What can the devil do?
Deceive Humans

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God first reveals himself, in the opening pages of the Bible, as the Creator of all things (Genesis 1 - 2). In stark contrast, however, the devil is revealed to us as one who deceives and destroys. Jesus, while explaining to some self-righteous religious leaders why they could not understand what he said, made a profound statement regarding the origin of Satan.

44. You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you desire to practice. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has not stood in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he is speaking from his own self; for he is a liar (he deceives), and the father of it (John 8:44, HBFV throughout)

When we put together what is written in Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14 with Jesus' statement above regarding the character of the devil, we can understand not only how Lucifer became a being who deceives but also the basic nature of his deceptions.

The first causality of deception

The first person Lucifer lied to was HIMSELF! Scripture records that at some point in his existence he began to deceive himself that the manifold blessings he received (beauty, wisdom, musical talents, important responsibilities, etc. - see Ezekiel 28:12 - 14 and Isaiah 14:12) made him BETTER than all other beings, including the Creator who gave them to him!

The vanity of the devil led him to determine, since (in his mind) he was so much "better" than the Eternal, that he should be the being who decides what is right and wrong, good and evil, for the entire universe. With his vanity came a redirection of his mind from seeking to selflessly serve and benefit all others (giving) to someone whose existence centers around SELF and fulfilling his own desires at the cost of all others (getting).

It did not take long for the devil, consumed with vanity and a desire to fulfill his own will, to test his deceptions on others. His ability to convince one third of all the angels (Revelation 12:4) to reject God and accept HIM as their leader made him the master deceiver.

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How did the devil deceive Eve?
What does Proverbs say about pride?

Lucifer became the first BLACK HOLE in the universe! He sought to use his power to FORCE all things to come under his will and give nothing back in return! He is the first being to promote a way of thinking that is totally contrary to God's way. He knew the truth, but then decided to reject it and use what he created as a means to permanently deceive himself.

Christ's statement about the devil being a "murderer from the beginning" refers not so much to any influence Lucifer had in Cain killing his brother Abel (Genesis 4) as it does his spiritually murdering HIMSELF by totally rejecting God! As a side note, although he became spiritually dead, God has allowed Satan to exist (at least a little while longer) so that he can be used to teach all other created beings that his perverted way of thinking does not work (see our article on why God has not yet killed his adversary)!

Human beset by devils by Hieronymus Bosch
Mankind beset by devils
Hieronymus Bosch (1500 - 1504)

Deception 101

The deceptions of the devil (and those of the fallen angels who follow him) are based on the same basic principles of self-righteousness and lust he used to deceive himself.

He deceives humans into disobeying God by appealing to vanity (e.g., that they should determine for themselves what is right and wrong) and selfishness (pursuing things that benefit the self and its lusts). The apostle John wrote about how the adversary's way of thinking has manifested itself in the world that he rules.

15. Do not love the world, nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him 16. Because everything that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pretentious pride of physical life - is not from the Father, but is from the world (meaning it is influenced by the devil - 1John 2:15 - 16)

The "lust of the flesh" is the inordinate, intense and improper pursuit of things to satiate our physical bodies. It is manifested in such behaviors as eating too much, drinking alcohol to the point of drunkenness, sex before or outside of marriage, drugs used to get ourselves "high" and so on (see the list in Galatians 5:19 - 21 and 1Corinthians 6:9 - 10 regarding various lusts).

The "lust of the eyes" is the pursuing of all things we can see which we foolishly think will "make" us happy and benefit us. This includes lusting for power (political, religious, business, etc.), riches (making lots of money, hoarding gold or silver, etc.), goods (expensive cars and houses, the finest clothes, costly jewelry, etc.) and status (doing whatever it takes to be looked up to and elevated in the eyes of others).

The "pride" or vanity of life occurs, in part, when we believe we are better than others are because of our ancestry, honors, titles, awards, looks and so on.

For an interesting study on the unbridled pursuit of various lusts, read King Solomon's book of Ecclesiastes. He pursued not only women (he had 700 wives and 300 concubines - 1Kings 11:3) but also a vast collection of servants, gardens, gold and silver, artwork and much more! Near the end of his pursuits he concluded it was all for nothing (Ecclesiastes 1:2).

Additional Study Materials
What are the seven DEADLY sins?
What are the different names used for the devil?
When will the great deceiver meet his fate?

What can the devil and
demons DO and NOT DO?
What can they do?

What can they not do?

Series Primary Sources

Adam Clarke's Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the New Testament
Bible Knowledge Commentary
Complete Book of Bible Secrets and Mysteries
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown's Commentary
John Wesley's Explanatory Notes
Matthew Henry's Commentary
Willmington's Guide to the Bible

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