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Coping with the Devil

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

The devil is called the god of this world not because he made it, but because so many people serve him with their worldliness.

There is no better explanation for the massive evils that are plaguing the modern world than to say that the devil is extraordinarily effective in seducing otherwise intelligent people with his deceptive snares.

Who is the devil? Why is he allowed to tempt us? And how are we to cope with his demonic effort to lead us away from God?

Who is the Devil?

The devil is one of the legion of evil spirits who were originally good angels created by God but who made themselves evil by refusing to obey the will of God.

Devils (diabolus - slanderer) are therefore fallen angels, whose leader is Satan (adversary). In both the Old and the New Testaments, Satan is the enemy of God, who brings about evil and tempts human beings to defy God’s laws. Even Jesus allowed Himself to be tempted by Satan in the desert.

References to the devil are frequent in the Scriptures. Their prominent feature is that a personal, malicious force is active in the world. It is deliberately bent on preventing the designs of God.

Why is the Devil Allowed to Tempt?

The final explanation of why Satan is allowed to tempt us is a mystery. But divine revelation gives us several profound reasons why God allows this.

  • By our resistance of the evil spirit we prove our loyalty to God. There is such a thing as being tested in order to more deeply and clearly understand God’s providence in our lives.

  • The devil’s purpose is, of course, malicious. But God allows the evil spirit to tempt us so that we may grow in our love for God.

Copyright © 1999 by Inter Mirifica

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