So, what can and can't the devil do?

This is something that has been on my mind lately. What kind of power does the devil exactly have? I know he can tempt us, tell us lies and deceive us, influence but not directly read our thoughts, possess a person if the person lets him in (or God wills it).

I know the devil is limited by what God allows him to do. So, what can he do? I’ve heard him described as the god of this world, is that accurate? I always thought God was the God of Heaven and Earth.

One thing I’ve heard that bothers me is the subject of Covenants. Is it possible for the devil to have or strike up a covenant, or is that a power strictly reserved for God? Is this what satanists try to do? What is the exact definition of a Covenant? I know a person can’t sell his soul to the devil (the attempt is a sin, of course), is this the same thing?

Sorry about these questions, but like I said, these things have been on my mind lately, and you people are the experts. Thanks in advance for your help.

If you do enter into a covenant with the devil, odds are he’s going to go back on it–he’s not one to keep promises or deal fairly or magnanimously.

Here’s a good address by Pope Paul VI on the Devil’s power and influence:

papalencyclicals.net/Paul06/p6devil.htm

Anything within the rules. What are the rules? Well, that’s between the two of them. I certainly don’t know. The question is not what can he do, but, what would he do?

If, for instance, Satan came out - guns blazing - that would only lend credibility and proof to scripture. Non-believers wouldn’t be non-believers anymore. Faith, worship and reverence of god would suddenly become important again.

That would be pretty counter productive if you ask me.

So the answer would be this: You wouldn’t know if the devil was behind it. He isn’t going to do anything overt. You won’t be able to differentiate between things you did through your own free will and the seeds he’s sown in your conscience.

He could show that he does actually exist through the various means at his disposal, but it works so much better if he doesn’t.

Is it possible for the devil to have or strike up a covenant, or is that a power strictly reserved for God? Is this what satanists try to do? What is the exact definition of a Covenant?


From Wiki:

More specifically, a covenant, in contrast to a contract, is a one-way agreement whereby the covenantor is the only party bound by the promise.

Based on that definition yes. But I share the same sediments as poster #2. What would be the point? Whether you acknowledge your service to Him or not I wouldn’t bet on him keeping his word. It’s just not in his nature. If you choose to worship Satan (or any other demons for that matter) it’s best to just let them inspire you.

Satanists/diabolists don’t typically fool themselves into thinking the devil is going to keep his word. Although I’m ashamed to say I know one or two that have.

I once read everything in this world but overcome death.:confused:

Satan rules the kingdom of darkness.

Colossians 1:13
For he has rescued us from the **dominion of darkness **and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,

The covenant thing, maybe I wasn’t understanding the definition of the word correctly, can someone explain it to me in theological terms (I’ve been to the wiki page before, but I think it just ended up confusing me)? Anyway, I’m not worried about so much if a person did have a covenant with him, because that’s nothing that Jesus can’t handle. I was more concerned with whether it’s actually possible or not.

Could one actually sell his soul to the devil, in exchange for some wordly pleasure?

I was wondering about this the other day when I heard an old rumor of a certain rock band who are said to have sold there souls to satan and in return became very famous.

One could try: but what reason would the devil have to grant anything? Anyone who chose to offer his own soul to the devil would have already committed a terrible sin, thereby putting himself into the devil’s power anyway.
In any case – What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and forfeit his eternal soul?

Theres a good explanatation in theological terms on wiki actually. Still it’s a one way contract so saying the devil promises something in return for ones soul wouldn’t make it a covenant.

Yes you could promise something to the devil and ask for nothing in return.

You cannot technically ‘sell your soul’. But you can give something up in return for something else. Typically what you give up makes you more dependent on them.

I’ve always thought that the Devil was ruler of this world in the sense that it is one of constant temptation, not in the sense that presidents and kings take orders from Beelzebub.

I think that Satan is a term for all the higher level demons. Evil doesn’t have a ruler becauses it’s always complete chaos. Satan and demons still exist because God gave us free will to choose what is right and what is wrong. SOmetimes demons are a challenge in our lives, but this only helps us learn more about life and ourselves.

You can’t sell your soul, to the devil or anyone else. It point blank tells you in Ezekiel that all souls belong to God, but nevertheless, if someone tried this, and then genuinely repented, would God turn them away? That would imply that God’s hands are tied by the devil if he couldn’t help you! I started this thread to get a good list of what the enemy can and can’t do, but I’m sure this isn’t in his power. Believe it or not, that goofball Jack Chick even gets this right!

As far as I know “sa’ tan” or satan, means “no name” or “one who has no name”. In the book of Job the devil is given this name, to show his “no-thingness” before God.

So what can and can’t the devil do?
As I understand the devil(s) cannot create anything, all they CAN do is pervert whats already there, i.e. take good things and stop them from working properly.

Just as darkness is not an entity in itself, rather it is the absence of light; so too evil is not an entity in itself, rather it is an absence of love. The more absent light is the darker it gets, the more absent love is the more evil something becomes.

The devil(s) have, by their own choice, refused to love, and so seperated themselves from God’s love for all eternity, and are “Hell bent” on doing the same to us. (pun intended)

The only authority that the devils have, is that which is given to them. Usually by Man. God made us rulers over this world and has given us His authority, by giving us the ability to “Choose” **between **right from wrong( free will); but not to choose what **is **right and wrong, that is for God to decide, this is what caused “the Fall of Man”, when we decided that we could “be like God” and thought we could choose what was good and bad. The devils manipulate us, frail human beings, into giving them control of areas of our lives and in some cases our whole selves. God permits it because He respects His word, even if we do not. If we “will” that fallen angels take control, then God respects your free will, He will not make you choose to love Him. God warns us in scripture that if we do not turn from evil, He’ll take it that this is what we want, and so turn us over to the evil ones. He takes what we do seriously, even if we do not!

St Pio (Padre Pio) said " The devil is like a dog on a chain, he can only get you when you step outside the safe zone"

The only cases of possession I know of where the person hadn’t given themselves over to be a possession of a demon, was when those with rightful authority over them did so, i.e. Parents or rightful Guardians consecrating them to the dark side.

I believe the the devil can only do what WE allow him to, and with our frail fallen nature, we probably give him a lot more than we realise. But thank God we’ve got a Savio(u)r.

Satan can do anything that God allows him do and he can not do whatever God will not allow him do.

That is a good one. Everything in this world - that is including us? don’t you think?

Yes! exactly my friend, especially us.

I always took it that he can only do what God allows him to do. Sure, we have a lot to do with it, since there can’t be a sin unless we willingly do it, but that goes back to our free will. Does that make any sense? I know what i want to say, but I can’t really type it right. It’s been a long day.

You hit the nail on the head at the end, there’s nothing he or we can do that Jesus can’t take care of. The devil is of a limited power (how limited, that was the original question), but Christ, needless to say, is unlimited in his power.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.