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We receive a lot of questions about Satan, so we’ve put together this list of answers for anyone who wants to know more about this infamous demon.
1. WHAT KIND OF CREATURE IS SATAN?
Satan is a demon. Demons are angels. The only reason we call some angels demons is to designate their position with God. While angels are still on God’s good side, demons have committed some kind of unforgivable sin which God has eternally condemned them for. Demons have already received their judgment from God and they know they’re going to Hell. Right now, they’re still free, but their very dark destiny looms in front of them with no hope of salvation.
2. WHERE DOES SATAN DWELL?
Because God has given us a very limited knowledge of angelic beings, we do not have a full understanding of their movements. What we do know is that He has granted them access to multiple dimensions. Let’s do a quick comparison. As a human, you are currently stuck in only one dimension: the earthly dimension. This is a physical dimension. Your soul is not physical, so God has given your soul a physical body (or earthsuit) to get around in while it is here. Until God separates your soul from your body (which is physical death), you cannot travel to any other dimension. You’re stuck here. It’s only after you die that your soul will go on to an eternal, non-physical dimension–either Heaven or Hell.
Now unlike you, angelic beings can travel to multiple dimensions. We know that they have access to this physical dimension we currently live in, but that they interact with it differently than we can because they are not stuck in physical bodies like we are. Angelic creatures can manipulate matter without being stuck in the same dimension as that matter. For example, they can cause a book to fly across a room without having to pick that book up with a physical hand. It is because angelic creatures are able to manipulate this dimension from a different angle than we can that we become so impressed with them. From our perspective, they have special powers. From their perspective, they are normal, while we are the limited ones.
Angelic beings can move back and forth between this physical dimension and the eternal dimension of Heaven. Some will tell you that Satan and his demons have been permanently banned from Heaven, because Jesus said:
“I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” (Lk. 10:18)
But when Jesus made this comment, He was claiming Divine Authority, not trying to give us a complete picture of God’s personal history with demons. Since demons were already in trouble with God before God started the human creation, by claiming to have been an eye witness to Satan’s demise, Jesus is claiming to have been around since before humans were ever created. But nowhere does Jesus say that Satan’s fall from Heaven was permanent. Christians read that into the text. But if we look at the whole Bible, we find evidence to suggest that until demons are permanently banished to Hell by God, they have just as much access to Heaven as angels do. In the book of Job, Satan is described as coming before God along with other angels.
One day the angels came to present themselves before Yahweh, and Satan also came with them. Yahweh said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan replied, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” (Job 1:6-7)
Here Satan is described as having the ability to travel voluntarily between earth and what we can reasonably assume is Heaven. This event occurs well after Satan’s fall from Heaven that Jesus later refers to.
More food for thought is found in the details of the vision described by the prophet Micaiah.
“Therefore hear the word of Yahweh: I saw Yahweh sitting on His throne with all the multitudes of Heaven standing around Him on His right and on His left. And Yahweh said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’
“One suggested this, and another that. Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before Yahweh and said, ‘I will entice him.’
“‘By what means?’ Yahweh asked.
“‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said.
“‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said Yahweh. ‘Go and do it.’
“So now Yahweh has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours, King Ahab. Yahweh has decreed disaster for you.” (1 Ki. 22:19-23)
It is God who associates demons with deception. We never hear of angels described as “deceiving spirits”. It’s very interesting that Micaiah doesn’t simply say that an angel put forth this strategy to Yahweh, but instead he uses the term “a spirit.” Once we understand that both demons and angels can flit in and out of Heaven, and that all of these creatures take orders from God, it’s very easy to picture that “the multitudes of Heaven” that Micaiah saw consisted of both demons and angels. When Yahweh asked for volunteers to do something negative to a human, a demon would be all too pleased to volunteer himself for the task.
So then, we should assume that angels and demons are very active beings who currently travel back and forth between various dimensions. Earth and Heaven are two dimensions that we are certain they can access, but perhaps there are many more besides these. At least for now, this ability to travel between multiple dimensions is a great difference between us and angelic beings.
