If we are not careful, it is easy to be duped into adopting the world’s caricature of Satan — he is a mischievous cartoonish red character with a pitchfork, horns, and a spiked tail who desires us to do wrong, but probably shouldn’t be considered as wholly evil. He is someone to be laughed at and even enjoyed for his perceived silliness rather than feared and avoided.
Yet the Biblical picture of Satan is far different. There are indicators throughout Scripture of the depth of his evil and the heinousness of his sin and his hatred of God and God’s people. And perhaps the most extensive and varied description of Satan is provided by the description of his actions during the Tribulation, in Revelation 12. In that passage we learn much about Satan and his followers.
- One-third of the angels in heaven fell with Satan in his rebellion against God (v. 4).
- The demonic angels are powerful and will battle against the heavenly angels while the Tribulation rages on earth (v. 7). This verse likewise hints at some form of governmental structure among both the elect and evil angels.
- Those who fell with Satan will continue to support the work of Satan until their ultimate destruction (v. 7). They will continue to battle against the Lord. There is no redemption for fallen angels.
- Satan has a unique and powerful intellect that he uses to deceive the entire world (v. 9). He is crafty in his dealings with men and completely untrustworthy.
- Satan has immense power that he uses to destroy people (v. 12); yet for all his power, he and his angels are subservient to the power of God and His angels (v. 8).
- Satan has emotions and is particularly controlled by his hatred of God and God’s people Israel (vv. 4, 13, 15) and all believers in Christ (v. 17).
- As he did with Job, Satan goes into and out of the presence of God to accuse God’s people of sin (v. 10). This is his ongoing task — night and day — though one day in the midst of Tribulation, his access to God for these accusations will be permanently ended (vv. 10, 13).
- For all the attacks of Satan against God’s angelic creatures and redeemed people, he is not and will not be victorious. However strong he is, the strength of God infinitely surpasses his strength (vv. 5-6, 8-11, 14, 16).
This is our enemy. He is evil, wicked, crafty, and strong. We minimize these attributes to our own peril. Yet he is also a defeated foe and his end is sure. Be wary of his deceptive enticements. And be secure in God’s victory over him.