… the loveliest trick of the Devil is to persuade you that he does not exist!
Charles Baudelaire, “The Generous Gambler” (1864)
Most Christian denominations officially believe in the Devil as a real malevolent spirit person. Although for individuals we find the concept going somewhat out of fashion, perhaps due to Hollywood devil overload.
It is true that at one time superstition railed against rational thought. Every bad thing was attributed to the devil or other evil spirits. Things are still like that in some parts of the world, and this undoubtedly causes a backlash among rational thinkers.
But is it really irrational to believe in the Devil?
What the Bible Says About Satan the Devil
There can be little doubt that God’s Word teaches the concept of a real person known at Satan the Devil. In itself the word Satan simply means “resister” and Devil means “slanderer”. This has led some (most notably the Christadelphian denomination) to treat the term as simply a concept rather than a person.
The term never actually appears in the Genesis account of the Garden of Eden. The being that misled Eve into breaking the command of God is known as “nachesh” which is commonly translated as serpent or snake. That said we are not left to wonder who or what this entity was since Rev 12:9 tells us that the “original serpent” was called Devil and Satan. Jesus Christ talked of the Devil as a real person:
You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
His words here directed to the rebellious Jews would make little sense unless Jesus himself believed in the Devil. And the gospels further bear testimony that Jesus had previously been tested by Satan shortly after his baptism. (see Matt 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13)
Satan the Devil and Christians
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8
This warning by Peter was directly given to Christians. We are currently in the period in which Satan is waging war with those who “keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (Rev 12:17).
The spiritual warfare we thus face is something that will be written about in a later article.