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 (Q and A on Biblical Doctrines)
Chapter 7: The Devil
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Q1 Who or what is the devil?

The devil is an evil spirit who was cast out of heaven, along with his followers (Rev 12:9). Together, these “rulers of the darkness of this age” oppose God and His people (Eph 6:12).

Q2 Does he have a name?

The Greek word for “devil”, diabolos, means “accuser” or “slanderer”. [1] He is so-called because he slanders God before man (Gen 3:1, 4–5) and accuses man before God (Job 1:9–11; 2:4–5; Rev 12:10). In Revelation 12:9, he is also referred to as the following:

The great dragon. The original Greek words are megas (“great”)[2] and drakon (“dragon”).[3]  They denote a “mythical monster, a dragon”, or a large serpent, so-called because of its keen eyesight. The word drakon comes from the root word derk, meaning “to see”. From the Bible, we learn that the dragon wants to devour Christ (Rev 12:4–5) and His followers (1 Pet 5:8).

The serpent of old. The Greek words are archaios (“old”)[4] and ophis (“serpent”).[5] The devil made use of the sly and deceitful serpent in the garden of Eden to tempt Eve (2 Cor 11:3).

Satan. The Greek word satanas means “adversary”,[6] indicating that his thoughts and actions oppose God and all that is good. The name appears eighteen times in the Old Testament and thirty-six times in the New Testament. 

In the rest of the Bible, the devil is given various other names: 

Belial, meaning “worthlessness” or “hopeless ruin” [7] (2 Cor 6:15)

Beelzebub, ruler of the demons (Mt 12:24)

• The evil one (Mt 6:13)

• The tempter (Mt 4:3; 1 Thess 3:5)

• The ruler of this world (Jn 12:31)

• The god of this age (2 Cor 4:4)

Q3 Where does he come from?

Everything in the universe, visible or invisible, is God’s creation (Col 1:16–17). God alone is self-existent, for He says, “I AM WHO I AM” (Ex 3:14). This leads us to understand that the devil was created by God, albeit before he became an evil spirit.

The prophet Ezekiel offers us some insights into the origin of the devil. He speaks of him in symbolic terms as the King of Tyre, describing how he was originally an anointed cherub created by God (Ezek 28:12, 14). In 28:12–19, Ezekiel laments his downfall and reveals that the devil:

• was once perfect (vv. 12, 15).

• was full of wisdom and beauty (vv. 12–13).

• was in Eden, the garden of God (v. 13).

• was on God’s holy mountain (v. 14).

• was an anointed cherub (v. 14).

• was perfect and blameless (v. 15).

• was guilty of sinning (v. 15).

• became filled with violence and sin (v. 16).

• became proud on account of his beauty, and his wisdom became corrupt because of his splendour (v. 17).

• became profane and defiled (vv. 16, 18).

• was cast out of the mountain of God (v. 16).

• was thrown to the ground (v. 17).

• will be destroyed by God with fire (vv. 18–19).

The prophet Isaiah also writes about the fall of the devil, symbolizing him as the King of Babylon: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the  ground, you who weakened the nations!” (Isa 14:12). Reinforcing the message of Ezekiel, Isaiah describes his arrogant aspirations: “For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High’ ” (Isa 14:13–14). In other words, the devil desired to be like God, but found himself cast out of heaven as a consequence.

Q4 What does 1 John 3:8 mean, where it says that “the devil has sinned from the beginning”?

This verse means that the devil was sinning against God, even before the events in the garden of Eden. As mentioned previously, he became proud and fell from grace (1 Tim 3:6). Jesus says that he failed to remain in the truth: “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (Jn 8:44).

In the Book of Revelation, there is a prophecy concerning how the devil will cause a multitude to fall: “His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth...” (Rev 12:4).

According to Daniel 8:10, 24, these “stars of heaven” are God’s people who will be deceived in the end time.[8]

Q5 What does John 8:44 mean, where it says that the devil was “a murderer from the beginning”? 

The words “from the beginning” point to the time of creation. The devil made use of the cunning serpent to make Eve doubt the words of God and to sin against Him. In this way, he brought about man’s spiritual death (Gen 3:1–6; Rom 5:12, 14). Soon after, the devil began inciting people to commit physical murder. Cain, for example, killed his brother, Abel, in a jealous rage after his offering was rejected by God (Gen 4:3–8). Hence, elder John speaks of Cain as belonging to “the wicked one” (1 Jn 3:12).

Q6 How does the devil oppose God?

The devil has been continuously opposing God by targeting His salvation work, His chosen people and the world at large. The ways in which he has done this include causing sin to enter the world (Gen 3; 6:5, 12); roaming the earth to scrutinize God’s servants (Job 1:7–8); plotting against Jesus (Lk 22:3; Jn 13:27); sowing tares among the wheat (Mt 13:24–30, 38–39); scheming to make Christians fall (2 Cor 2:11); persecuting the church (Acts 8:1; Rev 20:9); obstructing the work of God’s servants (Dan 10:13; 1 Thess 2:18); distorting the word of God (Mt 4:6; 2 Pet 3:16–17); masquerading as “an angel of light”, and his followers, as “ministers of righteousness” (2 Cor 11:14–15); seeking to sift the believers (Lk 22:31); leading people away from the truth (2 Cor 11:3; 1 Tim 4:1); performing false signs and wonders (2 Thess 2:8–10); perverting the way of the Lord (Acts 13:10); deceiving the world (Eph 6:12; Rev 12:9).

Q7 How does the devil harm individuals?

