“There is no greater disaster than to underestimate the enemy.”
The Hebrew word śāṭān means “adversary.” When Solomon sinned, God raised up Hadad of Edom as śāṭān—a political/military opponent. When Balaam rebelliously rode off on his donkey, the Angel of Yahweh took his stand in the way as śāṭān “an adversary.”
Unfortunately, although enemies of every ilk assail each of us individually, all Christians share a common foe—hăśśāṭān, “the adversary,” “the śāṭān,” Satan himself.
Our adversary has other names. Diabolos means “slanderer.” This word, usually translated “devil,” warns of what he characteristically does. Śāṭān and diabolos are close in meaning: the Hebrew of Job 1:6 uses the first, translating into Greek with the second. Satan the slanderer is also “the accuser of our brothers, the evil one, the great dragon, the ancient serpent, the one who deceives the whole world, a murderer, the father of lies.”
We do well, then, to avoid underestimating him. Paul warns us to not be ignorant of his stratagems. On one occasion he may launch a frontal attack, coming at us as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. On another, he may masquerade as an angel of light. He will try to divide us as God’s people. Satan can cite scripture (though skewing it), as our savior experienced during his own temptation. Another way to put it—we do well not to overestimate ourselves.
But though we must not underrate our enemy, neither should we be overawed by him and shrink in fear. Satan is a defeated foe, doomed to destruction in the lake of fire prepared for him and his angels. If we resist the devil, he will flee from us. If we put on the whole armor, we are able to stand. “The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him. His rage we can endure, for lo his doom is sure. One little word shall fell him.”
Scripture does not encourage us to take the tack, as some teach, of rebuking Satan. Only godless dreamers “revile angelic majesties.” Michael the archangel, for example, did not dare pronounce against the devil a railing judgment, but simply said, “The Lord rebuke you!” Let us face our foe biblically —keeping aware, awake, alert, armed; always praying; and maintaining an outlook that, though not brash, is ultimately assured and unintimidated.