Archive for the ‘Satan’ Category

Sin, Satan, and Satan’s Fall

January 30, 2013

I was recently directed to some questions about Sin, Satan, and Satan’s fall.

Did Satan exist before Adam and Eve? How and when did he fall?

The Scriptures do not specify when God created the angels or when specifically Satan fell.

Jude 6 states: “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.”

2 Peter 2:4 stats: “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;”

Job 4:18 states: “Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly:”

Thus, we know that some of the angels did fall and that this was due to some foolishness and sin on their part. But the exact timing of their creation is not specified.

Isaiah 14 has sometimes been interpreted as referring to the fall of Satan. There are a few reasons that this view has some weaknesses – particularly in that verse 16 speaks about kingdoms, but it is clear that at the latest Satan fell when only Adam and Eve lived.

Nevertheless, vss. 12-15 may be a reference to the fall of Satan, and may be a comparison between that fall and the fall of the king of Babylon (see vs. 4). In other words, God may be comparing the fall of the king of Babylon to the fall of Satan.

We may speculate that Satan and other angels (who are described as having wings) were created with the winged fowl on the 4th day, or that Satan and the other angels being heavenly bodies (and compared to stars) were created with the stars on the 3rd day, or that the angels were created on the first day when God created the heavens and the earth, or that they were created on the 6th day since Satan is described as a serpent. But all this is speculation, since God does not say.

All we know is that all things were made by God in the space of six days (Exodus 20:11), and therefore the angels were created in this time period.

Did sin exist before Adam and Eve?

It seems sin did not exist before the end of the sixth day, because on the sixth day God saw all that he had made and behold it was very good (Genesis 1:1). How could God say that if there was already sin?

Of course, “sin” is not a thing that has its own existence. Rather it is any lack of conformity to (or violation of) God’s law.

It seems clear that Satan’s temptation in the Garden of Eden of Eve and by her of Adam was sinful and an act of rebellion on Satan’s part.

After all, Satan is clearly identified as the serpent in Revelation 20:2 “And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,” and Revelation 12:9 “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”

Moreover, his sins of lying and murdering were there:

John 8:44
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

After all, because of Satan’s lie, Eve was deceived and came under judgment of death, making Satan both liar and simultaneously murderer.

Some people may speculate that it was in this very act that Satan fell – namely that the fall of Satan is timed as immediately before the fall of man. Whether this is the case or not, we simply do not know, because Scripture does not say. One reason to think this is that the Serpent is cursed specifically together with Adam and Eve, but prior to the curse of the earth for Adam’s sin (Genesis 3:14).

The only remaining question is how there could be sin before Adam’s sin, when Scripture states:

Romans 5:12
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

But just as this does not exclude Eve’s sin before Adam’s sin, so also it does not exclude Satan’s sin before Eve’s sin. For Adam was made the head of the physical creation. In Adam (not in Eve or in Satan) all mankind fell, and that in context is what Paul is describing.

Scripture tells all we need to know. John assures us that we can read the gospel of John and believe and have eternal life (John 20:31) and the Scriptures teach us that they thoroughly equip us for living the Christian life (2 Timothy 3:17). Nevertheless Scripture does not promise to answer every question we may have about everything. Some things we simply cannot be dogmatic about. We should, therefore, cease to be dogmatic where Scripture ceases revelation.

– TurretinFan

Dangers in trying to Discern Providence

January 12, 2008

God determines everything that will come to pass. If you pray that your dog will live, and your dog dies, God has answered your prayer in the negative.

Sometimes it is not that cut and dried.

1. Ambiguities as to what Ought to be Done

To take one example, a young person may pray for a long time to find a suitable spouse, but no spouse may appear. This may be God answering in the negative, or simply God encouraging the young person to pray harder! It’s really impossible to determine the answer to that question simply by looking at the results.

Lesson: we should not try to look to Providence alone to determine how we should proceed for the future. If a young person came to me asking for advice about whether to continue the quest for marriage or to give up and remain single, I’d need to know a lot more than, “I’ve been praying about this for a long time now.”

