Episode 6: The Reality of Satan and His Demons

Peace to Live By Episode 6: The Reality of Satan and His Demons - Daniel Litton
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[Transcripts may not match broadcasted sermon word for word, and may contain extra material that was cut from the broadcast due to time constraints]

       I can still remember as if it were yesterday―though it's been many years ago now. I remember on the morning of that day waking up in the hotel room, and seeing the alarm clock which read 8:38. I took my shower, got dressed, and went down to eat breakfast in the hotel dinning room with my father. This was a pretty nice hotel at Stone Mountain, east of Atlanta. At the time, they had a breakfast buffet that served pretty much everything.

       I was in Atlanta that day because my great aunt, on my mother's side, had went home to be with the Lord several days earlier, and we were there for her funeral. My great aunt Mary Ellen―born in 1912 just a couple months after the Titanic sank―she had been like a grandmother to me. My real grandmother, on my mother's side, had passed away before I was born, so she kind of took her place. Just eight or so hours before this, we, my dad and mom, younger brother and I, had been in Atlanta's airport to pick up my older brother, and his girlfriend at the time, who had flown in early that morning. I remember the kind woman at the security check point, who let us in though, and we met my brother and his girlfriend and took them back to the hotel.

       The funeral for my great aunt, I would say, was a typical size for a funeral. Not a lot of people were there, but there were not too few. I remember sitting in the chapel and listening to the minister give the eulogy. I remember this particularity because there was a guy who was having a hard time staying awake (sitting in front of me) and he was nodding off, which seemed to be aggravating my uncle. Anyway, from there we went to the cemetery. I can still see that green grass in contrast with the many tombstones and trees, and the barred fenced which surrounded them. It was a sunny, crisp day. No wind from my recollection. I was one of the pallbearers, and I remember it vividly. It was as if I was carrying more than I was―it was as if I was carrying the weight of many people on my shoulders. And it felt that way for a reason. This was the morning of September the 11th, 2001. I remember the minister saying at the cemetery to us all, “And indeed, this is a sad day for all Americans.”

       Before breakfast, back in the hotel, getting off the elevator, it was only a short walk to the buffet, but before coming there, there was a line of TV's, just like there is in a lot of hotels today. The TV's were displaying the major networks. A group of people were standing there, surrounding the TVs, looking up at them. It was one of those things you never wanted to see, but knew what you were looking at when you saw it. It reminded me, in that moment, of the pictures you see in history books of people watching the black and white TVs after President Kennedy was assassinated. I knew what the problem was before I even knew. I knew something had gone desperately wrong.

       I can still remember later in the day looking a New York harbor, the Pentagon in Washington, the field in Pennsylvania, on the TV screen and seeing all the smoke and devastation that had been caused. There were a lot of unanswered questions, but there was one thing that stood out like a sore thumb. There was one thing that was clear. Satan was real―he was alive and well. And he and his demons had made their presence known in the Great United States on that day.

       It is hard for many nowadays, especially I think here in America, to take persons like Satan, or demons, or even angels, to take them as 'real' persons. It seems like in almost every story, whether it be fiction or non-fiction, there is an antagonist. There typically seems to be someone who works against the people who are perceived as good in the story. What is interesting when discussing Satan is that many people see him as a laughable, fictional character, who is harmless. But, the truth of the matter is, and as was on that day in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania in real life, Satan is a 'real,' actual being―a person. Just as God is real and angels are real, so Satan and his demons are real. Today I want to discuss the reality of Satan and his demons.

       First, let's ask the question, 'Who is Satan?' A common misconception of Satan seems to be that he is an individual being who is in and of himself a god, that in fact he was not created just like God was not created. Oftentimes when I talk to non-Christians about hell, people will invariably say to me, “I don't think hell will be that bad of a place. After all, Satan runs hell, and he embodies all that is fun to do.” The truth of the matter, though, is that Satan is not the ruler of hell, nor did he create it, but rather he is a prisoner, just like any human being who ends up there. He is a created being, and this gigantically separates him from the realm of being like God (see Ezekiel 28:13d, which notes Satan's creation). God was never created, as He always has been in existence. Satan, though, on the other hand was created, and interestingly enough he was created by God himself.

       Just like we as humans were created in God's image and likeness, so Satan also has a personhood. This personhood is like the angels of God whom he used to be a part of, and like the angels that fell and became traitors of God along with him. To get a better understanding of Satan's personhood, the primary text we're going to use is Ezekiel 28:14-17 in the Old Testament. Please turn in your Bibles there, or open your Bible app to there.

The following is stated: "You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you. In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you."

