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Understanding the Dark World

Questions and Answers on the Dark World of Evil, Satan and Demons

Paul J. Bucknell

Is Satan a real figure or not?
Is the devil and Satan the same?
Who is the serpent then?
Does Satan have a diabolical scheme?
How did Christ defeat the devil?
How does Satan get his work done?
Can Satan possess a believer in Christ?
Is there help for these 'demonized' believers?
What are 'strongholds'?
How does he break out of this stronghold?
Two keys for deliverance.
Casting out evil spirits
Things I have learned about the occult.

Is Satan a real figure or not?

The fight Job and Jesus had with some sinister figure clearly show that there is some entity that opposes God's people and purpose. His name is Satan.


"And the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil." "Then Satan answered the LORD, "Does Job fear God for nothing?" (Job 1:8-9)

Job's situation became a picture prophesy of the Lord Jesus Christ. We sense that Satan not only asked to tempt Adam and Job but also Jesus, God's son. God the Father gave permission for him to tempt them.


"And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him" (Mark 1:13).

"Then Jesus said to him, "Begone, Satan! For it is written, 'YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY'" (Matthew 4:10).

Is the devil and Satan the same?

The word 'devil' is found 32 times only in the NT. 'Satan' is used 47 times in both OT and NT.

'Devil' comes from the Greek compound word meaning 'send over' or 'slander.' The English word 'diabolical' comes from the Greek word for the devil.

"Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory." (Matthew 4:8)

"And when the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time." (Luke 4:13)

'Satan' comes from the Hebrew word 'adversary' which which is pronounced 'satan'. The Greek sometimes transliterates this Hebrew word into Greek.

Who is the serpent then?

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Revelation 12:9 does us a great service by identifying the great dragon, the serpent of old, Satan and the devil as all being the same person.

"And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him." (Revelation 12:9)

"The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil." (1 John 3:8)

He is further said to be the one 'who deceives the whole world.' He and his angels were thrown down to the earth together. This verse helps us piece together many scriptures about the origin and purpose of Satan. Here are two truths.

(1) Satan and what we now call demons are formerly 'good' angels. They are now 'bad' angels. (Isaiah 14:12-15, Ezekiel 28:12-19; Jude 6)

"And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day." (Jude 6)

(2) Satan was actually the one that tempted Eve in the form of a beautiful serpent. He plotted and temporarily succeeded in capturing mankind and what was under man's control.

"Which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all." (Ephesians 1:20-23)

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Does Satan have a diabolical scheme?

What did the devil steal (John 10:10)? He stole man's inheritance - the earth. Think of the analogy of a driver. He who controls the driver controls the car. By controlling Adam, Satan effectively got control of the earth.

Gotcha!Jesus has come to foil the evil one's plan. Jesus did this by becoming the righteous man who would listen to the Father despite the temptations of the devil. Jesus as the second Adam won back control of the earth and at the same time by conquering death, liberated man from Satan's tyranny. Now everything belongs to Christ.

"The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly." (John 10:10)

"And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them before our God day and night. "" (Revelation 12:10)

How did Christ defeat the devil?

When Christ died on the cross, He defeated the evil one. Satan thought he was doing away with Christ, but he was blind to a special truth hidden in the scriptures (Proverbs 10:16). A wholly righteous man might be killed but cannot be kept by the power of death. Jesus the righteous One came alive again. This is the power of the resurrection. Christ came alive and brought many with Him!

"Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil." (Hebrews 2:14)

"And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.' (Revelation 20:10)

Satan's defeat is now before his eyes and yet he denies it. His sentence is passed and written in the scriptures (Isaiah 14:15; Revelation 20:10). Only God's greater plan to save more people holds back Christ's return and the great Judgment Day.

How does Satan get his work done?

Satan's purpose for Christians and non-Christians is different. Therefore his work or schemes against them are different. But remember his underlying method of deception is the same.

"You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies." (John 8:44)

"In whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4)

"For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22)

Satan's schemes against Unbelievers

All non-Christians are blinded by Satan, whether it be child, modern or distant tribal person. They walk in darkness. Not one unbeliever is an exception to this. Death like a deadly cancer has been passed on through the whole human race.

Satan's method is to keep unbelievers in darkness away from the light of the Gospel. That is the only way to lose his control over them.

"In order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes."
(2 Corinthians 2:11)

Satan's schemes against Believers

Christians have escaped into the kingdom of God by the light of the Gospel. Satan can't get them back. He desires to silence Christians so that they will not share the Gospel or make it attractive.

Satan devises plots for Christians to fall into sin, compromise, and loose their testimony. He causes fear or shame so that they will not share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others and make the Gospel attractive. See Understanding How Demons Work for more discussion.

"Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil." (Ephesians 6:11)



Can Satan possess a believer in Christ?

This whole question is wrong. English translations have perpetuated this problem by translating 'demonized' by the word possessed. We should instead realize that Christians can and are affected by the devil. Sometimes this influence is of such degree that Christians allow strong demonic thoughts and behavior to control their lives.

Most every time the word Greek word 'demonized' (daimonizomai) is used, it is translated 'demon-possessed.'

We suggest 'demonized,' 'demoniacs,' or 'influenced by demons' would be better translations. Why is this so important? The clear and accurate defining of the problem lead to helpful solutions. See Demon Possession for more discussion.

Matthew 4:24 is an exception for the NASB. Compare how it uses 'demoniacs' instead of 'possessed' as in 8:16.

