Who Is the Devil?

by David C. Pack

Just who is the devil? The Bible calls him “the god of this world.” But where did he come from? Did God create him as he is? Is he a fallen spirit? Here are the answers from God’s Word!

The devil has been a subject of intense interest for thousands of years. He has been pictured as a ghost, a bogeyman, and a spook. Or as a “devilishly” handsome man in a red suit, with horns and a pitchfork. He has even been portrayed as the nebulous “epitome of all evil.” Or the cause of everything bad that people do. Most are probably familiar with the expression “the devil made me do it.” While these ideas are common, they are all wrong! Even when merged together, they terribly misrepresent this great fallen spirit!

Many professing Christians speak long, loud messages about “that bad old devil.” The more emotional groups conduct tent meetings, campaigns, rallies and crusades where people are told, “We’re gonna lay that devil down tonight.” Large numbers leave these meetings completely convinced that they have done this.

They are wrong! They have achieved nothing more than a temporary feeling of self-satisfaction. Unfortunately, the devil also leaves these meetings feeling even more satisfied with what he has just witnessed—and caused!

Few know the truth about who and what the devil is. This booklet will strip away the mystery, confusion, ignorance, myth, superstition and misconceptions shrouding the truth about his identity and origin.

Growing Fascination with the Devil

One can scarcely turn around without hearing and seeing references to the devil or demons. Pause for a moment and think about how often this happens.

Turn on the television. Go to the movies. Visit a bookstore. How often is the subject of the devil, demons, angels or the spirit world in general spoken or written about? Whole television series are dedicated to these subjects, with more appearing all the time. Movies have focused on the devil for many years. But now they come more often—and are more odd, bizarre, strange, macabre and frightening than ever before!

Consider the “Harry Potter” phenomenon. Some authors write almost exclusively about the spirit world, often mixing a false understanding of prophecy into the plot line—and legions of fans purchase their every book.

Satanism and witchcraft are practiced more openly now than ever before!

Millions spend vast sums on psychic hotlines, palm readers, astrologers, crystal ball gazers, witches, wizards, channelers and a host of other mediums, to find out what the future has in store for them.

The devil sells—and people are buying as never before!

Unnecessary Confusion

The apostle Paul wrote, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints” (I Cor. 14:33). While widespread confusion surrounds the devil’s identity, you need not be confused!

The Bible is the foundation of all knowledge. You will often hear us say, “Blow the dust off your Bible! Examine it carefully and see the real truth that has always been on its pages. Don’t believe something just because we say it, but rather believe it if you see it proven in your Bible.”

The Bible contains the answers to all of life’s biggest questions! The plain truth of its instruction is not taught in this world’s churches. From as early as “Sunday school,” most are taught to believe what everyone assumes is in God’s Word. What it has to say about the origin of Satan the devil will surprise you. We must let the Bible reveal him for what he is.

Paul also wrote, “PROVE all things; hold fast that which is good” (I Thes. 5:21), and “PROVE what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:2).

We will examine the verses that explain Satan’s origin and who he is. To do this, we must abandon man’s ideas and only accept what can be proven from the Bible!

Where Did Satan Come From?

The devil is alive and real. The Bible calls him the “god of this world” (II Cor. 4:4). Revelation 12:9 states that he “deceives the whole world.” This certainly includes the truth about his identity. But has he always been the devil? Has he always been the evil, murderous, lying, destructive prince of darkness? Was he created this way?

He was not!

These questions require explanation. What you will study will help you see the whole picture. The Bible describes Satan in many scriptures. This booklet primarily examines the verses explaining the devil’s origin. (Our longer booklet, A World in Captivity, discusses the many scriptures describing his role, strategy and devices. Read this companion booklet to understand the overall nature of how the devil works.)

God originally created three archangels: Lucifer (who became Satan), Michael and Gabriel. Each ruled one-third of hundreds of millions of angels (Rev. 5:11). Lucifer ruled the pre-Adamic world with his third. He, along with his angels, rebelled against the government of God, and today he leads these now fallen angels, or demons, as the god of this world.

