The World of Satan
April 9th, 1968 @ 12:00 PM
THE WORLD OF SATAN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-9-68 12:00 p.m.
Today the message is The World of Satan. The conclusion of the third chapter of the Book of Matthew describes the voice of God at the baptism of the Son, “And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” [Matthew 3:17]. “Then was Jesus” [Matthew 4:1], we have a chapter division there. Well, that is a shame for the story goes together, but we miss it when we divide it with a chapter. “This is My beloved Son, said God in heaven, in whom I am well pleased. Then,” upon that, “then was Jesus led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tried by diabolos” [Matthew 3:17-4:1]. There is just one, diabolos. In the version out of which I preach, you will often find “devils,” plural—no, they are demons, multitudinous. There is one diabolos; there is one devil—one, “to be tried by the devil” [Matthew 4:1].
And “The tempter came said to Him…If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread” [Matthew 4:3]. Now you read that in this English translation and you have the inevitable persuasion that Satan says, “If You are the Son of God” as though He might not be. “Now in order to prove Your deity, turn these stones into bread and show me that You are the Son of God.” That’s the way we think of it. “If Thou be the Son of God.” Oh, no! Oh, no! For these two had known each other from before the foundation of the world. The condition is not subjunctive in the Greek language, it is indicative; it is positive, and it ought to be read, “Since You are the Son of God” [Matthew 4:3]. So, when the Lord was baptized in the Jordan River and the voice came from heaven, “This is My beloved Son” [Matthew 3:17], there was also present a somebody else—a sinister, cruel, subtle, and merciless being—over and beyond, watching and listening and hearing. And when the voice from heaven said, “Thou are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” [Matthew 3:17] then Satan, “Since You are the Son of God” [Matthew 4:3], and he tried Him, to undo the incarnation.
So it has always been in the history of the human race; back, and back, and back, and back, and finally back to the garden of Eden. And as we trace sin in me, in my father’s house, in our forefathers, in our heritage, finally, we trace it back to our first parents. Did sin originate there? No! For outside of the gate of the garden is that same sinister, subtle being, Satan [Genesis 3:1]. And this is the experience of every human life. It is your experience. HHHHHowever you are, however fine, however noble or ignoble, famous or infamous, all alike; there is beyond us and beside us and behind us a subtle and sinister somebody else.
“Why, preacher, in this modern day in which we live, are you standing there before an intelligent audience to avow your persuasion that you believe in spirits and in a spirit world?” Why, my friend, look! Have you considered, have you thought? Look at yourself. Look at yourself! You are matter; that’s right. Stuff, that’s right. Material, that’s right. Dust, dirt, ground, that’s right. A body, that’s right. But there is a something other about you. And if you don’t believe it, just look on any corpse. Sometimes a man will die just––I knew a man who strangled to death on a spoon full of water. And I’ve known many people who have choked to death on one bite of food––and the body lies there. Every anatomical mechanism is in order. And any surgeon could take his scalpel and from head to foot find the whole body perfectly set. But something is missing. What? Another piece of matter? No! Another piece of material? No! There is a spirit in a man! Look at you, I say.
Don’t you experience conflict in the innermost soul of your life? Well, what is that? Is my foot fighting against my finger? Is my ear at war with my nose? Why, it’s ridiculous. The conflict lies in my spirit. And I feel it and all of us do. And at the center of the universe there is war, and there is conflict, and there is trial, and all of us feel it and are an inextricable, inevitable part of it. That’s why a great deal of what is said today is, to me, somewhat foolish. Now this isn’t poetry. This is doggerel! Somebody rhymed some words, but it has a philosophy in it. And I want you to see. It’s called “The Devil.” Now the guy writes here:
Men don’t believe in a devil now, as their fathers used to do;
They’ve forced the door of the broadest creed to let his majesty through.
There isn’t a print of his cloven foot or a fiery dart from his bow,
Not to be found in the earth or the air for the world has voted it so.
But who is mixing the fatal draught that palsies heart and pain,
And loads the earth of each passing year with ten hundred thousand slain?. . .
