By Clarence L. Haynes Jr., Crosswalk.com
If you remember growing up watching cartoons at some point a character would be tempted to do something wrong. In their decision-making process on one shoulder, there would appear an angel dressed in white encouraging them to do what was right. On the other shoulder, there would be a red devil with a pitchfork trying to move them to do what was wrong. Even though this was just a cartoon it was a reflection of the real battle that goes on in our hearts and minds and the struggle between good and evil. Moving past this imagery can cause you to wonder how do you know the devil is real? I want to give you three points of evidence that reveal very clearly the existence of this one called the devil or Satan as he is often referred to in Scripture.
Is The Devil Real?
1. The Bible speaks about him.
Is the devil real? Yes, the Bible speaks about him. The word devil means slanderer, accuser, or adversary. He is the chief adversary of God and as the Bible describes him our enemy. The first place then you must turn to know the devil is real is to the Bible. This devil is mentioned all throughout Scripture. He was on the scene from the beginning when there was just Adam and Eve. In Genesis 3 we see the revealing of the devil and how he intertwines with the affairs of men. What is also revealed from the beginning is his character.
"Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made." – Genesis 3:1
In his introduction to the world, the devil takes on the form of a serpent. What I want you to focus on was his nature. The Bible says he was crafty. The NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible notes, "crafty. Hebrew arum. This rare Hebrew word, consistent with the snake's reputation for wisdom, sounds like the Hebrew for 'naked' in 2:25 (amruummim). This wordplay suggests that the serpent's craftiness will overturn the innocence symbolized by the couple's nakedness."
And according to the dictionary to be crafty means to be “clever at achieving one's aims by indirect or deceitful methods.” If there is anything that underlies who the devil is, this is it. I heard someone say the greatest deception of the devil is that he gets people to believe that he does not exist. This falls in line with his nature of deceitfulness or craftiness. The devil did not just engage in the affairs of men in Genesis. This has continued all throughout Scripture and down through history. There are many Scriptures that speak about the devil but there are two that I want to draw your attention to.
"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." – 1 Peter 5:8
The Bible lets us know that we are fighting this enemy and he is looking to devour us. This is not hyperbole this is truth and can explain why some things happen in your life. While the devil is real don’t get carried away blaming everything on the devil because that is extreme and simply not true. The fact that the Bible speaks of him frequently however is one way we know the devil is real.
2. Jesus encountered him on earth.
Is the devil real? Yes, Jesus encountered him on earth. "Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." – Matthew 4:1
It is important to recognize that as Jesus walked the earth he acknowledged the presence of the devil or Satan. In Matthew 4 we see Jesus directly engaging the devil even being tempted by him. This is how we know the devil is real. If Jesus is our model and example and he encountered Satan we can know for sure that we will as well. It would not make sense for Jesus to make up such an encounter or to spend time talking about him and teaching his disciples if he did not exist.
3. You see his influence in our world.
Perhaps the greatest way to know the devil is real is to look at his influence. You can see the evidence of his existence all around you. This is one way of proving the existence of something. Lawyers use circumstantial evidence all the time to prove that a criminal committed a crime. If you remember in Romans 1 God used the circumstance of creation as proof of his existence.
"Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." – Romans 1:19-20
In this discourse we know from what has been made that there is a maker. The heavens and all creation are evidence of God’s existence. You see his handprint in all of it. This is also true of the devil. When you look at the world we live in you see his influence everywhere which is how you know the devil is real. The devil has the ability to exert his control and persuasion tactics in the hearts of men which aids in directing their actions.
3 Places you see the devil’s influence:
"We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one." – 1 John 5:19
The word for world here is the Greek word “kosmos.” In this word, you will find three things that are under the control or influence of the devil.
- The surface – The earth or where man lives.
- The system – the way men think or operate
- The standards – the way men determine their morality or the “truth” they will live by
It is important to remember that the devil is crafty so he uses his deception to influence thought while tricking people into believing he does not exist. When you consider these things, you see his imprint in all of them. As the impact of the devil’s manipulation increases the more godless our society becomes. To be clear the devil’s impact is greatest in those who are unbelievers, primarily because they have no real way of defending against him.
Sinful lifestyles of people.
"The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work." – 1 John 3:8
Another way we know the devil is real is because of the sinfulness that exists in our society. The person who continues in sin gives evidence of the devil’s existence because as John says he has been sinful from the beginning. People who willfully choose to live in sin, whether they realize it or not, are choosing to align with the devil. It creates what I call the illusion of freedom. You think living the lifestyle you want frees you when in reality it enslaves you. Many who are trapped in the bondage of sin falsely believe they are living free.
"The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." – 2 Corinthians 4:4
Have you ever wondered how it is possible for people to miss the truth of the gospel? The message is so simple and so loving yet people fail to see the beauty of the gospel. The reason this happens is further evidence that lets us know the devil is real. He blinds people from the truth. The hope that is found in Christ, when fully understood, becomes difficult to reject. Unless you have been tricked or deceived. Because of the control the devil has in the surface, the system, and the standards of the world, he is able to use that control to create in people spiritual blindness. This blindness causes people to miss the hope found in Christ.
Is the Devil Real: Yes, the Evidence Is There
There is so much biblical evidence that points to the truth that the devil is real. In fact, I believe the only way a person would not acknowledge his existence is because of denial or deception. Both are a reality because the god of this world, the devil, has the capacity to blind people. Deception is probably his greatest weapon. That’s why it is so important to pray for God to awaken people from their spiritual blindness. We were all blind once and God gave us sight so we can help others. I leave you with this verse that reminds you of Paul’s journey and commission to help people go from spiritual blindness to light.
"I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me." – Acts 26:17-18
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/koyu
Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. His most recent book is The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. Clarence is also committed to helping 10,000 people learn how to study the Bible and has just released his first Bible study course called Bible Study Basics. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.
This article is part of our larger resource library of Christian questions important to the Christian faith. From core beliefs to what the Bible says about angels, we want to provide easy to read and understand articles that answer your questions about Christian living.