Part four of a series. Read part three.
Satan's names in Scripture teach us that he is the adversary, the slanderer, malignancy personified. Jesus said that when Satan speaks his lies, he speaks his native language.
In our last article, we noted that Satan's names reveal five categories of information about him. We examined, first of all, what Scripture says about the origin of Lucifer, the light-bearer, and his prideful rebellion and fall. Today we turn to the second category of Biblical data revealed through Satan's names - his essential nature.
Scripture uses the name Satan fifty-five times to describe the one who is the very embodiment of evil. Both the Hebrew name Satan and the Greek equivalent Satanus mean "adversary". The name speaks of the fact that he is a person, and not a mere evil influence. The personal name Satan describes the essential nature of the one who stands in opposition to God, His holy angels, and His redeemed saints.
It was Satan, the adversary, who moved David to number Israel, against the will of God (1 Chronicles 21:1). It was Satan who came before God as the adversary of Job (chapters 1-2). It was Satan who stood in opposition to Joshua the high priest (Zechariah 3:1-2). It was Satan who came as the adversary of Christ during His forty days in the wilderness (Matthew 4, Mark 1, Luke 4).
It was Satan who had caused a woman whom Jesus healed, to have been under bondage as a cripple for eighteen years (Luke 13:10-17). It was Satan who entered Judas and moved him to betray Christ (John 13:27).
It was Satan, the adversary, who desired to be given power over the disciples as a group, and Peter specifically, that he might "sift you as wheat" - the significance of that phrase being to violently shake their faith to the point of overthrow, apart from the intercession of Christ (Luke 22:31-32).
It was Satan who caused Ananias and Sapphira to lie to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3). It was Satan who hindered Paul from coming to Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2:18). It is Satan, the adversary, who deceives by transforming himself into an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).
The Devil and The Liar
Satan is spoken of as "the devil" thirty-four times in the New Testament. The Greek word is diabolos, meaning the false accuser or slanderer. Again, it is a personal term indicating his essential nature. He is what he does.
In John 8:44, Jesus said that the devil "does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources [literally, he speaks his native language], for he is a liar and the father of it."
Christ sows the good seed in the world, those who are the children of the kingdom; but the devil sows the tares among them, who are his children (Matthew 13:37-43), who by their actions and conduct facilitate the slandering of the true saints.
It is the devil, the false accuser, who comes and takes the preached Word out of the hearts of some, lest they should believe and be saved (Luke 4:11-12).
The believer is to conduct himself in such a way that he does not "give place" - literally, yield any space or territory - to the devil. That is, we are to conduct ourselves in such a manner of holiness that we do not to give him any ground even for a slanderous accusation against us (Ephesians 4:27). Our justified standing in Christ preserves us from the devil's slanders. "Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies" (Romans 8:33).
Christians are to put on the whole armor of God, in order that we may be able to stand against the "wiles" - the deceit and trickery - of the devil, the slanderer (Ephesians 6:11). Peter exhorts believers, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen" (1 Peter 5:8-11).
The Evil One
The New Testament also speaks of Satan as "the evil one" - tou ponerou, the morally malignant one. Once again, the noun preceded by the definite article indicates personality, not a mere force or influence. And once again, it speaks of his essential nature.
Jesus commanded that our speech should be in marked contrast to that of the one who is a liar and the father of lies: "But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No.' For whatever is more than these is from the evil one" (Matthew 5:37). In Jesus' model prayer, the phrase "deliver us from evil" is more accurately translated, "deliver us from the evil one" (Matthew 6:13, Luke 11:4).
Jesus prayed for believers thus: "I have given them Your Word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your Word is truth" (John 17:14-17).
And thus Paul says to believers, "But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one" (2 Thessalonians 3:3).
Next: Names of Satan That Speak of Him as the Destroyer