Satan’s face and angel’s face



[Acts 6:8-15]



Do you know Treacher Collins Syndrome?  On the evening of March 1, 2005, TV viewers were surprised to see 'The Faceless Child'.  This three-year-old girl lives in Orange Park, Florida, USA.  Her name is Julieanna.  The child was born with only 30% of the bones that make up the upper jaw, cheeks, eye sockets, and pinna.  This symptom of a 'faceless state' due to the lack of proper bone structure is called 'Treacher Collins Syndrome,' and the medical staff agreed that Juliana's condition is the worst among all cases so far.  The child underwent 14 surgeries.  She will have to undergo at least 30 surgeries in the future. However, her parents, who serve in the navy, are grateful, saying, ‘This lovely daughter is a gift from God.’  Her dad, Tom, said, ‘God never gives us what we can't handle.  My daughter has a lot to show to everyone.’  Even if she doesn't have a face, her father say he is thankful for her and says that she is gift, how unfortunate it would be if we considered the gift as a valueless commodity (Internet).  Among the reactions to an Internet article about Julianna suffering from Treacher Collins syndrome, the best remark was, ‘In our country, children would be abandoned.  Or even if they were raised by their parents, kindergartens or schools would not accept them.’  The next remark was ‘My daughter says this: When I sleep today and wake up tomorrow, I hope that our country, Korea, will become a country like that country without prejudice.  …  Somehow bitter and shy ..  Conversation with daughter ... Reflected ... ‘.  The next remark was ‘We should be thankful’: ‘Every time I see people with disabilities or people in need, I think about it, and we should be grateful even if our hands and feet are intact and our bodies are intact.  Am I the only one who thinks so?’ (Internet)


What about our faces?  Aren't we 'faceless Christians' just like 'a faceless child'?  Let us listen to Lincoln's famous words: ‘If you are over the age of forty, you must take responsibility for your face.’  ‘The Chinese New Year water bucket, where all the dross has settled, looks like clear water.  But if you turn the inside of the stick once, everything that has sunk, such as bean sprouts, rice grass, and radish pieces, will float up.  A person's personality can also be known by turning it inside out.  Only when you are at peace and when you receive grace are all the faces of angels.  But when you are upset, you can only know what is inside.  What came to mind when you turned Stephen's stomach upside down?  An angel's face came to mind.  It was a face that no one dared to touch’ (Internet).


            In Acts 6:15, we are going to meditate on the angel's face and Satan's face, focusing on the words of today's text, looking at the word that Stephen's face was like “the face of an angel.”  In the midst of this, we want to be taught what kind of face we should and shouldn't be.


First, let us think about the face of Satan.


            Satan's appearance is perfect in beauty (Ezek. 28:12-13).  Charles Stanley said in his book “When the Enemy Strikes”: ‘The Bible introduces Satan as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14).  Satan hides his face and comes wearing someone else’s mask.  The Bible describes this as a ferocious wolf in sheep’s clothing (Mt. 7:15) (Internet).  Who is Satan?  See the names of Satan: Satan, the devil (slanderer), Lucifer (son of the dawn), Beelzebble [the prince of demons (Mt. 12:24)], and Belial [the wicked (2 Cor. 6:15)], the evil one (1 Jn. 5:19), the tempter (1 Thess. 3:5), the ruler of this world (Jn. 12:31), the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4), the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2), the accuser of our brethren (Rev. 12:10), an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14),  the serpent (Rev. 12:9) and the dragon (Rev. 12:3).  Look at Satan's attributes: Satan is a created angelic being.  He had been created as part of the realm of angels (Eph. 6:11-12; Ezek. 24:18).  And he is the highest in the ranks of all of them (Ezek. 28:12-14).  What are Satan's actions?  Satan is trying to go against God's plan by making it as evil as possible in every way.  The indirect action is that Satan is acting indirectly through the world [where Satan is extremely free and powerful (Jn. 12:31; 1 Jn. 5:19)] and through the flesh.  The world, the flesh, and evil are not the three separate enemies of Christians.  Rather, Satan is working through the system of the evil world (1 Jn. 2:13-15) to use the fleshly nature within us (Rom. 7:18; Gal. 5:19-21).  The direct action is that Satan acts directly by depicting, seducing, attacking, and possessing.  The work in the believer (1) Satan tempts the believer to conceit (1 Chron. 21:1-8), to be secular (Jn. 2:15; Jam. 5:1-7), to be immoral (1 Cor. 7:5), to lie (Acts 5:3), to be discouraged (1 Pet. 5:6-10), to be unforgiving (2 Cor. 2:10-11).  (2) Satan hinders the work of believers (1 Thess. 2:18; Rev 2:10).  (3) Satan promotes false teachings among believers (1 Jn. 4:1-4).  (4) Satan promotes anger, sorrow, and wrath (Eph. 4:26-27; 2 Cor. 2:5-11) (Internet).


