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Smita, * a 35-year-old woman in Dhaka, Bangladesh, had the reputation of being a loving and caring person. People knew her as a hardworking and happy young wife who wanted to help others know what she had learned about God. How shocked her family and friends were when Smita suddenly contracted an illness that claimed her life in less than a week!

 

James and his wife, a young couple in their 30’s, had a reputation similar to that of Smita. One springtime, they went to visit their friends on the West Coast of the United States. They never returned to their home in New York. While away, they were involved in a fatal automobile accident, leaving a tremendous void in the lives of their loved ones and coworkers.

 

You do not have to look far to see that evil and suffering abound today. Wars kill civilians as well as soldiers. Crime and violence victimize innocent people. Deadly accidents and crippling illnesses occur irrespective of a person’s age or status in life. Natural disasters wipe out communities indiscriminately. Prejudice and injustice are widespread. Perhaps you have personally suffered as a victim.

 

It is only natural to ask questions like these:

 

  • Why do bad things happen to good people?

  • Is God to blame for such things?

  • Are calamities random occurrences, or are they man-made?

  • Could it be Karma, that is, the result of one’s actions in a past life, that causes personal suffering?

  • If there is an almighty God, why does he not protect good people from harm?

  • Will life ever be free of evil and suffering?

 

To answer those questions, we need to understand the answer to these two basic questions: Why do bad things happen at all, and what will God do?

 


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THE BIBLE’S VIEWPOINT

Satan

Is Satan a real person

“The original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, . . . is misleading the entire inhabited earth.”—Revelation 12:9.

WHAT PEOPLE SAY

 Some believe that Satan the Devil is not a person but, rather, the abstract quality of evil that exists inside each person.

WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS

 Satan is a real person. He is a rebel angel, a spirit creature who opposes God. The Bible calls Satan “the ruler of this world.” (John 12:31) He uses “lying signs” and “deception” to accomplish his aims.—2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10.

The Bible records a conversation in heaven between Satan and God. If Satan were a mere symbol of the evil that exists inside each person, how could God, who is perfect and morally unblemished, have been talking to an evil part of himself? (Deuteronomy 32:4; Job 2:1-6) Clearly, Satan is a real person and not merely a personification of evil.

WHY SHOULD IT MATTER TO YOU?

 Satan’s reasons for wanting you to believe that he is fictitious are similar to those of a criminal who hides his identity so that he may continue to break the law undetected. To protect yourself against Satan, you first need to acknowledge that he exists.

 Where does Satan live?

“Woe for the earth . . . because the Devil has come down to you.”—Revelation 12:12.

WHAT PEOPLE SAY

 Many believe that Satan resides in a fiery hell at the center of the earth. Others feel that he exists inside bad people.

WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS

 Satan is a spirit creature, so he lives in an invisible realm. For a time, Satan was allowed to move about at will where God and the faithful angels reside. (Job 1:6) Now, however, he has been evicted from God’s presence and, along with other wicked spirit creatures, is confined to the vicinity of the earth.—Revelation 12:12.

Does this mean that Satan is limited to one specific place on earth? For example, you may have read that the ancient city of Pergamum was said to be “where Satan is dwelling.” (Revelation 2:13) Actually, that expression alluded to the concentration of satanic worship there. Satan does not call any one physical place on earth home. Instead, the Bible says that “all the kingdoms of the inhabited earth” are his.—Luke 4:5, 6.

Can Satan harm or control people?

“The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.”—1 John 5:19.

WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS

 Most of mankind have yielded to Satan’s misleading influence and have thus come under his power. (2 Corinthians 11:14) This fact helps explain why humans have been unable to improve world conditions.

The Bible also records more extreme cases, in which Satan or other rebel angels have taken control of people and caused them physical harm.—Matthew 12:22; 17:15-18; Mark 5:2-5.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

 You need not dread Satan’s power. To avoid coming under Satan’s influence or control, you need to learn how he manipulates people, so that you are “not ignorant of his designs.”(2 Corinthians 2:11) By reading the Bible, you can obtain vital knowledge of Satan’s tactics and thus avoid becoming a victim.

Get rid of any paraphernalia associated with demon activity. (Acts 19:19) That includes amulets, printed matter, videos, music, and computer applications that promote spiritism or divination.

“Oppose the Devil,” says the Bible, “and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) By obeying the Bible’s wise counsel, you can protect yourself against Satan’s evil machinations.—Ephesians 6:11-18.