Satan—The God of this World
Professing Christianity teaches that the modern world is essentially God’s world and that the duty of all Christians is to make it a better place. If this were God’s world, then we would have to conclude that Satan is vastly more powerful than God, since civilization is apparently won over by Satan. Society—with its religions, governments, educational institutions, commercial establishments, cultures, customs, traditions and trends—represents the antithesis of what God would author.
Misapplying scriptures such as Psalm 24:1, which states, “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein,” some conclude that this must be God’s world. Although God created the earth, He is allowing Satan to rule over it for a purpose. Consider this astounding statement: “And the devil said unto Him [Christ], All this power will I give You, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If You therefore will worship me, all shall be Yours” (Luke 4:6-7). This shows that God had delivered to the devil all the world’s kingdoms and the “glory” of them and that they are his to give as he chooses. This lesson will explain why Satan is allowed control of this present world.
Much about Satan remains mysterious and terribly distorted: Was Satan always evil? Has he always lived? Can he die? Why does he oppose God’s will? These questions and many more will be answered in this lesson.
The Extent of Satan’s Influence
(1) How effective has Satan been in deceiving mankind? Revelation 12:9.
Comment: Satan has not just deceived most of the world or even almost all of the world, but rather the whole world—with the exception of a very few whom God has called out of this world. Note the four different names given to Satan in verse 9: “the great dragon,” “old serpent,” “devil,” “Satan who deceives the whole world,” and the additional title given him in verse 10, “the accuser of the brethren.”
(2) By what title did the apostle Paul refer to Satan, implying his universal influence? II Corinthians 4:4.
Comment: This verse not only establishes that Satan is the god of this world, but also shows how he carries out much of his deception—through blinding the eyes of mankind.
(3) What other title did Paul attribute to Satan? Ephesians 2:2.
Comment: Before being called, Christians have walked according to the course of this world. The fact that Satan is the prince of the power of the air reveals more than meets the eye. Radio, television and other modes of communication are broadcast through the air. Similarly, Satan influences humanity by broadcasting attitudes into their minds. He can control people’s moods, influencing their outlook or general behavior. Since our minds are naturally tuned to his wavelength, only by awareness of this manipulation can we resist this influence.
(4) By what other title is Satan referred to? John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11.
(5) Is Satan’s influence confined mainly to delinquents and criminals, or does he also influence leaders at the highest levels in the governments of this world? Ephesians 6:12.
Comment: The context of this verse makes clear that “high places” are within the governments of this world. Demented dictators stand ready to emerge today and draw upon the same inspiration that has motivated dictators through the ages, such as Hitler and Stalin.
(6) How did Christ respond when He was accused of casting out demons through the power of the devil? Matthew 12:25-26.
Comment: Here, Christ was showing that Satan would never cast out his own demons. To do so would be to oppose himself and divide his own kingdom. Since his kingdom does stand, then it must not be divided. Not only does Satan lead the darkened demoniac kingdom of this world, but he does this in a unified and organized way. He leads hundreds of millions of demons, or fallen angels.
It is evident that Satan leads his own realm of fallen spirits and together they confuse, deceive and exert much influence over all nations in a carefully planned manner.
The Origin of Satan
(1) What was the original name of the archangel who later became Satan? Isaiah 14:12.
Comment: Lucifer was one of three archangels who were present at God’s throne. Scripture indicates that he was one of the two archangels that covered the throne of God. Each angel stood on one side of the throne, their wings touching and overlapping so as to cover the throne. We will later see how the two remaining loyal archangels—Michael and Gabriel—have had to continually strive with the former Lucifer (meaning “the light bringer”), who had become Satan (meaning “adversary”).
At the end of Isaiah 14:12, the phrase “weaken the nations” was used. Satan brought this about by inciting internal dissention, factionalism, international wars and civil wars.
(2) What was Lucifer’s motive for rebelling against God? Isaiah 14:13-15.
Comment: He intended to take over God’s throne and sit in the place of God. Verse 14 (KJV) reads, “I will be like the Most High.” The verse should more correctly read, “I will be the Most High.”
(3) What were some of Lucifer’s attributes when he served at the very throne of God that led to his rebellion? Ezekiel 28:12-17.
Comment: To summarize these crucially important verses: Verse 12 begins by addressing the king of Tyrus [Tyre] and switches over to Lucifer, showing that he was full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. This could never have applied to the human king (“prince” – vs. 2) of Tyre or any other human. Verse 13 shows that Lucifer (after becoming Satan) had been in Eden and the end of this verse shows that he had been created. Verse 14 shows that Lucifer was one of the angels who covered the throne of God. Verse 15 shows that he was perfect at the time he was created until iniquity was found in him. Verse 16 shows that he was so greatly impressed by his own ability and attributes that this led to sin. Verse 17 shows that his heart was lifted up because of his beauty and perfection. (The archangels are traditionally referred to in the masculine gender, though not male in the sense that humans and animal were created.)
