What we must know about Satan

The one known to us as Satan is a creature in rebellion against the Creator. The cause behind Satan’s rebellion is not strange to us. It is a strikingly common human characteristic and the cause behind many problems among people. Back to this in a moment.

First we must know that Satan is only a creature. This means that he falls under the sovereign rule of God. Regarding Satan’s activity, God essentially says, “This far and no more.” Satan is leashed and only God extends his leash.

The mystery in this apparent tension between the activity of Satan and the sovereignty of God is found in the severe trials that fell on the godly man named Job (Job 1,2).

Acting on permission from God, Satan attacked Job by using a combination of human malice (the Chaldeans and Sabeans attacked) and natural disaster (the fire of God fell from the heavens; a mighty wind swept in). Yet he acted only on God’s permission. And to take matters to another level, when Satan finished his attack, God took responsibility saying to Satan, “although you incited me against him (Job) to ruin him without any reason” (Job 2:3).

It is equally notable that Job himself did not attribute his calamity to secondary causes. In worship, he said, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away,” “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (1:21; 2:10).

We must understand this truth about Satan being a mere creature in rebellion against his creator. Although Satan hopes to take the place of God, the word of the Lord is clear, “I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God” (Isaiah 45:5).

Of course, like many other delusional people, Satan believes the version of himself that he has sold to himself. This takes us back to the cause behind his rebellion.

The only explicit reference to the sin that occasioned Satan’s rebellion and fall from his Creator is found in a qualification list for Church leaders. There we learn that an elder of the Church is not to be “a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil” (I Timothy 3:6, NASB).

Conceit is the original sin behind original sin. It is thinking too highly of oneself. Conceit is a pervasively global reality that stands behind countless tragic consequences throughout human history.

Conceit: ”Typhos”- cloud/smoke, to becloud, to be puffed up with an inflated view of oneself. Conceit is a nurtured focus on self that results in a violation of Romans 12:3 (thinking more highly of oneself than one ought). The original sin is conceit!

“Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm, but the harm does not interest them … or they do not see it, or they justify it … because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves” (T. S. Eliot ).

Have you ever thought of conceit as a Satanic characteristic? Would you think of a conceited person as being Satanic? Perhaps we’ve been looking for the devil in the wrong places!

This makes the warning of Scripture all the more urgent:

  • “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment…” (Romans 12:3).
  • “For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Galatians 6:3).
  • “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty’” (Luke 17:10).

Steve Cornell

A closer look at weakness

In his recent book, “Weakness is the way,” Dr. J. I. packer suggested that, “God does not allow us to stay with the idea that we are strong. O, we may have that idea. But the Lord is going to disabuse us of it one way or another and it will be good for us and give glory to Him when he does so.”  (J. I. Packer).

What do we mean by “weak”?

  • Depleted (during and after a sickness or some great emotional struggle)
  • Inferior
  • Inadequate
  • Insufficient
  • Lacking strength
  • Lacking resources
  • Inept, languid, powerless, feeble, vulnerable

Weakness is likely considered a defect to an otherwise good condition. Weakness can be 

  • a feeling
  • a condition
  • a position

We use the word in common ways:

  • “She is a weak person.”
  • “I have a real weakness for….”
  • “I was caught in a moment of weakness.”
  • “Their team has few weaknesses.”

When asked to fill out a reference form, we’re often requested to list the strengths and weaknesses of the individual.

Scriptures on weakness

  • Matthew 26:41 “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
  • I Corinthians 1:27 “God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”
  • Romans 8:31  “the Spirit helps us in our weakness”
  • Romans 14:1 “weak in faith”
  • I Corinthians 11:30 “That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.”
  • I Corinthians 15:43 “sown in weakness, it is raised in power;”
  • Romans 15:1 “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.”
  • I Thessalonians 5:14 “we urge you, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak…”
  • Acts 20:35  “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
  • Hebrews 4:15 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” 

Scriptures on strength

  • Joshua 1:5-6 – “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people…” 1:7 – “Be strong and very courageous” 1:9 – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
  • Ephesians 6:10 – “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”
  • II Timothy 2:1 – “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”
  • Isaiah 40:29-31 “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
  • Isaiah 41:10 – “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you”
  • Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
  • II Timothy 4:16-17 – “At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength.”
  • Ephesians 3:16 – “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being”
  • Psalm 46:1 – “God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.”

Key text: II Corinthians 12:7-10

“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (II Corinthians 12:7-10).

A basic spiritual principle
-
Spiritual power is experienced from a position of trust and dependence on the living God (Deuteronomy 8:3-5; Psalm 62:8;Proverbs 3:5-6).
-

The turning point: vv.9-10 

“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 

  • Move from passive resignation  (accepting what must be)
  • To active acceptance of God’s plan for giving strength and power through weakness.

