The Origin of Evil (Satan)
May 26th, 1985 @ 8:15 AM
THE ORIGIN OF EVIL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
5-26-85 8:15 a.m.
And we welcome the great throngs who are sharing this hour with us here in the First Baptist Church of Dallas, and you on radio. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Origin of Evil; the Origin of Satan. If you will turn in your Bible to Ezekiel, through which prophet we are preaching these days, Ezekiel chapter 28, beginning at verse 11, Ezekiel 28, verse 11; now may I, this morning, begin the sermon with an extended introduction? All of us are aware of the glory and the omnipotence and the power of God in His infinite creation. Psalm 19:1 begins, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament showeth His handiwork,” His lacework.
But as we look upon these marvelous evidences of the almightiness of the Creator, we are also deeply aware and sorrowfully conscious of a sinister shadow over it all. The creation is fallen. There are burned out stars in it. There are black holes in it. And even in this earth, there are deserts, and there are wind-swept, tragic, psychotic winds that overwhelm it. And in it, most sorrowful of all, is the tragedy of the man who walks the face of the planet. As the apostle Paul says in the eight chapter of Romans, “The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain and agony until now” [Romans 8:22].
How do you explain that such a dark sorrow has overwhelmed God’s beautiful creation? Here the atheists have a field day. They mockingly and derisively and deridingly say, “This is your God. He did it? Then look at what He has done.” In mockery and in derision, some of these atheists in their perverted mentality had a blame-giving day service, mocking our Thanksgiving Day service. And they sang a doxology and this was it:
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.
And their perversion is somewhat well-taken when you look at the tragedy of God’s created world and wonder who is responsible for it.
But let us ask them, the atheist and the materialist and the God-defiler and rejecter and derider. Let us ask him to explain it. “How do you explain it?” And their explanation, inevitably, follows the same pattern. Out of nothing, nothing created this world. Nothing created it. It created itself out of nothing. And then out of inert matter, matter inert created human personality, us. And sin is nothing but the stumbling upward in the process of our evolution toward angelic, seraphic perfection.
The brilliant American historian and philosopher and Harvard professor, John Fiske who was an avid evolutionist and materialist wrote it like this, “Sin is nothing more, nor less, than the brute inheritance which every man carries with him, and the process of evolution is an advance toward the true salvation.”
Well, good, but I have difficulty with both ends of it. I have difficulty with the beginning end of it, the starting end of it. I don’t ever see, nor have I ever heard of it being demonstrable, that nothing creates something; that out of nothing, this wonderful world and God’s heaven above were created. I don’t see that anywhere. Nor do I see inert matter creating life. It is not scientifically known. Study, look, research, reason; matter does not create life. It just doesn’t. I have trouble with the beginning end of it.
I also have trouble with the end of it; the other side of it, the other end of it. I don’t see evolution solving the problem of human sin. When we were in the Stone Age, we killed one another with a club. Then we evolved and we killed each other with a sword. Then we evolved and we killed each other with a gun. Then we evolved and we killed each other with a cannon, with artillery. And now we have further evolved, and the whole world cringes before the possibility of death raining down from the very sky with atomic attack and fission and confrontation. I don’t see the other end of it. I don’t see us evolving from bad to worse; I just see us evolving in the means by which we can destroy cities and nations and people. That is my introduction: that when we look for the origin of evil, there is no answer in materialism, or in agnosticism, or in atheism, or in secularism, or in humanism.
When I turn to the Word of God, I move into another world, into another explanation. And that gives rise to the twenty-eighth chapter of the Book of Ezekiel, beginning at verse 11. In God’s Book, we are introduced to another world; one above us, a spirit world of God and angelic orders. And we read:
Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus.
Now, in the second verse, he addresses his prophecy to the prince of Tyrus, nagiyd, a commander, a governor, a leader, a noble, a prince. Now this moves into another direction, a melek, a king, “And say unto him,” and over and beyond what the prophet is saying to the melek, is a being that is far separate and apart from any human, mundane ruler of the city of Tyre.
Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
Thou hast been in the garden of Eden; every precious stone was thy covering—
Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and 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 wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness.
There is an identical and like description of that being in Isaiah 14, beginning at verse 12, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer,” heylel, which in Hebrew is a “shining star.” The Latin translation of it is lucifer, “light bearer.” Lucifer, son of the dawn! “How art thou cut down to the ground!” [Isaiah 14:12].
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.
The Bible reveals to us another world, a spirit world, a world where God is and where the angelic orders reign: the seraphim, the cherubim, the angels, the archangels; a spirit world [Hebrews 1:7]. And in that angelic order there was one archangel that was exalted and placed in rulership above all of the other orders [Ezekiel 28:14], and his name is Lucifer [Isaiah 14:12]: the light bearer [2 Corinthians 11:14], the sun and star of the morning [Isaiah 14:12]. And God placed in his hands all of the order of creation, both in heaven and in the worlds that the Lord God had made. He was beautiful. He was perfect. And in his beauty and in his perfection he lifted up his heart that he would be God, the ruler and sustainer of the whole created angelic orders of the Almighty and of all of God’s creation [Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:14-17].
