sovereign permission of the LORD God. Satan is not omnipresent; although he has demonic spirits unleashed worldwide.

In Revelation 12:9 Satan is described symbolically as the “dragon,” or the “serpent.” No, he is not a man in a red suit with horns and a pitchfork. This is an example of Satan’s deceit.

Satan is the “father of lies,” and he uses false teachers to deliver his deceptive message to an unbelieving world. He uses deception to deceive fallen humanity by “transforming himself into an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:13-15). As an angel of light he makes sin and evil more appealing and attractive than it is in reality. Moreover, he never tells his victims the tragic consequence of following his enticements.

A vivid and practical description of the activity of Satan in found in Romans 1:18-32 and Galatians 5:19-21. Every day the newspapers and prime time television give us a constant barrage of his handiwork. Abortion, homosexuality, homosexual marriages, extra marital affairs, co-habitation, prostitution, euthanasia, etc. are presented to the modern mind as perfectly normal social options by spiritually depraved minds. The selfish greed, self-ambition, diplomatic deception and intrigue of the political powers and world leaders are fully inspired of Satan. The “sons of disobedience” obey him (Eph. 2:2).

Satan is only once said to have entered into a person, i.e. Judas (Lk. 22:3; Jn.13:27).

Satan’s character

Satan has been evil from the beginning. "The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8). 

He is briefly mentioned in the Old Testament as an adversary or wicked opponent, but is a fully developed doctrine in the New Testament. The recorded glimpses of Satan’s activity in the Old reveals that he is in total opposition to the LORD God and the best interest of mankind.

He first appears in Genesis as “the serpent” who tempts Eve (3:1). He is represented as an angel in Job ready to prosecute the patriarch (1:6-12; 2:1-7; Zech. 3:1-2). In the later Old Testament period, Satan appears as a tempter in 1 Chronicles 21:1 and 2 Samuel 24:1.

Satan has access to God in order to accuse mankind (Lk. 22:21; Jn. 12:31; 16:11). Jesus prays for His disciples and teaches them to pray for deliverance (Matt. 6:13).

Although denied by some, the references to the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14 and Tyre in Ezekiel 28 are seen by many scholars as referring to Satan. These kings in Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:12-15 go far beyond any earthly ruler because of the close connection between Satan and the government of the satanic world system of which both ancient Babylon and Tyre were an inseparable part. Satan is portrayed as Lucifer and “the Anointed Cherub.” 

The apostle Paul reminds us of these powerful evil forces in our world. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12).

The very names and descriptions used to describe Satan in the New Testament reveal his evil character. Satan is called “Abaddon” (Rev. 9:11) or “Appollyon” (Rev. 9:11) meaning “the destroyer.” He is the “Devil” (Matt. 4:1, 5; 25:41; Jn. 6:70; 13:2; Eph. 4:27; 6:11; 1 Tim. 3:6, 7), “the accuser of the brethren” (12:10; Ps. 109:6), and our “adversary” (1 Peter 5:8). He is called “Beelzebul” (Matt. 12:24; Mk. 3:22), and “Beliah” (2 Cor. 6:15). He is “the deceiver of the whole world” (Rev. 2:9), “the great dragon” (12:9), “and an enemy” (Matt. 13:28-29). He is the “evil one” (13:19, 39; Jn. 17:5; 1 Jn. 2:13-14), “the father of lies” and “liar” (Jn. 8:44), the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), “murderer” (Jn. 8:44), “ruler of demons” (Matt. 9:34; Mk. 3:22), “the prince of the power of air” (Eph. 2:2), “the ruler of this world” (Jn. 12:31; 14:30; 16:11), “the ancient serpent” (Rev. 12:9), and “the tempter” (Matt. 4:3; 1 Thess. 3:5).

Satan is depicted as the ruler of the host of evil angels (Matt. 25:41), and in control of the world (Luke 4:6; Acts 26:18; 2 Cor. 4:54). He is in control of all who resist the gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Christ (Rev. 2:9, 13). Unregenerate humanity is under his powerful grip (Mark 4:15; John 8:44; Acts 13:10; Isa. 42:12-17; 2 Cor. 4:3-4; Eph. 2:2; Col. 1:13).

