Past, Present and Future
Most people do not take Satan seriously. For many he is nothing more than a cartoon character in a red suit with a sneer on his face, horns on his head, and a pitchfork in his hand.
Recent polls have revealed that 60% of Americans believe Satan is just a symbol of evil and not a living being.1 Even 52% of Christians who identify themselves as “born-again” deny the reality of Satan.2
Celebrities often mock Satan and Hell. I remember a few years ago when the 70th birthday party of Willie Nelson was televised nationally. At one point they showed a collection of video tributes to the famed Country singer. One of Willie’s well known friends laughed and said, “Happy birthday, Willie! I look forward to partying with you in Hell!”
Conan O’Brien, the popular late night TV host, wrote and performed a song mocking Hell. The song is so perverse that only parts can be quoted. The following section will give you the idea:3
I’m gonna go to Hell when I die
I’m gonna go to Hell when I die
I can’t be saved, it’s too late for me
I’m going to H-E Double L when I D-I-E
You could say I’m messed up, but I’m keepin’ it real
I’ll sleep with your mom for a home cooked meal
Give a guy with no legs a new pair of shoes
And give Ben Affleck a bottle of booze
I call up Nick Lechey, tell him he’s gay
Then ask Jessica to spell Chevrolet
I’m gonna go to Hell when I die
I’m gonna go to Hell when I die
Cable television’s Ted Turner mocked Hell in a similar manner when he said, “I don’t need anybody to die for me. I’ve had a few drinks and a few girlfriends, and if that’s gonna put me in Hell, then so be it.”4
The Australian hard rock band, AC/DC, released an album in 1979 titled, “Highway to Hell.” The title song bragged about their determination to end up in Hell:5
Ain’t nothing I would rather do
Going down, party time
My friends are gonna be there too
I’m on the highway to Hell
No stop signs or speed limit
Nobody’s gonna slow me down
Hey, Satan paid my dues
Playing in a rocking band
Hey, Momma, look at me
I’m on the way to the promised land
I’m on the highway to Hell
The heavy metal band called Acheron has an album titled, “The Rites of the Black Mass.” On the album, a person from the Church of Satan actually reads the rites of the Black Mass as the group sings:6
Glory to thee, Almighty Satan
We praise thee, we bless thee
We adore thee
Thou art Lord
Thou alone, O Mighty Satan
In their song, “The Prince,” the group named Metallica sings:7
Angel from below
I wish to sell my soul
Devil take my soul
With diamonds you repay
I don’t care for Heaven
So don’t you look for me to cry
And I will burn in Hell
From the day I die
There are many other such examples of Satanic songs being peddled today by various musical groups. Most of these songs are probably parodies designed to do nothing but shock. But some of the groups profess to be Satan worshipers.
At the 1991 MTV Awards, the spokesman for the group called Red Hot Chili Peppers acknowledged the receipt of their award by saying, “First of all, we want to thank Satan…”8
Whether the music is a parody or is a sincere expression of worship, the Satan and the Hell it glorifies do not exist. The true Satan has no interest in blessing anyone, except for the purpose of ensnaring their souls, and there will be no partying in Hell. The Word of God teaches that Satan is a real person who is interested only in the destruction of people — all people, even those who claim to worship and adore him.
Satan is a spirit being who was created by God before the creation of the heavens and the earth (Job 38:4-7). He is in no way equal to God. He is not omnipresent. He is not omniscient. Many believe he was one of three archangels (the other two being Michael and Gabriel), but the Bible identifies only one archangel by name — Michael (Jude 9). However, the book of Daniel indicates that there may be other archangels when it says that Michael was “one of the chief princes,” obviously implying there are other angels of his type (Daniel 10:13).
We are specifically told that Satan was “an anointed cherub” who was responsible for covering or guarding the throne of God (Ezekiel 28:14). In the Scriptures, cherubim appear to be angels of a higher order who are assigned special guard duties by God. The first mention of them can be found in Genesis 3:24 where we are told that after the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, God stationed cherubim on the East of Eden to prevent them from having access to the tree of life (Genesis 3:24).
Some have concluded that one of Satan’s main responsibilities may have been that of a worship leader. That’s because there is a reference in Ezekiel 28:13 to his “tambourines and flutes.” However, the words here in Hebrew are uncertain. The King James Version refers to “tarbets and pipes.” The New International Version translates the words as “settings and mountings.” The New American Standard Bible refers to “settings and sockets,” but provides the alternative translation of tambourines and flutes.
More definitely we are told in the Scriptures that Satan was created in perfection, and that therefore he was “full of wisdom” and “perfect in beauty” (Ezekiel 28:12-13). We are also told that he was covered with precious gems (Ezekiel 28:13).
