Who Is The Devil?
In this series, we have already discussed the fact that sin is not the devil and the devil is not sin. We looked at what sin really is, how it is always around us and about how it comes from within. Sin is not placed in us by the devil, but comes from our own thoughts and actions. We looked at the story of Balaam and his donkey and how the angel that blocked Balaam’s path was called a satan or adversary. We discussed that it was the devil in the wilderness that tempted Jesus with partial truths, and that we have the power to control the sin in our lives. I want to continue this same topic in this article by taking a deep look into who the devil is, how he came to be on this Earth and the power he has over this world. Though this article could be read on its own, I honestly think you will get a lot more from it if you read the first two articles of this sin series first. The articles are as follows:
A Fallen Angel
The best way to start our discussion on the devil is by looking at the biblical account of the devil’s fall. We can find this biblical reference in Ezekiel 28:12b-19 which reads as follows:
““You were the signet of perfection,
full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
13 You were in Eden, the garden of God;
every precious stone was your covering,
sardius, topaz, and diamond,
beryl, onyx, and jasper,
sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle;
and crafted in gold were your settings
and your engravings.
On the day that you were created
they were prepared.
14 You were an anointed guardian cherub.
I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God;
in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.
15 You were blameless in your ways
from the day you were created,
till unrighteousness was found in you.
16 In the abundance of your trade
you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned;
so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God,
and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub,
from the midst of the stones of fire.
17 Your heart was proud because of your beauty;
you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.
I cast you to the ground;
I exposed you before kings,
to feast their eyes on you.
18 By the multitude of your iniquities,
in the unrighteousness of your trade
you profaned your sanctuaries;
so I brought fire out from your midst;
it consumed you,
and I turned you to ashes on the earth
in the sight of all who saw you.
19 All who know you among the peoples
are appalled at you;
you have come to a dreadful end
and shall be no more forever.”
This passage is telling us that the devil was once an angel in the presence of God. He was a symbol of beauty, wisdom and perfection. Then, as time passed, the devil lost sight of his righteousness which led him to be proud and arrogant. This pride eventually led him into abusing his power. Ultimately, this perfect angel realized how perfect he was, started thinking in terms of vanity which opened the door to sin and corruption. Therefore, God banished him from heaven and sentenced him to Earth. We don’t know why the devil chose to go against God. All we know is what this passage says, which leads us to the assumption that the devil became self centered instead of God centered. We don’t know why God banished him to Earth, why he wasn’t destroyed or why he was given dominion over this world and us. All we know is that this is what happened and that it must have been God’s plan. What we do know is that God still has power over the devil and how the devil operates. We see this better in the book of Job.
The Satan in Job
I know that I took a very firm stance on the fact that Satan is not the devil, which is true, but there are times where the devil is referred to as satan. The book of Job is one of these times. Let’s look at this text and then we can discuss what it is actually saying. We see this text in Job 1:6-12 which reads:
“6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 8 And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” 9 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.”
I want to start by pointing out that the devil is called Satan in this passage which is the uncommon version of satan. Satan is typically used as a verb which means that it is just a descriptive type of word and not a person. In the case of Job, it is used as a noun which means they are using it as a name. In the original Hebrew text, satan throughout this chapter is actually referred to as ha-satan which means the adversary, not just an adversary. I hope that difference makes sense because it is important in understanding why the devil is called satan in the book of Job. To clarify further, if we look at this story in context, we see that the mentioned satan, or adversary, is referring to an angel in an adversarial role that causes harm to Job and his family. That makes it fairly obvious that this adversary is the devil and he is capable of inflicting pain and harm on those of this world.
If we break this down starting in verse 6, then we see that the devil was with the group of angels called “the sons of God,” and he was allowed to come before God with them. It doesn’t actually say that the devil is a son of God, but considering how God mentions that the devil was created in the Ezekiel passage that we used above, then we could assume that the devil is also considered a son of God. As we read through this section of scripture then we see that God isn’t upset or annoyed with the fact that the devil is there. In verse 7 we learn that the devil freely roams the Earth, but still has the power and/or ability to go to God. This should also stand as a warning that the devil is always on the prowl, looking for anybody that he can take advantage of. Though the devil isn’t sin and can’t cause us to sin, he is capable of putting temptations before us in an effort to pull us away from God. That is when sin enters and opens the door for the devil to move in and possibly do his dirty work.
