Satan, His Motives and Methods, by Lewis Sperry Chafer, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1990, 143 pp., $7.95, (paper). [Reviewed by Pastor Arie denHartog.]
This book is a reprint. It was originally published in 1919. The author of the book, Lewis Sperry Chafer, was an American Presbyterian clergyman (1871-1952). He was the founder of what today is Dallas Theological Seminary. He was president of Dallas and professor of systematic theology there until his death.
This is a well-written book on a subject that is certainly in need of study. Though it was written a number of years ago it is still just as relevant today. We live in the day of the prevalence of Satanism and the occult. Even more seriously we see Satan working in the church through the deception of false doctrine. We see the works of Satan in so much that has the “form of godliness but denies its power.” We witness the works of Satan in the rising power of the man of sin and the ever-growing influence of the “Satanic System” of this ungodly world.
The excellence of this book is that it is written from a scholarly and conservative perspective and that it is solidly biblical. As the author says in the beginning of the book, all his source material on the truth of Satan is taken directly from the Bible and from the Bible alone. The book is absolutely full of biblical quotations. The sheer abundance of biblical references impresses one with the fact that God’s Word has so much to warn us about Satan. We need to know the devil’s person, and his evil motives and purposes. Much that is written today about Satan includes so many extrabiblical and even pagan ideas about Satan. We need to know what the Bible has to say about Satan.
The author affirms the reality of Satan in all of his fearful power and great wickedness and writes soberly about him. Many today, even among those who are in the church, imagine Satan to be little more than a mythological being concerning whom you can make cartoons and about whom you can laugh without fear or seriousness. The very minimizing and denying of his reality in the modern day church plays right into the hands of Satan.
In the first chapter Chafer gives a brief summary of the career of Satan, including his creation and fall, the various stages in the history of his operation, and his final defeat. Chafer shows from Scripture that Satan was created by God as a good angel and is therefore absolutely dependent on God in all of his operations. Though Satan is powerful and fearful, God is sovereign over him. There are chapters with titles such as the following: The Satanic Host, Satan’s Motive, Satan’s Methods, The Man of Sin, Satan’s Modern Devices, and the Believer’s Present Victory.
It would be easy to give many examples of excellent points made in each of these chapters. Chafer emphasizes that Satan’s works are not limited to what, even to the world, seems horribly depraved, devilish, and blatantly wicked. Satan has great spiritual power to influence the great and cultured and refined of the world. He has a great system of influence in modern-day culture and philosophy and education. He is the author of much modern-day religion that calls itself Christian and that is so highly regarded by men but condemned by the holy and righteous God. Especially good is Chafer’s discussion of what is really involved in religion that has the form of godliness and denies the power of it. This religion is Satan-inspired though it appears to be godly. It is a religion that teaches man the vain imagination that he can save himself with only a little help from God. It is a religion that speaks of Christ as a great example for all men to follow but denies the truth of the atonement as the only hope of man’s salvation. Throughout the book, and especially in the last chapter, there is an emphasis on the fact that Satan is so powerful and so deceptive in his devices that it is totally impossible for the Christian to stand against him in his own strength and wisdom. We are absolutely dependent on the grace of God and the power of the Lord Jesus Christ to gain the victory over Satan. And we shall by that grace indeed have the victory. The defeat of Satan which has been prophesied from the beginning is absolutely sure. Christ’s final victory has been guaranteed by the cross and resurrection.
We recommend this book. It has one great weakness that must, in our opinion, be pointed out. It is dispensational in its perspective, and that does seriously affect some of the interpretation of Scripture presented in it.