The World Of Satan
April 5th, 1977 @ 12:00 PM
THE WORLD OF SATAN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-5-77 12:00 p.m.
The theme for this year is “The Ethereal World”; the other world, the unseen world, the world of the spirit. Yesterday the title of the message was The World Beyond Death; today, The World of Satan; tomorrow, The World of Angels; on Thursday, The World Beyond the Skies; and on Friday, the day our Lord was crucified, The World Beyond the Veil.
Today, The World of Satan. It is a beautiful story in the First Gospel, in Matthew, that describes the baptism of our Lord in the Jordan River by the great John the Baptist, the prophet of God. And when the Lord was baptized and was raised out of the water, “The heavens were opened unto Him, and the Spirit of God descended upon Him in the form of a dove, and a voice from heaven spoke and said, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” [Matthew 3:16-17].
This is the beginning of the messianic ministry of Jesus the Son of God. But over, and beyond, and beside this beautiful scene, there is a sinister being who watches and who hears. And in the next chapter, chapter 4, this sinister being accosts Jesus, and says to Him, “Since You are the Son of God.” In our King James Version, all three of these temptations are introduced with an “if,” and in our English language as it is translated, you would think it might be subjunctive, “If You are the Son of God” [Matthew 4:3] as though there were doubt and question. The condition is in the indicative, not subjunctive. It ought to be translated like this: “Since you are the Son of God” [Matthew 4:3]. They knew each other from the beginning of the beginning, before the foundation of the world. And the Lord calls him by his first name, Satan [Matthew 4:10]. In the passage as Matthew writes it, always He refers to him as diabolos, in our language, devil. But when the Lord addresses him, He addresses him by his first name, Satan [Matthew 4:10]. They too had known each other from the beginning of the foundation of the world.
And he starts with the Lord, having heard the voice from heaven saying, “This is My beloved Son, the Son of God” [Matthew 3:17]. Then Satan begins, having heard it: “Since You are the Son of God” [Matthew 4:3], then the temptations follow after [Matthew 4:3-10]. He is always present, that sinister being. He was present beyond the gate of the garden of Eden [Genesis 3:1]. Sin did not begin in our fathers and mothers, or in their fathers and mothers. Neither did it begin in our forefathers. Neither did it begin in the fall of our first parents in the garden of Eden [Genesis 3:1-6]. Sin goes back, and back, and back, and back [Ezekiel 28:16-18], and finally back to that sinister being who is outside the gate of the beautiful paradise. And he said to our first parents: “Yea, did God say…? Thou shalt not surely die’” [Genesis 3:1-4], casting aspersion and doubt upon the word of the Lord as he always does, and still does. He is always there. Over and beyond even Paradise itself, there that sinister being stands. And he stands at the heart gate of every one of us.
This is not just historical, it is experiential. There is no one of us but that feels, and knows, and is introduced to this same sinister being who is always defaming, and denouncing, and defacing, and damning, and destroying, oversowing the field and the word of the Lord.
Then someone asks, “Do you, as an intelligent man, believe in the spirit world? Do you believe in a Satan, in a devil? Do you believe that beyond us there are unseen creatures who influence our lives? Do you believe, as an intelligent and educated man, in the world of the spirit? Do you believe in the spirits?” My friend, there’s no one of us that does––you do. Nor is it deniable. I have stood, for example, over the bed of teenagers in the very vigor of young life, and I have watched them die, not of old age, nor of senility. They’re in the strength of life, and here is a boy, seventeen years old, who dies before my very eyes. Every part of his material frame is there from head to foot, but something has happened to him. He’s not there. What lies before me is dust and corruption. Something has gone. The spirit of the boy, the soul of the lad has left. He is a corpse. He’s dead. For a man is not dust and ashes, he is also spirit, and life, and soul. I see that also in the conflict that each one of us experiences in his life, all of us. Is the conflict material? No. Do I experience conflict between my foot and my finger? Do I experience conflict between my eye and my ear? No. There is no conflict in the materiality of my life. The conflict I experience is in my soul. It’s in my spirit. It’s the inner man that lives in this house. There do I find a civil war raging.
And that conflict that I experience in me, I see it in you, and I see it in the whole world. And there is conflict at the very heart of the universe. There is war in heaven. In that spirit world of defamation and damnation, evil, and hurt, and oversowing, there is a prince, and he’s always referred to in the singular.
