The Beginning and the End of Satan
February 2nd, 1986 @ 10:50 AM
THE BEGINNING AND THE END OF SATAN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2-2-86 10:50 a.m.
This is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Beginning and the End of Satan. I have prepared nine sermons out of God’s Holy Book around the theme “The Beginning and the End.” The first one delivered, The Beginning and the End of the World. The next one…of Sorrows; last Sunday…of Death. Next Sunday it will concern grace, The Beginning and the End of Grace, God’s proffered forgiveness and salvation for us, and today, The Beginning and the End of Satan, of iniquity.
In the third chapter of the first book of the Bible, Genesis, Genesis chapter 3, “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord had made” [Genesis 3:1]. When you see a serpent now, you see him cursed, crawling in the dust. He was not created that way. He was the most beautiful, and the most interestingly attractive of all of these living ones that God had made. “He was more subtle…”
And the serpent said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
And the woman answered the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: all of them,
But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.
The first lie. The beginning of evil, the origin of evil; where does it come from? I see it in me. The apostle Paul spoke of it like this, “When I would do good, evil is present with me… O wretched man that I am! who will deliver me from this body of death?” [Romans 7:18-24]. There is lack, and there is mistake, shortcoming in every part of human life. And I feel it in me and see it in me and live with it every day. I see it all around me, in you, in all humanity, even in little children. Some of the most violent tantrums you’ll ever behold are put on by children. You see it in babies; they get so angry and scream. Everywhere: evil, iniquity, shortcoming.
Then we go back. Where does it come from? Where did it start? We go back and back and back, through the generations, all the story of evil covering every page, every document. Back and back and back, through all the literature of humanity, through all of the Bible, and the pages of the Scripture, back and back and back. Where does evil come from?
Finally, we come to the garden of Eden. And we see it there in the garden of Eden [Genesis 3:1-6]. But it doesn’t start there. Outside of the garden at the entrance of the gate, there is a sinister being. He is brilliant. He is capable. And he encompasses the fall of the man and the woman that God has made. Who is that sinister being? What is his name and where does he come from? And what is his origin? This lifts us up to heaven, for this being is a celestial creation of God. Up there in heaven where God is, above the stars in the sky, up there in the third heaven where God is, there is a great host of celestial angelic beings. They are myriads upon myriads upon myriads. They are so multitudinous; there is no language that can count their number.
And they are in very organized orders. There are the seraphim [Isaiah 6:2, 6], and they lead in the praise and holiness of God. There are the cherubim. Wherever they appear, they are the representatives of God’s mercy and grace [Genesis 3:24; Exodus 25:20]. There are the angeloi, they are the angels, angelos, messengers. They are the messengers of God, such as Gabriel. Wherever he appears, he’s always on a mission from the Lord [Daniel 8:16, 9:21; Luke 1:19, 26]. And there is one archangel. His name is Michael, and he is the defender of God’s people. Wherever he appears, Michael always is a warrior, standing as a champion for the people of God [Daniel 10:13, 21, 12:1; Jude 9; Revelation 12:7].
But above the seraphim, and above the cherubim, and above the angelos, and above Michael the archangel, there is still one other. He is the greatest of all the created of the angelic hosts of God, and his name is Lucifer, the shining one [Isaiah 14:12]. As the seraphim are the burning ones [Isaiah 6:2,6], Lucifer is the shining one. He’s the great light bearer. He is described meticulously in the twenty-eighth chapter of Ezekiel and the fourteenth chapter of Isaiah [Isaiah 14:4-22; Ezekiel 28:12-19]. In the twenty-eighth chapter of the Book of Ezekiel, verse 14, he is described as the “anointed cherub that covereth” [Ezekiel 28:14], that overshadows, that protects.
And God says, “I have set thee so. I have placed thee upon the holy mountain of God and you walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire, perfect in thy ways from the day that thou was created” [Ezekiel 28:14-15]. This is Lucifer, son of the morning [Isaiah 14:12], son of the dawn, the great overshadowing cherub, the creation of God under whom all the hosts of heaven march in review every day. He is described in verse 12, “Thou sealest up the sum of wisdom, and perfect in beauty” [Ezekiel 28:12]. In verse 17: “Thy heart was lifted up because of thy beauty” [Ezekiel 28:17].
