SATAN-HIS ORIGIN, WORK, AND DESTINY
No believer in the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures can doubt the existence of a personal devil. The reality of such a being is stamped indelibly on the pages of Holy Writ. "We cannot deny the personality of Satan, except upon principles which would compel us to deny the existence of angels, the personality of the Holy Spirit, and the personality of God the Father" (Strong, Systematic Theology, p. 223).
I. THE ORIGIN OF SATAN
The existence of a wicked being such as Satan is, in view of our belief in God as being infinitely holy and yet the creator of all other things, presents this inescapable question: How are we to account for his existence?
1. SATAN A FALLEN ANGEL.
(1) He is of the Same Nature as Angels.
The works ascribed to the devil make it impossible for us to conceive of him as being other than incorporeal. If he were material he would be limited by space; and therefore, could not carry on the universal works of wickedness ascribed to him in the Bible.
(2) He is the Leader of Certain Angels.
(3) A Common Destiny Awaits Satan and These Angels.
We conclude that these angels of which Satan is the leader and whose punishment he shall share are the fallen angels mentioned by Peter and Jude. It seems clear, then, that Satan himself is a fallen angel.
The statement in John 3:44 to the effect that the devil "was a murderer from the beginning" need not be taken as standing in necessary conflict with the foregoing. The expression "from the beginning" need not be taken as referring to the beginning of the devil's existence. It may, and we think does, refer to the beginning of human history.
2. ACCOUNTS OF SATAN'S FALL.
We believe we have in the Scripture two fragmentary accounts of Satan's fall. We refer to Ezek. 28:12-18 and Isa. 14:12-17.
The first of these passages was addressed to the King of Tyre. The second one was addressed to the King of Babylon. In both of them, but more especially in the first, some of the language is too strong to apply to any man. We believe that these passages, like much other prophecy, have a double reference. This is true of some of the prophecies concerning the regathering of Israel. Their immediate reference is to the return of Israel after the seventy years of captivity in Babylon. But they have also a clear ultimate reference to the final regathering of dispersed Israel at the end of this age. In Matt. 24:4-51 we have a double reference marvelously wrought together. The reason for this double reference is that the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A. D. was a type of the final siege of Jerusalem just preceding the second advent of Christ to the earth to judge the world and set up His millennial reign. And, no doubt, the reason for the double reference in the passages we are considering from Ezekiel and Isaiah is that the kings of Tyre and Babylon were taken as types of "the man of sin" (2 Thess 2:3,4), the "beast" of Revelation (Rev. 13 and 17), who will be but a tool in the hands of Satan. Therefore the words of the prophets look beyond these kings to the dominating power back of them; thus addressing Satan through his representatives. We have other instances where Satan is thus addressed. In Gen. 3:15 Satan is addressed through the serpent, his tool. And in Matt. 16:22, 23 Satan is addressed through Peter in whom Christ sensed the spirit of Satan.
(1) References to Satan in His Unfallen Condition.
"Thou sealest up the sum (or measure), full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. Thou wast in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, the topaz, and the diamond, the beryl the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was in thee: in the day that thou wast created they were prepared. Thou wast the anointed cherub that covereth: and I set thee so, so that thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till unrighteousness was found in thee" (Ezek. 28-12-15).
"By the abundance of thy traffic they filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore have I cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God; and I have destroyed thee, 0 covering cherub, from the midst of stones of fire. Thy heart was lifted up because of thy beauty; thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I have cast thee to the ground; I have laid thee before kings, that they may behold thee. By the multitude of thine iniquities, in the unrighteousness of thy traffic, thou hast profaned thy sanctuaries; therefore have I brought forth a fire from the midst of thee; it hath devoured thee, and I have turned thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee." (Ezek 28:16-18).
"How art thou fallen from heaven, 0 Day-star, son of the morning! How are thou cut down to the ground, that didst lay low the nations! And thou saidst in thy heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; and I will sit upon the mount of the congregation, in the uttermost parts of the North; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to Sheol, to the uttermost parts of the pit. They that see thee shall gaze at thee, they shall consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; that made the world a wilderness, and overthrew the cities thereof; then let not loose his prisoners to their home" (Isa. 14-12-17).
From these two accounts it seems clear that Satan fell through pride. This is also in harmony with the following Scriptures:
"The bishop therefore must be without reproach . . . not a novice, lest being puffed up he fall into the condemnation of the devil" (1 Tim. 3:2,6).
