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The Truth about Spiritual Warfare

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Introduction

VERSES

12 ?How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer?d?, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! ? 13 ?For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:? 14 ?I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.? 15 ?Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.? d O Lucifer: or, O day star

The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Is 14:12-15). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Luke 10:18-20 (KJV)

18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. 19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. [1]

[1] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

10 ?And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.? The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Re 20:10). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

10 ?Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.? The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (2 Co 12:10). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Rebellion in the Heavenlies and on Earth

4

How was it possible for sin to arise in a kingdom of complete sinlessness, that is, the kingdom of God? How could sinless angels sin? The Scriptures nowhere attempt to explain how or why Satan and the angels were created with the capability for sin. Nor do they explain how or why human beings were created with the same capability. These represent but two in a series of givens which are recorded in Scripture.

By given I mean a fact or event which is recorded in the Bible without any explanation. The first and greatest given in all of Scripture is found in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God. . . .” No attempt is made to explain the existence of God. His existence is simply declared. The second greatest given is found in the same verse, “God created the heavens and the earth” (v. 1b). No explanation either of the time or the manner of the original creation is revealed. The third great given is found in the very next verse, “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep” (v. 2a).

In verse one the heavens and the earth are mentioned. Beginning with verse two the focus is exclusively upon the earth. No explanation about the earth’s state of formlessness, void, and darkness is revealed. The six days of creation (or recreation) which follow are, themselves, givens.1 The same is true with the sin of both angels and men. They, also, are givens.

The following explanation provides a partial answer. I share it in common with many biblical commentators.2 God is the only non-creature in the universe. As eternal God, He is without beginning and without end. He exists but He was not created. He is here, but He never began. He always was, is, and shall be. Thus He and He alone is absolutely perfect. He has perfect mind. He knows everything about everything. He has perfect emotions. What He feels is always what should be felt. He has perfect will. He always chooses what is right. Indeed, by very definition as perfect God, He cannot choose evil. He cannot sin.

All creatures are imperfect, however. By very definition God cannot create God. He can create only beings which are less than God, and therefore, imperfect. The creation can never be equal to the Creator. By the very act of creating creatures in His own image and likeness, God is creating creatures with mind, emotions, and a will similar to His own.3 By definition He cannot create creatures in His own image and likeness which are not free to think, feel, and choose for themselves.

Furthermore, creatures cannot be created in God’s image and likeness and, at the same time, be preprogrammed only to do God’s will. Paul Schilling in his excellent book, God and Human Anguish, says if this had occurred

even though all participants might think they were free, they would not actually be free, and though superficially happy, they would be unable to make their own decisions or to grow in genuinely responsive relations to other persons. . . . They would lack all intrinsic value, since all would be robots unconsciously living out their predetermined destiny in one vast and tightly organized system. . . . This arrangement would conceive God as the Great Hypnotist, whose subjects would unknowingly and irresistibly carry out the commands given them during hypnosis . . . the notion of human beings [and angels] created so that they would always choose the good is self contradictory. If they were really free, there could be no guarantee that they would always choose rightly, while if they were so constituted as to exclude choices, they would not be free. (italics mine)4

Furthermore, freedom of choice untested is only theory, not reality. Therefore, both angels and mankind had to face the choice between obedience to God and disobedience.

The American psychiatrist, Dr. Scott Peck, in his book People of the Lie, tells of his conversion to Christ. He too wrestles with the problem of evil.5

To create us in His image, God gave us free will. To have done otherwise would have been to make us puppets or hollow mannequins. Yet to give us free will God had to forswear the use of force against us. We do not have free will when there is a gun at our back . . . In agony He must stand by and let us be. (italics mine)

Freedom of choice was given to Lucifer (if that was his name) and the angels, also. In the heavenly realm all of God’s angels were evidently put to the test of obedience. Although the story of that test is nowhere recorded, it is everywhere implied. Those who withstood the deception of the fallen angel, possibly Lucifer (Isa. 14:12),6 were confirmed in holiness. They are described as “the holy angels” (Mark 8:38) and the “elect angels” (1 Tim. 5:21, kjv). Those who were deceived and followed the rebellious Lucifer are now, like their master, confirmed in their iniquity. According to Scripture, no provision is made for their redemption.7

Experience with demons confirms this fact. They hate God and will never repent or seek His forgiveness, even though they recognize with horrible fear that they are doomed to the lake of fire. They are truly confirmed in evil.8 That the rebellion in heaven had its origin in the initial rebellion of one angelic being, Satan or the Devil, seems certain. All through Scripture He is revealed as the sole originator of evil and temptation (John 8:44; Luke 4:1–13). Furthermore, the Devil is always seen as the master over an angelic army of evil supernaturalism (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 12:3–17). It is his tail which swept away “a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth” (Rev. 12:4). (These stars probably represent angels.9) He is revealed to be in command of “principalities, . . . powers, . . . the rulers of the darkness of this age, . . . spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).

Two Kinds of Evil on Earth

This cosmic rebellion reached earth soon after man’s creation. The evil it brought affected the universe on two levels: the natural and the moral.

Edward J. Carnell defines natural evil as “all of those frustrations of human values which are perpetrated, not by the free agency of man, but by the natural elements in the universe, such as the fury of the hurricane and the devastation of the parasite.”10

Carnell next quotes the poet John Mills:11

Killing, the most criminal act recognized by human laws, Nature does once to every being that lives; and in a large proportion of cases, after protracted tortures such as only the greatest monsters whom we read of ever purposely inflicted on their living fellow-creatures. . . . Nature impales men, breaks them as if on the wheel, casts them to be devoured by wild beasts, burns them to death, crushes them with stones like the first Christian martyr, starves them with hunger, freezes them with cold. . . . All this, Nature does with the most supercilious disregard both of mercy and of justice, emptying her shafts upon the best and noblest indifferently with the meanest and the worst.