3. WHAT ARE THE LIMITS OF SATAN’S POWERS & ABILITIES?
Before we give Satan more respect than he deserves we need to realize that, unlike God, Satan is not omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (able to be everywhere at once), or omnipotent (all-powerful). Satan is a limited being who must try and find ways to compensate for his limitations if he wants to accomplish things that are beyond him. Satan is very interested in persecuting the human race. This is too big of a job for one demon to handle. This is where Satan relies on the help of his other demons.
4. IS SATAN IN CHARGE OF OTHER DEMONS?
It is God who encourages us to view Satan as holding some kind of superior rank in the eyes of other demons. Remember that a demon is just an angel who has been eternally condemned by God. Whatever demons did to tick God off so much, Satan apparently played some key role. The popular theory is that Satan led some kind of mutinous revolt against God and a third of the angels supported him. When all of these rebellious angels were condemned by God, they continued to submit to Satan as their leader.
Now it’s important to note that we really don’t have any evidence to support this dramatic image of Satan leading some massive revolt in Heaven. Many try to turn Ezekiel 28 into a metaphorical description of Satan, and it is this passage which they then use to support the theory that Satan tried to elevate himself as God’s equal (or superior), and that that’s what got him in such hot soup. It is also this passage that feeds the very popular theory that the snake who tried to coax Eve into sinning in Eden was Satan incarnate.
As is often the case with popular traditions in the Church, this Ezekiel 28 theory is utterly ridiculous. Yahweh is explicitly clear that He is addressing a human being in this passage: the king of the seaside city of Tyre. Like the kings of Assyria, Egypt, and Babylon, the king of Tyre developed a massive ego and started entertaining grand delusions about how fabulous he was. God takes issue with human dots claiming to be Divine beings. The king of Tyre is NOT the only king to have done this. In the Bible we find God chewing out many kings for their arrogance, yet it is only the king of Tyre who we try to force into some absurd metaphor for Satan. No, this simply doesn’t work. The king of Tyre was a human being, and the famous snake from Eden was just a snake. In our over-zealous search for information about Satan, we have read demons into passages where none exist (see Taking Satan out of Ezekiel 28 & Eden: Disturbing Revelations).
So then, is Satan in charge of other demons? Yes and no. While God certainly speaks of Satan like he has some kind of superior rank, God also makes it clear that HE is the true Commander of the demonic ranks. In 1 Samuel 16, it is God, not Satan, who sends a demon to torment the rebellious King Saul.
Now the Spirit of Yahweh departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from Yahweh terrorized him. Saul’s servants then said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is terrorizing you.” (1 Sam. 16:14-15)
In Judges 9, it is God, not Satan, who sends a demon to stir up trouble between the evil Abimelech and his human helpers.
“Then God sent an evil spirit to make trouble between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem so that the leaders of Shechem turned against him.” (Judges 9:23)
In Job, we find Yahweh putting limits on the methods Satan can use to torment Job. God has always claimed supremacy over all things. God has always promoted Himself as the true origin of all demonic activity, since He is clear that demons can’t do bumpkus without His permission and help (see Understanding the Limits of Satan’s Power). So then, should we view Satan as being in charge of demons? No, we should view God as being in charge of both Satan and demons. We should view Satan as one demon who other demons voluntarily submit to for the sake of maintaining order and efficiency.
5. ARE THERE ENOUGH DEMONS TO BE ATTACKING EVERY SINGLE HUMAN AT ONCE?
While the tradition in the Church is that one-third of the angels revolted against God, we really don’t know this for a fact. Even if it’s true, we have no idea how many angels there are compared to the number of humans on this earth. What is very clear is that demons are not coming anywhere close to having their total way in this world. This has nothing to do with insufficient numbers and everything to do with the fact that God is the One who controls demonic activity.
Demons don’t want to just torment you, they want you dead. Your soul’s passage through this world is your only chance to get on God’s good side in eternity. From the perspective of non-earthly beings, your life on earth is extremely brief. If demons had their way, they would wait until you were old enough to be considered morally accountable by God, then they’d kill you off before you submitted to Him, so that your soul would end up in Hell. Demons are already condemned and they want to take as many of us down with them as they can. They want to stick it to God by enticing the creatures He loves to spit in His face. But because Satan has nowhere close to the authority he tries to claim, his plans are continuously hampered by the fact that God is controlling his every move.
