What Is Man, Part 5

Since I’ve introduced the person of Satan as the instigator of all of man’s problems with sin, it might be a good idea to deal with this Prince of Darkness. Even though the study of Satan is separate from that of man, because the influence of Satan on man is so obvious, knowing a little about our adversary would be helpful.

Probably the best non-Biblical observation on the Devil’s character comes his own mouth in Milton’s Paradise Lost:

Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven.

Of course, only the Devil would so arrogant as to say such a thing, but that single sentence gives an accurate sidelight on the essential attitude of the Devil. But there is an abundance of information in the Bible about him that Christians should know about. And it’s vitally important to know as much about the Devil as possible. Sun Tzu observed in The Art of War,

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

One of the reasons why so many believers struggle against the Devil and why spiritual victories seem few and far between is simply a matter of ignorance. As Sun Tzu wrote, a victorious fighter knows both himself and his enemy.

Origins

Where did the Devil come from, anyway? God certainly didn’t create him; that would go against God’s nature. Besides, there are verses like these that prove God could not have created Satan:

I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he. (Deuteronomy 32:3, 4 | TNIV)

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone…. (James 1:13 | TNIV)

As far as what the Bible says about the origin of Satan, or the Devil, there are two main sources found in the writings of the prophets.

How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit. (Isaiah 14:12 – 15 | TNIV)

Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ” ‘You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: carnelian, chrysolite and emerald, topaz, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings. By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries. So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. All the nations who knew you are appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more. ‘ “. (Ezekiel 28:12 – 19 | TNIV)

If you take the time to read both of those references in context, you’ll notice that in neither case is the Devil being addressed directly. In fact, two earthly kings, of Babylon and of Tyre, are being addressed. It’s obvious, though, that while the prophets were dealing with two earthly kings, their words went beyond those two kings to speak of something else. The background of the kings of Babylon and Tyre would be helpful. Both were proud, arrogant rulers who demanded complete loyalty from their citizens and that they be worshipped as gods. God, speaking through His prophets, was warning these kings by showing them how He treated the blasphemous pride of His own angel. If Lucifer, the greatest angel ever created by God, was punished for blasphemy, how could these kings think they would get away with it?

Lucifer, the beautiful angel became Satan, a word that means “the adversary.” Primarily, Satan is God’s adversary, yet he is also our adversary by extension. The picture of Satan as a hideous demonic-looking creature with horns, cloven hooves, a long tail, holding a pitchfork, could not be further from what he appears like.

And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. (2 Corinthians 11:14, 15 | TNIV)

And so Lucifer was cast out of Heaven to the earth, along with all the angels that sided with him.

Now, you may wonder where the name “Lucifer” came from. It’s only found in the KJV’s translation of Isaiah 14:12 –

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

Modern translations, like the TNIV, don’t see “Lucifer” as a proper name. It’s a word that simply means “morning star” or “day star.”

Satan’s character

The most information we have as to Satan’s character comes from his various names. As I stated earlier, the word “Satan” means “adversary.” That’s a very apt name because it describes his essential character. Satan is one who opposes God; he stands in opposition to everything God wants. From the beginning, in the Garden for example, Satan was against God’s plan of redemption. This is hinted at with Genesis 3:15 –

From now on you and the woman will be enemies, as will your offspring and hers. You will strike his heel, but he will crush your head.”. (TLB)

That’s the Lord pronouncing a curse of the serpent, but ultimately the curse finds it mark. Satan will attempt to destroy Jesus Christ (the “offspring” of the woman here) but will fail. But even before history gets around to Jesus, we can see Satan attempting to corrupt the whole family of Adam and Eve, through which the final “offspring” of the woman would come. Cain killed a brother. Seth would produce the line that would result in the birth of mankind’s deliverer. He was godly, but even he eventually became corrupt. In fact, by the time of Noah, many generations on from Adam and Eve, the whole population of the earth had been engulfed in sin and moral depravity. Only Noah and his family remained untainted by sin. One family out of many. But it was Satan’s doing; in corrupting the whole human race, he had hoped to thwart God’s plan to save it. He was determined to make it impossible for God to fulfill His promise to send a deliverer.

Noah’s son, Shem, would become Abraham’s ancestor, from whom would descend God’s chosen people, through whom God would save the world. It’s astounding to study the history of Israel. It’s the history of one persecution after another. This is true today, and it was sure true in the Old Testament. Ishmael opposed Isaac, Esau tried to kill Jacob, and Pharaoh enslaved the Hebrews.

Satan is also determined to destroy another chosen people, the Church of Jesus Christ. He does this via:

False teachers within the church –

But the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some in the church will turn away from Christ and become eager followers of teachers with devil-inspired ideas. These teachers will tell lies with straight faces and do it so often that their consciences won’t even bother them. (1 Timothy 4:1, 2 | TLB)

Persecution from outside the church –

Stop being afraid of what you are about to suffer-for the devil will soon throw some of you into prison to test you. You will be persecuted for ‘ten days.’ Remain faithful even when facing death and I will give you the crown of life-an unending, glorious future. (Revelation 2:10 | TLB)

The Devil means “slanderer,” and he certainly does slander God and God’s people. He slandered God in the Garden and all you have to do look around at what secular America thinks about born again Christians and the evangelical church to know that he spreads lies about us.

In Revelation 9:11, Satan is referred to as Appollyon and Abbadon (Greek and Hebrew words), which are words that mean “destroyer.” This is another aspect of his character: The Devil exists to destroy everything God has done and to destroy God’s people, the Jews and the Church.

Also in Revelation 12:9, Satan is called the serpent. Not only does this bring our minds back to what he did in the Garden, but what comes into your mind when you think about a snake or a serpent? I suspect nothing good!

In a couple of places in the New Testament, Satan is referred to as “the god of this world.”

The time of judgment for the world has come-and the time when Satan, the prince of this world, shall be cast out. (John 12:31 | TLB)

If the Good News we preach is hidden to anyone, it is hidden from the one who is on the road to eternal death.  Satan, who is the god of this evil world, has made him blind, unable to see the glorious light of the Gospel that is shining upon him or to understand the amazing message we preach about the glory of Christ, who is God. (2 Corinthians 4:3, 4 | TLB)

Satan holds sway over most of the world, making sure most people live lives outside of God’s will. That there are wars, poverty, corruption, and other nasty things in abundance, proves how evil and potentially dangerous the world is to man, and especially to believers.

We know that we are children of God and that all the rest of the world around us is under Satan’s power and control. (1 John 5:19 | TLB)

It’s understandable that Satan hates God so much, but why does he hate man so much? In particular, why does Satan hate Christians so much? He hates the image of God in all human beings. Satan’s domain is the Earth and he is surrounded by creatures that look like God, the Person responsible for his exile. He hates the destiny of man, because man is destined for eternal bliss and happiness, something Satan can never know. The Devil hates us for a thousand reasons and he is so envious all human beings.

An ancient Jewish thinker wrote this:

But for the envy of the devil, death came into the world, and they that follow him are on his side.

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