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Phases of Satan

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By
Pastor Mark Montgomery
Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209
(412)822-7255
The Christian life today is a daily warfare against Satan. The forces of the Devil combat those who trust Christ, and in many cases defeat the Christian. Often those who would be saved are suddenly steered away from salvation by an onslaught from Satan. In order to understand these problems, and be better equipped to fight against the Devil, the history of Satan must be examined.

The first period of Satan's history is that before his fall. Satan was a created being, an angel in the Heavenly host of God. The passage of Scripture which best teaches about Satan's original state is Ezekiel 28:11-15. In this chapter, the prophet opens by rebuking the prince of Tyre. However, in verse eleven the prophet changes and starts speaking of the king of Tyre. Some feel that this king is merely an historical figure, However, close examination of the passage will instantly show that this "king" is like no earthly king that the world has ever known. It is also interesting to note that the context of this passage is that God is pronouncing judgement upon those who are the enemies of His chosen people. I Chronicles 21:1 reads, "and Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel." This clearly teaches that Satan was specifically numbered among the enemies of Israel. Thus, it is very logical that he would be included in this context as a recipient of God's wrath.

There are several items concerning the early portions of Satan's career which can be discovered from this passage. First, it is seen that he was a created being. (This incidently is a telling point against the king of Tyre being a literal, historical, human being. Only Adam was created in the human race.) God created all the angels. Psalm 148:2-5 reads, "praise ye Him, all His angels; praise ye Him, all His hosts... Let them praise the name of the Lord, for He commanded and they were created." Thus, coupling this verse with verses thirteen and fifteen in Ezekiel twenty-eight, it is clear that Satan was indeed a created being. It is important to note that the fact that he was created by God puts him in a subordinate role to God. Were he an eternal being, he would be just like God. But his status as merely a created being in relation to God, "Who only hath immortality" (I Tim 6:16), indicates that he was to be a servant of the Most High.

There are many other characteristics of Satan which are seen in this passage. Verse twelve speaks of him thus: "thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty." Here Ezekiel is writing that Satan in his original state was the sum total of divine perfection. Chafer writes:

Such an expression is superlative even according to divine standards. The intimation is that all divine powers along the two lines of wisdom and beauty are represented in this being.(1)
It becomes apparent that Satan at his creation was probably the highest of all creation. Isaiah 14:12 refers to Satan as "'the son of the morning." This passage again is indicative of his beauty.

Verse thirteen of Ezekial twenty-eight teaches that Satan was in Eden, the garden of God. He was thus a partaker in the earthly results of God's creation. It should be noted that the context of Ezekiel twenty-eight indicates that Satan was in the garden of Eden before he fell. He was not only there when he tempted Eve, but in his perfect state he was also there. Verse thirteen also speaks of the covering of Satan as being ''of every precious stone," including "the sardis, topay, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold." This shows that Satan was not only present in Eden, but was bedecked in beautiful garb. There are only three instances where these precious stones are displayed in the Bible. The first of these is in the breastplate of the high priest as a manifestation of divine grace. The second is in the New Jerusalem which reflects all of God's glory. The third place is here in Ezekial twenty-eight as the covering of Satan. This is very indicative of the high and lofty rank which he held. This verse also teaches, "the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee." This teaches that Satan "was created to have been a diadem of praise to his Creator."(2) One more note should be made from verse thirteen. This is that Satan was a perfect being. He was indeed created by God, and since God is holy, and Genesis 1:31 teaches that "God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good," it stands that Satan was a perfect being.

Verse fourteen states that Satan was "the appointed cherub that covereth." The cherubs were the order of angels which were assigned to the throne of God. This goes right along with the second part of verse fourteen, which states that Satan "wast upon the holy mountain of God." This phrase, in the Old Testament usage, applies to the "seat of God's authority." (3)

By this, the purpose of the Creator is revealed. While Satan doubtless exercised some authority in the earth...the evident meaning of this verse is that Satan was created as a guard or protector to the throne of the Most High. This is reasonable. Like the golden cherubim, covering the visible mercy seat in the Holy of Holies of the earthly tabernacle, he was created a guard and covering cherub to the heavenly center of glory.(4)
This then is the Biblical description of Satan's original state. He was the most beautiful of God's creation and had the wisdom and power to be the cherub at the throne of God. It is very important to realize the power which Satan had, because he undoubtably possesses much of, if not all, the same power today.

