A treat for those few who actually read this blog regularly. As a part of my REL1302 class many years ago, I presented a study of Satan and did a video for extra credit. Here are the two pieces for your enjoyment (keep in mind my theology may have evolved a bit since writing this, but I am nonetheless happy with the final product).
Satan utilizes many tactics in his efforts to convince everyday men and women that they can be God’s equals; that God is unnecessary. Often his most powerful tool is that of misdirection. He persuades people to believe at first that they are above the crowd, then at the most opportune chance he sees to harm them, sharply reminds them how frail and weak they are. Lucifer is also predatory in nature, and has often been likened to vicious animals. He will wait tirelessly for an opportune time to strike at one’s feelings of self-worth, and favors the spiritually weak and souls without a large support group. Finally, the Accuser loves to foster popular images of himself which detract from his true nature. While the devil poses a truly serious threat to a soul’s salvation, these images do not adequately illustrate the Prince of Darkness’ absolute wickedness. The ‘Deceiver,’ as he is known, can even disguise himself as an agent of righteousness, but it is important to remember that this is a counterfeit and will not be a truly divine manifestation. No matter what means Satan uses to influence a person, it is a fundamental truth that he seeks souls just as fervently as God does. To deny the devil as a reality and a threat to one’s salvation is to deny the Bible’s truth and authority.
The most deceptive tool in Satan’s arsenal is that of misdirection; subtly leading a soul in a direction not inline with that which Christ intends for us, for this is a stepping stone he uses to lead you eventually to eternal separation from God. It is a little known fact that temptation does not come from man, but from the Destroyer. An example would be that of sexual thoughts; sexual intercourse is an act created by God for us to enjoy within the covenant of marriage, though many people think any idea which centers on sex is sinful. The truth behind that is that sex is a natural desire, just like hunger. Just as we eat a properly prepared hamburger, as opposed to simply jumping a fence and sinking your teeth into a cow, people are not meant to simply have emotionally detached, self gratifying sex with every member of the opposite sex. Sin enters when a person perverts what God intended as natural and beautiful and takes it to an extreme. Satan tries to convince us that temptation comes from within ourselves, that we are truly evil at our core, but it is by him that we are tempted . The devil also is content to allow us to believe that he does not exist, another way of implying that it is only by human design that we sin. In a popular movie released in 1995, a character named Verbal Kint states
“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. ”
There is truth in this statement; the Prideful Spirit has been very successful in suggesting his non-existence. By doing so, he takes away the power to overcome sin; what is the use of repenting if there is no Satan, and therefore no God? Many secular humanists and naturalists fall into this trap, and the Devil knows they are comforted by his supposed absence from their lives. Certainly the strongest foothold Satan has to use against us is pride. Dr. Rick Cornish reminds us “sin is more complex than a short list of social taboos. ” Consequently, it is hard to discern when we are being manipulated by the Deceiver. Scripture says that pride in others is acceptable, but pride in oneself leads to the subconscious belief that one is greater than the rest, which is subversive to God’s plan for us. Pride is said to be Satan’s own sin, which lead to his damnation by God Himself . Michael Fackerell of Christian-Faith.com writes “pride opens the door t[o] deception very quickly, and Satan loves to promote pride.”
In countless verses throughout Scripture, Satan is compared to an animal, or is given carnal qualities. In a clear example of a symbiotic assault, he and lesser demons are able to physically occupy the bodies of those who are not in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit. He is able to then manipulate that person in more direct ways than through mere suggestion. Just as other predators use deception to trick their prey into coming away from the safety of the herd, Satan also feigns people into a false sense of security. He will whisper praises into your ear, building up your ego, just to dash your self esteem at the first chance he gets. The devil also knows when you are most vulnerable. It is when the Apostle Peter is old and frail that he describes Lucifer as a prowling Lion , ready to devour the unwary. Furthermore, when you are in ongoing spiritual solitude, and isolated from the positive influence of other Christians, it is but a matter of time before Satan finds a place to sink in his talons.
For centuries, the general representation of Satan has changed. In Medieval times he was portrayed in black, since it was rationalized that since God was light, the Adversary must be clothed in darkness. During the Renaissance, he was depicted as blue. God, being light, was thought to bring warmth and comfort to all who seek Him, so the Evil One must be cold and condemning. Modern thought paints him as red, a reflection of the Lake of Fire in which he dwells . Whatever picture the word “Satan” conjures up in one’s mind, it is likely inaccurate. The devil encourages this practice of assigning imagery to him; by naming him one thing we subconsciously allot him certain traits and limitations (which he may not have at all), the door to deception is opened. To believe that the Beast is actually a goat-human hybrid is to assume the Hebrew mythological creature Belial is all the devil is capable of being. The truth is that the Deceiver is much more, and more dangerous, than a single image or idea. Paul reminds us that he can disguise himself as “an angel of light. ” He masquerades but is not genuine, presents a front but has no authority. Satan wishes to entice you with so many illusions of grandeur and self-righteousness, but he leaves out the all-important elements necessary for salvation. It is imperative to remember that what the Tempter offers is counterfeit; a deficient, distractive perversion of God’s restorative plan.
By no means should one assume that this is an exhaustive list of Satan’s techniques. His practices could be archived for volumes and volumes before Man fully grasped how potent a threat the devil poses to the world. Of greatest importance is the fact that pride is his strongest foothold into a person’s soul. It is by pride that all other entrapments are possible. C.S. Lewis explains that it is “the essential vice, the utmost evil,” and that “the virtue opposite to it… is called Humility. ” Humility is the cornerstone of Christendom, and is the most reliable safeguard against the Accuser. By keeping oneself humble, you resist the Evil One and he flees from you . Pride destroys; it is the root of original sin and remains to this day a powerful hindrance to sanctification. The greatest reward is to serve others and love your neighbor as yourself. In his epic poem “Paradise Lost,” John Milton speculates on Satan’s belief regarding servitude;
“It is better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven. ”
God had shown us through Scripture that to be in Heaven, no matter what the rank structure, is immeasurably greater than to spend eternity in Hell.