IN this examination of the Adversary and his role in God's purpose, it is imperative to clearly understand his origin, the reasons for his existence, and finally, his judgment. ALL this is undertaken with great care, for the basic reason behind this enquiry is to establish the wisdom, might and righteousness of Satan's Creator.
It has been declared, somewhat vehemently, that one might compare Satan to "a chained dog" who, during the term of his confinement is not permitted to interfere during the thousand years of glory when the nation of Israel will reign with Christ. Rejoicing in the declaration that "...the God of peace will be crushing Satan under your feet swiftly" (Rom.16:20), nevertheless, such emotive language is unwise. We have not the least bit of sympathy for this one, and we are not unconscious or indifferent to the suffering which he has wrought among humanity. But if we exercise the spiritual perception granted to us through the spirit of God in understanding why he exists, then we will be guarded most effectively against his hes and deception.
Speaking plainly in the sanctuary concerning Satan, our Lord declared; "He was a man-killer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, for truth is not in him. Whenever he may be speaking a lie, he is speaking of his own, for he is a liar, and the father of it" (John 8:44).
There was no hatred in our gracious Lord as He spoke these words. Such a consideration is unthinkable and most unworthy among any of the ecclesia who are called in grace. He was stating a fact! Who could possibly know more of Satan?
In the following thoughts, three aspects concerning the origin, purpose, and conclusion of the need for an adversary are presented for earnest consideration. Whatever else we may learn of Satan, let it not be fear, but respect for one placed by God for a necessary purpose. Michael, the chief messenger fully understood this when, not daring to bring on a calumniating judgment on Satan, said, "May the Lord rebuke you" (Jude 1:9). Above all else, let us recognize the status of Satan. In opposing the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ he must be very mighty indeed!
ALL OUT OF GOD
"From the beginning is the Adversary sinning" (1 John 3: 8). Even this statement does not trace Satan's origin. for this we must turn to Paul's declaration that God "...is operating all in accord with the counsel of His will" (Eph.1:11). further"... that out of Him and through Him and for Him is all: to Him be glory for the eons!" (Rom.11:36).
The origin of the Adversary is traced clearly for us in the words of Isaiah 45:6-9,
I am Yahweh, and there is no other.
Former of light, and Creator of darkness,
Maker of good, and Creator of evil,
I, Yahweh, make all these things.
Drip down from above, O heavens,
And let the skies distill righteousness.
Let the earth open up,
Let salvation bud,
And let righteousness sprout together with it.
I, Yahweh, I create it.
Would anyone contend with his Former?
Earthenware of the ground with its artificer?
"The basic truth of divine revelation, that all is of God (Rom.11:36) is so severe a strain on the faith of Christendom, that men instinctively reject it excusing their unfaith on the ground that it is repulsive to their spiritual natures. They seek to shelve it by making the devil the source of all evil, yet they fad to tell us how the enemy could originate it unless the power or capacity were given him by his Creator.
"We sympathize heartily with the motive of those who shrink from associating evil with God, because we find that their conception of evil and sin is such that they cannot believe Gods plain statements concerning them. There is dire need, therefore, of further searching the Scriptures on this subject."
When we seriously accept that Satan's origin, as adversary, is in the counsel and foreknowledge of God, then this should cause us to rely on the satisfactory and glorious outcome of the consummation, when God is "All in all" (1 Cor.15:28). We should also reflect on the degrading fable of that much-vaunted, arrogance of "free will," or "self-determination." To all proponents of such heresy and those who, helplessly confused and bewildered, repeatedly beseech, "Why does God Allow...?" we soberly point to the apostle's indictment:
"For God's indignation is being revealed from heaven on all the irreverence and injustice of men who are retaining the truth in injustice, because that which is known of God is apparent among them, for God manifests it to them. For His invisible attributes are descried from the His achievements, power and divinity, for them to be defenseless, because, knowing God, not as God do they glorify or thank Him, but vain were they made in their reasonings, and darkened is their unintelligent hearts.
