Much of the world thinks Satan is a myth, a mere superstition. Others think of him as a cartoonish character—a man in a red suit, wielding a pitchfork and tormenting people in the blazing fires of hell. But is this an accurate picture of Satan? No. Such ideas are far from reality.
Satan isn’t a myth. He’s very real, and he’s a powerful spiritual being. And unfortunately, he doesn’t reside in hell. Far from it. If he did, the world would be a lot better off. But Satan’s not in hell right now. His ultimate destination is hell, but his arrival there remains a future event.
What the Bible Says
Satan plays a central role in the day-to-day events of life on earth. Jesus called him “the ruler of this world” (John 14:30), and Paul called him “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). The Book of Job tells us Satan roams the earth, watching everything take place (Job 1:7). As “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), he has a bird’s eye view of the entire human race and everything we do.
Do you think he uses what he sees to his advantage? You bet he does, and he doesn’t have our best interests in mind. Peter warns us of Satan, saying he “prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 NLT). That’s a terrible thought, isn’t it? It is. So don’t fool yourself. Satan is very much a part of this world. He’s not in hell.
In fact, the Bible tells us Satan has limited access to heaven. The book of Job says members of the heavenly court came to present themselves to the Lord and Satan came with them (Job 1:6). And the book of Revelation describes Satan as “the one who accuses us before God day and night” (Revelation 12:10). So again, don’t be deceived. Satan is not in hell—at least not yet.
Satan’s Ultimate Fate
That said, Satan’s time is running out. And his final destination is certain. Jesus Himself tells us hell was created as a punishment for Satan and his demons (Matthew 25:41). So why aren’t they there already? Only because God’s appointed time hasn’t arrived yet. According to the Bible, in the middle of the Tribulation, a war will break out in heaven between those loyal to God and those loyal to Satan.
Michael and his angels will win. When they do, Satan and the angels who joined in his rebellion will be banished from heaven and thrown down to the earth (Revelation 12:7-9).
In his anger, Satan will cause great destruction on the earth, because he will know his time is short (Revelation 12:12). This is why the last three and a half years before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is called “The Great Tribulation.”
When He returns, Jesus will defeat Satan, bind him in chains, and cast him into a bottomless pit for one thousand years (Revelation 20:1-3). Afterward, Satan will be thrown into hell where he will be tormented day and night forever (Revelation 20:10). Once that happens, Satan’s rebellion will finallybe over, and it will be true to say, “Satan is in hell.”
Contrary to what so many people think, when that happens, Satan won’t be the ruler of a fiery underworld kingdom. He won’t laugh while he tortures lost souls or brandish a red pitchfork as a symbol of his power. Instead, he’ll be the lowest of the low. Dead kings and world leaders from long ago will mock him (Isaiah 14:9-11). The one who claimed he would “ascend to heaven and set his throne above God’s stars” will lie in ruin, utterly defeated, and brought to the lowest depths of hell (Isaiah 14:16-17).
Why it Matters
So why do I bring this up? Why should you care? Here’s why… Precisely because Satan is not yet in hell. He’s a part of this world, and he would like nothing more than to ruin your life. He’s a murderer and the father of all lies (John 8:44). And in order to defend yourself from Satan’s attacks, you need to know the truth about where he is and what he’s trying to do.
While Jesus broke Satan’s power over death at the cross (Hebrews 2:14-15), and God’s victory is certain… Satan’s rebellion isn’t over. As Paul attests, we’re soldiers in a spiritual war—not a against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against those of the unseen world, against the powers of darkness and evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Satan’s rebellion is not a past event. It’s an ongoing act – both here on earth and even in “heavenly places.”
In the battle against such an enemy, you need to know how to defend yourself. So how do you defend yourself? First, if you haven’t done so already, you need to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. Jesus says once you become His follower, no one can snatch you away (John 10:27-30). In Jesus, your soul is safe from Satan. But that doesn’t mean Satan won’t try to bring trouble and turmoil into your life.
Once you become a follower of Jesus, Satan will increase his attacks. He’ll come to you with temptations, trying to get you to take your eyes off of Jesus. So what do you do when that happens? James says to “resist Satan, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Jesus modeled this defense when He resisted Satan’s temptations in the desert. When Satan’s temptations didn’t work, he fled (Matthew 4:1-11).
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul says to “put on all of God’s armor so you can stand firm against Satan (Ephesians 6:11). He says the key components to arm yourself with are truth, God’s righteousness, the peace of the Gospel, faith, salvation, and the Word of God (Ephesians 6:24-17). So if you’re weak if any of these areas, ask God to give you strength. Then, commit yourself to the study and practice of each area.
But again, all this flows from a relationship with Jesus Christ. If you don’t have Jesus, you’re a sitting duck for the devil and his minions. You’re utterly defenseless. If this is where you find yourself, you can start a relationship with Jesus right now. Jesus is standing at the door of your heart knocking. If you open the door, He will come in (Revelation 3:20). So invite Him in. If you do, He will give you a peace. And the peace He offers is a peace the world can never give (John 14:27). When you have Jesus, you can confidently face the future in full knowledge of the ultimate outcome of Satan’s rebellion – Jesus wins!