Satan was ‘messenger of light’ and thwarts God’s plan by covering us with darkness to prevent us from receiving, imbibing and reflecting God’s glory to the creation in his place.
“From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it” was the simple reply of Satan to God on being asked, “Where have you come from” (Job 1:7). A harmless fellow from the look of it but he reveals his true colors in the very next verse “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has?…… But now stretch out Your hand and strike everything he has and he will curse You to Your face”- (verses 9-11). Why is Satan appears to be so annoyed with God and the rest of the creation, for he was created by the same God? Why does he “roam around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour”? (1 Peter 2:8). Why does not God control him and stop him from causing pain to others and is he really the cause or being blamed nevertheless?
“In the beginning God created heavens and the earth” and apparently the first part was the heavens and all who dwell there- the angels of different kinds. Each category of angels was created for a specific task and his appearance also matches the task assigned. Thus angels that are the closest to God, the Cherubim and Seraphim have special physical traits than others. The description of one such angel is described in the Scriptures as “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God, every precious stone adorned you….. You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones” (Ezekiel 28:11-14).
Isaiah witnesses a vision of the exalted state of the Lord and the angels flying around the throne singing praises and one of them touches Isaiah’s lips with a coal taken from the altar to sanctify him. The guarding angels- cherubs and seraphs, apparently had three main functions – sing praises, control access and obey God’s commands. Their role would be somewhat comparable to the close guard of the secret service professionals deployed with the president. Satan called Lucifer was created for this role with precious stones specially prepared and mounted in gold adorning him. He was also given a special name- ‘morning star, son of the dawn’ and he transforms Himself into ‘an angel of light’. From these names his exalted and important status is revealed and this is what caused his downfall and being ‘cast down to the earth’ for he attempted to raise his throne ‘above the stars of God and to make himself ‘like the Most High’.
Why did Satan try such an obviously foolish thing? The only other person in heaven who had direct access to God is His Son, who has a throne on the right hand of God and is the “the light of the world”. Satan was assigned to declare His glory to others and being in the presence of God, like in Moses’ case, Divine glory was reflected in Satan also, giving him the false impression of being equal to the Son. It is this pride that coaxed him to try to take His place while basking in the reflected glory of God and his expulsion from heaven to the earth and later ‘to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit’ (Isaiah 14:12-15).
This cause of rebellion has placed Satan in perpetual opposition to God’s Word, His Son, and in the creation process, God “saw that the light was good and He separated the light from the darkness” (Genesis 1:4). The process of separation was found to be good by God and thereafter His focus was on each day and not the night. He blessed the ‘seventh day’ and consecrated it to Himself. Light was to dominate for it alone has energy and power while darkness is a state of being void, empty and nothingness. That is what Satan was reduced to on the earth, with no power and no status till he enticed Eve to eat the forbidden fruit and thus surrender all rights given by God to her and Adam. The power acquired by Satan is not his but taken through deceit and lies.
What does Satan plan to do with this power? – The aim of rebellion was to ‘make myself like the Most High’ and that is what he desires to do. He wants to raise ‘his throne above the stars of God’ and all his actions are directed towards fulfillment of this single objective. God created the earth, where Satan was brought down from heaven and man was given all rights over this and all that are in and on it. Satan in opposition to God misled Adam and Eve to fall for his trap and lose that authority as well as their place in the all supplying domain of God in the Garden of Eden. Man not only surrendered his rights and authority but also his own individual liberty to Satan.
During the rebellion one third of the total number of angels were misled by Satan and they joined him in this despicable act against their Creator. The authority that Satan has taken from Adam was, is and will continue to be used by him to cause rebellion against the Lord God and turning as many of the creation that he can, away from God. God in His mercy forced his exit from heaven but visiting rights to be in the presence of God were not revoked and as is his name, he always levels accusations before God against all of His creation. The righteous and just God cannot punish him till he accepts his guilt or all of creation either turns to or against God, thereby either proving Satan wrong or right in his actions against God. The almighty can destroy any opposition in a fraction of a moment but that act will be against His Godly nature. Satan on the other hand neither has any set scruples to follow nor does he expect his followers to do that.
Satan’s basic aim is to turn man away from God and keep him focused on self with body and soul- lusts and emotions; ruling all decisions than love of God thereby making the spirit of man dormant in his life. All that Satan desires is to envelop man in his own self created cocoon with personal ego and interest to dominate his life. He aims to achieve many objectives through the misuse of his authority on earth and some of these are listed.
- Cause disobedience to God- In the Garden, Adam and Eve were ensconced in absolute grandeur and comfort in the holy presence of God. Satan beguiled woman into speaking to him by taking up a special form which is described by the Hebrew word ‘nachash’ which as a noun means a snake while when used as a verb it would mean ‘a deceiver or one with divine knowledge’ and as an adjective it would imply something like bronze with a bright shine. The word for brass in Hebrew is ‘nachshot’, which also is a derivative of nachash. Apostle Paul clarifies this further that “Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). Eve was deceived by Satan when she saw a bright shining being speaking to her about the Word of God, since what transpired between her and God could only be known to some angelic being only. Satan succeeded in leading her into disobedience and in like manner, the ‘tempter’ leads us astray.
