When God created this natural world he called his creation and every part of it “very good” (Genesis 1:31). However, some time later, there came Satan in the form of a serpent, anxious to tempt Eve to commit sin (Genesis 3:1-5).
The Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, allude to a rebellion that once took place on the part of Satan and his devils (Isaiah 14:12-15). They were cast to hell and now await judgment (2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6). At the same, they have been permitted to roam this earth seeking whom they might destroy (Job 1:7, 1 Peter 5:8).
Who is Satan?
It would seem that Satan is a name given to the head or the “spokesperson” of many devils (Job 1:6, Matthew 4:10). His name literally means “adversary”. He’s also called the devil, serpent, Beelzebul, ruler of this world, prince of the power of the air, and evil one throughout the Bible.
According to the possible symbolism in Isaiah 14, Satan himself became lifted up in pride which led to the rebellion. This is very plausible since he is defined as the father of sin (1 John 3:8). In other words, sin can ultimately be traced back to him (John 8:44). For instance, Peter was even called “Satan” when he committed an offense against the Lord (Matthew 16:23). That is not to say the devil made him do it, but when we sin, we assume the likeness of Satan.
What does Satan want?
He wants the exact opposite of what God wants. He is the antichrist of all antichrists. He seeks to destroy the works of God–often by destroying God’s people (1 Peter 5:8). He employs deception and even murder for his purpose (John 8:44). He strives to blind us to the truth (2 Corinthians 4:4). He takes advantage of the vices that easily hold us captive (Galatians 44:8).
What kind of power does Satan have?
Satan and his devils have extraordinary powers. Beyond the ability to tempt us, they often have incredible power over our bodies and minds (Mark 5:2-6). We not only read about Jesus casting out devils and unclean spirits, but he also “rebuked” many illnesses, diseases, and mental disabilities. For instance, Job was covered in painful boils at the hand of Satan (Job 2:7).
To see Christ rebuke something or someone is quite telling about that thing or person’s nature. Jesus would never rebuke something of God the Father. Therefore, a rebuke from Christ actually shows us the evil origins of whatever it might be.
On one occasion, Jesus and his disciples were sailing across the sea when a storm hits. Jesus awakes and rebukes the wind and the raging water (Luke 8:23-24). Even though we typically give God credit for every natural catastrophe, perhaps much of the destruction we’ve witnessed truly falls at the feet of Satan.
Let’s not forget the limitations of Satan
In the case of Job, Satan had to stand before God and request permission to do his evil will (Job 1:7). While God often allows the wiles of the devil, Satan is pretty much a dog on God’s leash. This is the real lesson behind the many stories of Christ casting out devils and unclean spirits. There is not a battle raging between God and Satan where we wait to see who might win. God has complete and total control over Satan.
The devil is even more limited than you might realize. While he can greatly tempt us with sin, he cannot predict the future nor can he know our intimate thoughts. God and God alone is given praise for this incredible ability (Psalm 139:2). When Satan tempts us, he is forced to cast a wide net and hope he catches someone. He can observe our actions and make reasonable deductions, but he cannot target our particular struggles by knowing our thoughts.
All of our problems in this life–physical, emotional, mental, spiritual–are all byproducts of sin. Satan, again, is the father of sin. However, Christ was victorious over Satan (Hebrews 2:14).
We, as justified by the blood of Christ, have nothing to fear. We are joint-heirs with Christ. So, if he was victorious over Satan, so are we. This is why we are able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:10-13). We are able to resist the devil and cause him to flee (James 4:7).
The movies, as well as our own imaginations, often portray people as being possessed by demons where they lose all control over themselves. Those born of the Spirit can be greatly influenced and led away by unclean spirits. We can be stricken with physical afflictions. But we do have power over those spirits. If we submit ourselves to God, turn to him for help in our time of need, and remain faithful, we can overcome the devils in our lives if it be God’s will.