Who blights the bloom of the land to-day with the fiery breath of hell?
If the devil isn’t, and never was, won’t somebody rise and tell?
. . .
Won’t somebody step to the front forthwith, and make his bow and show
How the frauds and the crimes of the day spring up? For surely we want to know.
The devil was fairly voted out, and of course the devil is gone;
But simple people would like to know who carries his business on.
[“Don’t’ Believe in a Devil,” Alfred J Hough, 1890]
There’s a philosophy in there. There is conflict at the heart of this world, and it’s everywhere. It is universal, and it is in you and it is in me.
Now, the good Book says that the presiding personality over this world of darkness is a somebody. In the Old Testament his name is Satan [1 Chronicles 21:1; Job 1:6, 7, 8, 9, 2:2, 3, 4, 6; Psalm 109:6; Zechariah 3:1, 2]. In the New Testament, without fail, his name is diabolos, the devil [Matthew 4:1, 5, 8, 11; Luke 4:2, 3, 5, 6, 13; Ephesians 6:11; Hebrews 2:14, Revelation 12:9, 12, 20:2, 10]. Where did he come from? In the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Isaiah [Isaiah 14:3-23] and in the twenty-eighth chapter of the Book of Ezekiel [Ezekiel 28:12-19], Isaiah addresses the prince of Babylon, then beyond him, he sees that same sinister and subtle being. And Ezekiel is addressing the prince of Tyre, Ethbaal II, but immediately beyond and behind the prince of Tyre [Ezekiel 28:2], he sees again that same sinister, subtle, evil one, and by inspiration describes him [Ezekiel 28:13]. If we had another hour, and I will not take it, if we had an hour, we would follow the description. Where did he come from?
Why, he was “the anointed cherub that covereth” [Ezekiel 28:14], that protecteth. He was in charge of the sanctuary of God in the glories and in the heavenlies. Described again, “Thou wast upon the holy mountain of God” [Ezekiel 28:14]. That is, he had charge of the angelic hosts of the Almighty. They call him Lucifer [Isaiah 14:12], and they describe him as a glorious and beautiful being. Then follows the revelation, “And in his pride, he lifted up his heart against God” [Ezekiel 28:17]. And God cast him down and he fell [Ezekiel 28:16]. That, says the Book, is the origin of evil [Ezekiel 28:13-19]. It was born in the heart of the mightiest created archangel God ever made—Lucifer! [Ezekiel 28:12]. That is the son of the morning, who had charge and rulership over all of the hosts of heaven [Isaiah 14:12-13]. And even in his fallen state, Jude says that when Michael the archangel disputed with the devil about the body of Moses, even Michael dare not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke thee” [Jude 9].
The most glorious majestic of all of the created beings of God’s hand was Lucifer, the son of the morning [Isaiah 14:12]. And in his duties and in his pride, he lifted himself up against God, and iniquity was found in him. And that is the origin of evil according to the Word of the Lord [Ezekiel 28:15]. And when Satan fell the entire universe fell with him. In Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” And if God did that then the heavens and the earth were beautiful, symmetrical, glorious, perfect. If God did anything it was perfectly done. But the second verse says, “And the earth became void; and darkness covered the face of the deep” [Genesis 1:2]. Something happened. What was that something?
When sin was found in the great cherub that ruleth, that protecteth, that covereth, Satan, Lucifer, and he fell [Ezekiel 28:15; Luke 10:18], sin was introduced into God’s universe, and God’s universe fell apart! [Genesis 1:2]. It always does under the impact of iniquity and transgression—the origin and fall.
I speak now briefly of his kingdom: there is a satanic kingdom. The Lord referred to the kingdom of Satan [Matthew 12:26, Luke 11:18]. There is a kingdom of darkness in this world. I never was more impressed in my life than I was sitting down in Istanbul and listening to Dr. Black, the president of a Presbyterian College, an old one in Istanbul called Roberts College. He had married a Bulgarian and had lived through the takeover of Bulgaria and all Eastern Europe by the Russian communists. And he was describing to me the days of the communist infiltration and seizure of that little Bulgarian country. And as he described it, he said, “Why, I saw children betray their parents. Boys and girls spy on their fathers and mothers and deliver them to death.”
