This series of lessons was adapted, with permission, to a classroom presentation format from two articles written by Bro. Bert Thompson and published in Reason and Revelation in October and November, 1998.  These articles, and much more material on this subject may be found at www.apologeticspress.org.

 

SATAN - HIS ORIGIN AND MISSION

 

Why Has Satan Arrayed Himself Against Both God and Man?

 

            In any study of Satan, the question is bound to arise:  Why has Satan established himself as God’s archenemy and man’s constant foe?  No doubt a portion of the answer can be found in the fact that he, too, once inhabited the heavenly realm, but as a result of his defiant rebellion against the great “I Am,” was cast “down to hell”:

 

II Peter 2:4 “FOR IF GOD SPARED NOT THE ANGELS THAT SINNED, BUT CAST them DOWN TO HELL, AND DELIVERED them INTO CHAINS OF DARKNESS, TO BE RESERVED UNTO JUDGMENT.”

 

Satan’s insurrection failed miserably, and that failure had dire, eternal consequences.  His obstinate attempt to usurp God’s authority cost him his position among the heavenly host and doomed him forever to everlasting punishment:

 

Jude 6 “AND THE ANGELS WHICH KEPT NOT THEIR FIRST ESTATE, BUT LEFT THEIR OWN HABITATION, HE HATH RESERVED IN EVERLASTING CHAINS UNDER DARKNESS UNTO THE JUDGMENT OF THE GREAT DAY.”

 

In the end, his rebellion gained him nothing and cost him everything, just as man’s rebellion will as well.  Regardless of the battle plan he adopted to challenge the Creator of the Universe, regardless of the battlefield he chose as his theater of war, and regardless of the strength or numbers of this army, the simple fact of the matter is that – in the most important contest of his existence – He lost and all those who allow him to influence their lives will lose as well!

            The conditions of the ultimate surrender were harsh.  Although his armies had been thoroughly overcome, although he had been completely vanquished, and although the Victor had imposed the worst kind of permanent exile, Satan was determined not to go quietly into the night.  While he had lost the war, he nevertheless planned in his vindictive nature to make life as miserable as possible for God’s most precious creation.  This reminds me of guerrilla warfare, the kind of thing our people faced in Vietnam and today in Iraq and the strike, slash, run and hide tactics found there.  The people who posed as friends, co-workers, servants or simple farmers during the most of the time dug up their weapons and struck when they thought the advantage would be in their favor.  Except their warfare was physical, Satan’s is spiritual and his objective is our minds and hearts.

 

            Satan is vindictive by nature:

 

Revelation 12:12  THEREFORE REJOICE, ye HEAVENS, AND YE THAT DWELL IN THEM.  WOE TO THE INHABITERS OF THE EARTH AND OF THE SEA!  FOR THE DEVIL IS COME DOWN UNTO YOU, HAVING GREAT WRATH, BECAUSE HE KNOWETH THAT HE HATH BUT A SHORT TIME.”

 

            Satan is in possession of cunning devices:

 

II Corinthians 2:11 “LEST SATAN SHOULD GET AN ADVANTAGE OF US: FOR WE ARE NOT IGNORANT OFHIS DEVICES.

 

            Satan is determined to be the deceiver of the whole world:

 

Revelation 12:9 “AND THE GREAT DRAGON WAS CAST OUT, THAT OLD SERPENT, CALLED THE DEVIL, AND SATAN, WHICH DECEIVETH THE WHOLE WORLD: HE WAS CAST OUT INTO THE EARTH, AND HIS ANGELS WERE CAST OUT WITH HIM.”

 

As a result he has set his face against all that is righteous and holy – and never once looked back.  His anger at having been defeated fueled his determination to strike back in revenge.

 

            But strike back at whom?  It was useless to attempt a second rebellion against God.  God’s power was too great:

 

Job 42:2 “I KNOW THAT THOU CANST DO EVERY thing, AND that NO THOUGHT CAN BE WITHHOLDEN FROM THEE.”

 

I John 4:4 “YE ARE OF GOD, LITTLE CHILDREN, AND HAVE OVERCOME THEM: BECAUSE GREATER IS HE THAT IS IN YOU, THAN HE THAT IS IN THE WORLD.”

