The Origin of Evil (Satan)
May 26th, 1985 @ 10:50 AM
THE ORIGIN OF SATAN
Dr. W.A. Criswell
5-26-85 10:50 a.m.
And all of us welcome the multitudes of you who are listening with us in open heart to the Word of God on radio and on television. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled: The Origin of Evil, The Origin of Satan. And it is from the Book of Ezekiel, chapter 28, beginning at verse 11 [Ezekiel 28:11]. And you can turn to that passage in the Bible and then wait for a moment as I introduce the sermon with an extended introduction.
No one of us but is aware of the glory and majesty and omnipotence of God evidenced in the created world above us and around us. The nineteenth Psalm begins: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork, His lacework” [Psalm 19:1]. All of the glory and wonder and omnipotence of the Lord God is seen in the starry heavens and in the beautiful and verdant earth all around us. But no one of us can but sense the sinister shadow over all of God’s creation. In the evidences of His almightiness, there are no less evidences of the destructive power of a sinister force in the universe. It is seen everywhere. We live in a fallen creation. There are burned out stars and there are black holes throughout it.
And the apostle Paul writes in the eighth chapter of Romans that, “The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in agony and sorrow until now” [Romans 8:22]. And in that creation, the man that the Lord made is the most pitiful and sad of all of the works of His hands. He lives in a world of sin, and of sorrow, and of tears, and of disease, and of age, and death. How do you explain this world and this creation with its illimitable and unbounding sorrows and tears? Here the atheist has a field day. He says in sarcasm and in derision, “Look at your God. You say He made this world. Then look how he made it so burdened and flooded with illimitable lack and sorrow and tears.” And in the perverted mentality of the atheist, the mocker, and the scoffer at the idea of God, they have a blame giving day, mocking our Thanksgiving Day, and they sing a doxology, and the doxology is this:
Blame God from whom all cyclones blow.
Blame God when rivers overflow.
Blame God who swirls down house and steeple,
Who sinks the ships and drowns the people.
This is the mocking derisive answer of the atheist to us who say that God made this world.
Then let the atheist explain it. It is a reality and for us not to accept it and look at it would be of all things most unconscionable and blind. Then looking at the creation, and looking at the world, and looking at us, where we came from, our destiny that lies before us, let the atheist, and the materialist, and the secularist, and the humanist explain it. How do they avow it? Well, they say that somehow nothing created something. Nothing out of nothing came matter, materiality. Then they go a second step. Out of inert matter there was created of itself human personality. We came out of inert, dead matter. And out of that matter, there came human life and human personality. Then their third and final step is that in the process of evolution we shall find ourselves free of sin and disease; and we shall progress and evolve into angelic orders of heavenly perfection.
For example, the brilliant evolutionist and American historian and Harvard professor John Fiske wrote, saying: “Sin is nothing more nor less than the brute inheritance which every man carries with him,” his animal ancestors, “and the process of evolution is an advance toward the true salvation” [The Destiny of Man, p. 103]. We are stumbling now, but upward, and finally we will evolve out of the sin and the disease and the death that decimates us.
Now I have trouble with that from both ends of it. I have trouble with it at the beginning end. How is it that nothing created matter? Nothing that we ever observed creates something. That is not demonstrable and these are supposed to be scientists. They do research. They study. They tell us the results of their observations. Where do you find that observation that out of nothing is created something? I don’t see it at the beginning end. I don’t see it at the beginning end. I don’t see matter creating life. Matter is dead. Everywhere we see matter, it is inert. And matter does not create personality. I have trouble, I say, from the beginning end of it.
I no less have trouble from the end of it; from the other side of it. I don’t see evolution advancing us out of our depravity and our iniquity. In the Stone Age of our human life, we killed one another with a club. Then we evolved and we learned to kill each other with a sword. Then we progressed and we learned to kill each other with a gun. Then we further progressed and we learned to kill each other with a cannon and with artillery. And then we further advanced to this present age where we are learning to kill each other by raining fire and bombs down on us from the sky, before which we cringe every political and national day of our lives.
There has never been an instrument of destruction that has not been used against mankind, never! There is no doubt but that we progress in science and in understanding from a lesser ability to a greater ability. But there is no evidence in human history that we have ever progressed from bad to good; from evil to perfection. We are no better today than Abraham was when he walked on the ground or rode on a beast. The fact that we can sail through the sky in a jetliner has no meaning whatsoever in our progress from bad to good.
Evil is present with us. And the world around us is fallen. And the whole creation of God has been blasted and cursed by some kind of a sinister catastrophe. I do not think there will ever be an explanation for what we see and feel and endure in any kind of atheistic, or materialistic, or agnostic, or secular, or humanistic approach.
