I will ascend to Heaven, I will raise my throne above the stars of God, I will sit on the Mount of Assembly in the recesses of the North, I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High, nevertheless you will be thrust down the shield of the recesses of the pit. Imagine, Satan is attempting a coup d'etat against the very throne of God. And he actually convinces perhaps as many as a hundred million or more angels that he is worth following more than God. Satan is real. And just in case you didn't know this, he hates you. He desires nothing less than your destruction. Today, Stephen Davey unveils the very real and constant battle every believer is fighting against the enemy of our souls.
That includes you. But, to prepare for victory, you need to first understand just who your adversary really is and be able to recognize his masterful schemes. This is Wisdom for the Heart. Please stay with us and open your Bible to 1 Peter 5 for an important lesson called, Introducing the Angel of Light.
In his classic parable, The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis warned that there were two extreme errors into which our human race can fall regarding the devil and his demons. One extreme is to have an unhealthy interest in them. The other extreme is to disbelieve their existence. Lewis wrote that the demonic world delights in either extreme. In other words, when it comes to Satan, in particular, one camp overestimates his attributes, looks behind every tree for his presence, while the other camp underestimates his abilities and doesn't give him really a second thought, as if he really doesn't exist.
Both perspectives are dangerous. For the believer especially who follows and trusts the record of scripture and the details regarding a literal devil, the danger we face and the extreme that we more likely are prone to error on is disregarding him. He doesn't have a little red suit and a pointed tail and a pitchfork and a bad sense of humor.
He's a real living creature. In fact, what God's word has to say about him lets us know that he's not interested in just making a little mess. He's interested in destroying our lives, everything about our lives that matters. The battle is real.
The stakes are high. Satan is serious, and every believer is engaged in what the Puritans called a holy war. It's a war we often ignore or forget we're engaged in. It's a war for our testimony and our integrity and our perspective and our joy and our fruit-bearing and our unity and our faith growing. Every day we're battling in this holy war temptations and deceptions, thoughts, words, deeds, even our own treasonous hearts that switches sides and conspires with him to bring us to unfaithfulness and prayerlessness and rebelliousness and sinfulness.
This is more damage than a little pile of peaches could ever do. If you take your copy of the first letter written by the Apostle Peter and turn back to what we left off in chapter 5 and verse 7, you're reminded that Peter has just delivered a wonderful promise. He writes in verse 7 of chapter 5, 1 Peter 5 verse 7, casting all your anxiety on him because he cares for you, whatever troubles you.
Remember, take it off and put it on him. Casting all your anxiety on him because he literally hears the promise because he's continually caring for you. You are under the constant care of Christ.
That's all you need, right? I mean, you can stop right there and coast from this point right on into heaven, right? Well, without hardly taking a breath, Peter goes on to write in the very next verse, Be of sober spirit. Beyond the alert, your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Just when you thought the coast was clear and the water is calm, you get this tsunami warning.
Be careful, be alert, there's a prowling lion out there who evidently has a taste for morsels like you. Is he exaggerating? He's telling the truth and you think, well, I thought Jesus cared, I'm under his constant care. Yes, beloved Jesus cares, but just because Jesus cares doesn't mean we can become careless. Just because Jesus is interested doesn't mean we can become indifferent.
It's because Jesus cares doesn't mean we're invited to coast. And Peter's writing this warning to believers. He's not talking here about your spiritual birth, that was a gift you never once worked for, you never broke a sweat. This isn't about your spiritual birth, this is about your spiritual growth and it demands your fullest participation. He's not writing about our spiritual birth here, he's writing about our spiritual battle here. Which is why the Apostle Paul describes the armor we are to dress out in every day as we enter this holy war, Ephesians 6.
When Arthur put it into perspective this way, casting our care upon Christ describes our privilege, being alert describes our pilgrimage. That's going to demand that we have some understanding of this roaring lion. Our chief adversary in the world today. So what I want to do, Lord willing, is spend the next few sessions exposing the truth about this adversary, described by the Apostle Peter as your personal opponent.
The one, by the way, described three times by Jesus as the prince of this world. In fact, Paul told the Corinthian church that he was concerned about them, he was specifically concerned that Satan not be given any advantage over the believer for we are not ignorant of his schemes, 2 Corinthians 2.11. So we don't want to just talk about Satan, by the way, we want to understand his schemes. The word Paul uses for schemes refers to Satan's intellectual capacity to plan and to organize and to strategize and to scheme these rather masterful strategies against us.
So how does he operate? Why does Peter essentially deliver this spiritual tornado watch for us to be alert to this opponent? But with that in mind, what I want to do is slow down at this text. Not as though we've actually been racing through 1 Peter, but I want to slow down a little bit more here. And let's take the time and ask and answer some of the most critical questions we might have about this opponent, especially as I thought of our younger believers in the Lord. Let's lay a biblical framework, then in our next session, Lord willing, we'll take a look at what Peter describes and then what Peter provides in terms in our third session with our escape route. Does Satan really exist? Well, the answer is absolutely yes. Even though, by the way, in our growing illiteracy and defiance as a culture, now nearly one out of every two individuals in this country under the age of 35 believes Satan is simply a metaphor for a dark force or an evil energy.