Question:

What difference in perspective, attitude and emotion occurs when we exchange a mind-set of passive resignation for one of active acceptance?

Paul recognized the outcome – “so that Christ’s power may rest on me,” or “pitch its tent over me.” Then, in verse 10, he notches it up by offering an expanded list of afflictions: “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.”

  • Did his circumstances change? Apparently not.
  • But the way he understood them changed and he received the answer he desired.
  • Was the thorn removed? No.
  • But sustaining grace and increased power turns thorns of Satan into thorns of grace.
  • His agonizing prayer was essentially: “How can I possibly continue with this thorn of affliction?” Answer: “See it as a thorn of grace that brings increased grace and increased power from Christ!”
  • How we choose to see things profoundly affects our perseverance.
  • One’s perspective can strengthen or diminish endurance.
  • We grow weary when we lose perspective in our trials. 

Earlier thought from Dr. Packer

“When we walk along a clear road feeling fine, and someone takes our arm to help us, as likely as not we shall impatiently shake him off; but when we are caught in rough country in the dark, with a storm getting up and our strength spent, and someone takes our arms to help us, we shall thankfully lean on him. And God wants us to feel that our way through life is rough and perplexing, so that we may learn thankfully to lean on him. Therefore he takes steps to drive us out of self-confidence to trust in himself.
-

How does God accomplish this purpose? 

“Not by shielding us from assault by the world, the flesh and the devil, nor by protecting us from burdensome and frustrating circumstances, nor yet by shielding us from troubles created by our own temperament and psychology; but rather by exposing us to all these things, so as to overwhelm us with a sense of our own inadequacy, and to drive us to cling to him more closely. This is the ultimate reason, from our standpoint, why God fills our lives with troubles and perplexities of one sort and another — it is to ensure that we shall learn to hold him fast”  (quotes above from, J. I. Packer, Knowing God).
-
Steve Cornell

What do we know about satan?

“Men don’t believe in a devil now, As their fathers used to do; They reject one creed because it’s old For another because it’s new. If the devil is voted not to be, Is the verdict, therefore, true? Someone is surely doing the work The devil was thought to do. They may say the devil has never lived, They may say the devil is gone; But simple people would like to know Who carries the business on?” (G. Campbell Morgan)

 Giving the Devil his due
-
  • Jesus taught his followers to pray (perhaps daily): “deliver us from the Evil one” (Matt. 6:13)
  • Jesus prayed for His followers – “keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15).
  • The apostle Paul warned believers to: “put on the whole armor of God” Why? So that they could, “…take their stand against the devils schemes” (Ephesians 6:11).
  • In Ephesians 6, believers were instructed to: “…take up the shield of faith” Why? So that they could, “…extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”
  • What did the apostle Peter teach? “Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour. Take a firm stand against him, and be strong in your faith” ( I Peter 5:8,9, NLT).

Satan looks for unsuspecting victims. Be sober! Don’t drop your guard! Don’t under estimate the enemy! We must be informed about the evil one.

A. The origin and fall of Satan:

1. The origin of Satan: Satan originally belonged to the highest rank of angels. Satan was a guardian cherub, belonging to the group of cherubim angels.  The cherubim are those angels with closest access to God (Ex. 25:18-22; Ez. 28:14; 10:1-22; Rev. 4:6-8).  The cherubim had the occupation of guarding God=s holiness.  See also: Jude 9.

a. Ezekiel 28:11-15: The anointed Cherub.

In the above passage the prophet Ezekiel is pronouncing judgment on the King of Tyre. In the first ten verses of the chapter the prophet refers to him as the ruler of Tyre (28:1).  There is an obvious change of content in verses 11-19 where the prophet speaks the word of the Lord to the King of Tyre. Ezekiel was going behind the ruler of Tyre to the source of the evil, Satan.  The language of this passage could not have related to an earthly Ruler. The best understanding is that Satan is spoken of as the King of Tyre.

b. Isaiah 14:12: Lucifer – Morning Star.

The name ascribed to Satan in the above passage is Lucifer which means Star of the morning, or Shining one. Satan’s origin was one of beauty.  He was of the supreme angelic host who had access to the inner circle of God’s presence.  When we see Satan’s origin, it is hard to imagine how low he has fallen.

2. The fall of Satan: Satan was obviously created with a free will. Satan could choose to maintain his blessed position, or he could choose to rebel against God.  The Scripture teaches that Satan chose to rebel against God.

a. Ezekiel 28:15-19: Several things may be noted in the above passage about the fall of the anointed cherub.

1. Wickedness found in him: (v. 15) The wickedness was the sin of pride (v. 17a).  See I Tim. 3:6.
2. He merchandised sin: (v. 16a) Satan was not content to rebel on his own. He marketed his sin.
3. He was expelled from God’s presence; (v. 16b) The mount of God would seem to indicate God’s presence. Satan was expelled from his anointed position before the throne.

