The Bible says that it was the devil (or Satan) in the form of a serpent who temped Adam and Eve to sin and brought about their fall. But this raises an important question: Why did God create a ‘bad’ devil (which means ‘adversary’) to corrupt His good creation?
Lucifer – The Shining One
In fact, the Bible says that God created a powerful, intelligent, and beautiful spirit who was chief among all angels. His name was Lucifer (meaning ‘Shining One’) – and he was very good. But Lucifer also had a will with which he could freely choose. A passage in Isaiah 14 records the choice he made:
How you have fallen from heaven,Isaiah 14:12-14
morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!
You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of the North.
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”
Lucifer, like Adam, faced a decision. He could accept that God was God or he could choose to be his own ‘god’. His repeated “I wills” show that he chose to defy God and declare himself to be ‘Most High’.
A passage in Ezekiel gives a parallel description of the fall of Lucifer:
You were in Eden, the garden of God.Ezekiel 28:13-17
… I ordained and anointed you
as the mighty angelic guardian.
You had access to the holy mountain of God
and walked among the stones of fire.
“You were blameless in all you did
from the day you were created
until the day evil was found in you.
… and you sinned.
So I banished you in disgrace
from the mountain of God.
I expelled you, O mighty guardian,
from your place among the stones of fire.
Your heart was filled with pride
because of all your beauty.
Your wisdom was corrupted
by your love of splendor.
So I threw you to the ground.
Lucifer’s beauty, wisdom and power – all the good things created in him by God – led to pride. His pride led to his rebellion, but he never lost any of his power and abilities. He is now leading a cosmic revolt against his Creator to see who will be God. His strategy was to enlist mankind to join him. He did so by tempting them to the same choice that he made: become autonomous from God and defy Him. The heart of Adam’s temptation was the same as Lucifer’s. It was just presented differently. They both chose to be ‘god’ to themselves.
Satan – working through others
The passage in Isaiah speaks to the ‘King of Babylon’ and the Ezekiel passage speaks to the ‘King of Tyre’. But from the descriptions given it is clear they do not speak to humans. The “I wills” in Isaiah describe someone thrown to the earth in punishment for wanting to place his throne above that of God. The passage in Ezekiel addresses an ‘angelic guardian’ who once moved in Eden and the ‘mountain of God’. Satan (or Lucifer) often puts himself behind or through someone else. In Genesis he speaks through the serpent. In Isaiah he rules through the King of Babylon, and in Ezekiel he possesses the King of Tyre.
Why did Lucifer revolt against God?
But why did Lucifer want to challenge the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator? Part of being ‘smart’ is to know whether or not you can defeat your opponent. Lucifer may have power, but that would still be insufficient to defeat His Creator. Why lose everything for something he could not win? I would think that a ‘smart’ angel would have recognized his limitations against God – and hold back his revolt. So why didn’t he?
But consider that Lucifer could only believe that God was His all-powerful Creator by faith – the same as for us. The Bible suggests that God created angels during creation week. For example, a passage in Job tells us:
Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:…Job 38:1
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?Job 38:4
Tell me, if you understand.
…while the morning stars sang togetherJob 38:7
and all the angels shouted for joy?
Imagine that Lucifer was created, becoming sentient during creation week, somewhere in the universe. All he knows is that now he exists and is self-aware. Also another Being claims that He has created Lucifer and the universe. But how does Lucifer know that this claim is true? Perhaps, this so-called creator had popped into existence in the stars just before Lucifer popped into existence. Since this ‘creator’ arrived earlier on the scene, he was (perhaps) more powerful and (perhaps) more knowledgeable than Lucifer. But then again maybe not. Perhaps both he and the ‘creator’ just popped into existence simultaneously. Lucifer could only accept God’s Word to him that He had created him, and that God himself was eternal and infinite. But in his pride he chose to believe his fantasy instead.
gods in our minds
Maybe you doubt that Lucifer could believe that both he and God (and the other angels) just ‘popped’ into existence. But this is the same basic idea behind the latest thinking in modern cosmology. There was a quantum fluctuation of nothing, and then out of this fluctuation the universe popped into existence. That is the essence of modern cosmology theories. Fundamentally, everyone – from Lucifer to Richard Dawkins & Stephen Hawkings to you & me – must decide by faith whether the universe is self-contained or was created and sustained by a Creator God.
In other words, seeing is not believing. Lucifer had seen and talked with God. But he still had to accept ‘by faith’ that God had created him. Many people say that if God would just ‘appear’ to them, then they would believe. However, in the Bible many people saw and heard God – but still did not take Him at His word. ‘Seeing’ alone never resulted in trust. The issue was whether they would accept and trust His Word about Himself and themselves. The fall of Lucifer is consistent with this.
What is the Devil doing today?
So, according to the Bible, God did not create a ‘bad devil’, but a beautiful, powerful and intelligent angelic being. In pride he led a revolt against God – and in doing so was corrupted. Yet he retains his original splendor. You, I and all of mankind have become part of the battleground in this contest between God and his ‘adversary’ (devil). The devil’s strategy is not about wearing sinister black cloaks like ‘Black Riders’ in the Lord of the Rings. Nor does he put evil curses on us. Instead he seeks to deceive us from the redemption that God has accomplished in the death and resurrection of Jesus. As the Bible says:
Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness.2 Corinthians 11:14-15
Because Satan and his servants can masquerade as ‘light’ we are more easily tricked. Perhaps this is why the Gospel always seems to run against our instincts and against all cultures.