What do the Scriptures Say about Satan? Is he all powerful?

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

There is so much speculation about Satan these days, and so much of what is taught is not only assumption, but pure speculation and error. Before we attempt to teach on any Bible subject, we must first search the Scriptures for the answers.

What we do know about Satan is this. He was a created being, an angel, who was judged because of his rebellion, which the New Testament hints was sparked by his pride (1Timothy 3:6). He is the one responsible for introducing evil to this world. Now he desires to devour God's creation by tempting man to reject his Creator (1 Peter 5:8).

Therefore, there is a lesson in all of this. Satan–an angel created by God–was given the free will to choose whether or not he would obey God. He disobeyed, and that disobedience was evil. Guy N. Woods said, "it is a curious fact that sin had its origin not on the earth, but in Heaven, not among men, but among the angels." Perhaps the clearest passage in all of the Bible about Satan is found in Revelation 12:7-9:

Revelation 12:7 – 9(NASB):

7 "And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. And the dragon and his angels waged war,

8 and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.

9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him."

We also learn additional information about him in the following passages:

2 Peter 2:4 (NASB)

"For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment …"

1 John 3:8 (NASB)

"the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil."

These are the clearest accounts of Satan's activities before being cast down that I know of in the Scripture. We know it was Satan, in the form of a serpent, that tempted Eve in the garden of Eden. First Chronicles 21:2 says that Satan was responsible for causing David to commit sin. In Job 1:6-12 and Job 2:1-7 we see the activity of Satan in tempting Job, and it is also apparent that Satan continues to use the same method of operation (M.O.) among men today.

Two passages that are often used to teach about Satan are Ezekiel 28:11-19 and Isaiah 14:12-14. Both of these passages should be used with extreme caution.

We should be reminded that one should always be aware of the context of a Biblical passage before trying to teach anything from it. In its context Ezekiel 28:11-19 is a description of the King of Tyre. One might say that the king of Tyre is the very personification of Satan, but to say that the king of Tyre was Satan, or that what is said about the king of Tyre could be said about Satan is to make a statement without Biblical support. There is not a single passage in the Bible that uses Ezekiel 28 or Isaiah 14 to make a reference to Satan.

Similarly, Isaiah 14:12-14 speaks of the king of Babylon. The KJV adds "Lucifer" to verse 12 for unknown reasons. Isaiah chapter 14 is speaking in figurative language of the downfall of the nation of Babylon.

It could be said in both these passages that the King of Tyre and the King of Babylon were the very personification of Satan. In this case we can assume that certain characteristics of these evil kings are characteristics of Satan, but we cannot say, with Scriptural authority that these passages teach us about Satan himself.

In The Bible Satan is given a number of names and titles:

1) Abaddon

Revelation 9:11

"They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon."

2) Accuser of our brethren

Rev. 12:10

"Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night."

3) Adversary

1 Peter 5:8

"Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."

4) Angel of the abyss

Rev. 9:11

"They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon."

5) Apollyon

Rev. 9:11

"They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon."

6) Beelzebub

Matt 12:24

"But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.""

7) Belial

2 Cor. 6:15

"Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?"

8) Dragon

Rev. 20:2

"And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years…"

9) Enemy

Matt 13:39

"and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels."

10) Father of lies

John 8:44

"You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

11) Great red dragon

Rev. 12:3

"Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems."

12) Lying (deceiving) spirit

1 Kings 22:22

"The LORD said to him, 'How?' And he said, 'I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.' Then He said, 'You are to entice him and also prevail. Go and do so.'"

13) Murderer

John 8:44

"You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

14) Old serpent

Rev. 12:9

"And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him."

Rev. 20:2

"And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;"

15) Power (domain) of darkness

Col 1:13

"For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son…"

16) Prince (ruler) of this world

John 14:30

"I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me…"

17) Prince (ruler) of the devils

Matt.12:24

"But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.""

18) Prince of the power of the air

Eph. 2:2

"in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience."

19) Ruler of the darkness of this world

Eph 6:12

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places."

20) Satan

Job 1:6

"Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them."

21) Serpent

Genesis 3:4

"The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die!"

2 Cor. 11:3

"But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ."

22) Spirit that works in the children (sons) of disobedience

Eph. 2:2

"in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience."

23) Tempter

Matt. 4:3

"And the tempter came and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.""

24) The god of this world

2 Co 4:4

"in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."

25) Wicked-one (evil-one)

Matt. 13:19

"When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road."

In the world in which we live today, there are those who deny the reality of Satan. It's not "intellectually correct" to believe in Satan. Many equate the belief in Satan to belief in the tooth fairy. But the Bible sets forth the fact that there is a real personage by the name of Satan. The Scriptures use personal pronouns to refer to him in Job 1:8, 12; 2:2,3,6; Zechariah 3:2; Matthew 4:10; John 8:44 and many other passages.

Satan exhibits the attributes of a person, such as:

1) Knowledge

Job 1:9-10

"Then Satan answered the LORD, "Does Job fear God for nothing? "Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land."

2) Personal acts are preformed by him:

a. He spoke with, and attempted to persuade another:

Gen. 3:1

1 "Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?"

 

b. He attempts to reason with God:

Job 1:9-11

9 "Then Satan answered the LORD, "Does Job fear God for nothing?"

10 "Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.

