May 12, 2012

"...the whole world is under the sway of the evil one." 1 John 5:19

So who is Satan?

By Pastor Jim. Fowler  -

See also Imagination, Idols, Persecution


First, a reminder (from Berit): Until recently, America has been a safe and comfortable home for most of us. But dark clouds are gathering, and the ominous signs of change can no longer be ignored. If fact, God tells us to prepare for the spiritual battles ahead, for they will surely intensify as His Word fades from schools, homes and public consciousness.

The list below should alert each of us to the unseen enemy behind the scenes. Shrewd, deceptive and enticing, Satan will do his best to distract us from our Lord, distort His Word, dull our faith, and blind us to the raging spiritual war.

But here are some ways to resist. Memorize encouraging Scriptures! Use them as your "shield of faith" and your "sword of the Spirit" whenever the evil one disturbs your peace in Him. Remember, human strength and wisdom will never win this spiritual war!

"...we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You." 2 Chronicles 20:12

"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." Ephesians 6:10-18

The following information from Pastor Fowler is vital to that victory.

    I. Representative Biblical references

    A. Satan: Greek word Satanas - transliteration of Heb. (36 ref.) - adversary, opponent, to resist,  oppose, counteract
         Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6 - "Satan presented himself before the Lord"
         Mk. 1:13 - Jesus "was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan"
         Acts 26:18 - "to turn from the dominion of Satan to God"
         I Cor. 7:5 - "lest Satan tempt you"
         II Cor. 11:14 - "Satan disguises himself as an angel of light"
         Rev. 12:9; 20:2 - "the devil and Satan, deceive the whole world"
B. Devil: Greek word diabolos - dia=through; ballo=to throw (38 ref.) - slanderer,
         misrepresenter, deceiver, divider, accuser, divider
         Jn. 8:44 - "you are of your father, the devil"
         Eph. 4:27 - "do not give the devil an opportunity"
         II Tim. 2:26 - "the snare of the devil, having been held captive to do his will"
         Heb. 2:14 - "the one having the power of death, that is, the devil"
         I Jn. 3:8 - "the one doing sin is of the devil"
C. Evil One: Greek word ho poneros - the evil one
         Matt. 13:38 - "the tares are the sons of the evil one"
         II Thess. 3:3 - "the Lord will strengthen and protect you from the evil one"
         I John 3:12 - "Cain was of the evil one, and slew his brother"
         I John 5:18,19 - "whole world lies in the evil one"
  D. Tempter: Greek word peirazo - to pierce in order to prove or examine
         Matt. 4:3 - "the tempter came and said to Him (Jesus)..."
         I Thess. 3:5 - "for fear that the tempter might have tempted you"
 E. Adversary: Greek word antidikos - against right or justice
         I Pet. 5:8 - "your adversary, the devil, prowls about like roaring lion"
  F. Ruler of this world -
         Jn. 12:31 - "the ruler of this world shall be cast out"
         Jn. 14:30 - "the ruler of this world has nothing in Me"
         Jn. 16:11 - "the ruler of this world has been judged"
    G. God of this age
         II Cor. 4:4 - "the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelieving"
 H. Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons
         Matt. 9:34 - "casts out demons by the ruler of the demons"
         Matt. 12:24 - "cast out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons"
I. Belial - possibly "lord of flies, dung, or forest;" worthlessness
         II Cor. 6:15 - "what harmony has Christ with Belial..."
    J. Prince of the power of the air
         Eph. 2:2 - "the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that works in the sons of disobedience"
   K. Enemy: echthros, from echthos = hatred, hostile
         Matt. 13:25,28,39 - "the enemy who sowed them is the devil"
         Lk. 10:19 - "authority over all the power of the enemy"
         Acts 13:10 - "you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness"
L. Dragon, serpent; cf. Gen. 3; II Cor. 11:3
         Rev. 12:9 - "the great dragon, the serpent of old called the devil and Satan"
         Rev. 20:2 - "the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan"
M. Accuser - kategoreo
         Zech. 3:1 - "Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him"
         Rev. 12:10 - "the accuser of our brethren...who accuses them day and night"

N. Apollyon: from Greek apollumi = to destroy; destroyer
         Rev. 9:11 - "the angel of the abyss...Apollyon"
O. Destroyer: Greek olothreutes
         I Cor. 10:10 -
"destroyed by the destroyer"

