Should we be terrified of Satan? And what power does he have over us?
Let’s start with the names of Satan, which tell us a lot. Then, let’s look at key biblical truths and commands that tell us even more.
Names of Satan
1. The name Satan means “accuser” and appears prominently in Job 1-2, where Satan appears briefly before God in heaven to accuse both God and his righteous servant, Job, on earth. Satan also appears in Zechariah 3:1-2, where he accuses the high priest overseeing the rebuilding of the temple.
Besides being an accuser, Satan also is a tempter. The two go hand-in-hand. He tempted King David (1 Chronicles 21:1) and the Lord Jesus (Matthew 4:10; Matthew 16:23; Mark 1:13; Mark 8:33). Satan “entered” Judas Iscariot (Luke 22:3; John 13:27) when he betrayed Jesus Christ the night of His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. Satan tempted and deceived Ananias (Acts 5:3) and a number of prominent late first-century churches (Revelation 2-3).
2. Satan’s more common name, the Devil, doesn’t appear in the Hebrew scriptures. Then again, the Devil is named several times in Matthew, Luke, John, Acts, Ephesians, 1 Timothy, 1 John, and Revelation. The Devil also is named once in 2 Timothy, Hebrews, James, and Jude.
The Devil tempts Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13). What’s more, the Devil prevents many from believing in Jesus, tempts believers to stumble or fall away, and, at the end of history, is bound for 1,000 years and then is thrown into the lake of fire forever.
3. Satan also is called the Serpent in Genesis 3:1-14. This particular name stuck. Long afterward, the Apostle Paul says, “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).
In the last book of the Bible, the Apostle John speaks of the serpent’s futile opposition to Jesus Christ (Revelation 12:9-15) and imprisonment for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:2) before being thrown in the lake of fire forever. The latter fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 27:1, which describes Satan as a great serpent whom the Lord will slay.
4. Satan is named Lucifer in Isaiah 14:12 in some old English Bible translations. The name Lucifer is more commonly translated “morning star.” Either way, it speaks of Satan’s fall from a glorious angel in God’s presence to one who is cast down to earth to tempt men and nations. Revelation 12:9 describes Satan being cast down to earth.
Biblical Truths to Affirm
3. I believe Satan attacks the godly (1 Chronicles 21:1; Job 1:6, Zechariah 3:1; Matthew 4:1; Luke 22:31; 1 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Corinthians 2:11; 2 Corinthians 12:7; Ephesians 4:27; Ephesians 6:10-16; 1 Thessalonians 2:18; 1 Timothy 3:6, James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8; Revelation 2:10).
Biblical Commands to Obey
1. I stand true for God when I suffer Satan-inspired persecution for my faith (Psalm 119:157; Daniel 3:16-18; Matthew 5:10-11; Matthew 5:44; Matthew 10:22-39; Matthew 24:9-13; Romans 12:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5; 2 Timothy 1:8; 1 Peter 3:14-17; Revelation 2:10).
What Does This Mean?
So, should you and I be terrified of Satan? No. His power is limited and will end. We never need to be deceived by or give in to the Devil’s temptations. God is always ready to provide a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13).
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David Sanford’s book and Bible projects have been published by Zondervan, Tyndale, Thomas Nelson, Doubleday, Barbour, and Amazon. His newest book is Life Map Devotional for Men published concurrently with his wife Renee’s new book, Life Map Devotional for Women.