Satan’s Importance to Christianity
Growing up in Church we were taught about the “devil”. We create this image in our minds that it was a red-colored evil, distorted man with horns, a long tail, claws, and sharp teeth. As we grew up, we kept this same preconceived notion in our minds. We picture Satan as a man that tempts us with bad choices but this isn’t always the case. Some Churches and followers in Christ do not even recognize Satan. Henry Ansgar Kelly, in 2006, wrote an autobiography of Satan whose main objective was to challenge those who do believe in the Holy Bible, says the Bible demands belief in the existence of Satan. As a believer of Christ, understanding and learning about the significance of Satan is crucial to our faith and entire belief system. To learn about the importance of Satan to Christianity we need to go back to understand the beginning of Satan.
To begin, the origin of Satan’s life is not painted in a perfect picture in the Bible, let alone the New Testament. The character of Satan is very ambiguous even in the Old Testament. A Belief in a demonic figure being called Satan evolved over a long period of time. Every story told of Satan almost every time gives the figure a different appearance. According to Eva Marta Baillie, author of Facing the Fiend: Satan as a Literary Character, Satan comes from stories told by Jewish and Christians traditions which originally came from the ancient near Eastern combat myths.
Within the Bible, the first time we read about Satan is in the Old Testament, found in Genesis. The bible does not describe Satan as an evil being at that time but translated in Hebrew, Satan means “accuser” or “slanderer”. We find Satan mentioned with different names in the Bible as well with names of “the prince of demons”, “the prince of this world”, “the god of this world”, “the tempter”, “accuser”, “evil one”, and so many others throughout God’s word. The word itself can be used to even identify an object. In the New Testament, Satan is used to oppose, test, or punish people. The bible describes them as terrestrial and celestial representatives. It isn’t until the first book of Kings, the context of Satan used to describe who was raised again Solomon and as an attribute to David, given to him by Philistines in the second book Samuel. We can use exegesis to make it clear that the context of the word “Satan” refers to a human opponent or antagonist.
Therefore, hearing these names and different meanings, we picture God and Satan as rivals. However, according to the Doctrine of Satan: In the New Testament, “Satan is used also by God for inflicting suffering or punishment, less often in the New Testament, in a manner of reminding us of Job.” As a fellow Christian, I have never thought of Satan being used by God Himself. Matthew tells us Jesus was led by the Spirit to be tempted. Hearing the story as a Christian, I always assumed Satan was completely separate from God, always working against Him. However, when Jesus was tempted, it was part of the divine plan. If Jesus was tempted as we, Satan must have been a spiritual presence, not a bodily form. I have also never actually compared Satan and man together, as a matter of having a relationship with God. Therefore, Satan’s relation to God is very close to that of man.
On the other hand, what would happen as a Christ follower if we chose to deny the fact that Satan existed and role that “Satan” played in the New Testament? First off, the Bible itself would have to be rewritten and our beliefs would be nonexistent. The role Satan plays in the Bible and to our beliefs are crucial. Not only crucial to our belief but as human beings. The importance of Satan makes the kingdom of God become more real and the kingdom of Satan itself become so real. Quoted by Bernard Weiss, “The deeper the sense of sin is the more confidently is the supernatural power of sin, which man is deceived and dominated, ascribed to a superhuman adversary of God for sin cannot be tracked to God. The Scriptures and Jesus take this fact for granted and give it the weight of their authority.” This small quote can drastically change the idea of Satan and sin completely in our belief if we chose to interpret a certain way. Without the idea of Satan behind sin, what does man have to fear if he or she does not make it to the Kingdom of God?