At the end of verse 16 (KJV), the phrase “I will destroy you, O covering cherub” should be properly rendered, “I will remove you, O covering cherub.”
(4) Did the warfare that followed Satan’s rebellion result in the devastation of the surface of the earth? Genesis 1:1-2.
Comment: When God created the heavens and the earth, they were not created in vain or “tohu” (Isa. 45:18). Yet, in Genesis 1:2, we read, “the earth was [Hebrew:became] without form and void”—it became “tohu and bohu,” the Hebrew terms for desolation or confusion. It became desolate as the result of the rebellion of Satan and his demons. Later, God sent forth his Spirit at the time of the “re-creation” and renewed the face of the earth (Psa. 104:30).
In summary, Genesis 1:1 describes the original creation of the entire universe that scientists date at approximately 17 billion years ago. Satan’s rebellion took place at some point between the accounts of verses 1 and 2. Genesis 1:2 describes the re-creation of the earth about 6,000 years ago.
We have seen that Lucifer was a created being, one of the archangels who covered the throne of God. His heart was lifted up because of his beauty and perfection, and he rebelled. His attempt to take over God’s throne was unsuccessful and he became a perpetual adversary of God known as Satan.
Satan—The Adversary of The Brethren
In this age, Satan has been granted rulership of this earth. He is the god of this world and the prince of the power of the air who has deceived the whole world. Yet, God in His wisdom is using this present hostile environment to train and test those few He has called. Historically, those in God’s Church have had to suffer enormously at the hands of Satan and his fallen angels. God will not allow any more “Satans” to be granted eternal life. He requires those who are born into the very family of God to have first proven that they will obey God no matter what consequences obedience brings in this life.
(1) Should true Christians always be in a high state of alert concerning the threat from Satan? I Peter 5:8.
(2) What are some of the benefits of suffering, enduring and bearing up under the onslaughts of Satan and his fallen angels? I Peter 5:9-10.
Comment: The fact that Satan seeks prey to devour should be sobering. If we remain steadfast in the faith, then God will establish, strengthen and settle us for having suffered and having developed character in the process. God uses this suffering to perfect His saints.
(3) For an overview of how Satan has sought to destroy the true Church, we focus on Revelation chapter 12. How is the Church of God portrayed here in its beginning stages? Revelation 12:1-2.
Comment: Throughout this entire chapter, spanning the entire history of the true Church, God’s Church is portrayed as a woman.
(4) How is Satan represented in this prophetic overview? Revelation 12:3-4.
Comment: Here, Satan is pictured as the great red dragon who is in control of governments and major world empires as depicted by the 7 heads described in Revelation 13. Note that his tail drew a third part of the stars of heaven. Stars are symbolic of angels (Rev. 1:20), and this further confirms that each of the 3 archangels controls a third of the angels.
The fact that the dragon attempted to devour the Son born of the woman had its clear parallel in history. The Son was Christ (vs. 5) and King Herod killed many thousands of infants under the age of two in his attempt to destroy Christ.
(5) Why did the woman flee to the wilderness? Revelation 12:6.
Comment: While in the wilderness, away from the direct presence of the dragon, the woman was fed—provided for—throughout a 1,260-year period. In this case, the timeframe of 1,260 days actually means 1,260 years. Here, the Greek term hemera (translated as “days”) means a period of time that is defined by the context. Hemera can mean a while, a year or many years. For instance, the span of time from the Nicean Council of A.D. 325, when the Church had to flee until 1585 (when the Catholic influence began to wane, especially in England), fulfilled this span of 1,260 years. The miraculous destruction of the Spanish Armada in 1588 further weakened Catholic persecution of the true Church.
(6) What loyal archangel will directly oppose Satan in a prophesied war soon to occur? Revelation 12:7.
(7) What will happen to Satan as a result of this war? Revelation 12:8-9.
Comment: Michael is one of the two archangels who remained faithful to God. As already mentioned, Gabriel is the other. Due to Satan’s unpredictable nature and the power he wields, it became necessary for Michael and Gabriel to combine forces as they usually did when opposing Satan. (See Daniel 9:21-23; 10:12-13).
(8) What unique title is given to Satan because of his constant attacks on God’s people? Revelation 12:10.
(9) Are the inhabitants of the earth and the true Church in greater peril after Satan is cast down? Revelation 12:11-13.
