Are We Allowed to Rebuke and/or Mock the Devil?

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I received some comments regarding my article for National Catholic Register: “Satan is Highly Intelligent—and an Arrogant Idiot” (11-27-17). These are my replies.

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John Hickey: Hmmm! Perhaps some meditation upon the Letter of Jude is called for – – – verses 8-10.

Here is that passage (RSV):

Yet in like manner these men in their dreamings defile the flesh, reject authority, and revile the glorious ones. [9] But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, disputed about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a reviling judgment upon him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” [10] But these men revile whatever they do not understand, and by those things that they know by instinct as irrational animals do, they are destroyed.

It appears that the primary reference is to the good angels (“glorious ones”). A rhetorical point is made that archangel Michael didn’t even rebuke Satan, but pronounced what the Lord had already done.

That’s basically what I’m doing: noting that Satan’s final sentence is already pronounced and will inevitably happen. Jesus mocked the Pharisees and used sarcasm. God the Father mocked false prophets in the Old Testament. Elijah mocked the false prophets on Mt. Carmel, asking them where their false god Ba’al was, and whether he was going to the bathroom rather than acting on their behalf. See my papers:

Christianity, Sarcasm, Satire, Irony, Jesus & Paul [1999 and 6-2-07]

Blaise Pascal on Ridicule & Sarcasm Regarding Sin & Folly: Sanctioned by God; Many Biblical Examples Provided [12-29-11]

Did Jesus Ever Use (Non-Sinful) Sarcasm? Did St. Paul and the Prophets? Yes to All Three Questions [Facebook, 8-16-17]

Likewise, the devil is fit for mockery and laughter. Paul speaks similarly about teachers of false doctrines:

2 Timothy 3:6-9 For among them are those who make their way into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and swayed by various impulses, [7] who will listen to anybody and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth. [8] As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith; [9] but they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all,

I think the devil, as the inspirer of all such folly, is also fit for similar mockery, as part of “resisting” him, that is referred to in James 4:7.

C-Marie: Not once did Jesus say that the devil was silly,  a pathetic joke, a cosmic failure, simple, a fool, monumentally stupid, etc. Remember St. Peter said that Satan goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.  And in Ephesians is listed against whom we fight on a daily basis which is why we wear the armor of God.  Please do not see the devil as a joke.  

The folly and stupidity of disbelief is mocked throughout the Bible: especially in Proverbs. The skeptics in the book of Job are presented as abject idiots. The non-believer is a fool precisely because He doesn’t follow / believe in God. That is the very biblical definition of “fool.” False prophets are mocked; purveyors of false doctrine are mocked and virtually satirized by St. Paul. My favorite is “whose God is their belly” (Philippians 3:19, KJV).

Satan is the poster-boy and exemplar for all that. So, even though he seems not to be mocked personally in the Bible, everything he stands for (lies, rebellion, sin, despair) certainly is disparaged and decried and pilloried throughout Scripture. Therefore, by deduction, he can be mocked as well. That is, nothing in the Bible that I can find is contrary to such an action. He’s given far too much credit. If we have faith, we have nothing to fear from him.

Alexander: I think the reference in Jude about the archangel Michael not pronouncing a ‘reviling judgment’ on Satan is pretty clear.  We should follow Michael’s example.  Mocking individuals just leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

The word for “reviling” in Jude 9 is blasphemia (Strong’s word #988). According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon it means in this verse, “slander, detraction, speech injurious to another’s good name.” Word Meanings in the New Testament (Ralph Earle) states about the passage: “the context here suggests for the whole expression, ‘a slanderous accusation’ (NIV).”

The devil doesn’t have a “good name” in the first place, and I haven’t lied about him. I’ve simply applied biblical descriptions of unbelieving fools to him. It’s a true judgment, not a false one. Therefore, I am not at all prohibited to do so by Jude 9, as long as I tell the truth about Satan; since Jude 9 is condemning slander.

The context reinforces the meaning of “reviling” in verse 9. Both 8 and 10 refer to men who “revile” (“speak evil” in both instances in KJV). Again, I have not spoken evil of the devil, but have told the truth about him.

Jude 9 But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, disputed about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a reviling judgment upon him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”

The word for “rebuke” is epitimao (Strong’s word #2008). We see it used many times with regard to Jesus casting out demons and in replying to Satan himself:

Matthew 17:18 And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, . . .

Mark 9:25 . . . he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You dumb and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again.”

Luke 4:35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in the midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm.

Luke 9:42 While he was coming, the demon tore him and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father.

Jesus told His disciples to cast out demons, and said they would have the power to do so, and the Bible reports the results:

Matthew 10:8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. . . .

Mark 3:14-15 And he appointed twelve, to be with him, and to be sent out to preach [15] and have authority to cast out demons:

Mark 6:12-13 So they went out and preached that men should repent. [13] And they cast out many demons, . . .

Mark 16:7 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons . . .

Luke 10:16-20 “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” [17] The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” [18] And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. [19] Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. [20] Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

By strong implication, then, if Jesus casts out demons, and in so doing, Jesus rebukes the demons, and if He gives His disciples the same power, it follows that such rebuking is part of the process, and thus, we can rebuke a demon. Satan, being the chief demon, can also be rebuked. We do it in Jesus’ name, as Luke 10:17 shows, but we still do it. It’s basically the same idea as in Jude 9: “the Lord rebuke you” is essentially the same as rebuking in Jesus’ name: because “He who hears you hears me.”

Again, I don’t see Jude 8-10 absolutely forbidding us to rebuke the devil, but rather, saying that we can’t slander and lie about him.

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The Catholic Rite of Exorcism is far more rebuking of the devil and demons (and in a roundabout way, even mocking) than I have been. In comparison, what I wrote looks virtually like praise. For example:

Depart, then, transgressor. Depart, seducer, full of lies and cunning, foe of virtue, persecutor of the innocent. Give place, abominable creature, give way, you monster, give way to Christ, in whom you found none of your works. For He has already stripped you of your powers and laid waste your kingdom, bound you prisoner and plundered your weapons. He has cast you forth into the outer darkness, where everlasting ruin awaits you and your abettors. To what purpose do you insolently resist? To what purpose do you brazenly refuse? . . .

Yield to God, + who condemned you in the person of Judas Iscariot, the traitor. For He now flails you with His divine scourges, + He in whose sight you and your legions once cried out: “What have we to do with you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Have you come to torture us before the time?” Now He is driving you back into the everlasting fire, He who at the end of time will say to the wicked: “Depart from me, you accursed, into the everlasting fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.” For you, 0 evil one, and for your followers there will be worms that never die. An unquenchable fire stands ready for you and for your minions, you prince of accursed murderers, father of lechery, instigator of sacrileges, model of vileness, promoter of heresies, inventor of every obscenity.

Depart, then, + impious one, depart, + accursed one, depart with all your deceits, for God has willed that man should be His temple. Why do you still linger here? Give honor to God the Father + almighty, before whom every knee must bow. Give place to the Lord Jesus + Christ, who shed His most precious blood for man. Give place to the Holy + Spirit, who by His blessed apostle Peter openly struck you down in the person of Simon Magus; who cursed your lies in Annas and Saphira; who smote you in King Herod because he had not given honor to God; who by His apostle Paul afflicted you with the night of blindness in the magician Elyma, and by the mouth of the same apostle bade you to go out of Pythonissa, the soothsayer. Begone, + now! Begone, + seducer! Your place is in solitude; your abode is in the nest of serpents; get down and crawl with them.

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Photo credit: [Max Pixel / CC0 public domain]

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