 

Another target was needed; another place for Satan to exercise his revenge would have to be found.  And who better to serve as this target than mankind – the only creature in the universe made “IN THE IMAGE AND LIKENESS OF GOD” (Genesis 1:26-27)?  As brother Rex A. Turner, Sr. has written “Satan cannot attack God directly, thus he employs various methods to attack man, God’s master creation.”  Sweet revenge – destroying the “apple of God’s eye” and the crown of his creation!  Thus, with the creation of man, the battle was on – and has been ever since.  As Basil Overton has warned in his writings: “Satan is out to get us.  He will take advantage of us if we let him.  It is a fight to the finish!”

            It was through mankind that Satan would work his revenge – the correct emphasis here being on the word “through.”  The apostle Paul tells us:

 

Romans 5:12  “WHEREFORE, AS BY ONE MAN SIN ENTERED INTO THE WORLD, AND DEATH BY SIN; AND SO DEATH PASSED UPON ALL MEN, FOR THAT ALL HAVE SINNED:”

 

Man thus became the agent who caused sin to be in the world.  Richard Batey wrote:  “Paul’s point is rather that since the power of sin is a universal human experience (Romans 1:18-32, 3:9-23), this power must have come into the world through the representative man, Adam”

            As the “prince of this world” (John 12:31), Satan stalked about as Peter describes him:

 

I Peter 5:8 “BE SOBER, BE VIGILANT; BECAUSE YOUR ADVERSARY THE DEVIL, AS A ROARING LION, WALKETH ABOUT, SEEKING WHOM HE MAY DEVOUR:”

 

Picture him and his followers as a band of outlaws; in his parable concerning the field in which an enemy had sown tares, Jesus describes our situation as:

 

Matthew 13:38THE FIELD IS THE WORLD, THE GOOD SEED ARE THE CHILDREN OF THE KINGDOM; BUT THE TARES ARE THE CHILDREN OF THE WICKED one;” 

 

And they have worked their ruthless deceptions on mankind from the moment the serpent met mother Eve in the Garden of Eden until today.  Their goal is nothing short of the complete spiritual annihilation of all mankind which, no doubt, is why Satan personally is identified within Scripture as “king of the abyss,” the “Destroyer”

 

Revelation 9:11  “AND THEY HAD A KING OVER THEM which is THE ANGEL OF THE BOTTOMLESS PIT, WHOSE NAME IN THE HEBREW TONGUE is ABADDON, BUT IN THE GREEK TONGUE HATH his NAME APOLLYON.”

 

And the “wicked one”

 

II Corinthians 6:15 “AND WHAT CONCORD HATH CHRIST WITH BELIAL?  OR WHAT PART HATH HE THAT BELIEVETH WITH AN INFIDEL?”

 

            In his war against Heaven, Satan will stop at nothing; it is a “no holds barred/winner take all” battle.  Look, for example, at his cruel deception of Eve

 

Read Genesis 3:1-6

 

This occurrence generated both the temporal and eternal consequence of physical and spiritual death:

 

I Corinthians 15:21 “FOR SINCE BY MAN came DEATH, BY MAN came ALSO THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD.”

 

Ezekiel 18:20 “THE SOUL THAT SINNETH, IT SHALL DIE.  THE SON SHALL NOT BEAR THE INQUITY OF THE FATHER, NEITHER SHALL THE FATHER BEAR THE INIQUITY OF THE SON: THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE RIGHTEOUS SHALL BE UPON HIM, AND THE WICKEDNESS OF THE WICKED SHALL BE UPON HIM.”

 

Recall the trials, tribulations and tragedies visited upon the Old Testament patriarch, Job (Job 1-2).  Take notice of Israel’s beloved monarch, King David, being tempted and convinced to sin:

 

I Chronicles 21:1 & 7 “AND SATAN STOOD UP AGAINST ISRAEL, AND PROVOKED DAVID TO NUMBER ISRAEL.”  “AND GOD WAS DISPLEASED WITH THIS THING; THEREFORE HE SMOTE ISRAEL.”

 

Remember the devil as the adversary of Joshua the High Priest:

 

Zechariah 3:1 “AND HE SHOWED ME JOSHUA THE HIGH PRIEST STANDING BEFORE THE ANGEL OF THE LORD, AND SATAN STANDING AT HIS RIGHT HAND TO RESIST HIM.”

 

Paul was no stranger to the devil - he was the source of his thorn in the flesh:

 

II Corinthians 12:7 “AND LEST I SHOULD BE EXALTED ABOVE MEASURE THROUGH THE ABUNDANCE OF THE REVELATIONS, THERE WAS GIVEN TO ME A THORN IN THE FLESH, THE MESSENGER OF SATAN TO BUFFET ME, LEST I SHOULD BE EXHALTED ABOVE MEASURE.”

