I've thought about this quite a lot in the past, and even written more than a few lines on the subject. I really searched my conscience and prayed about whether or not I should even broach the subject again. I realize that many of my brethren have seen 'Satan' for who he is ( 'we have met the enemy, and he is us' ), but I know that as many, or most likely, even more, still believe ( almost dogmatically ) that 'Satan' exists as the personification of evil, a spirit being that 'fell from grace' as one of God's angels, even an arch-angel, to become the 'adversary' of God's people, and is now, depending on your doctrinal stance, anything from a fallen spiritual being who rebelled against his Creator and became His arch-enemy, and in some cases, well-nigh equal in power, to one who was defeated at the Cross and has no more power over the Christian, but is still at work in 'the sons of disobedience' ( Ephesians 2:2, 5:6, Colossians 3:6-in context, those first-century Jews who yet denied Christ ), and will continue to wreak in the world ( 'among the nations' ), until the physical return of Christ in glory. Although this saddens me greatly, and even 'peeves' me to no end sometimes; I do count these all beloved brethren! I hope that through what I have written in the past, and even by what I write tonight, to set people's minds at ease, and even to realize that as evil does not exist, but only happens, so this personification ( of evil ) cannot exist, but that it happens when certain people make a choice to do something that is not right, as we often do.
As a child, especially in my early teens, I was often hit, especially when left alone in the dark, with an almost uncontrollable fear, which at the time, I thought was caused by the presence of 'demons', but now know to have been adrenalin 'surges' brought on by my own fearful mind. In my mid to late teens; I got into, and actually enjoyed reading Frank Peretti's 'This Present Darkness', and 'Piercing the Darkness', which only served to strengthen my resolve that 'Satan' was out to get me!
Before I began my descent into things fulfilled; I gradually realized that 'Satan' was no longer able to exercise his power over men as he used to, and eventually I came to the 'doctrinal stance' ( the latter one ) that I outlined above, though I did not necessarily attribute this to any eschatology, not having been indoctrinated much on that subject. As I continued my descent, however ( and I can't blame it all on my eschatological beliefs ); I, through the study of Scriptures, and other men's arguments from those Scriptures, became convinced that 'Satan' was, in a sense, the figment of our imagination, and biblically the love-child of Greek mythology and superstitious Christianity! The term/name 'Satan' comes directly from the Hebrew shaw-tan, and means simply 'adversary'. The people of God throughout the Scriptures have had many 'satans', in fact, as I explained in one of my articles several years ago; God Himself, as the Angel ( messenger ) of the Lord, became an adversary ( 'satan' ) to Balaam ( Numbers 22:22 ) when he was trying to go against God's will. Although, to my knowledge, never expressly said; God became an adversary to the Old Covenant ( physical ) seed of Abraham, and as I reminded a brother not too long ago; Jesus called Peter 'Satan' ( 'adversary' ) when Peter misunderstandingly opposed himself to God's will. ( Matthew 16:23 )
The point of what I have been saying here is that, although it is only natural for us to want to blame anyone but ourselves for our problems, and the modern-day translations ( at least as far back as 1611 ) have only served to strengthen that notion, so that men ( as far back as..........?? ) have conjured up this super-natural spirit-being, who was once an ( arch ) angel of God, and is now, as I said earlier, anything from THE ( arch ) enemy of God, to just a trouble-maker, as I even postulated once, 'a mob boss in prison' with his cronies on the outside doing his dirty work. James wrote that 'each one is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed' ( James 1:14 ). He further says in the first several verses of chapter four, 'wars and fights come from......your ( desires for ) pleasure.........in your members......you lust and do not have, you murder and covet, but cannot obtain..........you fight and war......that you may spend ( it-have ) your pleasures.' In the context of James' writing; he was speaking to his brethren, the natural 'children' of Israel, and yes, our situation as believers under the New Covenant ( in Christ ) is much 'changed' ( I Corinthians 15:52 ), but we still have problems with this today; we are still sometimes 'our own worst enemy', but in the world at large ( of unbelievers ), there are still many who set themselves as adversaries to the cause of Christ, so I guess, in the words of a noted author, 'Satan is alive and well on planet earth'!
It may be thought that a subject like this is not all that important, and 'what does it hurt that some brethren believe in a powerful spirit-being who opposes all things Godly?' so 'why write on such a divisive ( heretical ) topic, and risk alienating even more of your brethren?' Good question; 'why?'
I remember hearing the question from an elderly lady, during a bible-study that I attended once, 'but isn't Satan everywhere and all-powerful, just like God?' ( It was something along those lines, anyway ) The reason that this incident has stood out to me oer the years, and one of my reasons for writing, is because I believe that it is this kind of thinking ( 'Satan' as a super-powerful spirit being who opposes God...........hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm....... ), that naturally leads to a morbid interest in demonology, the study of the occult, and the selfish desires that we all have to want to blame our problems on a creature who's existence is questionable at best!