Satan himself disobeyed God and is well aware of God’s aversion to this. He coaxed Eve to eat the fruit that she “will not certainly die”. This act was to incite her to disobey God’s command and face eternal separation from Him. Satan tempts man by providing illusory advice to cause disobedience and rebellion against God.
- Leading away from God- Satan’s advice to Eve to eat the forbidden fruit was couched in the promise “your eyes will be opened and will be like God”. Adam and Eve were already made like God but coming from a stranger it looked good and the aim of Satan was to lead them into self dependence and thus spurning the grace of God. That is the reason for the contents of the curse on both of them and the act of expulsion from the all supplying Garden of Eden. They were cursed to manage their lives with their own efforts.
- Hardening of hearts-Apostle Paul warns the Jewish believers of this “lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12). The Israelites had seen the number of miracles performed by God to get them freedom from Egyptian bondage, yet they looked back towards the past and perished in the wilderness due to hardening of their hearts and ‘entered not into God’s rest’. Satan does not want anyone to be able to reach into the ‘peace and rest’ available to ‘all the heavy laden’ in Jesus.
- Turmoil- Our Lord wants us to love one another as ourselves while Satan’s foremost desire is to cause disarray, infighting, wars and general unrest all over the world. He causes envy, anger, hatred and abhorrence among people to keep them away from the Lord God and His grace. He is called an accuser and the same trait he brings in those who follow him and plants thoughts of laying blame on others for personal failures. He plans to perpetually keep the entire population of the world in a state of turmoil and war.
- Disease, death and separation from God-The restriction placed by God on Adam and Eve about the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil contained the clause of certain death for disobedience. Death in this case is of two types- one is spiritual death of separation from God and the other physical death. Since they were permitted to freely eat of the fruit of the tree of life, apparently God desired eternal life for mankind, which had to be denied to them in their sinful condition. Satan’s urging not only caused immediate separation but also physical death through disease and suffering. All types of suffering thrust upon man is the result of Satan’s doings, as is evident from the book of Job also.
Satan was cursed by God after the episode in Eden to ‘crawl on his belly and to always eat dust’, but neither does the serpent eat dust nor did it walk upright before that, since God had created things that ‘moved along the ground’ (Genesis 1:24). The curse is described as Satan being “brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit” (Isaiah 14:15). Till then he was permitted to live on the earth and this curse further pushed him down with his demons, into the pit or the realm of the dead in hell into utter darkness. It is for this very reason that the Lord ‘descended to the lower, earthly regions’ to lead the captivity captive’ (Ephesians 4:9-10) and to take back the ‘keys from Satan’. Apostle Paul calls Satan as ‘power of darkness’ from whom our Lord delivered us (Colossians 1:13) and all attempts of Satan are to drag all mankind into the darkness of moral depravity.
- End of Holiness-As per God’s curse it was the ‘seed of woman’ that was to bruise Satan’s head and right from then Satan’s efforts have been on destroying the holiness and physical purity of man and woman. God found only eight persons on the earth who were holy and except these in Noah’s boat the entire creation suffered and was destroyed by God in the flood. The blessing of ‘two becoming one’ in marriage is turned to a curse by Satan through multiple sexual partners where in each encounter some part of the soul is shared by the two, providing control to the devil through either one on the other. Satan is called the ‘prince of darkness’ and ‘prince of the air’ and he rules the air waves on all modes of communication- TV, internet, radio and print media to spread darkness over the earth to cover the hearts and minds of most men and women causing increased crime rates and loss of all values and fear of God.
- Fear and phobias– Adam and Eve hid themselves from the loving Father, who despite knowing about their sin came looking for them, out of fear for having disobeyed God. Satan plants thoughts in a person’s mind about guilt, fear due to commission and helplessness in avoiding commission of sin and the resultant fear of getting caught. All through the history of mankind God has been willing to forgive the repentant but the devil creates a thought process about the quantum of sin and resultant non forgiveness. He plants phobias of all kinds in man and the oft repeated message in the Bible is fear not. Joshua, after being assured by God of His permanent presence with him, was still in a state of dread and in the first chapter of the book, this encouraging message is recorded five times, coming from God and the people also. The promise is with us today also but how many really believe this, especially in times of even very little adversity.
However, there is another aspect of Satan’s control that we tend to forget- he is not all powerful, he cannot be in more than one place, he has been defeated by the Lord Jesus on the cross and he “seeks, whom to devour” and has no power over us if we do not concede ground. “Resist him and he will flee”, that is what our Lord did in the wilderness and that is what we must do, using the power of the Word of God. We shall see the method of operation that the devil uses to overpower us in the next discussion.
God provided ‘manna’ to the Israelites in the wilderness and they had to collect it daily. In like manner He has provided us ‘Spiritual Manna’ in His Word and we have to get it daily to be ‘over-comers’. Focus in the Lord and not on what is being shown by the devil.