Calvary Road Baptist Church

“SATAN’S CAREER”

 

One of the books that I read over and over again in my devotions, along with my daily Bible reading, is the classic, “A Lifting Up For The Downcast” by William Bridge. I am reading it through for the third time, and will probably read it from time to time for the rest of my life. In the book the author deals with Psalm 42.11, and advances the very scriptural notion that Christians should never be discouraged whatever our condition or situation happens to be. However, I find myself constantly wrestling with matters that discourage me, so sitting at the feet of godly William Bridge is very uplifting for me. If you are like me in this, I highly recommend the book as a steady guide to Bible encouragement.

In his book, he points out that sometimes Christians are discouraged by the temptations we struggle against. He observes that even the least temptations are great afflictions to our souls, tending toward discouragement if we are not careful. Then he reminds his readers that our tempter is none other than the Devil himself, Satan. Satan is the prince of the power of the air, the god of this world, who frequently works through principalities and powers in his wicked opposition to the plan and purpose of God for our lives.[1] Bridge correctly identifies Satan as “The evil one, for his devouring nature is called a lion, for his cruelty is called a dragon, and for his subtlety an old serpent.”[2] We find ourselves living in the dark days of the end time apostasy, when the influence of Satan on this world is becoming more and more pronounced. It is no longer difficult to grasp what the Apostle John meant when he wrote First John 5.19: “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.”

So that we might renew our awareness of this malevolent rebel against God, who has an iron-fisted grip on mankind, I would like to review the career of Satan, touching lightly over his existence and activities, from beginning to end. Allow me to divide Satan’s foul career into four parts:

 

First, THE CREATION OF THE ANGELIC HOST

 

I say the creation of the angelic host because, first and foremost, Satan, originally known as Lucifer, is one of the created spirits of the order known as angels. Unlike human beings, whose number increases by means of biological reproduction, mommies and daddies having babies who grow up to be mommies and daddies themselves, every angel was directly created by God, Himself.

Recognizing that the Bible is God’s communiqué to mankind, it is no surprise that the orientation of the Bible is such that truth is presented to best be seen from our human perspective. That is why the Bible begins, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” in Genesis 1.1. This is why, though the Bible begins at the beginning of the universe in which we exist, the creation of the time-space-matter continuum that we refer to as the universe was not the beginning of everything. In actuality, before God created the physical reality referred to in Genesis 1.1, He created the host of angelic beings that included Lucifer.

Considering the poetic language in the Bible is sometimes difficult. However, in Job 38, where the LORD sharply rebukes Job for daring to question His wisdom, He points out that when He created this universe and all that herein is, the angels He had brought into existence before the events of Genesis chapter 1 took place were onlookers who celebrated God’s creative works. I read Job 38.7: “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” Thus, we see that the angels, poetically identified in this poem as morning stars, and also designated sons of God, both sang and shouted for joy as they watched God create the physical universe in which we live.

Where does Satan fit into this picture of angels being created? I read from Ezekiel 28.13-15:

 

13     Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, 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 prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.

14     Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.

15     Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created. . . .

 

Three things are clear from this passage I have read: First, it is clear that the object of our attention is an angel, since the word cherub refers to a particular kind of angel. Second, it is clear that the object of our attention was created, since verse 13 refers to his “workmanship” and reads, “in the day that thou wast created,” since in verse 14 God says, “I have set thee so,” and since in verse 15 God said, “from the day that thou wast created.” Third, the reference to him being “in Eden the garden of God,” and the comment by God that “I have set thee,” shows us that when God created Lucifer, He appointed him to his place of service.

As a matter of fact, each of God’s angels was created and then given a place of service. In Isaiah chapter 6, we read of angels referred to as seraphim, or burning ones, poised above God’s throne. Luke 1.19 is where we learn that Gabriel, an angel who was dispatched to Daniel, to Joseph, and also to Mary, is an angel appointed to stand in the presence of God. In Jude 9, we learn that Michael is an archangel who contended with the devil for the body of Moses, and in Revelation 12.7, we learn that Michael and his subordinates fought against the devil and his followers in the great conflict that took place in heaven. Thus, each of the angels God created was designed to suit a specific purpose, to perform a particular function, and placed in an appointed location, Lucifer just as much as the other angels God created.