Although Satan is still allowed access to God (Job 1:6-12; Zech. 3:1-2), he will one day ultimately be expelled from God’s presence (Rev. 12:7-13).

b. Isaiah 14:12-14: The cause of Satan’s fall. The above passage is evidently a reference to Satan. Take careful note of the great claims in this passage.  The sin behind the fall of Satan was that of pride.  (see also: I Tim. 3:6 – The only explicit reference to the sin that occasioned Satan’s fall)

B. His titles and works

1. Titles: Many things can be learned about Satan and his work through a study of his names and titles.

a. Satan: An adversary (Mt. 4:10, 12:26; John 13:27)
b. The Devil: An accuser, or slanderer: Scripture teaches that there are many demons but only one devil (Heb. 2:14; Eph. 4:27; Matt. 4:1,5).
c. The evil one: I Jn. 5:18, 19 (NIV)
d. The tempter: Matt. 4:3
e. The serpent: Gen. 3:1-14; II Cor. 11:3
f. The great dragon: Rev. 12:7-9
g. The accuser: Rev. 12:10; Zech. 3:1
h. A roaring lion: I Pet. 5:8; Job 1:7
i.  A murderer and liar: Jn. 8:44
j. Disguised as an angel of light: II Cor. 11:14
k. Apollyon: the destroyer: Rev. 9:11
l. The ruler of the Kingdom of the air: Eph. 3;2; 6:11-12
m. The god of this age: II Cor. 4:4
n. The prince of this world: Jn. 14:30

2. Works: There are only three biblical passages where Satan may be observed speaking directly to someone else (Gen. 3 – slandering God to man; Job 1,2 – slandering man to God; Mt. 4 – slandering the God-Man). To gain an in-depth understanding of the nature of Satan’s work, these passages are the most important ones. In an overview of Satan’s work the following points should be considered.

a. He promotes disobedience: Gen. 3:1-6; Eph. 2:2
b. He possesses and works through people: Jn. 8:44; 13:2, 27; Acts 5:3
c. He causes sickness, calamity, and death: Acts 10:38; Lk. 13:16; Job 1:2; Heb. 2:14.
d. He tempts people to sin: I Chron. 21:1; Matt. 4:1-11
e. He disguises himself and his workers: II Cor. 11:14, 15; II Thess. 2:9; Col. 2:18.
f. He promotes disloyalty to God: Matt. 4:8,9.
g. He appeals to physical lusts and pride: Jn. 14:30 w/I Jn. 2:16; Eph. 2:1-3; I Tim. 3:6.
h. He promotes doubt about God’s character and word: Gen. 3:1-6; Jn. 8:44; II Tim. 4:3-4.
i. He hurls accusations against believers: Job 1; Rev. 12:10
j. He works through governments: Matt. 4:8; Dan. 10:13-20; Ez. 28
k. He works through his demons: (fallen angels): Jude 6; I Tim. 4:1-3; Rev. 12:9; Mark 5:1-20; 9:17-29; Lk. 9:37-43.
l. He blinds the minds of people so they will not accept the gospel: II Cor. 4:3,4
m. He prevents the Word of God from affecting certain people: Lk. 8:11-12
n. He promotes false teaching and teachers: I Tim. 4:1-2; II Tim. 3:5; II Pet. 2:1-2; I Jn. 4:1
o. He places false believers among true believers: Matt. 13:38-40; Acts 20:28-30
p. He promotes envy and selfishness: Jam. 3:14-16
q. He persecutes God’s people: Rev. 2:10; I Tim. 3:12
r. He opposes God’s servants: I Thess. 2:18
s. He will energize the antichrist: II Thess. 2:9,10

C. His defeat and destiny

1. Defeat:

Christ conquered Satan at the cross and secured victory for believers (Jn. 12:31; 16:11; Colo. 1:13; 2:14-15; I Jn. 3:8).  While it is true that the battle continues in this age (Eph. 6:10-12; I Pet. 5:8), the outcome of the battle does not hang in the balances. The believer, through Christ, can be aware of, resist, and stand against Satan’s schemes (II Cor. 2:11; Eph. 4:27; 6:10-18; Js. 4:7; I Pet. 5:9).  We must always be prayerfully watchful (Col. 4:2; Eph. 6:18; Mk. 14:38; I Pet. 5:8).  Believers are safe from his ultimate designs (Jn. 10:28-29; Rom. 8:38-39).

