I recently read a novel called The Mephisto Club about a small private club of Satan hunters. I am not clear on their objective, but they wanted to hunt/study Satan by observing people possessed by him. Not something I’d want to do, but it induced some thoughts. Our modern humanistic world of materialism completely discounts the notion of absolute evil or the idea of it having sentience or even personality. Yet we don’t have to reach back very far into history to encounter events that befuddle any other explanation. For example, the atrocities of the Third Reich. I don’t care what theory of psychology, or of sociology or of anthropology you care to put forth, it will not explain lampshades made from human skin. This concept is discussed in the seminal work of Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier, The Morning of the Magicians, in a section of the book entitled “A Few Years in the Absolute Elsewhere.” The revolting fact is that there are even today many manifestations of pure evil --- crimes whose details you don’t want to know. Sometimes these are multiplied on a large scale, and sometimes not.
The pop Christianity view of some tug-o-war, involving you, caught between God and Satan, is an infusion of paganism into Christian thought. The Bible paints no such picture. I recall being challenged decades ago, in an undergrad class, to write a term paper about Satan in the Old Testament. It was a short paper. There isn’t much there. The most extensive treatment is in the book of Job, that seminal book of philosophy from the catalogue of early Wisdom Literature. What we see there is Satan (who would have then been called saw-TAWN), a word which means adversary, but Satan is an adversary that is of no significant challenge to God on any level. In fact, in that account, he performs God’s will and then plays no more role in the story. The Bible depicts a sovereign God whose abiding and overriding value is Love, and it is a love that is characterized by an unconditional loyal caring, affection, and manipulation of lives to bring about certain outcomes. And sometimes that manipulation includes using evil spirits to bring about events that are springboards to personal growth.
In the New Testament, Satan (or “the Devil”) is developed in a much more detailed and larger treatment. There he is painted as a desperately dangerous Evil One seeking to devour and destroy, but in none of that literature is there anything to suggest that he is not fitting completely into God’s plan. No, there too we have the picture of a clever and powerful God who determines and engineers outcomes.