Satan and the Bible Part 1
His Nature and Pride
It was C.S. Lewis who said: "There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or magician with the same delight." Of course Mr. Lewis was referring to the demons when he was speaking here, but I believe that this quote can easily be used of Satan as well. If you read the Bible, it assumes the existence of Satan and the demons just as it assumes the existence of God. And it warns us of them. For instance Peter in I Peter 5:8 states: "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." So it is important to know and understand just who it is we are up against.
Much of what the world thinks they know about Satan does not come from the Bible. He is not some cartoon-like figure with red skin, horns and a tail, that holds a pitchfork and is the ruler of hell. And he certainly is not equal in power to God, though Scripture says that he's quite powerful. He is a created being just like the rest of the beings in this universe, and his power and cunning are no match for the God who created him. And he was not created evil. God did not create Satan to be the evil person he has become. Rather, Satan chose to rebel against a holy God. With these things in mind, let us find out what Scripture says that he truly is.
I. He is a Creature
By this I am referring to the fact that there was a time when Satan didn't exist. Unlike God, who is eternal, Satan had a beginning. As I just stated above, he was created by God. If we can assume that Ezekiel 28:11-19 is referring to Satan, which seems to be the case, that passage clearly teaches that he was created. That means that he does not possess all the attributes of God. For instance he is not all present like our Lord. He cannot be everywhere at once. He also isn't all knowing. He is very bright but doesn't possess all knowledge. And he is not all powerful. Once again, he is extremely powerful, and none of us could take him in a fight alone. But our God is greater than he.
Also, being a creature, Satan has to answer to Almighty God. The only reason that Satan was able to rebel in the first place, was that the Lord has allowed him his free will, just as He has allowed us ours. But God could crush Satan if He wants to, and will ultimately defeat him in the end.
Just one example of the Lord's sovereignty over Satan is found in the book of Job, where Satan comes before God and has to get permission before doing anything to Job. Job is a righteous man who follows the Lord in everything. Satan tells God that the reason Job is so righteous is that God has pampered him and given him everything. Satan says that if the Lord will allow him to do something to Job then the saint will curse God. The Lord allows this to prove the righteousness of his servant, and the rest is history. Though Job loses his riches, his family, and though his wife tells him to curse God and die, he remains faithful. Satan is proven wrong, and Job is rewarded by God. We can see from this that even though Satan has chosen to rebel, he isn't ultimately in control of this universe, God is, and His purposes will ultimately win out.
II. He is a Spirit Being
From Ezekiel 28 we can glean that Satan belongs to the order of angels called cherubim (28:14). Apparently he was the highest created angel (verse 12). Even Michael the Archangel didn't want to dispute with him over the body of Moses in Jude 9. Some have called him the Archangel over all of the evil angels that rebelled against God. Today, even though Satan is fallen, he still retains a lot of power. The Bible refers to him as the prince of the power of the air in Ephesians 2:2. He is also referred to as the god of this world (II Corinthians 4:4).
III. He Committed the Sin of Pride
The sin that Satan committed is the same sin that many people are guilty of today. He was prideful. Paul identifies this sin in I Timothy 3:6 when talking about the appointment of elders and deacons in the local church. One thing that an elder or deacon shouldn't be is a novice, meaning new to the Christian faith. Why? Because he might be lifted up with pride and "fall into the condemnation of the devil." We see his pride in Isaiah 14:12-14 with the seven "I wills" of Lucifer. His final boast is that: "I will be like the most High!"
We have much more to say about this creature, but we will save it for the next installment. However, from what we've seen so far, it is clear that the Bible teaches that Satan is a real person. He is not just some personification of evil that men have made up. While he must not be taken lightly, at the same time, we mustn't be terrified of him if we are Christians. Jesus Christ came for the purpose of destroying the works of the devil (I John 3:8). Even though he is still operating, he has already been defeated, and in Christ alone we can escape his tyranny. One day his activity will cease and he'll be thrown into the Lake of Fire forever (Revelation 20:10). Our God wins in the end. That means we do as well. Praise His name!