As we continue into verse 8, God points Job out to Satan saying that he is “a blameless and upright man.” God also says there is nobody else like him on Earth. The devil replies that the only reason Job is so faithful to God is because God is, and always has been, protecting him. God decides that the devil may be right and therefore allows him to attack Job’s possessions and family. This is huge in understanding how the devil functions, or is allowed to function, in this world. The devil can’t just attack us because he wants to. I want to explore this idea further in another article on why bad things happen to good people. So, for now, let’s just focus on the fact that the devil doesn’t have the authority to just attack us. He either needs to have the approval from God or we need to be living in a state of sin that allows the devil to enter into our lives. If we are living within God’s will for our lives, then the devil can only put temptation in front of us, but nothing else. This is important to understand. The devil cannot act in our lives unless he has permission from God or us. Though he is the prince of this world and roams freely on it, his powers are still limited.
Why Does God Allow Evil?
There are many reasons why God allows the devil and his evil to exist in this world. I’m not going to cover all of the possible reasons at this time because I will discuss them further in a future article, but there are a couple that I would like to highlight now. God allows evil because it helps to intensify and deepen our personal relationships with God through Jesus. Without evil we would still have that relationship with God, but the contrast of God’s goodness compared to the devil’s evilness wouldn’t be as evident. For example, you are reading this article with ease because you are reading black lettering on a white background. Imagine that these words were in a light gray instead of black. You could probably still read it, but you would have to squint and focus a lot harder just to see the words. That’s what it would be like living in a world without evil. We could still see God, but our view of Him wouldn’t be as clear or strong.
Another strong benefit to keeping the devil around is for our sanity. That may seem weird to read, so let me explain. We, as humans, like things clean cut and to the point. That is why some people struggle with faith. They want a map or blueprint that tells them exactly what they have to do, and when to do it, in order to get into heaven. They want a checklist that will guarantee them a ticket into heaven. Spoiler alert, there is no checklist. If there was then it would be a short list. All we need to do is accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and we have our free ticket into heaven. You tell that to these people and they tell you that there is no way the list is that short and refuse to believe you. It is a lose - lose scenario. However, we all fall into this category in one way or another, and because of that, we like having one central character to point to and blame for all the evil in this world. It just makes life a little easier. We’ve already discussed in previous articles that sin and the devil are not the same thing, but yet most people still believe that they are the same. In the same way, not every single “bad” thing that happens to you is because of the devil. If you lose your car keys, that’s not the devil working against you. If you burn your supper, that’s not the devil. If you kick the corner of the couch, that’s not the devil. The devil is given way too much credit in this world. Yes I do believe there is a central character that is the face for all evil, there is just too much biblical evidence to say otherwise, but I don’t think the devil is doing as much in our lives as what some people believe. I do believe that he is a liar and deceiver that uses partial truths in an effort to pull us into sin, but he only has the power that we or God give him.
There is so much more that we could discuss about the devil, but this is a blog post and not a book. So, to summarize, what do we know about the devil? He was an angel, created by God, that somehow slipped into sin and rebelled against God. God then banished him to Earth where he became ruler of this world. He has the power to roam freely in this world but is limited on what he is allowed to do to us. The devil is a single, centralized, spiritual figure that we give the credit for all evil, even though that isn’t completely true. Sin comes from within each one of us and not from the devil which leads us to my last point. The devil is given too much credit for things that he doesn’t even do. We need to start seeing the devil for who he really is, a glorified ringmaster of a one star, side-show circus. Though he is a powerful being, his powers are limited by God. Not only that, but if we just call on the name of Jesus then the devil will flee from us. Yes, if we let our guard down then sin could enter into our hearts, which if left unchecked, could lead to the devil entering into our lives. Even if that would happen, then once we realize these events occurred, then we just need to repent and call on Jesus and the devil and sin will shrink away from us. We have the power over all evil because God gave us that power. Let’s use this power and share it with others so we can keep the devil where he belongs…on the sidelines.
Don’t forget to check out some of our other newer articles like, “What is Spiritual Fitness?” and “What Are the Five Love Languages?”