Suppose you couldn’t kill someone unless you got them to give you a signed permission slip saying, “It’s okay for you to kill me now.” This is the ridiculous position demons find themselves in when it comes to attacking and harassing you. They can’t make a move against you unless God gives them permission, opportunity, and assistance. It’s not just a matter of them getting the chance to take a swing at you, it’s also a matter of God not allowing anyone else to interfere until they accomplish their desired effect. How far could demons get with dragging a man down into suicidal despair if a bunch of his friends kept calling and coming over with cheery distractions? Harassing humans is complicated work and there are countless variables that must be controlled and timed just right if that harassment is going to be effective. In the Church, we give demons far too much credit for brains and ability. Certainly they have done their homework on humans and they know all kinds of effective ways to drag us down. But they are simply too limited and impotent to pull off any of their plans without enormous assistance from God. This is why it is utterly ridiculous to say that God has nothing to do with demonic harassment. He has everything to do with it. God is the only reason demons have access to humans in the first place, and He is the One controlling every move they make. So then, to pray against demons is a complete waste of time, because if demons are messing with you, it is only because God wants them to. If you really want to grow through spiritual warfare, you need to turn your focus onto the true Source of your problem: God, not demons. God has positive reasons for helping demons attack us. Until we start seeking out the lessons that HE wants to teach us, we’re just going to go spinning off into ridiculous delusions.
6. IF WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE FOCUSED ON GOD INSTEAD OF SATAN, WHY DOES THE CHURCH TALK ABOUT HIM SO MUCH? WHY IS HE MENTIONED SO MUCH IN THE BIBLE?
Satan actually isn’t mentioned very much in the Bible. The Old Testament makes up two-thirds of the Bible, and there we find Satan mentioned a mere 14 times. Eleven of those mentions are in the book of Job, where Satan plays the role of God’s useful pawn. Twice he’s mentioned in Zechariah 3, where he’s depicted as throwing out an accusation against a human which Yahweh tosses out as irrelevant. His last mention is in 1 Chronicles 21:1 where he’s credited as the one who incites King David to assess Israel’s military power. But the same account in 2 Samuel 24:1 credits God as the One who incites David into taking the census of potential soldiers. Suffice to say, Satan is portrayed as a very pathetic figure in the Old Testament, and in 36 of the 39 books, he isn’t mentioned at all. It’s ironic to note that some of the most highly cited mentions of Satan in the Bible are purely fictional. In the Church you constantly hear about how Satan tricked Eve in the Garden, yet in reality Satan’s name isn’t mentioned once in the book of Genesis. Then you hear of his great fame in Ezekiel, although once again his name isn’t mentioned anywhere in that book. Isn’t it an eye-opener to realize how much guff the Church has taught you to believe? This is why it’s so beneficial to check these things out for yourself. Remember that popular doesn’t mean proven.
Satan (aka the devil) is mentioned 67 times in the 27 books of the New Testament. Why this sudden spike in interest? All of the books in the Bible were authored by Jews, so why are the Jews of the New Testament so much more focused on Satan than the Jews of the Old Testament? There are multiple reasons for this. First, there is very little prophetic material in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, we find reams of passages in which God is speaking directly to people through the mouths of His prophets. When God is speaking, He doesn’t exalt created things. But when men are speaking their own thoughts, out come the idolatrous delusions about demons. It’s important to note that the New Testament epistles are not direct quotations from God, but early Jewish Christians sharing their personal theology with us. They have some things right, but a lot of things wrong. A man’s culture and personal life experience have an enormous impact on his personal theology. The apostle Paul is a stellar example of this, and studying Paul helps us realize why the other New Testament writers are clinging to such ridiculous delusions about how demons work.
Because we obsess over the New Testament in the Church today, and because Paul wrote 14 of the 21 epistles that we are basing our New Covenant theology on, Paul has become a major influence in shaping the current beliefs of the Church. In short, much of what we believe and say is just a regurgitation of Paul. The more we study Paul, the more we realize why our blind imitation of him has landed us in such a major theological crisis.