There’s not anything in the angelic hosts that you will not find in us. And there are no responses in them that you won’t find in your own heart and life. We also were made in the image of God [Genesis 1:27]. And this beautiful cherub, this glorious overshadowing ruler of all God’s angelic hosts, he was beautiful beyond anything that imagination could conjure up. And it says here, because of his beauty his heart was lifted up [Ezekiel 28:17].
I say, whatever you find in them you’ll find in us. Was not Absalom like that, the beautiful son of David? His heart was lifted up, and he thought to destroy his own father, to slay David, his own father, that he might inherit the kingdom [2 Samuel 15-17].
That’s Lucifer. Because of his beauty, his heart was lifted up [Ezekiel 28:17]. And it is said of him “. . . perfect in all thy ways, until iniquity was found in thee” [Ezekiel 28:15]. “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty. Thou has corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness” [Ezekiel 28:17]. The glory that God bestowed upon him and the beautiful wonder of his creation turned his head and his heart and his life. And that is described in the fourteenth chapter of Isaiah.
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down…
For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend unto 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.
He aspired to be God, to take the place of God. We’re that way. God may say this, but I say this. God may choose this, but I choose the other. All of us are alike. He was that way; his heart was lifted up. He aspired to use his own mind, and program, and choice, and life above and different from that of God. The will of God may be this, my will is that. God may choose this, I choose that.
And because of his beauty, and because of his brightness, and his glory, iniquity was found in him [Ezekiel 28:15]. And that is the beginning of evil. That is the origin of transgression; in the heart of Satan. And when he was found in transgression, when sin was found in him, the repercussions were catastrophic beyond degree. First, was in him himself. He became confirmed as an adversary of God. He chose to be God’s enemy, and as God’s enemy, he was set in that adversarial position, facing God. The first change was in him. He became confirmed in his adversarial iniquity [Isaiah 14:13-14; Ezekiel 28:2, 6].
Second: he pulled down with him one-third of the great multitudinous, heavenly host [Revelation 12:4]. They became daimonia, demons. You say, why did they choose that? Didn’t I just avow we are all alike? Why do you choose that? They chose to follow Satan, in Satan’s transgression. And one-third of all of those myriads and myriads and myriads of the angelic hosts in heaven became servants of Satan [Revelation 12:4].
Satan is not omnipresent. Only God is omnipresent [Psalm 139:8]. But Satan is with us by the uncounted multitudinous daimonia. They are everywhere, demons. They are in your mind. They’re in your heart. They’re in your soul. They’re in your life. They’re in your business. They’re in your house. They’re in your home. They’re in your work. They’re everywhere. They’re everywhere.
The third tragic, catastrophic result of the sin that was found in this first fall is found in the desolation that overtook God’s created universe. Those planets out there are now barren and sterile. In this planet earth in which we live, there are great deserts. And in the midst of the fall of God’s creation, is the man himself. In his wretchedness and in his age and in his death, in war, and hatred, and turmoil, and violence, he lives his life all the days of his created existence [Romans 8:20-23]. It is that kind of a world in which we live. This is the beginning of evil. It is the origin of Satan [Ezekiel 28:14-15].
Now through these ages that have passed since the fall of Lucifer, that battle has been raging, the attack of Satan against God and God’s people. We live in his universe. We live in his world. Time and again, Jesus refers to Satan as the prince of this world [John 12:31]. And Paul calls him “the god of this world” [2 Corinthians 4:4]. God is not the author of war, and hatred, and violence. God is not the author of death, yet we live in a world of violence and death.
Our wretchedness becomes more apparent each day that we live, until finally we even pray to die. It’s that kind of a world into which we are born. It is a fallen world. It is a sinful world. It is a world of wretchedness, and sorrow, and disease, and tears, and death, and we are a part of it. And the attack of Satan against the people of God is unwearying and multifaceted.