It's impersonal, but it's out there. According to scripture, the evidence is vastly different. In fact, if you combine Genesis chapter 3 and verse 1 where we're introduced to him, we're told that he comes to tempt Eve, this serpent inhabiting the serpent.
He tempts her. If you take that text and combine it with the New Testament text of 2 Corinthians 11, 3, where Paul writes, but I am afraid that, he says, I'm concerned, I'm anxious about this. As the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray.
He's still at work. We're still in danger of being deceived. So in this one text, you find Paul validating the Old Testament record of Satan's temptation in the fall of Adam and Eve. Then he uses that Old Testament account to warn the New Testament believer. In fact, by the time you get to the New Testament, evidence for the existence of a real personal, real living, breathing creature we refer to often as the devil grows larger. In fact, in 19 New Testament books, Satan is mentioned. Jesus Christ himself personally refers to Satan 25 different times. So if he doesn't exist, the Old Testament is confused, the New Testament is confused, and even Jesus is confused.
So yes to the question, does he exist? Well, who exactly is Satan? What we learn from Scripture is at least four truths about the origin of Satan.
Let me give them to you. Number one, Satan was created along with the other angelic hosts. In fact, the prophet Ezekiel is a wonderful resource for this. I'll give you some Scripture on the screen, but you might want to turn to Ezekiel chapter 28, where we're given sort of his original primacy and angelic beauty in verse 11 and through 13. I almost sort of skipped my way through it, but Ezekiel records, you had the seal of perfection full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
He's talking about Satan. You were in Eden, the garden of God. Every precious stone was your covering, the ruby, the topaz, the diamond.
We can't imagine the beauty of his garments embroidered with all these precious stones listed here was in you on the day that you were created. Satan is created along with the other angelic hosts before, we know this, before the universe was created. Job 38 verse 7 informs us that the angelic host prior to the fall is literally singing as God creates the universe.
It's been an incredible sight. Let me give you another observation. Secondly, Satan is from the cherub order of angelic beings. We tend to think of cherubs as fat little baby angels, you know, with red cheeks and they're usually ready to shoot an arrow at somebody. The Bible informs us that the cherub, the singular word, by the way, for the cherub beam is a class of an order of angel.
Ezekiel continues in verse 14 to refer to that in relation to Satan. You were the anointed cherub, special designation. You were on the holy mountain of God. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you.
That is, until the day you decided to rebel against God. So Satan has evidently created a member of the class of heavenly beings known as cherubim. And that class, by the way, is associated closely with the presence of God, given access closely to the very throne of God. In fact, when the Ark of the Covenant, if you remember, if you're old enough in the faith, back in Exodus chapter 25 was built, that box they overlaid with gold and placed it into the Holy of Holies, the lid of it called the mercy seat, upon which the high priest would sprinkle atoning blood once a year. That was crafted with angelic cherubim with their heads tilted forward and their wings touching as if to protect, as it were, the very presence of God. When Solomon later built his temple, the workers carved the design of those angelic creatures into doors and into walls. In fact, by God's own design, cherubim were actually embroidered into the veil, which separated the holy place from the Holy of Holies. That 30 foot tall, which would have been about as high as the ceiling, the veil separating these two compartments would have embroidered into it, if you can imagine, gold and cherubim.
It must have been a stunning sight before it went out of business. Now we know from other passages that angels in general have the ability, this would include the cherubim, to change their appearance. In fact, some in Scripture see them as simply men, ordinary human men, such as in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah when they came to warn Lot that God was going to destroy these cities, sending fire and brimstone down upon them. They were in the appearance of ordinary men, these angels. Others see angels as bright and shining creatures, Revelation 15. We do know that just about every time an angel appears in Scripture before some human being, the humans are evidently so stunned by their appearance and beauty and awesome brilliance that typically the first things the angels say to the human beings are, don't be afraid, because their knees are knocking, they're fearful. The Bible tells us that Satan is a fallen cherub, a beautiful, brilliant creature capable of masquerading with incredible deception.
This leads me to my third observation. Satan was created as the highest ranking cherub. God again speaks through his prophet in chapter 28 verse 16. Speaking to Satan, you were internally filled with violence and you sinned.
Therefore, I have cast you from the mountain of God, O covering cherub. The Hebrew word anointed in verse 14 and this description in verse 16 of the covering cherub indicates that before Satan sinned against God, he was the highest ranking cherub, the highest ranking angelic creature. The New Testament agrees, describes Satan as the leader of all of the other fallen angels who rebelled against God. In fact, the demons are actually referred to as his angels. In Matthew chapter 25 and verse 41, Jesus is describing hell as originally designed, he says, for the devil and his angels. We're told something else about the origins of Satan.
Number four, Satan lost his high position because of pride and envy. By the way, people often respond at this point as you talk to them about the devil, some kind of cynicism, they'd say something, why would God create Satan if he knew Satan would become his evil enemy? For that matter, why did he allow Judas to be born knowing he'd be inhabited by Satan and betray the Savior? Well, God created angels and humans uniquely from the animal kingdom with what we call self-determination. That is the ability, the will to choose to either defy God or love God, just as you can choose today as a believer to obey him or disobey him. God did not create robots. In fact, there is no such thing as obedience to God without the opportunity or ability to disobey God. For God to create the ability for us to love then creates the ability for us to hate.
