In my message next Sunday I’m going to talk about Satan. He is real. No, he doesn’t go around looking like a red monster with horns – he’s much more clever than that and he disguises himself. In fact, he once disguised himself as a serpent in the Garden of Eden (Revelation 12:9). Jesus said he is the father of lies (John 8:44) and his purpose is to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). No one can doubt that there is evil in this world.
But what we often miss is that the very name Satan is a Hebrew verb that means “to oppose or to accuse”. The name Satan, as a noun and proper name, means “The Accuser”. That’s what Satan does best. In the book of Job we actually see him accusing God directly. But more often, he makes accusations against God to you and me. He accuses God of being a liar. He accuses God of not being good or loving. He accuses God of not being trustworthy. He will tell any lie that will diminish the glory and goodness of God.
And he’s clever about how he does that. It is Satan who causes us to doubt the trustworthiness of God. Trust is what faith is built on and by causing us to doubt God, we struggle to really believe God. When we do that, then we have no other option than to take control and rely on ourselves. Do you ever have these kinds of doubts? Do you wonder if you matter enough to God for him to listen to you? Do you wonder if God cares enough about you? Maybe you wonder if God is too busy to take care of you. Maybe you wonder if God can’t love you because you’re not good enough.
What happened in the Garden of Eden continues to happen to us today. Satan tricked Adam and Eve to sin by tempting them to take the place of God. Once he convinced them to buy the lie that God was not really good or trustworthy, then he tempted them to act and be like God. They tried to push God away and the relationship with God was damaged. The Bible is clear about what happened next. They realized they were naked. That wasn’t just about not having clothes. Their pride was exposed! They were guilty, but for the first time, they felt shame. So they hid from God. That is exactly what The Accuser does to us today. He tempts us to sin. Once we are exposed, we feel shame and we find various ways to try to hide from God. We hide from the very One who is love and life.
The Accuser tells us daily in various ways that God is not good or trustworthy. He tells us that we are not worthy of God’s love. He gets us to focus on our failures and he ironically does that best through religion that emphasizes our sin and heaps guilt and shame on us. In shame, we struggle to let God’s love to fill us. In shame, we hide from God and others because we want to hide our sin and failures.
Satan is clever and he’s really effective at what he does. So stay alert. Don’t buy the lies. Don’t buy the lies about how God comes up short. Don’t buy the lies about how you are not worthy of God’s full unfailing love. God is love. That’s the truth. God is always good. That’s the truth. You and I are deeply loved and cherished in Jesus and not condemned for our sin or shortcomings. That’s the truth. We have a choice. We can listen to the lies of The Accuser or we can listen to the voice of Love himself.