Is the Devil a real being or just an evil force?

Is Satan real?

Satan is real, and he is your enemy.  However, a believer does not need to fear him.  He is a defeated foe.  His doom has already been spoken by God.  However, he is still alive and well. 

A misconception of Satan

Much of our conceptions about who the devil is, what he does and what he looks like come from sources other than the Bible, making them mere superstition or tradition.  During the in the medieval ages, Satan was illustrated and painted as a hideous creature in hell with horns, goat's legs, and with a forked tail. The necessary accessory, the pitchfork also appears in his portraits.  Apparently the devil uses the pitchfork in Hell to torment the lost.  None of these images is biblical.  His appearance is actually “an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15) and “the son of the morning” (Isaiah 14:12-15) while in reality is the deceiver.  The names “serpent” and the “dragon” (Revelation 12:9) tell us that his beauty is not delicate beauty like a flower, but a dramatic, harsh character.

2 Corinthians 11:14-15  And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.  (15)  So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

The verses of Isaiah 14 are applied to both the king of Babylon and Satan who was inspiring his actions.

Isaiah 14:12-15  How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!  (13)  For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:  (14)  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.  (15)  Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

The names of Satan

The Bible uses several different names to describe the mission of the devil:

1.    Satan

Satan means an enemy or adversary.  In Job 1:6, Satan appears before God in order to gain permission to attack Job.  The Lord permitted Satan to touch Job’s home, health and fortune, but not to take Job’s life.  Satan wanted to destroy Job and his faith in God.

2. Devil

The devil means an accuser (Revelation 12:10).  Although Christians are justified in Christ, the devil continues to accuse them of sin.  The remedy for our defense is a good lawyer, or advocate, which is Christ.  Christ has never lost a case involving one of his own.  (1 John 2:1)

Revelation 12:10  And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

1 John 2:1  My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

3.    Lucifer

Lucifer is the name meaning “son of the morning” (Isaiah 14:12).  Satan was originally created as a glorious, majestic angel.  Satan’s original position as an angel, created by God, was one of the “cherubs who covered” the throne of God (Ezekiel 28:14).  The sanctuary that Moses constructed in the tabernacle was modeled after the heavenly sanctuary.  The two golden figures that guarded the Ark of the Covenant are figures of the cherub beings that were constantly in the presence of God.  Both Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 were written against kings – one of Babylon and the other of Tyre – but are applied equally to Satan in his fall from power because of his sin of pride.  The Lord used the same kind of language when talking to his disciple Peter.   "Get behind Me, Satan!" (Matthew 16:23).

Ezekiel 28:12-19  "Son of man, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord GOD: "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."

4. The Serpent

The serpent, or the dragon, is an image that takes us from Genesis 3 to Revelation 12.   He is the deceiver who led Eve and the whole world astray.

 Revelation 12:9  And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world--he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

5. The Prince of this World

Christ called the devil the “prince of this world” or “ruler of this world” (John 12:31; John 14:30; John 16:11).  In the epistles he is spoken of as the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) and the “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2).

6. The Father of Lies

The Lord Jesus gave the devil the name that best describes the character and heart of the devil including the terms “murderer”, “liar” and “father of lies”.  This is not mere slander as we humans would tend to characterize our enemies.  This is the terminology that Christ uses to warn us about the tactics and motives behind our enemy.

John 8:44  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 has nothing to do with 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.

 Real Person or Force?

The Bible references mentioned above speak about the devil as a real being and not just and evil tendency or chaotic mess.  

The Lord Jesus talked about the devil as a real person – Matthew 4:1-12; Matthew 13:39; Matthew 25:41; Luke 8:12; John 8:44; John 12:31; John 14:30; John 16:11.


Shad Sluiter