Even though Satan was such a high angel, and had been wonderfully blessed by God, he rebelled. Ezekiel 28:15 reads, "Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee." Sin was found in Satan. Chafer says that "the intimation is that a secret sin was discovered."(5) Whether the sin was secret or open, it was found in Satan. What was this iniquity? Verse seventeen gives the answer when it says, "Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty; thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness." Satan became filled with pride because of his lofty position. Isaiah 14:12-14 gives a more elaborate description of this sin.

How art thou fallen from Heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, who didst weaken the nations! 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, I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.
Because verse thirteen says that Lucifer said "in his heart" that he would rebel, this seems again to indicate that his sin was secret, and not yet exposed in the form of outright rebellion. The pride in his being is illustrated by the five "I Wills" of verses thirteen and fourteen. These five statements should be examined.

The first statement was that Satan would ascend into Heaven. By this he probably means the third or highest heaven. The angels appear to abide on a lower plane, for Ephesians 1:20-21 teach that Christ was set at the right hand of the Father "far above all principality and power, and might, and dominion." Thus, it appears that Satan wished to set himself in an equal place with God. His second statement, that he would set his throne above the stars of God, indicates that he wanted to take possession of God's throne, and rule over the angels of Heaven. His third statement, that he would sit in the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north, probably has reference to his ruling over Isreal.(6) His fourth statement, that he would ascend above the clouds, has a special meaning not immediately seen. Of all the references to clouds in the Scriptures, approximately two-thirds deal with the divine presence. Thus, Satan appears to be striving for glory which is entitled to God alone. The fifth statement, that he would be like the Most High, is the most telling statement of the five. Satan wanted to be like God, not God the Creator or God the self-existent-One, but God the possessor of heaven and earth. Thus, it is seen that the motive for Satan's sin was a desire to be like God; to receive worship, and to have authority over Heaven and earth.

Upon his rebellion, Satan fell from his exalted state. He was not cast out of Heaven, for Job 1:6 states that, "the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them." Thus it is seen that he still has access to the throne of God and has not yet been cast out. Some will argue that Satan was judged between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. However, there is no Scriptural warrant for this. Others claim that Christ's assertion in Luke 10:18, that He, "beheld Satan as lightning fall from Heaven" indicates that Satan was removed from God's presence. However, in light of Scriptural evidence, particularly the context of Luke ten, it seems that this verse must be a prophetic utterance by Christ.(7)

It has been seen that the real sin of Satan was that he was lifted up with his own beauty and strength, and desired to be the god of the universe. This is very important because it is to follow him and motivate him throughout his career. Satan has not changed over the thousands of years since his fall. He still desires to dethrone God and become the sovereign ruler of the heavens and the earth. Thus, each step that he has taken since his fall has been designed to destroy God's handiwork and enlarge himself so that he can defeat God.

Satan did not take long in putting his plans to work. He tempted Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. This was done to increase his own authority. Chafer writes:

Since Satan had been in authority over the... earth, it is reasonable to believe that he was filled with jealousy and hatred towards Adam, the newly created being to whom the earth's authority was given. Satan made an attack upon Adam and wrested the scepter (of authority) from his hand...He did this by securing man's loyal obedience to his own suggestion and counsel.
Up until this time, man had been in complete harmony with the will of God. Suddenly Satan deceived the woman and got Adam to follow after his will in oppositlon to God's. Thus, Satan seemingly got a hold of man.

But even in this seeming victory, there was defeat for Satan. God promised to put enmity between the seed of the woman and Satan. That seed would bruise Satan's head, or in other words, destroy him. Thus, even though Satan defeated the first Adam, God promised that there would someday be a second Adam who would ultimately destroy Satan.

Armed with this prediction, Satan at once set out to destroy the Messiah. His logical reasoning was that it he could keep the Messiah from coming to earth, then he could keep Him from destroying him. The first instance of this is found in the fourth chapter of Genesis. Abel was born to Adam and Eve, and Satan undoubtedly felt that he was to carry on the Messianic line, for I John 3:12 states, "Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother." Satan felt that by killing Abel he could keep the Messiah from coming. But God in His Divine Providence, raised up Seth to carry on the line. In addition to trying to destroy the Messianic line, Satan was attempting to gain worship. That is why the tower of Babel was built. That is why so much idolatry was practiced by the Hebrews. Satan desires worship, because not only does it enlarge his stature, but it also seemingly takes away from the worship received by God.