Here are several quotations on the subject that I have written in the past'
'Right off, some more conservative and traditional people would most likely object, saying something like, "The Bible says that there were two different trees", or "God is not the Author of evil, therefore since the tree of life typifies, or typified, Christ, all throughout Scripture; the tree of the knowledge of good and evil must typify, or have typified an opposite, or the fallen spiritual being, known ( traditionally ) as Satan".'
from 'The Tree ( s ) of the Garden' http://charlesshank.blogspot.com/2007/06/tree-s-ofthe-garden.html
'Even with the traditional understanding of 'Satan' taking over the body of the serpent, and speaking through a creature ordinarily incapable of human speech; it must be a supernatural occurrence, which, I will admit, is quite possible, or else this is an example of 'prophetic license', an allegory, a story told in such a way as to portray a certain hidden meaning.'
from 'The Righteousness of Christ' http://charlesshank.blogspot.com/2009/05/righteousness-of-christ-gospel-typified.html
'One might argue, as tradition is, I believe, that the Day-star, or this 'Lucifer' was once 'an angel of light' ( II Corinthians 11:14 ) before he got jealous of God's position and tried to exalt himself above God's throne, and was 'kicked out' of Heaven; but I believe that it can be proven from Scripture that this is not necessarily the case.'
'My purpose in this little study is, first of all, to bring glory to His holy name by reminding my readers that it is His purposes that will be accomplished, not ours, not 'Satans', and second, to edify and strengthen my readers by relieving them through the fact that , although Paul warned his readers, in Ephesians 6:12, 'For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.', it is not the tradition 'demons' and 'devils', per se, which we strive against, but that we fight against the desires and purposes of wicked and selfish people, as we ourselves once were, and sometimes, still are!'
from 'The Anointed Cherub' http://charlesshank.blogspot.com/2009/06/anointed-cherub-protector-of-gods-glory.html
'And He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘ Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive. Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, And shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And return and be healed.”
'God seems here ( Isaiah 6:9 ), to be telling Isaiah to intentionally deceive His people! Who then is this 'devil' that would come, in verse 11 of Luke chapter 8, and take away the word of God? Assuming that this 'devil' is the same 'Satan' that we know from the Old Covenant Scriptures; we can easily see that Isaiah was acting the part of a 'Satan' to his people. In Matthew 16:23 and Mark 8:33; it it recorded that Jesus once called Peter Satan! Whether Jesus meant to rebuke Peter by comparing him with the fallen spiritual being known as Satan, or whether He was saying that Peter was being adversarial; this was a pretty harsh statement!'
from 'He Who Has Ears....' http://charlesshank.blogspot.com/2008/12/he-who-has-ears-to-hear-let-him-hear.html
'This 'great star..........................burning like a torch', whether speaking, as is traditional, of 'Satan' being cast out of Heaven to the earth, or simply symbolical of God 'loosing' His judgment upon covenant-breaking and apostate Old Covenant Israel; it should be fairly clear that God, by whichever means, did reveal, 'in flaming fire' ( II Thessalonians 1:8 ), judgment upon His enemies, the adversaries of His people, in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, in AD70!
from 'Studies in the Book of Revelation' ( Pt 5 ) http://charlesshank.blogspot.com/2009/08/studies-in-book-of-revelation-of-jesus.html
'You may have heard, pretty convincingly, I might add, that when Job chapter one records that 'Satan' ( literally 'adversary' ) came before the throne of God to accuse Job, it simply showed that the accuser of the brethren' stands before His throne yet, accusing us ( Christians even ) of our failures, trying to fault us in God's presence. As I implied previously; this is, in a sense, a correct assumption, were it not for several glaringly obvious facts, for example, where Paul, in Romans 16:20, promises the Roman believers that 'the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.' Peter also wrote, concerning this 'adversary', that he 'walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour' ( I Peter 5:8 ( Luke 20:47 ).'
'When Jesus died on the cross, an earthquake, along with the other above-mentioned signs, signified that He had indeed defeated the powers of darkness, which, in effect , swallowed up the 'flood' of evil that Old Covenant Israel ( after the flesh ) had unleashed by their rebellion, and eventually, apostasy, against the Righteousness of God, seeking their own instead. Jesus condemningly told the Pharisees, in Matthew 23:13, that they had 'shut up the kingdom of heaven against men', because of their traditional 'laws', which Paul said, were 'contrary to' them ( Colossians 2:14 ), were attempting to carry away from the True Path those on whom the seed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ had fallen ( Matthew 13:9 ). When the 'dragon' attempted to imitate the power of God, as in Daniel 2:35; God defeated his purpose by sending His Son in the form of a man ( earthy ), in essence, 'swallowing' the 'flood' of evil, which had been unleashed by the Old Covenant. ( Romans 7:7-12 )'
from 'Studies in the Book of Revelation'' ( Pt 9 ) http://charlesshank.blogspot.com/2010/01/studies-in-book-of-revelation-of-jesus.html
These quotes are not definitive or even authoritative statements on this subject, and should not be viewed as such; my purpose in quoting them, and in writing this study, as in all my studies, is to help people to think for themselves, and most importantly, to study Scripture for themselves to see if these things are so; they we may realize, as I quoted a famous politician once, 'we have nothing to fear but fear itself', that do not 'battle' against some certain fallen angel, or spirit-being, who is intent on our demise, but within ourselves, and against the evil desires of those around us!