2. Destiny: Satan’s destructive destiny under the judgment of God is outlined in Scripture:

a. He will be cast out of heaven: Rev. 12:7-12.
b. He will be bound during the thousand year reign of Christ: Rev. 20:1-3
c. He will be released at the end of the reign of Christ at which time he will lead a final rebellion against God: Rev. 20:7-9
d. He will be cast into the lake of fire forever: Rev. 20:10

Note: To order a set of Five CD’s on the character and strategy of Satan that Pastor Steve presented at Sandy Cove Bible Conference, call 717-872-4260. The cost is $10.00 for the set and case (plus shipping)

Steve Cornell

The history of evil

 

How should we understand the reality of evil in the world? Why is evil a part of human history on every part of the globe; in every human heart? What accounts for this ugly part of our story?

The biblical account tells the story of evil with a convergence of characters (see: Genesis 3:1-6). In the first temptation on record, we discover that it began with a competing truth claim. A strange being  approached Eve and offered her an alternative view of reality. She had only known one way of seeing things – God’s way. But this character (whom we now know as Satan or the evil one) offered a different way of looking at life. He offered a different version of God and of what happens when one abandons God’s way for life. But the offer was made in an alluring context of self-interest. It was not offered in a detached philosophical way. It was a twisted version of reality to lure her to a different way to live – a way centered in self-absorption.

It started with a subtle and twisted suggestion that God is overly restrictive in His demands. It moved to a blatant denial of the Divinely stated consequences of disobeying God’s will. Thus was introduced the Suspicion of Eden — the notion that the good life is outside of the will of God, not within it. No philosophical detachment in this offer.

In the predictable pattern of evil, Eve saw what was forbidden, desired it, took it and gave it (Genesis 3:6). The generational consequences have been disastrous! (see: Genesis 3-4; Romans 5:12ff.).

Seven consequences emerge — each affecting a major area of human existence and providing a background to the primary occupational majors at the Universities. 

These consequences correspond directly with the human story from our beginning to this day. They included the following: 

  1. Physiological: death, decay, sickness and suffering (Gen. 3:17-19; Rom. 5:12; 8:19-22)
  2. Psychological: shame, guilt, fear (Gen. 3:7).
  3. Sociological: blame-shifting, alienation, separation (Gen. 3:8, 12-13; Isa. 53:6). 
  4. Ecological: ground is cursed, thorns and thistles (Gen. 3:17-19).
  5. Spiritual: hiding from God, enmity: seed of woman and seed of Serpent (Gen. 3:8, 15, 4:1-15; I Jn 3:12; Isa. 59:1-2).
  6. Epistemological: distorted thinking, spiritual blindness (II Cor. 4:3-6; Rom. 1:28) Noetic affects.
  7. Criminalmurder! (fratricidal) – Genesis 4 Cain kills Abel.

Colleges offer majors related to each of the seven areas above (e.g. doctors, psychologists, sociologists, environmentalists, ministers, philosophers, law enforcement).

Extended Results in Genesis 4

Corresponding with reality on every corner of the globe throughout all of human history, the results observed in the first offspring of Adam and Eve are tragic universal expressions of human existence: rebellion, anger, envy, hatred, bitterness, lying and murder. One can only imagine the grief that filled Eve’s heart at the death of her second-born son (Abel) at the hands of her first-born son (Cain). It is without irony that Cain is identified as a member of Satan’s family (I John 3:11-13cf. John 8:44).

Think about it

Because we were made in the image and likeness of God, we see benevolent acts of goodness and heroism among humans. Because we are fallen, we observe (and participate in) malevolent acts and vast degrees of evil and violence on earth.

“According to Genesis 3, sin appeared very early in the history of our race. In this chapter our first parents try to be ‘like God, knowing good and evil,’ and succeed only in alienating themselves from God and from each other. They choose to believe the tempter rather than their Maker and turn their garden into a bramble patch.  The good and fruitful earth becomes their foe (Genesis 3:17-18; cf. 4:11-14), and their own sin then rises in a terrible crescendo.  Adam and Eve’s pride and disbelief trigger revolt, scapegoating, and flight from God (Gen. 3:4-5, 10, 12-13). Their first child ups the ante: Cain resents and kills his brother, Abel, launching the history of envy that leads to murder. Like his parents and the rest of the race, Cain refuses to face his sin (‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’) and is exiled by God to a place ‘east of Eden.’ In a phrase that suggests the restlessness of all who are alienated from God, Cain becomes ‘a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth’” (Cornelius Plantinga Jr., Not The Way It’s Supposed to Be).

Steve Cornell

Guard your mind

Pay close attention whenever a New Testament author repeatedly uses the same word to address the same subject in the same book . 

The Apostle Paul does this in making a connection between the mind (νοηματα) and spiritual conflict.

II Corinthians 10:4-5

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought (νοημα) to make it obedient to Christ.”

Three appearances of the word for mind in II Corinthians specifically associate it with the activity of Satan. 

II Corinthians 2:11

“In order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes (νοηματα) (thinking).”

