When my daughter, Stephanie, was very young, we took her to the local pantomime and there we sat – in front row seats! Suddenly the lights changed to a deep scarlet, lightening flashed and thunder crashed and the “Red Man” (as she called him – the devil) leapt on to the stage – right in front of her – in deep red costume, horns, tail, and a trident in his hand, and gave a loud cackle of laughter. Stephanie screamed at the top of her voice and hurled herself into my arms – by the devil before her. This is what the devil has become – a figure of myth, of fun, to terrify young children but not real.

Some – even some Christians (!) do not believe that the devil is a real being but rather a symbol of all the evil that is in the world and in the human heart.

C S Lewis has the devil saying that his aim is to convince people either that he doesn’t exist, or that he does exist and should be really feared (“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves (the devils) are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight”: from the Preface to “The Screwtape letters”).

Let our attitude be that of Montgomery – who in his mobile HQ kept a photo of Rommel on his desk whenever he prepared for battle – know your enemy but do not be afraid of your enemy.

Does the devil really exist? The Bible says “yes”. Let’s have a look at what the Bible teaches us about our enemy – the devil…and see the answers that it gives to the Tough Questions on him:


He is a created angel, named Lucifer, which means “star of the morning”.

He held a high-ranking position in the angelic host.

He had exquisite beauty and great wisdom.

He was given a position of great power and influence.

He was called “the guardian cherub”.

“You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 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. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendour. So I threw you to earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings” (Ezekiel 28:12–17 NIV).

So do not be misled. The devil is not a fat man in red tights with horns, a tail and a trident. In fact we are told in 2 Corinthians 11: 14 that, “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light”.


He led a rebellion against God which led to his being cast out of heaven – along with angels who supported him – known to us as demons.

Lucifer was not satisfied with knowing, serving and worshipping God; instead, HE wanted to be worshipped. Once a beautiful, powerful angel of God, he lost his former, exalted position in Heaven.

“How you are fallen from Heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into Heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit” (Isaiah 14:12–15).

Lucifer (“star of the morning”) became Satan (“accuser”) when he fell to the earth. Jesus, speaking of this event, said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven” (Luke 10:18).

When Satan fell, he did not fall alone. Scripture tells us that he took one-third of the angels (see Revelation 12:4). Considering that the angelic host numbers more than 10,000 x 10,000 (see Revelation 5:11), that is a sizable group. They account for the fallen angels, or demons, that now do his bidding. As a result, Satan is a fallen, but powerful, spirit-being with a well-organized network of demon powers to help him accomplish his purposes. Those purposes, according to Jesus, are to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10).

“Beelzebub, the prince of demons” (Matthew 12:24).

“The devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).

“The dragon and his angels” (Revelation 12:7, 9).

“The principalities. . .powers. . .rulers of the darkness of this age” (Ephesians 6:12)

The intent of demons seems to be two-fold:

  • They seek to hinder, thwart and destroy the purposes of God and His beloved mankind.
  • They seek to extend the power of Satan.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that two-thirds of the angels are on our side! As the prophet Elisha said to his servant, “Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16).


…Not in hell: “One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the Lord, ‘From roaming throughout the earth, going to and fro on it.’” (Job 1: 6-7)

Here he is roaming the earth like a roaring lion. 1 Peter 5: 8 tells us to, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

He is said to be the “prince [or leader] of this world” (John 14: 30) – due to the fact that a people without God are, without even knowing it, allowing the devil to rule in their lives. The fact that he is ruler of this world is seen in the temptation of Jesus: “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’” (Matthew 4: 8-9) – the devil can only offer the world to Jesus because he controls it. The world has made the devil their god (2 Corinthians 4: 4).

1 John 5: 19 makes this clear: “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one”.


– to destroy mankind out of hatred, born of jealousy, as we are God’s greatest creation and loved by God. The devil seeks to control us and is called Prince of this world.

He is now called Satan – meaning that he is our “adversary”.


– he is the destroyer, the deceiver (Revelation 12: 9), the liar, the murderer (seeks to kill our spirit/soul) – John 8: 44, the accuser of us all (Revelation 12: 10)

Satan starts with attacking us in the mind:

When Satan wanted to lead the first man and woman into sin, he started by attacking the mind. Scripture says, “I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3 NIV).

Satan hits here first because he knows that the mind is the place where we reason, contemplate, and fantasize. That is why the Bible urges us to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). If the devil can just get us to think about carrying out a particular sin, that will help him to accomplish his purposes. You can never truly say, “The devil made me do it.” The tempter needs cooperation from the tempted.

Satan works with two close allies – the world and the flesh:

The term “the world” refers to the way the world operates now, which is hostile to God. The world system encourages living for personal gratification and putting our own will above all else. The world says “eat, drink and be merry – it is all about you – do it your way”.

The term “the flesh” refers to the sinful nature that lives to be gratified, unrestrained sensual appetites. “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 John 2:16).

The devil’s two-fold strategy is this:

The devil first tries to bring us down by trapping us in sin. Then, if he is successful, he then attempts his accusation. The Bible actually refers to him as “the accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10). Satan does not just lead a Christian into sin and leave him or her to suffer the consequences. He wants the disobedient Christian to be doubly defeated.

Consider this account in Zechariah: “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. And the LORD said to Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?’” (Zechariah 3:1–2).

The setting is that of a courtroom: God is the judge. Joshua the high priest is the defendant. Satan is the prosecutor trying to prove Joshua’s guilt.

