God, Satan and Demons

No Devils Allowed Sign

When we start to talk about Satan (Devil), people start thinking about a man who wears a red suit, has horns, a tail, and carries a pitchfork, right? We know that this is not what Satan actually looks like, but that is how he is often portrayed.

While many believe in a literal Devil, there are actually a growing number of people who don’t think that he exists. So, what does the Bible say? Who or what is Satan? Where did he come from? What does he do? What are demons? Does demon possession happen today? These are all question that flood our thoughts when we benign to think about this topic. 

Every villain has an origin story.

I began to explain in the post on Angels, that some of them had fallen. Angels are not worshipping robots, they have the ability of moral choice. There were some who decided to rebel against God.

Almost all scholars will agree that Satan was an angel at some time in the past. He is referred to as a cherub in Ezekiel 28:13-15. Additionally, this passage places him in the garden or Eden, clothed in fine jewels. Potentially, Satan was the most beautiful thing of God’s creation before “wickedness was found” in him. We know that Satan was created because all things that are (that are not God Himself) were created according to Genesis 1 and Colossians 1:16.

His brilliance is described in Isiah 14 with the term “day star” and his beauty Ezekiel 28 with the phrase “perfect in beauty.” In 2 Corinthians 11:14, we are told that he masquerades as an angel of light! This explains some of his continuing appeal from humanity because “he looks the part.”

There is some question about when this angelic “fall” took place.

There are some who believe that it happened in the “gap” between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 (called the gap theory). Dr. Henry M. Morris explains this theory in a helpful way:

“According to this concept, Genesis 1:1 describes the initial creation of the universe. Following this, the standard events of cosmic evolution took place, which eventually produced our solar system about five billion years ago. Then, on the earth, the various geologic ages followed, as identified by their respective assemblages of fossils (trilobites, dinosaurs, etc.).

But then occurred a devastating global cataclysm, destroying all life on Earth and leaving a vast fossil graveyard everywhere. This situation is then said to be what is described in Genesis 1:2. “And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” The cataclysm is thought to have occurred as a result of the rebellion of Satan and his angels against their Creator in Heaven, with God then casting them out of Heaven to the earth.” [1]

Many scholars reject this theory. There are many articles online you can read to find out about those who reject this theory (look at footnote [2]).

So, it was during this span of time that some believe that Satan fell. There is not time in this post to deal with the evolutionary aspect–another blog, another day perhaps. Looking at it only from the perspective of the fall of Satan, it still creates some questions.  Suffice it to say, it is unlikely that this is what happened.

That leads us to a second idea that seems more likely. When God created the earth, He said that all He had made was good–including the hosts of heaven (another name for the angels).

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. Genesis 1:31-2:1

This leads us to conclude that before the the temptation and fall in Genesis 3 there were no fallen angels or demons. So, sometime between the time of creation and the fall of man, Satan rebelled and some of the angels fell.

Isiah 14, Ezekiel 28, 2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6, and 1 Corinthians 6:3 describe the fall and judgement of those fallen angels (a.k.a. demons).

What does Satan do?

We find the name Satan for the first time in Job 1:6, “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.”

The name “Satan” literally means “the accuser” or “the adversary.” As God’s adversary, he leads his forces of evil against God and God’s people. He creates situations of evil and tempts people to do evil things. He also has messengers who create problems for God’s people. Other places we see the temptation and influence of Satan are:

  • 1 Chronicles 21:1 — Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel.
  • Zechariah 3:1 — Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.
  • Matthew 4:10 — Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

    ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'”

  • Luke 10:18 — And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”
  • and many others…
Things Satan and his demons do:
  1. The originator of sin. We see this in the fact that in the Genesis account humanity had not sinned when satan came to tempt them in the form of a serpent. John 8:44 also tells us that Satan is “the father of lies,” and 1 John 3:8 that “the devil has sinned from the beginning.”
  2. Try to foil the plan of God. 
    • Convences Eve to disobey God in Genesis 3.
    • Tempts Jesus to sin in Matthew 4.
    • Causes humanity to “kill, steal, and destroy” in John 10:10.
    • Blinds people to the gospel in 2 Corinthians 4:4.
    • Tries to keep people in their bondage in Galatians 4:8.

Do Satan and his demons have power today?

This is an interesting question and is likely the reason you have read up to this point. We must admit that Satan and the other demons are created angelic beings. We know that angels do have significant power.

The account of Job shows us that Satan only has power for what God gives him permission to do (Job 1:12; 2:6), and he can do nothing more. Additionally, Jude says that demons are “kept in chains,” and James 4:7 says that they can be resisted.

When humanity sined/rebelled, we lost something. The degree of the scar of sin is difficult to measure, but it is significant.

We are not explicitly told what happens when angels sin/rebel. Though the passages that we have already looked at, it is clear that they are hindered or limited in power from their previous positions. This does not mean that they impotent, but just greatly handicapped from where they were originally.

Are Satan and his demons active today?

The short answer is yes.

Again, there are some who deny the existence of a literal Satan and his demons. As we have seen, the Bible and Jesus Himself, take Satan as a literal being.

We have already seen that Satan is the originator of sin, and uses his forces to tempt humanity. However, not all sin is from Satan and his minions. James says that some of our sin comes from our “own evil desires” (James 1:14). So, “the devil made me do it” is only true a small amount of the time.

Probably the most interesting question with regard to the activity of Satan is this:

Can people be demon possessed today?

Jesus explains in Mark 3:27 that “no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.” In a parallel passage, Matthew 12:43-45, He also says,

When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”

These passages suggest that if a person has something inside of them stronger than Satan or demons that they cannot be possessed. First Corinthians 3:16 tells us that if we have trusted in Christ for salvation, the Holy Spirit lives within us. Additionally, in John 4:4 we are told, “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.” Since the Holy Spirit, who is God, lives within us, and clearly God is more powerful than Satan (since Satan is a created being), those who are saved are safe from possession.

That being said, Satan and demons can still cause you trouble. This is why James 4:7 encourages us to “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” While he cannot “possess” us, he can attack us and make our life miserable. Thus, we must always be on guard and put on the armor of God so that we can “stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10ff).

 

 

 

 

[1] Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., accessible from http://www.icr.org/article/why-gap-theory-wont-work/

[2] See the webpages below for a discussion on the gap theory and objections to it:

a. http://www.equip.org/article/the-gap-theory-of-genesis-12/
b. https://answersingenesis.org/genesis/gap-theory/closing-the-gap/
c. http://www.icr.org/article/why-gap-theory-wont-work/
d. https://answersingenesis.org/genesis/gap-theory/what-about-the-gap-and-ruin-reconstruction-theories/

 

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