Satan prowls around like a roaring lion, but what does that mean? Does Satan go around eating people like a lion would? In Ephesians chapter 6, Paul talks about the shield of faith protecting us from the “Flaming arrows of the evil one.” What exactly are the flaming arrows, and what does the Bible mean when it says that Satan “prowls around like a roaring lion?” It seems that these things point to his capabilities. For instance, what permission is Satan granted? What kind of power does Satan have? God alone is all-powerful, and so since He is all-powerful, He decides where and how others can be an influence and what they can manipulate.
A popular name for Satan in the Greek New Testament is, διάβολος (diabolos), which means, “One who engages in slander—‘slanderer.’” Further, “[διάβολος is] a false accuser, [a name] used for the devil. In other words, Satan is a liar; a deceiver. This fits very well with Jesus’ description of him. Look at how He describes Satan to His earthly opposition after they tell Jesus that they are children of Abraham:
“Abraham is our father,” they answered.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do the things Abraham did. As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the things your own father does.”
“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
This intense passage indicates (among other things) that Satan 1) is a liar; 2) is the father of lies; and 3) that his first language is lying. He is fundamentally the opposite of Jesus. Jesus emphasizes that He, Himself is the truth, but that there is no truth in Satan. This passage even goes back to remind the readers of the beginning, with Adam and Eve. It states that, “He was a murderer from the beginning” but how, exactly, was he a murderer? Wasn’t it through deception? Through lying? Was it he who actually carried out the task of murdering? It seems that Satan’s most fundamental characteristic is deception. Not only that, but also that he is limited in power to do only such.
For opposing arguments’ sake, consider the book of Job. Satan was asked by God what he was up to. He said that he was roaming around throughout the whole earth. (It seems like a very strong agreement with 1 Peter 5:8 above). God mentions His servant Job, that there is no one on earth like him, and so Satan challenges God. God then gives Satan a certain amount of authority. We can see that Satan then had the means to manipulate the weather (Job 1:19) among some other things, but this was only after a special permission was granted to Satan. There really is nothing like this mentioned elsewhere in the Bible, so it appears that this was a very special case with Satan receiving specific permission.
When bad things happen, it seems that we always want to blame it on Satan. But is that really the case? We never want to think that God is punishing us, because "God is love…” We forget that God is also righteous, just, and that He hates sin. But if God can bring good out of any situation (Romans 8:28), then who should we ultimately give credit to? James chapter 1 tells us to consider it a joyous occasion when we face various trials. Doesn’t that sound contrary to everything in our being? “Yay! I have a sore throat…” Yay! I’m not going to be able to pay my bills this month.” The fact is, the ancients considered many of these trials as punishment from God. Hebrews 12 is clear on this. God wants us to ultimately become like His Son (Romans 8:29). Being in the crucible will test our faith… Sometimes, it will temper our faith. This is why we are to consider it pure joy when we fall into various trials. It seems today however, that we give way too much credit to Satan. Don't get me wrong, God never tempts us, but He definitely tests our faith (James 1) but He also punishes us. After a test of faith, both we and He knows the substance of our faith.
These things should cause us to be keenly aware of the power of deception. Look not only at the deception of Adam and Eve, but consider also what deception has destroyed in your own life. I have been the victim several times because of deception. People lied to me and I got the raw end of the deal. Consider how many “sob stories” you have heard from someone asking for money. Do you think these stories find their genesis in Christ or in Satan? Not that all sad stories from those asking for money are fake, but deceit and lies absolutely echo from the halls of Hell.
|Pilot Black Snake, |
captured and released in southern Pennsylvania.
There is also a fundamental difference between sin and evil. They are not the same. “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” From this formula, we can clearly see that lying is the vehicle for sin from evil that is in our hearts.
This information should show us that Satan only has the power to lie, unless, in a special case granted by God, having further authority. Doesn’t this limit His authority in your life knowing that his power is generally limited? It seems that his name is deeply characteristic of himself, and that this is his usual method on seeking whom he may devour. Therefore, if we are alert and awake to this fact, we will be more aware to “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places…” What are those spiritual forces of evil? In what way do we wrestle with them? It seems that we wrestle against lies… which are the things that people claim are the truth.
A little later on in Ephesians chapter six, Paul mentions the “flaming arrows of the evil one.” What are those? Has anyone ever seen a flaming arrow coming at them? These are clearly figurative, because otherwise, Satan would actually use them if he could, judging from a reading of the first couple chapters in the book of Job. My hope is that Satan, having the power to deceive, is all clearly understood.The only tool in his toolbox is deception.
In Mark chapter three, the enemies of Jesus tried to accuse Him of being possessed by Satan, because they could not understand where His power and authority came from: “And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.” In other words, they were saying that by Satan, He is driving out demons. They were giving credit to Satan, much like we do today. They had assumed that Satan were able to do something other than deceive, yet they were the ones deceived. As if he had other tools in his toolbox. Rather interesting, wouldn’t you say?
This would all mean a lot of different things for us, such as that when we lie, we are being like Satan. The truth is only in Jesus. Therefore, when we tell the truth, we are becoming more like Jesus… the way, the truth and the life. It would also mean that Satan generally has limited power, and it seems that it would bring clarity on how he operates. If Satan can only lie, then it would make sense of the flaming arrows and the prowling lion. Also this helps us understand the power of deception, and also the emphasis in the Bible of Jesus being the truth, and that only truth comes from Him.
Now it seems that this leaves us with one final question… Am I being deceived about Satan’s power?
Written by Nace Howell through the grace of the Lord Jesus
 Louw, Johannes P., and Eugene Albert Nida. Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains 1996 : 433. Print.
 Zodhiates, Spiros. The complete word study dictionary: New Testament 2000 : n. pag. Print.
 The Holy Bible: New International Version. John 8:39-47. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984. Print. Emphasis mine.
 The Holy Bible: New International Version. James 1:14-15.. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Ephesians 6:11-12. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016. Print. Emphasis mine.
 The Holy Bible: New International Version. Mark 3:22. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984. Print.