As with all of God’s higher beings, both men and angels, Satan was given free will because God desires true fellowship and not the orchestrated adoration of robots. We are told that, tragically, Satan used his free will to make a decision to rebel against God. Isaiah describes it in this way, quoting Satan (Isaiah 14:13-14):
I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne about the stars of God,
And I will sit on the mount of assembly…
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.
Notice the repetition of the phrase, “I will.” The words literally seethe with rebellion. And Ezekiel tells us that the rebellion was rooted in pride: “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor” (Ezekiel 28:17). Satan became filled with unrighteousness and violence, and his sin resulted in God casting him out of Heaven (Ezekiel 28:15-17).
When was Satan kicked out of Heaven? We can only guess. The book of Job tells us that all the angelic host (which would include Satan) “shouted with joy” when God laid the foundation of the earth (Job 38:4-7). So Satan’s fall must have taken place between the time the creation was finished and Adam and Eve were tempted. At the end of the creation week, God pronounced all of His creative work to be “very good” (Genesis 1:31), so the fall of Satan had to take place after that.
The gap between the end of the creation week and the temptation of Adam and Eve could have been anywhere between a few days or a few years. We know there was a lapse of time because Adam gave names to each of God’s creatures before the temptation of Eve occurred (Genesis 2:19-20).
When Satan was cast out of Heaven, he took one-third of the heavenly host with him (Revelation 12:4). Jesus referred to this event when He told His disciples, “I saw Satan fall from Heaven like lightning” (Luke 10:18). The angels who rebelled with Satan became the demonic spirits that infest our planet today. This is the reason that Satan was referred to by the Pharisees as “the ruler of the demons” (Matthew 9:34).
I want to emphasize again that Satan is not some inanimate evil force or power. He is a real person with all the traits of personality — feelings, emotions, will and intelligence.
He appeared to Jesus and tempted Him mightily in the Judean wilderness (Matthew 4:1-10). Jesus carried on a vigorous conversation with Satan. Jesus was not talking to a shadow or to Himself. Satan is never presented anywhere in the Scriptures as anything other than a supernatural spirit being — a person in every sense of the term.
The character of Satan is thoroughly despicable. He is the essence of evil. He is described in the Scriptures as “a murderer” and “the father of lies” (John 8:44). The New International Version puts it colorfully when it says that when Satan lies, “he speaks his native language” (John 8:44).
Satan’s basic nature is perhaps best summarized in some of the names that are given him in the Bible:
- Accuser (Zechariah 3:1 and Revelation 12:10)
- Adversary (Job 1:6 and 1 Peter 5:8) This is the Hebrew meaning of Satan.
- Beelzebub (Matthew 12:24, 27) Meaning either “Lord of the flies” or “Lord of dung.”
- Belial (2 Corinthians 6:15) Meaning worthless or hopeless ruin.
- Deceiver (Revelation 12:9)
- Destroyer (Revelation 9:11) Apollyon in Greek or Abaddon in Hebrew.
- Devil (1 John 3:8) From the Greek word, diabolos, which means slanderer or defamer.
- Dragon (Revelation 12:3-17)
- Enemy (Matthew 13:39)
- Evil One (John 17:15)
- God of This World (2 Corinthians 4:4)
- Prince of This World (John 12:31)
- Roaring Lion (1 Peter 5:8)
- Ruler of Darkness (Ephesians 6:12)
- Serpent (Genesis 3:1 and Revelation 12:9)
- Tempter (Matthew 4:3)
- Thief (John 10:10)
- Wicked One (Ephesians 6:16)
Two of the titles in this list are often confusing and disturbing to Christians — namely, “God of this world” and “Prince of this world.” “How can this be?” people often ask. “Didn’t Jesus defeat Satan at the Cross? Hasn’t Satan been dethroned?”
The answer is that Satan’s ultimate defeat was sealed at the Cross, but it has not yet been realized in history. That’s why many years after the Cross, the Apostle John wrote, “…the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). The writer of the book of Hebrews asserts that all things have been put in subjection to Christ, “but now we do not yet see all things subjected to Him” (Hebrews 2:8).
The de-throning of Satan as the prince of this world was guaranteed by Jesus’ victory over the Cross through the power of His resurrection. But Satan will not actually be removed from his throne until Jesus returns, at which time “the God of peace will crush Satan…” (Romans 16:20). The total defeat of Satan is a delayed benefit of the Cross, just as is the receipt of our glorified bodies.
A key aspect of the conflict between God and Satan is all about dominion. This earth was created for Mankind. God granted dominion over the creation to Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:28). But when the two of them succumbed to Satan’s temptation, that dominion was lost. Satan stole it, and he became the prince of this earth. That’s why he could legitimately tempt Jesus by offering Him all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would only bow down and worship him (Matthew 4:8-10).