Genesis 1

Genesis 1:1 states, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” This scripture sets the stage for our study.

The book of Job best describes the time when God created the earth, billions of years ago. God asked Job a series of questions: “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if you have understanding. Who has laid the measures thereof, if you know? Or who has stretched the line upon it?…When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (38:4-5, 7).

These “stars” were angels (Rev. 12:4), also described as “sons of God.” (Of course, literal stars do not sing.) Notice that it says “all” of them “shouted” and “sang together.” There were not yet demons at the time of creation in Genesis 1:1.

This scripture shows that the earth was created in a wonderful and beautiful condition. There was great joy and singing. Now read Genesis 1:2.

This verse is mistranslated and does not reflect the meaning of the original Hebrew. The King James Version of the Bible says, “And the earth was without form, and void.” Three key Hebrew words are all mistranslated here, thus obscuring, and actually hiding, the verse’s true meaning.

The word translated “was” is hayah. In Genesis 2:7, this word is correctly translated “became,” and in Genesis 9:15, “become.”

The words for “without form, and void” are tohu and bohu. Correctly translated, they mean “chaotic, in confusion, waste and empty.” In short, a perfectly created earth (vs. 1), “became chaotic and confused” (vs. 2). Tohu and bohu are translated identically in Jeremiah 4:23. Isaiah 34:11, among other places, translates this phrase as “confusion and emptiness.”

Notice Isaiah 45:18, which clarifies how God did not create the earth: “For thus says the Lord that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He has established it, He created it not in vain [tohu meaning chaotic or waste], He formed it to be inhabited.” It is clear that the earth became chaotic after God had created it—between the events described in Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. The latter verse describes the RE-creation of the earth 6,000 years ago, and verse 1 describes the original creation of the entire universe that, according to scientists, occurred as many as 17 billion years ago.

Psalm 104:30 says that God “renews the face of the earth.” The seven days of the creation week are when God renewed a damaged, injured earth, then completely covered with water (Gen. 1:2). We will see that this was caused by the devil. Acts 3:19-21 reveals that only the Return of Christ will bring the “restitution [the restoring] of all things.”

So we know what happened. But how did it happen? How did the earth go from being beautiful and perfect at creation to chaotic, confused, waste and empty? Since God is not the author of confusion (I Cor. 14:33), we know that He did not destroy the earth. Then who or what caused this?

Isaiah 14

The Bible reveals many important facts about a subject if one reads all of the scriptures that pertain to it. With this in mind, let’s read about Lucifer after he had become Satan.

Isaiah 14:12-15 tells a remarkable story containing many clues about where Lucifer was once located, what he did and what happened to him. Read carefully, noticing the emphasized key phrases: “How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations! For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds: I will be like the Most High. Yet you shall be brought down to hell [the “grave”—verses 9 and 11], to the sides of the pit.”

The one called “Lucifer” could not possibly be a man. The things he did are impossible for any human being to do. Only the devil “weakens the nations” and could have said he would “ascend into heaven.” Certainly no man could be “cut down to the ground” in the way described here. Finally, no man has a throne that could be put above the “stars of heaven.”

God lives in the north part of the heavens or the “sides of the north.” Job sheds light on Lucifer’s attempt to overthrow God there: “He [God] stretched out the north over the empty place, and hangs the earth upon nothing” (26:7). The “empty place” in the “north” coincides with what astronomers have noticed is a significant and strange lack of stars in that direction. No doubt, Satan attacked God in that direction when he sought to ascend from his own throne to take over God’s throne in the “sides of the north.” This is what the Bible reveals!

Ezekiel 28

Ezekiel 28:12-17 parallels and reinforces Isaiah 14, and is equally important for study. This account describes one who some “scholars” claim was a human “king of Tyrus.” Careful reading shows this is impossible—and ridiculous.

