Satan- just a symbol of evil? (pt 3)

Today’s post is the conclusion of our 3-part series on the devil. It answers the all important question, “So what’s the point – why bother learning about the devil?”.


I think it’s important we don’t get stuck thinking about the devil as that evil guy with horns and a pitchfork – he isn’t the live version of a high school’s red devil mascot. The devil’s danger, I think, isn’t in his evil, grotesque form. That form is easy to discern and avoid. The devil’s danger lies in something else.

These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15a


He disguises himself as an angel of light. His servants disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. This is the real danger of satan. Satan in the great counterfeiter. In his attempt to be God, he takes all that God does and is about, and counterfeits it. In fact, many scholars believe appearances, visions and visitations of angels claimed by cults and other religions are most likely the work of the devil masquerading as an angel. How else might the devil, the counterfeit god, manipulate and trick? Take a look at this list put together by

  • God has sent prophets to proclaim His word, and Satan sends false prophets (1 Jn 4:1, Mt 24:11,24, Mt 7:15-16).
  • God gives us teachers to teach His word and Satan sends false teachers (2 Pet 2:1-3, 1 Tim 4:1-3, 2 Jn 9-11, Mal 2:8-9, Gal 1:6-9).
  • Jesus is the “light” of the world (Jn 1:7-9, Jn 8:12, Lk 2:32, Jn 12:35-36), and Satan appears as an “angel of light” (1 Pet 5:8).
  • God is a triune being (the trinity), and Satan will form an “unholy trinity” at Armageddon (Rev 16:13).
  • Satan takes God’s word and twists its meaning to serve his purposes (Mt 4:1-11).
  • Satan takes God’s spiritual gifts (i.e. tongues and prophecy), and causes them to be misused to create confusion.
  • Jesus is called the “lion of Judah” (Rev 5:5), and Satan is compared to a “roaring lion” (1 Pet 5:8).
  • Jesus instituted “communion,” and Satan falsifies it (1 Cor 10:16-22).

True story. A Christian leader — we’ll call him Steve — was traveling recently by plane. He noticed that the man sitting two seats over was thumbing through some little cards and moving his lips. The man looked professorial with his goatee and graying brown hair, and Steve placed him at fifty-something. guessing the man was a fellow-believer, Steve leaned over to engage him in conversation. “Looks to me like you’re memorizing something,” he said. “No, actually I was praying,” the man said. Steve introduced himself. “I believe in prayer too,” he said. “Well, I have a specific assignment,” said the man with the goatee. “What’s that?” Steve asked. “I’m praying for the downfall of Christian pastors.” “I would certainly fit into that category,” Steve said. “Is my name on the list?” “Not on my list,” the man replied. [1]

So why do we even think about the enemy? This is real. The devil is real. He is not just some symbol of evil. His intentions are real, and we must take notice. He’s powerful and formidable, but not more so than God. It’s interesting, really, that we see the Devil set against God, which is of course what the Devil desires. But we need to remember that the Devil, even at his greatest point, is only an angel – either a holy, created angel of God, or a fallen evil angel who desires to rise the place of God who attempts to do so through counterfeit ways and deception. The Devil never has been, and never will be, on par or equal in status and power as God. But we do need to be aware of him and his ways. His two main objectives are to destroy God’s people and defame God’s glory. We need to open our eyes. We need to get on our knees. We must know who he is. We must know how he works.

When Lillia, our first born child, was younger, she was deathly afraid of thunderstorms. At the time we lived in the mountains in Big Sky, Montana and hardly a summer day would go by without a major thunderstorm. And every time, without fail, Lillia would literally freak out. We had a dog at the time as well, and she too was scared of the storms. It was sort of funny, in a sick sort of way, to see who would get more scared with each successive thunderstorm. Perplexed about how to handle my fearful child, I decided one day I would teach her about thunderstorms, to help her better understand them. Although she was only 4 at the time, she was quite bright and quickly grasped scientific concepts. So we sat down together and figured out why thunder boomed so loudly and lightning flashed so brightly. And you know what? While she didn’t become a lover of thunderstorms, she did overcome her fear. As the thunder boomed, she would review the scientific principles behind thunder and lightning, and be less scared.

Understanding something helps us overcome our fears. And that’s true for conquering our fears about the devil. We’ve learned a little about some of the devil’s schemes and ways and can now approach situations better informed. We must remain alert, and question teaching, biblical interpretations and claims made by others. Angel visitations do indeed occur, as we looked at last week. But authentic angel sightings will always turn our attention and worship to Almighty God. Their messages will always reflect full, complete scriptural truth. Be aware of messages which take away Scriptural truth, or attempt to add more to it. And here’s a reminder that we’ll look at more closely next week – don’t be tricked by the use of Scripture. Even the devil quoted Scripture when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness!

As we close, I want to suggest an important take-home message. We all need to be aware of pride. We can’t avoid the obvious, detrimental effects of pride in the fall of satan. In fact, as I was thinking about this message tonight, I kept thinking of the common saying, “pride goes before a fall”. It’s a misconception that this is actually a biblical proverb – it is not. Proverbs 16:18 says “Pride goes before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” which may well be where our shortened version comes from. I tried to find the historical meaning behind this phrase, but couldn’t find anything. I personally think that it is a perfect reflection of the fall of satan – his pride led to his fall, and we are warned to not let the same happen to us. Carefully examine your life to see where that pride might show up. Just as satan disguises himself as an angel of light, pride may also disguise itself in our lives as something positive and beneficial. Pride goes before a fall. Where and how does that apply to you?