Why does God grant His enemy access to heaven? I don’t think there are any specific Bible passages that will answer that perfectly. However, we can theorize, realizing that we may be off. Maybe God allows this because it has something to do with Him receiving glory (when all is “said and done”) for how He carried out His plan. No doubt God is using the enemy for His own glory (as He did in the book of Job). In the end, God (and Job) were vindicated, and the enemy was shown for what he is, an accuser of the brethren. We know that the enemy stands before the Father and accusing the brethren day and night (Rev 12).
Why would God allow that? I don’t know, but it reminds me of when Stephen (in Acts 7) saw heaven opened and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. Jesus was standing as an Advocate for Stephen. The enemy was there to bring accusation against Stephen, but Jesus was there as his Defense. Maybe this is to show us how important it is to have Jesus as our Advocate.
I think that God allows the enemy to do things right now in order to perfectly carry out His plan, so that when all is said and done, we will all say that God alone is worthy of all glory. He is perfect, and He carried out a perfect plan. It’s interesting that Jesus chose Judas Iscariot as one of His first 12 disciples, knowing that he would betray Him. But Judas’ betrayal worked toward God’s plan . . . Jesus was crucified for the sins of the world. What if there had been no Judas? For reasons that only God knows, He chose to carry it out that way.
I think the second question has to do with what we see in Gen 2-3. God told man what to do and who not to listen to, but man didn’t listen to God and instead listened to the serpent, the devil. Thus man put the serpent ahead of God. And we have all done what Adam and Eve did. We have all turned away from God (Isaiah 53:6) and we have all gone after the lusts of the world (1Jn 2). But, God has a kingdom planned for those who want Him to be the ruler of their hearts. We must first repent of our former ways in order to reach the point where we truly want God to be in charge.
Long ago, before humankind was created the Bible says (in Isaiah and Ezekiel) that Lucifer, another name for Satan, was the highest power on this world. When he became jealous and tried to take God’s place he was cast down and lost his power and authority. When humans were created they were placed in charge of this world. God was statring over. But when Adam and Eve submitted to Satan and obeyed him rather than God, they brought the world back under Satan’s dominion. At the tempatation of Jesus (Matthew 4) Satan offers to give him the nations of the world if Jesus will worship him. Jesus says no, we can only worship God. Jesus choose the way of the cross rather than submit to Satan to get what he wanted.
The Lord’s return will bring Satan’s final defeat, humiliation, and punishment, which he deserves, just as Christ deserves and will then receive exaltation. Satan will no longer be “the ruler of the world” (John 14:30) or “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). He will be bound for a thousand years, released for a little while, then chained and thrown into the lake of fire for all eternity (Rev. 19:20; 20:10).
Jesus told the Jews that Satan “was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth” (John 8:44). Here we see that Satan’s fallen state goes back at least before our known human history. This is echoed in 1 John 3:8, where we read that “the devil has been sinning from the beginning.”
But the phrase “not holding to the truth” in John 8:44 seems to imply that Satan could have held to the truth but didn’t, or that he once did, but no longer does.
Now on to Ezekiel 28, a passage rich with mystery. In the opening verses of this chapter Ezekiel pronounces judgment against the king of Tyre. But after verse eleven, the prophet’s descriptions are difficult if not impossible to ascribe to any human being. Instead he seems to move beyond the human ruler of Tyre and to speak about the true power behind the throne, the “king” who is none other than Satan.
Ezekiel is quoting a description given to him by “the Sovereign Lord” (28:12). He is not describing what he, the prophet, has seen, but what God himself has told him.
The passage is addressed directly to this “king of Tyre.” The first several verses mirror his past to him. They go on to remind him that he was once “anointed as a guardian cherub,” God says, “for so I ordained you” (28:14).
This guardian cherub was perfect. “You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (28:12). He was perfect in intellect and perfect in form.
The guardian cherub had no light of his own, but from the start he was fully arrayed by his Creator to reflect God’s glory:
Every precious stone adorned you:
ruby, topaz and emerald,
chrysolite, onyx and jasper,
sapphire, turquoise and beryl.
Your settings and mountings were made of gold;
on the day you were created they were prepared. (28:13)
We also discover where God placed this guardian cherub:
You were in Eden,
the garden of God.…
You were on the holy mount of God;
you walked among the fiery stones. (28:13–14)
In the next verse we return to the theme of the cherub’s perfection — and suddenly we watch that perfection come crashing down.
