It is a mistake to deny Satan’s existence.
There are many people who believe in God, but who deny that Satan exists. A 2003 study disclosed that only 83% of people who described religion as “very important” in their lives also believe in the devil; that number dropped to 62% among people who described the importance of their faith as “fair.”
Perhaps it’s hard to believe in Satan because it’s hard to believe that there is a spiritual realm in addition to a worldly one. Because we are not of the spiritual realm, our understanding is limited to the things of this earth (John 3:31).
The Bible makes clear that Satan exists. Among all the weapons in Satan’s arsenal, perhaps denial of Satan’s existence and ignorance of Scripture are Satan’s most effective weapons against us. In Christian theology, Satan disobeyed God and rebelled against Him.
It is spiritually dangerous not to protect oneself against Satan’s influence. Knowledge of Scripture and obedience to God provides protection from spiritual harm: “Last of all I want to remind you that your strength must come from the Lord’s mighty power within you. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand safe against all strategies and tricks of Satan. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies – the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world.” (Ephesians 6:10-12)
The Bible can guide us in both worldly matters and in matters of the spiritual realm. Because the spiritual realm is outside our comprehension, it’s probably counter-productive to speculate about Satan beyond the clear information provided by Scripture. However, time spent obsessing about Satan is wasteful. It is better spent reflecting on — and trusting — God.
It’s clear from Scripture that Satan is powerful, yet we need not live in fear of Satan when we trust in God. God will protect us from Satan spiritually when we obey Him: “So use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over, you will be standing up. But to do this, you will need the strong belt of truth and the breastplate of God’s approval. Wear shoes that are able to speed you on as you preach the Good News of peace with God. In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan. And you will need the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit – which is the Word of God.” (Ephesians 6: 13-17)
Jesus Himself testified to Satan’s existence and defended against Satan’s attacks by following Scripture and remaining obedient to God. “Then Jesus was led out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted there by Satan.” (Matthew 4:1) “For forty days and forty nights he [Jesus]ate nothing and became very hungry. Then Satan tempted him to get food by changing stones into loaves of bread. ‘It will prove you are the Son of God,’ he said. But Jesus told him, ‘No! For the Scriptures tell us that bread won’t feed men’s souls: obedience to every word of God is what we need.’ Then Satan took him to Jerusalem to the roof of the Temple. “Jump off,’ he said, ‘and prove you are the Son of God; for the Scriptures declare, ‘God will send his angels to keep you from harm,’… they will prevent you from smashing on the rocks below.’ Jesus retorted, ‘It also says not to put the Lord your God to a foolish test.’ Next Satan took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him the nations of the world and all their glory. ‘I’ll give it all to you,’ he said, ‘if you will only kneel and worship me.’ ‘Get out of here, Satan,’ Jesus told him. ‘The Scriptures say, ‘Worship only the Lord God. Obey only him.’ Then Satan went away, and angels came and cared for Jesus.”(Matthew 4:3-11)
There is a war in the spiritual realm between God and Satan, a war that God has already won. Whether we realize it or not, we choose sides by the beliefs we choose to follow. When we love God and follow Christ’s teachings, we choose the side of God and benefit from Christ’s supremacy over Satan. “Since we, God’s children, are human beings — made of flesh and blood — he became flesh and blood too by being born in human form; for only as a human being could he die and in dying break the power of the devil who had the power of death. Only in that way could he deliver those who through fear of death have been living all their lives as slaves to constant dread. We all know he did not come as an angel but as a human being — yes, a Jew. And it was necessary for Jesus to be like us, his brothers, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God, a Priest who would be both merciful to us and faithful to God in dealing with the sins of the people. For since he himself has now been through suffering and temptation, he knows what is is like when we suffer and are tempted, and he is wonderfully able to help us.” (Hebrews 2:14-18)
Scripture discloses that people who trust in Jesus to save them will be saved from spiritual death – from eternal separation from God. (John 3:18-21) However, those who reject God will not.
The Bible warns that Satan tempts people to rebel against God. Because people have a sinful nature, we are naturally susceptible to temptation. Satan lies, misrepresents, casts doubt, fans our hatred, manipulates us, misleads us, and in other ways encourages us to disobey God. Satan may appear to us in many forms, including the guise of a person of peace or holy man. The idea that Satan’s presence will be obvious to all is absolute nonsense — as are all assertions that are contrary to Christ’s teachings. When people don’t believe in Satan’s existence, Satan’s free to move among us “in plain sight.” Yet the choice of whether to submit to temptation remains ours. Satan cannot destroy the “free will” that God gave us.
Without personal knowledge of Scripture — the truth — we can be led easily astray. Without personal knowledge of Scripture, we can be too easily deceived. “I am anxious for you with the deep concern of God himself—anxious that your love should be for Christ alone… But I am frightened, fearing that in some way you will be led away from your pure and simple devotion to our Lord, just as Eve was deceived by Satan in the Garden of Eden. You seem so gullible: you believe whatever anyone tells you even if he is preaching about another Jesus than the one we preach, or a different spirit than the Holy Spirit you received, or shows you a different way to be saved. You swallow it all…. God never sent those men at all; they are ‘phonies’ who have fooled you into thinking they are Christ’s apostles. Yet I am not surprised! Satan can change himself into an angel of light, so it is no wonder his servants can do it too, and seem like godly ministers. In the end they will get every bit of punishment their wicked deeds deserve.” (2 Corinthians 11: 2-15)
I am comforted by the knowledge that when armed with the spiritual weapons God has provided, we have nothing to fear but the choices we make.
When armed with the spiritual weapons God has provided, God’s truth will protect us, and His love, mercy and grace will guide us home.
Statue Image: Christ Crushing Satan. Photo may be subject to copyright.