There is a popular saying that is often quoted by preachers:
“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”
It was also famously quoted in the 1995 movie The Usual Suspects.
Some people mistakenly believe this quotation comes from the Bible, it doesn’t, but there are some thoughts along this line that we will explore shortly.
The earliest attribution of this quote was in an 1836 book titled “Quakerism examined,” by John Wilkinson. The way Wilkinson put it was:
“One of the artificers of Satan is, to induce men to believe that he does not exist.”
This is quite true today. Advances in science have made some people believe the idea of God and the Devil are metaphors, a product of myth used to influence human behavior. Sadly, even some preachers actually think this way. They look at the Bible more as allegory than as a literal statement of fact. To that end, Satan is accomplishing his goal.
The apostle Paul warned us that the devil, also called Satan, is on a constant mission is to deceive mankind. And far from a one-trick-pony, the devil’s schemes are endless. Paul warns:
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”
The “full armor of God” Paul is describing here is to always walk with God by maintaining a close relationship with Him, living righteously, and being armed with a knowledge of the Holy Scriptures.
Next, the apostle Paul informs us that the true battle in life isn’t the one that exists in this physical realm we live in, but rather we are engaged in an ultimate battle that is taking place in the unseen realm (invisible to human eyes and/or in another dimension).
And in that realm, Satan and his legion of demonic rulers are battling to separate mankind from God. We aren’t battling flesh and blood human beings, we are battling eternal, spiritual beings. Paul said:
“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.”
Deception and trickery is what the devil does.
“And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”
– 2 Corinthians 11:14
In this verse, the Bible makes us aware that Satan can disguise himself as a “good” angelic being. After all, Satan is an angel, although a fallen one.
From the very beginning of mankind’s existence, in the Garden of Eden, Satan presented himself as “the good guy.” He tried to convince Adam and Eve that they “would not die” by going against God’s command of eating from the tree of knowledge. But this was only a half-truth. Adam and Eve, by opening their eyes to the existence of good and evil, they did not physically die – but they died a spiritual death, sinning and disqualifying themselves and every human being thereafter from being able to be in the holy presence of God.
Since the beginning of time, Satan has been trying to separate mankind from God, to disqualify them through sin. It is a battle that will continue until Jesus returns to bring about the end of Satan’s reign.
The devil and his legion of demons have one goal in mind: To separate mankind from God. The devil does this by tempting man to sin. Not only does the devil want you to not believe he exists – but to believe that God does not exist.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
– 1 Peter 5:8
In life, every human being is going to be tempted. The Bible gives us a way to resist and stop the temptation of the devil. Pray to God and invoke Jesus’ name.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
– James 4:7
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
– 1 Corinthians 10:13
The Bible tells us that, ultimately, the devil will pay the price for his deception of mankind and his wrongdoing. The devil will ultimately be imprisoned for eternity, no longer able to deceive the world.
“And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
– Revelation 20:10