Where there is opportunity, the devil can inflict physical or spiritual harm on individuals. For example, he can enter a person’s heart (Lk 22:3; Acts 5:3); incite a person to sin (Eph 2:1–3); snatch God’s word away from the listener (Mk 4:15); cause spiritual blindness (2 Cor 4:3–4); bring about sickness and infirmity (Lk 13:16; Acts 10:38); cause suffering and tribulation (Job 2:7; Rev 2:10); possess a person (Mt 8:28; Mk 5:2; Lk 4:33).

Q8 Who can overcome his work?

The only one who can overcome the work of the devil is Jesus: “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 Jn 3:8). Jesus destroyed the work of the devil when He died on the cross. The outcome was that mankind had the chance to turn “from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in [Him]” (Acts 26:18).

Q9 Where is he now?

The Book of Revelation describes how the devil was defeated in heaven by the archangel Michael and his angels, and was cast down to earth (Rev 12:7–12). During His ministry, Jesus spoke prophetically concerning this spiritual drama, saying, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Lk 10:18). This prophecy was realized when He died on the cross and shed His blood, thereby overcoming the power of the devil (Rev 12:11). The
outcome for believers is that the devil can no longer accuse us before God (Rev 12:10).

The focus of the devil’s work is now on earth: “Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time” (Rev 12:12). Elder Peter says that he is prowling around like a lion seeking whom he may devour—particularly those believers who fail to guard their faith and who lack submission and humility (1 Pet 5:8). 

The devil has his own kingdom (Lk 11:18) and exerts his power by controlling human hearts and using all kinds of schemes to prevent people from knowing God. Therefore, as Christians, we are fighting against “principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12). When we preach the gospel by the power of God, we are battling against those powers and helping to demolish the strongholds of unbelief in people’s hearts, to make them obedient to Christ (2 Cor 10:4–5).

Q10 Why does God not destroy him sooner?

God’s thoughts and plans transcend human understanding: 

• “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity into their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end” (Eccl 3:11).

• “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever...” (Deut 29:29).

• “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa 55:9). 

However, the Bible gives us some insights concerning the timing of God’s judgment on the devil:

God’s perspective of time is different from ours. “For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night” (Ps 90:4). These words indicate that what we may perceive as a delay may not be so for our eternal God. His perception of time is such that 6,000 years of human history appear merely as days. Moreover, we need to appreciate that He has His own timing for everything (Eccl 3:17; Acts 1:7).

God is waiting to reveal His power. From the Book of Exodus, we learn of God’s dealings with Pharaoh who, in many ways, symbolizes the devil. God told him, “Now if I had stretched out My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, then you would have been cut off from the earth. But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth” (Ex 9:15–16; cf. Rom 9:17). God allowed Pharaoh to resist to the end in order to reveal the full extent of His power. In the same way, God is waiting to manifest His power over the devil.

God is waiting to reveal His wrath. “What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” (Rom 9:22). The fact is, God is now storing up His wrath; in the future, He will unleash it upon the devil in righteous judgment. 

Satan knows his time is short. When Jesus confronted two demon-possessed men, the demons cried out, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God. Have You come here to torment us before the time?” (Mt 8:29). Their words indicate an awareness that Jesus had an appointed time for judging them. Indeed, the Bible says that the everlasting fire has already been prepared (Mt 25:41) and the “the time is at hand” (Rev 22:10). Therefore, elder James says that the demons are trembling even now (Jas 2:19).

Q11 What is the fate of the devil?

The Bible says that the devil:

Has been cast out from the presence of God. “...Therefore I [i.e. God] cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God” (Ezek 28:16); “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out” (Jn 12:31); “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me” (Jn 14:30).

Has been defeated by Jesus Christ. After Adam and Eve sinned, God told the serpent, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Gen 3:15). These prophetic words were fulfilled when Jesus died on the cross and overcame the power of death belonging to Satan. Hence, Paul says, “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” (1 Cor 15:55).   

Will be judged. “And when He [i.e. the Holy Spirit] has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment…of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged” (Jn 16:8, 11). 

Will be thrown into the lake of fire. “And the devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev 20:10).

Q12 The Bible describes a fiery lake that has been prepared for the devil. Who or what else is also destined for this place?

God has prepared a fiery lake in which to destroy the devil and his angels (Mt 25:41). It is also the final destination of the beast and the false prophet (Rev 20:10). However, it is also God’s will to put an end to death and Hades. The Book of Revelation prophesies: “Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (Rev 20:14). Also, Paul says, “The last enemy that will be destroyed is death” (1 Cor 15:26).              

God has opened up a new and living way for mankind through His Son (Heb 10:20)—a way that leads to everlasting life. The only conditions for entry are that we believe in Jesus Christ and obey the gospel. Those who reject Him and commit evil will face the same fate as the devil: “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Rev 21:8).

Q13 Is there any possibility of a truce between God and the devil?

God and the devil are as different as light and darkness. There is no possibility of a compromise or a truce. Moreover, we need to be aware that, with regards to our affiliation, we belong either to God or to the devil (1 Jn 3:8–10; 5:19); there is no middle ground.

Q14 How can we escape from the power of the devil? 

The only way to escape is to accept God’s salvation. In this way, we can enter into the kingdom of Jesus Christ, “in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Col 1:14). Thereafter, we need to live a life of submission: “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (Jas 4:7). Lastly,  we need to put on the armour of God, remain alert, fight against evil and resist the devil’s schemes to the end (Eph 6:11).


© 2012 True Jesus Church.


[1]       Strong’s reference no. G1228.

[2]       Strong’s reference no. G3173.

[3]       Strong’s reference no. G1404.

[4]       Strong’s reference no. G744.

[5]       Strong’s reference no. G3789.

[6]       Strong’s reference no. G4567.

[7]       Strong’s reference no. G955.

[8]       Revelation: Bible Study Guide (USA: True Jesus Church, 1999).

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