Even to pose the question would lead to incredulity, or scorn, in many quarters today.
But Michael Green reminds us that there are several lines of evidence that agree in affirming the reality of the Devil, or Satan:-
1. Philosophy. The two great givens in the universe are mind and matter. It is reasonable to suppose that behind our own intelligence and will there is a divine Intelligence and Will, to which we give the name God. It is no less reasonable to suppose that behind the various forms of evil that we observe is an organising spirit of supreme evil, to which we give the name Satan.
2. Theology. Apart from temporary aberrations, belief in a good God has remained unshaken in Christian thought for 2,000 years. The marks of design in our world, and the existence of beauty, truth and goodness, suggest the care of a beneficent Creator and Sustainer. But similar considerations (marks of of design in the forces of evil, existence of ugliness, falsehood and badness and lead us to infer the existence of a source for these things. Indeed, the account that Christian theology gives of the beginning, continuance and ending of all things makes no sense without the existence of a personal evil force.
3. Environment. In the face of our inability to deal with the immense threats to this world overpopulation, famine, lack of non-renewable resources, destruction of the environment, growing nuclear threat – one must postulate a greater threat, namely, a human inertia and blindness so great that behind it must lie a ‘god of this world’ who has ‘blinded the minds of unbelievers’.
4. Experience. Everyone is exposed to temptation. Internal desires and pressures from society do not seem sufficient to explain why we are so ready to do what we know is wrong and harmful, or why it is so easy to give in to temptation and so hard to resist it. ‘I see the better course, and I approve it but I follow the worse.’ (Ovid) Again, we must postulate the existence of a great Temptor.
5. Occult. Many people worship Satan directly, and by the exercise of black magic discover spiritual forces of which they were previously unaware. Others get sucked in through the use of ouija boards, tarot cards, seances, charms and horoscopes. The difference between a person captured by evil forces and that same person set free by Christ can be astounding.
6. Scripture. The entire Bible – from the Garden of Eden to the lake of fire – witnesses to a personal force of great power and cunning. We find him tempting Saul, David, the Israelites, Job. He appears often in the Gospels, and is discussed frequently by the apostles in their writings. Whole chapters – Mt 4, Lk 4, Eph 6, 2 Thess 2 – are given over to this. It is true that all over the ancient Middle East we find belief in a malign force with an army of evil spirits, but only in the religion of Israel is there a conviction that ‘the Lord omnipotent reigns’ even over these forces.
7. Jesus. He believed in Satan, and had more to say about him than anyone else in the Bible. Satan severely tested him, Mt 4:1-11, snatches away the message of the gospel, Mk 4:15; Mt 13:39, is to be prayed against, Mt 6:13, is cast out, Jn 12:31-32, has no power over Jesus, Jn 14:31. See also Mk 3:22-26. It is maintained by some that Jesus did not mean what he said; that he was adapting his teaching to the beliefs of his hearers. But his teaching about Satan is too clear, frequent and specific to be explained away like this. Jesus did not take over uncritically the common beliefs of his time (on the Kingdom, on discipleship, on money, on the sabbath, on the new covenant, on forgiveness). Belief in the existence of Satan is bound up with so many aspects of his ministry – his teaching, his healing, his exorcisms, his death. Moreover, if we cannot accept Jesus’ teaching on Satan, how can be accept it on other subjects?
Based on Green, I believe in Satan’s downfall, 18-29.