You were blameless in your ways
from the day you were created
till wickedness was found in you. (28:15)
The next verses spell out that wickedness, accusing the guardian cherub of violence and especially pride, leading to his expulsion from God’s presence. Satan had everything, but he wanted more.
Through your widespread trade
you were filled with violence,
and you sinned.
So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God,
and I expelled you, O guardian cherub,
from among the fiery stones.
Your heart became proud
on account of your beauty,
and you corrupted your wisdom
because of your splendor.
So I threw you to the earth;
I made a spectacle of you before kings.
By your many sins and dishonest trade
you have desecrated your sanctuaries. (28:16–18)
Perhaps the final lines in this prophecy against “the king of Tyre” look far into the future, to foretell Satan’s end when he’s thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10) and disappears forever from the sight of man or angel:
So I made a fire come out from you,
and it consumed you,
and I reduced you to ashes on the ground
in the sight of all who were watching.
All the nations who knew you
are appalled at you;
you have come to a horrible end
and will be no more. (28:18–19)
As a glimpse of Satan, which seems a likely interpretation, this passage is clear that he was not created evil. As John Calvin says, “everything damnable in him he brought upon himself, by his revolt and fall.” All things in their original nature were created good, including Satan. But Satan chose to follow himself instead of following God, and so “corrupted” his “wisdom” (Ezekiel 28:17). Satan no longer speaks God’s language, but has brought forth his own, as Jesus tells us: “When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
Satan’s Inner Rebellion
Isaiah 14 looks deeper into the nature of Satan’s rebellion.
The passage opens this way: “O morning star, son of the dawn!” (14:12), or as the King James Version styles it, “O Lucifer, son of the morning” (“Lucifer” comes from a name meaning “light-bearer” that was used in Latin translations of this verse; we’ll go ahead and use this traditional name here). This brilliant one being addressed here was the Satan “before.”
But now this “taunt” (14:4) aimed at Lucifer begins,
How you have fallen from heaven…!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations! (14:12)
What follows is Lucifer’s declaration of independence. Notice the five vows he speaks in his heart — five promises Lucifer makes to himself, each one beginning with the words “I will”:
You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to heaven;
raise my throne
above the stars of God;
sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.
ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.” (14:13–14)
Lucifer first of all wanted God’s place. He said, “I will ascend to heaven,” apparently referring to the highest and holiest heaven where God alone resides, a place even higher than where the angels dwell. (Remember that Paul speaks in 2 Corinthians 12:2 of three heavens.) Lucifer wanted to replace God at the pinnacle of everything. He wanted to be “enthroned … on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain,” and to “ascend above the tops of the clouds.” Both of these last phrases speak of the places of God’s presence.
Second, Lucifer wanted God’s position and authority. He said, “I will raise my throne above the stars of God,” and “I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly.” The “stars” and the “assembly” here are most likely references to the other angels. Lucifer wanted sole prominence and power over all of them.
Third, Lucifer was determined to take God’s likeness. “I will make myself like the Most High.” He wanted God’s privileges, his independence, his worship.
How utterly unlike God he was in this! Just look at the stark contrast between Lucifer’s words and the attitude of Christ:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness. (Philippians 2:6–7)
Lucifer’s sin above all was pride. And pride goes before destruction, as Isaiah goes on to show:
But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit. (14:15)
Lucifer’s pride turned an angel into a devil. His self-originated pride brought God’s curse upon him. The devil became the sworn enemy of humility.
How could Satan’s story have happened? How could such a plunge into ruin come about for someone who was “the model of perfection”?
We know the answer is pride. But when God created Lucifer, didn’t he know that pride would captivate this angel’s heart?
Yes, we must conclude, since God is all-knowing, he had to have known this.
But could God have prevented it?
Yes, God is all-powerful. He surely could have prevented Satan’s fall.
Why didn’t he then?
The answer seems to lie in the mystery that Lucifer was created with freedom to choose his course, just as we are. Lucifer used his gift against the Giver. And God “respected” his choice, just as he respects ours.
Lessons from Satan’s Fall
What can we learn from Satan’s fall?
First of all, recognize the power of pride. I don’t believe any temptations face us more frequently or confront us more persistently or entice us more subtly than the temptation to pride. I heard it said this way: “The devil sleeps like an animal in the shadow of good works, waiting for us to conceive a secret admiration of ourselves.”