That leads me to the Word of God. The Word of God reveals to us the whole matter, the whole substance, and it goes like this: God’s revealed Word says to us there is another world beyond what we see with our physical eyes. Beyond this earth and beyond the materiality of the ground upon which we walk and beyond the physical that makes up the outward human body of a man, beyond this present sensual world, there is another world. There is a world of spirit. There is a world of God, and there is a world of angelic orders. And that is described in the twenty-eighth chapter of the Book of Ezekiel. In the twenty-eighth chapter of Ezekiel, the prophet addresses the prince of Tyre, the nagiyd, the governor, the commander, the leader [Ezekiel 28:1-10].
Then beginning at verse 11 he directs his word to a melek, to a king, and beyond that king of Tyre, there is a person. And he describes this person:
The word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
Son of man, thus saith the Lord God to the melek of Tyre, representing this tremendous person who is thus described; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering.
Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; I have set thee so; thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou was created, until iniquity was found in thee.
Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness.
And you have a like description of that heavenly being in the fourteenth chapter of Isaiah beginning at verse 12: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O heylel, morning star, shining star” [Isaiah 14:12]. The Latin translation is Lucifer, light bearer.
How art thou fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the dawn!
How thou art cut down to the ground!
For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit upon the mount of the congregation . . .
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.
Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
In this angelic host of the Lord God in heaven, above the archangels, and above the seraphim, and above the cherubim, and above all the orders of celestial beings, there was one that God chose to be the crown prince of them all. His name is Lucifer, the star of the morning, the leader of the hosts of heaven, the guardian of the throne of God [Ezekiel 28:14]. And into his hands, into Lucifer’s hand, was committed all that the Lord God had made and all of the angels that He had created. He was beautiful. He was perfect. And in his beauty and in his perfection, he said in his pride, “I will be God” [Isaiah 14:13-14].
You have an identical illustration of that in the beautiful, marvelously gifted son of David named Absalom. Absalom was lifted up because of his beauty [2 Samuel 14:25], and because of his perfection, and because of his strength. And he stole away the hearts of the people of Israel, rebelled against David, and had it not been for the intervention of heaven, Absalom would have slain his own father and crowned himself as the king of the people of God [2 Samuel 15:1-6]. That is exactly what happened in the life of Lucifer, in his pride, in his beauty, in his glory, lifted up, he rebelled against God! [Isaiah 14:13-14]. “I will be God!” And he drew with him according to the twelfth chapter of the Revelation, one-third of the angelic hosts of heaven [Revelation 12:4].
Always something tragic happens when sin enters into the universe, when sin enters into the human life. There is no exception to that. When sin enters into a house, when sin enters into a home, when sin enters into a bank, when sin enters into a corporation, when sin enters into a political party, when sin enters into a nation or its national life, there is no exception to it. When sin enters into the heart, when sin enters into the life of young people or teenagers, when sin enters it creates chaos and havoc! And thus it happened in the beginning of this fall of God’s universe.
First, the angels who rebelled against God fell [Revelation 12:4]. They are demons and some of them are imprisoned in darkness against the great day of judgment [Jude 6], and some of them are in this world; innumerable [Ephesians 6:12]. But the tragedy of all tragedies, beside the fall of the angels when Lucifer fell, was the fall of God’s created universe. Genesis begins in the first verse: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” [Genesis 1:1]. And if God did it, God could not have done an evil thing, or a vile thing, or an imperfect thing. If God did it, God did it beautifully, and perfectly, and excellently, and marvelously, and gloriously. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” [Genesis 1:1]. Then the next sentence: “And the earth became without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep” [Genesis 1:2]. Between that first verse and that second verse is the fall of Lucifer [Genesis 1:1-2]. And when Lucifer fell, the whole universe fell with him. This universe was given into his hands, and he was the guardian of all of God’s creation. And when Lucifer fell, the whole creation fell with him, and it became void and chaotic [Genesis 1:2].
The tragedy of all God’s marvelous work: the destructive fall of Lucifer, the prince of the morning and the star of the dawn [Isaiah 14:12]. Then God did another thing, a wonderful thing, an amazing thing. Out of all of the chaos of the creation of God’s omnipotent and almighty hand, the Lord chose a planet called Earth to recreate it, to rejuvenate it, and in five days, God regenerated that chaotic earth [Genesis 1:3-23]. He made it perfect again. He made it beautiful again and for fellowship with the Lord God; for someone to talk to and to visit with, God made a new order of created beings like Himself. The Lord God made a man, in His image and in His likeness, male and female, created He them like Him [Genesis 1:26-27].
