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).