4 Things You Need to Know About Satan and Demons
“And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ And he said to them, ‘This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.’” -Mark 9:28-29
In Mark 9:14-29, we read an account of Jesus casting out a demon. His disciples have tried to cast the demon out of a boy, but they were unsuccessful so they find Jesus and he casts it out. When the disciples asked Jesus why they couldn’t cast out the demon, Jesus says, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” Here are some things that you need to know about demons and spiritual warfare today.
1. Satan and demons are real, and they are active in the world today. 1 John 5:18 says that “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” In Luke 4:5-8, Satan is tempting Jesus, and he tells Jesus that the kingdoms of the world have been given to him (that is, given to Satan). So also, Revelation 20:10 says that Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone where he will be tormented forever. This has not yet happened because it happens at the end of the “end times.” So we know that Satan is still around, and we know that he is on this earth. The bible never says that Satan is residing in hell. Hell is a place reserved for Satan and his followers, and he will be tormented there, too. No, Satan and his demons are on the earth. We have a glimpse of this in Revelation 12:9, Ezekiel 28:17, and Isaiah 14:12. Each of these verses references Satan being cast out of heaven to the ground or the earth.
2. Satan and demons can and do have an effect on people, but they are not the sole cause of our sin. Demons are acting in willing rebellion against God and his people. They tempt us to join in this rebellion. They tempt us to be drawn to things that are not of God’s Kingdom. There are many verses in the bible that show Satan and demons tempting people or their ability to tempt people (for a few examples, see Genesis 3:1-7; 1 Corinthians 7:5; Matthew 4:1-11). They possess people. They manifest themselves through intrusive thoughts, witchcraft, Ouija boards, images, etc. They spread false teachings. However, the world and our own flesh lead us to sin, as well. The world around us is often caught up in pursuit of ungodly things. 1 John 2:15-17 says that the world is characterized by “the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions,” and places these things in direct conflict with God. This world acts as a temptation in and of itself because it presents satisfaction other than God. So also, our flesh tempts us to do things apart from the will of God. It has been said that our flesh is a hook, the world is the bait, Satan is the fisherman, and we are the fish. Our fleshly desires (that are ultimately fulfilled in God) lead us to what the world has to offer. This can happen without any demonic influence. Now these three - the world, our flesh, and Satan/demons - all work against us and influence us to rebel against God.
3. Satan and demons are not like God. They are not all-knowing, they cannot be in more than one place at a time, and they are limited in what they can do. Satan and demons are created beings, just like us. They can’t read your thoughts, and they can’t be everywhere at once. God is ultimately in charge, and Jesus will destroy them with a word from his mouth.
4. We have the power to resist Satan and demons. Even though Satan and demons do not have the ability to read our minds, they do have the advantage of studying human behavior for millennia, so they have a pretty good idea of what we are going to think and do. So it is important that we guard ourselves against this. As we read in Mark 9 today, Jesus puts an emphasis on the power of prayer in casting out demons. It is only by the power of Jesus and our connection to him that we can have any authority over these beings. Be consistently in prayer and in the Word of God, allowing the Holy Spirit to fill you up with himself. Ephesians 6:13 says, “Therefore, take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand the evil day.” Be careful, though, that you “do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20) It can be easy to become prideful about having power over demons, but always remember that it is really Jesus who has the power, and the Holy Spirit is working through you to manifest that power.
In summary, Satan and demons are real, they are in this world and affecting us today, they are one of the reasons we sin, but not the only reason, and we have power through the Holy Spirit to not be influenced by them. So stand firm, brothers and sisters. Take up the whole armor of God and pray fervently to him, growing in your relationship with him and rejoicing that your names are written in heaven.