Twisting the Truth #4

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Is There Really a Devil?

I grew up going to church, and in doing so, I guess I have just about always believed in the existence of the devil. I can’t remember being taught much of anything about him, but I do remember reading about him in the Bible. Perhaps I just assumed that he must exist if he is spoken of so much in the Bible.  I find it very interesting that so many people think that there is no such entity as Satan.  They have a hard time admitting that an enemy consumed by evil is out there, tempting, accusing, and wrecking the lives of mankind.  But these same people often believe wholeheartedly that God exists, and that He wants what is best for His creation.  This is a true paradox, because the only revelation we have of God is the Bible, and the Bible makes clear the existence of Satan.  In my current Bible study – Twisting the Truth – author Andy Stanley writes:

Many of us find this idea [that an unseen realm exists that affects our lives – including Satan] a bit difficult to accept. But the same Bible that tells things we enjoy hearing — like “Love one another” and “God so loved the world” — that same Bible makes clear the existence of this invisible world.

The Bible is not unclear about the existence of the devil. To believe one area of the Bible but to ignore another area of the Bible is unwise at best, and just plain ignorant at worst.

Today, I’ve studied up a little on a few of the Bible passages that speak of Satan and His powers on the earth.  I’d like to share what I studied with you.

Ezekiel 28:12-19, speaking of Satan, says:

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: carnelian, chrysolite and emerald, topaz, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. 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. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings. By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries. So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. All the nations who knew you are appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more.

Isaiah 14:12-15, also speaking of Satan, says:

How you have fallen from heaven, morning star [also translated Lucifer], son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit.

Based on these passages, we know that Satan’s pre-fall name was likely Lucifer.  This name is found in the King James Version, but is just translated “morning star” in the NIV.  Lucifer was a “guardian cherub,” meaning that he was in a special class of angels who were given special tasks (like the guarding of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden – see Genesis 3:24) and possibly a special status before God, as they were allowed in the throne room of God and apparently had special tasks there, too (see Ezekiel 1).  The writers at sum up the passages talking about the cherubim by saying “the cherubim serve the purpose of magnifying the holiness and power of God. This is one of their main responsibilities throughout the Bible. In addition to singing God’s praises, they also serve as a visible reminder of the majesty and glory of God…”  If the image of one of the cherubim was supposed to serve as a reminder of the majesty and glory of God, then Lucifer must have been the greatest reminder of them all.  The passages above say that he was adorned with every precious stone and was “perfect in beauty.”  He was most likely the highest created angel, and probably had a position over every other created thing.

Then, because of his beauty and magnificence, which were supposed to point to the magnificence and glory of God, Lucifer became arrogant.  And on top of that, his wisdom was corrupted (as pride often tends to do).  He lost sight of what was right, and by focusing on only himself, he decided that he was the most important being – even greater than God Himself.  So Lucifer decided that he would de-throne God and take over as the Most High – a task no one can ever do.  God then cast Lucifer out of heaven, and from then on, he is referred to as Satan.

It’s not directly stated that at any point Lucifer was given authority over the earth prior to his fall from Heaven, but I tend to think that perhaps he did have that power.  My reasoning is that he retained that power even after his fall – many passages attest to Satan’s rule over the earth.  Jesus calls Satan “the prince of this world” (John 12:31) and Paul writes that the devil is “the god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4).  Satan, himself, admitted his authority over the earth when he tempted Christ: “The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, ‘I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.’ ” (Luke 4:5-7, emphasis added).  There is no doubt that Satan has much authority on the earth still today, and that he is very powerful.  This is obviously no secret in Heaven – “But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’ ” (Jude 9).

I could continue on and on, but I think I have touched the high points in what the Bible says about the devil, and this post is already getting way too long.  If I had to sum this all up and attempt to apply it to my current study and to my previous posts, I would say that Satan is not an easy enemy to stand up against.  He was created with great intelligence and power. Understanding this is the first step in going to battle against him (or at the very least, standing firm in his battle again us). Satan has deluded himself into thinking that he deserves the throne of God, and because he can’t have it, he is wreaking havoc on God’s kingdom. One of his easiest and most effective deceptions is to get people to believe he doesn’t even exist.  But the Bible is clear about the existence of Satan, and Jesus talked about him as if he were a real thing, a real personality.  To me, that’s enough to convince me that his existence is a reality.

Have you ever known someone who didn’t believe in hell or the existence of Satan?  What was their reasoning?

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