Arguably no name in American Christianity is more influential and admired than Billy Graham. The famed evangelical pastor recently turned 99 years old.
For decades, Graham has pursued a singular vision—to share the love of Jesus Christ with all who would listen. As he approaches 100, Graham is still actively answering Christian questions. Earlier this year, he spoke on Satan and whether or not he is a real figure.
Is Satan Real?
According to Graham, in a column where he responds to a reader’s question about the existence of Satan, that figure of evil is very much real. Graham attests that Satan exists, “just as surely as God exists.”
He also ascertains that Satan’s existence is not a matter of figuration. Instead, he says that Satan is a being who has autonomy over his decisions. As he chooses to do wrong, Satan is evil. Going against the goodness and grace of God and Jesus Christ.
Don’t Be Tricked
While the common depiction of Satan is that of a devious, horned, red figure, Graham urges readers to not fall for that image.
Instead, he says that Satan is “much, much greater than that.” According to Graham, Satan’s power comes from how he tries to lure us away from God. He uses temptation and false promises in order to bring people to him.
In 2 Corinthians 11:14 The Bible says: “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.”
We Have Hope in Christ
Christians might be very concerned by Graham’s word about how real and present Satan is in our world. However, he offers reassurance that we have reasons not to fear him.
As Graham tells us, Satan “is engaged in a constant cosmic battle against God.” While this is certainly a war we should take as seriously as possible, Satan “is a defeated foe.”
Graham tells us about how he was overcome by Jesus’ death and resurrection. This miracle was an act of defiance in the face of evil. By suffering, dying and rising, Jesus showed that the powers of evil can be overcome.
He also cites scripture, quoting Ephesians 6:12:
“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against… the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
This is an important reminder to Christians that temptations hold more meaning than we might realize.
When taking Graham’s message to heart, Christians need to remember that just because Satan is real, it doesn’t mean he needs to be acknowledged.
We might be aware of his presence, particularly when he tempts us. However, we can be aware of ourselves and when we’re being tempted. When you are considering doing something that you shouldn’t, ask the Holy Spirit to help you overcome it.
Here’s what the Bible says in Galatians 5:16-25:
“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whateveryou want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
Always ask yourself, “Does it glorify God?” If it doesn’t then ask the Holy Spirit to give you strength to flee from your temptation or sin. As powerful as Satan is, he can be defeated by our strength in Christ. Satan tried to tempt Jesus in the desert, but he was overcome. We might not be as perfect as Jesus, but we can use His strength to reject temptation.
Succeeding Against Satan
Billy Graham’s words offer a message of hope, even when telling us that Satan is real. Christians want to bring good into the world, and it can be frightening to realize that there is a figure of evil among us.
Nonetheless, this can strengthen our resolve. Satan can be rejected provided we are able to demonstrate how weak he really is.
Remember what 1 Corinthians 10:13 says:
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
While we all fall to temptation and sin, we can be redeemed by asking for forgiveness and working to never commit those acts again. No matter how hard Satan tries, he can never outweigh the power of God and our savior, Jesus Christ.