Satan Afflicts Job
Satan is given more prominence in the book of Job than in any other Old Testament book. No less than fourteen times he is mentioned in the first two chapters.
Again, modernism has attempted to explain away these historical incidents. Andrew Zenos of the Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Chicago alleged that “The apparent incongruity of a person (i.e., Satan) with such a frame of mind consorting with the other ‘sons of God’ in the courts of heaven, giving an account of himself to, and speaking on familiar terms with, God, disappears when the narrative is seen to be constructed, not as a picture of realities, but as a vehicle of moral teaching.” Such a view totally ignores the facts and reads prejudicial opinion into the sacred text.
Satan: Adversary of Joshua
Satan appears as an adversary of Joshua the high priest in Zechariah 3:1, 2. Joshua, clothed with filthy garments that symbolized the sins of the whole nation (of which he was the representative) stood before the messenger of Jehovah.
Satan was at his right hand (cf. Psa. 109:6) to be his adversary. The accuser was not allowed to speak though, rather, “Jehovah said unto Satan, Jehovah rebuke thee, O Satan ….”
The central message of this vision (1-10) was to show that Jehovah’s people, conditioned upon a true reformation, could again enjoy prosperity. But: “Satan was ready to challenge the Lord’s own institution for the forgiveness of sin, to deny the right of God to pardon the sinner. He seeks to overthrow the Throne of Grace, so hateful to him, and to turn it into a seat of judgment and condemnation.” Certainly the complete story of the devil’s horrible character is not presented in the Old Testament.
Enough is given though to warrant the conviction that he is truly a malicious being. The New Testament brings into full focus his anti-godly designs.
Satan in the New Testament
The following New Testament references will suffice to underscore our previous affirmations regarding the unscrupulous intent of the Adversary of God and man.
Satan Tempted Christ
As the serpent seduced Eve (Gen. 3:6) through the manifold channels of lust of the flesh, lust of the eye, and the vainglory of life (1 Jn. 2:16), so he sought to solicit Christ to sin similarly (Mt. 4:1-11).
Interestingly, he is denominated “the tempter” in that narrative. The Greek term is peirazon, a present tense participle literally expanded, “the always tempting me,” which suggests his characteristic activity.
Had the devil succeeded in causing Christ to sin, the Lord could not have served as the spotless sin offering (2 Pet. 1:19; 2 Cor. 5:21), and the entire human race would have been forever lost!
Satan’s Affliction on Mankind
Disease, infirmity and death are ultimately the responsibility of Satan. How? By his introduction of sin into the world, he brought about such woes and hence, he is really the murderer of the human family (cf. Jn. 8:44).
This is why it is said that a certain Jewish woman, who had been afflicted with an infirmity for eighteen years, was bound of Satan (Lk. 13:16), and Peter declared that Jesus went about doing good “healing all that were oppressed of the devil” (Acts 10:38).
Satan: Enemy of the Apostles
The New Testament represents the devil as a deadly foe of the apostles of Christ, who by their saving message, opposed his work. The Lord informed Peter: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan asked to have you, that he might sift you as wheat” (Lk. 22:31).
Many commentators have over-looked the fact that the pronoun “you” (humas) is plural, revealing that Jesus was issuing a warning regarding all the apostles. Yet, recognizing the special weakness of Peter, the Master adds: “but I made supplication for thee (sou, singular) that thy faith fail not.” Moreover, Paul’s thorn in the flesh was a “messenger of Satan” (2 Cor. 12:7), and when the apostle would have visited the Thessalonian brethren, Satan hindered him (2 Thes. 2: 18).
It must ever be remembered, though, that the devil can only do what he is permitted to do by God. This will be discussed later in more detail.
Satanic Influences Christ’s Disciples
Satan “put into the heart of Judas Iscariot” the dastardly notion of betraying the Lord Jesus (Jn. 13:2), and later entered “into him” (Jn. 13:27) thus, causing him to consummate the darkest deed of all history.
So captivated by the Deceiver was Judas, that Jesus once plainly called the wayward apostle a “devil” (Jn. 6:70). Judas, however, did not consider himself a mere passive pawn at the disposal of Satan, for he unmistakably acknowledged: “I have sinned in that I betrayed innocent blood” (Mt. 27:4).
Additionally, when Ananias lied and misrepresented the amount of his gift to the early church, Peter inquired: “Ananias, why hath Satan filled thy heart to lie to the Holy Spirit” (Acts 5:3). And yet the apostle further asks: “How is it that thou hast conceived this thing in thy heart?” (vs. 4).
Satan cannot overpower us (Jas. 4:7), but he will gladly cooperate in the destruction of our souls!
…To be continued next week: Where did Satan come from?