Greg Dutcher is senior pastor of Christ Fellowship Church in Fallston, Maryland. He is the author of Living Free in Enemy Territory and You Are the Treasure That I Seek. He and his wife, Lisa, have four children. As a boy, Greg snuck downstairs during the night to watch horror movies. Today he writes to dispel pop culture’s myths about Satan.
1. What prompted you to write about Satan in your new book, In your new release Living Free in Enemy Territory: Christ’s Triumph Over Satan, what caused your interest in writing a book about Satan?
Before I came to saving faith in Christ—- as a teen—- I became quite fascinated obsessed in by the person of Satan. I went through a horror movie phase that left me quite obsessed and nervous about the reality of the devil and the harm he could inflict upon the world. I would worry about the damage he could wreak if he found his way into my life somehow. After coming to faith, I quickly learned that I had nothing to fear in Christ. Years later as a pastor, I was surprised to learn that many believers, (even veteran Christians who have been walking with the Lord for years,) haved the same kinds of fears regarding Satan that I had BEFORE before my own conversion. It became a passion of mine to teach Christians about all the victory they have in Christ.
2. What are some of the myths people believe about Satan and why do you think they have continued to be popular, some even for decades?
Before my conversion, I bought into the “Hollywood” version of Satan. He was either the amalgamation of every “Freddy, Jason, Michael Meyers” of horror folklore or a caricature in a red satin jumpsuit and with a pitchfork who was so silly no one could take him seriously. As lovers of Scripture, however, we need to let the word Word of God inform our understanding of the devil, not some special-effects obsessed Hollywood filmmakers.
The two “movie myths” that seem to lodge themselves in the minds of Christians are 1) Satan is a scaly beast, and 2) Satan is totally free to do whatever harm he wishes. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I’m convinced that Satan would love to convince us that he is something like the creature from the black lagoon. Why not? Such a bogus picture will hidehides his true identity and tactics from us. But the Bible plainly teaches that Satan was an angel, a beautiful being of God’s glorious creation, before he rebelled against God. He is a charmer, a smooth talker, a courtroom prosecutor. Such pictures are more about “sinister” than they are about “scary.”
And one of the most crippling notions for the believer is to believe that Satan is “free to move about the country.” The book of Job is an antidote to such poor incorrect thinking. Before Satan can carry out one ounce of his wicked plans against God’s servant, the devil must get God’s permission. Jesus tells Peter that Satan has “asked” if he can sift the apostle like wheat.? Who does he ask? Obviously,- God. As Luther once said, “The devil is God’s devil.”
3. Why do you think the enemy enjoys these false views of himself?
Jesus said that the devil has been a liar from the beginning. Certainly part of his Satan’s deception is to get our eyes on some caricature of him him rather than on him Satan as he truly is. An enemy can do a lot of damage when we take our eyes off him.
One of Satan’s greatest weapons is to assault the believer with guilt and doubt. He is called the “accuser of the brothers,” and he loves to stand at our side with his legal pad in hand and pound away as he enumerates our many sins. If we don’t see Satan’s role in our sense of guilt and despair, we are apt to believe these charges as are legitimate before God. How many believers are paralyzed from living full full-out from for the gospel because they do not feel “worthy.”? But if we reject the Hollywood version of Satan, and stare right back in our accuser’s eyes, we can say, “I see you there, Satandevil, and you are a defeated foe. Jesus has paid for my sins fully and given me his perfect righteousness as a free gift. He’s ripped that legal pad out of your hands for all time. Leave me be!” There is gospel-rooted power in knowing who Satan is and how to properly respond to him.
4. What power does this enemy have over us and what should be our response?
Satan has many powers to use against us (e.g., lies, doubts, temptations), but he has no power OVER over us. Jesus tells us that by dying for our sins he has driven out the “prince of this world” (Satan) out and he Satan has no dominion over the children of God. Before coming to Christ, we were held captive by him Satan to do his will. We did not have forgiveness of sins, the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit, or the encouragement of other brothers and sisters in the faith. Now we have all of these amazing resources, and we are no longer under his Satan’s tyranny. The believer must still live in this sin-soaked, Satan-saturated world, but he is a citizen in another realm—- God’s kingdom. He is living free in enemy territory.