Archive | Angels and Demons

Questions About Satan

satan

What is his real name?

We don’t really know of any formal name. He is called many informal names, which are derived from his character (Satan, “the evil one,” the devil, etc.). Some believe his name is “Lucifer.” This name is unfortunate. It comes from the Latin translation of “morning star” found in Isaiah 14:12-15. Some believe this passage describes the fall of Satan; however, this is hotly debated, as the context does not really suggest as much. The association seems to have been popularized in the intertestamental period through the books of Enoch. Unfortunately, the King James Version, following this popularization, actually uses the term “Lucifer” in Isaiah 14:12-15. Most modern translations have corrected that. So we don’t really know any formal name for Satan.

Can he read minds?

There is no reason to believe that Satan has the power to read minds. He is not omniscient (he does not know everything). While his power is greater than ours (relatively speaking), his power is very limited.

Where is he?

We don’t know. I imagine that he has never been in your room, seen your house, or taken a ride with you in your car. He probably does not even know your name. Remember, he is not omnipresent (everywhere) or transcendent (above time and space). Being a created being existing in our universe, he is spatially limited just like us. Therefore, he is only in one place at time. I don’t know how fast he travels or his mode of transporation. I don’t know if he walks, runs, flies, or hitches a ride on a car. I just know that he is not everywhere.

Where does he live? Continue Reading →

My Experience with a Prophetic Vision Today or “How to Test Prophecy”

I just left the house of a wonderful Christian family who is experiencing some very odd stuff at their house. I would not necessarily call this “paranormal” and I don’t know if I am comfortable calling it “demonic.” They don’t know what to do with it either. There are too many details for me to share, but most of the “activity” centers around a nine-year-old boy. If I were to summarize this in modern evangelical or charismatic language and use assumptions from the same, I would say that this family is being harassed by a demon. If I were to put it in modern American language, I would say this house has a “spiritual entity” or a ghost. If I were to put it in modern liberal language, I would say that some people in this family need to be on medication. But these are all dangerous places to start.

Let me say first of all that the family does not read this blog. Regardless, I am going to keep most details somewhat obscure so as to create some opportunity for discussion without risking their privacy. Second, let me say this: I don’t know what is going on. There is some odd stuff such as shadows appearing out of the wall, footsteps when no one is home, angels appearing in times of trouble, and little men with black painted faces running into and through people (which is, believe it or not, a very common testimony). However, considering my recent blog post about my dream and the subject of prophecy, I do want to talk about a couple of specific things somewhat unrelated to the “entity” about which I was called. I want to talk about some of the prophetic things involved with this family.

Here is essentially what I believe about prophecy. A prophecy is the act of speaking on behalf of God. So far so good? Prophecy is not a prediction about the future. It is simply a claim to transcendent knowledge that could not be acquired by any means other than a connection to God. Any time someone claims to have a prophecy (whether encouraging or discouraging, through direct contact or through dreams, whether it is someone else or myself) I require two things:

1. Mark of Transcendence: Is it absolutely evident that this “prophecy” came from God?

In other words, does the person claiming to speak on behalf of God bring a sign or wonder with him? Does he or she do something that is miraculous? This could be raising the dead, parting the sea, or healing the blind. It could even be embedded in the prophecy itself. Though we have to be careful with this, due to the reality of obscurity, does the person predict something that comes true or does he or she know things about me that would require transcendent knowledge? Of course I have seen so much obscurity here that we have to be careful. To put this another way, telling me, “You are going through financial difficulty!” does not qualify, as with our country’s current economy, the “prophet” has a pretty good chance of getting this right! Neither does, “God wants you to take that new job,” or, “God knows your depression and he loves you.” These are not precise enough. It has to be something really specific. . . Think the David and Uriah situation here. And it cannot be a predictive prophecy like, “It is going to rain tomorrow.” Neither can it be, “In five years, you are going to have a child.” There is no reason for you to hang your hat on hope which cannot be verified for a long period of time. This is not God’s M.O. If there is going to be a far-in-the-future predictive prophecy, there will be a near predictive prophecy which will establish the testimony of the far one (Isaiah 9 is an awesome example). Continue Reading →

Combatting Militancy in Spiritual Warfare

(Lisa Robinson)

It doesn’t take long for a Christian to realize that accepting Christ enlists them in a struggle.  We learn very quickly that God has an enemy, Satan.  He can’t really do anything about God’s plans since what God had purposed he will bring about (Ephesians 1:11).  But there is the case for him to frustrate God’s people.

One passage that clearly identifies this is Ephesians 6:11-12:

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

As Christians, we must rightfully understand that there are forces at work against us, that there is a spiritual warfare occurring.  In fact, I am observing an increased focus in Christian messaging on spiritual warfare.  However, I am concerned that spiritual warfare has been amplified in both content and practice to the extent of producing an unwarranted militancy.  What has been construed as a wrestle beyond flesh and blood has translated into a war-like posture that makes us take a proactive charge against Satan, and sometimes in a physically hostile way.  It peppers our language and produces prescriptions of seizing authority over Satan and his demons.  We take certain passages of scripture as charging the Christian to fight the devil.

I contend that what has developed into a war-like motif of taking aggression against demonic activity is a misplaced emphasis on how struggles against us are overcome.  There are other passages that get overlooked in this aggressive posture and these passages indicate that we have no cause to fight the devil.  Moreover, nowhere in scripture is the Christian charged to fight the devil. Continue Reading →

What is Satan’s Goal?

