20 Aug Why We Believe What We Believe: The Person and Work of Satan (Part 1)
Did you grow up in a home that taught that Satan was real? Maybe you were taught that when anything bad happens, any consequence that isn’t what we intended, it’s spiritual warfare. Satan is behind it.
Or perhaps you were raised in a home where you were taught that Satan is a myth, no more real than nursery rhymes.
But we need to understand him from a biblical context, not with what we grew up with or what we have glommed together in our own search for meaning, if you will.
In today’s episode we’ll look at texts that help us build a theology of the Doctrine of Satan.
This message was originally given to the students and faculty at Moody Bible Institute.
I’m somewhat of a News junkie and two things have caught my attention that are indicative of this world today: Wren Chapel at William and Mary is a staunch, Anglican, conservative chapel. The roots of William & Mary were to train clergy.
This past week, they took the cross out of Wren Chapel to make it “Less of a faith-specific space and make it more welcoming to students, faculty, and staff of all faiths.”
The Cross has been removed from the alter. It’s a State school, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it was chartered to train ministers of the gospel and now that is gone.
The other piece of news that caught my attention: the church of England has broken with traditional dogma by calling for doctors to be allowed to let sick newborn children die.
Christians have long argued that life should be preserved at all costs, but Bishops representing the national church have sparked controversy by arguing that there are occasions when it is compassionate to leave a severely disabled child to die.
The reason I share those are to illustrate the culture we’re living and ministering in.
As we talk about Why We Believe What We Believe, your understanding of why the Scripture is so important – is crucial – is going to give you the platform to serve Christ, to share the Gospel well, and to know why you believe these things.
The culture is so sloped that no one is hanging onto truth anymore. When the clergy come out and say, “kill the baby,” it sort of sounds like Herod, doesn’t it?
God help you if you’re the one who wants your son or daughter to live and the medical community in a socialist society say, “sorry, it costs too much.”
With that joyful news, let’s think about Satan.
You may envision red tights, pitchfork, a tempting smile goading you on to sin. When I see advertisements or trailers for horror films, I wonder: how vile and evil and wicked can we become?
Not long ago in the UN General Assembly, President Hugo Chavez stood up and called President Bush the devil. Many think Bill Gates is the devil. I think the computer, sometimes, is the devil.
Satan comes from the Hebrew word Satan (stn). It’s a transliteration. It means “The Adversary” or “The Accuser”
Satan is stating his domain in this passage.
1 Chronicles 21:1
The forces of satan behind the king: pride, let’s see how big the Kingdom is.
Second term often used is Lucifer, which does not occur in the Bible. It’s a latin term for “the morning star” found in Isaiah 14:12
Third term: The Devil. Satanas (Gk. Σατανᾶς, the adversary, Satan, the devil) and diabolos (Gk. διάβολος, slanderous, accusing falsely).
We’re in a culture that has sort of changed who he is and questioned his existence. Even scholars and men and women who used to believe in the inerrancy of scripture have changed the doctrine of satan over the past decade or two.
They redefine him, dismiss him, or classify him differently.
Ezekiel 28, Isaiah 14 have always been sort of the whetstone for sharpening our theology of who he is. those texts were classically appealed to to talk about the origin and classification of satan.
Those today have fallen from favor, you’d be hard-pressed to find theologians today who would go to those texts to demonstrate satan.
Terms that talk of satan:
- Serpent (Genesis 3:15, Revelation 12 & 20)
- Angels (as messengers or as tormentors, 2 Corinthians 12:7)
- Disguised (Angel of light – he can look good)
- Tempter/Seducer (Eve – offers a counterfeit promise, Jesus – tries to convince Him He doesn’t need to suffer to be King, Ananias, Barnabas, believers [1 corinthians 7:5], Peter)
- The Lawless One (2 Thessalonians 2 – the one who lives to break the law)
- The Hinderer (1 Thessalonians 2 – there does seem to be oppression and hinderances in other countries that don’t manifest in the same ways in others).
