Is Satan / the devil a person or some sort of force or personification of evil?
Though many people doubt Satan truly exists, the Bible presents Satan as a real being. Many examples show Satan's existence and attempts to work evil within our world.
The first mention of Satan is in the form of the serpent in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). He tempts Adam and Eve, leading to the entrance of sin into humanity. The consequences of sin included death. By Genesis 6, God saw the extent of human evil and chose to destroy all humans except for Noah and his family.
Satan also displays many characteristics of a real being in Scripture. He appears before God to request the opportunity to attack and tempt Job (Job 1). Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 both describe his activities and power prior to his rebellion against God, describing him as a powerful angel and "anointed guardian cherub."
In the New Testament, Jesus frequently mentioned Satan. In Luke 10:18 He said, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven." In Matthew 4 and Luke 4, Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness. In John 12:31 Jesus said, "Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out." He called him a murderer from the beginning and father of lies (John 8:44). In the parable of the sower He taught, "the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved" (Luke 8:12).
The apostles also spoke of Satan as a real being with power, though he was limited in comparison to God. Paul called Satan the "god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4). First John 5:19 states, "the whole world lies in the power of the evil one." Revelation 12:9 adds that Satan is "the deceiver of the whole world." James says, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).
In 1 Peter 5:8-9 we read the important warning, "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world." Satan is strong and seeks to harm God's people. However, God's Spirit lives within the believer to protect and provide safety from Satan's attacks.
Ephesians 6:10-20 speaks of the spiritual armor the believer is to wear to protect against spiritual evil. Verse 11 states, "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil." This armor includes a variety of Christian virtues, as well as the "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (v. 17). Those who "take up the whole armor of God" will "be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm" (v. 13).
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