Meanwhile, Satan roams about this earth like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). This does not mean that Satan is free to do as he pleases. He is on a leash. He may be the prince of this world, but he operates under the authority of the King of the universe.
This important point is illustrated in the story of Job. Satan had to ask God’s permission before he could tempt Job, and even when the permission was granted, certain limitations were placed on what Satan could do (Job 1:7-12).
This story illustrates another point. Satan currently has access to God’s throne, and according to Revelation 12:10, he uses that access to accuse believers day and night.
Satan’s Prophesied Fate
Satan’s ultimate fate was prophesied at the very time that Adam and Eve sinned. God spoke a curse on Satan when He said:
I will put enmity
Between you [Satan] and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He [the seed of woman] will bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him [the seed of woman] on the heel.
This is a remarkable prophecy given at the very dawn of history. It is the first Messianic prophecy in the Bible. What God is saying here is that a person born of the seed of woman (a virgin) will suffer a wound from Satan on his heel, but he will then inflict a wound on Satan’s head. The wound on the heel is symbolic of a non-lethal strike. This prophecy was fulfilled in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The wound on the head is symbolic of a lethal strike and will be fulfilled when Jesus returns and casts Satan into the lake of fire.
Satan’s Current Activities
As we await Satan’s ultimate defeat, we must deal with the temptations he and his demonic hordes place in front of us. Fortunately, those of us who are believers have the blessing of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and we are assured that “He who is within us is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
We are encouraged to “put on the full armor of God,” that we might be able “to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). And we are told that if we submit ourselves to God, then when we resist the devil, he will flee from us (James 4:7).
We are also advised to avoid giving Satan an opportunity in our lives (Ephesians 4:27). In other words, we should do everything we can to avoid temptation. And in that regard, I have learned through personal experience that it is much easier to avoid temptation than it is to resist it.
Satan’s Special Man
As the signs of the end times continue to multiply, Satan must be chomping at the bit because he knows Bible prophecy (Revelation 12:12), and he realizes that the time is fast approaching when he will be able to physically manifest himself as the God of this world.
He is going to do this through a man he will anoint and then possess as his messiah (Daniel 8:24). The Bible calls this man the Antichrist (1 John 2:22), and his characteristics will be the same as Satan’s. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 he is referred to as “the son of destruction.” Utilizing the power of Satan (Revelation 13:2), the Antichrist will conquer all the earth (Revelation 13:7).
And while the Antichrist is consolidating his worldwide empire, Satan will try one last time to seize the throne of God in Heaven. This will result in a heavenly war in the middle of the Tribulation. Satan and all his demons will fight against the archangel Michael and his angels. Satan will, of course, be defeated in this insane effort to displace his Creator.
We are told in Revelation that Satan will be cast down to earth and his access to Heaven will be cut off completely (Revelation 12:10-12). Satan will be filled with great wrath, and he will decide to take out his anger on the Chosen People of God — the Jews (Revelation 12:12-17).
He will begin this process by possessing the Antichrist and then motivating him to enter the rebuilt Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and declare himself to be god (2 Thessalonians 2:4), demanding that all the world worship him.
When he is rejected by the Jews, Satan will then motivate him to annihilate the Jewish people. Satan will do this because he hates the Jews with a passion. He hates them because they are God’s Chosen People. He hates them because God worked through them to provide the world with the Bible. He hates them because it was through them that God sent His Son, the Messiah. And he hates them because God has promised that one day a great remnant of the Jews will turn their hearts to their Messiah and be saved (Isaiah 10:20-23, Zechariah 12:10 and Romans 9:27-28).
Satan is determined to annihilate the Jews so that God cannot fulfill His promise to bring a great remnant to salvation. Satan has tried to do this many times in the past, as with the Spanish Inquisition and the Nazi Holocaust. This will be his last attempt, and it will almost be successful, for we are told that the Antichrist will slaughter two-thirds of the Jewish people during the last half of the Tribulation (Zechariah 13:8).
The Tribulation will end with the Second Coming of Jesus. The Antichrist and his False Prophet will be seized and thrown alive into the lake of fire, which is Hell (Revelation 19:20-21). At that point the activity of Satan will come to a temporary end. He will be held captive for the next thousand years while Jesus reigns over all the earth from Jerusalem (Revelation 20:1-3).
At the end of the Lord’s millennial reign, Satan will be set free, and he will go forth to deceive the nations (Revelation 20:7-8). This is a very perplexing development to most people. What is the purpose of releasing him?
