What do the Scriptures tell us about Satan?

Jesus sent Paul to the people and to the nations: “to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith” in Christ (Acts 26:18).

Who is Satan? What is the extent and nature of his power? Who has conquered Satan, and how can people turn from the power of Satan to God?

Who is Satan?

In Revelation we are told: “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:7-9).

Our knowledge of the heavenly realm is limited to what God has revealed. We are told that Satan led a rebellion against God. Pride was his downfall. An elder is not to be a novice, “lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6).

It is the ultimate arrogance to suppose that a rebellion against God could succeed. Yet, billions today follow Satan's example. They live in rebellion to God.

What is the extent of Satan's power?

According to John, “The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19). Thus, Satan has much power.

Many do not believe that he exits. Others think that only those who commit terrible atrocities are under the power of Satan. But John says that the whole world is in the wicked one!

What is the nature of Satan's power?

The devil uses deception to rule the world. Jesus said that the devil “does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44 RSV).

Satan is called “the tempter” (1 Thessalonians 3:5). He cannot force people to sin, but he tempts them by false claims that rebellion against God would bring greater pleasure, less pain or some advantage. Satan tempted Eve by telling her that she would be like God if she disobeyed God and ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:1-5).

Satan appeals to people's desires. “Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed” (James 1:13, 14).

When people decide to sin, they voluntarily join Satan's rebellion and extend his power. They also distance themselves from the fellowship of God. “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2).

Jesus came to conquer Satan.

“Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:31, 32).
Referring to the Holy Spirit, Jesus said: “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged” (John 16:8-11).

Jesus came to rescue us from the power of Satan. “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14, 15).

Satan is a killer. Jesus said: “He was a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44). Satan brought death into the world by deceiving Eve. He encouraged her to disobey God and told her she would not die (Genesis 3:4). How could she be so foolish? Yet, we all follow Eve's example, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

Jesus came to rescue us by depriving the devil of his deadly power. He accomplished this by bearing the punishment for our sins, He “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus says in Revelation: “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death” (Revelation 1:18). Through His resurrection, Christ conquered death. He has the keys to our grave. This is good news! This is the gospel!

Recently I learned the location of the grave of my maternal grandparents, Charles and Pearl Kincaid. I hope to obtain a picture of the plaque on their grave.

They were dedicated Christians. Although I do not remember them because I was small when they passed away, they had a great impact on my life. Their influence led to my parents becoming Christians.

When we walk through a graveyard, the stones are silent. The inscriptions show the person's name, the date of his birth and the date of his death.

In the fall, when the trees are wearing their most colorful garments, we like to go for a brief holiday across the border in the hills of Germany. While driving around admiring the beauty of God's creation, we have at times stopped to visit a graveyard. The cemeteries are beautiful, usually on the side of a hill. In the fall, flowers are placed on the graves in remembrance of family members who have passed on.

Walking from gravestone to gravestone, we sometimes noticed that a child had lived only a few months, or that a whole family had died on the same day, or that someone had lived a full life of eighty or ninety years. Now they all are silent in the grave, and one day soon we will be with them, unless the Lord returns before we die. We never know which day will be our last.

Death is the power of Satan. After Adam and Eve had to leave Eden, everyone dies because everyone sins (Romans 5:12).

Yet, something within us objects to death. God has placed eternity in man's heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11). People we know and love ought not to die! And God has provided a way that we can live on with Him forever. Death and sin give Satan his power, but Jesus has conquered sin and death and Satan.

How can someone turn from the power of Satan to God?

Salvation from the power of Satan is offered to all. After His resurrection, Jesus told His followers: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15, 16). “And the Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).

When someone does not desire, however, when his heart is not right, Satan can prevent him from believing. Jesus explained the parable of the sower: “The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved” (Luke 8:11, 12). ... “But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15).

Paul says: “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Corinthians 4:3, 4).

But when we are willing, when we hear the word with good and noble hearts, when we believe and are baptized, we are saved by God: “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13, 14).

John heard praise in heaven for Christ's victory over Satan: “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death” (Revelation 12:10, 11).

Paul explains: “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:1, 2).

But Satan does not give up easily.

He tries to bring us back under his power. Paul was concerned about the Corinthians: “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). He had similar fears about the welfare of the Thessalonians: “For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain” (1 Thessalonians 3:5).

Peter warns: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith” (1 Peter 5:8, 9).

James gives this admonition: “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

God has given us the weapons we need to resist the devil: “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).

What have we learned about Satan?

Mankind is in the clutches of the wicked one, who deceives the whole world. His power is the destructive power of sin and death.

Christ came to set us free from the power of Satan by suffering the penalty for our sins so we can be forgiven. This good news is preached to all.

He who believes and is baptized will be saved by God who transfers him from the power of darkness into the kingdom of His Son. Satan still assails us, but God gives us the weapons we need to resist him and remain faithful.

In conclusion, a blessing from Romans 16:20 - “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.”

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive