The Existence of Satan
“THE EXISTENCE OF SATAN”
by Dr. D. W. Ekstrand
Satan was originally created as the “highest being” above all the moral creatures of God. As will be presented in the following study, Satan, although originally a holy angel, fell from his holy estate (Luke 10:18) and became the chief antagonist of God and the leader of all other fallen angels. Scripture tells us of the creation and fall of the most “magnificent creature” to ever come from the hand of God – LUCIFER. In Ezekiel 28:11-19, the magnificent nature of this creature is mentioned during a section of Scripture in which Ezekiel excoriates the king of Tyre for his arrogance and compares him to Satan, as he predicts the fall of this king. Other passages also establish a close connection between Satan and the satanic world system (Dan 10:13; Eph 6:12). Carefully reflect upon these words from Ezekiel 28 —
Thus says the Lord God, “You had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your cover-ing. . . the workmanship of your settings and sockets was in you. On the day that you were created they were prepared. You were the anointed cherub who covers, and I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked in the midst of the stones of fire” (probably a reference to the ‘wall of fire’ that surrounded the throne room of God and point to Satan’s unfettered access to God’s presence as the guardian cherub). “You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, until unrighteousness was found in you. By the abundance of your trade you were internally filled with violence, and you sinned; therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God and I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground… . By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade, you profaned your sanctuaries. Therefore I have brought fire from the midst of you; it has consumed you, and I have turned you to ashes on the earth in the eyes of everyone. All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you; you have become a horror, and you will be no more.”
The fall of Lucifer is described in a section of Scripture where Isaiah denounces Babylon, the center of power and false religion during his ministry to Israel. Isaiah 14:12-17 reads —
How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” Nevertheless, you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit. Those who see you will gaze at you and ponder, “Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world like a wilderness and overthrew its cities?”
Lucifer in his original rebellion had “REFUSED TO SUBMIT” to the authority of God and had declared himself “independent of God.” In the Genesis account of creation, Adam was being “tested” to see whether he would submit to the authority of God out of recognition of God’s right to rule, or whether he, like Satan, would reject God’s right to rule and declare himself to be independent of God’s law. Just how long Adam and Eve remained in a state of obedience and continued as citizens of the kingdom of heaven on earth, we don’t know, but the time came when their obedience was “tested by Satan” (Gen 3:1-15) — according to the events recorded in Gen 3, Satan gains the title of “Serpent” (every word spoken in this passage gives evidence of his personality – see 2 Cor 11:3, 13-15; Rev 12:9; 20:2). The issue at stake in the garden was this: Would man properly execute God’s delegated authority, or would he succumb to the temptation to be “like God” and appropriate the arrogance of Satan in his moral fall? Scripture tells us that man ultimately fell, succumbing to Satan’s luring lies (Jn 8:44). . . and ended up giving dominion over the earth to Satan. Therefore, Satan ultimately succeeded in transferring a third of the angelic realm and all of God’s human creation into his domain (Rev 12:4; Jude 1:6). The earth then became a province of Satan’s kingdom. The earth’s government changed from a theocracy to a satanocracy. This is the reason Jesus called Satan “the prince of this world” (Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11), and Satan had authority to offer all the kingdoms of this world to Jesus (Lk 4:5-6). Furthermore, some of the angels of Satan are called “the world rulers of this darkness” (Eph 6:12). Paul called Satan “the god of this age” (2 Cor 4:4).
Instead of becoming “completely independent” as a result of his choice, Adam was brought under the dominion of a new king – SATAN. His original King was a loving, benevolent Ruler who offered him life, peace, happiness, and fulfillment in return for willing obedience – his new king was a hard, selfish taskmaster who offered him death, sickness, conflict, grief, and frustration in return for service to him. Adam was transferred from membership in the kingdom of God to membership in the kingdom of Satan (Eph 2:1), from the kingdom of Light to the kingdom of Darkness (Col 1:13). Instead of improving himself by rebelling against God, Adam prevented himself from obtaining the fullness of his original potential. Adam’s rebellion had confirmed him so strongly in his tragic predicament that he was rendered totally incapable of rescuing himself from it. Nothing short of supernatural, divine intervention (hence, the Cross of Christ) would be able to save him (and his future offspring) from the predicament he had brought upon himself and his progeny by his own choice.
From the passages in Isaiah & Ezekiel, we have an understanding of the nature of “Satan’s fall” at a point in eternity past, as well as the judgment that was pronounced upon him at the time of his fall (Gen 3:14-15). Ultimately, Satan and sin were defeated at the cross (Matt 16:21-23 — Satan knew the “cross” would defeat him; John 1:29; 12:31-33; 16:11; 1 Cor 1:18; 15:24; Gal 6:14; Col 2:14-15; Heb 9:22, 26; 1 Pet 2:24). Obviously, the execution of his sentence is still in the future since he has not yet been cast into the Lake of Fire (Matt 25:41; Rev 20:10). The delay between the pronouncement of the sentence and the execution of the sentence is the span of time equal to “human history.” This fact establishes the relationship between an angelic conflict and human history. A careful reading of the biblical account of Satan’s fall certainly allows for there to have been a “period of unspecified duration” between the moral fall of Lucifer and the creation of the universe, including earth. After human history has run its course and the decisions of billions of humans have been made, God will have demonstrated His attributes. In addition, a lower creature (man) will have vindicated the integrity of God’s essence every time the lower creature responds positively to God’s holy requirements. From the beginning of creation to the conclusion of the Great White Throne Judgment, human history will serve as permanent evidence of the integrity of God’s essence. In their observation of humans, angels will witness proof after proof of Satan’s own culpability, and proof after proof of God’s perfect justice (Job 1:6; 2:1-3; Lk 15:7, 10; 1 Cor 4:9; 11:10; Eph 3:10; 1 Tim 3:16; 5:21).
