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 (meaning ‘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 had:
How you have fallen from heaven,
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.” (Isaiah 14:12-14)
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.
… 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. (Ezekiel 28:13-17)
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 – by tempting them to the same choice that he made – to love themselves, become independent from God, and defy Him. The heart of the test of Adam’s will 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 is directed to the ‘King of Babylon’ and the Ezekiel passage is addressed to the ‘King of Tyre’. But from the descriptions given, it is clear that no human is addressed. The “I wills” in Isaiah describe someone who was thrown to the earth in punishment for wanting to place his throne above the throne 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? This question puzzled me for many years.
Then I realized that Lucifer could only believe that God was His all-powerful Creator by faith – the same as for us. The Bible suggests that angels were created in creation week. For example, a passage in Job tells us:
Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm. He said…
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand….
while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy? (Job 38:1-7)
Imagine that Lucifer was created and became conscious in creation week, somewhere in the universe. All he knows is that now he exists and is self-aware, and also that there is another Being who 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. And because this ‘creator’ arrived earlier on the scene, he was (perhaps) more powerful and (perhaps) more knowledgeable than Lucifer – but then again perhaps 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.
Maybe it seems doubtful that Lucifer would 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 cosmic fluctuation of nothing, and then out of this fluctuation arose the universe – 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. But in the Bible many people saw and heard God – but still did not take Him at His word. The issue was whether they would accept and trust His Word about Himself and themselves. From Adam & Eve, to Cain & Abel, to Noah, to the Egyptians at the first Passover, to the Israelite crossing of the Red Sea and to those who saw the miracles of Jesus – ‘seeing’ never resulted in trust. The fall of Lucifer is consistent with this.
What is the Devil doing today?
So according to the Bible, God did not make a ‘bad devil’, but created a powerful and intelligent angelic being. Through pride he has led a revolt against God – and in doing so was corrupted, while still keeping 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 strategy of the devil is not to wear sinister black cloaks like ‘Black Riders’ in the Lord of the Rings and put evil curses on us. Instead he seeks to deceive us from the redemption that God had promised at the beginning of time through Abraham, through Moses, and then 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.