Satan (The Devil) – The Enemy of God

Satan is a Real Person

Satan was once holy and enjoyed heavenly honors but through pride and ambition to be as the Almighty, fell and drew after him a host of angels; that he is now the malignant prince of the power of the air, and the unholy god of this world.

We hold him to be man’s greatest tempter, the enemy of God and His Christ, the accuser of the saints, the author of all false religions, the chief power back of the present apostasy; the lord of the Antichrist, and the author of all the powers and darkness – destined, however, to final defeat at the hands of God’s Son, and the judgment of an eternal justice in hell, a place prepared for him and his angels.

Even after his rebellion and fall, Satan remained a person. He is identified in Scripture by personal pronouns and he is involved in various activities belonging only to persons. Those who deny the existence of a personal devil have no biblical basis upon which to base their conclusions.

God does not deny the personality of Satan

When Satan appeared with the angels, “The Lord said unto Satan, hast thou considered my servant Job . . .?” (Job 1:8, italics added). Later in the story, the Bible notes, “Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord” (job 2:1, italics added). In Zechariah’s vision of the high priest’s meeting with Satan, “The Lord said unto Satan, the Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee” (Zech. 3:2, italics added). When tempted by Satan, Jesus five times used personal pronouns in his conversation with Satan (Matt. 4:7, 10).

Satan demonstrates intellectual ability, emotions, and an active will

His intelligence is reflected in his ability to memorize Scripture. When he tempted Jesus (Matt. 4:6), he cited an obscure verse out of context (Ps. 91:11, 12) to give authority to his temptation. His superior intellect is further-demonstrated by his ability to organize in excess of 100 million angels under him. The Bible also portrays the devil’s temptations in terms like “wiles” (Eph. 6:11), “depths” (Rev. 2:24), and “devices” (2 Cor. 2:11).

Jesus warned Peter of the emotional side of Satan when he told him, “Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat” (Luke 22:31). James identified fear as part of the emotional experience of all fallen angels (James 2:19). They also have the sensation of pain, because they will someday “be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Rev. 20:10).

It is the will of Satan that best characterizes Satan. Isaiah cited the fall of Satan coming as a result of his attempt to take the place of God in heaven. Satan revealed his selfish nature in the exclamation “I will” five times (Isa. 14:12-15). The apostle Paul also identified pride as the sin of Satan (1 Tim. 3:6).

Satan is identified as performing acts normally ascribed to persons

Satan had the power of word selection and use as he tempted both Eve (Gen. 3:1-6) and Jesus (Matt. 4:1-11). He is currently accusing the brethren “before our God day and night” (Rev. 9.2:10). On at least two occasions, Satan is engaged in battle (Rev. 17:17; 20:8, 9). When Moses appeared before Pharaoh, Satan demonstrated limited power to perform some miracles when he turned the Egyptian magicians’ rods into serpents (Exod. 7:12).

Satan’s subtle character

The Bible makes no effort to hide the craftiness of Satan. When false teachers and false apostles appeared in the church at Corinth, Paul wrote, “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Con 11:14). The apostle acknowledged one of his purposes in writing a second epistle to the Corinthians was “lest Satan should get an advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Cor. 2:11).

He further recognized the cunning and subtle character of Satan when he advised the Ephesians to “put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:11).

Nature of Satan

It is the nature of a man that causes him to act as he does. The same principle exists as we try to better understand Satan. John identified the devil as the originator and chief practitioner of sin (1 John 3:8). He further described Satan as “that wicked one” (1 John 5:18). Jesus called Satan a liar (John 8:44) and thief (John 10:10). The evil acts of Satan are a natural expression of his evil nature.

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10). The apostle Paul recognized the destructive nature of Satan when he wrote, “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Cor. 4:4).

Satan’s Strategy

Some years back an article appeared in one of America’s leading magazines concerning a little known agency in the United States Department of Defense. This agency was totally unlike the other branches of our defense system. Its agents were told to think and act like the Russians. They were paid to pretend they were the enemy. They received no more information or advantage than the Kremlin would already possess, but were ordered to probe and view our defense system through the eyes of Moscow.

In my opinion, this is an excellent approach. In fact, I believe the child of God could well profit by employing a little “spiritual subversion” of his own. Our enemy, of course, is Satan. Every believer is despised by this unholy and unclean angel of apostasy. Now, what would you do if you were the devil? Or what would I do?

Satan’s Strategy #1 – Deny Himself

The first thing I would do would be to deny my own existence. The Bible informs us that God desires, perhaps above all else, to be believed in (Hebrews 11.6). But this is not so with Satan. The disciple of doubt seems to thrive best when he is either underestimated, ignored or denied.

