The devil is a real spiritual being, not a myth or figment of the imagination. Created by God as an angel, he rebelled against God and fell from heaven, bringing many other angels with him.
Though we should not become preoccupied with the devil, we should also not be ignorant of him. The Bible gives repeated exhortations to actively resist him. 1 Peter 5:8-9 says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.”
The devil is not omnipresent; that is, unlike God he cannot be everywhere at once. He is also not all-knowing or all-powerful. Though he has real power, he is a finite being.
Along with Satan, there are multitudes of demons and fallen angels that make up the kingdom of darkness.
Referring to Satan, Jesus said that “the thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10). The only reason the devil will come to you is to bring harm and destruction. He is an utterly evil being, with no hope of redemption or mercy.
Let’s look at five of his characteristics.
If Satan’s primary motivation is destruction, his primary method is deception. Though he comes to destroy, he appears as an angel of light (see 2 Corinthians 11:14). He has been deceiving people since the Garden of Eden, when he convinced Adam and Eve to eat from the wrong tree.
Jesus said this of the devil: “Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44 NASB). It is his very nature to lie, but his lies often carry the appearance of truth; they are packaged in a way that many people believe them.
One of the names given to the devil in the Bible is “the tempter” (see Matthew 4:3 and 1 Thessalonians 3:5). Satan works in conjunction with the world system and the sinful nature of man to constantly bring temptation into people’s lives. He wants to bring people into rebellion against God and agreement with himself. Even Jesus was tempted by the devil. Right before He began His public ministry the devil was there to bring various temptations before Him.
Temptation is inevitable in this world so don’t be taken off guard when it happens. Like Jesus, we should be prepared to stand against temptation with the Word of God.
In John 10:10, Jesus referred to the devil as “the thief.” Satan loves to steal from people the things that God has intended for them. He steals joy, hope, life, love, health, and destiny.
He robs the church of its inheritance and keeps people from entering into the promises of God. Many believers are not walking in the blessings of God, not realizing that the thief has robbed them.
Jesus also referred to the devil as a murderer, saying in John 8:44 that “he was a murderer from the beginning.” There is a destructive, hateful, and murderous nature about the devil. He delights in death. Whether it is through murder, suicide, drug overdose, abortion, sickness, or otherwise, Satan is a destroyer.
He certainly seeks to kill people, but also families, churches, dreams, and the list could go on.
The devil is not a creator; instead he takes what God has created and perverts it. A prime example of this is the area of sexuality. God created sex to be enjoyed by a husband and wife in the context of the marriage covenant. Satan has taken this gift of God and perverted it through promiscuity, adultery, homosexuality, pornography, and other distortions.
Another example of the devil’s distortion is his counterfeiting of the power of God. You can be sure that Satan has a counterfeit for every genuine gift of the Holy Spirit. For example, the counterfeit of the gift of prophecy is occult divination; psychics, fortune-tellers astrologers, and false prophets are operating in a demonic spirit that mimics the true gift of prophecy.
Though this is not an exhaustive list, it gives you an idea of the primary characteristics of our enemy. Now, follow the admonition of James: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).