The Gospels contain many stories of Jesus setting people free from the power of demonic spirits. These stories raise a lot of questions, such as: What are demons, are they real, how does a person give access to a demon, are demons still around, how would you know if one was around, and what do you do if you became aware of one?
Let’s just put those questions aside for a moment and do a quick overview of what we do know or assume about Satan and demons from the Bible ...
LUCIFER - Many people believe that in addition to creating myriads of angels, God also created twelve archangels (or senior angels). We have the names of three of them in the Bible – Michael (he appears in the books of Daniel, Jude, and Revelation and he seems to be over the armies of heaven), Gabriel (he appears to Daniel, Zacharias, and Mary and seems to be God’s messenger especially about the Messiah) and Lucifer (see Isaiah 14, although the NIV translates his name ‘morning star’, and Ezekiel 28). These passages (Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28) were addressed originally to the kings of Babylon and Tyre. But in their long-range implications, many scholars believe that they refer to Satan himself.
Lucifer may have been in charge of the worship in heaven. Something rose up inside of him that wanted to be worshipped, just like God. In his pride, he lifted himself up against God and led a revolt in heaven. As a result, he and one third of the angels were cast out of heaven. This beautiful archangel, who was created by God, became the Devil. Many believe that these fallen angels became demonic spirits.
EDEN – the first place we see the Devil, or Satan (another one of his names, in addition to accuser, deceiver, tempter, ruler of this world, god of this age, prince of the power of the air, etc), on earth is in the Garden of Eden (Gen.3). He appeared in the form of a snake – a symbol of cunning and deceptiveness. He tempted Eve and both Adam and Eve ended up mistrusting and then disobeying God, bringing a curse on themselves and the entire planet.
One of the curses was that there would be continual enmity or warfare between Satan’s offspring and the seed of the woman (Gen.3:15). The seed of the woman would one day crush Satan’s head but he would bruise his heel.
Gen 3:15. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel. NIV
OLD TESTAMENT - in the Old Testament we see Satan appearing a number of times:
- Someone referred to as 'The Satan' accuses Job before God and is then given permission to test Job’s faith and integrity. Satan causes a lot of suffering for Job but Job continues to trust God and is commended and then abundantly blessed by God in the end.
- There are also a number of references to evil or lying spirits influencing and using people for Satan’s purposes.
- Jesus’ ministry began with 40 days in the wilderness where he was tempted and tested by the devil, who desire worship. Satan left him for a while but then came at other time to try to trick him off course, even putting thoughts in Peter’s mind.
- Much of Jesus’ ministry involves freeing people from the influence and control of demons who have been sent by Satan to do his bidding.
- When Jesus taught his disciples about prayer he included this aspect in his teaching – “… and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.”
- Satan tried to get at Peter, but Jesus prayed that his faith would not fail (Luke 22:31). Satan entered inside of Judas and influenced him to betray Jesus then take his own life (John 13:27).
- On the cross, Jesus defeated Satan and completed the work of redemption. Yet we live in the tension of the ‘now and the not yet’. ‘Now’ already Satan, sin and sickness are conquered but ‘not yet’ has their final defeat been realised.
NEW TESTAMENT writers
Paul tells us that …
- We are in a spiritual battle – between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness (Eph.6). We live in a parallel universe – there is interaction between the natural and the spiritual worlds.
- We are not to be unaware of Satan and his schemes (2 Cor.2:11).
- Satan can even appear as an angel of light (2 Cor.11:14). In fact, his main power over us deception.
- He himself had received a ‘thorn in the flesh’, which was a messenger of Satan to attack him but God had given him grace to overcome (2 Cor.12:7).
- God will crush Satan under our feet shortly (Rom.16:20).
James tells us to submit to God, to resist the devil and he will flee for us (Jas.4:7).
Peter tells us that Satan is like a roaring lion seeking who he may devour (1 Pet.5:8-9). We need to resist him.
Satan is an undercover agent. You probably won’t see him but behind every temptation is the tempter, behind every lie is the father of lies (Ananias – Acts 5:3), behind every seduction is the seducer..
In the Book of Revelation, John saw Satan and his angels at war with Michael and is angels in a great cosmic battle. Michael wins and Satan is bound in a deep pit for 1000 years. He is then loosed and cast with all his demons into a lake of fire, where he will be punished forever and ever. Amen..
So the good news is that in the end we win! That’s if you’re on God’s side, of course!