 

Next, THE REBELLION WITHIN THE ANGELIC HOST

 

It is one thing to know the place and function God has created you for and positioned you in, but it is another thing to content yourself in that place of service. Therefore, as we scan the Bible to discover the explanation for Satan’s defilement and wickedness, we come to Revelation chapter 12, where we read of the war that took place in heaven, Revelation 12.7, that was the result of a great rebellion in which Satan drew after him one-third of the host of heaven in a revolt against God’s rule, Revelation 12.4. That, however, explains the character of fallen angels, the seducing spirits, the demons.

It is in Isaiah 14.12-15, where we are told of the initial act of rebellion against God, the personal revolt of Lucifer that in turn led to the rebellion of the angels who chose to follow after his scheme:

 

12     How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

13     For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

14     I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

15     Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

 

Isaiah’s account reveals things to us we could not otherwise know about the first sin ever committed. Lucifer, the most beautiful, and possibly the very first, of God’s angels to be created was lifted up with pride. Listen to what God confronted him with saying in his heart: “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” He actually fancied himself being like the most High, imagining that he could revolt against God’s plan and rebel against God’s will, and exalt himself above other angels to a position of equality with God. To accomplish this, he first left his own place of service, and then recruited one-third of the angels created by God, in a failed attempt to overthrow the rule of God.

Revelation 12.9 gives us the account of the outcome of Satan’s heavenly revolt: “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.” That, my friend, is how Lucifer became the Devil, who we refer to as Satan. He was lifted up with pride and ambition and turned against the One who created him and gave his existence meaning and purpose. He did wrong to the One who had only done right by him.

 

Third, WE TURN TO SATAN’S OPPOSITION TO GOD AMONG MEN

 

Though the details provided in scripture are sparse, an argument can be made that Lucifer and the host of angels were created prior to the creation of this physical universe and all that exists in it. As well, there is some ground for believing that Lucifer’s original place of service was the Garden of Eden. After all, we know he was there, and it seems he was there before he rebelled against God.

I imagine Satan to have proudly desired a higher station than the one he was assigned to, that he then exalted himself in pride, recruited a vast number of angels to join in his rebellion, but was defeated in a great war in heaven and cast down by the archangel Michael and his angels. That done, and the creation of Adam and Eve subsequently taking place, Satan turned his attention to opposing God’s plan and purpose here on earth after being unsuccessful in his efforts in heaven.

You know the litany of horrors associated with Satan. He made use of the serpent in the Garden of Eden to entice Eve into committing sin by challenging the motives and truthfulness of God. He campaigned so successfully against mankind that God judged the whole earth with a worldwide flood. Most people also know his actions against godly Job, first murdering his family and destroying his wealth, and then ruining his health.

Satan works through powerful subordinates to oppress and entice men to commit sins against God, leaving the most important targets to himself. Job’s afflictions, of course, was an attempt by Satan to persuade a godly man to renounce God. David was tempted to number the people in violation of the Mosaic Law. Then, there were the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness recorded in the gospels.

Idolatry, the bowing down to statues and worshiping carved images, is shown in First Corinthians 10.20 to be the result of demonic activity, securing for foul spirits the worship and adoration that is rightly due to God alone. However, do not think that is the limit of their sophistication. Paul describes them as “seducing spirits” in First Timothy 4.1, where he also explains that they are responsible for unsound doctrines that cause so much damage to the souls of men.

It would be a mistake to limit Satan’s influences as the god of this world, as the prince of the power of the air, to outright opposition to God in the form of antichristian religions and persecutions found in the different parts of the world. He is also behind the more subtle dangers that plague men, such as temptations to delay consideration of the gospel instead of denying the gospel, and suggestions that a moderate approach to religion be substituted for a zealous commitment to serving God. Denial, misdirection, procrastination, doubt, and the more obviously wicked thoughts that pester not only the unsaved, but the child of God as well, are the means by which Satan influences, tempts, discourages, misleads, and in a thousand different ways seeks to do harm to the lost person, as well as to the saved person.

