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


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. Willful 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


About Wisdomforlife

Just another worker in God's field.
This entry was posted in Angels, Atheism, Bible, Bitterness, Christian worldview, Complaining, Conceit, Contentment, Deception, Devil, Discernment, Evil in the world, Evil One, Fear of death, Fear of God, Satan. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Looking for the Devil in the wrong places

  1. Pingback: God Has a Plan for Me…And so Does the Devil « lbtk

  2. Neil Girrard says:

    One of the most often missed traits of the devil, as G. Campbell Morgan was pointing out, is that of the deceiver. Some, if they don’t consider him a myth think of him as a toothless tiger. The truth is that we’re led by the reins of the devil far more than we realize. Until we remove all of his spots and wrinkles, we cannot be the spotless bride ready for Christ’s return.

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