    II. Relation of Satan to God

     A. No absolute dualism; no two equal powers; good god and bad god
     B. Contrasting opposites; adversary, enemy
         1. Not merely a philosophical tenet of necessary negative to God's positive.
         2. Not to be defined as but the absence or privation of God.
              a. God = Being; Satan = non-being; nothing
              b. Satan as darkness (Acts 26:18; Eph. 6:12; Col. 1:13) or death (Heb. 2:14) implies an active spiritual antagonist.
    C. Creator God created a choosing creature who was/became Satan
         1. Derivative being - not independent, autonomous, self-existent, or self-generative
         2. Satan takes that which is of God and falsifies and relativizes; distorts and aborts; misuses and abuses; perverts and inverts; pollutes and convolutes

   III. Origin of Satan

    A. Indirect Biblical evidence within historical narratives
          Is. 14:3-21
          Ezek. 28:2-19
    B. Idea of Lucifer, "light-bearer" from Isa. 14:12 (KJV)
    C. Idea of falling from heaven - Isa. 14:12; Ezek. 28:16; cf. Jude 6
    D. Questions
         1. Was this an unsolicited choice?
         2. Where did the self-oriented pride and arrogance originate?
         3. Does this posit the impossibility of redemption?

    IV. Being of Satan

    A. Satan is a spirit-being - I Cor. 2:12; Eph. 2:2; I Jn. 4:6
         1. Not omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, as only God is.
         2. Not uni-temporal, uni-locative (one place at one time) as man is in his tangibility.
         3. As spirit, Satan is
              a. trans-temporal (time) - Adam, Job, Jesus, us
              b. trans-locative (space) - USA, Japan, Africa
    B. Satan is a personal-being
         1. Not just an impersonal "force"
         2. Biblical evidence is overwhelming in identifying as personal
              a. speaks - Lk. 4:3
              b. knows - Rev. 12:12
              c. works - Eph. 2:2
              d. disputes - Jude 9
              e. desires - Jn. 8:44
              f. requests - Lk. 22:31
              g. schemes - II Cor. 2:11
              h. conceit - I Tim. 3:6
              i. wills - II Tim. 2:26
              j. wrath - Rev. 12:12
              k. deceives - Rev. 20:2

    V. Character of Satan

   A. Evil - Jn. 17:15; II Thess. 3:3; I Jn. 3:12
    B. Sinful - I Jn. 3:8
    C. Deceitful, deceiving - Acts 13:10; II Cor. 11:3; Rev. 12:9; 20:2
    D. Liar - Jn. 8:44; Acts 5:3
    E. Murderer - Jn. 8:44; I Jn. 3:12
    F. Malicious - I Tim. 3:11; Titus 2:3
    G. Self-exalting - Matt. 16:23; Mk. 8:33; I Tim. 3:6

    VI. Function of Satan

    A. Controls the unregenerate
         1. works in - Eph. 2:2
         2. dominates - Acts 26:18; Col. 1:13
         3. enslaves - II Tim. 2:26; Rom. 6:17
         4. blinds their minds - II Cor. 4:4
         5. source of sin - I Jn. 3:8,10,12
         6. basis of death - Heb. 2:14
         7. not necessarily possession, oppression or control - ex. Judas (Mk. 8:33; Lk. 22:3; Jn. 6:70; 13:2,24)
    B. Individualized expressions of his activity in the patterns of the "flesh"
    C. Collective expression of his activity in the "world of evil" - Lk. 4:5;
         Jn. 12:31; I Cor. 2:12; I Jn. 4:4; Rev. 12:9; 20:3
    D. Activity toward Christians individually
         1. tempts - I Cor. 7:5; I Thess. 3:5; James 1:14
         2. accuses - Rev. 12:10
         3. snares - I Tim. 3:7
         4. takes advantage - II Cor. 2:11
         5. persecutes - Rev. 2:10
         6. thwarts - I Thess. 2:18
         7. seeks to create apostasy - I Tim. 1:20; 5:15
    E. Opposition to Christians collectively
         1. opposes kingdom of God - Matt. 12:28,29
         2. antichrist activity - I Jn. 2:18,22; 4:3
         3. counters evangelism - Mk. 4:15; Lk. 8:12
         4. fosters religion - II Cor. 11:14; Rev. 2:9; Jn. 8:44; Col. 2:20-23
         5. counterfeit believers - Matt. 13:30
         6. occult, magic, witchcraft - Acts 13:10
    F. To what extent should illness and adversity be attributed to Satan's work?
         (Lk. 13:16; Jn. 9:2,3; Acts 10:38; I Cor. 11:30; II Cor. 12:7; Heb. 12:6)

