THE CHARACTERISTICS OF SATAN
What are the characteristics, or attributes of Satan? That is the question that I will attempt to answer in the following pages. You may ask why I would want to do an extensive study on Satan’s attributes. You might think, wouldn’t you rather study something a bit more bright and cheerful instead of this wicked being? To these questions, and all like them, I would say that while I would very much prefer to study something a little more positive in nature, it is absolutely necessary for the believer in Christ to have a proper understanding of his adversary, the devil.
Without knowing the attributes of your enemy, how will you defend against him? You can not just ignore him as though he were not real, for he is definitely real, every bit as real as our Lord Himself. The Bible has much to say about Satan, his attributes, and how to guard yourself against him and his ways. It is our responsibility as believers to heed God’s warnings and take scripture seriously.
Therefore, I ask you to read the pages below and learn about our adversary, the devil, in the pages below. Get to know his ways and nature so that you can recognize his attacks on you as a believer. I hope that this opens your eyes to the invisible war that you enemy has waged on you.
Who is Satan?
The first question that I would like to address is: Is Satan a person, spirit, angel, or deity? The next four pages will provide facts about Satan to help you understand just who he is. I will provide you with many scripture references that will prove Satan’s existence and teach you of his attributes and characteristics. After reading these pages you should have a good understanding of what the Bible teaches about the character of Satan.
Satan is a fallen angel. Prior to his fall, Satan was known as Lucifer. The name Lucifer means “star of the morning” and “shining one”. Lucifer was God’s chief cherub angel. A cherub angel is God’s highest ranking angel. There are only three cherub angels named in the entire Bible: Gabriel, Michael, and Lucifer. Cherub angels hold the responsibility to protect the holiness of God. They possess indescribable beauty and power beyond anything the human mind can conceive.1 In Ezekiel 28:12-14, Lucifer is described as being full of wisdom, perfect in beauty, full of talent, and near to God.
Unfortunately, this highest ranking angel of God fell. He sinned against God and was therefore cast out of the presence of the Lord for eternity.
Satan is a person. As stated above, Satan is a fallen angel. Angel’s possess personality, intelligence, will, and emotion. Satan has all of the properties of personality, he has the ability to plan (2 Corinthians 11:3), communicate (Matthew 4:1-11, Genesis 3:1-6), and make choices (Matthew 4:8-9).2 He is held accountable for all of his actions by God.
Satan has twenty two names in the Bible. His names are:
1. Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12). This is Satan’s name prior to his fall, it means “star of the morning” and “shining one”.
2. Satan (Mark 4:15). This name simply means adversary. An adversary is an opponent, rival, or enemy.3
3. The devil (Matthew 4:1-11). This name means slanderer. A slanderer is someone who makes a false, malicious statement, especially one which is injurious to one’s reputation.4
4. The prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). This refers to Satan as he dominates his worldly human subjects.5
5. The god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4). This is simply a reference to Satan, revealing his rule over the present darkness of this world.
6. The king of death (Hebrews 2:14). This means that Satan has the power of death.
7. The prince of this world (John 12:31). This means that Satan is the ruler of this world.
8. The ruler of darkness (Ephesians 6:12). This name reveals Satan’s rule, authority, and cosmic power over the present darkness of this world.6
9. Leviathan (Isaiah 27:1). This name is a description of a powerful dragon-like creature.7
10. The dragon (Revelation 12:7). This is another name used for Satan, the accuser.
11. The deceiver (Revelation 20:10). This name reveals Satan as one who lies to trick or mislead.
12. Apollyon (Revelation 9:11). This name means a destroyer. A destroyer is someone who causes damage beyond use or repair.8
13. Beelzebub (Matthew 12:24). This name for Satan means “the lord of flies,” or “the lord of dung,” or “the dung god.”
14. Belial (2 Corinthians 6:15). This name is the personification of all that is evil.
15. The wicked one (Matthew 13:38). This name reveals that Satan is evil or mischievous by nature.
16. The tempter (1Thessalonians 3:5). This name reveals that Satan does provoke to cause people to do wrong.
17. The accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). This means Satan charges or places blame or fault on a follower of Christ.
