The Bible teaches that we have an adversary. Peter warned, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). He is presented as real and dangerous.
The Bible refers to our adversary by the following names:
The Hebrew term (Satan) appears 24 times in the Old Testament. It is rendered in English: “adversary,” and “Satan.” It is sometimes used of an adversary, in general (e.g. 1 Samuel 29:4; 1 Kings 11:14, 23, 25). It is sometimes used of the adversary (e.g. Job 1:6, 7, 8, 9, 12; 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7; Zechariah 3:1-2). The word means “adversary.”
The Greek word (Satanas, Satan) appears 35 times in the New Testament. It is consistently rendered “Satan.” It is sometimes used as an adversary, in general (e.g. Matthew 16:22-23). It is most often used of the adversary (e.g. Revelation 12:9). The word means “adversary.”
The Greek word (diabolos) appears 36 times in the New Testament. It is consistently rendered “devil.” It is consistently used of the adversary. The word is used of Satan (Revelation 12:9; 20:2). The word means “an accuser, a slanderer” (Vine’s). He slandered God to man, accusing Him of lying, and withholding something good from man (Genesis 3:4-5). He is a liar (John 8:44). He accused Job of only serving God because of physical benefits (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-7). He misjudged Job.
The word diabolos should not be confused with daimon. The King James Version frequently renders daimon as devil. However, the word refers to a demon.
The word diabolos does appear in the plural twice (1 Timothy 3:11; 2 Timothy 3:3). It is rendered by most translations as “slanderers” or “false accusers.” In the plural, it does not refer to the devil, but wicked men and women.
This word (antidikos) appears in 1 Peter 5:8. The word means “firstly, an opponent in a lawsuit… is also used to denote an adversary or an enemy without reference to legal affairs” (Vine’s).
Abaddon is the Hebrew; Apollyon is the Greek equivalent. The word is translated “destruction” in the Old Testament (Job 26:6; 28:22; 31:12; Psalm 88:11; Proverbs 15:11; 27:20). It is used just once of the adversary (Revelation 9:11).
5. Beelzebub (Baal-Zebub)
This word appears 11 times in the Bible. It appears in the Old Testament 4 times (2 Kings 1:2, 3, 6, 16). It is used of the god of Ekron, a Philistine city. It appears 7 times in the New Testament (Matthew 10:25; 12:24-27; Mark 3:22-23; Luke 11:15-18). It is equated with Satan (Matthew 12:26-27; Mark 3:22-23; Luke 11:15-18). He is the ruler or prince of demons (Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15).
Why is Satan called Beelzebub? (1) “It is a well-known phenomenon in the history of religions that the gods of one nation become the devils of its neighbors and enemies” (I.S.B.E. Vol. 1, p. 423). It is possible that Israelites began to use the name of the Philistine god as a name for the devil. (2) Beelzebub literally means “Lord of the dwelling.” It is used in the New Testament in connection with demon possession (cf. Matthew 12:29; Mark 3:27; Luke 11:20-22).
The word is a Hebrew word which was translated into Greek. It is most frequently used in the Bible of evil men (e.g. Deuteronomy 13:13; “corrupt men”; 1 Samuel 25:17, “scoundrel”). However, it may be used of the adversary twice (Nahum 1:15, “the wicked one”; 2 Corinthians 6:15, “Belial”). The word means “either ‘worthless’ or ‘hopeless ruin’… ‘extreme wickedness and destruction,’ the later indicating the destiny of the former” (Vine’s). “The term implies ‘reckless,’ ‘lawless.’ The word also came to be used as a synonym for ‘vain fellow’ or ‘fool,’ a ‘good for nothing'” (The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary, p. 104).
7. Serpent/Dragon (Leviathan)
This terminology is found together 3 times in scripture (Isaiah 27:1; Revelation 12:9; 20:2). The term dragon is used of the adversary and wickedness 12 times in Revelation (Revelation 12:3,4,7,9,13,16,17; 13:2,4,11; 16:13; 20:2). The term serpent is used of the adversary 5 times in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 11:3; Revelation 12:9,14,15; 20:2). Satan is called the serpent because he appeared as a serpent to Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:1-6). He is called the dragon due to his might (cf. description of Leviathan Job 41).
8. The prince of demons/The ruler of demons
He is so-called 3 times (Matthew 9:33-34; 12:22-24; Mark 3:22). He evidently had rule over the demons which were afflicting humanity.
9. The prince of power of the air
This name is used only once (Ephesians 2:2). Paul is appealing to a contemporary belief. Adam Clark comments, “Satan is termed prince of the power of the air, because the air is supposed to be the region in which malicious spirits dwell, all of whom are under the direction and influence of Satan, their chief” (Clark’s Commentary, Vol. 6, p. 437).
10. The god of this world/The ruler of this world
This language is used twice (John 12:31; 2 Corinthians 4:14). His influence is greater than many realize. John said “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19).
11. The wicked one
He is so-called at least 11 times (Matthew 5:37; 6:13; 13:19; 13:38; Luke 11:4; Ephesians 6:16; 1 John 2:13, 14; 3:12; 5:18, 19). The word “wicked” (poneros) “expresses especially the active form of evil” (Vine’s). He is active.
12. The Tempter
He is twice so-called (Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5). The Greek word (peirazon) means “the (one) tempting” (Vine’s), or “the always tempting one” (Wayne Jackson, The Book of Job, p. 105).
Why Does Satan Seek to Destroy Us?
We are not told. Some believe that it is because he is jealous of man’s relationship with God. Others have suggested that it is because he wishes to deprive God a relationship with man.
The reason really does not matter. The righteous will never have peace with him. Whatever his motives, it is more important to know how to resist this adversary. He can be resisted (James 4:7). God has provided the necessary armor for us to stand against the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:11-ff).
How Does He Seek to Destroy Us?
Flip Wilson used to say, “The devil made me do it.” However, the truth is, the devil does not force you to sin. He is the tempter (Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5). He tempts. However, if one is drawn away, it is by his own lust (James 1:14-15). Bert Thompson has written, “It is important to recognize that while Satan is the originator of sin, he is not the immediate cause of sin… Satan’s constant coercion and tantalizing temptation do not, and cannot override man’s free will” (Thompson, Satan – His Origin and Mission, pp. 20-21).
Satan is not allowed to be an irresistible force. God limits what he can do (Job 1:12; 2:16). We are promised: “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). We can resist him (James 4:7). God has provided the proper armor against him (Ephesians 6:11).
He is the tempter (Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5). I do not claim to fully understand how he is able to bring about temptation. However, I do know that there are three basic areas in which man is tempted (1 John 2:15-17). He tempts through the lust of the flesh (fleshly appetites), the lust of the eyes (sensual desires), and the pride of life (glory, honor).
This is how he tempted Eve (Genesis 3). The fruit was good for food (lust of the flesh). The fruit was pleasant to the eyes (the lust of the eyes). The fruit was desirable to make one wise (pride of life).
This is how he tempted Jesus (Matthew 4). He tempted Jesus to turn the stones into bread (lust of the flesh). He showed Him the kingdoms of the worlds and their glory (lust of the eyes). He tempted Him to prove that He was under God’s protective care (pride of life).
He still uses these three methods. Beware.