Suffering: What are Satan’s schemes against us?

Suffering: What are Satan’s schemes against us?

Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8

Not only did Satan tempt the first Adam in a garden, but he also tempted the Last Adam in a desert. In each of the Synoptic Gospels, Satan appears as the tempter of Jesus Christ.1 From the opening to the closing pages of Scripture, Satan is presented as an enemy of God and subsequently an enemy of God’s people. Throughout Scripture he is named in a variety of ways, including the Devil, the dragon, the Serpent, enemy, tempter, murderer, Father of Lies, adversary, accuser, destroyer, and the Evil One.

Sadly, it is not uncommon for people to make either too much or too little of Satan. As C. S. Lewis says, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.”2

Foundational to our study of Satan is to recognize that he is in no way equal to God though he and the other false gods claim to be, deceiving many throughout the ages. His knowledge, presence, and power are limited because he is an angelic being created by God for the purpose of glorifying and serving God. However, he became proud in his heart and desired to be worshiped and exalted like God. So he declared war upon God and one-third of the angels joined his army to oppose God.3 Judged by God for his sin, the Serpent and his servants were then cast down to the earth.4

The entrance of the Serpent in Genesis marks the first attack of the Evil One. The Serpent is Satan according to Revelation 12:9 and 20:2. Sailhamer describes the scene:

The snake speaks only twice, but that is enough to offset the balance of trust and obedience between the man and the woman and their Creator. The centerpiece of the story is the question of the knowledge of the “good.” The snake implied by his questions that God was keeping this knowledge from the man and the woman (3:5), while the sense of the narratives in the first two chapters has been that God was keeping this knowledge for the man and the woman (e.g., 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31; 2:18). In other words, the snake’s statements were a direct challenge to the central theme of the narrative of chapters 1 and 2: God will provide the “good” for human beings if they will only trust him and obey him.5

Satan began by tempting Eve to mistrust God’s word by changing its meaning, just as he did when later likewise tempting Jesus in Matthew 4:1–11. Rather than rebuking Satan, Eve entertained his lies6 and was subsequently deceived by his crafty arguments.7 Satan was so bold as to accuse God of being a liar and to tempt the pride of Adam and Eve by declaring that if they disobeyed God they could in effect become his peer and gods themselves. Eve was faced with either trusting her own judgment8 or God’s protective warning that it was deadly.9 Satan promised that, upon sinning against God, they would become like God. Yet, they were already like God by virtue of the fact he made them in his image and likeness.10 Tragically, our first parents gave up what God gave them by grace to chase it by their own works and as a result experienced only misery and tragedy.

Are you prone to think too much or too little of Satan and demons?

1Matt. 4:1–11; Mark 1:12–13; Luke 4:1–13.
2C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (New York: HarperCollins, 2001), ix.
3Rev. 12:14.
4Isa. 14:11–23; Ezek. 28:1–19.
5Ibid., 103–4.
6John 8:42–47.
72 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:14.
8The wording in Gen. 2:9 and 3:6 is identical.
9Gen. 2:17.
10Gen. 1:26.