II Corinthians 4:3-4

“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds (νοηματα) of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel…”  (with II Corinthians 3:14-16)

II Corinthians 11:3

“But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds (νοηματα) may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” 

Transformation of the mind

The battle is for the mind – our way of thinking or perspective. But while Satan targets the mind, God by His Spirit renews the mind as He restores us to His image. Consider the emphasis on transformation through a renewed mind. 

    • Romans 12:2aDo not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (νοος).”
    • Ephesians 2:23You were taught, …..to be made new in the attitude of your minds (νοος).”
    • Romans 13:14“Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about (προνοιαν) how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” Πρόνοιαν (pronoian) – a provisionary way of thinking. NLT: “don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.”

Connecting the heart with the mind

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45, NIV).

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (Proverbs 4:23, NLT).

Our minds (ways of thinking, perspectives) either reinforce or challenge the things stored in our hearts. To change behaviors, attitudes and emotions, we must change ways of thinking—perspectives, or construls. Allow God to transform you by changing the way you think. 

“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires” (Hebrews 4:12). 

Steve Cornell

The original creation and subsequent formation

 

In, The Invisible War, Donald Grey Barnhouse described the “vast difference between the original creation of the heavens and the earth, and the subsequent formation, fashioning and restoration of that same earth which had been turned into chaos.”

“In a brilliant manner, the author has stretched out the panorama of time and focused upon it the illuminating light of Eternity.” 

The Great Interval:

On the one side of the abyss stands the phrase, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” 

We come to the other side and read the second verse as it is found in the King James Version: “And the earth was without form and void, and darkness covered the face of the deep.” The revisers in both the English and American revisions, not satisfied with the terms “without form and void,” have given us the better translation, “waste and void,” though the RSV has gone back to the King James rendering. Still another translator interprets the Hebrew as “a wreck and a ruin.” In French there is a common expression which translates our idea of topsy-turvy: it is tohu-bohu — an expression transliterated from the Hebrew of this second verse of Genesis. These are the words which various translators have rendered “without form,” “void,” “waste,” “desolate,” “empty,” “wreck,” “ruin.”

Just here the importance of the comparative method of Bible study is seen. In Isaiah 45:18, we read that God did not create the world as it is found in the second verse of Genesis: “For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not tohu . . .” Here is the same Hebrew word as in the second verse of the Bible. It is a formal statement: God did not create the earth as it is portrayed in the description that has commonly been called chaos. The great French Catholic translator, Abbe Crampon, boldly renders it thus: “He hath established it Himself and did not make it as a chaos [Qui l'a fondee Luimeme et qui n'en a pas fait un chaos].” It is noteworthy that the Revised Standard Version has adopted this reading. “He did not create it a chaos.”

This categorical statement is sufficient to prove beyond any shadow of doubt that the first and second verses are separated by an interval. We might read the two verses from Genesis and the one from Isaiah as follows: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth — though God most certainly did not create it that way — became a wreck and a ruin, and darkness covered the face of the deep.”

That we have every right to translate the verb by the continuing form “became” is amply demonstrated by the fact that this precise form is thus translated in other parts of the Old Testament, as for example, “Lot’s wife looked back and she became a pillar of salt” (Genesis 19:26).

So far, this is very satisfying to the heart. If a perfect God should create a very imperfect world, chaotic, waste and desolate, a wreck and a ruin, it would be a violation of one of the great spiritual principles, stated by the Holy Spirit Himself: A fountain cannot send forth sweet water and bitter (James 3:11). And if “a good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things” (Matthew 12:35), how much more must a good and perfect God bring forth a good and perfect creation? Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy saw this dilemma and sought to resolve it by saying that God had created everything perfect, and that, therefore, everything is perfect, and that any impression to the contrary is but an error of mortal mind. What she failed to realize was that the invisible war had broken out against the background of a perfect creation, and that God, for His own purposes, which we shall study in detail, put forth His Word to turn that perfect creation into a wreck and a ruin. So our hearts rest quietly in the truth set forth by the Psalmist, “As for God, his way is perfect . . .” (Psalm 18:30).

One objection has been imagined which we will do well to meet and set aside at once. It is argued that the passage in the Ten Commandments concerning the seventh day contradicts what we have been saying. We read the following: “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day” (Exodus 20:11). The answer is that there is a vast difference between the original creation of the heavens and the earth, and the subsequent formation, fashioning and restoration of that same earth which had been turned into chaos.

The careful reader of the first chapter of Genesis will note that the word create is found in the first verse and appears no more in the account until the introduction of life, in the fifth and sixth days of the restoration. God was not seeking mere literary effect when He used the several verbs in Isaiah, “Thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not a chaos, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:18).

