How can I calm my child's fears of Satan? Over the past few months my five-year-old has become obsessed with this subject. She's always asking questions about the devil, and she seems terribly afraid of what he might do to her. She goes to Sunday school, and we pray and read the Bible together every day. So far, none of this seems to help. I've done my best to reassure her, but I have to admit that I don't know much about the devil myself. Can you tell me exactly what Scripture has to say about him?
We'll be more than happy to provide you with a brief summary of the biblical teaching concerning the devil. But before we do, we want to urge you to make one thing perfectly clear to your little girl. She has no reason to be afraid. If she's a believer in Jesus and a child of God, she's safe in her Father's hands. Whatever else can be said about the devil, it is absolutely certain that he can neither touch nor harm those who live their lives under the protection of the blood of Christ.
The Bible's first reference to the devil is found in Genesis 3. In this passage, a tempter shows up in the Garden of Eden under the guise of a "serpent" (Hebrew nachash). The fact that this mischief-maker arrives on the scene already in a fallen state of rebellion leads scholars to assume that the creation of the angels, the subsequent war in heaven (Revelation 12:7-12), and the fall of Lucifer from grace (Isaiah 14:12-15) must all have happened prior to the events described in the earliest chapters of the Bible. This explains why Christians often talk about a primeval conflict between God and a rebellious archangel. That archangel, whom we know as Satan, was banished from heaven for seeking to set himself up as king of the universe.
In Job 1:6ff. a figure appears who is referred to not merely as satan, Hebrew for "an adversary," but as hassatan, " The Adversary." This fits perfectly with the apostle John's reference to "the accuser of the brethren" (Revelation 12:10). Both passages seem to have a particular person in mind. They do not speak in terms of mere symbols or the personification of an abstract concept. It's hard to avoid connecting this adversarial person with the deceptive serpent ( nachash) of Genesis 3.
The New Testament expands on this theme. It describes Satan or the devil as "the ruler of this world" (John 14:30), "the god of this age" (II Corinthians 4:4), and "the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience" (Ephesians 2:2). This is the basis for the church's claim that Satan has been granted temporary dominion over the earth (see also Luke 4:5-7).
What your daughter and every other Christian needs to know is that Satan's doom is sealed. His defeat is already assured. According to the Book of Revelation, his final destiny is to be "cast into the lake of fire and brimstone" at the end of the age (Revelation 20:10). In the meantime, the Bible encourages us to " resist him, steadfast in the faith" (I Peter 5:8, 9). If we do, he will turn tail and run away (James 4:7).
One more thought. Your daughter should also understand that the devil's "attacks" don't usually come in the form of monsters, bad dreams, or scary visions in the night. Instead, he tries to trip us up with temptations to do things that we clearly know to be wrong. And he usually puts on a friendly face while doing this. He likes to present himself as "an angel of light"(II Corinthians 11:14).
If you have further questions about this, or if you'd simply like to discuss these ideas at greater length with a member of our team, call our Counseling department. They'd love to speak with you for a free consultation.