Recently in my city some Satanists came to present the town council with the Tenets of their beliefs.
They were met by a group of Christians from a local church, protesting their presence.
This news story ties in with personal experiences I have had: young people literally invoking Satan and trying to either sell their soul to him, or calling upon him to give them power. More on that in a moment.
A friend of mine expressed incredulity that anyone would actually be a Satanist. After all, even the word “Satan” comes from Judeo-Christian texts, and thus a Satanist would be someone who accepted the Bible’s nomenclature but reject the Bible’s morality. He insightfully proposed that Satanists call themselves that simply to “troll” Christians.
WHATS AND WHYS OF SATANISM
For many so-called Satanists, his assessment is true. Most of them are atheists, and despite the outward claim to call people to harmony and peace, they really want to just revel in their dismissal of Christianity and what they see as its limiting and arbitrary morality. Their core principle is the rejection of religious moral authority – hence choosing Satan as their leader, or in their minds more like a role model, emblem, or mascot. Just as the character of Satan rebelled against God in declarations of his own self-worth and self-worship, so also they reject God’s right to be worshiped or obeyed. They encourage people to engage in the seven deadly sins, for instance. They do outwardly proclaim that they encourage people to live lives that help others – but this seems to me to be more about proving that they can be good people without God’s help (which is true to the extent cut flowers can live without a connection to their roots – it is not a lasting goodness or a truly living goodness). Certainly, genuinely loving others sacrificially or loving even our enemies is not a view they would respect.
These atheists are, to that extent, truly serving the Satan they do not believe in. And their choice to invoke his name has to make a reasonable person wonder: on what level they are subconsciously choosing to give themselves over to him personally?
Contrasting with the atheist Satanists, there are spiritual Satanists. They consciously believe in the presence of a dark power who will bestow the earthly ‘blessings’ and give to his followers a participation in his power. If you talk to Wiccans or others who pursue a self-proclaimed light-filled paganism, they will admit that there are others among them who intentionally pursue a Dark Power in the quest to harm others and achieve their desires. I have encountered two high-schoolers who have intentionally invoked Satan – one trying to literally sell her soul to him in return for earthly recompense.They were not involved in any larger group.
It is no surprise to see unsaved people stand against Christians – for instance, eulogizing the constant human sacrifice and demon worship of the Aztecs, while profaning missionary efforts to their region. Even the sophisticated and refined Romans were against Him; “The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against His Anointed One” (Acts 4:26). Yet even through His death – willingly letting Himself be a victim of our hatred and returning it only with forgiveness and victory over the dark powers that held us captive – Jesus destroyed their power and He continues to cause the darkness to live in fear of Him.
But why would anyone pursue any such darkness? Isn’t it madness?
Let me ask you: why do you choose to sin? Isn’t that madness?
“GOD DOESN’T LOVE ME”
The young man in front of me was a sizable teenager, known for his violent outbursts. (Names and some details have been changed). I had been getting to know him for several weeks, and today he had shown me a satanic symbol he had just carved into his leg.
I looked into Trevor’s slightly glazed eyes and continued to pray silently as he told me, “I figure he understands me better, and he’s the one who will help me out. I relate to him.”
I nodded my head, trying to first understand. “Okay. So, what particularly about Satan do you relate to?”
Trevor replied, “Well, I don’t know a whole lot about him. But I heard in church that God had kicked him out of Heaven. God would never love him again. And so I relate to that. I don’t like church. God doesn’t love me. So me and Satan – well, we’re in the same boat. And I heard that if you call on Satan, he can give you strength. Like the other day! I was doing pushups, and I was getting tired, but I started saying, ‘Satan, come into me, Satan, give me power,’ and I got a lot stronger. I’ve been experimenting with cutting myself or trying to manipulate flame, too.” Trevor grew more serious. “When they start singing in church, it makes me really angry – Christian music just makes something switch in me. I can’t even think straight when they start singing.”
“Trevor,” I said, trying to show him my deep concern, “Satan is no joke. And there was a reason God kicked Him out of Heaven. Satan wanted to rule over everything out of selfishness, instead of the love that characterizes God. But it’s not too late for you.” Trevor was listening and wasn’t getting angry. I kept praying quietly.