11 "But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face."

c. He attempts to influence another human being:

Matthew 4:1-11

1 "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil."

d. He is said to have desires:

John 8:44

44 "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. "

e. He is said to have "works":

1 John 3:8

8 "the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil."

f. He has the capacity to argue with and attempt to reason with another:

Jude 9

9 "But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"

g. He is capable of waging war:

Rev. 12:7-10

7 "And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war,

8 and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.

9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him."

Therefore, this important point must not be overlooked. The Bible sets forth the fact that there is a being known as Satan (or as the Devil). There is only one Satan (or Devil) although there is a plurality of those who are his angels.

Matthew 25:41

41 "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels…"

Satan's primary function in this world is to attempt to destroy the relationship between God and man. Satan is not omnipotent (all-powerful), he is not omniscient (all-knowing), and he is not omnipresent (in all places at once) as is the Creator of the universe. Satan cannot introduce disorder into this universe by his own will. As the book of Job clearly reveals, the powers of Satan are limited by God Himself. Jesus taught:

Luke 22:31

"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat."

Satan's greatest power consists primarily in his ability to deceive:

Mark 4:14-14

14 "The sower sows the word.

15 "These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them.

1 Cor. 5:5

5 "Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control."

2 Cor. 12:7

7 "Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me–to keep me from exalting myself!"

1 Thess. 2:18

18 "For we wanted to come to you–I, Paul, more than once–and yet Satan hindered us."

Rev. 12:9

9 "And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him."

2 Cor. 4:4

4 "in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."

Satan attempts to deceive man by various means, but he is not all powerful, and is limited by the Creator in his activities. He really has no other power over humans than humans grant to him themselves. Paul warns in Second Thessalonians that Satan will accomplish his deception if we refuse to love and accept the Truth of God's Word, consider the following passage, especially verse ten:

2 Thess. 2:7-12

7 "For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.

8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom theLord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;

9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,

10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.

11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false,

12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness."

So, as we can see, Satan travels around the world looking for likely prospects he can cause to stumble (Job 1 & 2; 1 Pet. 5:8). He will often work through a person or institution that will appear on the surface to be working for God (2 Cor. 4:4). He attempts to clothe himself in a manner that makes him appear to be an angel of light.

2 Cor. 11:13-15

13 "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.

14 No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

15 Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds."

1 John 4:1

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world."

These warnings from Scripture are serious because Satan is always seeking to separate man from his relationship to God.

Isaiah 59:1-2

1 "Behold, the LORD'S hand is not so short That it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear.

2 But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear."

Satan is the originator of sin, and is always attempting to get others to sin. He always works to separate man from man (James 3:13-17). He uses every trick in the book to try to get man to sin (2 Cor. 2:11; 1 Tim. 3:7; 2 Tim. 2:26). He possesses wisdom, cunning and craftiness in his attempts (2 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 4:14; 1 Pet. 5:8; Eph. 6:11). He will always lie, deceive and mislead (John 8:44; Rev. 12:9). He never gives up his efforts to cause man to stumble (Luke 4:13; Rev. 7:21; Mark 4:14).

His most effective method has always been to attempt to get man to doubt God and His Word (Gen. 3:1-4; Matt. 4:3). This is the method he is using with most people today.

He attempted to destroy the means whereby God provided for saving man, by attempting to have Jesus killed when he was born (Matthew 2:13-15). When he could not accomplish this, he attempted to cause Jesus to fail in His mission (Matthew chapter four). He constantly attempted to cause Jesus's disciples to compromise their principles (an activity that continues to this day), and to some degree, he has always been successful in causing Jesus's disciples to stumble.

Satan is so deluded that he actually thought that he could destroy Jesus' purpose for coming to this earth (Philippians 2:5-12) by causing him to be put to death on the cross (John 13:27; Luke 22:53).

Since that time he has sought to destroy the church of Christ (Matthew 16:18-19), and hinder it's efforts in seeking to bring men to God and keep them saved. He has been somewhat successful in doing this through persecution (Matt. 13:20,21; Rev. 2:10; Acts 8:1-4); by bringing false teachers into the church (Eph. 4:14; 1 Tim. 4:1-3; 2 Tim. 4:1-3); by causing the church to lose its focus (Rev. 3:15,16); by causing division in the church through those who will not look to the Scriptures for authority (1 Cor. 1:10).

But above all, the Christian should remember the eternal destiny of Satan as described by our Lord:

Matthew 25:41

"Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels…"

Christians need to depend on these promises in their battle against Satan:

1) If we resist, he will flee!

James 4:7

"Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

Now here is a promise you can put your confidence in. If you will resist (sometimes difficult, actually, always difficult) he will, in time flee from you. This is God's promise. It must be accepted by faith (Romans 10:17; 2 Cor. 5:7).

2) God always provides the way out of sin for us!

1 Cor. 10:13

"No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it."

3) He is not as powerful as our God!

1 John 4:4

"You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world."

4) He has no power that we ourselves do not grant him!

James 1:13-18

13 "Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.

14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.

15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.

17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures."

5) If we will but look to God, and walk by the Spirit, he will never have any power over us!

Galatians 5:16-17

16 "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please."

Scriptures taken from the
NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE,
(C) Copyright The Lockman Foundation
1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995
Used by permission.

(All emphasis in bold type or underlining is mine -Mike Scott)

Comments are closed.