I know someone you may know. He is no atheist or agnostic, but rather a firm believer in the existence of God. He knows Jesus and fears the Lord! (Hold that “Hallelujah!” for a moment.)
Not only that, this individual also knows and understands scripture very well. He quotes it with ease from memory. (Not so fast on that “Praise God!” response.)
Many people would say that such an individual is saved. He is not. In fact, he is evil and will spend eternity in hell, a fate he richly deserves.
He is an extremely dangerous stalker but there can be no relief from the police or a court. He prowls around like a roaring lion, tenacious in his pursuit, looking for someone to devour. He is self-centered – an idolater of himself – and a notorious liar. No dummy he, but rather one who uses his God given high intellect to the detriment of others. I’ll just come out and say it — I hate him.
When I told my wife about him recently, at this point I quickly got a firm lecture on judgment and Christian charity! You may be inclined to agree. Putting aside the issue of judgment, how could anyone who (1) believes in God and (2) is even a Bible scholar be destined for damnation?
It is of course, Satan of whom I speak.
We recently read from Matthew chapter 4 (1-11):
At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.”
He said in reply, “It is written: One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.“
Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you and with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.“
Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.“
Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”
At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan! It is written: The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.“
Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.
Satan is a scripture quoting believer. In no way does this mean that scripture quoting believers are (necessarily) like Satan. Rather, being a believer is but a first step to becoming a true follower. Being only a believer is NOT ENOUGH. We must actually, in our own heart… in our personal thoughts and actions, FOLLOW Christ in order to be saved. Unlike Satan, we must put God and His will before our own.
Satan fears the Lord too, as James 2:19 tells us: “You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble.” His fear is rooted in God’s almighty power not God’s love. Accepting God’s love and mercy means following His will – not just selective parts of it (those parts which we “agree with”). In Jesus final words, the Great Commission, He commanded the Apostles to teach us to “observe ALL that I have commanded you” (my emphasis; Matthew 28:20). One last verse (again, my emphasis):
While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers appeared outside, wishing to speak with him. [Someone told him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak with you.”] But he said in reply to the one who told him, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?? And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.“
Follow, do not just believe.
As for Satan…
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.