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By Roger Salter
Special to Virtueonline
July 10, 2019

Satan is to be taken seriously, not with the abject dread that amounts to an inane form of nervous homage, or superstitious, craven and deviant worship on our part, but in acknowledgement of his perverse and malicious personality that is intent upon the most bitter and destructive mischief possible in God's creation and in all human life.

The satanic spirit is poisoned with the most venomous hatred of God and man. His enmity toward the divine Being and all things holy is the very essence of his nature and identity. Of set purpose, he is the vitriolic archenemy and antagonist of the Lord of the universe, and his vile intent is to eradicate every sign of God's existence, excellency, and sovereignty. Envy pervades his entire constitution and makeup. The totality of his energy is consumed in hostility toward the Creator, his creation, and every creature capable of the recognition of the reality and greatness of the Triune God. This failed usurper of divine supremacy stalks the earth in fiendish fury at everything he surveys.

In his incurable vanity and futile effort satan has the compulsion to blot out all consciousness of God, his Name, and every notion of his Person. He is insane in his rage, crafty and cunning in his ways, deceitful in character, cruel in his behavior to all life because it comes from God, and he is the perpetrator of the "great lie" and universal delusion (the source of all error and misperception about everything) that inhabits the minds of fallen angels in their rebellion, and all men from their birth. He is the author of all that is evil, wrong, and untrue. His mind is fully permeated with darkness, negativity, and destructiveness. His aim is the spreading of misery and death. He is driven to gather all things into the participation of his inevitable doom. Satan is a danger to avoid. He is a genius not to be outwitted by men over whom he possesses and exercises an immense superiority. We are delivered from his thrall and threat only by the gracious power of God, his Son Jesus Christ, and the expulsive agency of the Holy Spirit.

We are foolish not to take account of the reality of the evil one. He is not a mythical entity. Satan is real. In a Time magazine article some decades ago the eminent Reformed theologian Gerrit Cornelius Berkouwer was quoted as warning not to ignore the person and dire influences of the devil. The drama of human salvation is not simply conducted between God and man but actively involves a terrible and meddling third party - Satan the prince of darkness. In his massive volume, Sin (Eerdmans, 1971), Berkouwer avers that "Sinful man cannot take a casual view of Satan's power . . . " Further on, in commenting on Hebrews 12:4, the Dutch Christian thinker states that the biblical author of this epistle, "abjures believers to take a firmer stand against their sin and resist it to the point of 'shedding their blood'". Berkouwer's deduction is as follows: "Implied in that statement is the admonition that believers have, all too often, an inadequate awareness of their adversary or their arch-enemy who is "near by" and crouching at the door" (Gen 4:7) - Sin, page 235. In principle Berkouwer agrees with Aquinas that, "The devil is called the god of this world, not because he created it, but because worldlings serve him. St. Paul uses the same turn of phrase: Who's god is their belly" (Phil.3.19).

Aquinas' phrase is very (and tragically) telling. All "worldlings" - every human being ever born (excepting Jesus) - is born satan's servant and a slave of sin, as evinced in nature and behavior (John 8:42-47). Satan's dire and deadly influence is ubiquitous, through the infection he has injected into our race totally controlling of our pathological condition. The Lord Jesus' speech concerning the hold that satan exercises over us is truly ominous. He refers to the vile antagonist as the "prince of this world", the ruler of the unregenerate. Paul endorses the reality of the evil one's subjection of his captives to the realm of darkness: "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, for he is the image of God" (2 Corinthians 4:4). The bondage of the once-born sinner is complete. Nothing holy or salvific allures him from the inclination and affections of his corrupt nature. Only the Savior can draw (drag) him (the force of wooing love) from his attraction to evil toward attachment to God. This is the enormity of our plight - spiritual incapacity and hostility to the Lord: "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God" (Romans 8:5-8).

Our natural desires do not crave God, nor can they ever please him.

Satan's major craft and accomplishment is deceit. From Eden to the Eve of Eternity the evil one has led earth's teeming millions astray diverting them from the true knowledge of God and his pure truth. Not only has he blinded the inhabitants of the world, he has established myriad counterfeit deities and spurious religions to mislead the gullible and ungodly down the ages and in every culture. Idols and their associated deluding demons have claimed the devotion of hordes of human worshippers through the ages, and still so obviously in this present time, and only the power of the gospel has ever broken the spell over victims of superstition. Scientific and rational progress may have confirmed demolition of many of the ancient deities from which believers of the past were delivered, but new lies and misreading's of reality continue to mislead the minds of even the so-called enlightened and educated ones whose inherent antipathy to heaven seduces them into mental accommodation and adamant unbelief. Intellectual skepticism is more a suit of armor to protect the uneasy conscience than an excuse for paucity of evidence for the claims of faith.

Fallen minds cannot find the true God, nor by nature wish to find him, or arrive at faith in him. The gift of faith is a divine prerogative.

In every generation major falsehoods fashioned by satan have been writ large in order to prevent the unwary from reading the small print of contradictory detail only available beneath the billboards, excluded and banned by the "advertisers", ignored by the media, rejected by the shapers of public opinion, and only discerned by keener eyes who will not succumb to the devil's bluff. The father of lies seemingly broadcasts his messages farther afield than the simple truth of faith, but it will eventually be admitted "that all who were appointed for eternal life believed" (Acts 13:48). The gospel breaks, and even seeps, through many stout barriers of ideology, bogus religion, resistant minds, and hardened hearts. "So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me void, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11) cf: "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27). Satan is foiled in his every ploy.

The god of this world is, in truth, a savage trespasser lashing out at persons and property that is not his to rule and own. The cross of the Lord Jesus, in its momentous effects for ourselves who believe, the world, and the universe, drives the devil from the territory he has cruelly invaded. At the lowest point in his earthly experience our precious Jesus proclaimed the imminent defeat of satan. "For the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me. . . the prince of this world now stands condemned" (John 14:30,16:11).

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the work of the devil (1 John 3: 8).

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