18. An angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). This name reveals Satan as a deceiver.
19. A liar (John 8:44, Genesis 3:4-5). This name reveals that Satan intentionally gives false information.
20. A murderer (John 8:44). This name reveals that Satan deliberately kills.
21. The enemy (Matthew 13:39). This name reveals that Satan is hostile towards, feels hatred towards, opposes the interests of, and intends to hurt God Himself.
22. A roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8). This name describes Satan’s destructive threat.9
Satan is a spirit. Again, Satan is a fallen angel and angels are spirits. A spirit is an immaterial being.10 Like all other angels, Satan is very limited spatially; he can only be at one place at a time. He is not omnipresent like God. You can see this truth in Daniel 9 and 10 where the Bible gives evidence to support that angels must travel from one place to another.
Like angels, it is possible for Satan to materialize in human form. 11You can see one example of angels entering men in Genesis 19:1, where two angels went into Sodom to save Abraham’s nephew, Lot. In addition to this example of angels entering men, there are many examples throughout scripture of fallen angels entering men.
Satan will never die, he is immortal. This is another characteristic of angels that Satan possesses. 12 Therefore there is nothing that you as a believer can do to destroy him. God created him as an immortal being.
What are Satan’s Characteristics?
Satan is an accuser. The Bible is clear that Satan is an accuser. Revelation 12:10 says, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. Satan absolutely loves accusing God’s children of sin. Before the throne of God, Satan tells of our sin. He tells of his reign in the hearts of all sinners and tells of his rightful claim to the souls of all who have sinned against God.13
Satan is a deceiver. He will do anything in his power to blind the mind of the unbeliever so that they do not believe the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4). This includes changing the gospel so that people who think they are believers such as, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormon’s, are really deceived and blind to the real truth. Often times a false belief is more damaging than no belief at all. Along with deception, the Devil will come and take away the Word so that people who have heard it do not believe. Only the power of God can remove the blinders put on by Satan, allowing one to believe.
Satan is an imitator. He has always wanted to be worshipped just as God is, thus he strives to imitate his Creator. In 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 you can read that Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. He is a deceiver who masks himself as a messenger of God.14 He is not likely to reveal his true self to anyone.
Ponder this, if Satan displayed himself by openly showing his true character than it would be obvious for all to stay away. Instead he makes himself look as though he portrays good attributes in order to lure you in, therefore, he imitates both God and the church. I believe that this is why you see so many heretical religious groups, because Satan has imitated God and led the religious group into the worship and following of a made up God. Thus they are in the hands of Satan and not God.
Satan is a liar. The Bible tells us that Satan is the father of lies and a liar by character (John 8:44). Therefore, he is never trust worthy or believable. To believe anything that comes from him is reckless and irresponsible.
Satan has lied since the beginning when he instructed Eve to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, telling her that she surely would not die. Satan told Eve this, knowing very well the consequences of eating from the tree. Therefore, he lied to her as well as he lied about God by insinuating that God had lied to her.
Satan is a murderer. Since the very beginning he has had this attribute according to John 8. For in Genesis chapter two, the Lord told Adam and Eve that they should not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and that the consequence for eating from that tree would be death. In Genesis chapter three, Satan told Eve that surely she would not die if she ate from the tree. Here, Satan not only lied to Eve to get her to disobey God, but also attempted to murder her by knowing the consequence while yet trying to convince her to eat of the tree.
Satan is an oppressor. 1 Peter 5:8 says that he is “like a roaring lion walking about, seeking who he may devour.” It is Satan’s goal to hunt down the believer and pin him down in sin. After becoming a child of God, Satan becomes your adversary. He takes your faith in God as a personal act of opposition toward him and therefore takes it upon himself to hunt you down and trap you in sin, as a form of warfare. Although he knows that the believer’s salvation can not be lost, he find’s some satisfaction in tormenting the saint for their allegiance to the Lord.