- The Evil One (John 17)
- The Great Red Dragon (Revelation – this is possibly where some popular comic book imagery comes from) You have the terror of dragons but the beauty of the angel of light all in who he is.
- Beelzebub – The Lord of the Flies, a strange designation. He’s over death and decay. That’s his domain.
- The god of the world
- The power of the air (Ephesians 2:2)
- Father of Lies (John 8:44)When radio broadcasting first began, there were Christians who said, “no, this is the prince of the power of the air – you can’t broadcast ‘On Air’ because that’s satan’s medium.”
Think about his kingdom.
Some may know the name Anton Szandor LaVey who founded the Church of Satan in 1996. On their website:
“We are the first above-ground organization in history openly dedicated to the acceptance of man’s true nature: that of a carnal beast living in a cosmos which is permeated and motivated by the dark force which we call Satan”
You know, that paragraph is pretty accurate – think about satan’s choice: a carnal carnal beast living in a cosmos which is permeated and motivated by the dark force which we call Satan
- He is the ruler of this world (John 12:31, John 14:30)
- He has many under his influence (1 John 3:8). Those who habitually practice sin – who have not trusted christ – are under his influence.
- He will face a final end (Luke 10:18)
- He’ll be in prison for a thousand years, but he’ll also be released (revelation 20)
- He’s destined to eternal fire (Matthew 25:41) The problem I have with the concept of annihilation (the theory that all who are unsaved will perish completely rather than being sentenced to eternity in hell) is not that it doesn’t sound compassionate, it’s that the soul of man made in the image of God cannot die.You will live in one of two places forever. The only differences being identity and location: if we identify with Christ, we’re with Him. If we don’t, we’re not.
Eternal decisions have eternal consequences and satan will be relegated to that eternal punishment.
- He’s also, last, crushed by God. We can’t miss the imagery: in Genesis 3:15 with the woman and the heel and the serpent – and bruising and the crushing. Revelation 16:20 the same imagery is used again.
Cautions and Exhortations in thinking and talking about satan:
His character is evil. He stands in complete contrast to the person and work of Christ. The character of satan is to deceive and accuse. He doesn’t want you to think you’re forgiven, saved, or worth God’s love.
He doesn’t want you to be secure in your position in Christ––he wants you doubting your salvation over and over again.
He uses every little wedge he can to get at your soul, intellect, and your heart to confuse and accuse and deceive. He wants everything to be twisted.
Contrast satan’s character with Christ’s character, who wants everyone to glorify God. He wants to pay for your sins, secure your salvation, forgive you of your guilt, get away from the trappings of the liar, to walk intimately with your heavenly Father.
There could not be more polar, opposite agendas than that of satan and that of Christ.
“Whenever you talk about the person and work of Satan, he can use it for his benefit”
We don’t want to trifle around in the doctrine of satan. We also don’t want to be children about the reality of the person and work of satan.
The only antidote that we have is the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Fascinatingly, we’re never told in the Bible to go fight satan, to go take him on. We’re not even told to renounce satan.
Scripture enjoins Michael the Archangel who was not even permitted to produce judgement on satan–that’s left to Christ.
The best way to understand Satanology is not to study him in great detail and know how he works and study the ways he impacts.
The best way to understand the person and work of satan is to not study him at all – it’s to study the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Pejoratively, we need to know a little bit about him, but why spend energy and effort worrying about what satan does and doesn’t do?
Be encouraged to walk closer to Christ, spend time in His Word, meditate on Him, spend time in prayer.
And when you feel those pressures or oppressions, cling to the cross.
Cling to the person and work of Christ. He’s accomplished what you and I cannot.
And, frankly, he’s taken care of satan.
This raises a lot of questions we can’t cover but if you have questions, you can Ask Dr. E! We hope you’ll join us next week for Part 2 of The Person and Work of Satan.
Have a Biblical or Theological Question? Ask Dr. E! Call us at 615-281-9694 and leave a voicemail with your question or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Michael will answer it on an upcoming Ask Dr. E episode!