In a 2009 survey by the Barna group, Americans were asked about their belief in a higher power. All 1,871 self-described Christians were asked about their perception of God.
78% indicated they believed that God is the “all-powerful, all-knowing Creator of the universe who rules the world today”
23% gave varying answers that are inconsistent with biblical teaching (e.g., everyone is god, god refers to the realization of human potential, etc.).
But their answers regarding Satan were not as clear. In answer to the statement that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil”:
19% agreed somewhat
26% disagreed strongly
9% disagreed somewhat; and
8% weren’t sure what they believed about Satan
At the same time, the respondents shared their beliefs about the influence of evil spiritual forces. In answer to the statement their evil spiritual influences are real:
39% agreed strongly
25% agreed somewhat
18% disagreed strongly
10% agreed somewhat
8% were undecided
In other words, 78% of all professed Christians believe in the biblical view of God while 38% don’t believe in Satan and 28% don’t believe in demonic forces.
The Barna group also discovered that about half (47%) of the Christians who believed that Satan is merely a symbol of evil nevertheless agreed that a person can be under the influence of spiritual forces such as demons.
Something here doesn’t make sense.
Please join us in our daily Bible conversation as we try to sort things out.
THE NEIGHBORHOOD CAFÉ IS COMING SOON
Don’t forget that beginning January 1, the format of A Daily Bible Conversation is changing. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, you’re invited to join us for a cup of coffee and conversation at The Neighborhood Café: A Faithblog Community. The focus will be to explore, in creative ways, where faith meets life. Although every post will be a little different, they will all be undergirded by Scripture.
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INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Zechariah 1:1-21. Like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Zechariah was not only a prophet but also a member of a priestly family. He was born in Babylonia and returned to Judah around 538 B.C. making him a contemporary of Haggai the prophet. He and Haggai shared the same message: finish rebuilding the temple.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
In Revelation 12, we read about a confrontation between the archangel and the dragon and his angels. The vision declares the identify of the dragon:
The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
In fact, the chapter offers us various descriptions of the enemy of heaven: dragon, Satan, accuser of our brothers, devil, serpent. All of these descriptions are consistent with other references to him throughout Scripture.
We also witness the “normal” behavior of the devil: devourer, accuser, filled with fury.
All that to say, we have plenty of evidence in Scripture of the existence of God. I guess I find it interesting that so many people doubt Satan’s existence while still believing in God.
We also find plenty of evidence that evil exits—and if evil exists, then an author of evil must exist, too.
Years ago when I was a youth pastor, I brought a team of teenagers to Germany for a mission trip—just four months before the Berlin wall came down. We practiced a street drama that we performed on the streets of Berlin.
On one side of the street stood a single person and on the other side stood a group of teenagers doing different things. The single person circled the group, tying an imaginary rope around them.
“Who are you?” they asked.
“I’m Satan,” he replied.
“We don’t believe in Satan,” they answered.
“Neither do I,” he said with a devilish laugh.
He circled a second time.
“What are you doing?” they asked.
“I’m wrapping you in your sins.”
“We don’t believe in sin.”
“Neither do I,” he said again with a devilish laugh.
Then the person began dragging them away.
“What are you doing?” they asked.
“I’m dragging you to hell.”
“We don’t believe in hell,” they cried out.
“Neither do I,” he laughed as the people screamed.
Fortunately, we don’t need to live in the fear of Satan. Revelation 12:11 tells us how the angels defeated their enemy:
They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
Although Satan is alive and well, we don’t need to live in fear of him. The blood of the lamb—the blood of Jesus had already defeated him. As long as you have given your life to Jesus, he can’t steal your soul. But if you encounter conflicts against him, you can be confident because you have three weapons at your disposal:
- The blood of the lamb (you can say it literally when you pray—“I come against you with the blood of Jesus”)
- The word of your testimony (proclaiming the word of God)
- Not loving your life so much that you’re afraid of death (being unafraid of dying for the cause of Christ)
I don’t live my life with Satan on my mind, but I’ve seen evil enough to know that it exists and that it’s author trembles at the name of Jesus. So, if and when you confront demonic influences, you can be confident that you’re on the winning side.
- What spoke to you in today’s reading?
- Do you believe in Satan? Why or why not?
- Do you live in the fear of Satan? Why or why not?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.