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Does Loving Your Enemies Mean We Need To Love satan?
September 01
Do We Love Satan

We've been working through a message series here at Vineyard OP called The Complicated Art of Loving Your Enemies. The entire series deals with Jesus' command to love your enemies in Matthew 5:43-48. You can listen to the messages here.


I had someone ask the following question: "If Jesus says to love our enemies, does that mean we are supposed to love satan?" Now, some people may feel this is an odd question, but it is not the first time it has been asked in the history of the Church. The movement known as "universalism" in the church asserts that even people who go to hell will someday have a chance to be redeemed, and that in the end all God's creation will be redeemed. Some have extended this so far as to include the father of lies himself (capitalization intentionally withheld, I think you know where I land on this topic already), theorizing that someday satan will be saved. This has an even bigger name and is hard to pronounce.  For the record, Vineyard OP does not follow or teach universalism.  We just don't see it in the Bible.


Let's agree that this is a logical question that comes to mind based on our understanding that Jesus is serious about us loving our enemies. Which he is. Who is a bigger enemy to followers of Jesus than the prince of darkness? No one, that's who. He is the biggest enemy we have.


So, do we have to love him? Is that what Jesus means?


My short answer is "no, we don't need to love satan."


My long answer looks like this:


Jesus calls us to love our enemies. I know it is not 100% clear, but he does not specifically state whether this includes satan or not. Any opinion made based on this verse alone will be an argument from silence. So, to address the question, we must understand what it means to "love" your enemies and then see if it applies to the devil.


Jesus tells his followers to "pray for your enemies". It's the primary way that we diffuse our anger and demonstrate love for an enemy. It's amazing how brilliant Jesus is in this one simple little suggestion. Well, Jesus is always brilliant, but particularly brilliant here, because it is extremely difficult to hate someone you are praying for.


As we see Jesus living out loving his enemies, we see him often take pity on those who are in bondage to evil. I get the feeling that Christ-like love for enemies is something akin to pity for those who are enslaved. Then we couple this with a desire to help set them free. We are not allowed to hate them. What they do is evil, because they are enslaved by evil. And we can only call it "love" for our enemies when it proceeds from a genuine desire to draw people into relationship with the healing Savior, even if they continue to embrace their slavery - even if nothing changes. Like with the Pharisees, Jesus' "woes" are best interpreted as "I feel sorry for you".


This means we must learn to direct the anger that we feel at the injustices that are done by our enemies (assuming we are not guilty of our own grievances in the relationship between two enemies) to the appropriate place. Paul tells us in Ephesians that our battle is not against flesh and blood. The human enemy is not the target of your anger. satan and his demons are the target, unless, of course, we are somehow called to love him as well...


Jesus' admonition to love your enemies is best accomplished through one of the most powerful transforming tools God has given us: forgiveness. To fully love your enemy you must forgive them. Read R.T. Kendall's book Total Forgiveness if you want to go deep with a biblical concept of forgiveness. I don't have time to cover it here, because we are trying to answer a different question.


With this understanding of how loving your enemies actually works (praying for them, directing your anger at the forces that enslave them, and forgiving our enemies), does this apply to satan? Can we pray for satan? Do we feel sorry for the devil? Can we forgive the prince of all things evil? Furthermore, does the grace extended by the Creator God to humanity even extend to Satan? Is Satan an evil being, or is he a being in bondage to evil?


With all that in mind, the overwhelming tone of Scripture is that Satan blew it. We don't know all the details, but nowhere in Scripture are we told to pray for, feel sorry for or forgive the father of lies. The Bible unapologetically dumps him in the Lake of Fire at the end of Revelation. There is not even a hint of a notion of redemption for this being of pure evil. There is no indication that the grace God has extended to humanity includes satan or any of his demons. You could say this is just another argument from silence, but for something as important as the redemption of the evil one, you would think it would show up somewhere in all of Scripture.


I must conclude that he cannot be redeemed. He is an evil being not under the grace extended to humanity and creation. As such, we are not called to love satan, in the biblical sense of loving your enemies. We might pity him, but I can't imagine praying for him. I just don't think that is what Jesus meant.


satan is the source of the suffering that leads to the making of enemies in the first place. Behind every parent who defends child abuse, behind every junkie who robs to fund their habit, behind every corporate embezzler is a lie the person has swallowed. They didn't set out to be entangled in lies and deception. They bought a lie that was sold to them by the father of lies, and now they may have become your enemy. If you are a follower of Christ, you must see beyond the individual to the source of the deception and direct your righteous indignation and anger there. There will be consequences for people who commit evil acts in this world, and we should acknowledge and confront these grievances. But we should never lose sight of the message of Christ: love your enemies, pray for them, see them the way God sees them and learn to forgive.


David Andersen
Vineyard Church of Overland Park


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