Satan is Perfectly Orthodox
I don’t know how much time I want to spend on this subject, as I think it’s ill fitting to give too much attention to Satan, as real and active as he may be. However, I want to point something out: there is nothing lacking in Satan’s knowledge about God. In fact, I’d argue that his understanding of God’s plans and purposes, and the Lord’s plan for the church and end times is clearer than our own. Satan wages war against Christians and the Church because of his understanding of the Lord’s plans and purposes for it and for the world, not because he just never grasped it.
Before Satan was called such, he was Lucifer, glorious and beautiful, abiding in the presence of the Lord. But iniquity was found in him—the sin of pride. He was self-seeking and refused to submit to the Lord. He exalted his own will above God’s.
Satan’s fall and that of the other fallen angels shows us that you can know everything there is to know about theology—and it could all be true—and still be far from God. Unless we first submit ourselves entirely to the Lord, our knowledge will be of no benefit to us whatsoever. For this reason the Apostle Paul says that “if I understand all mysteries and all knowledge…and have not love, I am nothing.”
Think of Jonah’s response to the Lord when He asked Jonah why he was so upset about the Ninevites. Jonah told the Lord that he knew God was compassionate and that He’d have mercy on the Ninevites, whome Jonah hated. Jonah didn’t falter in his knowledge of God’s character and power, he faltered in submission and obedience to Him.
When our knowledge outstrips our obedience and love, we can deceive ourselves, allowing all of our understanding of doctrine to serve as a proxy for a broken and contrite heart before God. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. The Christian who relies on their understanding of God and affirmation of sound doctrine can run the risk of missing faith. There is also the risk of pride and coming to the place where you judge Scripture rather than allowing Scripture to judge you.
Our seeking of knowledge should serve a purpose beyond the building of our own intellectual fortress. There is a reason that the Psalmist says, “I have not concerned myself with things too lofty for me.” Our concern in growing in understanding should simply serve the purpose of growing in obedience and not more than that. I want to know what I need to know to fulfill God’s will. The type of knowledge that leads one to grow in faith in obedience is different than that which puffs up the mind. The understanding we must seek is the why of Scripture, not merely the what. Don’t just tell me that the Lord sent a lying spirit to deceive the wicked King Ahab, tell me why. Don’t simply learn what so and so scholar says about what happened at the Battle of Ai—understand why it is a part of Scripture and what that means for our faith.
It’s wonderful when churches uphold orthodoxy. Scripture tells us to be diligent in maintaining sound doctrine. But orthodox belief does not equate with saving faith. There are many in the Gospels who were commended for their faith, but many likely couldn’t explain the nature of Jesus and God’s overarching plan of salvation. We come to God through faith and obedience, not through intellect.