This verse speaks of one who “seals up the sum, full of wisdom, perfect in beauty,” who had also “been in Eden the garden of God.” No human has ever been perfect, and it was the devil—the serpent—who beguiled Eve in the Garden. Verse 13 states, “you were created,” and Satan is a created being. Verse 14 calls him “the cherub that covers.” (Exodus 25:17-20 describes the remaining two faithful “cherubs that cover[ed]” God’s throne in the Old Testament tabernacle. Their wings cover the “mercy seat.”) No earthly king fits this description.

The latter part of Ezekiel 28:14 says that this “king” was “in the mountain of God” and “walked…in the midst of the stones of fire.” This describes the area around God’s throne. Verse 15 declares, “iniquity [lawlessness] was found in you” and verse 16 refers to it as “sin.”

Verse 16 also describes this cherub as having been “cast…out of” heaven. God also said He would “destroy” (Hebrew: expel) Lucifer from heaven. Verse 17 reveals that his “heart was lifted up because of [his] beauty” and that his wisdom was “corrupted…by reason of [his] brightness.” The verse ends with God “casting him down to the ground,” where the kings of the earth would “behold him.”

Lucifer was a brilliant being—an “angel of light,” as are “his ministers” (II Cor. 11:13-15). The word Lucifer means “the light bringer.” This once perfect being originally brought brilliant light to all that were around him. But he rebelled and sinned—thus becoming the “prince of darkness.” His rebellion turned him into a twisted, perverted being. While of great intelligence, he has literally become an insane fallen angel, no longer knowing right from wrong!

The Beast and False Prophet

Some additional understanding concerning certain vital, unfulfilled prophecies is necessary before continuing with what happened to Satan when he was cast to earth.

Two individuals, known as “the beast and the false prophet,” will lead the final, powerful religious-governmental system depicted in Revelation 17 and 18, which Christ smashes and replaces at His Return. Revelation 16:13-14 describes demons as having the power to “work miracles” through this system. The beast, as the embodiment of this system, will be a great, world-dominating figure.

Also, the false prophet will lead the world to worship the beast as God (Rev. 16:2; 19:20)! This deception will be so widespread (18:3)—so complete—that they will actually deceive all mankind into fighting Christ at His Second Coming (16:9, 13-16; 17:13-14)!

Now notice II Thessalonians 2:3-4 and 8. Verse 3 refers to one called “the man of sin” and “the son of perdition; who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” The false prophet also professes that he is God.

Compare this with Ezekiel 28:2 and the reference to the “prince of Tyrus”—a man. Ezekiel wrote that this “prince” says, “I am a God, I sit in the seat of God.” II Thessalonians 2:8 describes this “man of sin” as the “wicked [one]” who would “be revealed” for what he is when Christ returns and destroys him with the beast in a lake of fire (Rev. 19:20). Isaiah 14:4 refers to the false prophet as the “king of Babylon.” This is the same man as the “prince of Tyrus.”

Continuing in II Thessalonians 2, verse 9 makes a startling statement about the false prophet. It says that his “coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.” Verse 10 shows that he is able to deceive everyone who does not “love the truth.” Verse 11 reveals that God shall send “strong delusion” to all who willingly believe his lies.

The leaders of this great false system will be directly possessed by the devil! This will give the false prophet tremendous power to deceive and perform miracles. Satan, having always wanted to replace God with himself, will speak through this human religious leader and declare to the whole world that he is, in fact, GOD! This Bible warning is unmistakable. The miracles he performs will deceive the vast majority of people!

Will you be deceived when these events soon come to pass—as they surely will? (Read our booklet Who or What Is the Beast of Revelation? to learn more about this final world leader.)

Cast to Earth with All His Angels

Revelation 12 tells of Satan and his demons being “cast to this earth” (vs. 13). Actually, this chapter is an inset in the middle of the book of Revelation, and it is a brief synopsis of the entirety of New Testament Church history.

Verse 3 describes Satan as a “dragon” who “drew the third part of the stars of heaven and did cast them to the earth” (vs. 4). Recall that these “stars” were the one-third of all angels under Lucifer before he rebelled.

