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Satan's Deceptive Image

By Christine Ulmer

Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like
a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing
firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout
the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.       
(1 Peter 5:8-9)
UCLA professor author, challenges Satan's evil image; for centuries, popular culture has treated Satan as God's nemesis - an angel consumed by pride and cast out of heaven to run his own evil empire.  The author says; "Poor Satan has gotten a bad rap."  For decades, he has pleaded the devil's case, arguing that Satan is simply one of God's celestial agents with the dirty job of gauging humanity's virtue.  While that job has made Satan cynical and jaded over time, he explains; it doesn't make him the mastermind of evil.  Christian tradition has laid a lot of blame on Satan for things they're causing themselves.  The professor, a former Jesuit exorcist and now a medieval scholar at UCLA and author of three books about the devil; pessimistic about human nature feels we are totally capable of doing what we have done on our own.  "You can blame it on psychosis if you want, but you can't blame it on Satan" he says. He could not accept church teaching that Adam and Eve's sin of disobedience was instigated by the devil to stain humankind for eternity. 
TODAY, Satan still uses people to squelch God's work in the world, watering down the truth of Satan's evil schemes.  Our adversary is stepping up his persecution, becoming more intense, realizing his opportunity is coming to an end.  The battle with Satan is a difficult, ongoing struggle; we need to recognize our victory over sin only comes through Jesus Christ, not through our own efforts.
Satan was originally an angel of God, but became corrupt through his own pride.  He rebelled against God and was thrown out of heaven; Satan has been evil ever since. Disguised as a crafty serpent, Satan came to tempt Eve.  God makes it clear that Satan is a created being and thus has limitations.  Although he is trying to tempt everyone away from God, he will not be the final victory.  God promises that Satan will be crushed!  He is real and active on earth, knowing this about Satan should cause us to remain close to God, the one who is greater than Satan.
Satan is real, not symbolic or legend and is constantly working against God and those who obey him.  He has great power, but people can be delivered from his reign of spiritual darkness, because of Christ's victory on the cross.  Satan is power, but Jesus is much more, Jesus resurrection shattered Satan's power over death.  When temptations seem especially strong, or when you think they can be rationalized, consider whether Satan may be trying to block God's purpose for your life.  Satan's temptations are real and he is always trying to get us to do things his way or ours rather than God's way.
God is fully aware of every attempt by Satan to bring suffering and difficulty upon us.  While he may allow us to suffer for a reason beyond our understanding, he is never caught by surprise by our troubles and is always compassionate toward our situation.  Jesus Christ is the permanent ruler of the whole world; Satan is only the temporary ruler of those that choose to follow him!  Satan is our enemy, he'll do anything he can to get us to follow his evil, deadly path. 
Satan's overthrow is inevitable, but it will not occur until the last days, when Christ returns to judge the world.  Although God and Satan are at war; we don't need to wait until the end to see who will win.  God has already defeated Satan and when Christ returns Satan and all he stands for will be eliminated forever.  He began his evil work in mankind at the beginning and continues it today, but he will be destroyed when he is thrown into the lake of fire.  Satan's deceptive image is more than a bad rap; he remains the evil mastermind in disguise.
Copyright 2006 by Christine Ulmer


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