Who is Satan? Satan is the demon who led the rebellion against God. The name Satan means "accuser". He is also referred to as the devil. "Devil" means "adversary". He too is a fallen angel and is still the leader of the demons to this day.
Are they still around today? The Bible gives us no reason to believe that demons have simply disappeared or left us alone today. In fact, demons are still active after Jesus' ascension during the time of the early church. See Acts 8:7 and 1 Cor 10:20-22 for two examples. The Bible also tells us that it won't be until the last days that God finally imprisons Satan and his demons in Hell forever. See Revelation 20:10.
Do they have real power? The Bible does consistently show us that demons do have real power beyond that of a human being. On numerous occasions throughout the Bible, demons display supernatural abilities. Here are a few examples: Influencing people (1 Chronicles 21:1), controlling the weather (Job 1:16,19), spreading sicknesses (Job 2:7), causing muteness and seizures (Mark 9:17-18), possessing people (Matthew 4:24), leading people to harm themselves (Mark 5:5), displaying superhuman strength (Mark 5:4), etc. Demons do indeed possess supernatural power greater than any human being has.
What are they up to? The names of Satan/the devil alone tell us a bit of what demons are up to. He is called accuser because Satan and his demons accuse people of sin to cause them to feel hopeless and condemned. He is called our adversary because the devil and his demons oppose God, God's people, and God's plans as the enemy of God. In addition, demons pose as gods to steal worship from the true God (Deut 32:17). They desire to lead people away from the salvation God offers through Jesus (2 Cor 4:4). They lie and deceive people to lead them away from the Gospel and away from obedience to God (John 8:44, Rev 12:9). They enjoy sin and promote it in the world.
Can they hurt me? Well, as mentioned above, demons have hurt plenty of people in the past. Demons have caused physical hurt and pain such as seizures and boils. Demons have caused spiritual harm by deceiving people and leading them away from forgiveness and salvation through Jesus. Demons have harmed people emotionally by accusing them and bringing severe guilt that leads to condemnation which has even led to self-harm. Demons have harmed people in many ways in the past and there is no reason to believe they are not doing so today.
Demons can indeed hurt us. Can they hurt believers? I believe so. Job was an amazing example of a man of faith. Yet if you read Job 1-2, you will see Satan kill most of his family, destroy his wealth, and cause him great sickness and pain. In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul tells us that Satan has given him some sort of chronic illness that he refers to as a thorn in his flesh. When Peter refuses to accept that Jesus is going to be crucified, Jesus calls Peter Satan in Matthew 16:23. I believe this is because the devil has influenced Peter's thinking in this case. Even Jesus Himself was tempted by Satan in Matthew 4 and Jesus was even moved around by the devil (Matt 4:5, 8)!
Can they possess someone? To be possessed by a demon does not mean to simply be hurt or influenced by them. Job was hurt by Satan but not possessed. Jesus was tempted and moved around by the devil but was not possessed. Possession is more than just a standard encounter. Possession means that the demon literally enters into you and controls you either all of the time or simply whenever it chooses to.
Biblically, we see several examples of this. We see the Gerasene demoniac in Mark 5:1-5. We see the mute boy in Mark 9:17-18. There's the divining slave girl of Acts 16:16-24. It may not be a pleasant thing to think about, but the Bible seems pretty clear. Demons do have the ability to possess humans and control some or all of their actions.
Can a believer be possessed? There are no examples in the Bible of a believer being possessed. In fact, there are reasons to believe that a believer cannot be possessed. First, the Bible teaches us that sin has no dominion or authority over Christians in Romans 6:14. Second, Ephesians 1:13 tells us that the Holy Spirit has been sealed within believers. If the Holy Spirit is within us, how could a demon come in as well? Third, the Bible tells us quite clearly in 1 John 5:18 that "...everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects, and the evil one does not touch him." For these three reasons combined with the fact that there are zero examples in the Bible of a believer being possessed, I do not believe that demons can possess a Christian.
What can I do to be safe from demons? Let's be honest, everything above is kind of scary. Demons are real and they hate God and hate Christians and they have real power. That doesn't make me shout for joy. How do I make sure that I'm safe from demons and their influence? Here are some things you can do:
Ephesians 6:10-20 tells us that there is a real spiritual war going on and that we need to put on the whole armor of God to stand against the schemes of the devil. This armor is a metaphor revealing the kind of godly character that is important in resisting and overcoming the devil. This passage teaches us that if we want to be safe from the devil and his demons, we should tell the truth and not lies, live righteous lives, share the gospel, trust God, and put faith in Jesus to be saved. This passage also tells us to take up the sword of the Spirit which is a metaphor for the Bible. To be safe from the devil's tricks and influences, we need to know the Bible well. Take another look at Matthew 4 and notice how Jesus overcomes the temptation of the devil. Each time the devil tempts Him, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy at the devil. Know the Bible well and it will be hard to trick you.
James 4:7 says, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Now that's encouraging. The devil will flee from us when we do two things. First, we must submit to God. This means obeying God and repenting quickly when we mess up. Second, we must resist the devil. Ultimately, it is our choice when the devil and demons tempt us if we want to listen. We need to take a stand and say no to temptation. When we do those things, the devil will retreat and leave us alone.
This should go without saying, but don't associate with demonic things. Don't mess around with idols, witchcraft, psychics, consulting spirits (like with the Ouija Board), Satanism, Voodoo, etc. These kind of things are intimately connected with demonic activity and, as Christians, we are to have nothing to do with them.
Pray for protection! Jesus taught us how to pray in the Lord's Prayer. We often forget the last part. In Matthew 6:13, Jesus closes the prayer with, "And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one". When was the last time you prayed either of those things? Make them a regular part of your prayer life.
Pray against them. If you feel that the devil or demons are trying to attack you in some way, then pray against them. Not every bad thing or temptation in your life will be from demons. However, we would be fooling ourselves to think that none of them are from demons. Jesus has all authority in heaven and earth and has promised to be with us (Matthew 28:18-20). If you think demons are trying to harm or influence you, pray in Jesus' name that they would leave and then ask God for protection.
Should I live in fear?
God is sovereign and in control. That means that not even his own enemies can do anything without Him allowing it. Anything a demon might want to do to me or you can be easily vetoed by God. He calls the shots. What this means is that when a demon does do something in your life or my life, we can trust that God is still in control. If God is allowing it, then He has a plan and will use it for His glory and our good. There is nothing to fear because God is in control!
Think about some of the examples we have looked at. In the story of Job, Satan could not do a single thing more to Job than what God allowed. Why would God allow Satan to kill Job's children? Well, there may be many reasons, but we see from Job 1:4-5 that Job's children did not seem to love and obey God. Perhaps, God used this for judgment. Why would God allow Job to be inflicted with boils and lose everything? Job's response despite his circumstances was a shining example of faith to his wife, his friends, and to us today! In the end, God blessed Job more than the first time and Satan couldn't stop that. Why would God allow Paul to suffer from some chronic illness from Satan? Paul tells us in 2 Cor 12:7 that God is using the sickness to keep Paul humble. Why would God allow His Son to be tempted by Satan? Jesus' temptation serves as an example for us to resist sin and proves that He is the sinless King and Savior who will conquer Satan once and for all.
Are demons real? Yes. Do they have power? Yes. But they can only do what God in His sovereignty allows them to do. God has given us ways to resist the devil and his servants. And even if a demon were to do something in your life, then God has allowed it. And if God has allowed it, then you can trust that God will turn that situation around for His glory and your good.
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