The answer has to do with one of the fundamental purposes of the Millennium. Humanists believe that evil is rooted in society and can be uprooted through societal reforms. In sharp contrast, the Word of God teaches that evil is rooted in the fallen nature of Man (Jeremiah 17:9 and Mark 7:20-23).
God is going to disprove the Humanist theory during the Millennium. He is going to put all of Mankind into a perfect society where righteousness and justice prevail. There will be no homeless or poor people. There will be no unmet needs (Isaiah 11:4-9).
Yet, at the end of that glorious time, when Satan is released, he will rally the nations of the world against Jesus, and they will march on Jerusalem to overthrow the King of kings (Revelation 20:7-9). This worldwide revolt will prove that you cannot truly change people by changing their environment.
The change cannot be external. It must be internal, and that can happen only through the work of the Holy Spirit who is received by believers when they put their faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior (Acts 2:38 and Ephesians 1:13).
This raises an additional question. Why would most of those living in the flesh join a revolt against God after living for a thousand years in a perfect society? Well, just stop for a moment and consider the fact that the Scriptures say Jesus will rule with a rod of iron (Psalm 2:9 and Revelation 2:27). This means He will dictate the law, and it will be strictly enforced by those of us in glorified bodies who will be reigning with Jesus (Revelation 2:26-27). Justice will be swift and certain.
Now, think what it would be like to live in the flesh under such a government. The fallen nature would constantly be desiring the things of the world — drugs, alcohol, promiscuous sex, gambling, etc. Yet, knowing justice is swift and certain, most people will restrain themselves and praise Jesus through clenched teeth. But once Satan is released, he will call on the frustrated, unrepentant sinners of the world to join him in overthrowing “the joker in Jerusalem.”
Thus, history is going to end as it began, going in full circle. It started with two people in a perfect environment called the Garden of Eden. They rebelled against their Creator. It will end with all of humanity living in a perfect environment, the Millennium, and most of them, like Adam and Eve, will decide to revolt.
The final rebels of history will be supernaturally destroyed by God when they march on Jerusalem (Revelation 20:9). At that point, Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire (Hell) where he will be tormented day and night forever, together with his demons and the Antichrist and False Prophet (Revelation 20:10).
Notice how these revelations of God’s Word dispel the mythical concept of the Middle Ages that Satan and his demons will be in charge of Hell where they will eternally torment the lost souls of Mankind. On the contrary, the Bible teaches that Hell was created for the torment of Satan and his angels (Matthew 25:41). Satan will not be the CEO of Hell. He will be a prisoner of Hell.
He will also be an object of derision. Isaiah says that the saved will be allowed to gaze upon him, and they will mock him by saying, “Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world like a wilderness and overthrew its cities?” (Isaiah 14:16-17).
Satan’s Persistence and Frustration
Two final questions: Why does Satan persist in his rebellion against God? Doesn’t he realize there is no hope in his attempt to dethrone the Creator of the universe?
Satan may be the great deceiver, but he himself is the most deceived being in the universe. There is no deception greater than self-deception, and Satan has convinced himself that he can ultimately triumph.
But he is doomed. No matter what he throws at God, it will be tossed right back into his face, and it will be converted to the glory of Jesus.
Consider the Cross. Satan manipulated the murder of God’s Son. He thought he had achieved his greatest victory. But through the power of the Resurrection, God converted the most dastardly act of history into one of history’s most glorious events.
Satan has got to be the most frustrated creature in all of God’s creation. It is no wonder that Psalm 2 tells us that while Satan plots and schemes against God and His Anointed One, the Creator sits in Heaven and laughs! (Psalm 2:4). His laughter is not motivated by a lack of concern. He laughs because He has the wisdom and power to orchestrate all the evil of Satan to the triumph of His Son.
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, “My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure”…
Truly I have spoken;
Truly I will bring it to pass.
I have planned it, surely I will do it.
1) The Barna Group, “Most American Christians Do Not Believe that Satan or the Holy Spirit Exist,” www.barna.org, and Religious Tolerance, “About Ghosts, Satan, Heaven, Hell, etc.,” www.religioustolerance.org.
2) Religious Tolerance, “About Ghosts, Satan…”
3) Conan O’Brien, “I’m Gonna Go to Hell When I Die!” www.jesusis-savior.com.
4) Sam Lavender, “God Made A Way,” www.voiceoftheevangelists.com.
5) AC/DC, “Highway to Hell,” www.lyricsfreak.com.
6) Acheron, “The Rites of the Black Mass,” www.av1611.org.
7) Metallica, “The Prince,” www.sing365.com.
8) Wes Penre, “Satanic Quotes by Musicians,” www.illuminati-news.com.