The Beginning and the End of Satan
February 2nd, 1986 @ 8:15 AM
THE BEGINNING AND THE END OF SATAN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2-2-86 8:15 a.m.
And we are no less thankful for the great throngs of you who share this hour on radio. This is the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Beginning and the End of Satan, of evil. For nine Sundays, the pastor has prepared nine messages around the theme “The Beginning and the End”: The Beginning and the End of the World, that was the first one; The Beginning and the End of Sorrows, the second one; The Beginning and the End of Death, the third one; and next Sunday, The Beginning and the End of Grace. Next Sunday will be one of the tremendous Sundays in our church life. Not only is it love Sunday, we are expecting a vast throng in Sunday school, but it is also the day when Denny Dawson will be joining our church with his little family, and then we are on the way, soaring to the very heights of heaven.
In the third chapter of Genesis, the first verse, Genesis chapter 3, verse 1:
Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
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.
When we think of the serpent, we think of him as he is in his present condition of being cursed. But in the beginning he must have been the most beautiful and the most alluring and the most interesting of all of God’s creatures in the earth.
The origin of evil—did it begin there? I see it everywhere, evil. I see it in me. Paul cried, saying, “When I would do good, evil is present with me. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?” [Romans 7:18-24]. I see it in me. I see it no less everywhere around me: in you, in all of the many-faceted works and interests of life, in the home, in the family, in the child, in the baby. Some of the most violent tantrums you’ll ever see are in the smallest of children. Where does it begin? I go back and back through the books of history, and through the ages, and through all the pages of the Bible; go back and back and back, and evil is ever present.
Finally we go back and back to the garden of Eden, and we find it there in the garden of Eden, in the beginning of the creation of God [Genesis 3:1-6]. But it doesn’t begin there. On the outside of the garden, at the entrance of the gate, there is a sinister being. He is brilliant, he is able, he encompasses the fall. Who is that somebody outside of the garden of Eden? Where did he come from? What is his name, and who is he? For that answer we find our ascent into heaven; and there in heaven, where God is, we are introduced to a great concourse and order of angelic beings, celestial creations of God. There are the seraphim [Isaiah 6:2, 6]; they lead the worship of God’s holiness. There are the cherubim; they are ever signs of the presence of the grace of our Lord [Genesis 3:24; Exodus 25:20]. There are the angels, angelos, “messenger”: always, always, the messengers of God, such as Gabriel. Wherever you see him, he is on a mission from the Lord [Daniel 8:16, 9:21; Luke 1:19, 26]. There is one archangel, Michael. He ever is presented as the defender of God’s people [Daniel 10:13, 21, 12:1; Jude 9; Revelation 12:7].
And one other, one other, greater than even the archangel Michael, greater than Gabriel, greater than the seraphim and the cherubim: there is one other, and his name is Lucifer [Isaiah 14:12]. Lucifer, a creation of God over all of the Lord’s angelic orders; in the twenty-eighth chapter of the Book of Ezekiel, through an earthly king, he is described as “the anointed cherub that covereth, that overshadows, that protects; “The anointed cherub that covereth; and I God have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain; 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” [Ezekiel 28:14-15]. Lucifer, over all of the angelic celestial orders of heaven—and what a magnificent person he was. “Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty [Ezekiel 28:12]…But thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty” [Ezekiel 28:17]. Like the story of Absalom, the most beautiful son apparently that any king ever sired, but because of his beauty his heart was lifted up; and he planned even the death of his father, David [2 Samuel 15-17]. Lucifer: “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty” [Ezekiel 28:17]. And in the fourteenth chapter of the Book 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 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.
His heart was lifted up [Ezekiel 28:17], and because of his beauty and the glorious creation into which God had cast his life and lot, he thought to be God Himself. And Lucifer, in his heart, lifting up himself against God, is the origin and the beginning of evil. It began, it was born in him in heaven [Ezekiel 28:14-15].
