Thursday, February 27, 2014

Is Satan a reality?

It is surprising, at least to me, to read of many surveys showing up as many believers do NOT believe in the reality of Satan.  Many believers do NOT believe Satan as a real being.  Some just believed him as the personification of sins.

Satan was and is real. Even today, he is around, working away, with his minions of fallen angels known as demons.

Honestly, Satan was mentioned in Scripture often enough to be ignored.  For those who believe NOT there was and is a Satan, they are really alleging (a) the Bible is fictional, since it talked about Satan, when there was or is no Satan; or

(b) Satan is to be understood as personification of something, and the closest fit is sins.

I am one who keeps reminding myself and others that whatever theology and doctrines of the faith, they must be formed from Scripture, NOT from our experiences.  Our experiences testify to the truth of Scripture.  Experiences devoid of scriptural support are to be viewed with more than a pinch of salt, so to speak.  As a minimum, what is observed must NOT contradict the Word.

So, first, we consider if there is an extra-biblical basis to argue for the reality of Satan and his demons.

I have lived more than half a decade, and that is a long time, and I must say, “Time has flown me by.  How I wish I am in my twenties again!” Of course, that is fat hope.  I have seen and involved myself in deliverance work.  Demonization and demon-possessions are real. 

There are enough manifestations that are clearly non-medical or NOT due to natural sicknesses.  NOT all symptoms and manifestations can be accounted for, purely through science, unless we take science to be inclusive of demonization and demon possession.  Some of the manifestations included opposition to God, violent reactions to declaring of the name or blood of Jesus, and the manifestation of supernatural strength, or people slithering on the floor like a snake.  For example, a normal sized woman in manifestation needed half a dozen men to hold her down on the floor! 

These demonization and demon-possession are NOT curable by scientific medicine.  Some of the stubborn demons are NOT easily persuaded to leave “what they considered as their home or abode”.  In Christian deliverance ministry, we break the hold of the demons, bind them and cast them out. When people are “cleaned” out, the “after person” is different from the “before person”; if the person has the “stoned” appearance, he would no longer have that; he would appear fresh and alert once again.

Some people said that the so-called Satan or demons are some force, but they are NOT like gravity or magnetism which is impersonal forces.  These are NOT simply some impersonal forces which we can remove, and the person(s) would be well.  The evil or evil-being is NOT some impersonal force, that if it affects you, it will affect me, likewise.  No, the evil-being interacts with intellect and will; and so, it could “latch” on to you and even possesses you, but it may NOT do so, with me, because of the difference in the “spiritual state” of my intellect and will, at the time.  

Deliverance ministry experiences have scriptural basis; and we read of Jesus’ own deliverance episodes in Scripture.  Then there were also the disciples’ experiences recorded for us.  The manifestation of supernatural strength can be found stated in Mark 5:1-4.

Was Satan merely a personification of sins, in Scripture?  Meaning, was Satan merely sins talked about like a man or being, given speech and attributes of a personal being?  There are just too many places and verses very simply addressing Satan as a personal being.  If Satan we argue, on personification ground, as NOT a being, then we may as well also say the same for God - isn’t a being either!

Jesus, for example, addressed Satan as a personal being.  For one thing the Lord recognized him.  Jesus, before He was born as a man, when He was with the Father in Heaven, had seen him in Heaven!  Jesus said in Luke 10:18 that He saw Satan being cast out of Heaven.

In the last of the 3 temptations Satan did on Jesus after the latter’s 40 days and 40 nights fasting, he, Satan, said this, ““All this {the world} I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”” And Jesus replied him, (Matt 4:10): “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’

The above exchange between Jesus and Satan does NOT look like Jesus was talking about some impersonal force or a mere personification of some evil, does it!  Elsewhere, in John 12:31, John 14:30, John 16:11, Jesus addressed Satan as “the prince of this world

Then there were the Apostles who also addressed Satan as a personal being. The apostle Paul called Satan the “god of this world” or “god of this age” (2 Cor 4:4) and the “ruler of the kingdom of the air” or “prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2). Additionally, Paul also wrote this: “The Spirit clearly says that in latter times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron” (1 Tim. 4:1-2).

In 1 John 5:19, we read the apostle John said this: “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” The verse is a “pair”, we, the children of God; the world under the control of Satan.  So, God and Satan are being viewed by John in like-perspective – God a being, Satan, too.

In Revelation 12:9 we read this: “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

Thus the way Satan was depicted in Scripture, he sure was/is NOT some impersonal force or a mere personification of evil.

