THE SERPENT, GENESIS 3:1-15
When the serpent is introduced, we are told merely that he is more clever than any of the beasts of the field. Immediately, we find him trying to manipulate the woman through lies. First, he indicates that God had lied, by saying the woman would not die if she ate the forbidden fruit - whereas God had said that she would die (2:17; 3:4). Next, he indicates that God's instructions regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil were purely selfish, 3:5. Thus, the serpent is a liar and a slanderer. And, when we consider that his goal is to bring about Eve's death - and that he succeeds in so doing - we recognize that he is a murderer as well. God promises consequences for the serpent's behavior in 3:14-15: he and his kind will need to crawl on their bellies and be at odds with the woman and her descendants. More importantly, however, God promises a time will come when a Descendant of the woman would rise up and gain the victory over the serpent.
The serpent is definitively identified for us in Revelation 12:9-10. Here we find that his names are "the Devil" and "Satan." The name Satan is from a Hebrew word that means, "an adversary," and in fact throughout scripture this being is clearly shown to be the adversary of God and His people. One of the ways this is shown is in the way he falsely accuses God's people, as indicated here in verse 10 and clearly illustrated in the case of Job (Job 1:8-11; 2:3-6). As noted above, the first time we meet him he is falsely accusing God to God's first people. Thus, it is not surprising to find that the serpent's other name, "the Devil," is from a Greek word that means "accuser" or "slanderer." We can easily see his influence in the false accusations brought against Jesus (Matthew 26:59-62) and Stephen (Acts 7:9-14).
In John 8:43-44, Jesus indicates that the Devil has been a liar and a murderer "from the beginning," indicating that the Lord had the events of Genesis 3 in mind as He spoke. His goal is to pull God's people away from Him by enticing them to sin, thus bringing about their deaths, I Peter 5:8. That being the case, it is not surprising that a major component in his arsenal of lies is false teaching - most notably altered versions of the gospel: II Corinthians 11:14-15; II Peter 2:1-3; I Timothy 4:1-3. The Lord pronounces His judgment upon all such in Revelation 21:8.
Throughout all our study of the Devil, one thing is very clear: he is a personal being. He is not some vague force, but an actual being with thoughts and ambitions - and even his own followers, Matthew 25:41.
Every one of us who is of accountable age either is or has been under the sway of the Devil (John 8:34; Romans 3:23). We have all willingly succumbed to his schemes at some point or other in our lives, thus earning death for ourselves (Romans 6:23). There is a way of freedom, of course. The way to overcome the influence of the Devil in our lives is to submit to Jesus in childlike, obedient faith, John 8:31-32. He is the only way - John 14:6; Acts 4:12. After all, Jesus is the Seed of the woman who, through the cross, gained the victory over the serpent for all of God's people, Hebrews 2:14.