How much are you secretly admiring yourself these days? You’re surely more like Satan in those moments than while doing any other sin you could think of.
Satan’s game plan is the strategy of pride. It’s the approach he’s used down through history and still uses today. I suppose he hasn’t had a fresh idea since the day he started; he just keeps repackaging the old stuff over and over again. And men keep falling for it. His method works. We’re as willing to be flattered by ourselves as by others.
But “God opposes the proud” (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5). If he so quickly and thoroughly opposed a perfect and glorious angel who became prideful, God can certainly put the brakes on any of the rest of us as well. How much of our spiritual ineffectiveness is related directly to pride?
Satanic activity in all its raw, deceptive form is at work even among God’s people. He is the “enemy” who comes and sows weeds among the wheat (Matthew 13:24–30). The “I will’s” of Satan still rear their heads today throughout our congregations. It’s like a virus — little pockets of pride and discontent that become power pockets, growing like cancer.
Satan will get a church any way he can, and pride has proven the surest and quickest way.
Second, stay alert to Satan’s purposes and plans. Having fallen himself, Satan went back to Eden to trigger the fall of mankind. Just as he brought unspeakable tragedy to Adam and Eve through his seductive skill, so he continues to carry out his deceitful program against angels and humanity. He wants to destroy us and render us useless to the kingdom of God. He’s on an all-out mission to populate hell with non-Christians, including all your neighbors and friends and family members who have not yet received Christ. He wants to take with him into the fire as many “good” people as we’ll let him have. He’s delighted when those who still reject Christ as Savior are kept firmly in his grip by our failure to pray for them and witness to them.
Satan’s legacy is everywhere. Every sinner and every sin is a mark to his credit. “He who does what is sinful is of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Jesus calls him not only “a liar” but also “the father of lies” (John 8:44), because every lie was ultimately born in his mouth.
That’s why in the same verse Jesus told his unbelieving listeners, “You belong to your father, the devil.” Sin is the image of Satan in those who have not been reborn as children of God. All of us are growing either in likeness to God or in likeness to the devil.
We can’t afford to be asleep to Satan’s strategy and tactics. Notice how Scripture’s insights into his schemes and character make us instantly want to be on our guard. Notice precisely what these passages say that Satan does:
“Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
He’s “a strong man, fully armed,” who “guards his own house” so that “his possessions are safe” (Luke 11:21).
He’s “the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient” (Ephesians 2:2).
He’s “the god of this age” who “has blinded the minds of unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
“He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
He has this world in his grip. “We know … that the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19).
And what’s most galling of all is that this prowling, roaring, hungry, strong, greedy, active, blinding, murdering, controlling deceiver actually “masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).
“The object of all these descriptions,” writes Calvin,
is to make us more cautious and vigilant, and more prepared for the contest.… Wherefore let this be the use to which we turn all these statements.
Even his names spell trouble. The word Satan means “accuser.” Devil means “slanderer.” He’s called “the dragon, that ancient serpent” (Revelation 20:2), and “the tempter” (Matthew 4:3, 1 Thessalonians 3:5). His designations are “Beelzebub” (Matthew 10:25), meaning “lord of flies,” and “Belial” (2 Corinthians 6:15), meaning “worthlessness” or “ruin.”
Satan is not God’s equal, but he is God’s sworn enemy. His tactic with Eve in Eden was to discredit God, and this is still his procedure today. Do you care at all for the honor and glory of God? Do you have allegiance to God’s kingdom? Then you must make God’s enemy yours.
If the name Christian means anything to you, you have no choice but to resist the enemy of Christ, for “the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8). Jesus calls him “the prince of this world” (John 12:31), but adds, “he has no hold on me” (14:30). “The prince of this world now stands condemned” (16:11). Through his own death and resurrection, Christ has already made Satan’s defeat certain. The war is won. But all the battles have not yet been played out. Will you accept the privilege of being a soldier in these victories?
That leads to the third lesson: Remember the supremacy and preeminence of God. Satan did not get away with his pride. And he’s not getting away with anything now. He is free on earth to do his damage only to the extent of the length of his chain, and God himself has chained him. The devil cannot go beyond God’s permission. He cannot do anything against God’s will and God’s consent.
It’s indeed a mystery. In one place Calvin comments this way on Satan’s object and options:
He eagerly and of set purpose opposes God, aiming at those things which he deems most contrary to the will of God. But as God holds him bound and fettered by the curb of his power, he executes those things only for which permission has been given him, and thus, however unwilling, obeys his Creator, being forced … to do Him service.