And the results were catastrophic beyond imagination. First, he became Satan [Luke 10:18; Revelation 12:9]. He was confirmed in his evil, and he is the adversary of God and everything that is of the Lord [Isaiah 14:13-14; Ezekiel 28:2, 6]. Not only that, but he drew with him one-third of the infinite multitudinous hosts of glory, and they became daimōnia, demons [James 2:19; Revelation 12:4]. Satan is not omnipresent, but he has multitudinous demons, and they are everywhere. One-third of all of the host of heaven followed Satan [Revelation 12:4, 9]. You wonder; why? Well, why do you? All of the things you’ll find in him and in his angelic followers you’ll find in yourself, every one of them. There’s no thing you will find extraneous in Satan you experience yourself. Why do you do that? Why do you follow Satan? Why did they follow Satan? One-third of them chose to follow Lucifer [Revelation 12:4], and of course, the catastrophic effect in the creation of the world we see all around us. The whole earth fell, the whole universe fell, the whole creation fell, the stars fell, and man is the most wretched of all in the midst of it [Genesis 1:1-2; Revelation 12:9]. We live in a world of evil, of sin, of suffering, of wretchedness and death. It is that kind of a world into which we were born, it is that kind of a world in which we live, and it is that kind of a world in which we shall die: a fallen world presided over by Satan, Lucifer—the beginning of evil [Ezekiel 28:14-15; 1 John 2:15-17].
The end of evil: all that we see around us is under the surveillance and hands of Lucifer, all of it [Job 1:7; 1 Peter 5:8]. Time after time the Lord refers to him as “the prince of this world” [John 12:31]. Paul refers to him as “the god of this world” [2 Corinthians 4:4]. We are born into a fallen world, an evil world, a world of sin, and transgression, and iniquity, and death. It is that kind of a world, and it is presided over by Lucifer; he is the king and the god of this world. And his attack in this earth is in every area, and in every dramatized experience in life there will you find his subtle presence and his unbelievable brilliant tactic.
One of the things that is amazing to me in the Bible is the confrontation between Michael the archangel and Lucifer as they disputed over the body of Moses [Jude 1:9]. Why would Lucifer want the body of Moses? To make it an instrument of idolatry. If the Jewish people, in their idolatry, worship the brazen serpent [Numbers 21:8-9], for seven hundred years until Hezekiah destroyed it [2 Kings 18:4], think how much more the body of Moses would have been a snare to the people had Lucifer been able to obtain it. In every area, in every facet of life, did Lucifer attack God’s people. And when the Lord Jesus Christ incarnate came down from heaven into this earth [Philippians 2:5-9], He came down into an earth over which Satan presides [Ephesians 6:12]. And when they confronted each other, Satan did all that he could to destroy Him; not only as a child [Matthew 2:16-18], when He was born, but in His manhood when He began His ministry [Matthew 4:1-11].
One of the unusual translations you’ll find in this King James Version of the Bible is when Satan accosts the Lord Jesus Christ. And in the King James Version it is translated, “If You are the Son of God,” do this and this and this, “if You are the Son of God” [Matthew 4:3,6]. You miss it altogether: that is not subjunctive, as if a possibility. It is an affirmation, it is an indicative: “Since You are the Son of God” [Matthew 4:3, 6]. They had known each other from the ages and the ages past, Lucifer and the incarnate Lord. “Since You are the Son of God,” and then the confrontation, “turn these stones into bread” [Matthew 4:3]; that is, undo the incarnation. Second, “Cast Yourself down from the temple, and the angels will pick You up” [Matthew 4:6] to make His ministry a self-interested spectacle. And last of all, “Bow down and worship me, and I will give You the glory of the whole world” [Matthew 4:9]; for it is his, he’s the king of the universe. “I will give it to You, all the kingdoms and the nations, if You will bow down and worship me” [Matthew 4:8-9]; that is, no redemptive cross. They knew each other.
And when the Lord Jesus Christ was raised from the dead [Matthew 28:1-6], it was a devastating blow to Lucifer. He escaped. Satan thought that he had triumphed in the cross; when he had nailed the Son of God to the tree, what a victory for the kingdom of darkness! [Matthew 27:32-50]. And when the Lord God was raised from the dead, what a catastrophic confrontation and blow to the kingdom of Satan [Matthew 28:5-7]; but listen—God is not done. At the voice of the archangel, that’s Michael, and at the trump of God, the dead in Christ shall be raised first; then we who are alive and remain shall be gathered with them to meet our Lord in the air [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17]. You think of that!