Some of the devious ways of Satan are astonishing to me, as I read them in God’s Holy Book. You read one just now out of the life of Job. Let me point out another. Michael, the archangel, contended with Satan about the body of Moses [Jude 1:9]. Why did Satan want the body of Moses? It is very apparent. Even the brazen serpent that Moses lifted up in the wilderness to heal those who had been bitten by that judgment of fiery snakes, venomous, poisonous adders [Numbers 21:8-9]; that brazen serpent, that serpent of brass continued for seven hundred years as a snare to Israel. They worshipped it and burned incense to it until it was destroyed by Hezekiah the good king [2 Kings 18:4].
If the people of ancient Israel worshipped and burned incense to the brazen serpent, think what they would have done, had they possessed the body of Moses. Think of what would have been done today. And that’s why Satan contended with Michael, wanting the body of Moses [Jude 1:9], in order to trap them, to enslave them in a bowing down before Moses, the tomb of Moses, sepulcher of Moses, the remains of Moses.
And when the Lord God in heaven, incarnate, entered this world [Matthew 1:23], He entered the world of Satan; and Satan sought to encompass His destruction. He did so when our Lord was a child, using the sword of Herod to seek Him out, and to slaughter Him [Matthew 2:16].
And in the story of the temptations, you have an unusual but a tragic translation in that confrontation between the Lord and Satan. The way you have it translated in the King James Version of the Bible is this, “If You are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread” [Matthew 4:3]. “If You are the Son of God, cast Yourself down from the temple. The angels will bear You up” [Matthew 4:6]. “If You are the Son of God”—“if You are”; there is no such thing as that, nor even approaching that. And “if” is subjunctive: “if,” a possibility of not.
What Satan said is an affirmation. What he said is an indicative: “Since You are the Son of God” [Matthew 4:3, 6]. My brother, they had known each other for the ages, and the ages, and the ages past, and when those two met face to face they had known each other for the millions of years before. “Since You are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread” [Matthew 4:3, 6]; that is, undo the incarnation. He came into the world to be a man, to live our life and to die our death [Hebrews 10:5-14], and He would not undo the incarnation [Matthew 1:20-25]. “Turn these stones into bread” [Matthew 4:3]. You don’t turn stones into bread. To be a man, you eat bread by the sweat of your brow [Genesis 3:19], or you go hungry. He knew hunger [Matthew 21:18; Luke 4:2].
The second temptation, “Cast Yourself down” [Matthew 4:6]; self-interest, spectacular ephemerality. No thing the Lord ever did, He did for Himself, never. Any miracle He ever did was for somebody else. Anything that He ever gave Himself to was in our behalf. And for Him to make a spectacle of Himself, casting Himself down and the angels lift Him up before all the wondering throng, a Satanic temptation [Matthew 4:5-7].
And the last, “Bow down before me, bow down before me, and I will give You the glory of the world and everything that is in it” [Matthew 4:8-9]. Didn’t I just get through avowing from the Scriptures that he is the god of this world? [2 Corinthians 4:4]. How could he say that to the Lord Jesus, “I’ll give You the glory of this world” [Matthew 4:8-9], if he didn’t have it to give? The glory of this world belongs to him. This is his world. He is the prince [John 14:30] and the god of this world [2 Corinthians 4:4], and he reigns over it in sin and violence and death. “All of this world,” he says to the Lord Jesus, “I will give You, if You will only bow down Yourself and worship me” [Matthew 4:8-9]. That is, no cross of redemption; “I will just give it to You.” No suffering [1 Peter 3:18], no propitiation [1 John 2:2], no atonement [Romans 5:11], no washing away of sin [Revelation 1:5]. Sin reign forever; death, decay forever. “Just bow down and I will give it to You [Matthew 4:8-9] and we will reign over a world of chaos and violence and tears and wretchedness and sorrow forever and ever. You and I will do it together.” That’s Satan.
