“Be watchful! Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.”—1 PETER 5:8.
1. Explain how an angel became Satan.
AT ONE TIME, he had a good relationship with Jehovah. But later, this spirit creature, or angel, wanted humans to worship him. Instead of quickly rejecting this wrong desire, he allowed it to grow until he sinned. (James 1:14, 15) We do not know his original name, but we now call him Satan. He “did not stand fast in the truth.” He rebelled against Jehovah and became “the father of the lie.”—John 8:44.
2, 3. What do the words “Satan,” “Devil,” “serpent,” and “dragon” show about Jehovah’s greatest enemy?
2 Since his rebellion, Satan has been Jehovah’s greatest enemy and an enemy of all mankind. We can see how corrupt Satan really is by looking at how the Bible describes him. Satan means “Resister,” which shows that this wicked angel hates God’s rule and fights it with all his power. What Satan really wants is to see the end of Jehovah’s rule.
3 At Revelation 12:9, Satan is called Devil, which means “Slanderer.” Satan has dishonored God by calling him a liar. The words “the original serpent” remind us of how Satan used a snake to deceive Eve. The expression “the great dragon” is also a good way to describe Satan. He is fierce, he is cruel, and he is evil. He wants to stop Jehovah’s purpose from coming true and to destroy God’s people.
4. What will we discuss in this article?
4 Clearly, Satan is the greatest threat to our integrity. That is why the Bible warns us: “Keep your senses, be watchful! Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.” (1 Peter 5:8) Therefore, this article will discuss three traits of Satan that show why we need to protect ourselves from this wicked enemy of Jehovah and His people.
SATAN IS POWERFUL
5, 6. (a) Give examples showing that angels are “mighty in power.” (b) In what way does Satan have “the means to cause death”?
5 Angels are “mighty in power.” (Psalm 103:20) They have greater intelligence and strength than humans. Of course, faithful angels use their power for good. For example, one of Jehovah’s angels killed 185,000 enemy Assyrian soldiers. This would have been impossible for one human to do and difficult even for an entire army. (2 Kings 19:35) Another time, an angel used his skills and power to free Jesus’ apostles from jail. Although guards were nearby, they did not notice that the angel unlocked the doors, let the apostles out, and then locked the doors behind them!—Acts 5:18-23.
6 Faithful angels use their power for good, but Satan uses his power for evil. And Satan surely has great power and influence. The Bible refers to him as “the ruler of this world” and “the god of this system of things.” (John 12:31; 2 Corinthians 4:4) Satan even has “the means to cause death.” (Hebrews 2:14) This does not mean that he kills all people directly. So, what does it mean? First, this world is filled with Satan’s hateful and violent attitude. Second, because Eve believed Satan’s lie and Adam disobeyed God, all humans sin and die. (Romans 5:12) Satan is, as Jesus called him, “a murderer.” (John 8:44) He really is a powerful enemy.
Without Jehovah’s help, we could never win our fight against Satan
7. How have the demons shown that they are powerful?
7 When we oppose Satan, we also oppose all those who support him and who rebel against God’s rule. That includes a large group of other rebellious angels, who are called demons. (Revelation 12:3, 4) Many times they have shown that they are much stronger than humans, causing great suffering to them. (Matthew 8:28-32; Mark 5:1-5) Never forget how powerful the demons and their ruler really are. (Matthew 9:34) Without Jehovah’s help, we could never win our fight against Satan.
SATAN IS CRUEL
8. (a) What is Satan’s goal? (See opening picture.) (b) From what you have seen, how is this world cruel like Satan?
8 The apostle Peter compared Satan to “a roaring lion.” One reference book explains that the Greek word translated “roaring” means “the howl of a beast in fierce hunger.” How well that describes Satan’s cruel and wicked attitude! He already controls the whole world, yet that is not enough for him. Satan is like a lion that is hungry for more victims. (1 John 5:19) His main targets are the anointed still on earth, who are joined by the “other sheep.” (John 10:16; Revelation 12:17) Satan’s goal is to destroy Jehovah’s people. The persecution of true Christians from the first century until now proves just how cruel Satan is.
9, 10. (a) How did Satan attack the nation of Israel? (Give examples.) (b) Why did Satan have special reason to target ancient Israel? (c) How do you think the Devil feels when one of Jehovah’s servants commits a serious sin today?
9 Satan has shown his cruelty in another way. A starving lion does not feel sorry for its prey. It does not feel any compassion before the kill, and it does not feel guilty after the kill. In a similar way, Satan does not feel any compassion for those whom he attacks. For example, how do you think Satan felt each time he saw the Israelites give in to sins such as sexual immorality and greed? Can you picture Satan enjoying his victory as he saw the tragic results of Zimri’s immorality and Gehazi’s greed?—Numbers 25:6-8, 14, 15; 2 Kings 5:20-27.
10 Satan had special reason to target ancient Israel. Remember that the Messiah would come from that nation, and he would be the one to crush Satan and prove that Jehovah has the right to rule. (Genesis 3:15) Satan did not want the Israelites to have God’s approval, so he did everything he could to corrupt them with sin. Do not imagine that Satan felt sorry for David when he committed adultery. Do not think that he had any compassion for Moses when he lost the opportunity to enter the Promised Land. Satan is actually very happy to see one of God’s servants commit a serious sin. In fact, the Devil uses such victories to taunt Jehovah.—Proverbs 27:11.