Satan is a perverter. To pervert, is to distort or change something from its original or intended use. Satan distorts what has been given by God to man for his blessing and benefit.15 There is no blessing from God that Satan does not distort. Many times Satan distorts the truth of God’s word so that man has a misunderstanding of some important attributes of God or His glorious gospel. This is one of Satan’s top goals. He hopes that he can lead someone astray rather than them submitting to the authority of the most high God.
Satan is a sinner. He is so involved in sin that he habitually sins. He is nothing less than addicted to sin. Sin is in his very nature. He is also the very foundation of sin. Therefore, the Bible tells us that Christ came into this world, not just to destroy sin, but also to destroy Satan, himself.16
Satan is a tempter. He tempted Christ Himself in the wilderness as recorded in the book of Matthew chapter 4, so be sure that he will try to tempt you. One of Satan’s goals is to tempt the believer, to pull him or her away from God, causing the Christian to commit idolatry by holding some other person or thing higher than God himself. This attribute of Satan causes many to sin in this current age.
How do we protect ourselves from our adversary?
Put on the whole armor of God. This armor consists of the belt (meaning truth), breastplate (meaning righteousness), shoes (meaning the readiness given by the gospel of peace), shield (meaning faith), helmet (meaning salvation), and the sword (meaning the word of God). These are all metaphors for the spiritual resources that we have been given by god. The Bible tells us that if we use these resources by putting on this armor we may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil (Ephesians 6:11).
In addition to this armor of God, we are told to be in constant prayer and to be alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and to boldly proclaim the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Ephesians 6:18-19).
Now that I have presented you with sufficient evidence to support, not only that Satan exists, but also that he is to be taken very seriously, I hope that you take heed. He is powerful and anxious to destroy. God has warned us of him and his ways in scripture and provided us with instructions to defeat Satan’s attacks. So will you abide by God’s word? Will you make an attempt to familiarize yourself with the character of the devil so that you will not be caught off guard by his attacks? Please put on the whole armor of God and stand firm in the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, for it is He who will be victorious and Satan who will be cast forever into the lake of fire. Praise be to God!
Challies, Tim. The Accuser’s Demand. Tim Challies, 2002-2010. http://www.challies.com/personal-reflections/the-accusers-demand
Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994.
Ingram, Chip. The Invisible War. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2006.
Lewis, C.S. The Screwtape Letters. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, restored 1996.
MacArthur, Jr. John F.. God, Satan, and Angels. Panorama City, CA: Word of Grace Communications, 1989
Pentecost, J.D. Your Adversary the Devil. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1969.
Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. Basic Theology. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 1986, 1999.
Willmington, H.L. The Complete Book of Bible Lists. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 1987.
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1 MacArthur, Jr., John F., God, Satan, and Angels. (Panorama City, Word of Grace Communications, 1989), 67-124
2 MacArthur, Jr., John F., God, Satan, and Angels. (Panorama City, Word of Grace Communications, 1989), 67-124
3This reference can be found at http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/adversary
4This reference can be found at http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/slander
5This reference can be found at http://www.esvstudybible.org/search?q=Ephesians+2%3A2
6 This reference can be found at http://www.esvstudybible.org/search?q=ephesians+6%3A12
7 This reference can be found at http://www.esvstudybible.org/search?q=isaiah+27
8 This reference can be found at http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/destroy
9 This reference can be found at http://www.esvstudybible.org/search?q=1+pet+5%3A8
10 MacArthur, Jr., John F., God, Satan, and Angels. (Panorama City, Word of Grace Communications, 1989), 67-124
11 MacArthur, Jr., John F., God, Satan, and Angels. (Panorama City, Word of Grace Communications, 1989), 67-124
12 MacArthur, Jr., John F., God, Satan, and Angels. (Panorama City, Word of Grace Communications, 1989), 67-124
13This reference can be found at http://www.challies.com/personal-reflections/the-accusers-demand
14 MacArthur, Jr., John F., God, Satan, and Angels. (Panorama City, Word of Grace Communications, 1989), 67-124
15 Pentecost, J.D., Your Adversary the Devil. (Grand Rapids, Lamplighter Books, 1969), 56-65
16 MacArthur, Jr., John F., God, Satan, and Angels. (Panorama City, Word of Grace Communications, 1989), 67-124