Does Satan Have a Pitchfork and Tail? #angelOfLight #270 + Letter from John Newton

Hello friends and a most glorious and peaceful Tuesday to you. Our focus chapter today remains in 2nd Corinthians, chapter 11, and we will also read Psalms 73, Ezekiel 25 and 2nd Samuel 18, which features “vast slaughter,” and heartbreaking deaths.

I don’t know about you, but much of what I learned as a kid I learned from cartoons. I suppose I had four major teachers in my life, pre-becoming a teenager: My parents, school teachers, church teachers and television, specifically cartoons on tv. In my younger years, I gravitated towards British shows and Japanese shows, and tolerated a few American shows. Pre age ten, most of my favorite shoes were early versions of Anime like Space Giants, Battle of the Planets/Phoenix Force and Ultraman. Of the few American shows I watched, was Looney-Tunes, those classic cartoons with Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, the Coyote and Road Runner, etc. I also watched quite a bit of Tom and Jerry – which was surprisingly violent, like all kid’s cartoons should be. From those cartoons, I learned how to square dance in the most violent way possible AND I learned what hell and Satan looked like. Satan ruled over hell, and lived there, according to these cartoons. Bad people would be sent to him, and he would put them to work, but he himself enjoyed a pretty good life down there. Yes, there were flames, but they didn’t burn Satan and the demons. Satan himself looked like a sinister, red-skinned guy with a tail that usually ended in an arrow point, and he carried a pitchfork, which usually got poked in some poor soul’s backside. Angels wore white garments, ahd wings and carried harps.

Unfortunately, as we’ve discussed before, cartoon theology and cartoon depictions of Satan, angels and demons aren’t accurate to the Word of God really at all, but most Westerners have gotten their understanding of the spiritual realm from tv and cartoons and the internet, as opposed to God’s Word. We don’t want to make that mistake, do we? Of course not! So let’s read 2nd Corinthians 11, and learn from it.

In this passage, Paul describes his ministry as an apostle – it is not a ministry of privilege on earth, but a ministry of suffering and hardship here, with glorious blessing in the future. He also describes false teachers and gives us some insight into the dark spiritual forces here:

For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no great surprise if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will be according to their works.

2nd Corinthians 11:13-15

We learn two things from this passage: False teachers will try and appear to be good and Godly, in order to lead people away from Christ and/or exploit them for their own benefit. They learn this deception from Satan himself, who is a master of disguise and can appear to be an ‘angel of light.’ What exactly does this mean, and how should we respond to this truth? This tells us, at least in part, that Satan will not appear to people as a silly, cartoonish devil…but he will seek to deceive. We shouldn’t take this lightly, either. Satan is certain to be leaps and bounds more intelligent and cunning than the brightest humans and also has thousands of years of experience under his belt, as well as a knowledge of the spiritual realm – a knowledge that Christians only see through a glass, darkly, so to speak.

We see deception often associated with the work of the Devil, as in Matthew 24, 23 “If anyone tells you then, ‘See, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Over here!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 Take note: I have told you in advance. 

In fact, Jesus describes the devil as a liar and the father of lies:

You are of your father the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies.

John 8:44

We also see that the antichrist will be a deceiver as well:

Many deceivers have gone out into the world; they do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.

2 John 7

So – if the devil is a master of disguise and a brilliant deceiver, what hope do we have? How can we not fall to his lies? I think Paul gives us a great clue in 2nd Thessalonians:

The coming of the lawless one is based on Satan’s working, with every kind of miracle, both signs and wonders serving the lie, 10 and with every wicked deception among those who are perishing. They perish because they did not accept the love of the truth and so be saved. 

2nd Thessalonians 2:9-11

So we must love the truth, and we must – by CONSTANT training in the Word of God, teach ourselves to distinguish good and evil, so says Hebrews 5: 

12 Although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the basic principles of God’s revelation again. You need milk, not solid food. 13 Now everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature—for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil.

Hebrews 5:12-14

So – let us love the truth and plunge ourselves into the Word, not being ignorant of his schemes (2nd Corinthians 2:11)  Let’s close with a wonderful letter from John Newton, the author of the hymn ‘Amazing Grace,’ and a wretched sinner who was gloriously saved by God and used mightily by him in the latter days of his life:

My dear Sir, April 15, 1776.
*****
I often rejoice on your behalf. Your call out of the world was a singular, comfortable instance of the power of grace. And when I consider the difficulties and snares of your situation, and that you have been kept in the middle path, preserved from undue compliances on the one hand, and unnecessary singularities on the other, I cannot doubt but the Lord has hitherto helped and guided you. Indeed you have need of his guidance. At your years, and with your expectations in life, your health firm, and your natural spirits lively, you are exposed to many snares: yet if the Lord keeps you sensible of your danger, and dependent upon him, you will walk safely. Your security, success, and comfort, depend upon him; and in the way of means, chiefly upon your being preserved in an humble sense of your own weakness. It is written, “Fear not, I am with thee.” It is written again, “Blessed is the man who feareth always.” There is a perfect harmony in those seemingly different texts. May the wisdom that cometh from above, teach you and me to keep them both united in our view. If the Lord be with us, we have no cause of fear. His eye is upon us, his arm over us, his ear open to our prayer; his grace sufficient, his promise unchangeable. Under his protection, though the path of duty should lie through fire and water, we may cheerfully and confidently pursue it. On the other hand, our hearts are so deceitful, fallible, and frail; our spiritual enemies so subtle, watchful, and powerful; and they derive so many advantages from the occasions of every day, in which we are unavoidably and unexpectedly concerned; there is so much combustible within, and so many temptations arising from without, capable of setting all in a flame; that we cannot be too jealous of ourselves and our circumstances….When we can say, in the Psalmist’s spirit. Hold thou me up, we may warrantably draw his conclusion, and I shall be safe; but the moment we lean to our own understanding, we are in imminent danger of falling. The enemy who wars against our souls, is a consummate master in his way, fertile in stratagems, and equally skilful in carrying on his assaults by sap or by storm. He studies us, if I may so say, all round, to discover our weak sides; and he is a very Proteus for changing his appearances, and can appear as a sly serpent, a roaring lion, or an angel of light, as best suits his purpose. It is a great mercy to be in some measure acquainted with his devices, and aware of them. They who wait humbly upon the Lord, and consult carefully at his word and throne of grace, are made wiser than their enemy, and enabled to escape and withstand his wiles. I know you will not expect me to apologize for putting you in mind of these things, though you know them. I have a double warrant; the love I bear you, and the Lord’s command, Heb. 3:13. Use the like freedom with me; I need it, and hope to be thankful for it, and accept it as one of the best proofs of friendship.
The Lord bless and keep you. Pray for us, and believe me to be sincerely yours.

John Newton, Richard Cecil, The Works of the John Newton, vol. 1 (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 645–647.

 


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