One of the most perplexing questions I struggle with concerning Satan is this:

Wait . . . first let me get something out on the table. I believe in Satan. No, not as an impersonal force of evil. No, not as the sin which exists within all of us. And certainly not as God’s equal on the ying/yang opposite side of good. I believe Satan is an intelligent creature who seeks to upset God’s plan at every turn. I believe Satan was created good and turned bad. I believe he is on a leash – often to my bewilderment, a very long leash.

Okay, now that that is out of the way. . .

One of the most perplexing things I struggle with concerning Satan is this: Does he actually think he can win?

I don’t know. Maybe he is so deluded he thinks the impossible to be possible (ala Origen’s view). Certainly he does not have insider intel that pushes his odds of success up a bit. His odds of success are perpetually set at 0. His odds of success, relatively speaking, are about the same as mine would be should I attempt a coup to make all of God’s plans backfire. However, God does give him freedom and uses him in ways that are very strange to me.

I mean, he has read Revelation, hasn’t he? You know the end? The fire and brimstone stuff? (Rev. 20:10) Even (at least some of) the demons seem to recognize their eventual defeat (Luke 8:31). Therefore, I don’t suppose he thinks he is going to win, though I am not totally dismmissive of the idea that his mind is so messed up that he may have hope.

But knowing that Satan cannot really win, I ask a second question: What is his goal?

Come on. Isn’t he a Calvinist? Doesn’t he know he cannot thwart the purpose of God?

I am not sure we can speak of his goal in the singular unless we go very general and say that his goal is just to dethrone God. But that can be understood in many ways. Certainly he is not attempting to take his place as Creator God, for Satan, like us, cannot create anything! Certainly he is not trying to take God’s place as the Unmoved Mover, for Satan is time-bound and … well … moving.

It seems this simple: like us, Satan is infected with sin and acts irrationally, desiring to elevate himself to be the center of the universe. How does he do this? By attempting to silence the worship of God.

With people, I am sure we might say that he simply wants to keep us from believing in God. I think this is illustrated well with the Parable of the Soils, where the first soil falls on the path and Satan immediately takes it, so that no belief is ever birthed (Matt. 13:19). He does not want people to believe God. That is what he does with you and me. He seeks to steal our belief in whatever way he can.

With Christians, however, I don’t believe this is possible. Nothing can snatch us out of the Father’s hand (John 10:29). Surely he knows this. However, I don’t think he has a clue as to who the true believers are and who are representatives of the second and third seed in the Parable of the Soils. You know, the seeds that gain root, but don’t last? He does not know whether your belief is from God, or if it is something that can wither and die.

Either way, his goal is simple: the destruction of belief in God. Continue Reading →

Questions I Hope No One Will Ask: Why Did God Put Satan in Eden?

“I’m trying to whip the devil; I’m trying to get sanctified.” -Johnny Cash

I was reading a book a couple of days ago that mentioned Satan in passing. It called him God’s “archenemy.” I thought that this was an interesting label to put on Satan. We all know about archenemies. They are the greatest enemy that someone faces. Superman’s archenemy is Lex Luther. Batman’s archenemy is the Joker. Green Lantern’s archenemy is Senestro (you all will soon know this since the movie is coming this summer). In each of these cases, the enemy represents the polar opposite of the hero. He is the bad guy. He is the archenemy because he represents the greatest threat the hero faces. This is either because the enemy’s power matches that of the hero or because his level of evil matches the level of goodness of the hero.

With regard to the God vs. Satan setup here, for reasons I hope to explain, I am not really comfortable calling Satan God’s archenemy, though he is definitely an enemy of God. While we don’t know that much about him (or angels and demons in general for that matter), he is presented in Scripture as a very powerful being that, simply put, does not want God to suceed. He is hell bent (pardon the pun) on wreaking havoc on the earth and causing God’s people to fail. I don’t know what his ultimate goal is (or if he even has one) or whether he really thinks he can “win” (whatever game he is playing), but I do know that he is introduced to us very early in the Scripture and is found late in the game as well. Out of the infinite things that are going on in God’s creation, out of the vast amount of information that God could have given us about so many other things, one thing is certain, God wants us to be aware of this particular creature.

While there is a lot we don’t know about him, here are some basics of Christian “satanology”:

  • Satan is a creation of God who was originally good (1 Tim. 4:4).
  • Satan desires to take the place of God (Matt. 4:8-10).
  • Satan knows who Christ is (Mark 3:11).
  • Satan is one from whom we need God’s protection (Matt. 6:13).
  • Satan makes accusations against people to God (Rev. 12:10).
  • Satan seeks to “devour” people (1 Pet. 5:8). 
  • Though I don’t know when Satan inherited the “throne”, there is some sense in which he is the ruler of this world (Jn. 14:30; John 16:11; 2 Cor 4:4; Eph. 2:2; 1; Jn 5:19).

While there is more we could expand on here, the question of the hour is this: If Satan is so evil and “anti-God” why did God put Satan in the Garden of  Eden? While there is no way to know what would have happened had he not been present, it is evident from the narrative and the ensuing curse that Satan played a big part in the fall.

Gen 3:1-6
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden ‘?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.'” 4 And the serpent said to the woman, “You surely shall not die! 5 “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

Gen 3:14-15
14 And the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly shall you go, And dust shall you eat All the days of your life; 15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

Wrong Answers:

Wrong answer #1: It was not Satan in Eden.

It is popular among many biblical interpreters these days to be agnostic with regard to the identity of the snake in Eden. While I admire there faithfulness to the text of Genesis—which does not tell us the identity of the snake—we can be fairly certain that it was Satan (regardless of whether we take this as a literal account or not). When answering such questions, it is important that we look to the whole of the Scripture and employ a canonical understanding often called the “analogy of Scripture” (i.e. the Scripture interprets the Scripture). Testimony from the book of Revelation identifies the snake as Satan: Continue Reading →