2. Ambiguities as to Bad Things Happening

a. Job’s Friend’s Syndrome
Sometimes God sends bad things into our lives to chastise us for wrongs that we have done, so that we may learn to do what is right. It’s unpleasant at the time, but good for us in the long run (just like corporal discipline of children). When bad things happen, we should seriously consider whether God is disciplining us, and examine our lives for ways to improve.

On the other hand, that is not always the case. So, we should be careful not to be Job’s judgmental friends to others. This is not an excuse to avoid self-examination, this is an admonition to avoid a judgmental spirit. We cannot and should not assume that the twin towers disaster killed the 3,000 least holy people in Manhattan a half decade ago. We cannot and should not assume that their widows and orphans were the most wicked wives and children of the greater NYC region. All have sinned, and unless we repent we will also perish.

b. Satan did it Syndrome
There is a reverse problem to the Job’s friend’s syndrome, which I call the “Satan did it” syndrome. When bad things happen, sometimes it can be persecution from wicked men or even wicked angels. It’s a bit presumptuous to think that the Prince of darkness has personally found time to mess with one’s life (after all, he is not omnipresent, omnipotent, etc.), but nevertheless sometimes the forces of evil stand opposed to us and cause bad things to happen to us.

On the other hand, when something we thought was a good idea doesn’t happen, simply asserting that Satan interfered can lead to a dangerously egotistical mindset. “We tried to plant a church in Boise, ID, but Satan snuffed it out,” the person might say. Maybe it wasn’t Satan! Maybe God simply decided that Boise has enough of a witness, and God was closing the door there. Blaming Satan, you see, is often simply a way of reinforcing one’s notion that one knows best.

Such a person will have trouble learning from God’s corrections. If they lose their health, they simply say that Satan is messing with them. If they lose their money, it’s Satan trying to stop them. If their car breaks down on the way to some activity, it is proof how good that activity was to which they were headed!

And it’s doubly foolish. First of all, it can result in blasphemously attributing the chastisements of God to Satanic interference. But on top of that, God can use Satan to chastise God’s people. Job’s losses were not primarily discipline for Job, but Job was not sinless. Job was a god-fearing man, but he was not perfect. Read to the end of the book of Job and you’ll see.

But Job is not even the best example here. Recall:

1 Timothy 1:20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.

You see, God can strike a straight blow with a crooked stick. Even though Satan did not afflict Jim and Alex out of love of God, God used Satan’s affliction for their good. If they simply said to themselves, I must be doing something good, since Satan’s persecuting me, they’d be stuck in the “Satan did it” syndrome, and unable to learn not to blaspheme.

3. Ambiguities as to when Good Things Happen
The good things are easier to handle. It’s great when the silos are full of corn, the wine cellars are full of wine, the bank account is full of cash, and the table is full of children. Thank God when you receive such blessings.

But still be careful to examine yourself. Recall that you are just a visitor here. This life is not all there is. You may receive the good things of this life from God, but there is a life to come. Do not be like the rich man, who put off his concern for the afterlife until he was already in the pit. Be like Job: hold what good things God has given you loosely enough that you can be ready to say, “the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” That’s not easy.

More than that, don’t assume that because everything is going well, God is happy with you. Recall those who robbed David:

1 Samuel 30:16 And when he had brought him down, behold, they were spread abroad upon all the earth, eating and drinking, and dancing, because of all the great spoil that they had taken out of the land of the Philistines, and out of the land of Judah.

They were feasting and rejoicing. But destruction was looming.

1 Samuel 30:17-19
17And David smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next day: and there escaped not a man of them, save four hundred young men, which rode upon camels, and fled. 18And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives. 19And there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither spoil, nor any thing that they had taken to them: David recovered all.

What is the bottom line? We should be cautious about reading Providence. God deals in ways that are often obscure. Joseph may have seen only his brother’s jealousy during his trip to Egypt, or he may have seen correction to his own pride. But even that was not the big picture. The big picture was that God was working out the good of his chosen people, showing his love for them.

Whatever adversities may find you, whatever circumstances may happen to you, if you do not trust in Christ alone for salvation you should tremble with fear, but if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation take comfort in God’s assurance that:

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Praise be to our Glorious King!

UPDATE: S. Todd Young has something similar to say, especially about Joseph (link).

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