How does God feel about Satan?
MJ from Toledo, Oh. (Note: This question came to me from a friend of mine after a classroom discussion in a philosophy class at the University. I thought it was pretty interesting and decided to attempt to answer it this week.)
Who is Satan? (Part 1)
Recently I was driving a relative to the airport and on the way he asked if I believed in an actual being, “Satan”, or simply an evil force loose in the world. Without hesitation I said I believe in an actual being named Satan or Lucifer or the devil — whatever name you want to use. My reason? I told him I see intelligence behind the evil and I don’t see how a “force” could operate with intelligence. He thought that was a good argument though he has not fully made up his own mind about it yet.
Clearly, in scripture, Satan is referred to as a being, not just a force of evil. It was a being that conversed with God about Job. It was a being that tempted Jesus in the wilderness after his public ministry began. Jesus cast out devils who often spoke to him first. Regarding Peter’s denial of him, Jesus says that “Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.” (Luke 22:31). All of these accounts, and many more I’m not mentioning, assume a “someone”, not a “something”.
Satan is a created being. Some people think there is a great tug of war between God and Satan and we are waiting to see who will win. That is not true. Created by God, Satan only functions to the extent that God allows. He has limited power and knowledge whereas God has unlimited power and knowledge.
Before man was on the scene, scripture gives us some brief glimpses of what happened to Satan and his downfall through pride. “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground…for you have said in your heart: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God.” (Isaiah 14:12-13) In Ezekiel it says; “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.”(Ezekiel 28:17)
The Work of Satan (Part 2)
There is indication in the Old Testament that Satan was one of the highest orders of angels and that he was responsible for the worship of God in heaven. Many believe that his body itself was a musical instrument (angels are spirit beings so we are not referring to a physical body here). Ezekiel 28:13-14 says in part; “The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created. You were the anointed cherub who covers.”
Think of what a lofty position of power and authority Satan once had. What a fall! So what does he do all day now? Being cast out of heaven the “devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) He wishes to devour each of us; to keep us from coming to Christ or to keep us from experiencing life in Christ to the fullest.
Here are some of the activities of Satan and the demonic hoard that he controls.
- Tempting man to sin and rebel against God. “Now the tempter came to Him, he said, ‘If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.'” (Matthew 4:3)
- Robbing us of everything good that God wants us to have. “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10)
- Causes sickness and disease. Jesus often mentioned Satan as the originator behind an illness as he healed someone. “So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound-think of it-for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” (Luke 13:16)
- Oppress and or possess people. “When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick.” (Matthew 8:16)
- Accuses us before God. “…for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.” (Revelation 12:10)
Satan’s Future (Part 3)
God allows Satan to continue with a portion of power and influence for a time. Though our Lord totally defeated Satan on the cross, the church of Jesus Christ is left with the job of enforcing that judgment. We are charged with pushing Satan back, thwarting his efforts, resisting him and demanding that he give up what is rightfully ours.
Our fight against the devil on a daily basis sharpens our skills in the spiritual realm and causes us to grow up and be strong and mature in the Lord. Satan is really only a pawn in God’s hands. The time will come, however, when Satan will come to his final destination and we are told about it in Revelation 20:10. “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
Before that happens, Satan will be a troublemaker and we need to be alert and on guard every day. The Bible tells us how furious and ferocious he is. “For the devil has come down to you, having a great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” (Revelation 12:12) See, Satan reads the Bible too and he knows how it all turns out. But in the meanwhile he wants to do as much damage as possible and take as many people with him as he can.
Satan’s future and your future are quite different. His destiny can no longer be changed; it is set in stone. On the other hand, your destiny can be changed until the moment of your death. If you have received the covering of the blood of Jesus for your sins and have surrendered your life to him your eternity will be in heaven. If you have never done so, there is still time to change your mind and lock in your heavenly home.
How does God feel about Satan? (Part 4)
I have not forgotten what the original question really was. It is interesting because of the word “feel” which questions God’s emotions toward this great adversary of ours. As I read the major scriptures that refer to Satan in the Bible I was struck by the absence of emotion on God’s part. That is in contrast to the great emotion he seems to reveal for people.
I see love, tenderness, mercy, jealousy, hurt feelings, judgment, pride and longing as just a few of God’s emotions displayed throughout scripture toward human beings. Ultimately, God gave his beloved son, Jesus, to redeem mankind to demonstrate his love. He did not make provision to redeem angels or other created beings.
Satan evidently had free will just like we did but once he made his decision to rebel it was a permanent decision. All the angels that followed him out of heaven (about one third of all angels) never had another chance. So while we don’t have any scripture that reveals God’s feelings for Satan, the absence of emotion is in itself telling us something.
1 Peter 1:12 discusses salvation, the suffering Christ would endure and the preaching of the gospel and then gives us an interesting insight by telling us that these are; “things which angels desire to look into.” In other words, all that God gave to us is a mystery to them. They would like to understand it but they are mystified and they certainly stand outside receiving any of it.
God does not tell us how he feels about Satan but he tells us how we should react to him. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) Through the shield of faith, “quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” (Ephesians 6:16) In anger do not “give place to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:27) “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith.” (1 Peter 5:8-9)
You can win in your battle against the liar, thief and enemy of your soul. In truth, Jesus already won for you. Keep the faith and keep fighting!