II Peter 2:4 offers another clue about this “casting down” of Satan and the angels that he “drew with” him. Notice: “God spared not the angels that sinned [Satan was not the only angel who sinned], but cast them down to hell.” (The Greek word here is tartaros and it means either “prison” or “place of restraint”—this is the earth itself.) These demons with Satan have been “reserved unto judgment,” having been “delivered…into chains of darkness.” This reveals that many other fallen spirits are delivered to this dark prison by God to join the “prince of darkness.”

Revelation 12:7-9 describes, in more detail, when Satan and his demons are cast to the earth for the last time with no further access to heaven. Verses 12-14 show that the devil’s response is great wrath. This terrible time lies just ahead for the whole world!

Satan’s Fate

But what happens to the devil after Christ’s Return? Will he be left free to roam the earth, continuing to “deceive” (Rev. 12:9) and “weaken” (Isa. 14:12) the nations? Will he be allowed to remain the “god of this world” (II Cor. 4:4) forever? What is his final fate?

Revelation 20 describes Christ setting up a 1,000-year millennial rule (vs. 4) and bringing the “last chapter” in Satan’s story. Verse 2 states that a mighty angel (vs. 1) actually binds him “a thousand years” by “casting him into the bottomless pit,” where he is “shut…up.” This angel then “set[s] a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.”

Paul mentioned the time of Satan being bound when he said, “the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Rom. 16:20). This is God’s promise to all true Christians and all mankind, because Satan has persecuted the former and deceived the latter for thousands of years!

The apostle Jude stated that Satan and his demons will be cast out of the universe into a place where the Bible explains there is no light. Verse 13 describes these wretched beings as “wandering stars to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.” The “prince of darkness” and his angels will get what they deserve—what they brought on themselves. The one who was once known as the “light bringer” chose darkness. God will give him complete darkness for the rest of time!

Your Great Potential

Hebrews 2:5 describes the earth under the “subjection of [true] angels” now, but makes clear that these angels will not continue to rule “the world to come.”

Additional verses in this chapter explain what will happen after the fallen angels governing this world are replaced: “What is man, that you are mindful of him?…You made him a little lower than [margin: inferior to] the angels; You crown him with glory and honor…You have put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him” (vs. 6-8).

Speaking of Christ, verses 9-10 continue, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became Him…in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”

Did you catch—grasp—what was said? These verses contain the promise of a staggering potential available to you and me. Christians are called to inherit “all things” and be “crowned with glory and honor,” offered to them by the calling of God and sacrifice of Christ—“the captain of their salvation.”

There is no mistaking what “all things” means. “Nothing” (vs. 8) will be excluded from this inheritance. (Read our free booklets What Is Your Reward in the Next Life?, What Is the Kingdom of God? and Just What Is Salvation?, among others, to learn more about the marvelous potential that awaits all of God’s true saints.)

In Matthew 4:9, Satan offered Christ rulership over “all things” if He would “fall down and worship him.” Christians are promised rulership over the same “all things”—but only on the condition that they worship the true God!

The Devil Revealed

Herbert W. Armstrong concluded his booklet Did God Create A Devil? with:

“God placed the great cherub, Lucifer, to carry out His government on the earth, but Lucifer refused to carry out God’s will, God’s commands, God’s government. He wanted to substitute his own. So he disqualified himself.

“Adam had the chance to supplant him. In the contest to see if Adam would conquer, if he would obey God, he failed. He obeyed the devil instead, and man became the property of the devil, and the whole human race has been sold down the river to the devil ever since.

“Jesus Christ came 4,000 years later and He entered the great contest—the contest of the temptation on the Mount. He refused to obey the devil. He quoted scripture correctly. He obeyed God.

“Finally, He turned to the devil, and He gave Satan a command. He said, ‘Get away from me,’ and the devil obeyed!

“From that time on, the successor of Satan has been qualified to take over the rule of the earth. But Jesus went to heaven for 1900 years. He is soon coming again, and when He does, the devil will be displaced. Christ will rule the earth, God’s Laws will be restored. Order and peace will come at last!

“So God did not create a devil. He created a cherub, Lucifer—perfect in his ways, but with the power of free choice—and Lucifer transformed himself into a devil by rebellion against the Government of God!”

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