FAITH: Satan — a biography

Jason Momoa — that’s who I’d pick to play Satan if I were a casting director.  

Someone with a powerful presence who is smooth talking and devastatingly handsome would be needed to accurately portray him.  

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Popular culture over the centuries has given the impression that Satan is evil-looking, with terrifying fiendish features.  

That’s not the image that the Bible conveys at all.  

In scripture, Satan is also called Lucifer, which means “the shining one.”

One of the passages in the book of Ezekiel describes the king of Tyre, but most Bible interpreters believe it to be a metaphor for the fall of Satan from heaven.

God, speaking through the prophet Ezekiel says, “You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty…you were anointed as a guardian cherub…you were blameless in your ways until wickedness was found in you…your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor, so I threw you to earth…”.

The passage suggests that Satan was assigned as a guardian angel in Eden, but his overweening pride and ambition led him to wage war against the archangel Michael and the other angels loyal to God.

The fall of Satan is found in both the Old and the New Testaments. In the book of Isaiah, we read: “How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn [Lucifer]. You have been cast down to the earth.”  

In Luke, Jesus says, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven…” 

And in the book of Revelation, John writes, “And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon [Satan], and the dragon and his angels fought back. 

“But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down, the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to earth, and his angels with him.”

The name “Satan” means “accuser” in Hebrew. 

The passage in Revelation goes on to say, “the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down…”. 

Accusing believers of their sin, of their unworthiness to belong to the kingdom of God, is one of the main functions of Satan.This is why the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ is so essential to Christian belief. Satan is right — we are unworthy of salvation, of a place in paradise because of our sins. 

But the blood of the Lamb of God is what makes us acceptable to the Holy One. Satan plays a large role in the story of Job. God praises Job as an upright and incorruptible man. Satan argues that he is only this way because he is blessed with good health, many children and huge wealth, and he would surely curse God if all of that were taken from him. So God allows Satan to inflict a painful illness, and the total loss of all his children and huge flocks. Yet Job never wavers in his faithfulness.

The story of Job tells us that Satan is a powerful adversary and capable of inflicting great disaster, with power over even the elements (Job’s children all died when a tornado collapsed their house on top of them). Satan is called the “prince of this world” and the “ruler of the kingdom of the air.” Even the archangel Gabriel has difficulty contending with the power of Satan.  

In the book of Daniel, the angel, usually identified as Gabriel, tells Daniel that he was unable to respond to his prayers for help for 21 days, because “the prince of Persia resisted me.” He had to seek the help of the archangel Michael to overcome him.  

Many Bible interpreters understand “prince of Persia” to mean Satan acting in a position of power, perhaps through demonic possession, in that country.

Satan also plays a role in the temptation of Jesus. He offers him control over all the kingdoms of the earth if he will only worship him. Jesus refuses. But this passage implies that Satan has the ability to grant such powers. Or it could just be another deception, because Satan is known as “the father of lies.” Jesus says of him, “When he lies, he speaks his native language.”

Christians believe that Satan is real, and is the author of much of the misery and evil found in the world today. The persecution and murder of Christians throughout history have his fingerprints all over it. But if we resist Satan’s siren calls to temptation and call on God to help us, he will flee from us.  

Satan must never, ever be underestimated though. 


KTW welcomes submissions to its Faith page. Columns should be between 600 and 800 words in length and can be emailed to include a very short bio and a photo.

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