The fury of Satan knows no bounds. “These dead are mine! I have slain them and they’re buried in the heart of the earth. Death is a facet, it’s a product, it’s a result, it’s a repercussion of evil; and these evil are dead. They are mine! And these that are raptured, they are mine! I have the opportunity and the privilege to slay them all, every one of them.” You, me, everybody; it’s the prerogative of Satan to slay these that are born into the earth. And the Lord God comes down from the sky to meet us in the air; and the air is the kingdom of Satan, he’s the prince of the air [Ephesians 2:2]. And when these dead are raised, and when these who are alive are raptured and translated [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17], and when the Lord God comes down in the air, the fury of Satan knows no bounds! “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, Lucifer, and his angels” [Revelation 12:7]. Michael, the great defender of God’s people—when Satan, Lucifer, seeks to reach up his hands to pull down from the skies and from the courts of glory the saints of God, that he might thrust them back into the heart of the earth, Michael is the defender of God’s sainted people. And there is war in heaven, and Michael prevails [Revelation 12:8-9].
Here is a couplet out of Milton that I think could have been placed there in the twelfth chapter of the Book of the Apocalypse: “Him the almighty”—talking about Lucifer—“Him the almighty hurled headlong, Flaming from the ethereal sky” [Paradise Lost] . Satan, Lucifer, was cast out of heaven [Revelation 12:9-10]. And then the next verse: “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth! For Satan is come down to you in fury, knowing he hath but a short time” [Revelation 12:12]. And then you have the story of the tribulation: the darkest era in the history of the world [Revelation 12-19]. And it ends—there is an end to evil, there is an end to Satan, there is an end to Lucifer. After the seven year tribulation period, when the wrath of Satan is poured out upon the inhabitants of the earth [Revelation 12:12], there is a great, mighty angel that comes down from God, and lays hold upon him, and chains him with a great chain, and he is cast into the bottomless abyss for a thousand years [Revelation 20:1-3], and that is the beautiful millennium [Revelation 20:1-6].
After a thousand years, he is loosed for just a while [Revelation 20:1-3, 7]. Why? That he might test those who were born in the thousand year period of the millennium. There is no such thing ever, there is no such thing ever, of anyone going through this life, born in this world, who is not assailed and tested by Satan, no exception. And these that are born during the millennium, that thousand year period in which people won’t die, in that thousand year period, Satan is loosed for just a moment, that he might test those that were born during the days of the millennium [Revelation 20:8-9].
Then we come to the final judgment day of Almighty God, called in the twentieth chapter of the Book of the Revelation the “white throne judgment” [Revelation 20:11]. And into that bottomless pit of lake and fire and damnation in which the beast was cast, and in which the false prophet was cast [Revelation 19:20], into that lake of fire Satan is cast [Revelation 20:10], and those whose names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, they are cast [Revelation 20:15]. And we begin the eternal state of glory with our Lord forever, and ever, and ever, and ever—the end of evil [Revelation 21-22].
I do not know in human language a truer portrayal of the victory of the child of God over Satan than the most famous hymn in Christian hymnology, written by Martin Luther. Unusual thing about Martin Luther: so real, personal was Satan to him, that one time in his study he took up his bottle of ink and threw it at him, dashing it against the wall. The hymn is “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”:
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
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—from God—will fell him.
That word above all earthly powers,
No thanks to him, 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.
The beginning and the end of Satan: we live in his world now, but we shall live in God’s world in the sweet and ultimate and victorious by and by—when the Lord is King and all before Him are holy, and pure, and faithful, and redeemed, and saved, and blood-washed, made like unto His own glorious presence [Philippians 3:21].
We’re going to stand in a moment and sing our hymn of appeal, and while we sing the song, to give your heart to the Lord, “Pastor, today I’ve made my decision for God, and here I stand, to come into the fellowship of the church.” “I want to be baptized, pastor, as our Lord was baptized in the Jordan River” [Matthew 3:13-17]. “I want to follow the Lord in the daily ministries and assignments of my life; I want to belong to Him. I want to see His face someday [Revelation 22:3-4]. I want to be saved. I want to belong to the kingdom of our glorious Savior.” To put your life in the fellowship of the church, or to answer some call of the Spirit in your heart, on the first note of the first stanza, come. May angels attend you in the way and God bless you forever, while we stand and while we sing.