            Who are the servants of Satan in today's text and argue with Stephen?  They are “the Freedmen” (v. 9), that is, “the Synagogue of the Freedmen,” former captives and freedmen, scattered Greek-speaking Jews from Cyrene, Alexandria, and Cilicia, respectively (v. 9, Yoo).  How did Satan's servants attack Stephen?  In a word, they incited people to give false witness.  Look at verse 11: “Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, ‘We have heard Stephen speak words of blasphemy against Moses and against God.’”  The word “secretly persuaded” is the only Greek word used here, and it means the act of instigating people to do as they are instructed (Yoo).  The people in the synagogue of the freedmen who oppose Stephen were using people to represent them with false evidence.  In other words, they made for false propaganda.  What was that false evidence or false propaganda?  “We have heard Stephen speak words of blasphemy against Moses and against God” (v. 11).  The important thing here is that those they bought and built had never heard Stephen say anything, but they put forward as if they were eyewitnesses to what Stephen said (Yoo).  The servants of Satan who attacked Stephen lied and bribed those who had never heard Stephen say that Stephen had committed the sin of blasphemy and gave them false witness.  Eventually, when the bribed go out in public and Stephen speaks blasphemy against the temple and Moses, they incite or “stirred up” the people, the elders, and the scribes (v. 12) so that they all become one and made them flock to Stephen.  Isn't it interesting?  Those who oppose Jesus and those who oppose the apostles work together, and those who oppose the ordained deacon of Stephen in today’s text, the freedmen in the synagogue, the people, the elders, and the scribes all united to defeat Stephen by giving false testimony to get rid of him.  Furthermore, these satanic servants even made the bribers serve as false witnesses in court (v. 13).  They were false witnesses before the Sanhedrin court, saying, “This man does not hesitate to speak against this holy place and against the law, saying, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law.  For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us” (vv. 13-14, Yoo).  These satanic servants, bearing false witnesses with a false heart, attacked the truly holy deacon, Stephen, under the guise of the holy temple and the holy Law of Moses.


            The unholy people, who pretend to be holy, live false witnesses and give false witness.  Like the false witnesses in verse 11, they lie that they have heard things they have not heard.  They are not quick to hear the voice of God, but rather lie in the midst of hearing the voice of Satan.  The same work of Satan can exist within the church.  We can commit the sin of accusing each other by speaking as if we have heard it without even hearing it directly.  In 3 John 1:9-10, there is a person named “Diotrephes”, who gossiped maliciously about the apostles.  In modern saying, there is Diotrephes kind of people within church who are slanderers of a pastor.  These souls are largely wrong souls.  In the church, the saints gossip and criticize the pastor is a person with a wrong soul, like Diotrephes.  Members of the church should never slander not only the pastor but also each other.  It is the act of falling into the devil's temptation and acting as the devil's agent.  If they slander each other, the relationship will be broken.  That's the devil's goal.  This is the devil's tactic to cause division by causing the church to be engulfed in chaos.  If there is a person in the church who slanders and frames the Lord's brothers and thus promotes division and strife, that person is like Diotrephes with a wrong soul (Internet).  It is malicious to slander the Lord's brothers (v. 10).  We need to be wary of such person.  Such a person is like a root of bitterness that disturbs the church and harms the peace of the church.  Therefore, we must be very vigilant (Internet).  And we must be on guard against Satan's servants who incite people by giving false witness.  In other words, in the church, we must be very careful about accusing the members of the church, as they accuse the pastor, the elders, and the church members.  If it is good to lead people who are not yet ready in any field, it is incitement to secretly fan the naive public with false ideas with written words or actions to cause them to be suspicious, distrustful, or angry about the beliefs of their community.  In the church, if there are many leaders, it is peaceful.  But if there are persistent agitators who are active in an organized way, they will be involved in division and power-defying tricks.  The natural enemies that destroy the community are the instigators.  The instigators are those who hide their true identity and play tricks on others with plausible words (Internet).