We learn a lot of things from this passage about Satan. First, let us note that Satan was "an anointed guardian cherub." This means he was an angel of The Lord. The text we just read states, "You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created." So, Satan had ways in which he lived as a righteous angel, and they were good. But the passage continues, "till unrighteousness was found in you." So, we learn that while Satan was good, at one point he was found to not be righteous. He chose to be evil, to go against God. The passage also notes that hereafter Satan was "filled with violence," and that he "sinned." We also learn that his he had a proud heart because of his beauty, for he was a beautiful being.

       What else do we know about Satan? Let's also look at Isaiah 14, and namely note verses 12-14. It says: ""How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.'" This gives us another perspective of the sin that was found in Satan's heart when he was an angel of God in heaven. Satan was full of pride, as he wanted to be like God. He wanted to call the shots, as we just saw. Unfortunately, the same becomes true of men and women.

       But what is Satan's purpose, though? Being a fallen angel himself, what does he seek to do with his personhood? Well, we learn from the pages of Scripture that Satan is both a liar and murderer. Let's look a passage found in John 8, and verse 44 in which the Lord Jesus Christ mentions about Satan in talking to some Jews at that time. He said:

"You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

Satan wants to ruin God's creation as best he can, and seeks to prevent as many as he can from becoming Christians. Now there are all sorts of ways in which Satan accomplishes his objectives. He aids people in disobeying the rules that God has set forth in the Bible. He gets societies, governments, schools, workplaces, etc, to go against the truth, what God has said is right and proper. Part of Revelation 12:9 notes that Satan is "the deceiver of the whole world––" (ESV). But it should also be noted that humans often times don't even need Satan's help, since we all have an inner inclination to do what God doesn't want us to do. But Satan seeks to present whatever is opposite of what God says as the actual truth or reality. This is why so many people are confused and are believing lies. They think that what they see or perceive around them is reality, but often times it is not. For instance, over the past 150 years, Satan has focused a great deal of attention on getting people to disbelieve that the earth and it's natural systems were created by God. He gets scientists and researchers to present lies as if they were truth, and a great many people have been deceived.

       But what about Christians? Well, Satan tries to get at us Christians in varying ways. First, it can be noted that he attacks the minds of believers. This is seen in 2 Corinthians 11:3. This passages says that, "But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ." This passage tells us that Satan deceived Eve with deception, by lying and presenting another avenue of will. It also tells us that the Christian's thoughts can be "led astray" from honestly and wholly service Christ, with purity. The Scripture is clear that when we do sin––for all of us Christians still sin in this life after being saved––that Satan will actually make accusations about us before God. Part of Revelation 12:10 points out that Satan is "the accuser of our brothers and sisters” (ESV). Remember what happened in Job chapter 1 in the Old Testament? God actually picks out Job and in effect bets Satan that Job will not cave in on being a good man if God takes away Job's prosperity. And remember what happened? God allowed Satan to attack him, but only so far as to not take his life. But Job proved to be a true God follower in the end, and God restored his fortunes he had plus a lot more.

       Let's look at how Satan even tried to get the Apostle Peter to go astray right before Jesus was betrayed, as he tries to get us all to go astray. The Lord Jesus Christ notes, ""Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers." There are all times that we as both Christians, and non-Christians, feel tempted to do something big that we know is wrong. It is just part of life, for we live in a fallen world. But, it is encouraging to note here that Jesus didn't let Satan sift Peter. Rather, Jesus interceded for Peter so that he would not fall away. And this is true for us Christians today, as Jesus intercedes for all of us to help us when we need it, as noted in Romans 8:34. The Apostle Paul also notes the following: "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died-more than that, who was raised-who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us" (Romans 8:31-34, ESV). In the same chapter, he also noted that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us as well.

       Now that have a decent understanding Satan, I want to ask the question, "Who are demons? Well, it is fair to assume that demons are the fallen angels who rebelled against God with Lucifer (aka Satan) as their leader. Therefore, God assigned Satan and his demons to eternal judgment, so that none of them can be saved from their sinning against God, unlike that of human beings. But these fallen angels work against us, as Christians, and against everyone really, to try and make us be disobedient to God. They, like their leader Satan, want to ruin God's Plan, if it were possible, and His Plans for the future.

       I want to start with demons in looking at a text from 2 Peter 2:4ex. It tells us that, "God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;" (ESV). Therefore, from this passage we learn that angels in the past have sinned, and they have become demons. This means that they have free will, or at least did have free will at one point in eternity. But when they sinned, God "cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment." So, there are right now some fallen angels who are in hell. But not all of them are there, and we will look at this now.

       So, what is behind these demons who aren't in hell yet? We know that they are intelligent. As I just mentioned, they know where they are going, that they eternally condemned. One demon is recorded in Scripture as saying, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are— the Holy One of God." They know who they are, and they know what is going to happen to them, that they are going to be destroyed, as I read a few moments ago. And they know who Jesus is. But, do they know who we are? Yes, I think we can say that, at least for believers. When some unbelievers in Acts 19 attempted to use the name of Jesus to cast out demons, it is recorded, "But the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?" (ESV).