To create, as the great linguist Rabbi Naskman put it, is “to produce out of nothing.” It is to call into being some material thing without the aid of any existing material. It is the materialization of a thought of God. The discoveries of the atomic age, centering in the recently acquired knowledge that mass and energy are the same thing in different form, give powerful significance to the Bible teaching that the material universe is the tangible expression of the Word of God going forth in the command of His desire. “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made: and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth … he spake and it was . . .” (Psalm 33:6, 9).

We are not told in Scripture how God created the heavens and the earth. We do not know whether it happened in an instant, as He most surely could have caused it to appear had He thus desired; or whether the process of creation covered a period of long ages. God could have done it any way He liked. He has revealed only the quantity of truth that seemed best to Him for His purpose. There is not a line in the Bible which is placed there for mere rhetorical effect, or for the gratification of curiosity. To satisfy the carnal mind was not one of God’s purposes; of that we may be sure. What we have in the Book is all relevant to His main purpose. He is giving us the story of the eternal plan.

That something tremendous and terrible happened to the first, perfect creation is certain. We know that later the earth which had become waste and empty was reformed and refashioned in the six days and peopled by the newly created beings, Adam and his wife; and that this renewed and restored earth, of which it is stated six times that God saw that it was good (1:4, 10, 12, 18,21,25) and once that it was very good (1:31), was later cursed on account of man’s sin. We have every right to argue from analogy that the original creation, long before Adam’s remade world was cursed because of earlier sin, fell into chaos because of the righteous judgment of God upon some outbreak of rebellion. We believe that there is sufficient light in the Word of God to give us more than a few details. Somewhere back before the chaos of the second verse of Genesis there was a great tragedy and a terrible catastrophe.

It should be pointed out, perhaps, that the knowledge of this explanation of the Scripture is nothing new. It is well over a hundred years since Dr. Thomas Chalmers of Scotland observed that there must be a considerable interval of time between the first two verses of Genesis. And we read in the notes of Crampon, who is perhaps the greatest emphasis on man’s complete ruin in sin, and His own perfect remedy in Christ.

The other verbs which are used to describe the work of the six days, such as made, divide, and set, are used elsewhere of work done with existing materials, as when a woman prepares a meal or a man builds a boat. The original creation was before the forming and fashioning.

That something tremendous and terrible happened to the first, perfect creation is certain. We know that later the earth which had become waste and empty was reformed and refashioned in the six days and peopled by the newly created beings, Adam and his wife; and that this renewed and restored earth, of which it is stated six times that God saw that it was good (1:4, 10, 12, 18,21,25) and once that it was very good (1:31), was later cursed on account of man’s sin. We have every right to argue from analogy that the original creation, long before Adam’s remade world was cursed because of earlier sin, fell into chaos because of the righteous judgment of God upon some outbreak of rebellion. We believe that there is sufficient light in the Word of God to give us more than a few details. Somewhere back before the chaos of the second verse of Genesis there was a great tragedy and a terrible catastrophe.

It should be pointed out, perhaps, that the knowledge of this explanation of the Scripture is nothing new. It is well over a hundred years since Dr. Thomas Chalmers of Scotland observed that there must be a considerable interval of time between the first two verses of Genesis. And we read in the notes of Crampon, who is perhaps the greatest Biblical scholar produced by the Roman Church in modern times and who works in the shadow of all the church fathers, the following: “Verse two refers to the indefinite interval of time which separates the primordial creation from the organization of the terrestrial globe as the author is about to describe it. This interval gives every latitude for explaining the transformations which matter has undergone according to the diverse scientific hypotheses.” If the Church had followed these great students, Protestant and Catholic, there would not have been so great a furor concerning the modern theories of science, and it would have been much easier to winnow the wheat of truth from the theories and to throw out the chaff of speculative hypothesis.

As we have said we do not know anything of the time element involved. God may well have first created the earth over the course of millions or billions of years; or He may have done it in the flash of a second and then allowed it to go on in its perfect form for untold millions of years. We do not know. Again, after the earth was blasted in judgment and had become a wreck and a ruin, it may have remained in that state for another period of ages. We do not know. There is not a line in the Bible on that subject.

All we know is that there are two unknown periods to be accounted for — 2x to express it mathematically — and if some scientist wants to argue that the age of the earth is 2x to the nth degree, it makes no difference whatsoever to the child of true faith. We know that our God spoke the original word of creation, and materialized the original thought of the divine idea which became the heavens and the earth. We know that it was the hand of a holy God which struck the earth into ruin because of a great outbreak of rebellion, and we know that it was the hand of our Lord which moved, all in His own time, to bring the earth out of that chaos. This was the same hand that was later pierced with nails for the salvation of the sinner. We know, too, that it was the voice of our God which spoke the great fiat, “Let there be light . . .”

We know that that same voice is calling unto hearts to return to Him for rest, and that that same light is ready to shine into darkened hearts to  reveal the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 4:6). We know, also, that the other verbs in the account of earth’s history — God made, God formed, God fashioned, God said — are all within the power of the omnipotent God who said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways … For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8,9)” (Donald Barnhouse).

