Summary: Exploration of three common myths about the Devil.
There is a petition that every now and again comes into my hands. It states that Christians need to act quickly because a request is before the FCC from Madalyn Murray O’Hair and some atheist organizations that proposes to ban all religious broadcasting in America. "Act quickly! Gather signatures! Don’t let this injustice happen!"
There’s only one problem: it’s not true.
There is not and never has been a request before the FCC. It’s a hoax - a total lie.
Yet the FCC has been receiving signed petitions for years and years, because somebody started this myth and it just won’t die.
A similar phenomenon is true of our subject for this sermon. Much of what we think about Satan are stories we have heard repeated again and again and so we come to accept them as truth without ever bothering to consider what the Bible says.
Even the image of the Devil that many have (horns, pitchfork, etc.) dates back to the tenth and eleventh centuries, not back to the Bible.
This evening, we want to look at three things that we all "know" are true of Satan, but that the Bible teaches are false. In doing so, hopefully we will get a clearer picture of who Satan is and what he does.
1. The first idea we’ve all accepted as true, but that the Bible teaches otherwise is: Satan is in charge of hell.
We have this image of hell as being Satan’s headquarters - that he has his throne there, he issues
his orders from there, and the demons are all walking around in the fire obeying the commands they have received from the Evil One.
The Bible, though, clearly says that is not true.
In Matt. 4:8-9, Satan offers Jesus kingdoms in exchange for Jesus bowing down to him. That indicates that those kingdoms were within Satan’s power to give. But what are they? They are “kingdoms of this world” (v. 8).
Three times in the gospel of John, Jesus refers to Satan as the prince “of this world” (12:31;
14:30; 16:11), not of hell.
In fact, in Rev. 2:13, in the letter to the church at Pergamum, it says that their city is “where Satan has his throne.” We can talk about what all that means, but the important thing to us this evening is that Satan’s throne was on earth, not in hell.
Satan’s rule is over the earth, not hell.
1 John 5:19 - “. . . the whole world is under the control of the evil one”
Eph. 2:2 - Satan is the “prince of the power of the air,” which clearly indicates earthly rule.
This is not to say Satan won’t be spending some time in hell. It will not be to rule there, but to be punished. Rev. 20:2 and 20:10 speak of Satan being punished in hell and Matt. 25:41 says that hell is prepared for Satan and his demons.
Satan is not in charge of hell. When he goes there, it is to be punished.
2. The next idea we all know is true of Satan, but that the Bible says otherwise is: Satan is everywhere.
How often have you heard someone say, “Satan never misses a church service”?
We often talk about him tempting us as if he can be everywhere at once.
There is, however, only one being who can be everywhere at once: God.
Jer. 23:24 - “‘Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?’ declares the Lord.”
Heb. 4:13 - “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.”
1 John 3:20 - “. . . God . . . knows everything.”
Satan, on the other hand, is neither omniscient nor omnipresent. We might be tempted to put Satan on the same level as Jesus. But if you want Satan’s equal, Michael the archangel would be the right being to name.
3. The third thing we all know is true about Satan, but that the Bible says otherwise is: Satan is the source of all our temptation.
Sometimes as we deal with temptation, we will say, “The Devil sure is after me.” It certainly is
true that Satan and his associates want to see us fall and that we do battle against them (see Eph. 6:12).
We acknowledge that we are in that struggle and that the forces of darkness are against us.
At the same time, it needs to be said that not all temptation come from Satanic or demonic sources, because sometimes the temptation originates from within us. Sometimes our heart (and not the Devil) is the source of our problems.