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Discovery Magazine 4/1/2003

Not Just Another Bedtime Story

by  Alden Bass

In many parts of the world, children are told folk tales of monsters and giants to make them behave. In Iceland, children are warned of the Gryla, a mean old lady who loves to stew children. Baba Yaga in Russia cooks children in her oven. And who can forget about the troll from Billy Goats Gruff, sitting under the bridge, hungry for whatever passed over? These tales are told to encourage children to be good, or a boogeyman will get them.

Some people believe that Satan is just another boogeyman. Is this true?

Most of the tales we know are very old, and have been passed down from parents to their children. Some have been written down (like Grimm's Fairy Tales), while others are still only spoken. None is as old as the story of the devil, though. We read of the devil in the Bible, which comes from God. Since God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), we know this devil character is for real. His first appearance is in the Garden of Eden, and he reappears throughout the whole Bible. In every case, he is always referred to as a real person, not as a fairy­tale character. God warnschildrenandadultstobecarefulofthedevil,because he is the father of all lies (John 8:44).

One of his greatest lies has been to convince people that he is only a myth. Television shows and movies often show Satan as a funny guy in a red costume with a pointed tail and a pitchfork. If people think of the devil as a vampire, or werewolf, or some other imaginary creature, then they won't take him seriously. This is a great mistake, for the devil is very powerful. Because of his influence, many millions of people have lost their souls. This is more than a simple bedtime story!

Unlike the brute manner of witches and ogres of mythology, Satan is very sneaky. He often gives people nice things, and tells them what they want to hear. He is more like the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood, disguised as the innocent grandmother. The difference is that the devil is very real. And just like that imaginary wolf, Satan is ready to devour our souls (read 1Peter 5:8). Let us be careful to take the devil very seriously, because our souls depend on it!

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