It is said of a snake that even though its head may be cut off, it takes a while for its slow metabolism to respond. In the interim, sometimes up to an hour, its tail thrashes about destroying whatever is in its way.
Its head also lives on for a spell: pupils dilate and fangs sink into whatever is near as the doomed reptile executes its final reflexive actions fueled by a snake’s brand of terror-laced adrenalin. 
If it is we who are near, and the serpent hasn’t been contained, there is still cause for fear.
How seemly, then, literally and/or metaphorically, Satan slithered into Eden as such a being.
And how equally seemly for us to keep in mind that even after our spiritual arch enemy’s ill-fated head-on collision with the Son of God (ca 33) he, like his reptile counterpart, continues his destructive postmortem thrash-about until his own containment (Tribulation’s end) and fiery finale (1000 years hence).
In another but related metaphor, we are, as it were, engaged in a mop-up campaign against this (defeated) enemy. But nevertheless a potentially lethal one, particularly if we don’t have, or we have rejected, “the field manual,” the Bible, in which there is much to say about dealing with and overcoming him.
How appropriate for us to keep all this in mind particularly these days that, many believe, are at the doorstep of that seven-year tribulation interval.
Although Jesus Christ crushed Satan’s “head” at Calvary in fulfillment of the prophecy at Eden, the Serpent is still bent on his end game: destruction of all things God. And, as those who study such things remind us, his reactions to Jesus’ lethal blow are not merely terror-filled but rage-filled, intensifying as he knows his (prophetic) containment is near.
So how do we keep our distance from the venom? Here are a few things I have learned about his nature and the nature of He Who conquered him, Jesus Christ, in Whom we, too, can experience victory.
ON THE METAPHOR
- Satan is relentless.
There is a brand of thought that ciphers thus: if we are nice, the “enemy” wreaking havoc (or merely opposing some “better way” we think best) will eventually come around impressed with our brains, bucks and/or brawn.
But that’s not who coils near.
Despite those who would personify Satan as teachable, changeable and easy to manipulate–like human beings–Satan’s end game is our end. Period. No compromises, negotiations, pleas, changes of heart or mind.
Here’s a reminder, citing another creature of prey: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
When Jesus dealt with the presence of evil the only energy he spent was the energy—and power—of Words already “weaponized,” as it were, against Satan. “It is written….,” began Jesus, after each of the three temptations in his desert experience, as He contained Satan with Truth (see Matthew chapter 4).
Our instruction is to respond the same way when evil snakes near and to let our “no be no” when evil tempts us from without—and from within. Citing a few good reminders from the same text Jesus used is a good idea, too.
Why? It’s not only lawyers, politicians, and false messiahs who know how to wield the weapon of rhetoric to advance their own campaigns. Satan (first in his class) knows how to spin, too.
Best not to argue.
2. Satan is not merely a Dude of Darkness.
Nor is he a Party-Animal in a Red Suit, a Mythical Fire-Breathing Reptile or any other archetype or caricature we conjure up out of ignorance or for fun and/or profit.
In his darkness there is no fun. At all. Nada. The only profit—our annihilation (see above).
Without the power of the Spirit of God who indwells believers, there is no defeating—or humoring—this one. If we have “swept ourselves clean” of some evil in any way other than that prescribed in God’s Word, we are still fair game for the ultimate gamer.
That little story in Luke 11:24-26? About the one who successfully wielded the broom and swept himself clean of an evil spirit but had nothing to replace it? Mayhem times seven returned.
- Satan is the opposite of God in all respects.
Here is a good list of what we can expect from the manifestation of God’s spirit, courtesy of St. Paul in his letter to the believers in Corinth:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Corinthians 4:7, NIV).
And even better news: It (love) never fails (v. 8).
Here’s what we can expect from that other spirit who has been coiled to attack since before the crust cooled:
Exactly the opposite.
ON THE ANTIDOTE
So how does one keep oneself away from spiritual venom and its manifestations in the physical realm?
To sum up:
- Understand the nature of the snake.
- Understand its (dying) power.
- Understand the greater (living) power of its Creator–and
- Heed His instructions.
Here’s a good place to start that goes to the heart of the love that the true enemy of creation will never be able to understand—nor defeat:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16, KJV).
An empty tomb bears witness.
(And just when that old serpent thought those three crude spikes, a twisted crown of thorns, and a blood-soaked cross nailed his victory…)
Images from the public domain.