And the Lord God sat that created order of man and women in the garden of Eden. And He gave them the title deed of this earth. “It is yours. You subdue it. And have dominion over it and dress it and keep it [Genesis 2:8-15]. The title deed is in your name and in your hands, this earth is yours”—the beautiful man and the glorious woman that the Lord God created in His image that he might have fellowship with the Almighty.
When the Lord God did that in five days, creating this marvelous perfect earth and on the sixth day creating that man in His own likeness and in His own image [Genesis 1:26-27]; when God did that, outside of the gate of the garden of Eden, stalks that same sinister being, Lucifer, Satan, diabolos, the devil [Genesis 3:1]. And he hears all that God has said to the man and his wife, and he comes into the garden of Eden. What he was must have been beautiful beyond description. Cursed, he’s a serpent, but even some serpents exhibit marvelous beauty of a previous life. In the form of some kind of a creation of God who could speak and who could talk and who could approach the woman in beautiful manner and courteous form, he presents to her the same temptation that he himself succumbed to: “I will be God” [Isaiah 14:14]. And he says to her, “The Lord God knows that in the day that you eat of this forbidden fruit, you will be like Him. You will be God like Him. Therefore, eat, partake, and you will be like God” [Genesis 3:1-5]: the same identical thing that he sought when he said in his heart, “I will be like God” [Isaiah 14:13-14], you eat of the forbidden fruit and you will be like God [Genesis 3:5].
And when Adam and his wife disobeyed the injunction and the commandment of the Lord [Genesis 3:2-3, 6], the title deed of this earth passed from the hands of Adam and mankind into the hand of Satan, he became the god of this world [2 Corinthians 4:4]. In the fourth chapter of the Book of Luke, the same temptation you read of when Satan comes before the Lord Jesus, he says, “All of this world and all of its glory has been delivered unto me; and I can give it to whomsoever I please” [Luke 4:6]. The title deed of the earth passed from the hands of Adam and mankind into the hands of Satan, and Satan rules this world [2 Corinthians 4:4]. He has made it nothing but a place to bury our dead in. He has strewn it down. He has oversowed it with every kind of disease, and sorrow, and age, and disappointment, and frustration, and death.
And we live in this kind of a world–death, tomorrow, today. I buried a young man yesterday. On Tuesday, I will have two funerals, already. I live in that kind of a world. When anyone calls me, I expect it to be full of tears, and agony, and hurt, and sorrow. It is oversown by Satan [Matthew 13:25], the title deed is in his hand. We live in that kind of a fallen world. And we belong to a race of fallen humanity.
There is coming a judgment, and it arises in a most unusual manner. In the fourth chapter, for example, of 1Thessalonians, we are told that without announcement—suddenly, nobody knows when; could be before I am through this sermon; it could be this afternoon or tonight; it could be at midnight or in the morning—suddenly without publication, suddenly known but to God, suddenly the archangel shall shout, and the trumpet shall sound, and the Lord shall descend, and these things will happen. First, the dead will be raised from their corruption and graves. First, the dead shall rise [1 Thessalonians 4:13-18]. Second, all of God’s children will be changed, immortalized, glorified, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye [1 Corinthians 15:51-52]. And third, the Lord shall descend from heaven, and we shall meet Him in the air [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17]. And when that happens, the rage and the fury of Satan knows no end. These dead, he says, are mine! They are buried in my earth! And they are corrupting bodies belong to me! They are dead, and the dead belong to me.
And these that are stolen away and raptured, Satan in his fury says, “These are mine to afflict, and to kill with disease, and to bury in my earth. These belong to me!” And when they rise to meet the Lord in the air [1 Thessalonians 4:17], Satan is described as the prince of the power of the air [Ephesians 2:2]; “This very air belongs to me and You intervened and come down—this is my domain!” His fury knows no end!
Then the Bible says in the twelfth chapter of the Revelation, “And there is war, there is war in heaven” [Revelation 12:7]. Michael who stands for the people of God in Daniel [Daniel 10:13, 21, 12:1], in the Revelation, Michael and his angels fight against Satan and his angels. And they prevail not; and Satan and his angels are cast out of heaven [Revelation 12:7-9].
Milton, in his Paradise Lost has one of the most unusual couplets describing that. Milton says it, “him—Satan—the Almighty hurled headlong, flaming out of the ethereal sky, and woe unto you that are in the earth, for the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, for he knows that his time is short” [Revelation 12:12]. And that is the tribulation [Matthew 24:21]. When Satan comes down into this earth, and the tribulation is described in the Book of Revelation from chapter 5 to chapter 19 [Revelation 5: 19], those awesome days when Satan has but a few more years, how were the people saved from his majestic ableness?
