SATAN (2nd of 2)
T PIERCE BROWN
In our first article we dealt with the origin of Satan. Although our opinion is that the Lucifer spoken of in Isaiah 14 is not Satan, there seems to be little doubt that he belongs to the angelic order of beings and was among the sons of God (Job 1:6). He has fallen, apparently through pride as 1 Tim. 3:6 suggests. The very title, “Satan” means adversary, so he is opposed to God in every aspect of his being. As one with a high degree of intelligence and power, he has exercised great power over other beings, including other angels who sinned (2 Pet. 2:4
In this article, as well as in another which may follow this, we want to deal with the character and works of Satan, for we need to understand his methods in order to defeat him. The names or titles by which he is called evidence a large part of his character. He is called Tempter in Mt. 4:5 and 1 Thes. 3:5. He is called Beelzebub, the prince of the demons (Mt.12:24). In other places he is called the Enemy the Evil One, the Father of lies, a Murderer, a Deceiver, the Great Dragon and Belial. That word seems to be related to the Hebrew word “beliar” and means “worthlessness.”
In this article we shall not be concerned primarily with the ability of Satan during the time Christ was on earth to control the actions of individuals in what is called “demon possession.” We simply point out that there is no indication in the Bible that such possession involved any control of a person’s morals or was related in any way to the sinfulness of the person. When Satan filled the heart of Ananias and Sapphira to lie to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3) it was not the same as a man being possessed with demons. One was a temptation to sin, to which they yielded. The other was simply the control of the physical body by demonic forces, which, in our judgment, was allowed during the time of Christ and the Apostles to demonstrate to the world that Christ has power over all the universe, including the Devil.
Since Satan is fundamentally a liar and his power is founded upon lies and his ability to deceive, the way to be delivered from the power of Satan is found in the remark of Jesus in John 8:32, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Of course he did not mean that mere knowledge of truth would automatically make us free, but the proper application of that knowledge would make us free from the bondage and power of Satan and sin. If we are in a dungeon and one hands us a key and says, “You can have this key and it will make you free” we have no trouble understanding that we must use the key properly before we attain the freedom promised.
The question may be raised, “Since Satan is the deceiver, does that not make mankind an innocent victim, since he though he was doing right?” There are at least two things we need to notice in answer to that question. First, the fact that Satan deceives does not mean that the person deceived thinks he is doing right. The deception may be and often is in the fact that although we know we are doing wrong, we can escape the consequences of our actions. Second, man is often deceived because he receives not the love of the truth (2 Thes.2:10). Men who are trying to do right are generally not tempted by evil, per se, but by a seeming good that can be obtained by doing wrong. A careful study of the temptations of Adam and Eve as well as that of Christ should cast light on that fact.
In this article we will not discuss whether Satan tempts directly, by suggesting a thought directly to our minds, as he apparently did in the case of Judas, Ananias and Jesus. There is no doubt, however, that he uses human agents, for those who are already in his power persuade others to do evil. He takes individuals and institutions, including churches that are supposed to be on the side of righteousness and clothes himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11;14). False teachers are called “his ministers” and are transformed into ministers of righteousness and are called “deceitful workers.”
Any time a person perverts or twists the truth and causes another to be deceived into doing anything that will cause a soul to be weakened or lost, he is a tool of Satan. Every child of God should look carefully to find the things God approves and those of which he disapproves. When we find “little” things like disobedience to parents and backbiting are classified in the same list with what we think of as the most heinous and depraved sins (Rom. 1:29-32), we should be more cautious that we are not tools of the Devil and are being deceived by him.
T. Pierce Brown
1068 Mitchell Ave.