What the Bible Says About the Devil Part 1
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
What the Bible Says About the Devil
The apostle Peter said, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8, NKJV)
Peter is warning us that the devil is our enemy and that he wants to destroy us, and then he warns us to take him seriously and to be on our guard. Satan doesn’t want us to study his characteristics and learn about his tactics. He would much rather work behind the scenes and keep alive the erroneous belief that he is a “red skinned creature with horns, a forked tail, and a pitchfork, with smoke, continually coming out of his nostrils.” This misrepresentation of Satan gives rise to the disturbing opinion that he is not a real person at all, but a mythological or fictional character, which only represents an evil influence in the world. However, the Bible clearly describes the devil and carefully outlines his strategy. Listen to how the Bible describes the temptation of Jesus in Matthews’s gospel.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, In their hands, they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ” Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him. (Matthew 4:1-11, NKJV)
Let’s ask the Bible five questions about the devil, and listen to the answers:
First, “Where did the devil come from?”
Second, “What is the personality of the devil?”
Third, “How much power does the devil have?”
Forth, “What is the work of the devil?”
Fifth, “What is the destiny of the devil?”
We need to know what the Bible has to say about the devil because it’s the only source of information available, which we can trust. And besides who would know him better than the One who created him, and who sees everything he does.
Let’s begin with the question, “WHERE DID THE DEVIL COME FROM?”
Satan is a created being. The fact that all things in heaven and on earth, were created by Christ and for Christ is stated in Colossians 1:16: “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” The simple truth that the devil exists causes us to conclude that he was created; and the fact that he is invisible means that he exists in the same realm as the host of heaven. We don’t know when the angelic host was created. The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly when God created the angels, but it does imply that their creation preceded all material things as we know them, and that they were themselves preceded by the eternal existence of God. It says in the first two verses of John’s gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1-2, NKJV). Here, the Word is the Lord Jesus Christ. Among the entire angelic host, Satan’s creation alone is mentioned in particular.
It says in Ezekiel 28:12-17, “…Tell him, 'The Lord God says: You were the perfection of wisdom and beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; your clothing was bejeweled with every precious stone--ruby, topaz, diamond, chrysolite, onyx, jasper, sapphire, carbuncle, and emerald--all in beautiful settings of finest gold. They were given to you on the day you were created. I appointed you to be the anointed Guardian Angel. You had access to the holy mountain of God…" 'You were perfect in all you did from the day you were created until that time when wrong was found in you. Your great wealth filled you with internal turmoil, and you sinned. Therefore, I cast you out of the mountain of God like a common sinner…Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor…” The Bible doesn’t mention the creation of Gabriel, the archangel Michael, the cherubim or any other members of the heavenly Host; it only mentions Lucifer, who is also called Satan or the devil This fact suggests the supreme place that Satan held in relation to all other invisible creatures of God.
The second question we asked was, “What is the personality of the devil?”
Very early in the Bible, in Genesis 3:1, we are told, “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” We know from this verse that he is cunning, that he was a resident of the Garden of Eden, and that he perverts and distorts scripture. This is what Isaiah said about Satan: notice that he is given a heavenly title, “Lucifer, son of the morning.” “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit. (Isaiah 14:12-17) He is described here as proud and ambitious; he wanted to be like God, and he set his will against God’s will. He lost his position in heaven and he is under judgment because of his rebellion against God.
Next, as I read these verses in Ezekiel, listen for these characteristics of the devil:
Created with superior wisdom.
Appears to be beautiful.
Originally created as one of the heavenly beings.
Repulsive to those who know him.
“Behold, you are wiser than Daniel! There is no secret that can be hidden from you!…‘Thus says the Lord God: “You were the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold…You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you. …“Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you; You have become a horror… ” (Ezekiel 28:3-19)
In John 8:44 we are told that he is a liar, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.
In 2 Corinthians, we are told that he is deceptive; he has the ability to change his appearance. “For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14)
We are also told that he is not omniscient, omnipresent, or omnipotent. In other words, he doesn’t have God’s ability to know all things, to be everywhere at the same time, and he doesn’t have unlimited power. He must do what God orders.
There is yet another interesting indication of Satan’s personality; it’s the fact that he apparently has access to God. In Job 1:6 we are told, “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.” The phrase “sons of God” refers to angelic beings that do God’s bidding. These beings were created and therefore are limited and in no way equal to God. Here they are seen as gathered around the throne of God to report activities and to receive further orders, and Satan is right there with them.
Satan also has access to men, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) The activity of Satan against believers is mentioned in various ways throughout the New Testament. Satan tempts believers to lie (Acts 5:3); he accuses and slanders them (Rev. 12:10); he entices them toward sexual sin (1 Cor. 7:5); he places obstacles in their path (1 Thess. 2:18); he causes persecution (Rev. 2:10); and he causes false-Christians to infiltrate among true Christians to promote confusion and division in the church (Matt. 13:38, 39).
The Christian’s defense involves being on guard, sober, vigilant (1 Pet. 5:8), taking a stand against the devil and resisting him (v. 9; James 4:7; Eph. 6:11–18).