Satan is not necessarily negative

There is a general misconception of what Satan represents. The common viewpoint by ordinary Christians is that Satan always stands out as the opponent of everything positive. In other words, Satan is always portrayed as ugly and unpleasant to look at. However, if there has ever been anything attractive to the multitudes, it is that which the cunning devil puts across.

Although portrayed in the form of a snake, when betraying our ancestral parents at the Garden of Eden, Satan’s schemes are very attractive to humans. A snake is scary and unattractive to look at. It is quite possible that in his communication with Eve, Satan may not have been as frightening as a snake is considered scary. There had not yet been enmity between the snake and humanity, at that time. Nothing was threatening in the life of humanity before the couple partook of the forbidden tree.

The ogre pictures of Satan, illustratively provided to young children, make Satan as creepy, as easily observable for rejection. No one knows what Satan thinks of such caricatures. But I suppose he influences such preponderant ideas. Satan is not, necessarily, God’s opposite. He is well-informed of what is good and what is evil. Probably the oldest story of one of the Biblical patriarchs, Job, can provide the clearest attributes of Satan, in his relationship with God.

“One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came with them. The Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the Lord, ‘From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.’ Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.’ ‘Does Job fear God for nothing?’ Satan replied. ‘Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.’ The Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man, himself do not lay a finger.’ Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord” (Job 1:6-12 NIV).

The above is a well-known Biblical anecdote, unnecessary to repeat, in describing what happened, thereafter. The above passage shows that Satan is in communication terms with God. He is fully aware of both goodness and evil. How then is he regarded as God’s adversary? One could go further to suggest that Satan could be a faithful servant of God.  This is when regarding the fact that Satan strictly obeyed the instruction not to murder Job when atrociously treating him.

If Satan was as negative as most people pronounce him to be, it would have been impossible for him to deceive anyone. Satan could be employed, and be discreetly suitable as a marketing strategist, the world has ever known. Satan can be regarded as the best goal-getter, for any organization, whose intention is to expand to worldwide fame. The most popular marketers could not reach such dizzying heights, if not influenced by the spirit of Satan.

The advertizing industry is sustained by the spirit of Satan, whether ordinary people believe it or not. Advertising is designed to attract buyers to the offered product. Otherwise, any product that is not adequately advertised remains very unpopular, to the intended clients. There is no magic to good results in the advancement of known brands. Satan’s zing is used for what is required, in terms of marketing strategies, for any organization. Satan’s spirit is best when seeking to advance any valuable product to the community.

Think of a product called Coca-Cola. For over a century, nothing could beat that product. Pepsi-Cola attempted, in vain, to invade the popularity of Coca-Cola. One has to ask the question: What was in a Coca-Cola brand that made it so popular? Was it the bottle or the product inside the bottle? Was it the charming marketers of the product, or simply the musical compositions popularizing Coca-Cola?

It could be scientifically proven that the Coca-Cola product cannot be good for people’s health. But that does not take away the fact that people loved Coca-Cola more than any other soft drink. This world is sustained by people who are so gullible to be swayed to love anything, whether good for health or not. Nevertheless, the most attractive consideration in promoting products is pride.

Coca-Cola may not be as popular as it was, about a decade ago. Due to modern technologies, some other products may have invaded the popularity of Coca-Cola. The point being put across, here, is that without advertising, it is impossible to attract buyers of any product. The product may be excellent, in terms of survival value to humanity. But without strategic marketing, it remains unsalable.

Advertising comes in many forms. However, the easiest form of advertising requires identifying people’s needs. A good marketer researches to discover people’s needs. Sport can be highly rewarding when considering how high-achievers attract good compensation. The same applies to any other artistic work, attracting admiration from ordinary people. One can be as successful, in any business enterprise, as long as meeting ordinary people’s admiration.

In Christianity, we have highly successful preachers, and yet others are very unsuccessful. Those identifying with the wishes of their followers are more successful. Miraculous escapades have sustained Christianity for a very long time. People need healing from common ailments. This desire to be healed of infirmities is what also popularized Jesus of Nazareth.