"Alleging themselves to be wise, they were made stupid, and the change the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of an image of a corruptible human being and flying creatures and quadrupeds and reptiles. Wherefore God gives them over, in the lusts of their hearts, to the uncleanness of dishonoring their bodies among themselves, those who alter the truth of God into the lie, and are venerated, and offer divine service to the creature rather than the Creator, Who is blessed for the eons! Amen! (Rom.1:18-25).
I determining satans origin, we must expose the lie that he was created an angel of light. As a woman travails in pain, just so, God's hand travailed in His forming this one (Job 26:13):
By His spirit the heavens are made seemly,
His hand travailed with the fugitive serpent.
Finally, when our Lord was led up into the wilderness to be tried by the Adversary, this and the subsequent accounts, clearly indicate that here was no trial of the superiority of our Lord over the Slanderer, but rather was it a demonstration of God's loving provision of His Son, the Beloved, in Whom I delight" (Matt.3:17).
WHY A NEED FOR OPPOSITION?
In the sylvan perfection of Eden our ancient parents in a superb state. Everything around them was described by God Himself as being "good." Never hungry, never ailing, and privileged to walk and talk in such beautiful surroundings with their Maker! Yet in all this splendor there is no record of any expression of thankfulness! But this is now quite understandable, for without contrast there could be no appreciation.
What may the celestials learn from mortality? A great deal! Witnessing the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem, some of these hailed His humanity with exultation and could not contain their joy! With the briefest glimpse, they learn that through the birth of this Babe, God's great purpose of blessing will flow to the utmost bounds of creation!
During His ministry, our Lord came to realize that the kingdom was rejected. Instantly, He rejoices! "In this hour He exults in the holy spirit and said, 'I am acclaiming Thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for Thou dost conceal these things from the wise and intelligent and Thou dost reveal them to minors. Yea, Father, seeing that thus it became a delight in front of Thee'" (Luke 10:21).
Thus far, we have not even remarked on the influence of Satan! To what extent is he necessary? The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was created by God, but was used by Satan to achieve God's purpose! God's judgment was plain. "Yahweh Elohim instructed the human, saying, From every tree of the garden, you may eat yea, eat. But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you must never eat from it for on the day you eat from it to die shall you be dying" (Gen.2:16,17).
In consequence of a disobedience which the humans could not possibly avoid, all humanity are thus disabled and dying! With one stroke, Satan has crippled his victims! But is that strictly accurate? Many of his deeds were, in keeping with his character, evil, and opposed to God's revealed will. But what of God's intention? As stated above, many are loathe to associate God with any evil, but as previously noted, God is the Maker of good, and Creator of evil!
The point being made is that while Satan is used on many an occasion, we must never lose sight of the fact that his is almost a minor role in God's purpose! For example: God creates evil! God ensures that humans learn the knowledge of good and evil! God purposes that Israel reject the kingdom! As the apostle Peter perceived, Christ was, "...given up in the counsel and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23).
Directly, Satan is used by our Lord during His ministry. "Jesus answered and said to them, `Do not I choose you, the twelve, and one of you is an adversary?' Now He said it of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, for this man was about to give Him up, being one of the twelve" (John 6:70,71). It is extremely important to note that this is the one and only recorded occasion when Satan possessed a human! How profound to note that Jesus, Who had commanded demons practically every day of His ministry, is heard to declare to Judas, "What you are doing, do more quickly," and this, when He knew that Satan had entered into that man (John 13:27).
Our Lord subjected Peter and the disciples for discipline to Satan (Luke 22:31). Paul urged the Corinthians to give up one of their numbers to Satan, for the extermination of the flesh" (1 Cor.5:5).
Through a horrifying persecution of the Jewish nation, millions have perished! The motive was ruthless extermination! Genocide! But this same dreadful crime has served to drive the people back to the land which God has promised. Now, it would seem that prophecy is about to unfold the final chapter in preparation for the promised fulfillment of their glory! Yet there is so much more suffering in store for this people!
