Satan is real. There are hundreds of references in Scripture to Satan and his evil spirits. For example, Jesus called him “the prince of this world,” “a murderer,” and “a liar and the father of lies.”
Elsewhere in the New Testament, Satan is described as “the god of this age,” “him who holds the power of death,” and “a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” In Revelation he is shown to be the accuser of Christians and the deceiver of nations.
So the Scriptures indicate vividly that Satan is wicked, real, and powerful. Yet perhaps his greatest deception is to make people believe he doesn’t exist. Someone who doesn’t think Satan is real will not try to resist him.
But if anyone truly tries to follow God, he will know Satan is real. For the devil has a reason for existing. His purpose is to get our souls—to keep us from God’s presence so we don’t experience God’s eternal life. This is directly opposed to Christ’s purpose in coming to earth for mankind, and Jesus spoke of this difference in John 10:10—”The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Satan doesn’t have to kill us to get our souls. He needs only to sidetrack us in this life to make us his captives. In John 8:31-47 Jesus spoke to a group of Jews who had believed in him, but only superficially. He said they were slaves to sin and were being manipulated by their father the devil, and were therefore unable to understand God’s truth. Despite their religious practices, these Jews were being deceived by the devil.
Another of Satan’s manifestations is the power of the occult. Early in the Old Testament we find a clear warning about occult practices. Israel was told, “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). The power of the occult is real, and God wants us to stay far from it.
Some people ignore God’s warnings and enter into this forbidden realm, and they may witness all kinds of supernatural occurrences. But these are only the operation of the occult within certain temporary boundaries which God has allowed. God alone possesses eternal power.
Through deception and through the occult Satan prowls around looking for someone to devour. But we know we have an escape through the victory won for us in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. “Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death” (Psalm 68:20). In sending his Son to bear on earth our curse of death, God has provided deliverance for us. Jesus shared in our humanity “so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14).
There are two spiritual powers—two kingdoms—in our world today, and only two. One power is God and his kingdom, and the other is Satan and his. One is the kingdom of light, the other the kingdom of darkness.
Without Jesus Christ, all things are under the authority of Satan. The various non-Christian powers, forces, and influences we see in our world may seem totally harmless, but they are directed by Satan.
Human reason apart from God’s revelation cannot be trusted in these important matters. Human reason once told us that the earth was flat, that blacks were subhuman and should be enslaved, that Jews were dangerous and should be killed. Human reason down through history has made many, many mistakes. Only the Bible—God’s word—is truly authoritative and trustworthy.
Just as the Bible tells us that Satan is real and powerful, and that Christ died to deliver us from Satan’s power, so we read also in the Scriptures of Satan’s final doom. The last reference to Satan in the Bible is in Revelation 20, where we read that he “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 for ever and ever.” Satan’s defeat is assured.
The witness of the New Testament then is clear. Satan is a malignant reality, always hostile to God and to God’s people. But he has already been defeated in Christ’s life and death and resurrection, and this defeat will become obvious and complete in the end of the age.