In the Hebrew, his name is Satan. In the Greek, his name is diabolos. But whether it is in Hebrew, Satan, or in Greek, diabolos, the name is always the same. It means slanderer. It means deceiver. It means denouncer. It means someone who is the instrument of damnation and hell. Where did he come from? As we trace evil and wrong back and back and back, beyond us and our forefathers, beyond them in the garden of Eden, and beyond the garden of Eden in that sinister creature at the gate; where did he come from, this prince of darkness and damnation? In the fourteenth chapter of the prophet Isaiah and in the twenty-eighth chapter of the prophet Ezekiel, he is minutely described.
Satan was the prince of God’s angels and of God’s creation [Ezekiel 28:14]. Into his care and keeping, the Lord God placed all of His creatures and all of His creation. He was responsible to God Himself for the care and the direction of everything that God had done. The heavenly hosts he presided over, and all of the starry universe was his. Sin was found in his heart, and this is the beginning. Sin was found in his heart when pride lifted him up, and he said, “I will be God. I will dethrone the Almighty Himself and I will be God” [Isaiah 14:13-14].
And in that lifting up of his spirit, in that pride of his heart, sin was born [Ezekiel 28:15-17]. And wherever there is sin, there is inevitable destruction, defamation, disgrace, damnation. And when Satan fell, the entire universe fell with him. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” [Genesis 1:1]. God never created anything imperfect. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” [Genesis 1:1], but the second verse of that beginning, Genesis, “And the world, the world, the earth was without form, and void, chaotic; and darkness was upon the face of the deep” [Genesis 1:2]. What happened? What happened was, when Satan fell the entire universe of God’s creation fell with him. And the stars were burned out, and the planets were vacant and sterile and barren. Darkness covered the face of the deep [Genesis 1:2]. This is the origin and the fall of the prince of glory, Satan, Lucifer, the son of the morning [Isaiah 14:12].
Does he have a kingdom? Yes. In the twelfth chapter of the Book of the Apocalypse we learn that one-third of the angels fell with him [Revelation 12:4]. Isn’t that the most astonishing thing in God’s world, that the very angels themselves would choose to follow Satan, Lucifer, rather than God? Yet it’s not peculiar. We do it all the time. There’s not one of us but has followed Satan instead of God, chosen him instead of God. It’s the commonest experience in human life, and the angels did it, one-third of them. What comprises Satan’s kingdom? One-third of the heavenly hosts [Revelation 12:4], and all unregenerate men [2 Corinthians 4:3-4]; men who are lost belong to the kingdom of damnation and darkness. They belong to Satan.
I had an unusual conversation one time with Dr. Black, who was the president of the Presbyterian college, Robert College, in Istanbul, in Turkey. He had married a Bulgarian, and as he talked to me, he described the communist takeover of Bulgaria. And the learned doctor said it is almost impossible to believe how communism is able to take children; and they will inform on their very parents, when the child knows that the information will lead to the execution and the death of his own father and mother.
He said it is inexplicable, the energizing evil that is in the communist government. But he said there’s an explanation for that. As there is a kingdom of light in this world presided over by Jesus the Savior, there is also a kingdom of darkness presided over by the prince of evil, by Satan [Colossians 1:13] . And he says it is Satan that energizes the communist world. He is a defamer. He is a damner. He is a defacer. And wherever in this world the communist can stir up trouble, war, clash, hatred, there will you see the communist hand. It is a part of the kingdom of darkness and of evil.” He has a kingdom also. As there’s a kingdom of Christ and a kingdom of heaven, there is a kingdom of darkness, and a kingdom of evil, and a kingdom of Satan [Colossians 1:13]. His methods are very apparent. He is first a deceiver [John 8:44].
When we think of Satan in terms of a red suit, and horns, and a forked tail, and a pronged pitchfork, I presume he’s very delighted with the caricature. For the Bible, in the eleventh chapter of the second Corinthian letter, says that Satan turns himself into an angel of light [2 Corinthians 11:14]. He never comes before us with horrible mien, with awesome, terrifying appearance. Always, his presence is in beauty, and in light, and in glamour, in fame, in fortune, in all of the glory of the world. And he entices, and he woos, and he deceives the whole earth, leading to damnation and to hell.