 

And he hindered Paul’s missionary efforts:

 

I Thessalonians 2:18 “WHEREFORE WE WOULD HAVE COME UNTO YOU, EVEN I PAUL, ONCE AND AGAIN; BUT SATAN HINDERED US.”

 

Look at the results of Satan persuading Ananias to lie to the Godhead:

 

Acts 5:3  “BUT PETER SAID, ANANIAS, WHY HATH SATAN FILLED THINE HEART TO LIE TO THE HOLY GHOST, AND TO KEEP BACK part OF THE PRICE OF THE LAND?”

 

And because Ananias and his wife were struck dead:

 

“AND GREAT FEAR CAME UPON ALL THE CHURCH, AND UPON AS MANY AS HEARD THESE THINGS.” Acts 5:11

 

And we see the sadness indeed of Satan’s ability to convince Judas to betray his Lord and our Saviour:

 

John 13:2 “AND SUPPER BEING ENDED, THE DEVIL HAVING NOW PUT INTO THE HEART OF JUDAS ISCARIOT, SIMON’S son, TO BETRAY HIM.”

 

even Christ referred to this apostle, one of his closest followers as “the devil”:

 

John 6:70  JESUS ANSWERED THEM, HAVE I NOT CHOSEN YOU TWELVE, AND ONE OF YOU IS A DEVIL?”

 

            Just think if the disaster to mankind of Satan have been able to tempt Jesus to sin when he tempted Him in the wilderness so many years ago.  (Matthew 4:1-11)  Had Jesus yielded, there would have remained “no more sacrifice for sin:

 

Hebrews 10:26 “FOR IF WE SIN WILLFULLY AFTER THAT WE HAVE RECEIVED THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH, THERE REMAINETH NO MORE SACRIFICE FOR SINS,”

 

and mankind would have been doomed – destined forever to inhabit the:

 

 “RAGING WAVES OF THE SEA, FOAMING OUT THEIR OWN SHAME; WANDERING STARS, TO WHOM IS RESERVED THE BLACKNESS OF DARKNESS FOR EVER.” as Jude describes in Jude 13

 

and those will have to live with the adversary forever, but, more important - they will be separated from God.

 

            Make no mistake about it.  Satan has arrayed himself against both God and man.  He is God’s arch enemy and man’s constant foe.  Nothing short of a hell filled with every single member of the human race will satisfy him.  He is indeed The Enemy.  Back to Jesus’ parable of the tares:

 

Matthew 13:39 THE ENEMY THAT SOWED THEM IS THE DEVIL; THE HARVEST IS THE END OF THE WORLD; AND THE REAPERS ARE THE ANGELS.”

 

WHY HAS GOD ALLOWED SATAN TO CONTINUE TO EXIST?

 

            As we study this enemy, another question comes to mind:  Why has God allowed Satan to continue to exist?  Since he is numbered within the pages of Scripture as a “murderer”

 

John 8:44 YE ARE OF your FATHER THE DEVIL, AND THE LUSTS OF YOUR FATHER YE WILL DO.  HE WAS A MURDERER FROM THE BEGINNING, AND ABODE NOT IN THE TRUTH, BECAUSE THERE IS NO TRUTH IN HIM.  WHEN HE SPEAKETH A LIE, HE SPEAKETH OF HIS OWN: FOR HE IS A LIAR, AND THE FATHER OF IT.”

 

Why not simply sentence him with the punishment reserved for all murderers since God gave Israel their first law?

 

Numbers 35:16 “AND IF HE SMITE HIM WITH AN INSTRUMENT OF IRON, SO THAT HE DIE, HE is A MURDERER: THE MURDERER SHALL SURELY BE PUT TO DEATH.”

 

What possible justification could God have for allowing one so wicked to continue to live?

