The devil has many names! The Bible gives us many and the saints have their own descriptions! The different names from the Bible and from the saints present the various manners that the devil works in the world and in our lives.
What, then, are some of the Biblical names or descriptions of the devil? Jesus gives a double name for the devil: “He is a liar and a murderer from the beginning.” (Jn. 8:44) He also calls the devil “the Prince of this world”. (Jn. 14:30) A somewhat strange name that Jesus gives the devil is that of Beelzebub—meaning literally, “The Lord of the flies.”
Other names in the Bible would be the following: devil, Satan, Lucifer, serpent, as well as the ancient serpent—referring to the temptations of Adam and Eve in the Garden.
Still more the devil is called the Accuser. In one of his Letters, Saint Peter compares the devil to an animal, a ferocious and vicious animal. “He is like a roaring lion on the prowl seeking whom he can devour.” (1Pt. 5:8)
In the History of the Church, the saints have their own descriptions of the devil. With his typical conciseness, Saint Thomas Aquinas calls the devil “The Tempter”. Saint Augustine, following in the line of Saint Peter, using animal images, describes the devil as an angry dog on a chain or leash. Saint Martin calls the devil a bloody brute. Finally, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, who has bequeathed to us the Spiritual Exercises calls the devil the enemy of our human nature.
The devil both hates God and hates all of humanity, as well as each and every one of us individually. One vice that the devil does not have is that of laziness. Quite the contrary, the devil works day and night tempting us. His purpose, with regard to us, is to tempt us to give into and succumb to sin. He wants us to be slaves of sin. Then he hopes to blind us to our slavery and addiction to sin. Finally, his greatest desire is to lure us into living in mortal sin and dying in the state of mortal sin. Then we will be the sport of the devil in hell for all eternity!
A note of great hope is that God is much stronger than the devil. However, God gives the devil permission to tempt us. We must rely on God’s grace and Mary’s intercession so as to win the battle and attain the salvation of our immortal souls.
The following are typical temptations of the devil who indeed, in the words of Saint Ignatius, is our mortal enemy. Our victory over the devil depends essentially on the grace of God, but also knowledge of his astute tactics.
1. State of Desolation
Take this for granted: in the state of desolation the devil will tempt us; this is universal for all people, times and places. In a word, desolation is when we feel discouraged, sad, and depressed and that nobody really cares for me or loves me.
2. Kryptonite Rule
Now the devil, aware of my facial expressions, seeing me sad, depressed, and discouraged applies the Kryptonite rule. Remember that Superman was strong except when he was exposed to Kryptonite. Then his strength left him. We must beg for the grace, as well as have access to spiritual direction, in order to discover our own Kryptonite.
One of the typical temptations of the devil is to coax us into believing that we have a long life, a lot of time ahead of us, and that we can easily put off for tomorrow what we should do today. Put what off? Precisely this: put off our spiritual practices of piety.
The devil speaks to us in this fashion: “You can go to Confession later – there’s no big hurry and the priest does not have time today.” Rosary – put it off, do it later, until finally you fall asleep at midnight. If you are in the habit of making a Holy Hour – you can skip it today and do it tomorrow, or next week, or never. In a word, the devil wants us to neglect our prayer life or at least diminish it.
4. Harbor Resentments in Your Mind and Heart
A chief tool of the devil is to surface in our minds past hurts and so harbor resentments. In other words, Satan desires that we hold back forgiveness and disregard being merciful. When the devil wins this huge victory, then we go through life both angry and depressed! Worse yet: we make the people around us angry and depressed! Double victory for the ancient serpent!
5. The World of Images
In our modern, technologically advanced society and culture in which the image dominates, the devil, especially when we find ourselves in the state of desolation, can whisper in our ear to seek out bad images, scenes, videos against the virtue of purity or chastity. Unfortunately, viewing this material can easily form a habit, and then a long-term addiction. Better in desolation to run to the beautiful images of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus!
6. Laziness & Indolence
In Spiritual Theology and practice, experience shows that when we are indolent and doing nothing of real value, it is then that the devil tempts us and offers us the opportunity to enter into his factory or field of work, and that would be SIN! On the other hand, legitimate hard work not only builds us up and serves to help others, but it also serves to avoid many temptations from the devil. How true the proverb or saying: “Idleness is the workshop of the devil.”
7. Bad Company, Corrupts Morals
Saint Paul expresses a truism that all of us should consider: Bad Company/Corrupts Morals.This being the case, all of us should choose with great discernment and wisdom who we would like to be our companions, especially our close friends. A bad companion can result in our ruin; however, a good friend is a treasure and can result in our growth in sanctification.
8. Wandering Eyes
One of the greatest challenges is that of controlling our eyes. Eve, in the Garden of Eden, allowed her eyes to wander and to fix their gaze upon the forbidden fruit. This culminated, of course, in the commission of Original Sin, which was transmitted to all of humanity. The devil constantly tempts us to allow our eyes to wander. Remember the sins of King David—both adultery and murder—and it all started by the laziness of David and his wandering eyes.
9. Disobedience in Its Various Forms
Very often the devil will tempt us in many forms to disobey. Children being disobedient to their parents, Religious to their Superiors, workers toward their bosses, Catholics to the Magisterium (The Teaching Office of the Church)—behind much of this disobedience is the disguised presence of the devil. By the way, remember that the sin of Lucifer and the sin of Adam and Eve were essentially sins of disobedience to God. In a word, sin is disobedience.
10. To Ignore, To Show Indifference, Coldness and Rejection of the Blessed Virgin Mary
It is a very interesting fact that once a Catholic leaves his true faith and becomes a Protestant or Jehovah Witness or enters into another Religious Sect, Our Lady is very often rejected. One of the key tactics of the devil is these words: “Catholics adore Mary, as well as images of Mary. They practice idolatry!” With this brain-washing they turn against Mary. Such individuals will ignore Mary, be cold or indifferent to Mary, reject Mary, or even have a real antagonism and outright hostility towards Mary.
Behind these attitudes is the devil. Satan has a mortal fear of Mary because he knows her power of intercession, her power for good and for the salvation of souls. Saint Louis de Montfort asserts with precision: “He who does not have Mary as Mother, does not have God as Father.”
In conclusion, friends in Jesus and Mary, our life is truly Combat, a mortal fight until the end. Our enemies are many, but especially three: the devil, the flesh and the world. Our short essay has as its purpose to help us beware of the many tricks, lies, disguises, and traps of the devil, who is a liar and murderer from the beginning. With this self-knowledge and awareness, we can fight the good fight, run the good race, and eventually win the merited crown in Heaven that awaits God’s victorious soldiers.
Father Ed Broom is an Oblate of the Virgin Mary and the author of Total Consecration Through the Mysteries of the Rosary and From Humdrum to Holy. He blogs regularly at Fr. Broom’s Blog.