by Bill Pevlor
Belief in the devil is at an all time low. Although a vast majority of people profess a belief in God, only a small minority still believe in the devil. Most have decided the devil is nothing more than a made up “bogeyman” used by the ancients to scare people toward good behavior. Even some theologians (I use the term loosely) have decided the devil of the bible is not a true personality, but simply an imaginary prop for illustration purposes. After all, we have become much too sophisticated to fall for fairy tales from the dark ages.
Well, I’m here to stand against the tide of modern, “conventional wisdom” to declare: There is, indeed a devil! Not an imaginary figure; an actual, existent, diabolical personality whose sole intent is to thwart the purposes of God and destroy mankind. Jesus spoke of the devil as a thief who comes only to steal, kill and destroy. (John 10:10) Jesus also said the devil, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” (John 8:44) It’s clear from the scriptures, Jesus believed in, warned of and fought against a real devil.
By now, you might be thinking, “I thought you were a ‘good news’ preacher? How is the existence of a real devil good news?”
Here’s the good news: The reality of a real devil clears up a lot of potential confusion about God. Without acknowledging the existence of a devil, people end up with a twisted impression of God. If the devil doesn’t exist then God gets all the blame, as well as any credit. People who don’t believe in the devil find God rather schizophrenic; bringing blessing one minute and curses the next. They, unknowingly, defame God; blaming Him for the unpleasant circumstances and tragic events actually brought about by the devil. Even worse, without an understanding of the the devil’s existence and malevolent activity, God becomes someone to be feared from a distance because, if there is no devil, the good, bad and ugly are all attributed to God. That kind of thinking will hinder intimacy and keep you from growing close to your Heavenly Father. (“Don’t get too close, you never know what He’s likely to do!”)
I often try to teach new believers a simple concept we call “Theology 101”. The course is summed up in two short sentences – “1) God is a good God. 2) The devil is a bad devil.” I know it is a very simplistic approach and some additional teaching is needed to bring a full understanding. However, if all you understand is “God is a good God and the devil is a bad devil” than you are already well ahead of a lot of so-called theologians.
If you want to investigate who’s behind various circumstances in your life, be sure to check the character of both suspects. According to the Bible, God is holy, righteous, and just. God is the one who loves you so much He sacrificed His only son. The Bible describes God as much more than just a loving being when it says “God is love”. Now, contrast that with Jesus’ description of the devil.
As a practical example, if your theology doesn’t allow for a devil, when a young child dies, all you can do is shrug your shoulders and say “well, God must have had a reason”. If you’ve graduated from Theology 101, it’s easy to see the culprit is not God, but the devil. God is the life giver. The devil is a thief and a murderer. It is so simple you’d have to have help to get it mixed up. And the devil has been all to happy to provide help by confusing people and directing blame toward God.
As Jesus said, the devil is a liar, and one of the biggest whoppers he wants us to believe is that he doesn’t actually exist. If he can get you to believe the lie, you’ll begin to blame God. The devil’s ultimate goal is to get you to turn away from God and His plan of salvation out of anger or fear. Don’t fall for the lie.
Now, a final bit of good news from God’s Word. With all the Bible says about the devil, the last (and most thrilling) reference is a prediction of the devil’s future found in Revelation 20:10 where it says “and the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone…”. Now that’s good news!