Before the being called Satan rebelled against God and fell from Heaven as a result of failed spiritual warfare, he was “Lucifer – the light bearer”, the most exalted of God’s angels . As Lucifer, he led all angelic worship and had access to the throne of Heaven. He was gifted by God with great beauty, wisdom, knowledge, and power. He basked in the very presence of God as His Anointed Cherub. God said he was “Perfect (complete) in all his ways”. But Lucifer’s pride led him to covet the worship that he brought before God, and he waged a futile war for the throne of Heaven.
With the first attempt at spiritual warfare a failure, Satan was cast out of Heaven and all of his Godly splendor was gone. He became imperfect and incomplete. All he was left with were corrupt and Godless remnants of his Heavenly gifts. In the Bible, Satan is described as deceitful, vain, lying, wrathful, and an imitator. These character traits are all corruptions of his original position and gifts.
Satan is in fact our first case study, and ultimate example of what we can become if we are given over to pride/comparative thinking. As a helpful adjunct, I’ve added contemporary personages that exemplify a mindset ruled comparative thinking as points of comparison.
Satan is a deceiver
And the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” – Genesis 3: 13
God gave Lucifer great wisdom. Godly wisdom is the use of knowledge to enhance growth. But without Godly influence, that wisdom results in destruction instead of growth. Corrupted wisdom yields deception. Satan is a deceiver by nature and all his strategies are based on deception. He constantly tries to deceive men about his existence, his identity, his power, his role, and his destiny. In addition, he attempts to deceive us in the same way about God and ourselves. Deception is pairing corrects facts, with in incorrect or incomplete explanation of the facts. A perfect example is Satan’s first interaction with men. Satan deceived the first man and woman to doubt God’s character, and he deceived them about their potential for wisdom. This deception, like all others led to destruction.
Satan is vain
“Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor – Ezekiel 28:17
Lucifer fell because of his pride. He felt that his God-given beauty and splendor made him worthy of worship meant only for God. Without God’s grace, Satan’s beauty and splendor has been corrupted into vanity. This corruption became so complete that it was ultimately expressed by Satan’s trying to temp Jesus into worshiping him.
Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Matthew 4:8-9
Only vanity pushed to the point of insanity would cause one to demand worship from his creator (or demand a reality TV series about your daily life).
Satan is a liar
You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. John 8:44
God is the source of all truth. When Lucifer was in the presence of God, he had access to that truth, but cut off from God, he has none. Satan doesn’t just tell lies as a part of his various strategies, he lies because he has no other choice[free will]; Satan is incapable of telling the truth! It’s important here to differentiate “facts” and “truth”. Facts are data; truth is the profitable application of data. Satan can quote facts, but only in a deceptive manner. For example, in the Garden of Eden when Satan told Eve that if she ate the forbidden fruit she would have knowledge of good and evil. That was a fact, however the result was not what Satan promised (the wisdom of God), so he used a fact to perpetrate a lie.
Satan is full of wrath
But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.” – Isaiah 57:20-21
Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” – Revelation 12:12
Peace is only possible in the presence of God. God is the author of peace. With no access to God’s presence, the peace once enjoyed by Lucifer has been replaced with a turmoil of unstable emotions that ultimately results in his spiritual warfare – his irrational wrath toward God and man (and probably a bad case of acne).
Satan is an imitator
All the knowledge Satan previously had came from God. With no new original knowledge to draw on, Satan has no choice but to continually act in the same way he has in the past and to mimic what he has observed from God. Satan is the great imitator. He is most effective in his temptations when he disguises his motives by twisting our more noble desires into evil results, or taking and evil action and putting a positive label on it
(Like calling government enforced mediocrity “equality” or morbidly obese women “curvy”).
Contrary to popular notions, Satan rarely tempts us to do evil for the sake of being evil; he tempts us to do evil under the guise of doing “good”. That is why his temptations are so seductive. If we are tempted to do something wrong and we know it is wrong, it is much more difficult to rationalize than if we are tempted to do wrong and are led to believe that it is good. Great evil has been done throughout history in the name of “good”. Even Adolph Hitler did not do evil for its own sake; he genuinely believed that his Third Reich would usher in a golden age for the planet (FYI, he was wrong about that one).
So what does this mean for us? That truth is, Satan’s corrupt characteristics will emerge in anyone who cuts themselves off from God – more specifically, by choosing ourselves over God. Once you begin to think that you can function without God and no longer rely on Him to influence your life, you will begin to be corrupted by pride and we will start manifest some of the negative characteristics of Satan. You may become deceptive, vain, untruthful, banal, and emotionally unstable (but on the positive side, you’ll probably have a bright future in Hollywood).
We’ve looked at Satan’s history, before and after his rebellion. All things considered, it’s obvious why he hates God and opposes Him. But why does Satan hate us so much? Why is he so bent on our destruction? What did we ever do to him? We’ll explore those questions next time.