Suppose there is a Bible-believing church which is going through a spiritual crisis. For some months no soul has walked its aisles. The attendance and offerings are down and the members are becoming restless. Finally, in desperation, a special committee is appointed by the congregation to discover the source of this coldness and lifelessness. After considerable prayer and probing, the committee submits its report. What are its findings?

I believe it may be safely assumed that the average committee would lay the blame on one or more of the following:

  • (1) the pastor;
  • (2) certain officials;
  • (3) a cold congregation; or
  • (4) a difficult neighborhood.

But what fact-finding group would return the following indictment? “We believe the main source of our heartaches for the past few months is Satanic. We believe the reason no souls have been saved recently is due to an all-out attack on our church by the devil. We close our report with a strong recommendation that the congregation call a special meeting, rebuke Satan, plead the blood of Christ and claim the victory. ”

If I were the devil I would deny my existence in the world and downplay it in the local church, thus freeing me to go about my business unheeded, unhindered and unchecked.

Satan’s Strategy #2 – Know Scripture

The second thing I would do if I were the devil would be to read the Bible carefully. We often are reminded how Jesus answered Satan’s temptations in the wilderness with Scripture. But note that Satan also used Scripture. During the second temptation the devil quoted Psalm 91:11, 12 to Christ. To be sure, he took it completely out of context and twisted it, but Shakespeare was right: “The devil doth quote Scripture.”

Another example of this “Scripture-reading serpent” is found in Revelation 12:12. Satan will be thrown out of Heaven during the middle of the Tribulation and will come down to earth, “having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” How does he know this? The apparent answer is that he has carefully read the ninth chapter of Daniel. If I were the devil I’d read the Bible. I could then so twist and turn the Scriptures in such a way as to mislead saints and sinners alike.

Satan’s Strategy #3 – Prevent Salvation

The third thing I would do if I were the devil would be to prevent sinners from being saved. Many methods could be employed to accomplish this. For example, I’d confuse them by sending some Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormon missionaries around for friendly chats and I’d arrange for them to tune in to a false teacher on the radio or television. Or I’d encourage them to attend “the church of their choice” faithfully. (This is always safe.) Finally, I’d involve them in good works. I’d substitute the Red Cross for the Old Rugged one. Justification would give way to demonstration and ecology would replace theology.

Satan’s Strategy #4 – Stop Spiritual Growth

The fourth thing I would do if I were the devil would be to prevent saints from being sanctified (that is, to grow in grace). Here also I could travel down many routes to arrive at this goal. I would confuse them theologically. I’d get them bogged down with other tongues and thus prevent them from using their God-given tongues to witness for Christ. Perhaps I would push them into one of many extremes.

For example, I might tell them that doctrine and love are like alcohol and gasoline; that is, they should never be mixed. If I were successful here I could proudly point to an informed iceberg (a Christian minus love) or to a sugary sponge (a believer without theology).

I’d definitely attempt to discourage every saint. I know it has been said:

  • “The devil trembles when he sees, the weakest saint upon his knees.”

From my standpoint, I could say:

  • “The devil glories when he views, the strongest Christian with the blues.”

Not only would I get the saints discouraged, but I’d also get them mad if at all possible. This I would do because of my knowledge that far more church splits have been caused by dispositions than by positions (of theology).

I would also keep the saints idle. How heartily I would agree with that human sage who once observed that the average church consists of human types–the pillars and the caterpillars. The pillars are the faithful who hold up the work. They give, pray, attend and visit. But the caterpillars? They simply crawl in and out once a week.

Satan’s Strategy #5 – Attack The Key Human Institutions

There is a fifth thing I would do if I were the devil. My knowledge of the Bible would inform me that God originally created all things for His glory (Revelation 4:11). To demonstrate this glory He set up three human institutions: marriage (Genesis 2; Ephesians 5); human government (Genesis 9; Romans 13); and the local church (Romans 1:7; I Corinthians 1:2). This final thing, then, would I do. I would ruthlessly and viciously attack these three hated “foundations of the faith” with every ounce of my depraved nature.

Corrupt Marriage

I would begin by flinging my fiery spears at the institution of marriage. I would advocate easy divorce laws and support abortion freedoms. I would gleefully encourage the most detailed sex instruction courses for tiny school children and I would beguile women by promising the same foolish and false freedoms I had used so effectively against their mother in a garden long ago.

Attack Human Government

Then I would turn my hellish fury on the institution of human government. I would change the cry of “we shall overcome” to that of “we shall overthrow.” I would encourage students to burn everything on their campuses except the midnight oil. I would reduce grown men (who should know better) to common street stompers who rant and chant their four-letter filth.

