What if Satan or one of his demons offered you a deal? He will give you anything your heart desires—wealth, power, beauty, great skill, etc.—in this life. In exchange, he owns your soul for all eternity.
The idea of making a deal with the devil was made popular by the classic legend of Faust, a scholar who made a bargain with a demon named Mephistopheles. Many similar stories have been told around the same theme. In some of the legends, the person tricks the devil in some way, escaping the contract and getting his soul back. In others, the devil wins with deception or a double-cross.
In any case, the idea of forfeiting one’s soul in a deal with the devil is much more cultural and literary than it is biblical. The Bible never records an account of a human being bargaining with Satan or demons.
The Bible does depict the devil as a deal-maker, however. It’s just that he is shown attempting to make deals with God Himself as opposed to mere mortals. In the book of Job, for instance, Satan proposes a kind of wager with God. If God would allow Satan to cause great suffering for Job, Satan argues, Job would surely curse God to His face (Job 1:9–11). God allows that to play out with surprising results.
Much later in human history, the devil attempts to make a deal with Jesus at the end of His forty days of fasting in the wilderness. After showing Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor” (Matthew 4:9), Satan offers them all to Jesus if the Lord will bow down and worship him. Jesus sends Satan away with a rebuke from God’s Word (verse 10).
The Bible gives no support to the notion that people can make a deal with the devil, but some people have attempted to make such a bargain unilaterally, pledging themselves to Satan in hopes of receiving some special favors back from him. In a sense, that’s the nature of idolatry and genuine witchcraft as described in the Bible. When a pagan worshiper dedicated a sacrifice to his gods, he hoped for something in return—fruitful crops, victory in battle, etc. (see 2 Chronicles 28:23). When a sorcerer or witch practiced her craft, she hoped to gain special knowledge or power.
From the Bible’s perspective, making a deal with the devil would not make any sense for several reasons:
First, the Bible reveals Satan to be a liar. His greatest weapon is deception. From Eve’s conversation with the serpent (Genesis 3) to Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees as children of “the father of lies” (John 8:44), the devil is always shown taking what is true and twisting it to corrupt and destroy human beings. Anyone who would attempt a deal with such a being is a fool.
Second, while Satan may have some power as the “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2) to manipulate the circumstances of a person’s life, the Bible never shows that power as absolute—only God has absolute power. Also, the Bible always presents the devil’s power as bringing pain and destruction and corruption and death along with any fleeting success. The pleasures of sin endure only “for a season” (Hebrews 11:25, KJV), and any theoretical pact made with Satan would end in misery.
Finally, Satan cannot own human souls. All souls belong to the God who created them (Ezekiel 18:4). Hell is not Satan’s kingdom. In spite of a million jokes and stories to the contrary, Satan will not reign as master of hell, relishing his power over human souls; no, he will be sentenced to the lake of fire as a prisoner himself (Revelation 20:10).
The truth is far worse than the legend of Faust would imply. According to God’s Word, every human soul is already bound for hell. No deal with the devil has to be struck to ensure that fate. Because of our sin, our rebellion against God, we are “by nature deserving of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3). We stand “condemned already” (John 3:18). Without some change of course, our souls will end up in hell without ever having to trade them away to Satan.
We don’t need a deal with the devil—we’re already on his side—we need a deal with God Himself. We need for Him to save our souls, to change our destination. The problem is that we have nothing to offer Him in trade. He needs nothing from us (Romans 11:33–36), and all our attempts to appease His wrath through religious observance are futile (Isaiah 1:11). But the good news—the gospel—is that God loves us and has offered us a unilateral “bargain” of His own. He will save our souls, giving us everything our hearts truly desire for eternity, in exchange for nothing but our faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. In a great exchange, Jesus has appeased God’s wrath for us, taking our sin and its penalty upon Himself (1 John 4:10; 1 Peter 2:24). In Christ, God will make us alive when we were dead. He will fill our futile lives on this side of eternity with meaningful work and joyful anticipation. See Ephesians 2:1–10 to read more about this pact that God offers.