Does Satan exist?

Recent polls report that around 57% of Americans believe Satan exists. When this statistic is shared, some respond with shock that 57% of Americans are apparently still Neanderthals who believe in religious mythology. Others, on the opposite side of the spectrum, express shock that only 57% of Americans believe Satan exists given all the evils we witness on a seemingly daily basis.

I’m not surprised by the statistic. If you had asked me what percentage of people in the USA believe Satan exists, I would have guessed 50%. What disappoints me about the percentage is that it indicates many self-proclaimed Bible-believing Christians deny the existence of Satan. This is a very dangerous belief. It has been said, “Satan’s greatest trick is convincing the world that he does not exist.”

Sidenote: Often the name "Satan" is used to refer to Satan and his horde of demons/fallen angels. It sometimes makes it seem like Satan is more powerful than he actually is. Through his multitude of demonic servants, Satan can achieve great power, knowledge, and influence. However, it is very important to understand that he is absolutely not omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent. It is highly unlikely that Satan himself is the demon who is attacking/influencing/tempting you personally. For the purposes of this article, I will sometimes use the word “Satan” to refer to the entire realm of the demonic.

Whenever there is a terrorist attack or other horrific act of murder, I hear reporters ask rhetorical questions such as, “What would possess someone to do something like this?” The more appropriate question is not “what,” but “who.” Who would possess someone to do something like that? Satan would. While I do not underestimate the evil human beings can commit entirely on their own, whenever the most grievous of evils is committed, I have to wonder if demon possession was involved.

What possesses a person to murder dozens of young children? Satan. What possesses a man to go into a crowd and blow himself up with a bomb strapped with shrapnel? Satan. What possesses a man to kidnap multiple women and keep them locked in his basement so he can repeatedly rape them? Satan. What causes a woman to drown her children in a bathtub under the delusion that God told her to do it? Satan.

Denying the existence of Satan is like denying the fact that there is a homicidal maniac trying to break into your home, even though you are watching him bang on your door and try to pry open your windows. Denying the existence of Satan is like going on an African safari at night, by yourself, even though you witnessed hungry lions prowling around earlier in the day.

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

Denying the existence of Satan and the demonic is foolish. It leaves you ill-prepared for the reality of spiritual warfare. How can victory over an enemy be achieved if you deny the enemy exists? Denying the existence of Satan leaves you blind to his schemes and naked to his attacks.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:10-12).

If you want to go through life blind and vulnerable to the spiritual battle that surrounds us, that’s your call. Me? I'd much rather be wearing the belt, the armor, the shoes, and the shield, with a sword in my hand! See Ephesians 6:13-18 and Hebrews 4:12.

S. Michael Houdmann

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Does Satan exist?