Do your kids ask tough questions that you just cannot answer? Mine does, but thats probably because she can only say a few words. Children’s Minister Kori and I will be addressing several tough questions over the next few weeks, with help from The Bible and the book, “Answering Your Kids’ Toughest Questions” by Elyse Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson.
At some point your kids will be exposed to Satan and hell. They will probably hear about it more “from the media than they hear about Jesus, the Rescuer.” They might have this picture of a horned red creature with a pitchfork. This is a very inaccurate picture of who Satan is and does not give us a picture of what hell is. So to start this question of Who is Satan? And What is hell? We need to start with remembering who God is.
“God is supremely wise (Romans 16:27), supremely powerful (1 Chronicles 29:11), and supremely loving (1 John 4:8).” Knowing this and showing this to your kids allows them to understand that God is more wise, powerful and loving than anything including Satan. Who God is will the starting point for any conversation about Satan or hell.
The first thing to remember about Satan is that he like all the other angels, was created at a point in time (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16). Satan is not eternal. He is a finite creature. He is, therefore, God’s devil. Satan is not the equal and opposite power of God (contra dualism). His power is not infinite. He does not possess divine attributes. In sum, he is no match for God! At most, Satan is the equal and opposite power of the archangel Michael. (Sam Storms, Tough Topics: Biblical Answers to 25 Challenging Questions (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013) 137.
Dualism is the concept that there are two equal forces dueling, some examples: Star Wars: Dark Side of the Force, Light Side of the Force. Taoism: Ying and Yang. This is a completely unbiblical presentation of reality. This is not true of Satan and God, God always wins. The God of the bible has no equal. Satan is so subservient that he has to ask God to attack God’s children (Job 1:12; 2:6; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Revelation 20:2, 7). Jesus crushed Satan (Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8; Colossians 2:15; Revelation 12:9) and cried out that His work was finished (John 19:30).
Jesus knew his act of obedience and sacrifice would forever unmake all the evil Satan had sewn into the world. We know for certain that Satan’s doom is sealed. (Revelation 20:10)
A sub-category of this question that might come up is:
What about Demons? The things we can know from the bible: they are created beings, the are angels that serve Satan, their goal is to destroy the work of the Gospel, indwell unbelievers, they are intelligent, evil and have power. But they are the same as their master, doomed. (Colossians 2:15) “It is sure because of Christ’s completed work, His life, death, and resurrection, and reign.” (Luke 10:19) Demons know of Christ and his power and the feared Him. (Mark 5:7; Luke 8:31; Acts 16:16-17)
Our hope is found in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection!
What is hell? The bible says this is a place of darkness, weeping (Matthew 25:30), and eternal fire and punishment (Matthew 25:41, 46; Mark 9:43). “This description is again telling us of eternal unstoppable, unending torment (Revelation 14:10-11).” It is a place where God’s wrath is poured out on all who sin, unless they trust that Christ took God’s wrath on Himself.
How do you talk to your kids about all this without giving them nightmares? First off, you know your children and what they can handle. You need to tell the whole truth and that means speaking of the victory found in Jesus but also that there is a battle going on for their soul. It is helpful to identify with their fears and admit that you struggle with this as well, but your only help came from trusting in Jesus.
Talking to Preschoolers:
Satan was created by God. He is not as powerful as God is. Just like if you make a lego ship or a color a picture, you created it, and you can smash your legos or tear the picture up. God is in control of Satan. Satan likes to hurt, but God loves to help. Jesus came to earth to beat Satan. The bible says God did just that. The bible also tells us everybody must pay for sin. Either you will pay for your sin in hell, which is a very sad and terrible place or you can believe that Jesus came to pay for all your sin. He did that when he died on the cross. Even through hell and the devil are not nice things to think about, we can always remember that God is the most powerful, most loving, and the smartest. He will always win. He has already won. So if we are Christians, we don’t need to be afraid.
No mention of Demons mostly because at this age most of them are too young to present that to them.
Talking to 5-10 year olds:
The devil was created. He was an angel who decided at one point he didn’t want to follow or obey God. He then became the ruler of all the evil in the world. Even though he is the ruler of evil, he is not as powerful as God. Matter of fact, it isn’t even close. When Jesus came to earth, he conquered Satan. Satan has already lost the war, but he goes on fighting for now. One day, when Jesus comes back, he will make all the sadness become untrue. On that day he will send Satan to hell forever. Hell is the saddest, most terrible place you can think of. Everyone who doesn’t trust Christ to be his or her Savior will spend eternity in hell with Satan and his demons. Demons were once angels, also, but they chose to follow Satan. Satan and his demons go around trying to hurt and bring sadness. It may be a little confusing why God would let them continue their terrible work. We must believe that God knows better than we do. It would seem so simple just to destroy Satan and his demons and have that be the end of it. But God is much wiser than we are, and he has decided for right now that the thing that will make more people love him is the let Satan live. You can know for a fact that God is stronger than Satan. Satan has to ask for permission before he does anything to one of God’s kids. Nothing in all of creation (including the devil and his workers) is out of God’s control. So even though these thoughts might be a little scary and hard to understand, we can hold on to the truth that God is bigger, stronger, and smarter than the devil. God loves us and will always be with us.
Our hope is found in Jesus and his victory over death, his substitutionary sacrifice for our sins, and his power over Satan and his demons. As you discuss this with your kids do you firmly find your found in these foundational truths?
- God created the angel that became Satan
- Satan is not as powerful as God but is part of his creation
- We don’t know why God allows Satan to live, but we do know a day will come when God will throw Satan and all his demons into hell.
- Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and was victorious over him.
- God will punish all sin. He will either punish it by abandoning unbelievers to hell, or he has already punished it by pouring out His wrath on His Son. Believers can know that God no longer has any wrath left for them
(All quotes from “Answering Your Kids’ Toughest Questions” by Elyse Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson, including summary. Unless otherwise sited)