“Trevor, from what we’ve talked about, I know that you’ve broken a lot of God’s commands. You’ve dishonored your parents. You’ve been violent toward others. If you’re like me, you’ve lusted and been angry with people for no good reason. You haven’t loved God the way you should – and I’m guilty of that too. You’ve even tried to make an alliance with God’s enemy. But the fact is if God were to evaluate either of us based on whether we were good enough to go to Heaven, neither one of us would make it. In God’s courtroom, we would both be guilty. God would be right to find us guilty of doing evil things, and He would be right to cast us away from Him and send us to – well, the other place. Does that makes sense?”
Trevor grinned sheepishly: “Yeah, I guess so.”
“But that’s some serious business right there, right? Hell is no joke. It’s a place of despair and hopelessness, regret and pain. Satan doesn’t run Hell. Hell was made for Satan to be punished there. And Hell is more a place of being hardened into self-isolation from God – not experiencing His goodness and love and joy. The Bible tells us that Satan is going to lose his war against God.” Trevor considered this thoughtfully.
I went on. “I don’t want to go to Hell. I don’t know you very well, but I care about you and I don’t want to see you go to Hell, either.”
Trevor looked down, and replied soberly. “It does concern me.”
I continued. “The thing is, you said God couldn’t love you. But God loves you so much, do you know what He did for you, and me, and other people, so that you wouldn’t have to go to Hell?”
Trevor looked up at me. “Trevor, God became a man, and He died on the cross to take our place. Satan and the people there threw all the hate and anger they could at Him, and He let them murder Him. But He defeated death and Satan, and rose from the dead. You and I have broken God’s law, in God’s courtroom we were guilty, we deserved to die, but Jesus paid our fine. God did that to show us how much He loved us, and to rescue us from Satan and our sins. You’ve done some really wrong things, but the fact is if you just turn from Satan and turn to God, and ask Jesus to save you, God will take you back and deliver you from Satan. Satan is never going to repent, but you can. God loves you, Trevor. I we’re having this conversation so I can tell you how much God actually loves you and actually wants you back.”
Trevor thought about this for a while. He spoke slowly. “So… God actually loves me… and would forgive me and take me back?”
“Yeah – He will. God is eager to. Ask for Jesus’ payment to count for you. Trust Him. He loves you. All Satan will do is destroy your life with anger and pain, like he has been doing.”
As I ministered the personal truth to Trevor that Jesus had truly died for him (because Jesus died for “everyone,” for “our sins, and not ours only but for the whole world,” and even for “false teachers who deny Him,” 1 Tim. 4:10, 1 John 2:2, 2 Peter 2:1, etc), the light of God’s pursuit of Him began to break through the allure of the darkness.
At the core of Trevor’s attraction to Satanism was a deceptive belief that God could never love him. The truth about God, revealed most clearly in Jesus’ love and victory, overturned this lie.
That wasn’t the last conversation we had, but it was a turning point. Years later Trevor visited me to let me know he was doing well, attending church, and he knew that God really did love Him. His journey certainly isn’t over, but some of the Serpent’s lies were shattered on that day as the light came rushing in.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
The lies about who God is go deeper than our “theology”; they penetrate to the depths of our habits and imaginations. Many Christians may say, “Oh yes, I know God is loving,” yet in their minds they imagine Him as a vengeful, angry Being who is far away and cannot relate to them.
Perhaps some Christians do not imagine Him as far away; they do not imagine Him as nearby either; they do not imagine Him much at all. To them God is an idea to be pondered, a philosophy to be affirmed. a being to pay homage; they have learned to speak the right words, but they have not learned to consistently orient their soul to God or to imagine Him as He is.
Perhaps you have struggled with the feeling that God did not really love you, or that you are not really saved – or perhaps could not really be saved. We ‘know’ that God is for us, but when the world, the flesh, and the devil confront us, often we find ourselves questioning where God is, or doubting that He will really do what is best for us. On the other hand we may suppress all doubt and proclaim our confidence to ourselves, rather than letting ourselves be honest with God – because we fear that our doubts might make us outsiders to the family of God.
In all these ways, the lies of Satan are present at the fringes of our thoughts, waiting to “steal, kill and destroy” if we allow them. Jesus came to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8) – not by condemning us but by rescuing us.
It is only through the person and love of Jesus – the GodMan – that these systemic lies can be most thoroughly overturned.
In Jesus, we see who God really is.
In Jesus, we see what man is really supposed to be.
In Jesus, we understand how the relationship between God and man works.