The next phase of Satan's career concerns the time during Christ's ministry. Immediately following His birth, Satan prompted Herod to make a decree that all the children were to be executed. God again protected the Messiah. However, it was after Christ's baptism that Satan made his supreme attempt to destroy the plans of God. Matthew chapter four records how Satan tempted Christ. All these temptations were designed to put Christ out of the will of His Father, and into the will of Satan. If Satan could get Christ to succomb to even one of these temptations then he would have thwarted God, and would be the ultimate victor. But Christ refused to give in and Satan was defeated by the second Adam. It is interesting to note that Satan promised the whole world, (of which he is god and Prince, II Cor. 4:4, John 12:31) to Christ in return for just one thing: worship. Satan desires the worship of both men and God, and needs it in order to become the ruler of the universe. Satan also engineered the crucifixion of the Lord, for John 13:27 states that Satan entered into Judas before he went to betray Christ. This was done to insure that Christ would not wrest the scepter of the earth away from Satan. However, Satan failed to stop Christ's resurrection from the dead, so Christ won the victory over Satan (I Cor. 15:54-57).

Up to the time of the resurrection, Satan's plan had been to destroy the Messiah, the Savior of mankind. But, having failed at that, his wickedness manifested itself in another manner, that of confusing believers and blinding the eyes of those who believe not. The New Testament is filled with references to the methods of Satan in the church age. The first group which Satan attacks is the unregenerate. Actually, Satan is not at war with the unsaved men, because they are both in the same camp. Rather he just tries to keep the man in his camp. Every soul which is won to Christ is lost to Satan, and subsequently turns his worship accordingly. II Cor. 4:4 teaches that "the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not."

Secondly, Satan attacks the believer. The Devil wants to wreck the ministries of Christians so that they will not be able to lead any away from Satan to Christ. II Cor. 2:11 says, "Lest Satan should get an advantage of us, for we are not ignorant of his devices." The dictionary definition of "device" is,

something devised or contrived for bringing about some end or result; an arrangement, plan, scheme, project, contrivence; an ingenious or clever expedient; often only of underhanded, or evil character; a plot, stratagem, trick.
This certainly indicates that Satan is sneaky, and will try anything to defeat the Christian. Ephesians 6.11 says that Christians must put on the whole armour of God so that they may be able to "stand against the wiles of the devil." Again it is seen that Satan is crafty. He will not beat the Christian over the head to destroy his ministry if he can accomplish it very smoothly. I Peter 5:8 speaks of Satan as being a "roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." As this is being written to Christians, it is evident that Satan must be trying to destroy those who have put their faith in God. Why does he do this? Because he desires to be the ruler of the universe, and if he can hinder the Christian's and church's ministry, then he will have gained those souls which would have been won by the diligent Christian and church. The whole program of Satan during the church age is probably best summed up in I Thessalonians 2:18 where Paul writes, "Wherefore, we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again, but Satan hindered us." Although Paul intended to minister to the church, this is still a good example of Satan's attempt to hinder the work of the gospel during the church age.

The church age ends with the rapture of the saints At this point, Satan need not work against the Christians, for they will be raptured (save the 144,000 and those which they convert). Thus, his program will take on a new form. Satan now attempts to set his servant, Antichrist, up as the ruler of this world. In so doing, he hopes that all of the world's population will worship the Antichrist, and thus worship him. What is so special about this Antichrist is that he will in fact be an imitation of Christ. Pink refers to him as "the Son of Satan"(10), as in imitation of the Son of God. Satan has always tried to copy God's plans. He has a gospel (Gal. 1:6,7). He has angels (Matt. 24:31). His spirit works in his children (Eph. 2:2). He sows (Matt. 13:25). Thus, Satan has always been an imitator, and sought to sway people away from God by these imitations. However, in the person of the Antichrist, he has finally attempted to set up a kingdom on earth based upon his deception. In this deception, the Antichrist will appear on the world's scene as something more than a man; a "Superman" perhaps would be a good term. Based upon Genesis 3:15, there is a good possibility that this Antichrist may actually be the seed of Satan, much as Christ was the Seed of the woman.(11) The most elaborate deception is found in Revelation 13:3, where John sees that one of the heads of the beast had a deadly wound, and the wound was healed. This would seem to be a total imitation of the death and resurrection of Christ. Thus, Satan is taking every possible step to set up an Antichrist who will gain the leadership of the world. His goal in all this is seen in verse four of Revelation thirteen: "And they worshipped the dragon who gave power unto the beast." Satan gains the worship and world control that he desires through this Antichrist. The beast is joined by the false prophet who directs worship towards the beast and ultimately towards Satan. He ultimately comes to be thought of as God, for the people exclaim, "Who is like unto the beast?". He performs miracles, speaks with great religious oration, and is in fact the supreme ruler of the entire world. Thus, Satan briefly reaches his goal of being "like the Most High."