11. Why did Satan probably target Sarah?
11 Satan especially hated the family line that the Messiah would come from. For example, think about what happened after Jehovah told Abraham that he would become “a great nation.” (Genesis 12:1-3) While Abraham and Sarah were in Egypt, Pharaoh brought Sarah to his home and wanted her to become his wife. However, Jehovah protected Sarah and saved her from this difficult situation. (Read Genesis 12:14-20.) Something similar happened in the city of Gerar before Isaac was born. (Genesis 20:1-7) Is it possible that Satan was responsible for these situations? Remember that Sarah had left the rich city of Ur to live in tents. So, did Satan hope to tempt her with the luxurious palaces of Pharaoh and Abimelech? Did Satan think that she would betray her husband and even Jehovah by marrying one of those kings? The Bible does not say, but it is very likely that the Devil would have been overjoyed if Sarah had lost the opportunity to become part of the Messiah’s family line. Satan would have felt no guilt at all if that good woman’s marriage, reputation, and relationship with Jehovah had been ruined. How cruel and wicked Satan is!
Satan does not care about what is right or wrong
12, 13. (a) How did Satan show his cruelty after Jesus was born? (b) How do you think Satan feels about young ones who love Jehovah and who are trying to serve Him today?
12 Jesus was born hundreds of years after Abraham. Do not imagine that Satan saw this baby as beautiful or adorable. Satan knew that this baby would grow up to become the promised Messiah. Jesus was the main part of Abraham’s offspring, and he would later “break up the works of the Devil.” (1 John 3:8) Would Satan think that killing a child was too cruel? No. He does not care about what is right or wrong. And he acted quickly to try to kill the child Jesus. How?
13 When King Herod heard from the astrologers that the “king of the Jews” had been born, he was very angry and wanted to kill the baby. (Matthew 2:1-3, 13) So he ordered the murder of all boys two years old and younger in Bethlehem and its districts. (Read Matthew 2:13-18.) Jesus survived that terrible slaughter, but what does this tell us about our enemy Satan? The Devil does not value human life. He does not even care about children. Satan truly is “a roaring lion.” Never forget how cruel he is!
SATAN IS DECEPTIVE
14, 15. How has Satan “blinded the minds of the unbelievers”?
14 The only way that Satan can turn people against our loving God, Jehovah, is by deceiving them. (1 John 4:8) Satan deceives people so that they are not “conscious of their spiritual need,” that is, they do not realize that they need a relationship with God. (Matthew 5:3) The Devil has “blinded the minds of the unbelievers” so that they cannot see the truth about Jehovah.—2 Corinthians 4:4.
15 One of Satan’s greatest ways of deceiving people is through false religion. He knows that Jehovah “requires exclusive devotion.” (Exodus 20:5) So imagine how pleased Satan is when he sees people worship their ancestors or nature or animals, that is, anyone or anything other than Jehovah. Sadly, even many who think that their worship is acceptable to God are actually controlled by false beliefs and useless rituals. Israelites in Isaiah’s day were in a similar situation. Jehovah asked them: “Why do you keep paying out money for what is not bread, and why spend your earnings for what brings no satisfaction? Listen intently to me, and eat what is good, and you will find great delight in what is truly rich.”—Isaiah 55:2.
Satan can fool even zealous servants of Jehovah
16, 17. (a) Why did Jesus tell Peter: “Get behind me, Satan”? (b) How might Satan deceive us so that we stop being watchful?
16 Satan can fool even zealous servants of Jehovah. For example, think about what happened when Jesus told his disciples that he would soon be killed. The apostle Peter, who loved Jesus, said: “Be kind to yourself, Lord; you will not have this happen to you at all.” Jesus told Peter: “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:22, 23) Why did Jesus call Peter “Satan”? Because Jesus knew what was about to happen. Soon, Jesus would die as a ransom sacrifice and would prove that the Devil is a liar. This was a critical time in human history and not the time for Jesus to “be kind” to himself. Satan would have loved it if Jesus had stopped being watchful.
17 The end of this system of things is near, so we too are living at a critical time. Satan wants us to “be kind” to ourselves by having us focus on being successful in this world. He wants us to forget that we are living in the last days and to stop being watchful. Do not let that happen to you! Instead, “keep on the watch.” (Matthew 24:42) Never believe Satan’s lie that the end is far away or that it is not coming at all.
18, 19. (a) How might Satan try to trick us and make us think that we do not deserve Jehovah’s love? (b) How does Jehovah help us to remain watchful?
18 Satan tries to trick us in another way. He wants us to believe that we do not deserve Jehovah’s love and that God will never forgive our sins. But these are lies from Satan. Think about it, who is it that really does not deserve Jehovah’s love? It is Satan. Who is it that God will never forgive? It is Satan. But as for us, the Bible says: “God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name.” (Hebrews 6:10) Jehovah appreciates everything we do to please him, and our service to him is never worthless. (Read 1 Corinthians 15:58.) So do not be fooled by Satan’s lies.
19 As we have seen, Satan is powerful, cruel, and deceptive. How can we win our battle against an enemy like this? Jehovah gives us help. His Word teaches us about Satan’s methods so that “we are not ignorant of his designs.” (2 Corinthians 2:11) When we understand the different ways Satan attacks us, it is easier for us to remain watchful. But just knowing Satan’s methods is not enough. The Bible says: “Oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) The next article will discuss three areas in which we can fight Satan and win.