Paul was a Pharisee. Pharisees were very popular and influential pastors in New Testament Israel. Pharisees were notorious for grossly mangling the meaning of Scripture and adding in a lot of extra baloney that God never authorized. In the Gospels, Jesus was constantly reaming out the Pharisees for what an abominable job they were doing as the spiritual leaders of Israel. Given the Pharisaical obsession with demons, it’s hardly surprising to find Paul mentioning Satan in his letters. It’s also not surprising to find him exalting Satan as more powerful than he actually is.
We must remember that the Pharisees used the same Old Testament we have today. In that Old Testament, demons are presented as mere pawns who Yahweh manipulates to accomplish His own agenda on earth, while God is exalted as the Supreme Authority over all created things. How does a Pharisee who is supposedly basing his theology on the Old Testament end up painting Satan as the ruler of this world? Such a teaching certainly did not come from God, yet it is a teaching which the Pharisees were entrenched in by Jesus’ day. What we find in the New Testament is men putting forth idiotic theories about demons getting in God’s way and then God combating those moronic ideas by displaying Satan as being dominated and defeated by Him in Revelation. Let’s examine some of Paul’s idiocy on the subject of Satan:
I have decided to deliver such a man to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (2 Cor. 2:11)
Here Paul is talking about handing a rebellious human over to the clutches of Satan in hopes that the man might be driven back to God through demonic torment. This is utterly ridiculous language. First of all, Paul is not God, and he has zero authority over human souls and the demonic realm. Secondly, Satan can’t do bumpkus without God’s help and assistance, so to imply that Satan torments anyone independently of God is a total violation of what God teaches. Paul should know better, since he’s supposed to be an expert on the Old Testament. But like us, he has been brainwashed with all kinds of ridiculous delusions about what God teaches and how things actually work. It is those delusions, not truth, that Paul is regurgitating when he discusses demons in his letters.
…for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! (2 Cor. 12:7)
As a Pharisee, Paul already grew up thinking he was perfect in the eyes of God, and as an apostle, he doesn’t mind telling us what a fabulous job he’s doing of spreading the Gospel and being persecuted for Christ. When God nails Paul with a vexing personal trial about which the apostle refuses to share details, Paul rightly assumes that his troubles have something to do with spiritual maturity. But notice how he views Satan as the one sending some messenger to him instead of directly acknowledging God as the Source of his troubles. And it is because Paul sees Satan as his problem that he keeps begging God to take the trial away. If he were doing it right, he’d see God as the Source of his troubles, and ask God to help him learn the lessons that God wants to teach him. But once we start viewing Satan as a great ruler who operates independently of God, we start focusing on and praying for all the wrong things.
For we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, more than once—and yet Satan hindered us. (1 Thess. 2:18)
Who does Paul credit for messing up his travel plans? Satan, not God. Paul is convinced that his desire to come and see his friends in Thessalonica is of God, but that darn Satan is once again managing to override God’s good plans. Utterly ridiculous. It isn’t God who is teaching Paul to put forth this garbage about Satan being able to obstruct the Divine Plan. Paul picked this up from his fellow Pharisees and the whole lot of them were utterly delusional in their theology about demons.
Today in the Church we obsess over the writings of Paul far more than we do the direct words of Yahweh that were given to us through the Old Testament prophets. Because of this, the Church has aligned herself with the idiocy of one man’s stunted thinking instead of aligning herself with God’s truth. God has always taught that He is the Supreme Authority over all things, and that He controls the activity of demons. Paul teaches that Satan is the powerful ruler of this earthly dimension who is getting away with all kinds of shenanigans. God teaches us to view Him as our Defender in life. Paul teaches us to take on demons directly and to quench their fiery darts with our great shield of faith. God teaches us the truth that leads to soul freedom and peace. Paul leads us astray with delusions that result in soul bondage and fear. What do we have today? A bunch of Christians dreading the day when Satan’s antichrist will rise up and unleash horrific persecution on the Church. God fades into the background and He is forgotten as we all tremble in dread of the “prince of this world” having his ultimate heyday.
