The Bible’s Viewpoint
Is There Really a Devil?
WHEN you were a child, were you afraid of the dark? Perhaps you imagined a monster lurking outside your window, waiting to snatch you from your parents. Now as an adult, able to read factual information and think more rationally, your childhood fears seem absurd. “So,” some critics say, “why not go a step further and put the Devil in the same category—no more real than a child’s imaginary monster?”
No real Devil? That is exactly what one religious pamphlet assures you: “The Bible knows nothing of such a monster of evil” and, “In the terms Devil and Satan we have the . . . principle of sin and wickedness which is inherent in human nature.” Or as a Sunday-school teacher in the United States put it: “Men are the only devils.” Does it all appear very simple—perhaps too simple?
Explaining Human Behavior
If we humans are the only devils, then why do almost all of us show concern for our family’s welfare? For example, as individuals most people provide food for their families; they do not knowingly poison themselves, and they avoid life-threatening dangers. Nothing devilish about that! Yet, when these same people act in concert as nations, something blocks their view of their common welfare. As nations, they let surplus food rot rather than feed their hungry populations. They pollute earth’s environment. They arm for mutual annihilation—nuclear war. Strange, self-destructive behavior!
What influence accounts for this blind spot in human behavior? Crowd mentality? A few irrational leaders? Surely more is involved. The Bible alone identifies someone who “has blinded the minds” of a disbelieving worldwide “system of things.” Who? “The one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth.” He manipulates organized humanity so successfully that the Bible calls him “the god” of this world system.—2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9.
This “god” is no bogeyman hiding outside your window. But he is a powerful political strategist, an unseen spirit creature, who, in an unsuccessful bid for Jesus’ allegiance, could offer Jesus every kingdom of the world. (Luke 4:6, 7) Apparently, Satan had given such power to others before he offered it to Jesus, for the Bible book of Daniel reveals that as deputies, rebel angels had accepted authority over world empires—with such official titles as “prince of Persia,” and “prince of Greece.”—Daniel 10:20, 21.
Thus, Satan has built an immense organization—as both “ruler of the [visible] world” and “ruler of the [invisible] demons.” (John 14:30; 16:11; Matthew 12:24) This insight, that the Devil heads a worldwide organization, explains a lot.
Why He Heads an Organization
Just as a boss of organized crime might oversee many illegal operations—drugs, prostitution, theft, gambling, smuggling, and so forth—without personally revealing himself to all his underlings, so Satan uses an organization to control far more people than he could by himself alone. His strategy? Besides harassing individuals, he and the demons treat masses of people as if they were a herd of cattle. No need to direct each one personally. Simply turn a few at the head of the herd, and the majority will follow. Then concentrate on the strays.
Yes, the Devil is real enough, but his true identity bears little resemblance to the caricature we see in cartoons or to the hazy theories of theologians. Hazy? Yes, as the book Satan, A Portrait notes: “Belief in Satan became less vivid” in the 19th century, and theologians “endeavored to explain Satan as something other than a personal spirit being.”
Who Is Telling the Truth About the Devil?
The readiness of modern religions to doubt what the Bible says about the Devil caters to a materialistic society that has become uncertain about God himself. “Today,” says Ruth Ansher in her book The Reality of the Devil, “the Devil has disappeared and . . . God himself has withdrawn to the periphery.”
By casting doubt on the Bible’s view, modern religious “experts” have disregarded the one fact that puts history in perspective. As Romanian playwright Eugène Ionesco admitted to a German newspaper: “History would be beyond comprehension if we were to leave out the demonic element.”—Welt am Sonntag, September 2, 1979.
Does anyone have the courage to uphold the truth about the Devil’s role in today’s world crisis? Clearly, yes! Consider the “Declaration Against Satan and for Jehovah” unanimously adopted at a convention in 1928. It pledged Jehovah’s Witnesses to proclaim, like a battle cry against man’s enemy, Satan, that the great coming battle of Armageddon will soon stop Satan and his evil organization.
Truly, history testifies that the Devil is a real enemy to each of us. But, clearly, Jehovah God has not left us to ourselves. Why not learn more? It pays to know our enemy, “that we may not be overreached by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his designs.”—2 Corinthians 2:11.
[Blurb on page 13]
“Today the Devil has disappeared and . . . God himself has withdrawn to the periphery.”
[Picture on page 12]
The real Devil bears little resemblance to religious pictures or to hazy theories of theologians