When you think of Satan, what do you visualize? Do you see an image of a sinister, demonic-looking man with horns and a tail? Do you see a cartoon guy in a red suit with a pitchfork? The Bible refers to Satan by name more than 50 times and uses other descriptions such as “the enemy” or “the prince of this world,” or “the devil.” Is this opposing spirit adversary Satan real or an ancient construction of superstitious people?
The Old Testament Hebrew word and the New Testament Greek word translated “satan” literally mean “accuser,” “adversary,” or “opposing spirit.” In 1 Chronicles 21:1, Zechariah 3:1-2 and Job chapters 1 and 2 present Satan as appearing before God along with the angels as an accuser. The New Testament tells us that Satan entered into Judas as he betrayed Jesus (Luke 22:3). Christ even called Peter “Satan” when he opposed God’s plan (Luke 8:33). The Bible does not portray Satan as taking on a human form in the physical realm, but it does show the opposing spirit assuming a symbolic form as a serpent creature (Genesis 3:1). So we have an opposing spirit adversary in the spiritual realm.
There are two realms of existence–the physical and the spiritual. The physical realm that you and I live in is time-dependent. Our senses of sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing enable us to comprehend the physical. The spiritual existence is time-independent, and we perceive that realm in other ways, but not through our senses.
The Bible tells us that beings exist in the spiritual realm. Ephesians 3:8-10 describes this for us: “God gave me the work of telling all people about the plan for his secret truth that has been hidden in Him since the beginning of time. He is the one who created everything, His purpose was that all the rulers and powers in heavenly places will now know many different ways He shows His wisdom. They will know this because of the Church.”
Ephesians 6:11-12 repeats this reference to the spiritual realm. “Wear God’s armor so that you can fight against the devil’s clever tricks. Our fight is not against people on Earth. We are fighting against the rulers and authorities of this world’s darkness. We are fighting against spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly places.”
As science probes more deeply into the origin of mass and electric charge, something becomes increasingly apparent. The physical realm’s source is from a dimension higher than the three-dimensional world we experience. String theory, for example, proposes 11 spatial dimensions in its mathematical analysis. We directly sense only three dimensions plus time, but the spiritual realm exists outside of the spatial dimensions that make up the physical world.
Most people don’t believe that when we die there is no further existence of any kind. We sense that there is something more. Revelation 21:3-5 tells us that when our physical life ends, we will be in a time-independent realm. For those who are in Christ “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain so the old order of things is passed away.”
According to Revelation 20:10 the opposing spirit will be done away., but it is very active in today’s world. We will continue with more on that tomorrow.
In the spiritual world, there is an opposing spirit adversary, Satan who is very active in our physical world today. Tomorrow we will look at the ways Satan works.
–John N. Clayton and Roland Earnst © 2018