The Antichrist and his followers are under the control of Satan (2 Thess. 2:9; Rev. 13:2). “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). His demons possess human beings (Lk. 8:33).

He is the enemy of all believers (1 Thess. 2:18). He “temps” believes because of lack of self-control (1 Cor. 7:5). "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).

From the above designations it is very clear that Satan is a great powerful enemy and holds great dignity in the spirit world. He is the ruler over a powerful well-organized kingdom of evil, of which he is the clearly recognized leader. His subjects have well-organized delegated responsibilities in doing his evil work in the universe. He has a vast empire of spirit-beings (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 12:7; Eph. 6:12). These fallen angels have given their allegiance to him (Rev. 12:4, 7, 9). He rules as “the leader of this world” with a system of principles, values, goals, and methods which are in total opposition to the LORD God (2 Cor. 4:3-4; Eph. 2:2; Col. 1:13; 1 John 2:15-17).

The powerful influence of Satan is seen in the fall of the human race. There he is seen as “the Serpent” (Genesis 3). However, even there his judgment was predicted in the promise of the protoevangelium (v. 15), and this was consummated at the cross (John 12:31-33; Col. 2:15).

Because Satan is only a creature, his power is limited by the omnipotence of God (Ezek. 28:11-16). He is not all powerful like the LORD God. 

At the present time he continues to reign as usurper (2 Cor. 4:4), and still works in tempting and accusing men (Rev. 12:10), he is a defeated foe because he will be cast out from the heavenlies (vv. 7-12) as well as the earth (5:1-19:16), and will be bound to the abyss for a thousand years (20:1-3). 

At the end of the thousand-year reign of Christ, Satan will be released one last time to lead his armies against God (Rev. 20:8-9). This will result in his final eternal doom when he is cast into the lake of fire (v. 10; Matt. 25:41).

Satan’s methods

Satan’s area of activity is primarily the non-Christian world (Acts 26:18; cf. 2 Cor. 6:16).

He hates the Word of God because it is the truth and is anxious to snatch it away (Matt. 13:19).

He fiercely opposes the servants of God in their ministry to God’s saints (1 Thess. 2:17-18).

If Satan cannot deceive you, he will come with aggression like a “roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8), and violent persecution of Christians (2 Tim. 3:11-13; Rev. 12:13-17). He is described as “going to and fro on the earth” searching for his next prey (Job 1:7; 2:2).

Satan is the tempter (Matt. 4:3; 1 Thess. 3:5) who leads people into the slavery of sin. Christians especially are the target of his temptations. He will do anything to destroy their testimony (Rev. 2:10; Luke 22:31).

Satan’s power and authority is limited because the Divine Restrainer limits Satan’s efforts on the earth at the present time. When the Restrainer is removed Satan will have one last outburst of evil in the end of time before he is bound and cast into the lake of fire with his angels (2 Thess. 2:7-8; Rev. 20:3, 7). God uses Satan as an instrument of chastisement and correction, but it is always within restrictions God places on him (Lk. 22:31-32; 1 Cor. 5:5; 1 Tim. 1:20).

Satan can still cause physical illness, but only when permitted by God. Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” is a “messenger of Satan” sent to bruise him (2 Cor. 12:7), and individuals can be delivered over to him for chastening (1 Cor. 5:5; 1 Tim. 1:20), but even that can be for the believer’s good.

Nothing, not even Satan, can separate the child of God from the love of God (Rom. 8:38, 39; 1 Jn 4:4; Jn. 10:28). Moreover, the believer is assured of the final victory over the evil work of Satan. We are promised “the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Rom. 16:20). We are eternally secure in the redeeming power of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:31-39; 1 Jn. 5:18).

“Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:8-9; Eph. 6:10-17). The Christian has power to overcome Satan because Jesus Christ went to the cross, died in full payment for the penalty of our sins, and rose from the dead. We must never give the devil an opportunity (Eph. 4:25-27). “Put on the whole armor of God” (Eph. 6:13-17; 1 Jn. 2:20-21, 26-27). Moreover, there is cleansing for the believer in the blood of Jesus when he does sin (1 Jn. 1:8-10; 2:1-2; Heb. 7:25; Rev. 12:11). The ultimate defeat of Satan is the “blood of the Lamb” through His death on the cross (Rev. 12:11).

The Bible is clear in warning that people will “abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and doctrines taught by demons” (1 Tim. 4:1). False teachers whose minds have been captured by Satan use the media to pedal their evil influence on society. Satan’s “demons” render obedient and wholehearted submission to his rule (Matt. 12:28, 29; Acts 10:38).

Modern day false teachers

Satan is the ultimate power behind the Antichrist and the false prophet who deceives humanity all over the world with his false religion (Rev. 13:14). Satan inspires false prophets and teachers in their “revelations.” These false teachers are the very spirit of the Antichrist (1 Jn. 2:18).

Satan’s method is deception. He uses the weakness and depravity of men to entice them to sin (1 Cor. 7:5; Jn. 2:15-17; 4:4). As the deceiver he is constantly throwing his net to take men captive (1 Tim. 3:6-7; 2 Tim. 2:26). Satan never tells the whole truth. His allurements are always filled with half-truths and “white” lies (2 Cor. 11:13-15).

Those who give themselves over to evil become the agents of Satan and his servants to persuade people to do evil as children of the devil (Jn. 6:70; 8:44; Acts 13:10; 2 Cor. 11:13-15).

The lure of false teaching is that it is presented as truth, even though it is mixed with a lot of errors and half-truths. It is a message of deception. An excellent example is found in the modern writings such as Da Vinci Code. A little truth mixed with distorted half-truths and outright error goes a long way when the media becomes the vehicle of communication. Readers and listeners do not take time to check out the accuracy of the historical data and interpretation of it.

Satan is not the half-brother of Jesus! Don’t be lured by false teachers into this greatest of all deceptions of Satan.

How tragic that the modern mind has become so deceived that it thinks it has evolved to the place where it needs a “new revelation” from God or a better way of interpreting His Word to establish the truth. People are tricked into believing they need The Book of Mormon because God’s true Word is not complete. The “angel of light” so deceives the modern man that truth is no longer the truth. History has to be rewritten to conform to our half-truths mixed with a little of demonic truths.

Satan’s oldest trick is to deceive the self-actualized mind into believing it is the center of the universe. Satan will feed the “ego needs” of our sick society and give a false sense of security. But it is pure demonic deception. It all began in the Garden when Satan called the LORD God a liar and told Eve she could become like God. (It sounds so much like a modern cult that teaches the members of their society they can become gods and go off and populate a new planet in the universe). Satan feeds the ego of proud spiritually deceived cult leaders. Satan fills the spiritual darkness with religious arrogance. One pastor said recently that Satan hooks the modern mind with arrogant pride and reels it in with ignorance of Biblical truths.

Perhaps the height of Satanic deception is the way he feeds the depraved ego and leads it to think man can know what no one else knows. The secret societies and Gnostic types of modern mystery religions are messengers of the angels of light. They have even deceived modern Christian leaders. Modern day self-conceit has found its fulfillment in self-centered self-deceit.

Self-deception always leads to spiritual darkness and more deception. Watch out when someone comes in and says, “I have a fresh new revelation from God,” or “God told me . . .” The apostle John made it very clear that our responsibility is to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” “Don’t believe every spirit” (1 John 4:1).

False teachers accept false teachings as truth, organize it, defend it, categorize it, systematize it and proclaim it as God’s truth to a lost blind and spiritually deceived world.

Examine the life of any cult-leader and you quickly see a self-centered, spiritually deceived, demonic-inspired person living in spiritual darkness and depravity. Spiritually deceived teachers teach heretical doctrines that are infatuated with their evil errors and their ego leads others into spiritual darkness. Their hearts become hardened in the process (Eph. 4:18).