Who then is Satan?  These verses in Scripture gave us an idea of who Satan is:

1.   Job 1:6-12 - 6 One day the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” 8 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” 9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” 12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

We don’t know when this has happened, but it was probably a long, long time ago (in the OT time).  The interesting thing here was that, then Satan was still allowed to come before God, but it is NOT conclusive from the brief mention, that the scene was in Heaven. 

By the way, this account of testing on Job did NOT conclusively say that Satan have to ask God for specific permission to do anything towards any man!  Briefly, it was God who suggested Job to Satan, and it was that Satan knew there was a God’s hedge (protection) around Job; the permission was specifically that, God got to remove His protection; without which, Satan just could NOT test Job or act against him.  Is it every one of us, believers, has the same hedge, and Satan cannot test or act against anyone of us?  My answer is no.  In a while, we will see a scripture saying whom he can devour, Satan will try to devour, meaning some are easy, some are difficult, and some he can touch, NOT.

2.   Gen 3:1-5 - 1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” 4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

The serpent here was referring to Satan.  How do we know?  We infer it from Rev 12:9 (“that ancient serpent called the devil or Satan”).

Rev 12:7-9 reads: 7 Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

This Revelation text tells us that there was a war in Heaven. My own belief is that although the Book of Revelation is prophetic of the future, this text of Rev 12:7-9 was a flashback, meaning the war broke out a long time ago in Heaven, and in that war, Satan fell from Heaven, to earth, with his angels with him.  Jesus witnessed this fall of Satan when He was still in Heaven with the Father; in Luke 10:18 we read Jesus saying, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.  After the fall from Heaven, Satan and his angels (about 1/3 of all angels) (thereafter, after the fall, called demons), reached a point of no return; for the salvation to come, did NOT and would NOT include Satan and the demons; salvation was and is only for men.

3.   Matt 4:1-11 - 4 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

The above is the account of the Devil tempting Jesus.  Many people often forget when it happened.  When did it happen?  It happened after Jesus was water-baptised, and filled with the Spirit without measure (for Jesus, it happened as one event – water baptism and baptism of the Holy Spirit), and after Jesus had fasted for 40 days and 40 nights.  Why do I point this out specifically?  Because I want people to see the Devil and his minions are a reality even for the believers.  Jesus then a man, was water-baptised and filled with the Holy Spirit, and fasted even (so, he should be sensitive to the Holy Spirit), yet the Devil still tempted Him.  Why do people want to suggest that the Devil and his minions won’t tempt you or test you, and if possible, devour you!

4.   1 Pet 8-9 (KJV) - Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

This text tells us what Satan or the Devil is up to, on earth, even concerning the believers.  Yes, the text was directed at believers (look at the preceding verses and you can see it there).  Satan is seeking whom he may devour. He does NOT need to ask God for permission to come against you, although God knows.  God does NOT necessarily stop Satan from tempting you or even acting against you; rather we are told to resist the devil, and remain steadfast in the faith.

5.   Eph 6:10-18 - 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

This exhortation by the Apostle Paul is a rehash of what the Apostle Peter said, which we saw in 1 Peter above.  Again, the words were meant for believers.  The Devil and his minions are a reality, even for the believers (don’t listen to preachers who tells you they are NOT! They are wrong!).  Paul was saying here, that there are things we need to do, although it is NOT to say that God cannot put a hedge around you.  Again, there is no idea of the Devil has to ask for specific permission to come against you.  Preachers who argue for this, are wrong; the stage has gone beyond that – God and Satan are at war; and we are caught in it, and you should know which side you are on!

6.   Luke 22:31-32 (KJV) - 31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

This text had given rise to some insisting that Satan has to ask the Lord/God for permission to test/tempt/act against a believer.  All the text was saying was that Jesus was privy to knowing Satan wanted to test Peter (sift Peter as wheat), and that He, Jesus, prayed that Peter’s faith would NOT fail. 

Even if indeed Satan asked God, it is to be understood in like vein as that understood (if you correctly understood it) of Job’s testing by Satan, i.e. that there was a “hedge” around Peter, and Satan challenged God to remove the hedge.  Ultimately, it is the test of faith that will either shame or glorify God; and that was and is what Satan is challenging God in, with regard to men. 

From this text and that of Job’s testing (from the book of Job), it is imperative that believers to know that we cannot put all responsibility for faith, back to God, even though God does give supernatural faith (gift of faith); there is the faith that we are to have, which will be tested and challenged by the Devil.

