Introduction: There’s a strange story coming from Oklahoma City, where a satanic group has designed a seven-foot-tall statue of the devil to place at the Oklahoma Capitol Building, next to a monument of the Ten Commandments. The design shows Satan as a goat-headed figure with horns, sitting on a throne decorated with pentagrams, and with a smiling child on either side of him. The statute will be designed so children can climb into the devil’s lap. It’s a silly political attack on the Ten Commandments, but the Bible teaches there is a devil and does he go after children. In the Bible, the person of Satan is considered just as real as any other character we read about—just as literal and just as real as Nicodemus, the Samaritan Woman, Mary, Martha, or any of the Twelve Disciples. Here is a survey of the biblical teachings about Satan.
The Devil’s Origin
- Genesis 1:31 says: God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. But Genesis 3 says: Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say…?” Something catastrophic must have happened between the end of Genesis 1 and the beginning of Genesis 3 that unleashed evil into the world. What was it? Well, the book of Genesis doesn’t tell us, but we have clues in the book of Isaiah
- Isaiah 14:12: How you have fallen from heaven, morning star (Lucifer), son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High. But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the earth.
- Ezekiel 28:13: You were in Eden, the garden of God… You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Ad far as I can tell, this is the only verse in the Bible that tells us the origin of evil. This is as close as we can come to determining where sin and evil began. It started by spontaneous combustion, by spontaneous generation within the heart of Lucifer. Evidently he led a rebellion among the angels in heaven against God.
- Revelation 12:4 says that the devil was like an enormous red dragon who appeared in heaven and swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth.
- Jude 1:6 says: The angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains…
- 2 Peter 2:4 adds: God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment.
The Devi’s Operations
- In the book of Job, the devil brought all kinds of suffering and misery into Job’s life to try to destroy his faith and his influence.
- In the book of 1 Chronicles 21, verse 1, the devil tempted and prompted King David to conduct an unlawful census of his population.
- In the book of Zechariah, chapter 3, the devil made accusations against the high priest of Israel and tried to ruin his self-image and his influence and his standing before God.
- In Matthew 4, the devil appeared to Jesus on the Mount of Temptation and tried to lure Him into sin just as he had lured Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis. The devil and his demons confronted Jesus at every point during his ministry, and in the Upper Room in John 13, Satan entered Judas, triggering the events of the crucifixion.
- In John 8:44, Jesus told His critics: You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
- In 1 Corinthians 7:5, the apostle Paul said that a husband and a wife should have frequent times of intimacy together “so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
- In 2 Corinthian 2:10-11, the Bible warns us that if we don’t forgive those who offend us and if we allow the offense to linger in our hearts, Satan will outwit us. He can cause a lot of damage when he finds someone who holds on to bitter feelings.
- In 2 Corinthians 4:4, referring to the devil, the apostle Paul said, The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the Gospel that displays the glory of Christ.
- In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul warned that those who follow false teachings are being deceived by the devil, just as Eve was deceived by him in Genesis 3.
- In the same book and chapter 12, Paul said that his disease, his illness, which he called a thorn in the flesh, was “a messenger of Satan.”
- In Ephesians 2:2, he called Satan, “the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.”
- In Ephesians 4, the Bible again says that when we remain angry too long and our anger turns into bitterness or resentment, we’re giving the devil a foothold in our hearts.
- In Ephesians 6, we’re told to take our stand against the schemes of the devil; and the book of James tells us to resist the devil and he will flee from us.
- 1 Peter 5 warns us that the devil, like a roaring lion, is seeking whom to devour.
- 1 John 5:19 says: We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. That’s a profound, sweeping, blanket statement—the whole world is under the control of the evil one. Does that mean the media? The governments? The realms of commerce and manufacturing and finance? Christians are children of God, but all the rest of the world is under the control of the evil one.
The Devil’s Overthrow
- 1 John 3:8 says: The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. Here again is a verse that ends with a sweeping statement. The reason God left the throne, became a man, and died on the cross was to destroy the devil’s work.
- And that reminds us of Hebrews 2:14-15: He shared in (our) humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil, and free (us).
- The greatest passage in the Bible about the devil is Revelation 20, when he is judged and condemned. The Bible says: And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever. As just as the devil isn’t found in the first two chapters of the Bible, he is not found in the last two chapters of the Bible. He is not in eternity. He is a temporary problem.
Conclusion: James 4 tells us to resist the devil and he will flee from us. How do we resist him?
- First, we have to be under the covering of the blood of Jesus Christ. I have an acquaintance named Elmer Towns, who has been a leader in the field of Christian Education for many years. In his book on the subject of prayer, he told of being in Haiti on New Year’s Eve of 1977. He was in an area infamous for its emphasis on demon-possession and spirit worship. He said, “I had gone to bed early that evening, sleeping on the back screened porch of missionaries Wallace and Eleanor Turnbull’s home. At midnight I was awakened by the blaring of ships’ horns in the harbor, as well as the chiming of steeple bells…. Suddenly I felt a lurking evil presence on the back porch with me. I didn’t see anything, I didn’t wrestle with anything, nor did I physically touch anything. It was a frightening internal sense. ‘Evil is here,’ I said to myself, then shuddered in fear. I know there are three things that repel evil: (1) the name of Jesus, (2) the blood of Jesus, and (3) the Cross. So I began to sing songs about the blood of Jesus, “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus….” He went on and sang, “There is a fountain filled with blood…” and his mind went back to the cross where Jesus died, and he began singing, “When I survey the wondrous cross.” As Dr. Towns worshipped and prayed and contemplated the cross of Jesus Christ, the sense of evil receded, and he was able to go back to sleep. The devil has no way to penetrate the protective barrier of the blood of Jesus Christ around our lives.
- Second, have nothing to do with anything related to the occult. Never check your horoscope, not even in fun. Never play with Ouija boards. Never visit a fortuneteller. Stay away from everything having to do with Satanism and the occult.
- Third, keep a careful watch over those areas of life in which Satan can gain a foothold. A sex-starved marriage can give the devil a foothold and an attitude of resentment can give him a handhold in life. How important to keep the areas of life healthy and clean so that no satanic infection can grow.
- Fourth, sing and worship and come to church and keep your focus on Jesus. Fill your life and your home with Christian music. The devil can’t stand the songs of Zion. My friend, Cliff Barrows, told me of a time when his father, who was Gideon, was visiting Rangoon. At the time the area was under an oppressive government, and Gideon Bibles had been removed from the hotel rooms. While there, Mr. Barrows attended a meeting of the local Gideons who were trying to get Bibles back into the hotels. During the meeting two men were singing hymns in one end of the room, and the singing was disruptive. Mr. Barrows had trouble following the discussions because the two hymn-singers were going at it a few yards away. Finally he asked, “Why are those men singing while we’re trying to have this meeting?” The local Gideon replied, “Because this room is bugged, and the singing confuses the enemy who is trying to listen to us.” Glancing over to me, Cliff said, “There’s a spiritual lesson in that. When we sing, it confuses the enemy and allows the Lord’s work to proceed.”
- Most of all, make sure you have given your life to Jesus Christ, for he came to destroy the devil’s work. He can destroy the devil’s work in your life. He can give you liberating power and protection.
The prince of darkness grim,
We tremble not for him.
His rage we can endure,
For lo, his doom is sure,
One little word will fell him.
And that word is “Jesus!”