Thursday, December 21, 2006

Pondering Satan

I know this is a strange time to be pondering Satan, maybe, but one of the ways in which I find it most profitable to study something is by looking at its opposite. So, in a way, a study of Satan is a study of God. Of course, Satan is not God's antithesis, being a creature. But his purposes are antithetical to God's in any case.

SO the question I ask myself is: What is Satan's role? And what is Satan not? On the surface of it, Satan is:

-the Accuser. Some of his accusations against us are false, but thanks to our sin nature, many are quite true. He isn't picky-- whatever might get us in trouble, he'll try.

-the Adversary. Primarily, he is the adversary of God, but also of anything that God created, mainly humanity, who are the "Crown" of His creation.

-the Captor. I'm less sure about this one...I think I like the term 'malevolent jailer' better.

-the Enemy. This is pretty much the same as Adversary, but I put it here to highlight a different aspect, that of activity. Satan is against us, and he is a jailer, but he is a jailer who goes looking for captives. He's like a highwayman of medieval days, an entrapper. He has helpers in this work.

-the Prince of Darkness. He isn't just some lackey jailer. This creature has terrible power, and we do well to fear his abilities. He has many, many helpers of varying power, most of which are too strong for us. Satan is the Prince of demons.

So those are the main headings of my thoughts....now, what isn't Satan? He isn't:

-the Punisher of our wrongdoing. Surprisingly to some, God is, which is why we are to fear God more than Satan.

-The cause of our fall into sin. That has to be laid at our door. No, you can never say the Devil made you do it. He's got some powerful tools: He starts with your fallenness, and then adds generous dollops of foolishness, fear, and appetite, among other things....but what he can't do is force you to it. This is why we pray, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

-A captor. This is where I have to split hairs. It's not like Satan gets any kind of payment to release us. He has no right to any payment. Powerful as he is, he's a lackey of the Court, and when payment is made, he has to release us by command of the Creator to whom Satan is still subservient.

And payment was made on the Cross... but only for some of us. God chooses not to release some...some are condemned. That's one of the toughest truths of the faith, the one that tenderhearted Christians choke on. We know that some will never make it.

As the saying goes: We are saved from God, by God, for God.

Feel free to correct or comment. This is just me thinking aloud, and whole books have been written on the subject.

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