The only difference between Jesus and the current gospel crusaders is that Jesus discouraged followers. The current miracle preachers encourage many followers to remain attached to them. Those successful preachers are simply good marketers. They focus on what their audiences need and seek to provide it, accordingly. Miraculous healing can be most fascinating to those who have lived with deformities for a long time. Successful gospel crusaders take advantage of that reality.

As stated, Jesus also took advantage of miserable society’s desperation, to advance His popularity. Those people followed Jesus wherever He went, fascinated by those miracles. This was at the establishment of Christianity, which needed some form of marketing, for it to flourish. Simon Peter and the rest of the early disciples could not have become Jesus’ followers, without such miraculous escapades. Exciting as that may have been, for such multitudes to be attracted to His ministry, Jesus was not carried away.

Large crowds were travelling with Jesus and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciples. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:25-33 NIV).

Jesus projected the opposite of advertising. The number of those followers was quite exhilarating. But Jesus was not, necessarily, enthralled by their commitment to follow Him without their understanding of what that entailed. Jesus did everything to attract followers, by identifying with their common survival interests. But He remained focused on saving humanity from the grip of Satan. The same Satan had attempted his advertising tricks on Jesus, but failed, dismally.

The tempter came to Him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “He will command his angels command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.”  Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him” (Matthey 4:3-11 NIV).

This was a titanic spiritual battle, between the anointed Son of Man and Satan. The same duel had been lost by Adam, at the Garden of Eden. Satan knew all areas that attracted humanity’s needs. Jesus had been agonizingly starving, having fasted for forty days. Many people regard fasting as intended to persuade God to provide what is desperately needed. The above Scripture reveals fasting as providing spiritual strength to resist the cunning ideas of the devil.

Had Jesus entertained the ego of being God’s Son, He would have easily proven His capabilities to the cunning devil. The same applies to the second temptation. He could have pompously proven to Satan that God’s children, under God’s protection, cannot be injured by anything in this world. But as long as in human form, Jesus was expected to display His humanity, if truly subservient to His Father.

The most acrobatic satanic jab, that Satan attempted to throw at Jesus, was to excite Him with political leadership. Every ordinary human being aims at attaining political leadership, at some point. Satan was dead right on the aspect of him having been granted authority over worldly kingdoms. Satan is the overall ruler of this world, under God’s authority (2 Corinthians 4:4).

The greatest kingdoms known to be, in this world, are under Satan, who in turn, enjoys granting it from God’s authority. Satan has the free will to manipulate the behaviour of humanity, including the alluring leaders of this world. He does so, knowing exactly, what would be good or bad, as far as human governance is concerned. His only target is focused on manipulating the conceit, of those concerned. Think of the greatest rulers of King Nebuchadnezzar’s importance. Satan had a role, allowed by God, in such people’s greatnesses.

There is no authority, under the sun, which is not controlled by Satan, under God’s pleasure. Regardless of how wicked the ruler might be, he would be allowed by Satan, at God’s pleasure. The ruler may fail or pass the test; by handling or failing to handle the schemes availed by Satan. A similar egotistical test goes to those governed, as well. David knew that reality, in his handling of King Saul who sought to kill him, before taking over the throne. However, an evil ruler comes to be when having been accorded such a position by ordinary people. King Saul had been a product of the people’s choice.

The governed have a right to resist Satan’s authority, similar to how Jesus resisted Satan, who attempted to invite Jesus’ submission to Satan’s authority. By design, Satan is supposed to be subservient to God’s children. It is only by deception that Satan causes God’s children to worship him, leaving them assuming that they would be serving God. The entire humanity consists of God’s children, but unaware of that reality. Jesus came to show humanity that reality.

The few characters having seen the light, through Jesus, are people who would have escaped Satan’s grip. Satan no longer has authority over them, in the same way that Satan failed to maintain authority over Jesus. However, as long as one continues to live in the flesh, the schemes of the devil remain with that person. The same applied to Jesus, leading to His eventual crucifixion.

Living in the flesh ceases to be regarded as a blessing to those having been sealed to become God’s children. As physical humans, true Christians can either be living as sacrifices for others or sadly, eventually succumb to the devil’s schemes. Any of God’s popular evangelists can end up on Satan’s side rather than remain on God’s side. This is what practically makes Christianity deadly.

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those who have witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.

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