From Ezekiel we understand that Satan held a very high place among the angels in his unfallen state. "Thou wast the anointed cherub that covereth: and I have set thee so; thou wast upon the holy mountain of God." Notice that he was not "an anointed cherub," but "the anointed cherub." "Anointed" means set apart as a priest to the service of God. "The anointed cherub that covereth" probably alludes to the cherubim that covered the mercy seat in the temple with their wings (Ex. 37:9). This seems to indicate that the devil was the leader of angelic worship. He probably occupied the place which is now occupied by Michael, the archangel
II. THE WORK OF SATAN
1. ORIGINATED SIN IN THE UNIVERSE.
The foregoing Scriptures, which give a veiled account of Satan's fall, point us to the earliest account of sin that we have in the Bible. We know that Satan fell before man did, for Satan solicited man to sin. "Sin was not a creation but an origination. It came into existence by the aid of that which had prior existence, namely, personality and the power of free choice. God created this being not as the Devil, but as a holy angel, who originated sin through disobedience and transformed himself into the wicked devil which he is today" (Bancroft, Elemental Theology).
2. INTRODUCED SIN INTO THE HUMAN FAMILY.
Gen. 3:1-16. There is a close connection between what we have noted from Isaiah concerning the devil and his method of seducing Eve. Satan was cast out of Heaven because he said, "I will make myself like the Most High." He deceived Eve by telling her that instead of dying as result of eating the forbidden fruit, she would become "as God, knowing good and evil"
3. POSSESSES AND CONTROLS THE WORLD.
Job 9:24; Matt. 4:8,9; John 12:31; 14:80; 16:11; 2 Cor. 4:8,4; Eph. 6:12. God owns the world (Psa. 24:1), but, as we read in Job 9:24, the world has been "given into the hand" of Satan temporarily; and Satan dominates it, subject to such limitations as God is pleased to impose. See Psa. 76:10.
"Job 1:6,9; 2:3-5; Rev. 12:9,10. "Devil" means "accuser" or "slanderer."
5. ALSO TESTS, HINDERS, RESISTS, AND BUFFETS THEM.
Luke 22:31; 1 Thess. 2:18; Zech. 3:1; 2 Cor. 12:7.
6. SEEKS TO OPPOSE AND HINDER THE WORK OF GOD.
7. TEMPTS, ENSNARES, AND LEADS MEN INTO EVIL.
1 Chron. 21:1; Matt. 4:1-9; John 13:2,27; Acts 5:3.
8. CONTROLS AND BLINDS THE LOST.
John 8:44; 12:37-40; Acts 26:18; 2 Cor. 4:4; 2 Tim. 2:26. The blinding in 2 Cor. 4:4 and that in John 12:37-40 are the same. Its immediate cause is the depravity of the carnal nature. The devil is said to be the author of this blindness because he is the author of sin. In the latter passage it is ascribed to God because it is by God's permissive will that the devil was allowed to bring sin into the world. For a further discussion of this blinding see chapter on the free agency of man.
Luke 13:16; Acts 10:38.
10. HAS THE POWER OF DEATH.
But, thanks be unto God, all the work of Satan is overruled by the omnipotence and omniscience of God and made to work ultimately for God's glory and the good of the saints. See Psa. 76:10; Rom. 15:31; 2 Cor. 12:7; Eph. 1:11.
In Peter's fall we have an excellent example of how God is glorified and the saints benefited even through the temptations of the devil that actually produce sin in the lives of saints. Peter's experience in denying Christ made a different man out of him. At the trial of Jesus he cowered before a little maiden. But on Pentecost he faced the multitude of the crucifiers of Christ with burning words of condemnation. Peter's fall took away his self-confidence. Thus, Satan, seeking the complete downfall of Peter, as he had that of Job, but sifted out the chaff and left the wheat. We can see also that Satan's afflictions brought greater blessings to Job in the end.
III. THE DESTINY OF SATAN
The common notion that Satan is now in hell is not correct. The same is true of the idea that Satan shall ever be in hell as the one who inflicts torment on others. He will be cast into hell to be tormented. He now inhabits the heavenlies (Eph. 6:11,12), has access to God (Job 1:6), and is active upon the earth (Job 1:7; 1 Pet. 5:8). But finally Satan will be cast into hell.
We have already noted that hell has been prepared for the devil and his angels. In the following Scripture we have the account of how he will be cast into hell:
"And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where are also the beast and the false prophet; and they shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever" (Rev. 20:10).
This is to take place at the end of the "little season" during which Satan is to be loosed again after the millennium. The beast and the false prophet are to be cast into the lake of fire preceding the millennium (Rev. 19:20).