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Doctrinal Matters: Satan

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Has Satan Always Existed?

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

From a very early age, children learn about the righteousness of God and the wickedness of Satan. We teach children that God is the loving, powerful, and all-knowing Creator and Sustainer of life Who wants them to live right and go to heaven. We also tell them that there is an evil being called Satan who is very influential in the world, and who is doing everything he possibly can to keep them out of heaven. Many Sunday mornings in Bible class, children either sing or study about these two beings. This time of study certainly is worthwhile because children are taught to obey God (John 14:15) and to resist the devil (1 Peter 5:8). In time, however, if young people are not offered additional teaching about the origin of Satan and the eternal nature of God, many inadvertently begin to form a picture in their minds of two opposing “gods” who are at war with each other. Like two heavyweight boxers exchanging punches in the middle of a ring, children begin to think of God and Satan as two equally opposing “forces.”

Although little is suggested in the Bible about Satan’s beginning, we can know that Satan is a created being. Unlike God, the Bible teaches that Satan is not omnipotent (1 John 4:4), omnipresent (cf. Job 1-2; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Luke 4:6; Revelation 20:1-10), or eternal (cf. Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm 102:27). Furthermore, in speaking of Jesus, Paul wrote: “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” (Colossians 1:16, emp. added). The apostle John was inspired to write: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3, emp. added). Who made all things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible? Jesus (the Word—John 1:14). Thus, the Bible teaches that Satan is one of God’s created beings. He had a beginning just like you, me, and everything else that exists other than God.

But just because God created Satan, does not mean that He created him as an evil being. Rather, God created him good, and then he chose to become evil. The Bible indicates that Satan was one of the angels who lived in heaven, but he (along with other angels) rebelled against God and was cast out of Heaven. The apostle Peter said that “God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment” (2 Peter 2:4). Another inspired writer wrote: “And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day” (Jude 6). Since the Bible also refers to the devil as “the ruler of demons” (Matthew 12:24), and speaks of “the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41, emp. added), it is very likely that the devil is the leader of a group of rebellious angels that was expelled from heaven to eventually spend eternity in hell.

Thus, unlike the philosophy of dualism (made popular by the Persian—Zoroaster), which teaches that an eternal good being and an eternal evil being exist and oppose one another, the Bible teaches that the Godhead is the only eternal entity. Although Satan is not to be taken lightly, it is a blessing to know that he cannot snatch us from the love of God if we are unwilling to allow him to do so (Romans 8:37-39), nor can he tempt us beyond what we are able to bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). God alone is deity, and He alone deserves our praise and adoration.




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