Who is the devil? What is he? Why does it even matter?
For generations now, skeptical philosophers have pooh-poohed the existence of the devil. Many scientists say that he doesn’t exist. But what they mean is they cannot find him.
Before man invented the the microscope, scientists had no clue that bacteria caused disease. Did that mean that bacteria didn’t exist? Of course not. The same holds true of the devil.
What is the devil?
First and foremost, the evil one is the enemy of mankind. His desire is to defile, degrade, and ultimately destroy human beings. But before we get to that, we have to back up a minute. Many minutes. About 7 quadrillion minutes.
God created the devil along with the rest of the angels in the beginning. He was chief among them, created to serve in the presence of the Creator. He had perfect knowledge of God’s goodness, perfection, and power.
But for some reason lost in the mists of primordial history, he decided to rebel against his Creator. His first sin was to reject his place as a creature.
Satan didn’t want to serve God. He wanted to be God.
Of course, that job was already filled, so God cast the devil out of His presence. Unfortunately, the Satan wasn’t done yet. He convinced a full third of the angels to join in his rebellion. Misery loves company.
The fruit of rebellion.
When the devil rebelled against God, he rejected everything that is good, true, and beautiful. He only got to keep the evil, the false, and the ugly. When you see these kinds of things, know that the enemy of human nature lurks nearby.
The devil still depends on God’s good will for his existence, a fact which must infuriate him endlessly. He only continues to exist because God allows it.
Even more infuriating to the devil, God possesses the power to turn every one of his evil acts into something good. Even when it seems like the enemy of human nature wins, he loses.
He is a liar.
When the devil rejected the Truth, he rejected all truth. Nothing that he says is true. Ever. The truth is not in him.
Why is this important? One of the devil’s primary attacks against mankind is temptation. He stirs up all kinds of disordered desires in us, promising us happiness and joy as the result of sin.
It’s not true. Temptations are lies.
The result of sin is usually the opposite of what is promised by the temptation. The promise of stolen joy becomes a source of hidden shame.
He is a murderer.
Murder is more than killing. Murder takes the life of an innocent victim. The devil seeks to destroy the innocent.
The question “why do bad things happen to good people” plagues many. The answer is the devil hates good people and seeks to destroy them.
He sees in them a goodness that he once possessed but can never have again.
He is an accuser.
The devil is often called “Satan,” which means “the accuser.” Perhaps in the original order of creation, Satan was created to work with God in administering justice. To defend the innocent and accuse the wicked.
Since his rebellion, he works against justice, persecuting the good and allowing the wicked to go free.
An example of the first is found in the book of Job. God brags about Job’s righteousness, and Satan begs for an opportunity to persecute him.
On the other hand, the Egyptians are allowed to enslave God’s chosen people for centuries, murdering an entire generation of the sons of Israel. Satan is silent before God, and so the injustice continues until God himself decides to act on it directly.
In our daily life, the evil one first tempts us to sin and then accuses us of committing the sin that he encouraged. He persecutes our sins by covering us with guilt, shame, humiliation, and sorrow.
He is a thief.
The devil’s first sin was to try to be like God. To steal what rightfully belonged only to God. He does the same today.
The devil desires our worship. He wants us to treat him like we should only treat God. The evil onewants us to obey and serve him.
He does this both explicitly and in hidden ways.
The scriptures and the writings of the Father’s of the Church point out that people who worship idols worship demons. Devils. The cult of Molech commanded human sacrifice, for example. This kind of explicit worship is Satan’s great desire.
If he can’t do that, he’ll settle for being worshiped in hidden ways. When we let an idol like money, fame, or power take the place of God in our heart, the devil rejoices. He knows that he has tricked us to giving to him that which should belong to God alone.
Why is all of this important?
If you want to prepare for a battle, you have to know what you’re fighting against. The devil is vastly more powerful than any human being. More powerful than many of the angels.
Only the power that God gives through the Holy Spirit can conquer the evil one.
When your enemy is angelic, your Savior must be Divine.
Only God can help us defeat an villain so wicked and persistent. The good news is that God wants to do exactly that.
For more in depth information on exorcism, check out “An Exorcist Tells His Story” by Fr. Gabriel Amorth, the deceased exorcist of Rome.
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