Who Is The Devil?
It seems that everyone has heard of the Devil, also known as Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub, etc. Satan is often seen as a comic individual with a red suit, horns and a pitchfork. Sometimes Satan is portrayed as God’s opposite, a kind of “anti-god” or evil god who is locked in an eternal struggle for people’s souls. Neither of these representations are true.
Here’s the real deal: The individual that we call “the Devil” is a fallen angelic being. Satan is his name and “devil” is his title, or his occupation, if you prefer. The word devil means accuser; it comes from a Greek term that means a false witness or malicious accuser. The name Satan means adversary.
Contrary to what many people believe, the Bible does not represent Satan as a myth or a legend but as an actual being. Satan has the ability to reason (Job 1:9-10), he has emotions (Revelation 12:17), he has desires (Luke 22:31), he has plans (Ephesians 6:11,) and he has the ability to carry out his intentions (2 Timothy 2:26).
Where Did The Devil Come From?
Two Old Testament passages seem to relate to Satan and his beginnings. Those passages are Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:11-19.
The Ezekiel passage is really interesting to read for in Ezekiel 28:12, God tells Ezekiel to “Take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre.” Tyre was the name of a town of that day but when you actually read this lament for the king of Tyre, you find that it speaks of a guardian angelic being who was in the Garden of Eden. So it seems that Ezekiel was doing more than just speaking of the king- he was speaking of someone who was the real power behind the king’s actions.
These two portions of Scripture speak of a being who was “…the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (Ezekiel 28:12). He was blameless in all his ways until he became proud of his beauty. At that time, wickedness was found in him and he grew corrupt because of his splendor (Ezekiel 28:15-17). He began to plot to take over the throne of God saying, “…I will raise my throne above the stars of God… I will make myself like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:13-14).
We can learn a lot more about Satan’s origin by looking a little closer at this passage in Isaiah 14:13-14…
- “I will ascend to heaven.” Heaven is the place of God and it appears that Satan wanted to rise to a position of equal (or greater) importance than God.
- “I will raise my throne above the stars of God.” The use of the word “stars” here is generally thought to refer to angelic beings. This would indicate that Satan desired to have the same rule and authority over other angels as God does.
- “I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.” Earlier in the book of Isaiah we’re told that, “…the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it” (Isaiah 2:2 NIV). So it appears that one of Satan’s goals was to replace God as ruler over the Earth and have everyone look to him instead of God.
- “I will ascend above the tops of the clouds.” This is a poetic way of saying that Satan wanted to be the highest, greatest and uppermost being in the universe.
- “I will make myself like the Most High.” This tells us that Satan wanted the same power, authority and worship as God.
Because of this attempt to overthrow God and install himself in God’s place, Satan’s name was changed from Lucifer (which means shining one or morning star) to Satan (adversary). Satan was expelled from heaven (Isaiah 14:12) but apparently still has some sort of limited access (see Job 1:6-10 for an example). The Bible doesn’t tell us when all this happened, but it must have occurred sometime before Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden for Satan orchestrated that event in the personage of the serpent (see Genesis 3:1-7).
What Is Satan Like?
In the Bible, Satan is referred to as…
- “The evil one” (Matthew 6:13)
- “The wicked one” (1John 2:13)
- “A liar and a murderer” (John 8:44)
- “A deceiver” (Revelation 20:10)
- “The ruler of this world” (John 12:31)
Satan is a tremendously intelligent, crafty and relentless being. Revelation 12:10 tells us that Satan accuses God’s people both day and night. That means that Satan never gets tired and he doesn’t give up. Satan is so powerful that he apparently is a match even for the archangel Michael (Jude 9). Matthew 13:39 simply identifies him as “the enemy.”
Satan is a master of deceit and he can assume a different form if the need suits him (See 2 Corinthians 11:14). Satan also attempts to blind people to the truth about God according to 2 Corinthians 4:3. 1 John 5:19 says, “…the whole world is under the control of the wicked one.” So Satan is an extremely powerful opponent and is not to be taken lightly under any circumstance.
While these things sound impressive, the fact is that Satan’s power is not unlimited. As a created being, Satan is not all-powerful and he is not all knowing. He is not omnipresent (in other words -unlike God- Satan cannot be everywhere at once) and he can only operate within God’s restrictions (see Job 1:12 and 2:6).
What Is Satan’s Future?
Satan’s future isn’t very bright. The Bible clearly teaches that Satan is facing eternal punishment for what he has done. Revelation 20:2 tells us that he will spend a thousand years of imprisonment in the Abyss (or bottomless pit). After the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released for a short time before facing his final destiny. According to Revelation 20:10 the final stop for Satan will be a lake of burning sulfur where he will be punished relentlessly and continually throughout eternity.
Next: Bad Company