In the rest of the book, Barnhouse “explored a theme rarely touched upon by students of the Bible: the great conflict which exists in the spirit realm. Although almost entirely unrecognized by mankind, this warfare affects, in one way or another, the life of every person on earth and especially the life of the child of God.” (From the Preface).

To read the entire book, see here.

Looking for the Devil in the wrong places

“Men don’t believe in a devil now, As their fathers used to do; They reject one creed because it’s old For another because it’s new. If the devil is voted not to be, Is the verdict, therefore, true? Someone is surely doing the work The devil was thought to do. They may say the devil has never lived, They may say the devil is gone; But simple people would like to know Who carries the business on?” (G. Campbell Morgan)

 Giving the Devil his due
_______________________________________________________
  • Jesus taught his followers to pray (perhaps daily): “deliver us from the Evil one” (Matthew 6:13)
  • Jesus specifically prayed for His followers that the Father would “keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15).
  • The apostle Paul warned believers to: “put on the whole armor of God” Why? So that they could, “…take their stand against the devils schemes” (Ephesians 6:11).
  • In Ephesians 6, believers were instructed to: “…take up the shield of faith” Why? So that they could, “…extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”
  • What did the apostle Peter teach? “Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour. Take a firm stand against him, and be strong in your faith.” ( I Peter 5:8,9, NLT). He looks for unsuspecting victims. Be sober! Don’t drop your guard! Don’t under estimate the enemy!

Three narratives:

To help us, we need an in-depth evaluation of the character and strategy of Satan. This requires a close look at the only three narratives that chronicle the voice of the devil speaking directly to someone else.

Those who study these three explicit accounts of Satanic attack will conclude that they have been looking for the devil in the wrong places.

  • Genesis 3-4 – Satan slandered God to man
  • Job 1-2 –  Satan slandered man to God
  • Matthew 3-4 – Satan attacked the God-man 

Before exploring these narratives, please understand that this one whom Scripture refers to as the Devil, Satan or the Evil one, is a highly intelligent, immensely powerful and utterly unscrupulous being. He is both the enemy of God and of everyone who belongs to the Lord. We cannot afford to underestimate him and we must not be ignorant of his schemes. 

We do not need to fear Satan, for only God is worthy of fear and it is the fear of God that demotes all other fears. We are not helpless victims without power or resource against the Devil—for “greater is He who is in the believer than the one who is in the world” (I John 4:3)

Ultimate victory is ours in Christ—but this does not guarantee that we will win each battle against Satan in this life. To effectively take our stand against him—or as the apostle said, “Resist him standing firm in faith,” we need the revelation God has provided to expose the evil one. 

The origin and fall of Satan

To provide the right foundation, it is helpful to consider the origin and fall of Satan.

Satan’s origin:

In discussing the origin of Satan, step back and recognize that a Biblical view of reality involves three orders of beings operating in the world in continual functional contact:

  1. Deity: Father Son and Holy Spirit
  2. Angels: good and fallen
  3. Humans: Redeemed and unredeemed

* Satan or the Devil belongs to the order of angels (II Corinthians 11:3,13-15). 

Scripture reveals that God created many angels.

  • Daniel 7:10- describes thousands upon thousands attending to the ancient of days as he is seated on His throne.
  • Hebrews 12:22- details thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly.
  • Revelation 5:12- “I heard the voice of many angels.” How many? Thousands upon thousands and ten thousand times ten thousand” (An innumerable company) (cf. II Kings 19:35; Matthew 26:3)

Angels were originally created to praise and serve God:

  • Psalm 148:2,5 – Praise him all his angels, let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created.”
  • Revelation 19:10 – “I am a fellow servant” (cf. Colo.1:16).

Angels were divided into ranks of authority and power

  • Jude 9- Michael the arch angel
  • Genesis 3:24;Isaiah 6:2-3- Seraphim and Cheribum (Exodus 25:18-25; Ezekiel 1:4-28; 10:1-22; Daniel 10:13; Ephesians 1:21; Revelation 4:6-8).

Based on Jude 9, we may assume that Satan held perhaps highest rank among the angels (thus I Peter 5:8).

Satan’s fall:

How did this mighty angel of God become the Evil One? What happened to occasion the fall of this being?

Only one explicit biblical reference to the sin that occasioned the fall of Satan:

I Timothy 3:6 – A Church elder must “not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil.”

The context is a list of qualifications for local Church leaders/elders. One thing an elder in the Church must not be is:  “a recent convert” (a neophyte – a newly planted one). Why? “lest he become conceited and fall under the same condemnation incurred by the Devil”.