7.   John 10:10, the words of Jesus Himself contrasting Satan and Himself - The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I {Jesus} am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

The thief is pointing to Satan, and it can include any of those who work for or further his (Satan’s) purpose.

8. John 8:44 - Jesus also told us some of the characteristics of Satan. Christ said he was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him, and that when he speaks he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.  John 8:44 - You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

9.   Rev 20:1-10 - 1 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. 2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time…

7 When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. 9 They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

This is the destiny for Satan at the end.  The salvation plan will save only men, NOT Satan and the demons.

10.               Satan’s own falling into Iniquity - Isaiah 14:12-14;  Eze 28:11-19

Isaiah 14:12-14 - 12 How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! 13 You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon {most sacred mountain of the Canaanites}. 14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”

Satan was Lucifer. This is a “dual context” passage: On the surface, it was referring to the king of Babylon as presented in his pride, splendor and fall; beneath or behind, the power behind the evil Babylonian king. No mortal king would claim his throne was above God’s or that he was like the Most High; the power behind, was Lucifer, Son of the Morning.

Apart from referencing the Babylonian king, the passage marks the beginning of iniquity/sin in the universe and the very fall of Satan himself.  There is another passage that will add some more to our understanding of this fall of Satan – Ezekiel 28:11-19 -

11 The word of the Lord came to me: 12 “Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “‘You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: carnelian, chrysolite and emerald, topaz, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl.

Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. 14 You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. 15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. 16 Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. 17 Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor.

So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.

18 By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries. So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. 19 All the nations who knew you    are appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more.’”

Again, this is a “dual context” passage: On the surface it is addressed to the "king of Tyre", beneath/behind, it went beyond the king to the one who is behind the evil king. This passage is also a “dual prophecy” passage; there was a near prophecy of what was to happen to the evil Tyre king, at the same time, there was and is a far prophecy about Satan, his final end which is yet to happen; to take place after the final judgment (Rev 20:7-10).

What both the above texts about Satan were also trying to say is this: That we succumbed to Satan’s workings, we may end up taking after Satan, and become his underling; and we are furthering his aims, against God.  Evil kings, particularly, are used by Satan in this manner bringing nations low. Satan is the principality behind the powers of this corrupt worldview system.

This Ezekiel passage reveals to us that Satan was once an anointed guardian cherub or an anointed arch angel.  Mortal kings are guardians, and they could be used by Satan to front-shadow him. Satan was most magnificently created – he was “the seal of perfection, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.” Pride was what led to Satan’s downfall. Because of pride, Iniquity became found in him.

Where is the pride? Isaiah 14:12 tells us what Satan coveted - "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit on the mount of assembly on the heights of Zaphon; I will ascend to the tops of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High." Note the repeated “I will”; that is the pride.  Satan wanted to be like God, no longer want to be God’s servant; that was rebellion.  Iniquity was then replicated in Man, through Adam and Eve, by Satan, appealing to the same pride – “be like God”; Gen 3:5 - "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

Is Satan a reality?  Yes, he was and is a reality, to both non-believers and believers, for the world is under his control (1 John 5:19).

Who then is Satan?  He was once called Lucifer, the most magnificent (seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty) guardian angel (a cherub) God had created, most beautiful and were blameless in his ways until Iniquity/Sin has come to be found in him. 

Lucifer became evil when Iniquity/Sin entered and consumed him, and he fell because of pride.  The moment Iniquity/Sin or Wickedness got hold of him, Satan’s wisdom became corrupted.  His wisdom and therefore, his ways no longer is godly or holy (Eze 18:17).  Satan wanted to be like God (“I will make myself like the Most High.”); that’s was rebellion.  War broke out in Heaven, and Satan and about 1/3 of the angels fell from Heaven.  On earth, Satan, as the ancient serpent tempted the first Man, Adam and Eve, and replicated Iniquity/Sin into Man, and Man became fallen too.

Satan took hold of the world and continued to perpetuate his “sour grape” opposition to God.  John 10:10a said it all – he came to steal, kill and destroy, men.  With the Fall in the Garden of Eden, men are counted with Satan, and would, unless they come into the Salvation Plan through Christ Jesus, end up going to the same place that Satan (and his demons) are destined to go – the burning lake of fire of Hell.  Satan has led the world astray; and through Jesus Christ, we can come back and be reconciled to God, and have eternal life, the end phase of which, is to live with God in Heaven, eternally.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

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