But the tremendous apparent victory of Satan over the Son of God came when, through the ingenuity of Satan, he nailed Him to the cross, nailed Him to the tree, and saw Him die [Matthew 27:32-50]. I haven’t language nor the ableness of imagination to enter into the exulting prince of death when he looked upon the Son of God, as He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit [Matthew 27:50]. Death triumphant, death forever, and Satan, king of all creation, world without end.
The end of Satan: while He was in the grave, buried in a borrowed sepulcher [Matthew 27:57-60], the Lord God of heaven came to grips with death; the wages of sin, and iniquity, and wrong, and transgression. He faced death, grappled with death hand to hand, heart to heart, face to face, and He came up victorious. He arose from the dead, King over all of the sorrow, and hurt, and age, and death, and wretchedness, and separation, and sorrow, and disease, King of it all; triumphant over it all, He rose from the grave [Matthew 28:5-7].
And not only that, in that victory He bought a victory for all mankind who have found refuge, and faith, and trust, and assurance, and hope in Him [1 Corinthians 15:55-57]. And it comes about like this. There is coming a day, a future day, when Michael the archangel shall blow his trumpet, and when the dead shall arise. All of God’s saints who have fallen asleep in Jesus, at the sound of the trumpet, at the voice of the archangel, they shall rise from the grave. And we who are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall be caught up, changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, changed [1 Corinthians 15:31-52], immortalized, and with them to meet our Lord in the air [1 Thessalonians 4:13-17].
Satan is the prince of the air [Ephesians 2:2]. And when that day comes, the fury of Satan knows no bounds. These that are brought up out of the grave, resurrected out of the grave [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17], Satan cries, “These are mine, these are mine. I have the power of sin and of death, and these that are buried in the ground are mine, they’re mine. And these that are translated in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye [1 Corinthians 15:51-52], these are mine to slay, to bury in the heart of the earth, to rot and to decay. And You in the air, You coming down from heaven [1 Thessalonians 4:16], this is my domain and my rulership. I’m king of these that are dead and these that are to die, and I reign over the power of the air.” The fury of Satan knows no bounds.
And according to the Word of God, “And there was war in heaven” [Revelation 12:7], Satan attacking. “These that are dead are mine, and these that are translated are mine to slay, and this air above all creation is mine.” And Satan goes to war against the saints of God, resurrected, glorified, translated, immortalized, raptured; and there is war in heaven [Revelation 12:7].
Who is it that the Bible says is the champion of the people of God? Our champion is Michael the archangel. “And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon,” against Satan, against Lucifer and his angels [Revelation 12:7]. And who prevails? Michael, Michael; Michael prevails. The champion of God wins the day and the battle for us [Revelation 12:8-9].
And I’d like to insert here, and I don’t do it with any thought of blasphemous interpolation: John Milton’s Paradise Lost, in describing that awesome scene, has this couplet: “Him, him—Satan, Lucifer—Him the Almighty hurled headlong, flaming from the ethereal sky.” The Bible says he was cast down to the earth [Revelation 12:9]. And then the Scriptures say, “Woe unto the inhabitants of the earth, for Satan comes in great fury, knowing he hath but a short time” [Revelation 12:12]. That is the tribulation. Seven years, seven years and there will be hurt and sorrow and persecution and death as the world has never known. The days of the great tribulation, hē thlipsis hē megalē; the tribulation, the great.
But it doesn’t go on forever. At the end of the tribulation, at the end of those seven years, there comes down from heaven a mighty angel with a great chain in his hand. And he lays his hand upon Satan, the deceiver and accuser of the brethren, our enemy unto death, lays hands upon him and casts him into the bottomless pit, into the abyss [Revelation 20:1-3]; and for a thousand years, Jesus reigns as King and Lord of all the earth [Revelation 20:4-6].