I one time heard of a boy who had a bag of beans, and he was dropping the beans along, and a pig was following him. And the pig was eating the beans. Eat the bean here. Boy dropped bean, pig eat the bean. Drop bean, pig eat the bean, he was just leading that pig along, dropping beans along. And somebody thought, “Why, that’s the funniest thing I ever saw in my life.” So he went up to the boy, and he said, “Son, where are you taking that pig?” And the boy replied, “I’m taking him to the slaughter house.” That is Satan! He’s smart, and he’s shrewd, and he entices, and he woos. To what end? To the damnation of the soul, to the ruining of the life, always the end of evil, of Satan, of temptation, is tears and heartache. You see, that’s his purpose; to foul up and to deface the creation of God [1 Peter 5:8].
Is Job a righteous man? [Job 1:8, 2:3] If Satan can get his hands upon the patriarch, he’ll destroy every thing that he has and finally afflict the godly man with sores from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. That’s Satan [Job 2:4-7]. Is Joshua the high priest standing before God? There will be Satan standing at his right hand to resist him [Zechariah 3:1]. He is always present. And he is always hurting. And he is always destroying.
I must hasten. I speak now of his final doom and destruction. He has access to heaven now. He can stand in the presence of the throne of God and slander every one of God’s saints. He is the great accuser of the brethren. And he accuses us, the Scriptures say, night and day before God [Revelation 12:10]. But there is coming a time, depicted in the twelfth chapter of the Revelation, there is coming a time when Michael and his angels will war against the dragon… and his angels, and they prevail not…And Satan, that old serpent, the devil, is cast out, and all of his angels are cast out of heaven with him [Revelation 12:7-9]. Even the heavens are going to be purified.
Milton has one of the most terrific verses in human literature describing that: “Him the Almighty hurled headlong, flaming, from the ethereal sky.” There’s coming a time when Satan will be cast out of heaven and no more have access to the throne of God to accuse the saints, the brethren [Revelation 12:9]. And in the twentieth chapter of the Book of the Revelation, there is coming a time when Satan will be cast out of this earth. In the first verses; bound with chains, in the depth of the abyss, for a thousand millennial years; then loosed for a season [Revelation 20:1-3, 7], and then, and then, forever and eternally cast into the lake of fire, into hell, with the false beast––the Antichrist––with the false prophet and with those whose names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life [Revelation 20:10-15]. Not forever will sin reign in this earth. Not forever will men die. Not forever will this earth be one vast, immeasurable, illimitable cemetery.
There is coming a time when there’ll be no more evil, and no more death, and no more graves, and no more crying, and tears, and sorrow, and heartache, and separation [Revelation 21:1-4]. For when Satan is cast out, these things are destroyed with him. And there remains the righteousness, and the holiness, and the peace, and the heaven of God.
When the wolf will dwell with the lamb, when the leopard will lie down with the kid … When the lion will eat straw like an ox … When they will not hurt nor destroy in all God’s holy mountain, [nor] the earth shall be filled with war, and hatred, and trial, and sin, and evil, and violence, and blood, when the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
Oh, blessed, triumphant, and heavenly day!
So, Master, we hide in Thee. If Michael, the archangel, durst not bring against him a railing accusation but said, “The Lord rebuke thee” [Jude 9], how less are we able to confront this prince of evil and darkness. But there is strength in the mighty hand of Christ. He has overcome for us. He beheld Satan falling as lightning from heaven [Luke 10:18]. He’s already judged. And the victory is ours in Christ. In that assurance and faith, help us, Master, to work with every sense that God is with us, His strong hand is for us, and the Lord hath given unto us, in some consummating day, that ultimate and final triumph, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
THE WORLD OF SATAN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. Beginning of Jesus’ Messianic ministry
1. The Lord’s baptism
2. Satan accosts Jesus
a. “Since” you are the Son of God
B. That sinister being always present
1. The Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-4)
C. Every human experienceII. Satan’s origin and fall
1. The prince of angels and creation (Isaiah 14:12-15, Ezekiel 28:11-17)
2. Sin found in his heart when pride lifted him up
1. When Satan fell, creation fell with him (Genesis 1:1-2)III. Satan’s kingdom
A. Subjects are one third of the angels, unregenerate mankind (Revelation 12:4)
B. Kingdom of darknessIV. Satan’s methods
A. Deception (Matthew 24:24, 2 Corinthians 11:14)
B. Affliction, destructionV. Satan’s final doom
A. He expulsion from the heavenlies (Revelation 12:7-9)
B. Satan’s expulsion from earth (Revelation 20:1-3, 21:1-4, Isaiah 11:6-9)
C. He is already judged (Jude 9, Luke 10:18)