Intermediate Edition

II. Satan and Demons


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Chapter 5  Part II

Satan and Demons

See also:

Many people find the existence of Satan (i.e. the devil) and demons disturbing and choose to avoid the subject. But to live the Christian life it is vital to understand our chief opponents. Moreover, the Bible has a lot to say about Satan and demons – much of which is in fact encouraging to believers.

Satan’s Evilness

Satan is evil and is opposed to God’s kingdom

When anyone hears the word about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one [Satan] comes and snatches what was sown in his heart; this is the seed sown along the path.   Matthew 13:19 NET

Satan is deceitful

[Jesus, to the Jew leaders:] The devil was a murderer from the beginning. He has never been truthful. He doesn’t know what the truth is. Whenever he tells a lie, he’s doing what comes naturally to him. He’s a liar and the father of lies.   John 8:44b GW

Satan’s Power

Satan has great power and authority in the world

Then the devil led him up to a high place and showed him in a flash all the kingdoms of the world. 6And he said to him, “To you I will grant this whole realm – and the glory that goes along with it, for it has been relinquished to me, and I can give it to anyone I wish.   Luke 4:5-6 NET

[John:] the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.   1 John 5:19b NET

Satan works in and through unbelievers

[Paul, to believers in Ephesus:] Yes, in the past you lived the way the world lives, following the ruler of the evil powers that are above the earth. That same spirit [Satan] is now working in those who refuse to obey God.   Ephesians 2:2 NCV™

And they [false teachers] may wake up and escape from the trap of the devil, who catches them to do what he wants.   2 Timothy 2:26 NCV™

Satan is not as powerful as God

[Paul, to believers:] The God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet.   Romans 16:20a NET

Satan is not as powerful as Jesus Christ

Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the man who had been mute began to speak, and the crowds were amazed. … 21[Jesus:] When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his possessions are safe. 22But when a stronger man attacks and conquers him, he takes away the first man’s armor on which the man relied and divides up his plunder.   Luke 11:14, 21-22 NET

In v. 22 Jesus refers to his overpowering of Satan, stripping him of his power and taking what was his – a truth demonstrated by Jesus driving out demons (v. 14) and so releasing people from Satan’s grip.

Satan stands condemned

… the ruler of this world has been condemned.   John 16:11b NET

Satan’s Work against God’s People

Satan tempts God’s people

[Paul, to believers in Thessalonica:] So when I could bear it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter somehow tempted you and our toil had proven useless.   1 Thessalonians 3:5 NET

Satan can afflict God’s people

So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and he afflicted Job with a malignant ulcer from the sole of his feet to the top of his head.   Job 2:7 NET

[Jesus Christ, to the church in Smyrna:] Do not be afraid of the things you are about to suffer. The devil is about to have some of you thrown into prison so you may be tested, and you will experience suffering for ten days.   Revelation 2:10a NET

Satan’s influence is limited by God and Jesus Christ

[Paul:] So that I would not become too proud of the wonderful things that were shown to me, a painful physical problem was given to me. This problem was a messenger from Satan, sent to beat me and keep me from being too proud. 8I begged the Lord three times to take this problem away from me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you.” So I am very happy to brag about my weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can live in me.   2 Corinthians 12:7-9 NCV™

Paul’s affliction apparently came from Satan. But Paul implies that Jesus Christ permitted it, using it both to keep Paul from becoming conceited (v. 7) and to make Paul receptive to Christ’s power working in him. Thus this passage illustrates that God and Jesus Christ may permit Satan to afflict (or tempt) their people, but only in accordance with their purposes. As such his power and influence is limited by them.


Evil spiritual forces are referred to by a number of names, including “demons”, “evil spirits”, “spirits” and (evil) “angels”. In order to be concise, generally only “Demons” (or “demons”) has been used in this and the following subheadings.

Demons are evil and powerful spiritual beings

[Paul, to believers:] For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.   Ephesians 6:12 NET

The terms “rulers” and “powers” are indicative of the great – but limited – power of demons. The last two clauses appear to together refer to the whole of the spiritual realm.

Demons are aligned with Satan

Then war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon [Satan], and the dragon and his angels fought back.   Revelation 12:7 NET

This illustrates that evil angels or demons are aligned with Satan.

Demons can possess people . . .

When he [Jesus] came to the other side, to the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were extremely violent, so that no one was able to pass by that way.   Matthew 8:28 NET

. . . and demons can cause such people much harm

[A father of a demon-possessed boy:] A spirit seizes him, and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions and causes him to foam at the mouth. It hardly ever leaves him alone, torturing him severely.   Luke 9:39 NET

Demons both fear and have to submit to God and Jesus Christ

You believe that God is one; well and good. Even the demons believe that – and tremble with fear.   James 2:19 NET

But Jesus rebuked him [a demon-possessed man]: “Silence! Come out of him!” 26After throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him. 27They were all amazed so that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He even commands the unclean spirits and they obey him.”   Mark 1:25-27 NET

Demons face eternal punishment

Then he [Jesus Christ] will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels!   Matthew 25:41 NET

Pray for persecuted Christians