The following is from the introduction to Arthur Pink’s Book, Satan and His Gospel. You can read a copy on Kindle for free. If you aren’t familiar with A.W. Pink, I highly recommend you read at least one of his books. I am currently reading from his commentary on the Gospel of John in our mid-week Gospel of John livestream.
We all need to be reminded frequently that the people who oppress us in this fallen world are evil, yes – but they are also the servants of that most evil of evil spirits – Satan. Every real Christian is going to be attacked, and those attacks can come overtly or very covertly. So listen to these words of A.W. Pink and think carefully about them:
Is the Devil a living reality, or is he nothing more than a figment of the imagination? Is the word “Satan” merely a synonym for wickedness, or does it stand for a concrete entity? In cultured circles it has become the custom to return a negative answer to these questions, and to flatly deny the existence of the Tempter. Among such people it is regarded as a mark of intellectual superiority to repudiate the personality of the Devil. By many, Satan is now looked upon as a product of priestcraft, a relic of superstition, the myth of a bygone age.
With others, Satan is simply an abstraction, a mere negation, the opposite of good. “All the Devil there is is the devil within you,” is the last word of “modern thought.” The words which Goethe puts into the mouth of Mephistopholes—“I am the Spirit of Negation”—is accepted as a good workable definition of the Devil. He is regarded as a mere abstract principle of evil. As someone has quaintly put it, “They spell Devil without a ‘d’, as they spell God with two ‘o’s’. Good and evil is their scheme.”
But the more general conception of Satan is different from the above. The popular idea, the one that prevails among the masses, may be gathered from the pictorial representations of him which appear on the street posters, which are to be met with in our illustrated magazines, and which are displayed upon the stage— where he is pictured as a grotesque monster in human form, having horns, hoofs and forked tail. Such a conception is an insult to intelligent people, and in consequence, the Devil has come to be regarded either as a bogey with which to frighten naughty children, or as a fit subject for jest and joke.
It need hardly be said that both of the above conceptions are far from the truth. The fact that they have gained such wide credence is due largely to ignorance—ignorance concerning the teaching of God’s Word, ignorance concerning the Satan of Holy Scripture. But it is to Satan’s interests to keep people in such ignorance. An intelligent enemy always keeps in the background and remains hidden out of sight. It is an important consideration with him that his identity should be concealed.
Many an evil enterprise owes its success to its perpetrator remaining secreted. The assassin who plunges a knife into the back of his victim is usually hired for the purpose. The one who throws the bomb is merely a tool, the mastermind that planned the deed is unseen and unsuspected. Therefore, it need not surprise us to find that the masses do not believe in the existence of a personal Devil. It serves his purpose well to keep his dupes in ignorance concerning his real existence.
The Devil has always worked secretly and sought to hide his true identity. When he beguiled Eve he did so through a serpent. When he appeared before God to accuse Job, he waited until a day when “the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them” (Job 1:6). When he sowed his “tares,” he did so secretly, in the night —“while men slept” (Matt 13:25). When he betrayed the Lord Jesus Christ into the hands of His enemies, he worked through Judas! Satan is an adept at disguising himself: he comes to us not as a Dragon of Darkness but “is transformed into an Angel of Light” (II Cor 11:14).
Pink, Arthur W.. Satan and His Gospel (Arthur Pink Collection Book 47) . Prisbrary Publishing. Kindle Edition.