ANGELS – Part 6
By Tommy Thornhill
Did God create the devil to be evil? Did evil make the devil, or did the devil make evil? To each of these questions I must answer, I do not know. What I do know is that without the real Devil or Satan there is no accounting for evil. Evil is embodied in the devil as a personal being, not an idea. We know from Gen.3:1-6; Jn.8:44 that the devil is responsible for introducing sin into the world. From the Garden of Eden onward the devil is seen as the archenemy of God. But the question remains, where did the devil come from?
What I write about the origin of the devil will NOT be the definitive answer, but the product of my study through the years. I firmly believe that Satan aka the Devil is a real being, and he co-exists with God and portrayed as God’s archenemy and adversary. Because of his hatred and opposition to God he is constantly active in cursing and leading humanity astray from God. He has made it his mission, if possible, to destroy everything God has created and pronounced as “very good” Gen.1:31. That this is his mission can be readily seen in the descriptive names by which he is called. He is called the Tempter, Beelzebub, the Deceiver, Murderer, Father of lies and other such names. As a result, it is only natural for people to wonder about where he came from, and why he exists. Curiosity causes such questions as “Where did the devil come from?” Has he always existed? Is he eternal? If not, did God create him to be an evil being, “the wicked one” Matt.13:19,38 so he might deceive and create havoc among humanity, that they might rebel and sin against their Creator? I readily admit I cannot give scriptural answers to these questions.
From my study of the Bible, I can know for certain that the Devil is a real being, for without his existence there is no accounting for sin in the world. I can also know that he is not as strong as God. The devil may be superhuman, but he is not divine like God. He is subject to God and limited in his power Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to bind (limit) the power of the devil. Jesus taught this clearly in Matt.12:27-30, who as the strong man He binds Beelzebub, the devil). Later passages reveal the devil has been overpowered by Jesus. 1.Jn.3:8; Heb.2:14-15. The devil/Satan is now bound and will ultimately be destroyed forever at the final judgment, when he and all his angels will be cast into the eternal hell of fire prepared for them by God Matt.25:41, Rev.20:1-15.
As already stated, the Bible DOES NOT give a definitive answer as to the origin of the devil, but we can find clues in the Bible that might help us arrive at a reasonable answer. Reasonable does not mean definite. What I write about the Devil’s origin is only a possibility, based on my study through the years.
At some time in the far distant past before man was created, in some fashion, the devil came into being. The how and when it happened is the question very difficult to answer. I am certain God didn’t create the devil to be evil, directly or indirectly. To claim that God created the devil to cause evil is against the character of God. We all understand that an accomplice is guilty when he lets someone else do the crime. To create Satan as the evil monster he is, would make God responsible for evil. It would also make Him unjust, to create a monster to do His dirty work, then when He is finished with him, to cast him into eternal hell fire Matt.25:41.
On the other hand, If the devil was created good and then fell, who or what tempted him to do so? The Bible does not say. God made all things good, good didn’t make God. But evil exists and opposes good. I believe God created angels with free will, the power to choose evil or good, just as He did with mankind. Otherwise, they could not have rebelled. Since God created all things good Jas.1:12, 17, I know He did not create evil. How can perfect good become perfect evil? But if He gives free will to His creatures (even angels) then they have the ability to choose. I cannot say for certain, but to me it is more reasonable to believe that the devil at one time was an angel of high rank, maybe an archangel who chose to rebel against God and was cast out of heaven Rev.12:1-9 than to think he always existed alongside God in eternal dualism.
This is the question of eternal dualism. Did both God and Satan exist together from all eternity? Are both good and evil eternal? Jn.8:44 (from the beginning). Is this preexistence? There is a problem. I believe eternity is a peculiar attribute of God? How could the devil, a bitter enemy of God, enter into the presence of God, who allows nothing evil to be in His presence? I do not know the answer to these questions, but I understand that Satan is certainly not equal with God as we have already seen. One day he will be defeated Rev.20:10-15. No, God is not the origin of evil, nor did He create the devil as evil. God’s goodness provoked a sacrifice because sin was introduced into the world by Satan. Satan’s evil provokes fanaticism against God.
Sometime in my earlier years I remember reading something about an old Jewish rabbinical theory that taught that God created Satan on the 6th day of creation and assigned the earth as his domain. As a result, the other angels resented him. Their resentment caused him to rebel against God and fall. This may sound good, but it unsubstantiated by scripture. It is human tradition which can be notoriously unreliable. (I cannot recall the source since I didn’t write it down at the time, but I don’t believe I made it up out of thin air).
In the OT there are two passages people refer to in trying to explain the origin of Satan the Devil Isa.14:12-14; Ezek.28:11-19. Both passages are highly questionable in making such an application. Both are apocalyptic texts (code like, highly figurative language) to disguise the truth from the enemy. Note Isa.14:12-14. “How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning.” The context of the chapter, beginning in v.4 shows that Lucifer is the king of Babylon. He is lifted up with pride, claiming he will ascend into heaven, and exalt his throne above the stars of God. But God will bring him back down to earth. Note the emphasis on “I” (5 times) in vs.12-14. “I” is the middle letter of pride and also the middle letter of sin. “Pride goes before destruction” Prov.16:18. It was “I” trouble that brought down the king of Babylon. We read in Ezzk.28:11-19, “You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you…(then) I cast you to the ground…” The context clearly shows Ezekiel is referring to the king of Tyre, not the Devil.
What about Lk.10:18,in the NT? (This will be answered in the next issue along with some other things about the devil and his angels).