Only very little time passes though, until the armies of the Lord fight against the forces of Antichrist at the great battle of Armageddon. The end of this battle is the destruction of the kingdom of Antichrist, the punishment in the Lake of Fire of the beast and false prophet, and the establishment of Christ's millennial kingdom. At this time, Satan is taken and bound and cast into the bottomless pit to "deceive the nations no more till the thousand years be fulfilled." (Rev. 20:3). During this thousand year period, Satan has no effect upon the world, which is being ruled by Christ with a rod of iron.

Following the millennium, Satan is loosed for a short season. He immediately goes and deceives the nations into following him. This will come about because,

outwardly, individuals have been required to conform to the rule of the King and make a profession of obedience to Christ. In many cases, however, this was mere outward conformity without inward reality, and in their inexperience of real temptation they are easy victims of Satan's wiles.(12)
This attack is much different than that during the tribulation. Now Satan himself is the visible leader as opposed to his "son". And instead of going to the kings of the earth, he now goes to the common people; for there is now only one King. He gathers a multitude with him, "the number of whom is as the sand of the sea," (Rev. 20:8) and attempts to do battle with the forces of Christ. He even gets so far as to encircle the city of God, when God sends fire from Heaven which consumes and destroys all those men who attempted to overthrow the Lord. In addition, this final crushing, defeat spells the end of Satan's career. He is taken and cast into the lake of fire where he is tormented day and night, forever.

Satan was originally created as a beautiful covering cherub; the highest of God's creation. Yet he desired to overthrow God and become the sovereign of the universe. From that moment, his entire motive has been the accomplishment of that goal. His methods have changed. Before Calvary he tried to destroy the Messianic line. In the church age he tries to wreck the lives and ministries of Christians. In the tribulation he will set up his "son" to receive the worship of man. Finally, after the millennium, he will go himself to lead the overthrow of Christ. But because of the sovereign, holy, omnipotent, self-existent Creator Jehovah, he is doomed forever to fail. His doom is sealed. It is sealed long before he is cast into the Lake of Fire. In fact, it was sealed at the cross. Hebrews 2:14 states, "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil."

Thus, the Christian should rejoice in the fact that Satan, though he may be a roaring lion, can never win, because Christ defeated him eternally at Calvary.


(1) Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, (Dallas: Dallas Seminary press, 1947), p. 41.
(2) Ibid.
(3) Ibid., p. 42.
(4) Lewis Sperry Chafer, Satan: His Motive and Methods (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1919), p. 17.
(5) Chafer, Systematic Theology, p. 43.
(6)Ibid., p. 48.
(7) Donald Barnhouse, The Invisible War (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1965), pp. 46-47.
(8) Chafer, Satan: His Motive and Methods, pp. 22-23.
(9) Barnhouse, op. cit., p. 155.
(10) Arthur Pink, The Antichrist (Minneapolis: Kloch and Kloch Christian Publishers, 1979), p. 44.
(11) Ibid., p. 46.
(12) John Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Chicago: Moody Press, 1966), p. 302.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Barnhouse, Donald. The Invisible War. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1965.

Chafer, Lewls Sperry. Satan: His Motive and Methods. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1919.

Chafer, Lewis Sperry. Systematic Theology. Dallas: Dallas Seminary Press, 1947.

Pink, Arthur. The Antichrist. Minneapolis: Kloch and Kloch Christian Publishers, 1979.

Seiss, J.A. The Apocalypse. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1900.

Strong, Augustus. Systematic Theology. Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1907.

Walvoord, John. The Revelation of Jesus Christ. Chicago: Moody Press, 1966.



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