What does it mean that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light?
In 2 Corinthians 11:14 Paul writes, "Satan disguises himself as an angel of light." What does this mean? It is clear from the larger context of this passage that the comparison is similar to the false apostles Paul discusses. Verse 13 states, "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ." These false teachers were attempting to look like apostles and act like apostles even though they were deceitful. Similarly, Satan often presents himself as a positive spiritual force, though his true intentions are evil.
In fact, Satan's attempts to present himself as an angel of light might have relevance to many of the spirit beings people discuss in this world. Many people claim to speak with "friendly spirits," become involved with fortune telling, or speak with the spirits of the dead. Though these spirits may present themselves as positive and harmless, they may actually be deceptive spirits similar to what Paul mentions in this passage.
How can a person distinguish between a true angel of light and Satan? Psalm 119:105 notes, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." By comparing experiences with God's Word, we can help evaluate whether the messages people claim come from spirits are consistent with God's will.
In addition, 1 John 1:7 shares, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin." In other words, our close walk with God can help us avoid the tricks of Satan when he seeks to deceive us. Just as Jesus identified and stood against the temptations of Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11), we can likewise stand against spiritual attack through a close walk with Christ.
First Peter 5:8 warns believers of Satan's deception, saying, "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." In addition to being alert, Peter commands, "Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world" (v. 9).
When we seek the truth of God's Word, follow Jesus in obedience, and stay alert for Satan's deception, we prepare ourselves to better resist the challenges we will face. We are called to put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18), covering ourselves in God's power and in prayer to stand firm against the attacks of the evil one.
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