How Do I Talk to My Children about the Devil?

Woman being tempted to do evil

How Do I Talk to My Children about the Devil?

Every great story has a villain. From Scar in the Lion King to the Joker in Batman, we almost always see the bad guy being defeated. God’s story is no different, except it’s not fiction, and the bad guy is no match for Him.

The devil’s unchangeable fate is destruction. How exactly do we tell our kids about him, though? Should we wait until they’re older? Will it scare them? Those are valid questions, and thankfully this doesn’t have to be an overwhelming conversation. Here are a few ways to tell your children about the villain in God’s story.

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<strong>Bust the Myths</strong>

Bust the Myths

If I imagine telling my children, especially the younger ones, about a red guy with horns and a pitch fork, it makes me feel a little uneasy. I’d rather spare them the nightmares. And that’s not how Satan looks anyway.

In Ezekiel 28:13-15 he’s described as an anointed cherub, a type of angel created by God, who was perfect in his ways until he sinned. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 11:14 that he now disguises himself as an angel of light.

When Satan wants to influence our lives and lead us astray, he won’t appear as a monster that would terrify even the least spiritual person. Instead, he shows up deceptively disguising himself as whatever will distract us from keeping our eyes on God.

So how do we share that with our children? We tell them the true story. He was once a key figure in heaven, but pride led him to seek elevation above God. We can give our kids the basics of the story without describing a horrific being.

Ezekiel 28:17 says about him, “Your heart became proud because of your beauty; For the sake of your splendor you corrupted your wisdom. So I threw you down to the ground; I made you a spectacle before kings” (CSB).

He wasn’t ugly or scary from the start. He was beautiful, and his attempts to tempt us often come through the things we find beautiful.

Remind your children that God has so much in store for them—success, education, companionship and so on. The enemy wants us to pursue those things apart from God, but the results are so much better when we wait on Him.

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silhouette of cross against sunset background, expiation and propitiation

Focus on the Good

One of the best ways to describe something, to a child or anyone, is to explain what it’s not. My husband and I talk to our children about the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5) and the types of things that please God. We don’t spend a lot of time talking about the devil, but when they ask questions we contrast him with goodness.

For example, God wants us to be loving and honest. The devil showed that he is unloving and dishonest. God wants us to worship Him. The devil wants us to worship him instead. When we describe him in terms of how he’s against the will of God, our kids can see the larger picture of Christianity and insert themselves in the story. They learn that to be fruitful is to be like Jesus, and to be unfruitful is to be like the one who tried to tempt Jesus (Matthew 4).

Believe it or not, if you start talking about these things with your children at a young age, it’ll become part of their normal conversation and won’t feel like a taboo topic. Last week my seven-year-old was watching a cartoon and came to tell me one of the characters on the show wasn’t being fruitful. I laughed at first because it’s sort of a funny thing to hear a kid say that about a cartoon, but then I realized the culture God is allowing us to create in our home! He wasn’t making a joke. He was discerning ungodly behavior.

Just know that even through the hustle and bustle and the days when you wonder if you’re teaching them the right things, they are listening. Even with older children, there are ways to make sure the word of God is the standard in your home. We all miss the mark at times, but keep talking about it, praying about it and living it. The more we magnify Jesus, the less scary the devil becomes.

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Spoil the Ending

Jesus wins! And we win in Him! Any and every time you’re talking to your children about the devil, tell the ending. Let them know that while Satan is able to influence and lead people astray right now, this won’t always be the case. His time is finite. There’s a final battle (Revelation 19 and 20), and Jesus is the victor!

The book of Revelation is full of imagery and symbolism that even scholars don’t fully understand, so don’t feel like you have to explain it all to your children. The bottom line is: we are victorious in Christ.

For children who are old enough to grasp it, share with them the schemes of the devil in Genesis 3 and Matthew 4. His methods aren’t new. He wants us to question the word of God. We have nothing to worry about when we stay in God’s truth and live out His love.

Oftentimes people refrain from talking about Satan, partly because of the mysteries surrounding him and partly because there’s an unspoken fear about his character. However, 1 John 4:18 tells us, “There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears is not complete in love” (CSB).

While the devil doesn’t need to be the focus of most of your conversations, it’s okay to discuss him in light of his disobedience, his opposition to God and his ultimate destruction. Let’s ask God to show us the way. He will make us complete in love as we abide in Him. In Him we can conquer any fear that keeps us from teaching our children the full picture of Christianity. Remember, we are victorious.

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Jasmine Williams Headshot SizedJasmine Williams, founder of Built To Be, is an agent of change with a passion for Jesus and a love for family. As a wife, mom of four, homeschooler and seminary student, she knows the challenges and rewards of living purposefully for God even through life’s busy seasons. 

Jasmine is pursuing her M.A. in Biblical Studies and seeks to inspire parents to embrace their homes as places of ministry, where they welcome God’s presence and raise children to be disciples of Christ. Visit her website, builttobe.com, and connect with her on Facebook for more encouragement.