To most American self-identified Christians, the Devil is as real as Frankenstein or the tooth fairy. A majority does not believe he is a real being, but just a symbol for evil.
A majority of the same folks believe God is real.
This is the perfect combination for a successful deception for someone who is trying to be like God (2 Thess 2:4).
“I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” – Isa 14:14
Satan is not God, but if nobody believes he exists then how would anyone know any different if he claims to be?
What the Devil is Not Doing
Since most believe Satan is only a symbol for evil, the most common way to identify him is by pointing to the evil in the world.
Pointing to the corruption and sin spewing from fallen humanity, people make a false division between everything religious and everything worldly.
Everything that claims to speak for God and tries to do right is of God, and everything that mocks God and lives in self-pleasure is the metaphorical Devil.
Though the Devil does sin, sin is not the Devil.
If the Devil disappeared today there would still be sin and corruption all over the world. It is the nature of fallen sinful humanity that causes these things (Rom 1:28).
“Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” – Eph 2:3
The Devil is not human. The Devil is not sin. The Devil is real, and he is religious.
Jesus knew Satan was real, and involved in the lives of religious men. Jesus spoke to Satan, saw him fall from heaven, warned against him, talked about his dominion, and protected Simon from him.
Satan is religious and desires to be worshipped like God. If he can get people who want to worship God to believe his lies, then he can have all of the worship he wants… as God, in the name of God.
“And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” – Mat 4:9
The Devil is doctrinal and quotes scripture, but he uses scripture wrongly. Jesus exploited this weakness in the wilderness.
“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.” – Matt 4:9-10
To usurp God’s worship Satan corrupts the word of God. When people believe the lie, God knows they are not worshipping him anymore but the lie which came from the Devil.
This is why Paul warns against mishandling the word of God and the need to rightly divide the word of truth.
“But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully…” – 2 Cor 4:2
The Devil does not deserve our worship. We need to identify his religious lies, lest we fall into them.
Satan Preaches Righteousness
The Bible says that, “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14).
His ministers are transformed into ministers of righteousness, but they are deceitful and corrupt the word of God (2 Cor 11:15).
If nobody believes in Satan, then it is believed that God receives all worship from every doctrine. Doctrinal study is less important than merely praising God. Who else would they be praising?
Doctrine does not matter, after all who else would teach light and righteousness but God?
Since the Devil does exist and is shining false light, preaching false gospels, with false righteousness, it is very important to discern between true and false doctrine.
In the name of righteousness, Satan would blind everyone from the truth by declaring his light to be just as good as any other (2 Cor 4:4).
From those who claim to worship God, Satan receives worship by convincing religious people that doctrine does not matter, and the lie that they all teach the same thing.
The biggest heresy from this perspective is that there is only one way, one truth, and one light.
The Devil’s Religious Business
What is the Devil doing?
The Devil is seeking worship based on doctrinal lies and corruptions that sound religious, pious, and spiritual, but are contrary to the righteousness of God which is by faith in the gospel of the grace of God (Gal 1:8-9, 2 Cor 11:3-4).
He sits in church every Sunday, he reads the Bible (before he twists it), he does charity work. People love him because he is amiable.
They think he is God and that their god is better than the God of judgment that worries so much about religious differences and doctrines.
They have not made a god from their imaginations. Their god is real. He exists. He has power. He intervenes in the world. He is a bearer of light and minister of righteousness.
They are right. They are worshiping someone real, but he is not the true God.
Their false god is not imaginary because they have made the Devil out to be god (John 8:44), and believed a lie that the Devil does not exist.