The devil is real. He really does exist. Scripture testifies to this and Christian experience testifies also. In fact we are victims of a great delusion if we believe that there is no such being as the devil. On the other hand others have exposed themselves to great danger by becoming obsessed with all things evil. For us as Christians we should make sure that we are not ignorant of his devices (2 Cor. 2:11b) whilst not becoming obsessed with the devil. Let us then seek to learn a few things about this mighty, but evil anti-God, anti-Christ and anti-Christian being.
Who is he?
We can learn something of who the devil is from the names attributed to him in scripture:
The devil means the accuser or slanderer. He roams around seeking to bring accusation against anything or anyone who belongs to God. So concerning Job he said to God that Job only trusted God because of the benefits he got out of such a situation (see Job 1)
Satan means adversary. He stands firmly and bitterly opposed to everything that is of God.
There is a summary of who he is when an end-time scene is described in Revelation 12:7. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Where did he come from?
Many understand two passages in the old testament as using historical events to pictorially describe the origin of Satan. These are Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:1-19. From these passages we learn that the evil one was once an angelic being dwelling on the mountain of God, walking back and forth in the midst of fiery stones and perfect in his ways (Ez. 28:14-15a). However, through pride he fell. He wanted to be like God and thereby iniquity was found in him (Is. 14:14 and Ez 28:15b).
What is he doing now?
Scripture says that there is an eternal principle that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23a). The devil sinned and thereby he fell into death. Subsequent thereto, he has been moving to seek to deny spiritual life wherever he can. He longs that all would live in the realm of death The Holy Spirit actually says that he has the power of death (Heb. 2:14b). Moreover he has lots of experience in this terrible work. Since the garden of Eden when he, through the serpent, deceived Eve he has been leading people into death. Romans 5:12b says that consequent to the fall death spread to all men.
To be more specific about the work of the devil we have to be aware that true life is possessed and experienced by walking in the way of God. One sub-plot to the Bible story is that of Satan relentlessly works to drive people from the path of God. So in 1 Chron. 21:1 he tempts David to number the people; in Zech. 3:1 he resists Joshua the High Priest and most significantly in the wilderness he seeks to drive the Lord Jesus from the way of God, the way which would lead to our salvation, with a trio of vicious temptations (see Luke 4:1-13).
Is he on his own?
No. He has with him an unnumbered host of demons. These are the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode whom God has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgement of the last day. They now operate as his servants.
How does Satan affect our lives?
He is there seeking to hinder us just as he did Paul when Paul desired to go to Thessalonica (1 Thess. 2:18b). More specifically he seeks to prevent us going in the way of the LORD. So if we are seeking to live for the LORD our lives will be characterised by the wrestling of Eph. 6:12a. Moreover we are in a battle against all the demonic hosts and we cannot survive in our own strength. We need to continually put on the whole armour of God as it is described in Eph. 6:13-20. Armourless Christians are vulnerable Christians.
As members of the army of God then let us rally to the cause of our Father. Let us stand against our enemy. Only when we leave the scene of this world will we be free from the attacks of enemy forces.
We must remember, though, that although Satan is powerful our God is more powerful. Satan does not know everything; he cannot be everywhere at once and he has limited power. Our God is the victor. And so thanks be unto our God who always causes us to triumph in and through our LORD Jesus Christ (see 2 Cor. 2:14).
(Adapted from Feltham Evangelical Church Newsletter: October 2004)