At the end of the thousand years, he is loosed. Satan is loosed for a season [Revelation 20:7]. Why is that? Why should Satan be loosed for a season at the end of a thousand years? [Revelation 20:7]. For a very simple and plain reason: to try and to test, and to seduce, and to deceive those that were born during the thousand years of the millennium [Revelation 20:8-9]. No one and that includes you, no one, and that includes us all, no one, and that includes me, no one ever enters the kingdom of God without first being tried and tested.
As Paul writes in the third chapter of 1 Corinthians, “All of us shall be tested by fire. The day will declare it” [1 Corinthians 3:13]. No one ever, ever, ever enters the kingdom of God who has not first been tried and tested. And you will be, you will be. You will know what it is to experience the darts of the evil one and the assaults and attacks of Satan. You will know it.
No one enters God’s kingdom without being tested. At the end of the thousand years, he is let loose for a season [Revelation 20:7] and he goes forth [Revelation 20:8-9], and all of those that were born in the millennium make a final choice, for God or against Him. And at the end of that brief season of ultimate testing there is set up a great throne. In the Bible, it’s called, “the great white throne” [Revelation 20:11]. And before Him, all of these, all of these who have rejected God; the beast is cast into hell, the lake of fire; the false prophet is cast into hell in the lake of fire [Revelation 19:20]. And this is the end of Satan; he is judged and cast forever into the lake of fire [Revelation 20:10].
And the accompanying is tragic beyond any way I can say it. All of those who are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, who have chosen him and not God, all of them are cast in the lake of fire [Revelation 20:15]. They have chosen to be with him, with the false prophet, with the beast, with Satan, and forever and ever and ever, they are shut out from the kingdom of God. O Lord, what infinite tragedy. Now we prayed God to bless the appeal of our hands, that we all might turn and be saved, that we might accept the Lord Jesus with a great holy purpose for which He came into the world, for which He died, the remission of our sins [Matthew 26:28; Acts 10:43]; that we might see God’s face and live [Revelation 22:3-5].
That is the end of Satan: in the bottomless pit, shut out and away [Revelation 20:10]. And we who have found mercy [Titus 3:5] and grace [Ephesians 2:8] and forgiveness in our Lord [Ephesians 1:7], we are a part of His kingdom and of the beautiful and holy city, Jerusalem, and live and worship and glorify and sing praises to and serve our wonderful Lord forever, and ever, and ever, world without end [Revelation 21-22]. Hallelujah, hallelujah!
You know, it’s not without reason, I think, that the greatest Christian hymn that was ever written, Martin Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” was written concerning our conflict with Satan, and our ultimate, and final triumph over him. I close in reading it,
A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing;
But still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth he has no equal.
But 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, and love, and grace—will fell him.
That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them 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: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
It’s a marvelous thing, and how helpful and hopeful, and optimistic and victorious in a world of death, and of violence, and of tears, and of wretchedness, and of age, and of sorrow in that kind of a world, “Look up, for your redemption draweth nigh” [Luke 21:28]. Jesus hath won the victory, and He is King [1 Corinthians 15:54-57].
May we bow our heads? Our Lord in heaven, would God we had the words to describe the glory of our champion and Lord in that day of battle. We praise Thee for Jesus our Savior, and we love our Lord for what He hath done for us. And our Father in heaven, we pray that every day of our lives may flow out in thanksgiving and gratitude to Him.
While we bow our heads, if there is a couple you this morning to give your hearts together to Jesus, would you come and stand by me? If there’s a one somebody you, “Pastor, today I have decided for God, and here I come” [Romans 10:8-13]. A family you, to put your life with us in this dear church [Hebrews 10:24-25], or anybody you that has felt called of God to reconsecrate and regive your life to the Lord, or to answer His appeal to you in your heart; would you make that public avowal, and do it now? Make the decision in your heart in this precious moment. And in a moment when we stand to sing, stand walking down that aisle, “This is God’s day for me, pastor, and I’m on the way.”
Thank You, Lord, for the sweet harvest, and may angels attend these who come, standing before men and angels for Thee, God’s faithful, God’s servant, God’s people, to the glory of Thy name, amen. While we stand, while we sing, “Pastor, I’m on the way. Here I come, here I am.”