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THEOLOGY > Sin > Reality of Satan > Satan: The Accuser 


Satan, the personal name of the devil, means “accuser” or “adversary,” and is the transliteration of the Heb. word, satan, which appears several times in the Old Testament referring to humans as well as to Satan (Num. 22:22; I Chron. 21:1; Job 1:6-8, 12; 2:1-7; Ps. 109:6, 20, 29; Zech. 3:1-2).

That the work of Satan is consistent with his name is clearly documented in the Scriptures; he who is the “adversary” of the believer is the “accuser” of the believer:

Then Satan answered Yahweh and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has and he will curse you to your face” (Job 1:9-11);

Satan answered Yahweh and said, “Skin for skin? All that a man has he will give for his life . . . stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face” (Job 2:4-5);

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of Yahweh, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. And Yahweh said to Satan, “Yahweh rebuke you Satan! Yahweh who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” (Zech. 3:1-2; “oppose” is “accuse” in the ESV);

Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down” (Rev. 12:10).

Vivid is the heavenly scene in which Satan accuses Job before God, and the accusation is false. The bogus charge illustrates the statement of Jesus: “he is a liar and the father of lies,” to which Jesus adds that “he speaks out of his own character” (Jo. 8:44). So the accusations of Satan are consistent with who or what he is—he is the personification of evil. The incident in heaven provides insight into the reality behind the name, a reality that is consistent with the name.

And then in Zechariah Satan even opposes or accuses the high priest who is standing before the Angel of the Lord, the pre-incarnate Christ. Satan exhibits no inhibition in his dastardly deeds, for before the high priest and the Angel of the Lord, he stands opposed to God’s people, using every opportunity he has to accuse them before God.

The book of Revelation informs us that throughout history the true believers have been accused “day and night,” so much so that Satan is called “the accuser of our brethren” (12:10).

From the book of Job (Chs. 1-2) we are instructed as to some of the traits of Satan’s accusation of the believer:

One, he accuses the believer of serving God from selfish motives, that is, for the blessings that are received from God; the believer serves God because of the possessions that accrue from God;

Two, he accuses the believer of serving God because of God’s protection, a hedge around the individual; again the claim is that the recognition and worship of God is selfish;

Three, he accuses the believer of serving God because of good health and positive circumstances that do not include illness and loss of health; for a good life individuals give allegiance to God.

One can imagine other accusations and charges that are continually brought by Satan to God concerning His followers. It should be borne in mind that it was not the flaws and sins of Job that evoked the accusations but the excellences of his life that provided the motivation for the allegations. Of Job twice God said: “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” (1:8; 2:3). This was the quality of the man that Satan sought to blaspheme. At the time of the accusation, Job was the best man on the earth according to the affirmations of God Himself.

How is this to be understood? Perhaps, the goodness of Job was in such contrast to the badness of Satan that Satan could not refrain from seeking to invalidate and bring reproach on such a life of holiness. Job was the epitome of what Satan had rejected—recognition of and submission to the Creator. Satan’s unspoken and possibly unconscious attempt was to make Job like himself; this is a repeat of the Garden of Eden, though in reality the event there was unique and could not be repeated—the event and the implications of the  event were one of a kind.

An additional thought is that it is an honor to be accused by Satan. The mere voicing of an accusation reveals the posture of the one being accused; it is a position that embraces God and a position that separates the believer from the company of Satan. To be accused is revelation that one is standing with God and has a standing before God.

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