Not Today, Satan!

29 May

So I’m walking into work and I pass a guy with a t-shirt that loudly proclaimed, “Not Today Satan!” That got me thinking two things: 1) That sentence needs a comma and 2) isn’t blaming Satan for the evil in the world a bit of a cop out?

Satan as a concept seems almost sacrilegious. If I want to be pretentious, I’d say it’s Manichaean or dualist; it has a Zoroastrian flair to it. The idea of an equal and opposite power to God weakens the power of the Almighty. The Christian and Islamic traditions would say that Satan/Shaitain is far weaker. but why would God allow a force of evil to exist in the world?

Satan is named explicitly in the Gospels and the Letters of the New Testament, as well as the Quran, but when it’s mentioned in the Tanakh (Old Testament), Satan is “the snake” (Genesis 2) or “the adversary.” (Job 1) Job was the first written of the Biblical texts; the language is far more archaic than the Torah or certainly any of the Histories or Prophets. Anyway, in that book:

6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?

Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought 10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. 11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.

12 And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.

Job 1: 6-12 (KJV)

Satan is simply one of the angels (although the text uses “sons of God”); not only is he welcomed at the heavenly court, he’s listened to. He sounds a lot like God’s “no man” in his entourage. God needs someone to point out the flaws in the plan. But this sets up the purpose of devils in scripture. Devils never attack you directly, they whisper in your ear. They suggest. Jesus is tempted by Satan in the desert, suggests a whole bunch of things, and as a good Jewish boy, he can quote scriptural reasons back at him… never directly touches him. Heck, even God “hardens the heart of Pharaoh” (Exodus 8:19) but God didn’t force the man to make that decision, just suggested it.

Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) divides everything into the Sitra D’Kedushah (the side of holiness) or Sitra Achra (the side of impurity). I frequently hear the Sitra Achra defined as the “evil intention.” It’s easy to imagine your dark side as a “still small voice” whispering dark thoughts into your ear. But I think that’s too easy; the pure and the impure exist within all of us.

So the fault does not lie in Satan, but in ourselves; if it helps you to believe there is a devil on your shoulder, but it convinces you to do the right thing, is that so wrong? What do you think? Let me know in the comments below! Then check out one of my books. However, if $1.99 is too steep for your wallet, go ahead and download one of my stories for free. You’ll be glad you did.

6 Responses to “Not Today, Satan!”

  1. Silk Cords May 29, 2021 at 8:15 am #

    Yes, it definitely needs a comma, LOL. Good grammar died with the internet though. :\

    The whole concept of the devil has quite a few interpretations as you know. I’m kind of surprised you skipped the whole concept of him as a sort of prosecuting attorney when we’re judged.

    Why would God allow a force of evil in the world though? Life is a classroom full of tests. We don’t learn or grow if we’re not challenged, and ultimately everything is our choice. The devil doesn’t put a gun to people’s heads and make them become a terrorist, bigot, etc… We’ve got the choice to reject those paths and grow as a being, or give into them.

    As far as human suffering relates to that, I’ve heard countless atheists and converted Buddhists deny God because of human suffering. If you put it in cosmic perspective though, not only do we have the ability to not do evil AND correct it, what we endure here is a straight out drop in the cosmic bucket. It’s over in the blink of an eye. Well, unless you believe in reincarnation and that we have to keep coming back down here until we do get it right. So, I’d imagine God watching us suffer is kind of like a parent putting a kid on a bike without training wheels. They know the kid is going to crash and skin their knee. The pain is temporary and part of the learning process though.

    BTW, the show Lucifer does a pretty good job of mirroring the views I’ve held since before it came along. Some great humor too as “Luci” trips over his own ego for the first 3 1/2 seasons, 🙂

  2. Silk Cords May 29, 2021 at 8:19 am #

    OK, so I sort of missed a small point earlier; my explanation being that it’s not so much that he’s necessarily evil, but put in charge of testing us. Is that testing a case of God using evil for his own ends and making something ultimately good out of it, or is Satan simply a drill instructor? I’m not a cosmic being who can see the big picture or even know how much of my own theories may or may not be true.

  3. joliesattic May 29, 2021 at 11:05 am #

    Hmmmmm

  4. Arnold May 30, 2021 at 4:30 am #

    Eve gave ear to that Snake-in-the-Garden (to herself?). Evil gains attention when I attend to me. I’m tempted (tested), ‘when drawn away of my own lust.’ Jesus said, ‘If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to me.’ I’m drawn to him.

    The draw is to one or the other–Christ or Antichrist. My natural desire is to myself, born of the Snake. (‘You belong to your father, the devil.’) That’s why Jesus told Nicodemus, ‘You must be born again.’ Now I am a child of God, ‘born of God.’

  5. iFlyMSP July 10, 2021 at 9:58 am #

    God? Satan? Heaven? Hell? Purgatory? Quoting our current President: “It’s all a bunch of malarkey. Enjoy each day, stay healthy for as long as possible, be kind to others, be tolerant of anyone and everyone. Nothing else matters.

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