Summary: A sermon to warn of the most dangerous spiritual being on earth.
"Is Satan Real?"
Isaiah 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
Introduction: The Devil is known by many names, including Satan, Lucifer, Mephistopheles, Beelzebub, the Evil One, and the Prince of Darkness. According to ancient scriptures, he was originally one of God's foremost angels. But pride and envy caused him to revolt against God, and he was thrown out of Heaven. Despite this humiliation he remained defiant, and sought revenge by trying to tempt people away from God and convert them into his own worshipers.
Because of his evil nature, artists usually depict him as a loathsome repulsive creature. Paintings often show him with horns, fangs, hooves, scaly skin, red eyes, and a tail. Since he was originally an angel, he is sometimes given wings. Medieval artists often gave him the legs and hindquarters of a goat. But no one knows what he really looks like, because he can disguise himself by magically taking on any appearance he chooses, or even by fading into invisibility. In fact many people think of him as a supernatural spirit rather than a physical being.
The Devil is often identified with the serpent that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden. Later in the Old Testament he appears in the Book of Job, where he is called Satan and presents himself in the Court of Heaven, but slyly stirring up trouble. The New Testament writers understood that he had been thrown out of heaven, and was actively at work in the world as the true Evil One. His evil nature is depicted very clearly in the gospels, especially in the famous temptation of Jesus. As described in Matthew 4:1-11, this temptation took place in a wilderness area where Jesus had gone to meditate and fast. As he meditated, Satan approached him and challenged him to prove his powers by turning stones into bread and by leaping from the roof of the Temple in Jerusalem. Of course Jesus didn't need to prove anything, and he refused both challenges. Then, for the ultimate temptation (Matthew 4:8-10):
The devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will fall down and worship me."
Jesus said to him, "Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."
When Jesus began his ministry, he attracted a lot of attention through his ability to expel demons. At that time the behavior of mentally-ill people was often attributed to evil spirits who had taken over their bodies under the direction of the devil. Such people were said to be possessed by demons. The only way to cure the condition was to expel the demons from the person's body.
In one such cure, described in Luke 8:26-40, Jesus needed to expel a large number of demons from a single man. This man, who called himself Legion, wore no clothes and lived in tombs. Local citizens had bound him in chains and fetters, but he had broken free and escaped. When Jesus ordered the demons to leave his body, they tried to save themselves by entering the bodies of some nearby pigs. But the pigs immediately ran into a lake and drowned.
As Christianity spread to new areas, belief in the Devil went with it. During the Middle Ages, European artists often depicted him as a half-man half-beast, but in popular stories he could disguise himself as a black cat or a toad. Some stories even described personal encounters with him. For example, Saint Dunstan, a tenth-century bishop of Canterbury, reported that he was in his workshop making a metal chalice when Satan suddenly appeared in front of him. To defend himself, he seized the intruder's nose with a pair of red-hot tongs.
The great Protestant reformer Martin Luther reported dozens of encounters with Satan. On one occasion he threw an ink pot at the loathsome fiend.
Fear of the Devil was especially widespread during the witch hunts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. During this period thousands of people were accused of being his helpers, and many of them were tortured and killed. During this period numerous stories about witches and warlocks circulated through the population. The stories could involve secret midnight meetings, worship at the feet of the Devil, orgies and perversions, sacrificed babies, and blood drinking. Sometimes there were rumors that a particular woman had become Satan's lover.