It is a medieval caricature for you ever to think that Satan has horns, and tail, and a red suit, and a forked tongue. Satan is the god of this world [2 Corinthians 4:4]. He is described as the god of light [2 Corinthians 11:14]. He always comes in the presence of a glory. You eat; he doesn’t tell you the end result, the enjoyment of it. Always Satan is bright, educated, brilliant—always. Don’t you ever think that Satan tempts you to drink like that alcoholic in the gutter? He tempts you to drink like the big executive at the beautiful party. Don’t you ever think he tempts you to embezzle like that convict in the penitentiary. He entices you with all the emoluments of this money. It is yours, just take it. Always Satan has a brilliance about him; a glory about him. He is the god of this world [2 Corinthians 4:4].
But he also has a fury. He has a wrath that burns to the deepest against God, and against God’s people, and God’s saints. What do we do? I am no match for him. We are not equal to him, this great mighty angel that God created to have charge over the whole universe and the angelic orders of glory [Ezekiel 28:14].
This is our hope. In the tribulation in chapter 7, God seals these that are set apart for Him [Revelation 7:1-3]. God seals them, and they are His—God’s forever. And God seals us who find refuge in Him. God seals us. In the first chapter of the Book of Ephesians, God seals us with His Holy Spirit [Ephesians 1:13-14], and we cannot ultimately fall, and we cannot ultimately be lost, and we cannot ultimately find ourselves a prey of the evil one. God seals us. God sustains us. God saves us. God strengthens us. God cares for us. And our hope of heaven lies in the goodness and the graciousness of the love of Jesus in our hearts, in our lives, and we overcome him, the evil of Satan, we overcome him by our trust and faith in our living Lord [Ephesians 6:11; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8-9].
This is the background of the writing of, I suppose, the greatest hymn ever written, Ein‘ feste Burg, “A Mighty Fortress,” written by Martin Luther in 1529. He had a sensitivity toward the presence of Satan that was astonishing. One time he took his ink bottle and threw it at him, and it dashed and broke against the wall. He wrote in that glorious hymn:
A mighty fortress is our God
A bulwark never failing.
Our helper He, amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe, Satan,
Doth seek to work us woe.
His craft and power are great
And armed with cruel hate.
On earth is not his equal.
And though this world with demons filled
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim.
We tremble not for him.
His rage we can endure
For lo, his doom is sure.
One little word of faith will fell him.
That word above all earthly powers
No thanks to them,
These demons abideth,
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through Him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also.
The body they may kill.
Gods truth abideth still.
His kingdom is forever.
[“A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” Martin Luther]
This is a marvelous gospel that we preach, and without it there is no other hope. We live in a world of sin and of death. It is a matter of a while. Is it tomorrow, is it the next day, until we ourselves will fall into corruption and buried in the very dust of the ground? What hope have we? It lies in the blessed grace of the Lord Jesus who overcame sin, and death, and the grave [1 Corinthians 15:54-57], and is our great friend and Savior [Titus 2:13]. I could never if I lived a thousand lifetimes understand why anyone would say no to the Lord Jesus.
Lord, Lord, if I have any hope, it is in Thee. If there is any blessed tomorrow, it is in Thee. Beyond death and the grave [1 Corinthians 15:54-57], Lord, it is only in Thee. And I give Thee the love, and the faith, and the commitment, and the consecration, and the confession of my life, and gladly do I do it. This is our invitation to your heart.
This solemn assembly and this holy and consecrated day, in the balcony round, down one of these stairways, “Pastor, God has spoken to my heart and I am on the way. My family; all of us are coming. This is my wife and my children. We are all answering God’s call today.” Or as the Lord shall speak to your heart, when we sing this song, on the first note of the first stanza, that first step will be the most meaningful you could ever make in your life. Make it now. Do it now. Come now. And may angels attend you in the way as you answer, while we stand and while we sing.
Dr. W. A.
A. All creation is
evidence to the majesty of God
B. Evidence of a
destructive and sinister force
C. Who is responsible for
the lack, sorrow, and death?
A. Beyond physical world
of man, a world of spirit
B. God, and an angelic
1. Lucifer was above
all the orders of celestial beings
a. In pride, he rebelled
b. One-third of angelic
A. Sin destroys wherever
B. When Lucifer fell, the
whole creation fell
restoration and regeneration of the Earth
A. Creation of man
B. Sinister being outside
C. Title deed of Earth
forfeited by man, passed on to Satan
A. The rapture
B. War and tribulation
C. The seal of God