Do you use hand sanitizer? This modern wonder has helped stem the spread of virulent diseases and is effective against bacteria and even many viruses. Bacteria and viruses are the little rascals that have literally plagued mankind for millennia. It wasn’t until the 20th century that we really understood how they worked as agents of disease. Up until that time, the cause of many sicknesses was unknown.
Today we shake our heads at the naiveté of the scientist of centuries ago. But we can’t blame them because they simply didn’t have the access to information that we do today. Now everyone knows about bacteria and viruses. Not everyone protects themselves, but everyone knows.
Unfortunately, most people are living in a spiritual dark age. They don’t really believe that Satan exists; they think he is simply a metaphor for evil. They argue, “I can’t see him and the whole thing is like a bad zombie movie. It is not really real.”
“How can you believe in a guy with a pointy ears and beard, running around in a red pajamas with a pitchfork?” Well I don’t believe in that character either. The entity I’m talking about is one of the most beautiful of God’s creations. He bears no resemblance to the character from the Renaissance paintings or modern caricatures.
Like bacteria and viruses, just because you can’t seem them, doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. We need a spiritual microscope to examine closely what is going on behind the scenes in our life.
The bible gives us a picture of Satan that is nothing like what is portrayed in popular culture. Satan is not the king of hell, ruling over a huge party without air conditioning. It is a place worse than your greatest nightmare. To quote an older sci-fi horror flick, Event Horizon, “Hell is only a word. The reality is much, much worse.”
But that is jumping ahead.
Who is Satan and where did he come from?
The bible only gives us brief glimpses of this character named Satan. In the third chapter of the Bible, he appears in the form of a snake that deceives Eve into believing that disobeying God would make her wiser and more like God. In Ezekiel 28 we see that Satan was originally a mighty angel, called the “anointed cherub.” Cherubim were not chubby babies with tiny wings floating on clouds. They were the highest ranking angels and were mighty warriors guarding God’s glory.
Satan’s job was basically the worship leader for God’s cosmic church. He was to lead all of the universe into worship of God. But as many people discover when they step on the stage, the spotlight has an appeal, a draw that can make us think we are bigger or more important than our shadow. Such was the case with Satan.
Originally, he was created perfect in every way, probably the most stunning of God’s creations. “You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty… You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created” (Ezekiel 28:12, 15). In verse 13 Ezekiel goes on to describe all of the dazzling colors that clothed this most amazing creature. Perfect in beauty, perfect in wisdom, yet it was focusing on his beauty and wisdom that fed pride. The pride grew until it overtook his mind and emotions with thoughts, “I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:13-14). He basically desired to replace God. Here we have one of the shortest definitions of sin: “I will…” When we put our will before God’s will, it is sin. God said he would have none of that and “fired him.”
God could have judged Satan right there and wiped him out, but He allowed him to continue to be a witness to the world of God’s grace and to that fact that only 1 will can work in this universe – God’s! So evil continues in the world, not because God is impotent or uncaring, but to demonstrate how pride is destructive. He allows it to show how evil sin is, but there is coming a day when he will remedy the situation and right every wrong.
Some assume that since Satan was kicked out of heaven and we see him as a serpent that it means he somehow lost his former glory or power. Actually Satan is able to transform himself and can even appear as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Many assume that if they see an angel or apparition that is beautiful it must be from God. The aforementioned verse makes is clear, as does history. Numerous people have seen angels and have been led astray including Joseph Smith (founder of the Mormon Church) and Mohammed (the founder of Islam).
So once Satan became an unemployed worship leader, what job did he set his sights on? The “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Satan began to seek power, control and worship. I believe that is why he hates music that is sung to God; it reminds him of his former post and all that he has lost. In his quest for godhood, he seeks to somehow overthrow the true God or at least hurt him in some way. The Bible makes it clear that God so loved the world and desires that none should perish but that all should come to faith and experience true life.
So how does Satan get back at God? By seeking to replace God in your life. His first goal is to keep you from heaven as that would thwart God’s desire. If he can’t do that, he wants to control you or manipulate you in his war on God.
When I was in middle school, I was short, pudgy and far from athletic. I remember playing volleyball one day in gym class. Team captains picked the teams. Of course, I was one of the last ones picked. I took my turn on the court. Several of my failed attempts to hit the ball resulted in points for the other team. After a fourth clumsy mistake, one of the kids from the other side of the net yelled, “Hey Tye! You’re one of the best players on our team!”
In truth, some of Satan’s most effective workers serve in churches and sincerely believe they are helping God. In some cases, they are deceived, trusting in their own good works to get to heaven and they truly are playing on Satan’s team. But in many cases, Christians are saved (trusting in Christ’s death and resurrection), but making total fools of themselves on the court, and doing more harm than good. They are sincere, but they are sincerely hurting other people and the cause of Christ. Fortunately God loves us misfits and offers hope to even the most unathletic and biggest spiritual screw-ups. We need an Extreme Zombie Makeover.