Ask any military commander, strategist, or leader and they will tell you that the better you know your enemy, the more prepared you will be for the battle. Even corporate leaders know their competition inside out. Spiritual warfare is no different — if we are to be prepared to engage against the enemy, then we need to know his methods, strategies, strengths, and weaknesses. While we don’t want to linger too long in the study of Satan and his followers, it is important to know what the Bible says about them.

Some of the names and descriptions given in the Bible to refer to Satan are quite insightful. Although he was originally created perfectly as “Lucifer” (meaning “morning star”), the most common name used in the Bible is “Satan” (meaning “adversary” or “enemy”). It occurs 18 times in the Old Testament and 34 times in the New Testament.

The name “devil” (meaning “slanderer” or “accuser”) is also commonly used in the Bible — 36 times in the New Testament. Other titles / descriptions include: murderer, father of lies, thief, tempter, the god of this age, one who masquerades as an angel of light, the great dragon, and the ancient serpent. He is compared to a roaring lion and a wolf.

Matthew 12:24 calls Satan “Beelzebub” or “the prince of demons” because the fallen angels do his bidding. Paul similarly describes Satan in Ephesians 2:2 as the “prince of the power of the air” — referring to his power in the demonic realm of spirits.

Throughout history, there have been kings and leaders who sought to do evil against God and His people. As instruments of Satan, these individuals were dealt with harshly by Almighty God. Many scholars believe that the descriptions given in Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:11-19 of two such kings apply to both the earthly king as well as Satan, the source of the evil, within the same passage.

From these verses, we learn that Lucifer was created blameless in all his ways, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. In fact, he was the seal of perfection. He was on the holy mount of God and walked among the fiery stones. In other words, he experienced the intimacy of being in God’s holy presence.

He was adorned with nine beautifully colored jewels and with gold — all nine of these jewels were also included on the description of the ephod that the Jewish priests would wear indicating that Lucifer may have held some sort of priestly function before his fall.

In addition, we’re told that he was anointed as a guardian cherub by God. Pastor and author Mark Hitchcock made the point that “Angels are divided into various classes, and the cherubim are a special class that are uniquely responsible to guard the presence and holiness of God.”

To summarize, Lucifer (the shining morning star) was made perfect and beautiful; he was given every honor and advantage; he experienced God’s holy presence in an intimate way. Yet, it wasn’t enough. He wanted to make himself “like the Most High” — which is ironic because he didn’t make himself in the first place! He was created by the Most High. He sought equality with God, although he was not equal to God in any way.

Satan’s first sin (and the cause of his subsequent downfall) was pride, and it has been one of his favorite weapons ever since. He used it in the Garden of Eden when he told Eve that eating the fruit would open her eyes, making her “like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5). Throughout history, Satan has used pride to tempt countless people into sin, and he continues to do so even today.

We must be intentional to fight against pride in our own lives by humbly considering ourselves with sober judgment, aware of our sins and thankful for the mercy and grace of God. We must recognize our weaknesses and boast about them so that Christ’s power is more evident in us, giving Him all the glory. As John the Baptist said in John 3:30, “He must become greater; I must become less.” Don’t allow pride to be a foothold for Satan to lead you into sin.

A question that commonly occurs when discussing the origins of evil is if God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and sovereign, why did He create Lucifer perfectly and then allow “wickedness to be found in him.” And the answer is… ???? I have no idea — and anyone who tells you otherwise is just taking their best guess. Scholars have struggled with the origins of evil for centuries, and the bottom line is that God’s thoughts and ways are so much greater than ours. We can trust His character and know that He has a sovereign plan that will result in His great glory. Don’t try to put God in a box.

When Satan rebelled against God, many scholars believe that he led a third of the angels into sin as well (see Revelation 12:3-4). These fallen angels became his demons and the spiritual forces of evil we read about in Ephesians 6:12.

While we don’t know how many fallen angels there are, we do know the number is finite. Angels and demons cannot replicate themselves nor can they die. The number of angels in the beginning of creation is the number of angels and fallen angels at the end of times and for all eternity. They don’t age like humans do.

We are told in Revelation 9:14-16 that four evil, fallen angels will be released to wreak havoc on the earth and kill a third of mankind through the use of “twice ten thousand times ten thousand” mounted troops — if that is a literal description, then 200 MILLION demons will carry out God’s judgment on the earth at that time — that’s a sobering thought. Regardless of the exact number, there are certainly a lot of demons under Satan’s rule.

Jesus referred to demons multiple times in the gospels, and he even had brief discussions with them on occasion. Demons are not nebulous spirits, but actual beings who can inhabit unbelievers and animals. Like Satan, demons have intelligence, emotions, and a will. According to the gospel references, the demons feared Jesus and obeyed His commands.

Also like Satan, we must remember that demons or fallen angels are not divine, not all-knowing, not all-powerful, and cannot be in multiple places at the same time. They are free to follow Satan (within the boundaries God has allowed Satan authority) while they await eternal destruction. They live with nothing to lose because they have already lost it all!

There appears to be structure and order among the demonic ranks. According to Mark Hitchcock, “Satan’s armada is highly structured. It’s like a well-organized army. Ephesians 6:12 pulls back the veil, allowing us to peer into the unseen world and into the invisible army of evil spiritual forces…They comprise what we might call the global satanic network, the spiritual mafia, the ultimate evil empire, or the cosmic potentates of this darkness. This world is in the grip of invisible cosmic rulers, an invisible world that’s just as real as the visible world around us.”

There’s an interesting glimpse into this invisible world in Daniel 10. Daniel received a vision that overwhelmed him. His face turned deathly pale and he was without strength and helpless; as he listened, he fell into a deep sleep. The messenger said that he had been dispatched immediately in response to Daniel’s prayers but that he had been delayed in the spiritual realm.

Let’s read beginning in verse 12, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.”

Wow — so much in just three verses! First of all, Daniel’s prayers were heard instantly — they were not hindered but were carried straight to the throne of God! And God responded immediately, dispatching this messenger to give Daniel courage and understanding. Yet, God also allowed this heavenly messenger to be delayed for three weeks before He dispatched Michael, the arch-angel to assist him to reach Daniel.

During those three weeks, Daniel continued to mourn, fast, and pray even though he received no answers. Just silence. Why did God allow the delay? What authority did the evil powers in the spiritual realm have that they could detain God’s messenger? How did Michael “assist” him? So many questions with little or no answers.

What we do know is that God is sovereign and will ultimately bring about His will in His perfect timing. Satan’s dominion in the spiritual realm and on this earth is limited within certain boundaries that God has determined.

We also know that Satan’s doom is certain. It is difficult to fully understand the exact details and timing of the demise of Satan and the fallen angels, but ultimately, Jesus will judge them for their wickedness. We read in Revelation 20:10, “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Satan’s days are numbered. He knows it and is seeking to kill and destroy as much as possible until then.

As believers, we should never UNDER-estimate Satan and thus be ignorant to his evil schemes; his knowledge far exceeds our own! We may be new to this battle, but he sure isn’t! He’s been perfecting his dark craft for thousands of years. That’s just one more reason why we need to rely solely on God’s power and the spiritual weapons He has given us.

On the opposite extreme, we should never OVER-estimate Satan and ascribe to him divine attributes that are not his, causing us to live in fear. Remember that Satan is not God’s equal and that Christ has already defeated this fallen angel so take heart and don’t be discouraged. In our next post, we will shift our focus to the One who is victorious over evil for ALL eternity — praise God for that! See you then!

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