Let me give you a human example of that. Can you think in your heart of a man, a son like Absalom, the son of King David? He was beautiful and gifted, and though his father had been infinitely gracious and kind and forgiving toward him, because of his personality and because of his beauty and because of his perfection, he won the hearts, stole the hearts of the people of Israel from David, and declared himself king! [2 Samuel 15:6-10]. Had it not been for an intervention of God, he would have slain King David and would have possessed the throne [2 Samuel 15:14].
That’s an exact thing as happened in the angelic orders in heaven. Lucifer, the son of the morning [Isaiah 14:12], the star of the dawn, beautiful, perfect, and one-third—according to Revelation 12—one third of the angels of heaven followed him instead of God [Revelation 12:4]. These things are hard to believe, were it not, it’s everywhere in our lives also. Why do we lift up our wills against God? Why do we say, “God thus and God thus, but I,” and we rebel against the will of God.
He did that, and when Satan did that [Isaiah 14:13-14], a tragic judgment fell [Isaiah 14:16-17, 20]. Wherever sin enters, wherever rebellion against God arises, there is infinite tragedy. It will happen in a home; it will happen in a house; it will happen among children; it will happen among young people; it will happen in a corporation; it will happen in a bank; it will happen in a nation, it will happen in a people. Wherever sin enters there is destruction and judgment, always; there’s no exception to that.
And thus when sin entered the heart of Satan and he lifted up himself against God [Isaiah 14:13-14], the whole creation fell, all of it. In the beginning verses of Genesis, it says God created the heaven and the earth. It would be impossible for God to create, to do something wrong, sinful, hurtful, imperfect. So, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” [Genesis 1:1]. They were perfect; they were beautiful. Then the second verse, “And the earth became without form, and void: and darkness was upon the face of the deep” [Genesis 1:2]. What happened between that first verse of Genesis and the second verse of Genesis is the fall of Satan [Isaiah 14:12]. When sin entered the universe, the whole universe fell [Job 25:4-5]. And it became stricken and hurt, filled with sorrow and groaning [Romans 8:22].
Then God did a remarkable thing. Out of that fallen universe, the judgment upon sin and Lucifer, out of that vast chaotic mess [Genesis 1:2], God chose a planet. And in five days He recreated it; He rejuvenated it; He restored it; He regenerated it. And that regeneration, that recreation of this planet earth is described in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis; in five days, God did it [Genesis 1:3-23]. And on the sixth day God created another order of beings for fellowship with Him. He said, “Let Us make him in Our image, and after Our likeness” [Genesis 1:26]. And He created that new order of being in the image of God. “And in the image of God created He them; male and female” [Genesis 1:27], for fellowship, to talk with God, to walk with God, to be with God.
And when God did that and the whole planet was beautifully re-created [Genesis 1:3-23], He placed the man and his wife in the garden of Eden [Genesis 2:8, 15-25]. But outside the gate of the garden is that same sinister being, Lucifer, fallen Satan [Genesis 3:1]. And he talks to the woman and then finally through her to the man and says the identical thing that he had done in the angelic orders of heaven [Isaiah 14:13-14]. “Would you like to be like God? Would you? God knows that in the day that you eat of this forbidden tree you will be like Him [Genesis 3:5]. And wouldn’t you love to be like God Himself, wouldn’t you?” And Eve said, “I would.” And Adam said, “And I would.” And the same sin of lifting themselves up against the Lord God to be like Him, to take His place, happened in the garden of Eden [Genesis 3:1-6].
And there upon the title deed of this world passed from the man, the new created order [Genesis 1:28], into the hands of Satan [2 Corinthians 4:4]. God fashioned this world, this planet, for the man and gave it to him; and said to him, “You have dominion over it. And you dress it and keep it. It is yours” [Genesis 1:26-28]. The title deed of this earth was given to the man that God created. And when God saw that the man lifted up his heart against Him, “I will be God” [Genesis 3:1-6], the title deed of the universe and the title deed of his earth passed from the man to whom it was given [Genesis 1:26-28], into the hands of Satan [Matthew 4:8-9]. And from that day on, Satan became the god of this world [2 Corinthians 4:4].
In the fourth chapter of Luke, corresponding with the passage that you read in the fourth chapter of the Book of Matthew [Matthew 4:8-9], Satan says to the Lord Jesus, in the temptation, he says to Him, “The world and all of its glory has been delivered unto me. And I give it to whomsoever I please. And I will give it to You if You will bow down and worship me” [Luke 4:5-7]. The title deed of the world passed from the hand of man [Genesis 1:26-28], into the hand of Satan [Matthew 4:8-9], and he is the owner and god of this world [2 Corinthians 4:4].