You cannot create light without the possibility of darkness and so on. Ezekiel tells us here was Satan's choice, now confirmed in his unholy state awaiting his judgment. He writes in chapter 28 of Ezekiel in verse 17, Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty.
I mean, you got carried away with yourself. You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground. It's what we refer to as the fall of Satan. He still has access to God. Job informs us, but he no longer has a residence there at the throne in the display of the glory of God. By the way, nowhere in the narrative of Scripture do you ever read that when Satan rebelled and was cast to earth that he lost his beauty, that he lost his splendor, that he lost his magnetism.
In fact, and I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but if Satan were to walk into the auditorium this morning without us knowing who he was, our natural inclination would not be to run from him but to fall down before him. Just like John the Apostle. You remember when he's given the tour of heaven and an angel comes to guide him and it's just an ordinary angel.
I mean, this is just one of the ordinary guys. And what does John do? He falls down and begins to worship him. And the angels just basically cut that out.
Not me. I'm not God. We really have no idea of the splendor of this angelic host. So we have every reason to believe that Satan still remains among the most stunning of the angels. He's described as an angel of light. He's still dripping with gemstones and gold and brilliant, enchanting glamour. If he were to appear to us, he wouldn't be some hideous beast.
He would be mesmerizing. And by the way, that's how he acts. He doesn't come along, tap you on the shoulder and say, Hey, I want to destroy your life. He says, I want to make your life more fulfilling than ever.
We need this. Yet with all that he had, it would all become in his defiance, corrupted. Isaiah the prophet records this of Satan's fall from his glorious position from among the highest cherubim. Isaiah 14, how you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn.
Wow. He said in your heart, God didn't need him to say anything out loud. He said in his heart, I will ascend to heaven. I will raise my throne above the stars of God. I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds. I will make myself like the most high.
Nevertheless, you will be thrust down the shield of the recesses of the pit. Imagine, Satan is attempting a coup d'etat against the very throne of God. And he actually convinces perhaps as many as a hundred million or more angels that he is worth following more than God. He's defeated with one wave of God's sovereign hand and he's sent packing to roam earth until his coming judgment.
And by the way, he isn't any happier now than he was then. How he hates the church, he hates the redeemed, he hates the gospel. Let me quickly point out several designations in the Bible for the devil which reveal his strategies.
And we're going to stop the framework we're going to lay out here. Let me just quickly reference several titles or names he's called as we've seen the anointed cherub, Ezekiel 28. He's called the prince of this world, John 12, 31. The word for world is the Greek word kosmas.
It could be translated order system, the world system. He's the prince over the world system. He's called the prince of the power of the air, Ephesians 2 verse 2.
You could render it the ruler of the atmosphere, the empire of the atmosphere is the idea. It's simply a phrase that corresponds to his leadership not only over this fallen world but the angelic hosts that have followed him. He's called the god of this world, 2nd Corinthians 4.
The word for world there is not kosmas but ion, you could render it age. It's a reference to this present age, the present religious speculative philosophical age. It has an idea of all of the concepts and opinions and philosophies and religions of fallen mankind. Satan is actually the one our fallen world worships in their false speculations, their false ideologies and their false religions. He's called the ruler of demons, Luke 11, 15. He's called Lucifer, Isaiah 14, 12. That name literally means bearer of light.
You can imagine the irony. The bearer of light, this is a pre-fall title. This of course is ironic in that today he is the bearer of lies, not light. He's called Satan, Job 1, 6. It means adversary.
Peter's going to hint at that. The devil is the accuser, that's what that means, accusing. He's constantly accusing God to you. It's called the red dragon, Revelation 12, a lesser known title. It describes his love for bloodshed and violence. He will be revealed for who he is in the tribulation, inhabiting the antichrist who loves nothing more than killing.
He's called the tempter, 1 Thessalonians 3, 5. And with that, we're out of time. We've got to stop here. You're thinking, really?
I'm a little nervous. Well, you can read ahead if you want, but I do want to leave you here purposefully because I want you to be just a little more aware. You're in a war.
The stakes are high. Satan is real. And he hates you and the Lord you represent because he ultimately hates him. And he wants to destroy you.
Maybe he's in the process of gaining a foothold even today. He wants to deceive you into thinking something wrong is right. He wants to distract you.
He wants to take away your joy, your testimony, your integrity, your hope, your worship, your obedience. We have this amazing privilege, and we have this responsibility. Stephen's going to spend the next two lessons exploring this further. Please be sure and come back and listen to these important messages. In the meantime, we have a resource that we're featuring this month. Stephen's written a resource entitled Blessed Assurance.
In it, he explains from God's Word the important reality that salvation is eternal. This resource will help you. We'll email it to you if you fill out the request form at wisdomonline.org. Do that now, then join us next time on Wisdom for the Heart. You
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