Our culture is riddled with expressions like “The devil made me do it,” and “We create our own demons,” or, “You are your own worst enemy.” Every one of these statements reveals an underlying truth which many reject because it is far easier to externalize the origin of our inherent problem as a species then it is to accept responsibility for eradicating any false beliefs, concepts and perceptions within our own consciousness. Let’s face it, if we have a devil to blame things on, it definitely takes the focus off of us.
Depictions of evil entities such as Satan, the Devil, and demons are present in various cultures: Among the Abrahamic religions, Islam and Christianity have more overt conceptions of Satan, whereas, in Judaism he is viewed more as an "accuser" or "adversary." In Islam, the Devil is referred to as Iblis, or sometimes the Shaytan, however, he has no power other than the ability to make evil suggestions by which to influence the hearts of humanity. Hinduism does not have a primary entity representing evil in opposition to God, however, it does recognize different beings which have the ability to temporarily influence the circumstances and forces which impact humanity to cause suffering. In Buddhism, Mara is recognized as a tempter who personifies impurity and tries to distract mankind from observing any type of spiritual life and from seeing the truth. In some Buddhist teachings Mara is not seen as a separate entity, but as present in the very mind and desires of each individual, alluring through the senses, to cause confusion as to what is truly in one’s best interest.
Suffice it to say that many complex and often distorted ideas have developed about Satan or the Devil over the ages which have grown to monumental proportions. It has been suggested that perhaps that is why Satan is merely described as a serpent in the book of Genesis, but becomes the Great Dragon in the book of Revelation.
Despite only having sparse and obscure references to support the belief, many remain entrenched in archaic concepts of a pristine angelic being who somehow decided to rebel against an Omniscient Creator while convincing one third of heaven’s host to join him. This idea seems ludicrous, not only because it flies in the face of common sense, but because it severely undermines faith in an Omnipotent God. After all, if God created an angel that could plot a rebellion against Him without His foreknowledge, that God is not omniscient. And if God did know, then ultimately that God is responsible for all of the evils in the world attributed to that 'fallen angel' who allegedly became Satan (adversary/enemy).
Whereas, in Occidental culture, the early chapters of Genesis are considered to be strictly historical in nature and depicting a literal creation of the physical universe, it was not originally viewed as such. In fact, the creation story was held to be an allegory among the ancient Hebrews, and according to Rabbi David Cooper, in his book God Is A Verb, Satan was believed to be the force of fragmentation by which the physical universe materialized. In essence, the origin of humanity’s perception of separation or duality was birthed by this serpent (Heb = hiss, fr. root = whisperer of magic spells).
Contrary to the fundamentalist belief that the greatest lie Satan ever convinced mankind of was that he doesn’t exist, the greatest lie much of humanity cleaves to is the belief that we somehow possess an existence apart from God. Even the Greek philosophers and poets proclaimed that “In Him (God) we live and move and have our Being.” It may be well worth considering that the evil and darkness which humanity experience is a result of the very belief that we have an independent life from God (Spirit), the very Source of Life.
Parallel to this misconception, somehow the belief that Lucifer and Satan are synonymous crept into mainstream Christian theology. The disparity between the name meanings themselves, along with a glaring lack of any Scriptural evidence to support the claim, should be enough for us to make a profound distinction. Whereas the Hebrew name Satan means “adversary,” the name Lucifer means “light-bearer.” This was not a designation attributed to a single Archangel, but to mankind as a whole. For Jesus said of man, “You are the light of the world” and “If your eye is single, your whole body will be full of light.”
The "adversary" more accurately speaks of a false sense of self or ego identification, or what in Christian terminology is referred to as the carnal mind. The essence of the carnal mind is described by the Apostle Paul in this way: “The carnal mind IS enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Therefore, if we are looking for an adversary, if we are looking for a devil, we need look no further than the mind which thinks that it possesses an identity separate from God.
Interestingly enough, the word devil in the Greek is the word “diabolo” (similar to dianoia = thought, thinking) and is commonly translated as "slanderer" or "accuser," but the cognitive roots of the word indicate a "casting down" or a “downward channel”. This speaks of a descent in consciousness to focus on ‘materiality’ instead of recognizing that we “HAVE the MIND of Christ (Spirit)” and are, therefore, “seated in heavenly places far above all principality and power, and might and dominion...."
For all intensive purposes the Devil has no power except by virtue of the beliefs we hold about him in which we create him in our own image. In other words, we perpetuate the existence of the Devil through our thoughts, that downcast direction of our thinking, which leads us to accept the false idea that we are merely mortal, limited, finite beings instead of “partakers of the Divine Nature.”
Or, in the words of Oscar Wilde,
“We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.”― Oscar Wilde
Perhaps that is why we are also admonished to “give NO place to the devil” because we are to give ‘no place’ to the type of thinking which allows our thoughts to spiral ‘downward’ to focus on circumstances and “judge according to appearances.” In this same manner we learn to “cast down imaginations and every proud barrier held up against the knowledge OF God,” which knowledge is, “to Know the love of Christ which passes (mere mental) knowledge that we might be filled with ALL THE FULNESS OF GOD.”
It then becomes clear how Jesus could say, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning (Gr=bright shining, lamp),” for it is only through the brightness of that illumination within us, and the realization of our Divine Identity AS the children of Light, that “the adversary” is cast out of the heavens of our consciousness. As we “Let this MIND BE IN US” which knows “equality with God,” we can say like Jesus, “the prince of this world comes, but has NOTHING IN ME.”
"Then shall be revealed the Lawless One, whom the Lord shall consume with the Spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the manifestation of his Presence ('brightness of his coming') him, whose presence is according to the working of the Adversary...." - 2 Thessalonians 2:8-9
"And there was war in heaven: Michael (Heb= "who IS like God") and his angels (messengers) fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels (messengers), And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the Great Dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." - Rev 12:7-9