According to a 2015 Gallup poll, about nine in 10 Americans say they believe in God (89%). However, the same poll shows that only about 61% believe Satan actually exists.
Similarly, the Pew Research Center's 2014 Religious Landscape Study found that roughly seven-in-ten (72%) Americans say they believe in heaven — defined as a place "where people who have led good lives are eternally rewarded.
But at the same time, only 58% of U.S. adults believe in hell — defined as a place "where people who have led bad lives and die without being sorry are eternally punished."
These numbers should shock and disturb us, because the Bible is clear: Both Satan and hell are very real – and very terrifying. Jesus calls him "the evil one" (Matthew 13:19) and "the ruler of this world" (John 12:31).
Throughout his ministry, famed evangelist Billy Graham has warned against ignoring Satan's existence.
"It's been said that one of the devil's most successful schemes is to convince people he doesn't even exist-and that's true," he once said. "After all, if you don't think he exists, you won't be on guard against him. But he does exist, and he'll do everything he can to keep you from Christ and His will for your life."
John 8:44 warns that Satan will stop at nothing to deceive God's people: "You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies."
As Christians, it's important to be aware of the devil's strategies and schemes to be on guard against them. James 4:7 reads, "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."
Here are four areas of the Christian life the devil wants to enter and biblical tips for protecting yourself against such attacks.
- Satan Wants to Attack Your Spiritual Life
Though not always overt, spiritual warfare exists. The Bible tells us our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual powers. Ephesians 6:12 reads, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
How does Satan attack our spiritual life? First, he distracts us from what's important and keeps us from communion with God. Often, we are too tired to pray, too stressed to read the Bible, or too busy to give any attention to our spiritual walk.
Famed theologian C.S. Lewis illustrated this tactic of the devil in his book The Screwtape Letters, which tells of a demon, Screwtape, who instructs his nephew, Wormwood, on ways he can make Christians fall away from the faith. One easy way to distance the Christian from God, Wormwood says, is through distraction.
"What we want, if men become Christians at all, is to keep them in the state of mind I call 'Christianity And'.You know — Christianity and the Crisis, Christianity and the New Psychology, Christianity and the New Order, Christianity and Faith Healing, Christianity and Psychical Research, Christianity and Vegetarianism, Christianity and Spelling Reform."
When Satan distracts us from our Christian walk, we become susceptible to his lies, temptations, and manipulations. Son, the truth becomes relative as we forget the instruction and guidance given to us in God's Word.
The Apostle James puts it this way: "...every man is tempted, when he is drawn away [distracted] of his own lust, and enticed." (James 1:14)
Second, the devil seeks to attack our hearts – and that's why the Bible tells us: "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it" (Proverbs 4:23). When God isn't first in our hearts, the devil is given a foothold, we begin to idolize riches, lust, and other earthly pleasures.
Thankfully, Scripture promises us that Satan cannot stand against the power of Christ, and God tells us that His word is the greatest weapon against Satan's wiles: Ephesians 6:11-12 reads, "Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
With God's help, we are able to resist the devil and experience victory. Memorize Scripture verses, read the Bible daily, and hide God's word in your heart. Don't give the devil entry into your life.
2. Satan Wants to Attack Your Marriage and Family
We often hear the phrase today: "The family is under attack." Unfortunately, there is some truth to this statement. Throughout Scripture, God's plan for marriage and family is clearly outlined, yet today, divorce, pornography, gay marriage, and so many other issues are not only rampant, they're normalized.
Satan hates marriage and family because they are instituted by God and are part of His perfect plan. Marriage is a representation of Christ's love for His Church, while family represents God's love for His children.
1 Peter 5:8 reminds us, "Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."
Satan will utilize every means to destroy your marriage and your children. This is a serious – and very real – threat. With God's help, we must strive to be vigilant in guarding against such attacks by daily immersing our family in prayer and the Word of God and building strong, gospel-centered families. Abide in Christ and entrust your marriage and family to Him.
3. Satan Wants to Attack Your Private Life
We live in an over-sexualized culture. According to a nationwide study conducted by Proven Men Ministries, a non-profit Christian organization aimed at helping men with an addiction to pornography, approximately 64 percent, or two thirds, of U.S. men admit to viewing porn at least monthly, with the number of Christian men nearly equaling the national average.
Unfortunately, the problem doesn't only lie with men. In its 2017 report, a popular porn site found that the term "Porn for Women" saw 359 percent growth among female users between 2016 and 2017. Among overall users, the phrase saw a 1,400 percent increase year over year.
Satan uses our sexualized culture to his advantage in many ways. He is a great tempter who wants us to sin. Because he is the source of temptation and lust, he knows how to use our carnal desires against us.
Porn use impedes our ability to unselfishly love others, taints our view of sexuality, and undermines human dignity the way God designed it. For Christians, indulging in pornography often sparks shame and self-hatred – two powerful emotions the devil uses for our destruction.
DesiringGod.org contributor Paul Maxwell puts it this way: "Every experience you have — your thoughts, your hatreds, your impulses, your emotions, your plans, your ideas — must take into account that Satan is at work. The sooner you forget that, the easier it is to believe hidden, subversive, subtle, destructive lies."
He adds, "Don't forget: After you indulge [in pornography], you are still mid-battle with a tenacious, evil person bent on stealing your life, and he has not yet gotten it."
To resist the devil's attacks on your personal life, confess your sin to God and to one another, flee from sexual temptation, and be aware of your sexual triggers. Pray for escape from evil: "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" (Matthew 6:13).
In his book Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is), Joshua Harris advises those struggling with sexual addiction to create a customized plan before getting into the way of temptation.
4. Satan Wants to Attack our Mission Work
Satan blinds our eyes and hides the truth of the Gospel from us. 2 Corinthians 4:4 reads, "The god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ."
Thus, there are few things Satan hates more than mission work. Because he is the father of lies, the devil hates evangelism and discipleship, and will attempt to thwart the attempts of missionaries and those seeking to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the unreached.
Paul tells of how his missionary plans were hindered by the devil in 1 Thessalonians 2:17–18: "We endeavored the more eagerly, and with great desire, to see you face to face; because we wanted to come to you . . . but Satan hindered us."
Similarly, Satan loves to burn out pastors, missionaries, and other ministry workers and destroy churches through scandal and division.
Pray for your church, your pastor, and those on the mission field and ask God to protect them from the evil schemes of the devil. 1 John 4:4 offers this powerful reminder: "You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world."
Ultimately, Jesus Will Triumph Over Satan
While it's important to be aware of the devil's schemes, Billy Graham reminds us we should never make the him the sole focus of our attention, as only Christ is worthy of that honor.
Additionally, Scripture assures us that it's not necessary to live in fear; when Christ died for our sins, Satan was disarmed and defeated. Christ promises that the day is fast approaching where He will defeat the devil once and for all. Though the devil is powerful, Christ has all authority over him: Mark 1:27 says, "He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him."
God's children can take heart: All those who have confessed their sins and entrusted themselves to Christ will never perish. Romans 8:37–39 promises that nothing – not even the wiles and deceit of the devil – can separate us from the love of God: "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
God also promises us that He will never leave us forsake us – He is always by our side, shielding us from all evil (Hebrews 13:5). While the devil seeks to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10), Jesus Christ will be triumphant, and will ultimately win the battle against Satan, sin, and finally, death.