Why does Satan do these things? Why would he and his followers, those foul spirits known as demons who followed him in his betrayal and rebellion against God, expend so much energy, invest so much time, in devotion to our ruin? What harm have we done to him? Keep in mind that Satan is evil, needing no other justification for wrongdoing than that. Also, keep in mind that, though we know he has no hope of victory over the omnipotent God, his only hope of eventual success is to oppose the plan and purpose of God. Of course, that means he simply has to be anti-Semitic in opposing the predicted salvation of the Jews, just as he sought to defeat the Savior as vigorously as he could. That means, as well, that he must stand squarely against every Christian who names the name of Christ. Satan opposes our good God, and manufactured the betrayal of our wonderful Savior, for no other reason than because he is wicked.

 

Finally, SATAN’S ULTIMATE RUIN

 

Again, why oppose Christians? Why promote anti-Semitism throughout human history? Satan simply has to do everything he can to stop the advance of God’s program of the ages, because the complete outworking of God’s plan spells the destruction of Satan.

Consider that as far back as Genesis 3.15, moments after Adam and Eve were lured into sin by the serpent, God forecast Satan’s defeat, when He pronounced, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Consider, also, Isaiah’s prediction of Satan’s downfall, which was given immediately after the citation of the five “I wills” of Lucifer that prompted his revolt. Isaiah 14.15-17:

 

15     Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

16     They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;

17     That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?

 

Satan will be brought down to Hell, his downfall is hereby decreed. However, that is not all that will happen to this powerful fallen angel. He will be so completely humiliated in his final downfall that it will be asked about him, “Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?” Knowing the Bible better than you or I do, Satan knows all that is determined for him and is desperate to avoid his fate, at whatever the cost.

Let me read God’s pronouncement to him in Ezekiel 28.15-19:

 

15     Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

16     By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.

17     Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.

18     Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.

19     All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.

 

In Matthew 25.41, the Lord Jesus Christ made specific mention of the lake of fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels. Then, in Revelation 20.10, we are told that at the end of the millennium, the Devil will be cast in the lake of fire and brimstone, and that he will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

 

If we cast a backward glance to Satan’s creation as recorded in Scripture, and then a forward glance at Satan’s ultimate ruin as predicted in the Bible, we can see that we are somewhere near the middle of Satan’s long and troublesome career. At present, he is involved in his program to oppose the plan and purpose of God here on earth by tempting men to commit sins, by afflicting us from time to time, and by sewing the seeds of error designed to lead men astray and deprive them of the blessings of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

To be sure, he does not do all this by himself, but is lent a hand in this damnable enterprise by a host of fallen angels who conspire with him to do hurt to men in the insane and irrational hope that they may somehow overthrow the rule of God and interfere with His plan to punish them for all eternity.

Sadly, the intelligence that is brought to bear against us is matched in its effectiveness by the unsaved man’s own sinfulness and desire to revolt against God’s rule himself, so that individual sinners who are estranged from God already have a tendency to refuse the gospel’s offer of salvation full and free and to reject the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Thus, but for the grace of God influencing a sinner by graciously drawing him to the Savior, no man would embrace Christ, and every man would be happy to remain in his sins. So, you can see how Satan’s tactics of delaying and defiling, always delaying and defiling, brought about by a pattern of lying and bolstering men’s pride, thus preventing humility and opposing the truth, works to keep sinners lost.

What should you do, my Christian friend, in light of Satan’s career path and the danger it poses to you? To be sure, he cannot rob you of your relationship with Christ, he cannot drag you into hellfire with him as he so effectively does with the lost of this world, but he can do you harm. He can hinder your progress in your Christian life. Therefore, let us heed the warning Paul dispatched to his beloved brethren in Ephesus 6.10-18:

 

10     Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

11     Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12     For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13     Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14     Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15     And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16     Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

17     And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

18     Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.

 

Make use of this spiritual equipment to heed James’ counsel to, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you,” James 4.7.

My unsaved friends, there is a Devil. Satan is real, and Satan is bent on your eternal hurt. The only real safety from his attacks is found in being strong in the Lord. For that reason, among others, I urge you to consider the claims of Christ.



[1] 2 Corinthians 4.4; Ephesians 2.2

[2] William Bridge, A Lifting Up For The Downcast, (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1961), 152.



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