Carnell follows with a word about one of the greatest of all evils, death. He speaks of the heartlessness of death which strikes down the good, along with the bad, in blind indiscrimination. He observes that

the overt reason why natural evil is peculiarly a Christian problem is that Christianity teaches not only that all of nature was originally created by the Almighty and pronounced by Him to be good, but also that the present movement of all things is guided and guarded by the very watchful eye of Him “who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11).

Can the Christian walk through the crowded corridors of a children’s hospital or stumble through the rubble left by the devastating force of a hurricane, without feeling the force of Job’s words? “Surely I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God” (Job 13:3).12

The Bible is in no way silent about natural evil. Beginning with Genesis and moving through the entire biblical record ending in Revelation 22, natural evil has a place of prominence in Scripture second only to its more devastating twin, moral evil. However, Scripture does not attempt to explain natural evil outside of the context of human moral evil. It says nothing about the existence of natural evil in the universe before the birth of moral evil in the experience of mankind.

Carnell defines moral evil: “[It] includes all of those frustrations of human values which are perpetrated not by the natural elements in the universe, but by the free agency of man.” In his definitions of both natural and moral evil, Carnell limits his discussion exclusively to the relationship of evil to humanity.13

I differ from Carnell in that I see evil as originally pre-human, existing before the fall of man. Out of the context of pre-human, cosmic evil, human evil is introduced in Scripture. The anthrocentric focus of Scripture ignores direct references to the existence of natural evil in the heavens or on earth before the fall of man. Was there a pre-Adamic earthly moral creation which suffered a similar fall as that recorded in Genesis 3 with mankind? Is the gap theory, which affirms that a pre-Adamic fall occurred on earth between verses 1 and 2 of Genesis 1, accurate?14 Was there physical death in the universe or on earth prior to man’s fall? Did the present disorder within the order of the stellar heavens exist prior to man’s creation and fall?

About these and similar issues of natural evil the Scriptures are silent. Furthermore, we do not go to God’s Word for answers to some of the fundamental questions raised by the natural sciences other than the declaration of Scripture, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). The Scriptures clearly indicate, however, that the Fall of humanity and the present groanings of nature are intimately related. In one of the greatest cosmological passages in Scripture Paul affirms that

the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. (Rom. 8:20–23)

With this in mind the apostle introduces his cosmological reasonings with the words, “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God” (v. 19).

Why? Because humanity’s full redemption, which will occur only at the redemption of our bodies (v. 23), will transform the entire physical creation. At that point and only at that point will natural evil be annihilated forever.

The apostle Peter declares that at some point, probably concurrent with or soon after the redemption of our bodies referred to by Paul, “the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; . . . Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet. 3:10,13).

All of this is harmonious with John the Revelator’s words:

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Rev. 21:1–2)

The result will be the eternal and nearly total annihilation of natural and moral evil, from God’s creation and mankind’s experience. I say “nearly” because the mysterious exception is called hell or the lake of fire.15 Whatever one’s views of hell or the lake of fire may be, such a “place” does exist. Jesus says hell was made “for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). He warns men that they too will go there if they continue living in disobedience to God (Matt. 5:21–22,27–30).16

Paul describes that place of eternal evil as a place where men shall “be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thess. 1:9), a penalty reserved for all who “do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 8). John pictures hell as a “lake of fire and brimstone” into which the Devil and his servants will be thrown to be “tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev. 20:10). He further adds that “Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (vv. 14–15).

A horrid, vivid, terrifying picture of eternal evil, the lake of fire evidently parallels the new heavens and the new earth of eternal bliss, of eternal non-evil. Mystery of mysteries!

1 1. Bernard Ramm wrestles with these days of creation in his superb book, The Christian View of Science and Scripture (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1954), 173–228. So does Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, WBC (Waco, Texas: Word, 1987), 1–40.

2 2. For an outline of other suggested partial answers, see Paul S. Schilling, God and Human Anguish (Nashville: Abingdon, 1977).

3 3. For a discussion about angels created in God’s image, see C. Fred Dickason, Angels, Elect and Evil (Chicago: Moody, 1975), 32.

4 4. Schilling, 206, 209.

5 5. M. Scott Peck, People of the Lie (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983), 204.

6 6. I say “possibly” because there is no scriptural proof that Isaiah is referring to the fall of an angelic creature called Lucifer, i.e., “Day Star” (neb says “Star of Dawn”) who later became Satan. See N. Green, “Day Star,” in ISBE, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, ed., (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1989) 1:879. The belief that this is a reference to the fall of the one who later became Satan or the Devil is based on tradition, not on biblical exegesis.

7 7. See Dickason, 30–32, 39–42; also Hebrews 2:9–18.

8 8. Merrill F. Unger, Biblical Demonology (Chicago: Scripture Press, 1955), 62–76.

9 9. See Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation, NICNT (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1977), 191–193, for the view that the stars are angelic personages.

10 10. Edward J. Carnell, An Introduction to Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1948), 280.

11 11. Carnell, 280–281.

12 12. Carnell, 281–282.

13 13. Carnell, 282.

14 14. Ramm, 188–189, 195–210.

15 15. See H. Buis, “Hell” in ZPEB, Merrill C. Tenney, ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1977) 3:114–117.

16 16. For a popular examination of hell see “The Rekindling of Hell,” U.S. News and World Report (March 28, 1991), 56f.

Murphy, E. F. (1997, c1996). Handbook for spiritual warfare (24). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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