Conceit: “Typhos”- cloud/smoke, to becloud, to be puffed up with an inflated view of oneself. Conceit is a nurtured focus on self that results in a violation of Romans 12:3 (thinking more highly of oneself than one ought). Here is original sin: conceit!

But have you ever thought of conceit as a Satanic quality? Would you think of a conceited person as being Satanic? Perhaps we’ve been looking for the devil in the wrong places! 

__________________________________________________

Two Old Testament passages

Moving from explicit reference to implicit, there are two OT passages that scholars believe refer to the origin and fall of Satan: Ezekiel 28:11-15 & Isaiah 14:12-14

Background:

Both of these passages refer to wicked earthly kings but many OT scholars believe that there is a double reference involved which goes behind the evil of the earthly kings to the evil one who inspires their wickedness, (cf. Dan. 11:35 – Antiochus Epiphanes, Lk. 4:4-5).

There is clearly a sense in which all the evil kings and lords of humanity belong to an extended anti-messianic line and prefigure the ultimate human representative of Satan—the anti-Christ himself.—Who will…oppose and exalt himself above every so-called God or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God” (II Thess. 2:4). (cf. also Matt. 16-Get behind me Satan)

The language of these OT texts is hard to restrict to a human being.

Ezekiel 28:11-15Five points about Satan’s origin and Fall

In verse 1, the prophet pronounces a judgment against the ruler or leader of Tyre. In verse 11, he takes up lamentation against the King of Tyre and the change of content and language in verses 11-15 could not be restricted to a mere human ruler.

  1. Ez. 28:12  He was the model of perfection
  2. Ez. 28:13a   He had a place in the garden (of prominence and glory)
  3. Ez. 28:13b   The day of his creation
  4. Ez. 28:14     He was the anointed Cherub—one with close access to God. The holy mountain—a governing position of authority
  5. Ez. 28:15     His blameless character and transgression.

Isaiah 14:12-14 – Five “I will” statements associated with Satan’s fall

The prophet goes behind the King of Babylon to the ultimate source of pomp and pride — the one Jesus called “the ruler of this world” –Satan himself (see: John 12:31;14:30 (Dan. 10:13;Ephesians 6:12; I John 5:19).

  1. I will ascend to heaven
  2. I will raise my throne above the stars of God
  3. I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain
  4. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds
  5. I will make myself like the Most High (Matt. 4- He invites Jesus to worship him)

This is the highest degree of arrogance. Remember that until this moment only one “will” existed in the universe—the will of God and Lucifer had his place (a significant place) in it, but like all other creatures, he was a servant of God’s will. Evidently, he became discontent with his place in the will of God.

Follow the pattern:

Lucifer, as the anointed Cherub, the one who held a supreme place in God’s governing rule would mediate the orders of the Creator and bring back the praise of the creatures to the creator. But, dwelling on his own beauty, his own worth, his own ability, his own power and wisdom, he actually became so blinded and delusional in his conceit that he became jealous of the supreme place of God and rebelled against God’s exclusive rule

Satan wanted to be his own God and since God had a kingdom made up of both angelic and human servants, Satan set out to establish his own kingdom of angelic and human servants. Thus Scripture speaks of angels who sinned (II Peter 2:4); angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandon their own home and the devil and his angels (Mark 25:41; Revelation 12:4,9)

And, of course, Genesis 3 reveals Satan’s success with Adam and Eve when he offers them an opportunity to (of all things) be like God…

Using allurements based in: suspicion, envy, discontentment, self-deception, pride, and an invitation to autonomy, Satan baited Adam and Eve and they followed his revolt against God’s will.

Scripture speaks categorically of the children of God and the children of the devil (I John 3:10) (cf. I John 3:12, “Cain, who belonged to the evil one”; Ephesians 2:1-3, the spirit that is at work in the sons of disobedience, Colossians 1:13—kingdom of darkness).

Question: Is it possible that we have been looking for the Devil in the wrong places? 

Why do we so rarely associate these revealed characteristics with the evil one? Scripture says that, “the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (I John 5:19). In this light, consider how common these 10 characteristics are to human history:

  1. Discontentment: (Satan’s bait in Genesis 3)
  2. Conceit: (I Timothy 3:6; w/ II Cor. 12:7ff.)
  3. Selfish ambition: (James 3:13-16)
  4. Anger: (Ephesians 4:26-27)
  5. Murder: (John 8:44).
  6. Lying and deception: (John 8:44; II Cor. 11:13-15)
  7. Envy: (I John 3:12;Isaiah 14:12-14)
  8. Willfulness and rebellion: (Gen. 4, Cain w/ I Jn. 3:12; Isa. 14:11-15)
  9. Prideful arrogance: (Luke 22:31-34; I peter 5:5-9a; James 4:6-7)
  10. Sexual sin: (I Corinthians 7:3-5)

Steve Cornell