This is such a vast subject and space will only allow a brief covering of it. Basically, it can be boiled down into two main headings: The person and work of Satan.
Just as we typically and foundationally study the person and work of Christ in order to know and understand our beloved Lord and his kingdom, so we must also be aware of the enemy and his warfare.
The Apostle Paul encouragingly admonishes us to "put on the full armour of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil," (Ephesians 6:11).
Satan, the devil, was crested an angelic being of great beauty and splendor and, at one time, had great favor with God. The Hebrew term for Satan is "an adversary," (Baker's Dictionary of Theology, p. 472).
It is unfortunate that Satan is often portrayed as the figment of human imagination, a comic strip figure in a red suit with a pitchfork, horns and evil face. The scriptures, however, paint the true picture of him.
Arthur Pink in his book, Satan and his Gospel, points out that personal names are attributed to him. "Thirty-five times he is... `The Devil'; Fifty-two times he is called `Satan'.... `Satan' refers to his character: the malignant adversary of all good - in God or His creatures. `Devil' refers to his mode of carrying out his evil designs: by lying slanders, false accusations, evil seducings.
He is termed `The Prince of this world' (John 14:30); `Beelzebub' (head of the demons) (Mattthew 12:27); 1Wicked One' (Matthew 13:19); `Apollyn' (Destroyer) (Rev. 9:11); `The Prince of the power of the air' (Ephesians 2:2); `The god of this age' (2 Corinthians 4:4); `Liar, and the Father of it' (John 8:44)."
These and other titles of Satan are applied to Satan to show that he is a personal being. As a personal being, Satan is "alive and well" on planet earth.
His activists and their activities, organized into a military-like structure, produce his works, and these are flourishing.
Paul attests to his works when he says, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood; but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places," (Ephesians 6:12).
In a nut shell the above can be called "Satanism," which at its root, is not crime, mental illness or severe social deviance. It is the worship of the devil. His webbings, networkings, snares, and deceptions are found in the world of witchcraft, the occult, and the New Age Movement.
The above three mentioned areas of Satanism are broad categories and again space does not permit a comprehensive study of these. Please look at such books as: Kurt Koch's Occult ABC and The Devil's Alphabet; Josh McDowell's and Don Stewart's Understanding the Occult.
There have been witches who have said that "witchcraft is not part of Satanism." However, Anthon Szander Lavey has said, "Call it black or call it white, it all gets its power from the source of hell."
He ought to know since he is the first high priest and founder of the "Church of Satan" in San Francisco, California. If you have ever seen the movie, Rosemary's Baby, you may remember him.
He played the part of the devil. Since then, our movie theaters have been flooded with other ones like, The Exorcist, Halloween, etc.
This is just one area. There are other avenues such as the rock music culture with its lyrics riddled with messages, directly and indirectly (subliminally), of drugs, sex, rebellion, and violence. Many rock groups openly associate themselves with Satanism, displaying symbols and signs on their dress and body to show their association with Satan, their lord.
You may be wondering why the appeal since the Bible shows Satan and his practices to be at odds with God.
Rev. Kenneth E. Ferber and Anne Grether-Marsh in their work, Cults, Satanism and the New Age Movement, document some reasons as to why youth are lured. "Satanism... taps into many of the deepest forces in their inner selves. They are ripe for irrational involvement because they are going through the physcial and sexual transitions of maturation. Satanism rewards their strong self-centeredness."
According to the leading experts in Satanic crime such as Detective Robert Simandl of the Gang Crime Section of the Chicago Police Department, there appears to be four identifiable levels of Satanic involvement: dabbler, self-styled, organized groups or families, and international network.
The beginning level or dabblers are those who are in some degree of overt rebellion and tend to be preoccupied with heavy metal or black metal groups, Satanic symbols, black clothes and in some cases drugs and fantasy role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons.
The next level are self-styled satanists. These people show up as serial killers - sociopathic personalities who are very destructive, have studied Satanism to some extent and do crimes in the name of Satan.
The third level are families or organized groups that practice rituals both sexually oriented, worship of Satan and sacrifice. Child abuse and ritual abuse are prevalent in this category.
The highest level is an international network which controls drug traffic, is highly sophisticated and has influential connections.
Devil worship offers a way of rebellion where there are no laws, rules or `cannots.' It offers instant gratification and total sexual license.
As a high-schooler said, "God wants you in jail, Satan wants you to be free."
Anthon Lavey said, "Instead of commanding members to repress their natural urges, we teach that they should follow them. This includes physical lust, the desire for revenge, the drive for possessions."
Evidence bears out that in the satanist's mindset God is the tyrant and Satan is the good guy.
Incredibly even with the constant, continuing, and escalating stream of incidents, reports and crimes involving Satanism, a few liberal clergy, psychologists and sociologists are saying that "There is not a shred of evidence that the small number of satanic cults is significant or spreading," (Birmingham News, 23 Nov. 1989, p. 13b)
Why do people get involved? There are thousands of reasons. The failure of discernment on the part of those who are led astray should be a warning to us as well as Paul's admonition: "Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand, therefore, having your loins girted about with truth and having on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God," (Ephesians 6:13-17).