And what has happened? All of us are acquainted with the sorrow by which he sows the seeds of death in our race, in our families, in our midst. This earth is nothing other now than a place to bury our dead. I buried a young man yesterday. On Tuesday, I have two funerals. I live in that world. I bury the dead. He had sewn this earth with sorrow, and grief, and tears, and hurt, and disease, and Aids, and death.
But there is a great judgment coming. And it arises in a way that I never would have thought for, just seeing it and reading it in the Word of the Lord. There is a day coming; we know not when, it could come today; it could come tonight; it could come at the dawn of the morning, we don’t know; any day, any time. There is coming a moment when the voice of an archangel, the shout of an archangel will be heard. And when the trumpet shall be blown, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and these who are alive—and at the coming of our Lord, who have looked in faith to Him—will be raptured. They will be immortalized; they will be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye [1 Corinthians 15:52-54], and the Lord will come and will meet His saints in the air [1 Thessalonians 4:15-17].
And when that day comes, when that hour and that moment arises, Satan’s fury knows no bounds and no end. “These dead are mine! Their corrupting bodies are mine. They are buried in the earth that belongs to me. These dead are mine! And these living saints who are translated, they are mine to afflict and to strike with disease, and age, and death, and sorrow, and tears. They’re mine! And they’re rising to meet the Lord God in the air, the air is mine!” He’s called the prince of the power of the air [Ephesians 2:2], he reigns in the air, “And these are mine!” And the purpose of God is to deal once again in His grace with the chosen family of Israel [Deuteronomy 7:6-8]. “I have cursed them and persecuted them”; the fury of Satan knows no end and no bounds [Revelation 12:12].
And it is then that God does something, and He does it today. God seals, according to the seventh chapter of the Revelation, His sainted people [Revelation 7:2-3]. There is war in heaven! The wrath of Satan, burning in fury, Michael, who stands for the people of God and his angels; warring against the dragon, Satan and Lucifer and his angels. War, the rising of Satan; when these are raptured, and these are raised from the dead, and these are brought up to meet God in the sky, in the air [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17]. There is war; the final and ultimate war, and Satan is cast out and his angels [Revelation 12:7-9], and his wrath is unbounding.
I don’t know of a more dramatic couplet in English literature than Milton’s description of that. Talking about Satan: “Him, the Almighty hurled headlong, flaming from the ethereal sky.”
Then is the tribulation, those seven years when Satan and his angels are cast out of heaven and down into the earth [Revelation 12:4]. And Satan comes, having great wrath, and the awesome tribulation that follows after [Revelation 12:12].
But what of us, then or now? The seal of God, in the seventh chapter of the Revelation, is placed upon those that belong to Him; the seal of God [Revelation 7:2-3]. And the seal of God is placed upon us now, in this life. In the first chapter of the Book of Ephesians, it describes the seal of the Holy Spirit of God that separates us from the wrath and the damnation of Satan [Ephesians 1:13]. We are no equal for it. We are no match against him. He’s called the angel of light [2 Corinthians 11:14], and he controls this world and its glory, and its culture, and all of its development that he uses as an engine of war to destroy the nations. We’re no equal to him. It’s the Lord who seals us, and who delivers us, and who saves us [Ephesians 4:30]. Not in ourselves; we are not equal. But we find our assurance, and our hope, and our deliverance, and our salvation in Jesus our Lord, and in Him alone [John 14:6; Acts 4:12].
I think of Martin Luther. He had such a sense of the presence of Satan that one time he took his ink bottle and threw it against him. And it splashed and dashed against the wall. And in 1529 he wrote this, Ein’ feste Burg, “A Mighty Fortress”:
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 word of faith will fell him.
That word above all earthly powers
No thanks to them,
Satan and his 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.
There is no ableness on our part against the power of Satan. He cuts us down. Finally, he buries us in death, in the grave, in this earth that belongs to him [2 Corinthians 4:4]. But Jesus our Lord overcame it [John 16:33]. He overcomes it now, and He is our victor and our strength, our mighty fortress, our Savior and our salvation [Titus 2:13]. And we take our poor souls to the Lord Jesus [Romans 10:9-10], and we ask Him to help us, and to deliver us, and to strengthen us, and in death to raise us, to resurrect us, to gather us to Himself in life everlasting. We have no other hope [John 14:6; Acts 4:12].
And that is our appeal in the song that we sing and the invitation that we make. To give your heart in loving trust to the Lord Jesus, “Lord, I accept Thee for all that Thou hast promised to be. And I give myself and every future day into Thy keeping hands. And now, and in the hour of my death, and in the forever, Lord Jesus, remember me, stand by me, save me.” To put your family in the circle of this dear church, to answer a call of God pressed upon your heart, while we sing this song of invitation, answer with your life. “Pastor, here I am. I’m coming this morning, this hour.” Down a stairwell in the balcony, down one of these aisles on this lower floor, “The Lord has spoken and I’m on the way.” May angels attend you and God bless you as you come, while we stand and while we sing.