As the chief apostle of anarchy I would view with undisguised contempt all cops, courts, customs and constitutions. At my urging flags would be handkerchiefs and would be worn or scorned, but never honored. If I were the devil I would steal wholesome Biblical words such as grass, bread and fruit and so pervert them in a way that would cause entire societies to rewrite their dictionaries. All this I would do, and more.

Destroy the Church

Then I would turn to that most despised and deadly institution of all–the local church. I would continue to attack it from the outside (just to keep in practice), but would concentrate the bulk of my evil efforts from within. “The church is dead” would become my creed and cry. If I were the devil I would do y utmost to convince professing Christians that the local church is finished. Not weak, not ineffective; but dead and decaying.

I would encourage them to dig a hole, carve an epitaph and bury it as quietly and quickly as possible. Christianity could then proceed to new glories where cell groups would replace Sunday nights and sermons would be set aside for buzz sessions.

If I were the devil I would strive twenty-four hours a day for weeks, months, years and centuries to accomplish all the goals set down in this article. Some of them could be achieved through my role of a roaring lion, while others could best be realized by my angel of light bit. But every goal would command my existence, my strength, my will, my craftiness, my all.

The Apostle Paul once wrote, “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices” (II Corinthians 2:11). It must be sadly concluded, however, that many of us are, and therefore he has.

Jesus portrayed the devil in one of his parables as the enemy of God (Matt. 13:39). As such, the devil is constantly opposing God and all God does. That opposition portrayed itself in his attempt to destroy the messianic line. Then he sought to destroy the race God sought to redeem. When God chose a people of his own, the nation Israel, Satan unreservedly sought their destruction. Throughout the life of Christ, Satan sought to distract the Savior from his mission. As God works through the church today, so Satan is opposed to the work of God there.

What Satan Hates & Opposes

Messianic line

As soon as God in his righteousness began to judge sin, God also in his mercy promised a Redeemer. “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15). With the birth of Abel, the devil began his opposition. Satan worked in Cain to kill his brother Abel. With Abel dead, the line would be broken and the Messiah could never be born.

He did not realize that God would replace Abel with Seth (Gen. 4:25). Every attempt to destroy the godly line by extinction or by sexual contamination was an attempt by Satan to destroy the coming Messiah. Even in a small way, the dangers to David the shepherd boy carried out Satan’s plot. David was twice attacked by wild beasts. Satan may have felt David’s great sin with Bathsheba would prevent God from using him to be the father of the Messiah. but in contrast, it was that very relationship God chose to us (Matt. 1:6).

Human race

God created man in his image and likeness to have fellowship with God and have dominion over the earth When Satan approached Eve in the garden, he promised Eve not only that she would not die (Gen. 3:4) but that eating the fruit would lead to her experiencing life on a higher plane (Gen. 3:5). With the entrance of sin into the race, Satan knee God would have to judge them as he had been previously judged.

When Satan saw that God was offering to redeem the world, he sought to contaminate the human race by leading them into grievous sins (Gen. 6:5). God did judge most of them for their sin, but eight, Noah and his family, were kept safe in the ark (Gen. 7:13).


From the time of the call of Abraham, the devil has been the enemy of the Jew. God had told Abraham, “Look now toward heaven, and tell [count] the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be” (Gen. 15:5). After the nation went to Egypt and began to grow as God had promised, Satan moved Pharaoh to command the destruction of all male children (Exod. 1:16).

Later, Satan used the personal animosity of Haman toward Mordecai to plan the first systematic genocide of the Jews. The Book of Esther records this attempt and Haman’s ultimate defeat (Esther 3:6; 7:9, 10). Satan has continued to raise up anti-Semitic leaders who have unsuccessfully attempted to exterminate the Jews.


With the birth of Christ, Satan used Herod to plan the murder of all children of Jesus’ age (Matt. 2:16). After forty days in the wilderness, Satan himself tempted Jesus in an at-tempt to destroy the ministry of Christ before it began (Matt. 4:1-11). He used the forces of nature to try to destroy Christ before he could redeem the world (Mark 4:35-41). On occasion, Satan used both Peter (Matt. 16:23) and Judas (John 13:27) to attempt to thwart Christ from his purpose.

Even in the final hours before his death, Satan attempted to convince Christ to bypass the cross. Even after Christ died and was buried, Satan inspired the Jewish leaders to appoint a guard and seal the tomb in a feeble effort to prevent the resurrection.


Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). From the first mention of the church in Scripture, Jesus taught that it would be in opposition to Satan. The picture of gates is not that of a church struggling to hold out against the incredible opposition of the near-overwhelming forces of hell, but rather that of an aggressive church smashing down the strongholds of the devil as he attempts feebly to keep the dynamic church from winning people to Christ.

As we read the Book of Acts, we see this principle at work. Opposition toward the church stimulated the church to more aggressive outreach. Throughout history, Satan has actively opposed the work of the church. But the lesson of history is clear. The blood of the martyrs has ever been the seed of the church. Under the most severe opposition of the devil, God has worked best to glorify himself. His church has not only survived the opposition of the devil, it has survived it victoriously.

Fast Facts About Satan

“Satan” Means “the Adversary”

  • The word “Satan” comes from the Hebrew which literally means “adversary” – one who opposes God. (Job 1:6)

Satan Has Many Names

  • Abaddon (“Destruction”) (Revelation 9:11)
  • Accuser (Revelation 12:10)
  • Adversary (1 Peter 5:8)
  • Angel of the abyss (bottomless pit) (Revelation 9:11)
  • Antichrist (1 John 4:3)
  • Apollyon (Revelation 9:11)
  • Beast (Revelation 14:9-10)
  • Beelzebub (Matthew 12:24)
  • Belial (2 Corinthians 6:15)
  • Deceiver (Revelation 12:9)
  • Devil (1 John 3:8)
  • Dragon (Revelation 12:9)
  • Evil one (John 17:15)
  • Father of lies (John 8:44)
  • God of this world (age) (2 Corinthians 4:4)
  • King of Babylon (Isaiah 14:4)
  • King of the abyss (bottomless pit) (Revelation 9:11)
  • King of Tyre (Ezekiel 28:12)
  • Lawless one (2 Thessalonians 2:8-10)
  • Leviathan (Isaiah 27:1)
  • Liar (John 8:44)
  • Little horn (Daniel 8:9-11)
  • Lucifer (star of the morning) (Isaiah 14:12-14)
  • Man of sin (lawlessness) (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)
  • Murderer (John 8:44)
  • Prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:1-2)
  • Roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8)
  • Rulers of the darkness (Ephesians 6:12)
  • Ruler of the demons (Luke 11:15)
  • Ruler of this world (John 12:31-32)
  • Satan (Mark 1:13)
  • Serpent of old (Revelation 12:9)
  • Son of perdition (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)
  • Star from heaven, fallen to the earth (Revelation 9:1)
  • Tempter (Matthew 4:3)
  • Wicked (evil) one (Ephesians 6:16)

Satan was Created

  • (Ezekiel 28:12-15)

Satan Used to be in Heaven

  • (Isa 14:12)

Satan Used to Have a High Position in Heaven

  • Satan had the seal of perfection
  • Satan was full of wisdom
  • Satan was perfect in beauty
  • Satan was in Eden, the garden of God
  • Satan was covered by every precious stone
  • Satan was the anointed cherub who covers
  • Satan was on the holy mountain of God
  • Satan walked in the midst of the stones of fire
  • Satan was blameless in his ways
  • (Ezekiel 28:12-15)

Satan Fell from Heaven, Never to Return

  • (Isa 14:12-15, Ez 28:15-16, Rev 12:3-4)

Satan fell because he wanted to be like God, even above God

  • (Isa 14:12-15)

Satan took 1/3 of the angels with him when he fell from heaven

  • (Rev 12:3-4, Matt 25:41)

Satan is the leader of the evil forces

  • (Mark 3:22, Matt 25:41)

God is much more powerful than Satan

  • (Job 1:9-12, 1 John 4:3-4)

Satan’s goal is to destroy Christ

  • (Rev 12:3-5, Zech 3:1-2, Matt 4:3-7 Matt 4:8-10)

Satan prevents people from clearly seeing the gospel

  • (Mark 4:15, 2 Cor 4:4, 1 Thess 2:18)

Satan influences people to sin

  • (1 Chron 21:1, John 13:2, 1 Cor 7:5, John 13:26-27, Matthew 4:3-10, James 4:7)

Satan’s goal is for bad to happen to people

  • (Job 1:9-11, Luke 22:31), Mark 4:15, 2 Cor 2:10-11)

Satan can cause people to be sick

  • (Luke 13:11-15 Luke 13:16)

Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light

  • (2 Cor 11:14)Satan, along with all demonic forces, will be judged and punished
  • (John 16:11, Matt 25:41, Rev 20:10)
The following two tabs change content below.
Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

Latest posts by Dr. Elmer Towns (see all)