As stated, the celestials have so much to learn concerning God's love. The greatest example of this has been provided at Golgotha. The full meaning of so great a sacrifice has yet to be unfolded. We are those who are entrusted with this privilege, for,"...in the oncoming eons, He should be displaying the transcendent riches of His grace in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus" (Eph.2:7).
MESSENGERS OF SATAN
"All the opposition of Satan's messengers will be transmuted into blessing. It is the background for the revelation of God's grace and love. in the case of Paul, and in the present spiritual dispensation, evil 'angels' are needed, and physical infirmity and distress, and outrages and necessities and persecution for Christ's sake, as a background on which to display God's power (cf 2 Cor.12:7-10)....
"There is great comfort in the thought that Satan's career seems to be nearly concluded. He will have his greatest triumph in the great tribulation, but the time will be short. Again, at the end of the kingdom, he has a brief season. But these are concerned with the terrestrial sphere. We will be above that when we are with the Lord. He is aware that his season is brief after he is cast out of heaven (Rev.12:12). He may do us much apparent harm now, but it will all be of eventual benefit. Moreover, as judges of messengers, the God of peace will crush Satan under our feet swiftly (Rom.16:20). But at the consummation, he, as well as all the messengers, will be included in the great peace proclamation, and God will be All in all."
In Scripture it is declared that during the thousand years, Christ will rule, not with a shepherd's crook, but with an iron club (Rev.2:27). A glimpse into the stern measures of that day may be gained from the incident concerning Ananias and his wife, Sapphire. In the kingdom, justice will be swift and precise. These conditions clearly illustrate that while Satan is bound for a thousand years; and while humanity will enjoy a glorious time of peace and plenty, there is still stubbornness.
Even at the conclusion of those blissful years, when Satan is released, he has no difficulty in mounting the greatest deception of all. Mobilizing nations from the four corners of the earth, "...their numbers being as the sand of the sea,' this mighty army is crushed by God, and Satan and the wild beast and the false prophet are cast into the lake of fire for the eons of the eons (Rev.20:7-10).
"If Satan, created to oppose God, were doomed to eternal torment, then we may indeed question the justice of God. If the Adversary, formed to destroy, is finally annihilated, then indeed we may wonder if God has done right. So long as we are held by either of these alternatives, we are almost forced to shield the character of God by falling back on the assumption that He is not responsible for the creation of His adversary, and thus we unconsciously drag Him from His throne. The doctrine of the deity of the devil is the rational recoil from God's supposed inability to bring His creation to a successful consummation"
THE DIVINE INTENTION
It has already been stated that God's hand travailed in forming Satan, but it must not be inferred from this that there was any imperfection! From the incident concerning Job or Judas Iscariot we can plainly discern that his role in opposition was certainly not out of control. By no means! Since we are not told of his reactions at the conclusion of these incidents, we may only assume that he was not one bit affected. He must have witnessed the exaltation of Christ Jesus among the celestials, yet there is no evidence that this impressed him or changed his bitter opposition.
Yet all subscribes to God's intention. None but God and His beloved Son is able to transform every opposing effort into that which is essential to the purpose of the eons.
When all, both in the heavens and on the earth, are headed up in Christ (Eph.1:10), and all enemies are brought into the reconciliation established through the blood of Christ's cross (Col.1:20), then Satan also will join in the joyful acclamation, "Jesus Christ is Lord!" (Phil.2:10,11). This ends all need for an adversary, and every opposer will be included in the second "all" of those exultant words, "God...All in all!"
1. A. E. Knoch: THE PROBLEM OF EVIL AND THE JUDGMENTS OF GOD, p.13.
2. A. E. Knoch: Unsearchable Riches, vol.50, pp.73,74,75,76.
3. A. E. Knoch: THE PROBLEM OF EVIL AND THE JUDGMENTS OF GOD, p.222.