One inherent characteristic of an adversary is his need to remain undetected. Even an enemy who hides in plain sight does so with the intent to remain unseen. When we acknowledge our enemy, we do not merely say he exists, but point him out with neon light. The apostle Paul in writing to the calls out the enemy of the church: Satan.
Satan is a person, “the god of this world,” not a principle or force and certainly not a polar “opposite God” but a created being who rebelled against God. “Well,” someone asks, “if Satan is not a god, why is he called one here?” Go back to John 12:31 when Jesus calls Satan “the prince of this world.” Paul later echoes this in Ephesians. Notice carefully how Satan is not called “god” but “god of this age.” Satan has no attributes that make him deity, but the way the world responds to his influence is obvious. He is god-like.
Satan has a plan which is to blind the minds of unbelievers, preventing them from seeing the light of the gospel. One way he does this is by creating controversy in the church. This is one reason Paul calls him out. “But,” someone may say, “Satan does not bother me.”
- “Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.” (1 Chron. 21:1)
- “But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back [part] of the price of the land for yourself?’” (Acts 5:3)
- “What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.” (1 Cor 10:19-20)
“Ok, it’s possible, but I’m a good person.” May I ask a few more questions?
- Have you ever told a lie? “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He . . . does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own, for he is a liar and the father of it.” (Jn 8:44)
- Have you ever stolen anything? “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (Jn 10:10)
- Have you ever hated anyone? 1 Jn 3:15, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 Jn 3:15) and “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning. . .” (Jn 8:44)
Finally, Satan has a place. He is "the god of this world." He is no ruler of hell. Satan blinds the eyes of the unbelieving!
Think of it: mankind has three sets of eyes: physical eyes to see what is written in the Bible, the truth of the gospel; intellectual eyes which can discern propositional truth, know meaning; and spiritual eyes (working with the conscience) to know the significance of gospel. When eyes are closed nothing is seen. This is why Satan works to blind them.