Instead of practicing reverential submission to God as He teaches us to do in Scripture, Christians are following Paul down the road of constantly criticizing God’s work and telling Him how to improve (see Learning from the Prayers of Paul). The more we hide out in the New Testament and immerse ourselves in one man’s foolish misconceptions about the supernatural realms, the more deluded we become. This irreverent obsession with demons that has become such a major theme in the Church is a reflection of our refusal to be taught by the Holy Spirit. God always exalts Himself, yet we constantly promote the exaltation of created things. And while we teach that Satan is the ruler of this world and ascribe to him far more brains and ability than he actually has, God’s jealous wrath is quietly mounting up against us. God will not be mocked by us. If we think we can spend our lives admiring demons more than we do our own Savior and not receive consequences in eternity for our gross idolatry, we are deluding ourselves. God has many ways of avenging Himself and we won’t see the day that He shrugs off our minimization of Him as a trivial detail. God is awesome. God is deserving of endless glory, admiration and praise. Satan is utterly pathetic. If you want to grow closer to God, you need to stop obsessing about demons. Understanding some basic principles about how God allows them to interact with you is very useful. But beyond that, they really aren’t worth focusing on.
7. IS SATAN IN CHARGE OF HELL?
Some of the most absurd notions that the Church puts out are that Satan is in charge of Hell, that Hell is the current headquarters for demons, and that demons are the ones who torment souls in Hell. This is a direct violation of what God teaches us, and is once again inspired by the delusions of New Testament Jews.
God is the One who created Hell. Jesus suggests that Hell was originally created in response to the rebellion of demons.
“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels…” (Matt. 25:41)
Here Jesus is describing Himself at a future point in time, judging the souls of humans and ordering some of them to be thrown into Hell. This verse is widely cited by those who want to say, “See? Demons live in Hell right now.” Yet Jesus is not describing some comfy abode here, He’s describing a place of hideous torment. The fact that demons enjoy tormenting others does not mean that they have an immunity to being tormented themselves. Demons are very capable of suffering, and that is what they will be doing when God throws them into Hell.
Now if the government constructs a new top security prison, and before it’s even occupied someone asks you, “What is that building over there?” You’re going to say, “That’s a prison. It was built for the nation’s worst convicts.” When Jesus says Hell was prepared for demons, that is not the same as Him saying demons currently reside there. Demons most certainly do not reside in Hell–on the contrary, Hell is a place they greatly fear and want nothing to do with. On one occasion when Jesus confronted demons that were possessing a human being, the demons panicked and cried out:
“What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” (Mt. 8:29)
Right now demons are allowed to run free. They aren’t bound in Hell yet, and they’re in no rush for that to happen. Here in Matthew 8, demons accuse Jesus of violating some understanding that they have about when God will actually throw them into Hell. They’re very nervous about where Jesus might send them when He drives them out of their human host, so they quickly come up with a safe alternative: a herd of swine. They’d rather be sent into pigs than get sent to that eternal fire. In Luke’s rendition of this account, he says:
The demons were imploring Jesus not to command them to go away into the abyss. Now there was a herd of many swine feeding there on the mountain; and the demons implored Him to permit them to enter the swine. (Luke 8:31-32)
To implore someone is to beg them desperately. If demons were so comfortable with flitting in and out of Hell, why should they be so threatened by Jesus sending them there? The demons in this account are cowering subserviently in front of Jesus, acknowledging that He has the power to do horrible things to them. What happened to demons being the rulers of this world? What happened to their powerful king who can obstruct God’s plans and make things happen against His will? Oh, that’s right: the great power of demons is nothing more than superstitious hogwash. God is the One with the power, and God is the One who throws creatures into Hell.
Hell was created by God to be an eternal, multi-creature prison. We know that eventually both humans and angelic creatures will end up there. Who can say how many other kinds of creatures God might decide to throw into Hell? The important point for you to understand is that Hell is God’s turf, and He thinks it is FABULOUS. No one forced God to come up with the sadistic torments of Hell: they were all His idea. Today many Christians like to pretend that if Hell is real, it will only be a temporary torment. Well, no, this is not what God teaches us. Hell is ETERNAL. This bothers us intensely, but we will just have to suck it up because GOD defines reality, not us. If we want real help with Hell, we need to look to the Holy Spirit to help us see Hell from the Divine perspective instead of trying to pretend it isn’t real.
Satan: The Prince of Nothing
Why didn’t God make us stronger than demons?
Can demons read our minds?
Does prayer give us the strength to stand against Satan?
Spiritual Warfare in the Church: Delusions vs. Truth