Satan still uses this tactic with great effect. When you and I have disobeyed God, he moves in for that finishing stroke. He accuses you: “You call yourself a Christian?” “Do you really think that God will hear your prayer?” “You’re not worthy to approach God after what you’ve done.”

Before we sin, while he is tempting us, the devil whispers, “You can get away with this.” After we sin, he shouts, “You will never get away with this!”

Does this mean that every time we feel a sense of guilt or shame, it comes from the devil? Of course not. We simply must learn to distinguish between Satan’s accusations and the Holy Spirit’s conviction. If those feelings drive us to despair and hopelessness, then we’ve listened to the wrong voice.

The first mention of the devil in the Bible shows his tactics in action:

Now the snake was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden”?’

The woman said to the snake, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, “You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.”’

‘You will not certainly die,’ the snake said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realised that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves (Genesis 3: 1-7)

When the devil tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1–7), he stirred up the sinful nature in her. He did this through a clever line of reasoning:

  1.  He questioned God’s Word (verse 1). He did not deny that God had spoken. He simply questioned whether God had really said what Eve thought He had said.
  •  He questioned God’s love for Eve (verse 1). The way Satan asked this question implies that he was questioning God’s love. “If God really loved you, He wouldn’t keep something from you, would He?” Satan used this same tactic on Jesus in the wilderness: “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread” (Luke 4:3). In other words, “Why are you hungry if you are God’s Son?” As the author Tennyson once said, “A lie that is all of a lie can be met with and fought outright. But a lie that is partly the truth is a harder matter to fight.”
  • He denied God’s Word (verse 4). Satan finally threw out God’s warning altogether, telling Eve, “You will not surely die.” It is but a short step from questioning God’s Word to denying it. If Eve had not listened to Satan questioning God’s Word, she would never have fallen into Satan’s trap when he denied God’s Word. Eve was at the wrong place, at the wrong time, listening to the wrong person, which ultimately led to her doing the wrong thing.
  • He substituted his own lie (verse 5). Satan told Eve that if she eats from the tree, she “will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Interestingly, this was Satan’s own sin, for he had attempted to take God’s place.
  • Eve saw that the tree “was pleasant to the eyes” (verse 6). This is the lust of the eyes. Satan uses this trap to try to get people to entertain fantasies in their thought life. Unfortunately, those fantasies often turn into reality.
  • Eve saw that the tree “was good for food” (verse 6). Having seen it, she tasted it. This is the lust of the flesh. Likewise, Satan wants us to gratify our desires immediately, whatever they might be—food, sleep, sex, pleasure, possessions, etc.
  • Eve saw that the tree was “desirable to make one wise” (verse 6). This is the pride of life. Satan wants us to desire to be exalted, to develop an attitude of arrogance.

Eve had a choice to make—she could believe God’s word or Satan’s word. Tragically, she chose to believe Satan, the father of Lies, rather than the One who is Truth.

[Just as an aside here: the fact that the devil was tempting mankind as early as the Garden of Eden has led many to infer that he was thrown out of heaven long before the creation of the world.]


Yes, his power is great but NOT equal to God – he is not omnipotent, omniscient or omnipresent- that is why he relies on demons to support him.

The devil and his demons cannot control the Christian. He can influence, but not control.

Satan and his demons can harass the believer—but only with God’s permission. Scripture cites several examples of personal attacks by these dark powers. In one case, Satan kept Paul from going to a certain city (1 Thessalonians 2:18).

Paul described his own personal struggles brought about by demons and allowed by God:

“Lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:7–9).

Though it is true that we can be oppressed by Satan and his demons, we cannot be controlled by or possessed by them. Every move of the enemy must come by permission through the protective hedge of Jesus. The nonbeliever, on the other hand, is a sitting duck for full-blown demon possession.


“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” James 4: 7

Follow Christ, stand on the Word, pray in the Spirit, put on the full armour of God (Eph 6: 11-17).

Our defence against the devil is the interceding Son of God:

“And the Lord said [to Peter] . . . ‘Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you’” (Luke 22:31–32).

“My little children, these things I write to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).

“Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Romans 8:33).

1 John 3: 8 explains that Jesus has come to destroy the devil’s works: “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work”. Jesus has the victory.

Revelation 12: 11 tells us that because of Jesus we will have “triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony”.

Jesus, Himself, declares to Peter in Matthew 16: 18, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it”.

Paul agrees and states in Romans 16: 20, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet”.

We are therefore not to be anxious about the power of the devil because: “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4: 4).


– he will lose. He will be cast into the abyss in chains till one final push to destroy mankind. Then he shall be cast into the lake of burning fire…Revelation 20:10 tells of his final state: And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever”.

He will end up in hell. He does not rule in hell. He suffers punishment forever in hell. Is the devil in charge of hell? No, hell was made to destroy the devil. It’s in the Bible, Matthew 25:41,“Then he [the Lord] will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ ”


So, we return to our original Tough Question: Is there REALLY a devil?

The Bible says “yes!”

But my declaration that there really is a devil is not based solely on the trust and belief that I have in the truth of the Bible.

There really IS a devil.

  1. The world shows it. I believe that God made all things and that all things were “good”. But what I see in the world – the physical world – is chaos and disaster: floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, famines, extreme heat and freezing cold, disease and death. This is the consequence of the devil bringing evil into the world.
  • And I see the devil in the people who live in the world: selfishness and hate, jealousy and anger, fear and war and murder and theft. God is Love. The devil has done and continues to do all that he can to destroy us from within.
  • And I have seen the devil in those whom he attacks – not just in physical and mental illness – but I have seen him in demonic possession.

I believe that there REALLY is a devil.

But I KNOW that greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world!