"They brought to Him all who were ill, taken with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them." (Matthew 4:24)

"They brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill." (Matthew 8:16)

Is there help for these 'demonized' believers?

If the believer wants help, there is help. The evil one's influence can only be so great that the believer allows him control. Saul's jealousy and rebellion led to problems with demons. Pride, bitterness and sexual sins are a few other examples by which believers allow demonic influence into their lives.

A demon's power on a believer is only so strong as they tolerate sin in their lives. As he sincerely repents from his sins, the demons will lose their foothold and be driven away. Ants go where there are crumbs. Eliminate the crumbs, and the ants go away.

"He had healed many, with the result that all those who had afflictions pressed about Him in order to touch Him. And whenever the unclean spirits beheld Him, they would fall down before Him and cry out, saying, "You are the Son of God!" And He earnestly warned them not to make Him known." (Mark 3:10-12)

"For in hope we have been saved." (Romans 8:24)

What are 'strongholds'?

Strongholds are any areas of unrepentant sin in a believer's life in which he has lost hope for freedom. In other words he no longer believes that he can overcome that sin. Anytime you hear someone say, "Oh, everyone does it," a stronghold is revealed. It starts by a believer who struggles with sin. He knows it is wrong. He doesn't just fall into it. He first fights it.

At some point, though, he begins to believe he can't change his circumstances. So he accepts it as 'normal' by accepting a lie about it. This sin then, founded on a lie, becomes a 'permanent' footing for the evil one to wage war on the believer. This believer then just tolerates it as inevitable. He often changes his theology, habits and behavior to match his faulty conclusion that he can't escape that sin. His life becomes an absolute mess.

"If indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard." (Colossians 1:23)

"For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

How does he break out of this stronghold?

There are two powerful weapons for fighting demonic influence. They must be used together.

(1) Hate for sin. For a while a believer can 'enjoy' his sin. That is, he can avoid paying attention to the consequences for his sin. But his faithful Father will increase its pain until he is broken and will again seek release. This willingness to change is powerless without an accompanying hope.

(2) Hope. God is quite able to send hope to the convicted sinner. Hope breaks through past failures and again brings the possibility for God to help him change.

How does it work? Pride keeps light from the soul. When a believer humbles himself, then light again can enter. Lies can only exist in the darkness.

Once the light breaks into the darkness, the lies are exposed and lose their power. The light consists of God's promises in His Word. The believer of course needs to respond to this light or he will fall into worse sin. This is the reason it is important for other believers to be praying for him.

Two keys for deliverance: Repent and believe.

1) Destroy our wrong living by repentance and confession
2) Capturing our thoughts by the truth of God's Word

Things I have learned about the occult:

  • Never trust the evil one. He lies.

  • God can always break in and deliver a person.

  • It is important to discern what voices you hear. What you hear influences your decisions.

  • We need to help others discern what they are hearing and reject Satan's lies. The more they believe and repeat the lies, the more influence the demons have on them.

  • Repent from every sin and maintain a clear conscience.

  • Help others see the other side of the lie - the truth. State the opposite. Use scripture to help.

  • Satan has numerous means to make us feel like we need to do what he suggests - through feelings, confusion, thoughts, impressions, fears, worries, etc. Never obey them.

  • Enjoy the covering and cleansing of Christ.

  • Your only duty is to obey Christ.

    Here are several articles on keeping from temptation:

    Keep Watching | Train Your Hands for Fighting

Any Suggestions on Casting Out Demons?

There is usually no need for big demonic confrontations. When a person comes to Christ, great things are happening in the spirit world. We just can't see them. When a sinner repents and confesses their sins, they often feel a great release. This is because they are released from the oppressive cloud of darkness.

In some cases though, the evil spirit(s) has really dominated a person's life. See the box above for a few guidelines. Remember the steps of self-preparation above.

a) Make sure the person and their family agree to have the evil spirit to be cast out. Explain the evil powers that are influencing him (Ephesians 6:11-12).

b) Make sure the person knows the Lord (sometimes they come to know Him at the same time).

c) Have the person renounce all contact with occult, religions, etc. and any future occult contact.

d) Have them confess their own sins. Name them one by one and ask for cleansing by Christ.

e) Cast the evil spirit out with words like, "In the Name of Jesus Christ, I command you (first find the name if possible) to leave and go where the Lord Jesus commands you."

f) Follow through by prayer and singing. Check in often for a while to make sure the evil one does not cause other problems.

"When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came. And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order.' Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first." (Luke 11:24-26)

"And the seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." (Luke 10:17)

"And when He had come out onto the land, He was met by a certain man from the city who was possessed with demons; and who had not put on any clothing for a long time, and was not living in a house, but in the tombs." (Luke 8:27) {Note the Greek literally says 'had demons.'}

"But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting." (Matthew 17:21)

Disciple them and lead them from paths of sin.

Don't confront the spirits unless they confront you or there are irregular problems in the new Christian's life. Disciple the person into the paths of holiness and the evil spirits will leave. Sometimes because of a distressful past, more time has to be given to leading the new disciple to understand how he is bitter and needs to forgive others as Christ has forgiven them. Train them that whenever some past offense or sin comes up, they are to confess, make restitution and ask for forgiveness. This will bring total cleansing.

Please remember that the Lord oversees any ministry to others. These are just some observations and not complete for every situation. Think of it as a starter kit.

Scriptures typically quoted from the New American Standard Bible unless noted: (C) Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1988

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