            We must be wary of wolves in sheep's clothing.  Even though they may appear as gentle as a sheep, we must be wary of those who oppose Jesus because they incite and frame people and thus oppose the servants of God.  Even though their faces look beautiful outwardly like Satan, and they look like the faces of a bright angel, we must be careful and beware.


            Second, let us think about the face of angel.


            Look at Acts 6:15 – “All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.”  Here, what does it mean by that Stephen’s face was like the face of angel?  This shows that Stephen resembles Jesus already in the glory of the resurrection.  He shows that the glory of God is with him (Yoo).  This refers to Stephen's face shining with peace, love, and joy (Park).  How is this possible?  With all the people around him accusing him and threats from those in power at the time, he could be terrified.  Instead, how did Stephen's face look like an angel?  I find the cause in Acts 6:8, 10.  That is, Stephen was full of God’s grace and power, and his adversaries were not able to stand up against Stephen’s wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke.  That is, since Stephen was full of grace, power, wisdom, and the Holy Spirit, even in the face of threats, the true radiance of an angel appeared.  This radiance reminds us of Moses in the Old Testament.  Moses' face was radiant when he met God from Mount Sinai and came down with the stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments.  And the Israelites saw Moses, they were afraid to come near Moses.  So Moses put a veil over his face.  The reason that Moses had the radiant face, that is, an angelic face, was because Moses spoke with God like a friend and obeyed His command (Internet).  The word radiance is the Hebrew word 'karan', which symbolizes the glory of God.  The radiance, a symbol of God's glory, appeared on Moses' face, indicating the climax of his faith.  The radiant face means a human figure reflecting the glory of God.  It can be said that it is a word that expresses the state of being filled with the Holy Spirit by the grace of God.  Then, the radiant face means that it has reached the highest level in God's eyes, and that it is the most perfect human form that has restored the image of God (Internet).


            But what is the face of Christians?  If we look at an Internet article written under the title ‘The Two Faces of American Christians,’ an American pastor (Anthony B. Robinson) said these words in a sermon: “The traditional Trinity of Christianity has been replaced by the modern trinity of ‘Me, Myself and Mine” (Internet).  This is a rebuke that we, Christians, are living selfish life rather than living the Trine God-centered life.  In the end, Christians living in the United States seem to have one face that resembles Jesus, but the other face is drowning in selfishness in which ‘my face’ that only I know is becoming more and more clearly visible.  Like Stephen, we must be full of grace, full of power, full of wisdom, and full of the Holy Spirit, so that the radiance that reveals the glory of God appears on our faces.  Therefore, even those who oppose and persecute us may see “the face of an angel” in our faces, like Stephen.


            We need to restore the face of Jesus.  An Internet article titled ‘Restoring the Face of Jesus’ states: Leonardo da Vinci invited his acquaintances to unveil ‘The Last Supper’, which he worked hard for several years.  Finally, the fabric was removed and the work was revealed.  For a moment, exasperation flowed from the people's mouths. A friend said with a recalled expression. ‘It’s a really great piece of work.  Look at that shiny glass in Jesus' hands.  Isn't that great?’  Then Leonardo da Vinci picked up his brush and smashed the part of the glass. Leonardo da Vinci said to the startled people: ‘This work is a failure.  I wanted your attention to be focused on the face of Jesus.  But if my eyes were focused on the glass, it was beyond my intentions.’  He completed the painting by repainting the glass so that it did not obscure the expression of Jesus.  Modern people often make the mistake of cheering at the gleaming glass in Jesus' hand.’  Faith is the process of finding the essence of life.  Faith is the restoration of the face of Jesus hidden in a glass (Internet).