In Scripture we see this not only in the sweeping epic of Job, where Satan was able to batter the man only after God said, “He is in your hands” (1:12, 2:6), but also elsewhere. For example, an evil spirit tormented King Saul, but it is called “an evil spirit from the Lord” (1 Samuel 16:14, 19:9) because God allowed it.
Even Paul encountered this. A “messenger from Satan” came to torment him (2 Corinthians 12:7), but Paul deeply understood God’s perspective. He didn’t wrangle against Satan, but “pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me” (12:8), since he knew the Lord had sent it. Paul also discovered God’s purpose in allowing the tormentor’s visit: “to keep me from becoming conceited” (12:7).
It’s true that Satan can be a controlling power even in the lives of believers who aren’t depending on God. But even when Satan “has taken them captive to do his will,” God still offers the hope and method for “escape from the trap of the devil” (2 Timothy 2:25). There’s always “a way out” (1 Corinthians 10:13), especially for those who keep in mind the big picture and the final score: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Romans 16:20).
For the time being, as part of Christ’s body we feel the sting when Satan “strikes his heel”; but we’ll also share in the retaliation when Christ “crushes his head” (Genesis 3:15).
Satan is not alone in his spiritual attacks.
Jesus speaks of the eternal fire prepared “for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). Satan “and his angels” are referred to together in Revelation 12:9. In Matthew 12:24 he is called “Beelzebub, the prince of demons.”
We have more than one enemy confronting us, and it’s possible we may be attacked by more than one simultaneously. It was said of Mary Magdalene that Jesus drove “seven demons” out of her (Mark 16:9, Luke 8:2). One unfortunate man had been besieged by an entire legion of demons (Mark 5:9–15, Luke 8:30–33).
These spirits are rational beings, not diseases or ailments, or tricks of the imagination. They possess all the attributes of personality. They even believe in God, as James tells us: “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that -— and shudder” (2:19). Demons think and believe and hear and speak.
Who are they, and where did they come from?
Satan himself could not have created them, because only God is the Creator. The best explanation is that they are fallen angels who at some point in time joined in Satan’s rebellion.
Peter tells us:
God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment…. (2 Peter 2:4)
Jude speaks of “the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home” (Jude 6).
One passage hints at the possibility that as many as a third of the angels in heaven fell when Satan did. In the book of Revelation, John saw “an enormous red dragon” whose tail “swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth” (12:3–4). The dragon is identified as Satan later in this chapter. And stars, as we’ve learned, frequently represent angels both in Revelation and elsewhere. The vision John saw here may well have been a playback of what happened in heaven before human history began.
Demons are Satan’s servants, and are committed to his scheme to thwart the plan of God. Often in Scripture they are also called “evil spirits” or “unclean spirits.” They are ruled by Satan himself, and they share in his dirty work.
With enemies like these, we need friends. God has provided them, and shows them to us in his Word.
Lock on to the fact that nothing demons do can be outside God’s good purpose and designs. Never forget this: “Neither angels nor demons … nor any powers … nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38–39).
Calvin once more supplies a good picture. He shows us God “turning the unclean spirits hither and thither at his pleasure,” all with the intention of “exercising believers.” The demons are always “warring against them, assailing them with wiles, urging them with solicitations, pressing close upon them, disturbing, alarming, and occasionally wounding, but never conquering or oppressing them.”
Just as Satan and the demons share a common origin and a common passion and work, so they also must face a common fate. Paul assures us that Jesus “must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet” (1 Corinthians 15:25). That includes the devil and every demon.
In every encounter between Jesus and demons in the Gospels, Jesus was the overcomer. His followers share in that power. When Christ’s disciples returned “with joy” from a ministry trip, they reported to Jesus, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name” (Luke 10:17). And Jesus answered, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”
Jude says that God has kept the fallen angels “in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day” (Jude 6).
Meanwhile, until that great Day, we wrestle. We “struggle … against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).
In this struggle there is someone who shows us how to endure and how to win, someone whose life knew both spiritual warfare and the touch of angels more than anyone who ever walked the earth.
As you can feel with your fingers, the remaining pages in this book are few. Only a short while and a short space are left to devote to the topic of angels before our study here must come to an end. Together let’s bring it to a close by spending that short while with this Someone whom angels have known so well.