 

            The answer, I am convinced, has to do with the nature of God, and the nature of the spirit beings (angels) that He created.  There is a clue regarding this point in:

 

Luke 20:33-36 “THEREFORE IN THE RESURRECTION WHOSE WIFE OF THEM IS SHE? FOR SEVEN HAD HER TO WIFE.  AND JESUS ANSWERING SAID UNTO THEM, THE CHILDREN OF THIS WORLD MARRY, AND ARE GIVEN IN MARRIAGE: BUT THEY WHICH SHALL BE ACCOUNTED WORTHY TO OBTAIN THAT WORLD, AND THE RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD, NEITHER MARRY, NOR ARE GIVEN IN MARRIAGE: NEITHER CAN THEY DIE ANY MORE: FOR THEY ARE EQUAL UNTO THE ANGELS; AND ARE THE CHILDREN OF GOD, BEING THE CHILDREN OF THE RESURRECTION.”

 

Within this passage, Jesus spoke of the righteous who one day would inhabit heaven, and stated that “NEITHER CAN THEY DIE ANY MORE, FOR THEY ARE EQUAL UNTO THE ANGELS.”

 

            If righteous humans who will inhabit heaven cannot die and if they are equal to the angels; then it follows logically that angels cannot die.  While the Godhead is eternal, humans and angels are immortal.  As Douglas Kelly correctly observed, angels (and this would certainly include Satan prior to his fall) “are immortal, but only the Triune God is eternal.”

 

            In his excellent, thought-provoking work, Systematic Theology,  Rex A. Turner addressed this issue in this manner:

 

Why did God not destroy Satan when he sinned?  Why let Satan continue to exist and influence others to sin?  The answer here lies in God’s nature – his eternal nature which he has passed on to angels as well as to man – for there will never be a time when the spirits or angels, the evil as well as the good, will cease to exist.  Punishments and prescribed limits have been passed upon evil spirits, and the more will be passed upon them, but they will always exist.

 

Scripture describes angelic beings as immortal; thus, they – whether righteous or sinful – never will cease to exist.  However, there may be more to Satan’s continued existence than simply the angel’s immortal nature.  In addressing the question of exactly why Satan continues, Lloyd Ecrement has suggested the following:

 

Perhaps the reason might well be expressed in the words the Lord asked Moses to say to wicked Pharaoh:

 

Exodus 9:15-16 “FOR NOW I WILL STRETCH OUT MY HAND THAT I MAY SMITE THEE AND THY PEOPLE WITH PESTILENCE; AND THOU SHALT BE CUT OFF FROM THE EARTH.  AND IN VERY DEED FOR THIS cause HAVE I RAISED THEE UP, FOR TO SHOW in THEE MY POWER; AND THAT MY NAME BE DECLARED THROUGHOUT ALL THE EARTH.”

 

            Indeed from a purely human vantage point, the continuation of evil – even for a brief period – generally is not viewed as either desirable or ideal.  But, as T. Pierce Brown has proposed, God may have “allowed Satan to retain his power, temporarily, until he is through using him to test and purify a people for his ultimate glory.”  Certainly God’s glory was exemplified by mankind’s creation because Isaiah tell us:

 

Isaiah 43:7Even EVERY ONE THAT IS CALLED BY MY NAME: FOR I HAVE CREATED HIM FOR MY GLORY, I HAVE FORMED HIM; YEA, I HAVE MADE HIM.”

 

            In John 9, is the record of a man who had been born blind.  When Jesus disciples inquired as to the reason for his predicament, He responded as follows:

 

John 9:1-3 “AND AS Jesus PASSED BY, HE SAW A MAN WHICH WAS BLIND FROM his BIRTH.  AND HIS DISCIPLES ASKED HIM, SAYING, MASTER, WHO DID SIN, THIS MAN, OR HIS PARENTS, THAT HE WAS BORN BLIND?  JESUS ANSWERED, NEITHER HATH THIS MAN SINNED, NOR HIS PARENTS: FOR THAT THE WORKS OF GOD SHOULD BE MADE MANIFEST IN HIM.”

 

What all this entails, we may not profess to know, realizing that as Moses writes:

 

Deuteromony 29:29 “THE SECRET things belong UNTO THE LORD OUR GOD: BUT THOSE things which are REVEALED belong UNTO US AND TO OUR CHILDREN FOR EVER; THAT we MAY DO ALL THE WORDS OF THIS LAW.”

 

But the scriptures do reveal enough information for us to conclude that Satan’s continued existence follows logically from the immortal nature of angelic beings.  They also reveal that the devil’s existence is not contrary to Heaven’s eternal plan, since at times he was used by God to manifest his power and give mankind a witness of the working of God amidst His creation.  He has also been allowed to continue to provide God with a tool to test and try our faith that we through these exercises might be made stronger.