Comment: Verse 11 strongly implies an intense persecution prior to the tribulation, including a degree of martyrdom of certain lukewarm Christians. Verse 12 shows that the devil is cast down to earth and has great wrath, knowing that he has but a short time. Verse 13 ties in with verse 11, showing persecution upon the true Church.
Many have speculated as to whether this war has already occurred. If it is yet to occur, then we are now closer to this event than ever before.
(10) How will the true Church survive this direct onslaught from Satan? Revelation 12:14-16.
Comment: The true Church is miraculously protected for 3½ years. When Satan sends an army to destroy the Church, the army itself is swallowed by the earth. It is during this timeframe that Philadelphia is protected as recorded in Revelation 3:10 while Satan makes war with those not counted worthy of this protection (Rev. 12:17; Luke 21:36).
Satan’s Ultimate Fate
(1) Does Ezekiel 28:18 indicate that Satan will be destroyed in a fire and brought to ashes?
Comment: We previously noted that the subject of Ezekiel 28 shifted to the king of Tyre [Lucifer] from the middle of verse 12 through verse 17. Some think that verse 18 reveals that Satan is to be destroyed by fire. However, verse 18 actually shifts back to the discussion about the “prince” (human king) of Tyre. We know this because the context of verse 18 clearly ties back in with verse 5 of this same chapter, where this reference in both verses pertained to the prosperous sea traffic that brought much of the wealth and power to the human king of Tyre. The focus, which shifted away from the prince, starting in verse 12, shifts back to him in verses 18 to 19.
Note that the Prince of Tyre referred to a human prince who is a type or forerunner of an end-time fulfillment yet to occur. From Ezekiel 28:2, we read of the Prince of Tyre: “…Because your heart is lifted up, and you have said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet you are a man, and not God, though you set your heart as the heart of God.” We read of this same prophecy in II Thessalonians 2:4 concerning the prophesied man of sin or son of perdition: “Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” These verses clearly identify the same prophetic figure—the future false prophet discussed also in Revelation 13:13-18.
In summary, the physical king of Tyre was defeated and killed as prophesied, and is still dead today. Ezekiel 28:18 refers to a prophecy that has already been fulfilled.
(2) Is Satan, as an angelic being, already immortal—or can he and other angels or demons die? Luke 20:34-36.
Comment: This clear, explicit scripture needs no further commentary.
(3) What will be Satan’s fate? Jude 13.
Comment: The fact that the context here pertains to Satan and his demons is confirmed by the term “wandering stars” (see Rev. 1:20). For them is reserved “the blackness of darkness forever.” The very one known as “light bringer” chose darkness and God will reward him with complete darkness for eternity.
(4) Does the Bible show that Satan and his angels will be cast down to hell? II Peter 2:4.
Comment: The word used here is tartaros, mistakenly translated as “hell.” It means “a prison, incarceration, place of restraint or a dark abyss.” This verse describes the imprisoning of the angels on earth as their “place of restraint” or “prison” after their rebellion during the pre-Adamic age.
(5) Did the ritual that was acted out by the Levitical priests on the day of Atonement provide even more evidence as to Satan’s fate? Leviticus 16:7-10.
Comment: The Lord’s goat—which represented Christ—was killed as a sin offering. The other goat was mistakenly called the “scapegoat,” while the correct translation is the “Azazel goat.” Gesenius’ and other Hebrew lexicons derive the word from “azal” which means “he removed or separated.”
This is exactly what Lucifer did when he turned against God and became Satan—God’s adversary. Azazel undoubtedly refers to Satan. The Azazel goat was taken away and released in the wilderness. That goat was not sacrificed or killed, but was simply put away—out of contact with Israel. This pictured Satan first being restrained for a thousand years (as shown in Revelation 20:1-3) in the bottomless pit—a future tartaros or place of restraint—and later sent to outer darkness for all time.
(6) Will the angels be judged at some future time? I Corinthians 6:2-3.
Comment: Certain details of the fate of Satan and his demons might be awaiting this future judgment.
We have covered much of the information recorded in the Bible about Satan. Yet there is much more that the student should review on this crucial subject. Our booklets Who Is the Devil? and A World in Captivity provide more vital information on this subject.
Lesson Eighteen: What Is Human Nature?
The previous lesson focused on the fact that Satan holds sway over the nations. As prince of the power of the air, he broadcasts moods, feelings and attitudes such as hostility, lust and greed around the globe, affecting and influencing all people.
The Bible reveals precisely when and how human nature first manifested its presence. Lesson 18 begins by showing the origin of human nature.
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