One of the most frequent ethical exhortations in the Bible is for God’s people to love – him, fellow Christians, and others (even praying for our enemies). But there is an object of hatred that is proper in the Christian life. We can and should hate Satan and his kingdom of darkness.
Satan is a murderer who is so full of lies that he cannot speak the truth (John 8.44). He is Christ’s sworn enemy (Gen. 3.15, Lk. 4.2, Heb. 2.14, 1 Jn. 3.8, etc.). He is the Christian’s sworn enemy (1 Pet. 5.8). He is the church’s sworn enemy (2 Cor. 2.11). Satan wants to destroy God’s kingdom and his evil and dark heart is absolutely and in every way opposed to everything good, pure, and noble (Luke 8.12, Acts 5.3, 13.10, etc.). Therefore, it is right and proper for Christians to hate and detest Satan. Biblically, there is “a time to hate” and we are called to “hate evil” (Ecc. 3.8, Amos 5.15). In fact, the fear of the LORD is the hatred of evil (Prov. 8.13, cf. Ps. 139.21).
William Ames said it this way: “With our entire heart and all our strength we ought to be against the kingdom of the devil….” (A Sketch of the Christian’s Catechism, 212).
The WLC Q/A 191 says that in the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer we are praying “that the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed.” Likewise, the HC Q/A 123 says the second petition is a prayer that God would “destroy the devil’s work.” In the sixth petition of the Lord’s Prayer, we are praying that “Satan [be] trodden under our feet” (WLC 195). It is good and right for us to pray fervently against Satan’s temptation and his wicked work.
Thomas Watson wrote that the Christian “must offer violence to Satan. …We must offer violence to Satan by faith. …There is a lion in the way but we must resolve upon fighting. …Faith is a heroic grace; it is said, above all, to quench the fiery darts of Satan. Faith resists the devil. …Faith holds the promise in one hand and Christ in the other.” (Heaven Taken by Storm, ch. 10).
Martin Luther, as many of you may know, struggled intensely against Satan’s temptations and assaults.
“The devil forever and a day would very much like to have us stray from the right way. He knows very well that whoever believes in Christ will be saved. That is why he tries with might and main and all manner of tricks to mislead us” (Sermons, 7.298).
The devil’s temptations are very real. He tries to get us to lust, lie, doubt the promises of grace, and ignore God’s word. If he would have his way, we’d all be literally doomed. But Christ is much stronger than Satan and his horde. He dealt the death blow to Satan on the cross and in the resurrection, and one day he’ll return to finish him off by throwing him into the pit of hell forever (Rev. 20.10). This truth should make a great cheer rise up in our hearts already; part of the gospel is that Jesus will win total and eternal victory over Satan.
So when Satan tempts you, with true love for Christ and deep hatred for the devil, you can tell him that you realize now he might win a few skirmishes here and there. And you can tell him you hate him with every fiber of your Christian being. You can tell him to leave you alone because you’ve been baptized and you have Christ as your Savior and Protector. Finally, because of Christ’s certain victory, you can tell him to go to hell where he belongs. You, however, belong to Christ, body and soul, and not even Satan can snatch you from his hand. The battle may be hard, tear-filled, and bloody, but victory is certain. Keep fighting! God will soon crush Satan underfoot (Rom. 16.20).
rev shane lems