As he kept describing things like that to me, I broke in and said, “Dr. Black, I cannot understand. I can’t understand. This is beyond my understanding. What is the explanation?” And the college president said to me, “There is only one explanation.” He said, “Communism is energized by evil!” Then he added a “for.” “For there is a kingdom of darkness in this world, just as there is a kingdom of light.” And the kingdom of darkness is presided over by the archenemy of God and of man, Satan, as the kingdom of light and life is presided over by the Son of glory, Jesus Christ the Lord.
He has a kingdom. He has methods to deceive. I never cease to marvel at the caricature of Satan in our world. Here he comes, and if you had a play to depict Satan, this is what you would do. You’d get you a red suit, flannel long handles I guess. You’d get you a red suit and you’d put horns on him and you’d put a forked tail on him. And you’d put a pronged pitchfork in his hand. Now that’s what you would do if you were describing the devil.
What does the Book say about him? Ah, the Book says that he transforms himself into an angel of light [2 Corinthians 11:14]. Trial, and temptation, and the work of the devil is never presented in ugly, revolting, unacceptable frame and kind; never. He will present himself in the most alluring and enticing ways. That’s Satan.
He’s not coming to you with a pitchfork. If you ever face a trial in your life, it will be one that appeals to your inmost affections and desires. And he’ll press it. He’s a deceiver. Jesus said he would deceive the very elect were it possible [Matthew 24:24]. He is also an afflicter. He afflicted Job [Job 2:4-7]. He stood at the right hand of the high priest, Joshua, in Zechariah 3:1 and resisted him. And there’s not a minister of God in the land but that feels the heavy hand of Satan against him. He takes a seed sown in our hearts away and the promises from God’s saints that they might have the assurance of heaven [Mark 4:15].
I must close and I do. May I speak of his final and everlasting doom? In the twelfth chapter of the Book of the Revelation, God says by the voice and pen of the seer, the apostle John, “I saw and behold there was war in heaven; Michael and his angels warring against the dragon, against Satan and his angels, and they prevailed not. And they were cast out” [Revelation 12:7-9].
Do you want to read the most dramatic of all of the language in American literature and in English literature? Read Milton’s Paradise Lost. So much of our thinking is Miltonian, and I don’t object to that, though some of it isn’t Biblical. But Milton writes there, “Him, Satan, the Almighty hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky.” And that’s according to the Word of God. In the twelfth chapter of the Book of the Revelation, Satan is cast out of the heavens and his angels cast out with him [Revelation 12:9]. As in the Book of Job, he had access to God, but God casts him out [Revelation 12:9].
Then the Revelation continues, “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, for Satan has come unto you in great wrath, knowing that his time is short” [Revelation 12:12]. There is coming a day, inevitable, triumphant day, when not only being cast out of heaven, he shall be cast out of this earth. In the twentieth chapter of the Book of the Revelation, a great angel comes down from heaven, and takes him, and binds him, and seals him in the abyss for a thousand years. After the thousand years he is loosed for a season [Revelation 20:1-3, 7]. The same Lord God Almighty takes him and casts him into hell, hellfire, where he is shut up and chained and imprisoned forever and ever [Revelation 20:10-14]. The Bible says so.
There is coming a time when we shall be free of the archenemy of God, and the afflicter and adversary and accuser of mankind. As long as he is here, there is war, and famine, and tears, and heartaches, troubles, sorrow, and death. But there’s coming a day, praise God, there’s coming a day when he will be cast out forever [Revelation 20:10-14]. And Death shall be swallowed up in victory [1 Corinthians 15:54]. And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid . . . and the lion will eat straw like an ox . . . And nobody will hurt in all God’s holy mountain: and the earth shall be filled with the knowledge and the praise and the glory of our God, just like the waters cover the sea, some glorious and triumphant day [Isaiah 11:6-9].