Concerning Satan, we Christians paint a picture of an almost invincible creature, whose only rival is God. We envision him at battle with the Son of God in chapter 4 of both Matthew and Luke, and wonder what would have happened if our Lord was tripped up and made a meal out of those stones. I remember reading somewhere, concerning the trial of Jesus, of the writer’s surprise that Jesus didn’t cast Himself off the pinnacle of the Temple. The writer believed such an act would have shown that Jesus had great power and would have attracted many to God. Of course, all this is nonsense for there never was a real contest in the sense that Christ might have failed, but we love a drama and love to exalt the power of Satan. Some men seem to make a business out of casting out Satan and binding him up. They make up a really nifty package that could have top billing on the sci-fy channel. They mold their ideas to attract people to a religious sideshow. I can go on and on, but I should stop here. When I begin to enjoy the put-downs, it is time to stop. I must be careful, because I know such criticism offends some who are caught in their snares. Nevertheless, I have very little patience with people who believe they can preach Christ by exalting the power of Satan, and in so doing, exalt themselves by binding him up and casting him out …through Christ of course. I must not forget to add through Christ, though sometimes it is difficult to believe his precious name has anything to do with how these men parade themselves before the crowds of people, who are attracted to their spectacle.
Somehow, we Christians seem to have the impression that Satan has great god-like attributes, such as omnipresence and omniscience. I hear so many people saying how Satan tried to trip them up this week, but I doubt he even knows their names. Could he be in more than one place at a single moment? I once listened to part of a radio program in which the speakers exalted one another by claiming how many demons must follow the other about to do harm to his ministry. There was a lull at that time of day in what I really appreciate in Christian programming, but I finally turned the radio off, preferring silence to such nonsense.
Who is this evil and infamous creature to whom we attribute so much power and glory? Well, he is revealed in 2Corinthians 4:4 as the god of this world! Wow! Now there’s a title to grab the imagination. Are there really little gods flying about the universe in the presence our God? Perhaps they float about like clouds in our neighborhoods, seeking whose day they might ruin. Are there more than one, albeit less powerful gods? I have to answer, “No!” There are no other gods, never was, and never shall there be a god beside our God (Isaiah 43:10-11; 44:6, 8).
What then does it mean when Scripture describes Satan as the god of this world? To understand this we must look into Psalm 82,
Psalms 82:1-8 KJV God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods. (2) How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah. (3) Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. (4) Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked. (5) They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course. (6) I have said, Ye are gods ; and all of you are children of the most High. (7) But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes. (8) Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations. (emphasis mine)
Notice that God, the Almighty, calls mere men “gods”, because they are given high positions of authority to administer justice among the people. All authority comes from God and God alone (Romans 13:1). Even the evil power used to sentence Christ to be crucified was an authority that had to be given by God (John 19:10-11). In Psalm 82 the authorities made judgments according to bribes that were given them (v.2), just as Felix tried to do in the case of Paul’s imprisonment (Acts 24:24-26).
Authority or rulership is a godlike power. For example, Adam was given authority in Eden to oversee all that God created. God could have made man a slave to do whatever God, himself, appointed, but he didn’t. God gave man the gift of authority to rule over all that the Lord had created (Genesis 1:26, 28). After the flood, the Lord God empowered man with the authority to govern himself (Genesis 9:5-6). Whether or not man had this authority before the flood, I cannot say for certain, although there seems to be some indication that he exercised this power over others (Genesis 4:14). However, there can be no doubt that God empowered man with the authority to govern himself afterward. In this sense, therefore, the Scriptures reveal that Satan had received his authority to rule over the earth (2Corinthians 4:4) from God. My question is, when did he receive such authority? Did he rob this authority from Adam? If so, how was this done? But, before we get into when and how Satan received his power, let’s first understand who or what Satan might be. Is he an archangel who rebelled and fell from grace? Is he an angelic being? How can we know? Are these questions answered in Scripture, and does God point to a specific creature that identifies that one as Satan? I believe it does, and I think we can know this for certain.
The next study in this series is: “Is Satan an Archangel or an Angel?“