There seems to be a lot of different ideas floating around in our Western culture today. This seems to be true in many different aspects of spirituality, and none are possibly more dangerous than who people seem to think Satan is. I remember just a few years ago a show coming on tv in which they portray Satan—or Lucifer, as he was known in the show——or Lucifer, as he was known in the show—as a nightclub owner in L.A. At the time I was just really starting my faith journey and I remember thinking, this seems a little dangerous. Fast forward a few more years and now we have famous singers dressing up as Satan, other celebrities selling shoes with human blood in them, and jokes about worshiping Satan all over the place. It’s enough to make our heads spin. Who really is Satan? Who is the devil? My friend recently summed up the world’s view really well on Facebook:
Satan is not what a godless culture makes him out to be. Satan is not the misunderstood anti-hero who is here to save the day. He is not a hip, cutting-edge revolutionary bringing liberation and freedom for the oppressed.Forest Antemesaris
Satan wants us to view him in this way, and the world has bought into that lie. I can almost see the devil in my mind laughing with delight that so many would see him—not for what he truly is—but as the antihero, the unexpected champion for the underdog. Or maybe your view of Satan is a bit different, but just as dangerous: he’s simply a minor inconvenience in life. He’s the small guy on one shoulder (you’re picturing a little red dude with horns and a pitch fork, aren’t you?) whispering advice in your ear that you know is wrong, while an angel whispers good advice on the other shoulder. This is still a poor, oversimplified, satiated, even unbiblical depiction of who Satan really is.
Who—or what—is Satan? Not to get too complicated with things, but Satan is not a name, but actually a title, or a description: the Satan. A good example of this is the title given to Peter.
But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”Matthew 16:23
Jesus wasn’t confused who he was talking to. “Uh Lord, it’s me, Peter.” No, Jesus was calling Peter an accuser and opponent, which is what the Greek word satanas means. The word for devil means slanderer, or accuser.
Although the title Satan is attributed to many people in the Bible, there is also one being the Bible consistently calls the tempter, the deceiver, the devil, the Satan. His most famous appearance is his first one in Scripture. He appeared to Eve in the Garden as a serpent in Genesis 3. There are lots of questions we have about Satan’s origin, but we will address that in a different lesson. The tempter is described in Revelation as “that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan,” and “the deceiver of the whole world.”
Is Satan the antihero society seems to so desperately want? Is he going to save us from oppression? Or maybe he doesn’t play that big of a role. He’s simply that character who represents our bad side.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.1 Peter 5:8
This doesn’t sound like the cute cartoon character that TV taught me about when I was a kid. The Devil is lurking, and he wants to devour you and me. He wants to utterly swallow you up. Therefore, as Peter commanded: Be alert! Pay attention to Satan! He is not something we can simply shrug off or ignore. He is your enemy. He is like a roaring lion. And I don’t know about you, but a roaring lion is something that I would approach with great caution and quite a lot of care.
You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.John 8:44
Satan is a murderer. In fact, all death points back to him. Romans 6:23 says, “the wages of sin is death.” He wants you dead! A murder doesn’t seem quite so appealing as the antihero mask the world puts on him.
Satan loves that mask. You see, one of his greatest lies to us is that he is not out to destroy, but he’s actually here to help set us free from the God who loves us so much. He’ll twist God’s words, just like he did to Eve in the Garden. He’ll try to convince you that he’s the hero rescuing you from the oppression of the God who created you.
And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.Revelation 12:9
World-famous artists pretending to be the devil, shoes for sale including human blood, Satan worship as the punchline to a joke, and the Devil as the hero entertaining millions in a TV show. What do you think? Has Satan done a pretty good job deceiving the world? They’re in the jaws of the lion, and they don’t even know it.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I [Jesus] came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.John 10:10-11
Who is Satan? Satan is the thief who does not come to save. On the contrary, he comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Yet, Jesus is our Good Shepherd. He’s our protector from the lion, our stronghold in the storm, and the standard of righteousness in temptation. He’s the one who laid down his life to destroy the plans and works of the devil. That’s the hero the world needs