The Evil in this World: Who Is Satan?
Satan is the source of all evil and the enemy of all our lives.
Editor’s Note: FāVS has launched a new series on The Evil in this World. We see it every day in the murder and mayhem that trouble our lives. The world’s great religions have an explanation for this and different ways to describe the battle between good and evil. Those who do not subscribe to a religious tradition have their own perceptions of evil and good. How does your belief system describe both forces and how does it help you cope with the notion that evil exists in this world? Has your faith ever been shaken by the evil around you?
Commentary by Cassy Benefield
Perhaps the surest sign evil exists in the world lies in the reality that all living things die. Humans intuitively understand this is not how it was meant to be, as we grieve losses of our loved ones, our pets and even our plants that don’t make it in the garden a particular season.
One reason we tend to reject death through our emotions could be explained by our creator putting “eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Another reason may be because we were created for eternal fellowship with God, which is written of throughout the Bible.
But where did evil come from?
The true source of evil and how it grows is not so easily defined. We tend to experience evil in its outcomes, extreme results being genocide, war, government corruption, abuse, death, etc. Still, many of us have a hard time nailing down the source as to why these evil consequences happen at all.
Every faith tradition, even non-faith traditions, have theories as to the unseen nature of evil, but we can’t really know from whence it began or how it will one day end — or even if it ever will end. This answer tends to lie in the domains of belief and philosophy and not through the scientific method.
As a practicing Christian, I think the Bible, where the teachings of my faith reside, defines the unseen reality behind evil as Satan along with the demons (or “angels” in some translations) who follow him.
I know this sounds like the stuff of fairy tales, but I think a case can be made that the Bible’s teaching about Satan and the creation account of humankind’s fall in Genesis 3 is as viable an option as any that defines the source of evil in this world.
‘I will be like the Most High’
It all began with Lucifer (translated “son of the morning” in several translations), God’s created and anointed guardian cherub, who at one point in eternity said in his heart, I will be “like the Most High.”
Through the symbolic accounts of Lucifer found in Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:12-18, we learn that one day in eternity Satan used his God-given freewill to think more highly of himself than he ought to have. Because of that, wickedness was found in him.
Satan exhibited pride, wanting to do things his own way, saying in effect to God, “You can’t tell me what to do.”
Death hadn’t come upon the living just yet. That was coming.
‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’
The Bible is not clear as to when angelic beings, such as Satan, were created. Genesis 1, however, records that humans were created on the sixth day.
That day, God, using Trinitarian pronouns “us” and “our,” is said to have created man in his image “to rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, and over all the earth itself and every creature that crawls upon it” (Genesis 1:26).
In a notable irony that was not lost on Satan, God made humans from the humble dust of earth to be “like God” not only in image, but also in position as rulers on earth.
And Satan was having none of it.
The devil made me do it, or did he?
We might be asking here, “Why would a good God allow Satan to come into this precious garden?”
The most convincing argument for me is that God gave freewill to humans. He wanted to see if Adam and Eve would choose to follow him of their own volition — to give them a choice to trust and obey him, just as he gave to Satan and the fallen angels before them.
Satan used the notorious “Did God really say?” question to cast doubt in Eve’s heart as to the exact instructions given by God about what trees they could eat from and why. Because of this doubt, she chose to trust herself and her and Satan’s own interpretation of God’s word, in turn influencing Adam to distrust and disobey God’s instructions, as well.
Both sinned in this choice, and Adam, Eve and the serpent were judged. Just as Satan was cast out of Heaven, Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden.
The future of evil and death
Thankfully, every beginning has an ending, and so it is with the story of evil and death in the Bible.
It calls death “the last enemy” that God will defeat. And in the second to last chapter of the Bible, we are told Satan will be banished into the “lake of fire” where he “will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
In other words, evil and death, while ruinous here on earth, will one day have no more influence upon God’s creation.
They will be finished and all of creation will be truly free from death and the ravages of evil.
Cassandra Benefield mostly goes by Cassy (pronounced like Cassie but spelled with a ‘y’). She is a wife and mommy, who married at the age of 37 and had her baby girl just shy of 39. She has moved around all her life, first as an Army brat. She is a returned Peace Corps volunteer to Romania where she taught Conversational English, Modern Literature, Creative Writing, U.S. Culture, U.S. Geography, and U.S. History (the last two subjects she was so not qualified to teach!). She is a Journalism major from Cal Poly Technical University in San Luis Obispo, Calif. She finds much comfort in her Savior, Jesus Christ, and considers herself a Bible nerd who is prone to buy more theology books than she is ever able to read. Morro Bay, California, is her favorite place on earth … with the exception of being in the center of God’s will. From time to time, you will find her writing devotions on her blog underhisshadow.blogspot.com.