    VII. Christian response to Satan

    A. Recognize conflict of spiritual warfare with spiritual enemy - Eph. 6:10-18
    B. Avoid idleness - I Tim. 5:13-15
    C. Consistent marital relations - I Cor. 7:5
    D. Resist - James 4:7
    E. Receptivity of Christ's activity - Faith - I Peter 5:9
    F. Affirm identity in Christ - cf. Lk. 4:3
    G. Reckon on the victory in Christ
         a. overcome the evil one - Jn. 16:33; I Jn. 2:13; Rev. 12:11
         b. greater is He in you - I Jn. 4:4
         c. kept from evil one - Jn. 17:15
         d. untouched by evil one - I Jn. 5:18
         e. authority over - Lk. 10:19

    VIII. End of Satan

    A. Overcome by the work of Christ
         1. cast out - Jn. 12:31
         2. judged - Jn. 16:11
         3. rendered powerless - Heb. 2:14
         4. works destroyed - I Jn. 3:8
         5. triumph over - Col. 2:15
         6. defeat by Christ - Rev. 12:5-12
         7. head crushed - Gen. 3:15
    B. Restrained activity in enigma of the interim
         1. strong man bound - Matt. 12:29
         2. devil bound - Rev. 20:2,3
         3. to be crushed under feet of Christians - Rom. 16:20
    C. Eventual terminus
         1. all rule, authority, power abolished - I Cor. 15:24
         2. eternal fire prepared for devil and agents - Matt. 25:41
         3. thrown into lake of fire - Rev. 20:10
         4. Differing opinions
              a. everlasting perpetuity?
              b. destructive annihilation?

    IX. Brief history of Christian thought concerning Satan

    A. Early Church Fathers
         1. Unregenerate regarded as devil's property
         2. Personal experiences with devil and demons
         3. Jesus' death regarded as payment to devil
    B. Middle Ages
         1. Elaborate explanations of diabolic activity
         2. Art and literature attempted to portray
         3. Sickness, accidents, sterility, death, crop failure (everything undesirable or unpleasant) attributed to the devil.
    C. Reformation
         1. Maintained many of Medieval ideas
         2. Luther threw his inkwell at the devil
         3. Luther did affirm that Satan had no right or power over Christian
    D. Modern Christian thought
         1. Academic theology unwilling to address study of personal devil
         2. Renewal of emphasis on demonology in charismatic movement

    X. Concluding thoughts

    A. Christian theology has never definitively clarified and articulated a Christian doctrine of
         theodicy (an understanding of the origin, source, judgment of evil). The doctrines of
         satanology or diabology have been weak, ambiguous and inconsistent.
    B. One of the first doctrines to be questioned and jettisoned by those who regard the Biblical record as suspect is the teaching about Satan.
         1. Satan often regarded as
              a. pre-scientific myth; figment of imagination of ignorant peoples.
              b. metaphorical or literary personification of evil
         2. To the extent that the severity of sin and evil is disregarded, the Biblical record of the spiritual and personal agency of Satan will be diminished or derided.

1999 James A. Fowler  - Posted with permission

Jim Fowler has been a pastor at the Neighborhood Church in Fallbrook, California for the last twenty-three years. His wife, Gracie, and their five children, Philip, Charis, Kirsten, Sarah and Sandi have been very supportive in Jim's teaching, preaching and writing ministries.

Jim's educational background includes Manhattan Christian College, Friends University, New College-University of Edinburgh, Bethel Theological Seminary, Palomar College, and Jubilee Theological Institute.

In recent years Jim has spent much of his time writing, as can be viewed within the resources of this site. He is currently researching and writing several other articles and books.

Jim has travelled extensively in his teaching ministry throughout the United States and in other countries such as India, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, England, Canada, Germany, Kenya, and the Philippines. He remains available for teaching ministry. Feel free to contact him at

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

      "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
      "Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints." Ephesians 6:10-18

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