       What is the goal of demons? What do they want to accomplish? Let's consider 2 Corinthians 11:14-15. It says, "And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds." These verses are important because they show us the true nature of demons. They attempt to deceive people by acting like they are actually God's angels, meaning they would be good. There are many things that demons do. We could note that demons wish to corrupt God's Word, especially nowadays. The Word of God notes, "Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared," (1 Timothy 4:1-2, ESV). So, demons will use false teachers of the Bible in order to try to distort God's Word and lead Christians astray, and prevent those from accepting the truth who would want to.

       But demons are probably most famous in the New Testament, especially in the Gospels, for their possession of people. I think that movies nowadays have made a lot of particularly familiar with the fact that demons possess people, though these accounts are obviously fiction. Most of us don't physically see demon possess in a person most of the time, though, in Jesus' day, it was a bit more visible to the general public. Let's look at Luke 7:21. It reads of the Lord Jesus Christ, "In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight." Do people still become possessed nowadays? I don't see why not; however, it may not be as apparent to our eyes as we generally do not see the supernatural things about us in this day and age.

       Back in the times of Jesus, it was normal for people to see supernatural things, as often times they didn't even think it strange that a person may be possessed by a demon, for instance. As an example of this, is noted in John 10:19-21 the following when Jesus was speaking: “There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” (John 10:19-21, ESV). You see, it was not abnormal for people to believe demon possession was real. This is because the people at that time were more used to supernatural things around them. Right now and since the Apostle John's death (for he was final Apostle to die), which was around 100 A.D., and as reported by the early church Fathers, supernatural things to the naked eye, for the most part, have ceased. But supernatural times, for the naked eye, will return in the future someday (beginning with the Rapture of the Church).

       Let's look at a passage in Mark's Gospel to understand some characteristics of demons. Here, in this passage, a demon shows his great strength and wickedness:

"They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones” (Mark 5: 1-5, ESV).

So, not only was the demon in the man supernaturally strong, but he was also wicked in that he caused the man and to cry out and cut himself with stones. As an aside, it is interesting how we see these types of things both in real life, and in many fictional works today as well. You will see or hear―from time to time―of a news story of a person cutting him or herself like this. We can realize, then, who is behind these types of actions. Don't be deceived; the truth is there.

       Not only do demons try to attack people, but really they have great power in governments, societies, and cultures of men and women. The Apostle Paul noted, "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 6:12, ESV). So, demons are intertwined with the rulers and authorities, over the power of men and women, and even have power "in the heavenly places." But we, as Christians, should not worry, for "He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1:13-14, ESV). Demons can and do influence governments for their cause, but they also influence society and culture to promote their perverse immorality, so as to lead people astray from God's truth. I don't think examples are necessary for this, but I will state one anyway. For example, here in American society and elsewhere in the world, Satan has re-geared people's minds to think that two people living together in a sexual relationship, outside of marriage is the way it should be and is in fact good and proper. But where do you get that idea, my friend? God clearly states in the Bible that fornication is wrong, and has said so from the last 3,500 years. Are we, as humans, all the sudden enlightened and smarter than God Himself? I think not.

       So, in closing today, I can still remember, as it was some nine years later, sitting at work one late Sunday evening, when we received a news bulletin pertaining to Osama bin Laden. We didn't know what had happened, though we had our guesses. Watching the TV screen, as soon as the anchor stated what had happened―before the President went on the air―I can remember hearing inside myself, as if it were spoken words themselves, the Word spoken to me, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Romans 12:19b, ESV). God had inflicted his vengeance on Osama bin Laden on that day. You see, my friend, God is the one who is ultimately in control, and Satan and his demons cannot do anything in and of which God will not ultimately have the final say.

       The people who died on September 11, 2001, cannot be brought back together with us. They were thrust into eternity, and they remind us all that at any time we, ourselves, can be thrust into eternity. Jesus says to all people:

“”All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:27-30, ESV)

God is calling you today into a personal relationship with him. He loves everyone, and wants everyone to be a peace with him. But, as long as we are separated from God in our hearts, we cannot have peace. Sin separates us from God. We have to deal with our offenses with God if we are going to be right with him.

       Perhaps today you would like to be made right with God. If you would like to know Jesus Christ today as your personal Lord and Savior, then follow my lead in this prayer:

God, I am a sinner. I have not lived up to your standards. But I understand that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and that he rose from the dead so that I might have a new life in you. I surrender my life over to you, Father. Please take care of me, and make me become like Jesus. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

-Daniel Litton