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Devil is for Real

The renowned author C.S. Lewis once wrote about the devil in his Screwtape Letters,

"There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight."

So what do you think of when you hear the word devil? Do you think of the devil as some made up entity from a more superstitious time? Or do you think of the devil as some fictional character in the Bible? Or do you believe in the more sophisticated view of the devil,  who is some benign entity who brings balance to the universe balancing the good with the bad? (dualism) Or do you not believe in a devil at all?

The Catholic Catechism defines the devil or demons as "fallen angels who have freely refused to serve God and his plan.  Their choice against God is definitive.  They try to associate man in their revolt against God." (414)

In the Bible the devil is spoken about often especially in the New Testament.  In the New Testament the devil has different names such as Satan and Beelzebub.  There is a famous scene in the Bible where the devil tempts Jesus for forty days. Jesus eventually overcomes the devil, but not before the devil gives him three powerful temptations.  There are also many examples of how Jesus exorcises demons even sending them into the neighboring swine.  To a Christian,  the devil is just as real as God, although never as powerful.

Even contemporary, non Christians can acknowledge the presence of evil. Wars, sicknesses, famines, torture, and extermination of certain people can all be viewed as proof of an powerful, evil entity.

Personally I have experienced manifestations of the devil in my life. Most of these encounters haven't been as dramatic as the episodes in the Bible. If you want to read an excellent work on this subject you should check out Don Lorenzo Scupoli's Spiritual Combat

Here are some small ways how the devil might be manifesting in your life.
  1.  Frustration. Have you ever had your printer break, your computer freeze, you car breaking down?  Everything going wrong at inconvenient times?
  2. Intense depressive moods. Have you ever felt depressed, or angry for no apparent reason? (assuming that you don't have a history of clinical depression) Despair and hopelessness are some of the most insidious tools that the devil uses to keep people away from God.  Despair and depression can sometimes be so destructive that a person gradually separates themselves from God, who is the ultimate source of all good.
  3. Being cursed. Have you ever felt that your life has been cursed?  That for some strange reason everything seems to be going wrong for you. Bad things happen to all people.  I am not talking about the kind of adversity which can be beneficial to a person's overall spiritual and psychological health.  I'm talking about exorbitant patterns of damaging occurrences
  4. Addictions. Are you an addict? Or do you know someone who is an addict? Or a family that has a history of drug and alcohol dependence? Addictions have ruined the lives of many people with great talent and potential. 
  5. Preoccupation with the occult. Do you find yourself drawn to the occult through consulting mediums, attending seances, or using such devices as the Ouija board?  Humanity has been obsessed with the occult since biblical times; but what makes this so dangerous is that many young people are drawn to these mediums without knowing the damaging and diabolic repercussions. 
  6. The 6th sense of pets. Have you ever seen your dog or cat terrified for no reason? Animals are able to perceive supernatural abnormalities.  If you see your pet acting strange and you have exhausted all natural means to ascertain why, there might something larger or sinister at play. 
  7. Hearing persistent voices. Assuming that you are not a schizophrenic, do you ever hear voices or have invasive thoughts which seem to harass you and instruct you to do bad things?
  8. Division. One of the clearest and most obvious sign of the devil is disunity. This divide and conquer strategy is very effective. Think about wars, church divisions, political divisions, and family dissension.  
Please note that I am NOT proclaiming that if you are experiencing any of the above examples, especially in moderation that there is an active demon in your life who is out to destroy you. It is also important to note that I am in no way abdicating personal responsibility for the things for which you do have control. As humans we have been endowed with free will and ability to choose the good in any situation.  What I am saying is to be alert and aware.  

"Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour"-1Peter 5:8

If you mess with the devil you will get hurt. If you play with fire you will get burned. But the good news is that the devil's power is severely limited when viewed in the light of God's power.  Let me end with a brief quote from the Catechism that ultimately explains the powerlessness of the devil over God:

"The power of Satan is, nonetheless, not infinite. He is only a creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature.  He can not prevent the building up of God's reign." (395)
By the way I highly recommend reading The Screwtape Letters. Its a great book,  Really!  You will love it.  Its about a big demon instructing his little nephew demon on how to ruin a persons life and bring them over to the dark side.


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