Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
(Ephesians 6:10-12 ESV)
This past Sunday we looked at Ephesians 6 and the passage on spiritual warfare. As Paul sought to end his letter to this church, he wanted to remind them that life in the Gospel is difficult because there is a real enemy with real schemes and a real goal for you. Time did not allow for sufficient examination of what the Bible teaches about Satan and demons, so I wanted to post a few blogs on the subject, with those three things being the topics (who is the enemy, what are his schemes, and what is is goal).
This text identifies the enemy as “the devil”, “rules, authorities, cosmic powers over this present darkness, spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places.” By using a myriad of images and terms, Paul wants us to realize a few things. First, the enemy is real. There are angelic and demonic beings, a spiritual world that we cannot perceive with our senses. This is not a metaphor for some cosmic force of evil. Paul wants his readers to realize that there are real enemies with minds and purpose lined up against us. Second, they are powerful, and have authority on the earth. That authority was given to him by people when in sin we bowed our knee and became slaves to His purpose. Third, they are evil and dark. In Scriptures good and evil are much more than ideas, they represent positions of relationship to our creator. God is good, he is the source of good, and his purpose is good. God is light, and all light exists in him. Any good we experience and light we enjoy come as gifts of grace from God who is good. So if Satan is evil, it is so much more than the reality that he tempts, like some 8th grader pulling a 6th grade kid behind a shed and trying to get him to smoke a cigarette. The definition of evil is anything that will lead you away from the goodness of God and into the darkness of self-rule and self-justification. Satan is evil because he is cut off from God and he wants the same for every person.
The Bible then, presents a reality that there are beings created by God, who cut themselves off from God. These beings are fallen angels with a commander, and they are doing all they can to destroy the works of God and the people God loves (See Isaiah 14:12-16 and Ezekiel 28:11-19 to read about Satan’s creation, character, and fall). In the rest of this blog, my intention is to give you a list of the titles and descriptions given to Satan, as the leader of these powers.
*Satan – used at least 52 times, the word means adversary or antagonist.
*Devil – Used 35 times, means slanderer. One of the primary ways he attacks is through slander and false words. He slanders God, slanders our identity in Christ, slanders the reality of forgiveness, slanders our reputation with each other… If you hear slander in your ears, you can assume the original source is the Devil himself.
*The Prince of the Power of the Air (Ephesians 2:2) – Refers to his cosmic control over the world beneath him.
*The God of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4) – By sinning, we gave him dominion in this place and time, but it is limited, and will end.
*The king of death (Hebrews 2:14) – Jesus came to destroy this power
*The prince of the world (John 12:31) – In any war, those who serve under a commander will get the fate of their commander when they lose. In this case God is victorious, but those who are serving under this prince will receive the same judgement as the prince. In other words, our destiny is determined by which King we serve, Satan or Jesus.
*Leviathan, dragon, the serpent (Isaiah 27:1) – Our problem with Satan and evil is that they wear masks and hide in darkness, so the presentation looks appealing. Isaiah unmasks Satan picturing his judgement, and we see that he is a snake, a dragon, a monster.
*Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12) – Also the star of the morning or day star, this refers to Satan as he was created by God, and shows his ability, power, and the depth of his fall.
*The Deceiver (Revelation 20:10) – speaks for itself!
*Apollyon or destroyer (Revelation 9:11) – Shows his true character and his goal, which will not happen. He will not destroy the works of God, but this is his desire.
*Beelzebub (Matthew 12:24) – Actually means “lord of the flies” (hence the name of the book which demonstrates his work so well), it is a reference to the reality that Satan is a general over an army.
*Belial (2 Corinthians 6:15) – A title that means vile or nasty, and the question is what relationship does the perfect Jesus have with this nasty one? If the answer is none, then why do those who follow Jesus keep trying to keep Satan as a “Facebook friend”?
*The tempter (I Thessalonians 3:5) – He will dangle the apple in front of you tirelessly. Temptation is tough and serious business. Our sinful choices can destroy life, and Paul is reminding these Christians that temptation has a personal source and happens as part of a larger wicked agenda.
*The accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10) – Every Christians paparazzi seeking to dig up dirt, tell lies, and destroy reputations and our identity.
*An angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14-15) – Satan’s parade looks like light. What he presents looks so good, and seems to be worth the investment, but it is a charade that gets you in the door only to enslave you. His human servants are good at this too, making their message sound so good, so right, so true.
*A liar and murderer (John 8:44) – Simplest descriptions of his intent. He is lying to you and wants you dead!
*The thief (John 10:10) – He comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Jesus has a different agenda, to give life and that life to the full!
*The enemy (Matthew 13:39) – We have an enemy that is real. He is not some cartoon character with red horns and a pitchfork who is frustrating Wile E. Coyote. He is a general over a spiritual army. We must know he is engaged, and learn his tactics so that we can stand!