HERE’S THE ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE: The great, governing cherub (Lucifer) became the “malignant enemy of God” and war was declared. God (being God) was neither surprised nor aston-ished, because He knew before it happened that it would happen (the eternal God exists outside of temporal time — again, that’s simply what it means to be God), and He had His perfect plan ready to be put into effect. Although God had the power to destroy Satan with a breath, He chose not to do so. It was as though an edict had been proclaimed in heaven – “We shall give this rebellion a thorough trial. . . we shall permit it to run its full course. The universe shall see what a creature, though he be the ‘highest creature’ ever to spring from God’s Word, can do apart from Him. God’s entire creation shall watch this experiment, which shall take place during a brief interlude between eternity past and eternity future – a period called “time.” In it the spirit of independence will be allowed to expand to the utmost. And the wreck and ruin which shall result will demonstrate to the universe – and forever – that there is no life, no joy, no peace apart from a complete dependence upon the Most High God, Professor of heaven and earth.” The course of God’s purpose in creation, it seems, is to make a sufficient and final trial of every claim of His adversaries; and when this age, with all its developments, shall have passed by, every mouth will be stopped (Rom 14:10-12; Phil 2:10-11; Rom 10:9; 1 Jn 1:9), and the whole world and Satan will know their own failure and sin before God. They will stand “self-condemned,” and nothing could accomplish this but the testing – by actual trial – of all the self-sufficient claims of Satan and man.
Satan and a third of all angels “did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode” (Jude 1:6; Rev 12:4) — they rebelled against God in eternity past. Scripture discloses that Satan has an organizational structure for his angelic forces that consists of principalities, powers, and rulers of the darkness of this age” (Eph 1:21; cf. 6:12; Rom 8:38). Satan governs a portion of the angelic realm and that governance will continue until his trial is concluded at the end of human history at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev 20:10-15). Human history will have served its God-intended purpose of demonstrating to all creation that God is love, and the only absolute righteousness and sovereign authority. Human history will have established the integrity of God’s essence as a fact not ever again subject to challenge. Satan’s challenge of God’s essence in eternity past as documented in Isaiah 14:11-17 and Ezek 28:12-19 will have been answered with irrefutable evidence for all eternity. Once the evidence of human history has been completely presented, the Only Sovereign over all creation will never again be subject to question or doubt.
Angels were already in existence when God created the material universe – they “shouted for joy” as they observed what was being made (Job 38:4-7). They were fascinated “observers” when God was laying the foundations of the earth. The fact that there is a strong interest in human history on the part of God’s angelic creation is strongly supported throughout Scripture (note the following activities by His heavenly angels – Job 38:4-7; Lk 15:10; Act 1:10; 7:38, 53; Gal 3:19; Lk 2:13; Mt 4:11; 13:37-39; 24:31; 25:31; 28:2-4; 2 Th 1:7-8; Rev 14:9-10). All these passages, and many others not listed, attest to a keen interest in the affairs of human history on the part of the angelic realm. This fact raises an important question: Why? Why are angels interested in the outcome of human history? Why would human history be a focal point of attention and activity from such a superior creature as angels? Why were humans (significantly lower creatures) created after angels anyway?
Satan’s case, and that of his followers, has already been adjudicated and his ultimate fate pronounced. At the conclusion of human history, Satan will face the execution of his sentence (Rev 20:10; Is 24:21-22), a verdict adjudged before human history began. Why the delay in judgment? Why didn’t God simply plunge the devil and his minions into the fires of hell immediately after their just condemnation? The answer to all such questions is intimately bound up with God’s creation of another species of morally responsible creatures – MAN. Until the fires of hell receive Satan and his followers, God grants them a degree of “freedom” – and during this interlude of time, Satan goes about the earth in search of believers whose defenses are down, seeking to destroy them (1 Pet 5:8). The creation of MAN is meant as a response to Satan’s rebellion, a living refutation of the devil’s slanderous lies against the character of God. When all is said and done, God’s righteousness will have been affirmed before all creation, and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt through the merciful salvation of believing mankind. Human beings who choose to reject God’s gracious gift of Jesus Christ, will share the fate of the devil and his followers in the lake of fire (Rev 20:11-15); and everyone, whether rebellious or regenerate, will eventually bow before the God of all creation and acknowledge His majesty and righteousness, and confess that Jesus Christ is LORD to the glory of God the Father (Rom 14:11; Phil 2:9-11). Everyone will be present on that day.
So the TRIAL OF EVIL is the ultimate reason for the MAN’S EXISTENCE – Evil is on trial right now – that is what our existence is all about. Reflect with me again upon the biblical account of creation – Adam and Eve were in the most idyllic setting imaginable. . . a place of absolute perfection and beauty. Nothing could have been added to make it a better, more enjoyable place. Consider this – in this beautiful setting God placed the serpent, Satan! Obviously, that was intentional; he just didn’t happen to show up; God purposely placed him there. And then God gave a “moral charge” to Adam, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat – in the day that you do eat from it you shall surely die” (Gen 3:16-17). God’s plan was now set in motion – He had created a new species – MAN – and placed him in a perfect Garden with Satan. The “moral charge” was given, and the inevitable occurred – Adam disobeyed God! Was God surprised? Absolutely not. God knew the end from the beginning. He is GOD. Furthermore, God’s purposes were now about to be executed. The story of man’s creation and fall, and his subsequent redemption, was the plan of God from all creation (Is 46:9-11; 55:11; Jn 1:13; 7:30; Act 2:23; Eph 1:4-6; Rev 22:13) – Scripture tells us that “Christ was slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev 13:8). God planned the end from the beginning. There are no surprises with God – He is in absolute control of all things; nothing happens outside of His divine providence.