The end of Satan

The New Testament makes it very clear the certain defeat of Satan even though he continues his evil acts against God’s people for the present age. However, at the final judgment his fate will be sealed and his activity terminated (Rev. 12-20).

Before the final victory is over, Satan will give power to “the man of lawlessness” (2 Thess. 2:3-12; Rev. 13:4, 17). Satan inspired a powerful outburst of demonic activity during the life and ministry of Jesus (Acts 10:38). At the close of this age and the great tribulation Satan will unleash another massive, one last chance with an outburst of demonic activity against God (Rev. 9:1-11; 18:2). The Antichrist will rage wildly against God’s people.

However, as we stated at the beginning of this study, Satan is a defeated foe. Jesus Christ rejected Satan’s offer in Matthew 4:8-10 and through His vicarious, substitutionary death and resurrection broke the power of Satan. Death is no longer in Satan’s power (Heb. 2:14-15; Jn. 8:44; 12:31; 16:11; Rev. 1:18; 1 Cor. 15:25-28, 50-58; 1 Jn. 3:8; Col. 1:13; Col. 2:14-15; Heb. 2:14-15).

Let us never forget that Satan is limited in his authority and power. He is more powerful than human beings, but he is not co-equal with the LORD, not divine, not omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent. He is not God, and he never will be. Satan is neither eternal, nor self-existent. He is a created being, originally good, who rebelled against his Creator (Jn. 8:44; Ezek. 28:11-19; Isa. 14:12-14).

Jesus saw the final overthrow of Satan (Luke 10:18), and declared “the eternal fire” has been prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:1-14). Satan and all those who follow him will share the same fate in the eternal punishment with everyone he deceived.

Key Scriptures

Genesis 3:1-5; Revelation 12:9-17; 20:1-14; Job 1; 2; 1 Timothy 4:1-2; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4; 11:13-15; Romans 1:18-32; Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Peter 5:8; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8-9; 1 John 2:20-21, 26-27; 4:1; Ephesians 6:13-17

Abiding Principles and Practical Applications

1. Satan is powerful, but he is not all-powerful. He is limited in his power and authority. He is not equal to the LORD God (Job 1; 2).

2. We have an Adversary and enemy who is against all that the LORD God stands for in this life and eternity (Genesis 3:1-5; 1 Peter 5:8).

3. "Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). That is God's guaranteed means of deliverance. The Christian has the power to overcome Satan because Jesus went to the cross and died as our substitute and rose from the dead (James 4:1-17; Ephesians 6:10-20; 2 Timothy 4:17).

4. The final defeat of Satan is guaranteed by the blood of the Lamb and His resurrection. We are on the Victor's side. "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet" (Revelation 20:1-15).

5. Nothing, not even Satan, can separate the child of God from the love of God (Romans 8:31-39).


For Further Study

The Overthrow of Satan
Satan’s Recruiting Agents
Victory over Satan
Overcoming Temptation Successfully
James 4:6-12 How to Draw Near to God
James 1:13-18 Two Men an a Temptation
Ephesians 2:1-3 Dead or Alive? 
Revelation 20:1-15 The Millennial Reign of Christ
James 4:1-10 How to Have a Good Fight 
1 Chronicles 4:9-10 Lord, Keep Me from Evil
Romans 8:31-39 We Won! Our Triumphant Song






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Unless otherwise noted "Scripture quotations taken from the NASB." "Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE" © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NET) are from the NET Bible copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://www.bible.org/. All rights reserved.

Wil is a graduate of William Carey University, B. A.; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Th. M.; and Azusa Pacific University, M. A. He has pastored in Panama, Ecuador and the U. S, and served for over 20 years as missionary in Ecuador and Honduras. He had a daily expository Bible teaching ministry head in over 100 countries from 1972-2005. He continues to seek opportunities to be personally involved in world missions. Wil and his wife Ann have three grown daughters. He currently serves as a Baptist pastor and teaches seminary extension courses in Ecuador.


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