Just who and what is the Devil?
Above all else, Satan (the Devil) is a defeated enemy!
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Sammael, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
For thou hast said in thy 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:
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.
Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that shook kingdoms;
That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed its cities; that opened not the house of his prisoners?
The Bible doesnít go into a great deal about the mysteries behind his creation and fall from a state of perfection. In fact he is barely mentioned in the Old Testament. Only in the New Testament is the role of Satan and his minions over the affairs of mankind written about in detail. But scripture does suggest a few things about the Devil:
He was created as the most brilliant of all the angels, and he occupied an exalted position in Heaven below only God Himself. He appears to have led the worship of God in musical ways, being also the chief musician of Heaven. (Isaiah 28:13)
When our material universe was created, Satan (then known as Sammael, and not really as Lucifer*) rejoiced with all the angels of Heaven (Job 38:7).
* The origin of the name Lucifer comes from the Vulgate, when Jerome used the Latin term for the Morning Star in translating the Isaiah passage. This caught on and came to be viewed as a proper name, and from this came the mistaken belief that Lucifer was the pre-fall name of the Devil.
At a subsequent time he rebelled against God and led 1/3 of the angellic host in a failed revolution (Revelation 12:4). Why this revolution occured is unknown. It is possible that Sammael assumed that he would be in charge of the universe and was offended when God instead created an even greater being--Adam--who would occupy a superior position.
Whatever the cause, both Sammael and the angels who followed him were then cast out of Heaven in preparation for eternal consignment to Hell. Prior to this consignment, Sammael (now called Satan, or Adversary), caused Adam to sin and through this gained nominal, but temporary, authority over the earth (and perhaps the material universe as well). This authority prolonged Satanís existence on this plane of existence, delaying his banishment to Hell and officially lasted until Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, redeeming Mankind as a race from Satanís ownership. From that time on the clock has been ticking down and the Devilís time is fast coming to an end.
The demons themselves know that there is an appointed day for them to be cast into Hell (Matthew 8:29), but the Devil refuses to acknowledge this and believes that he will find some sort of way to subvert his prophesied end. Only at the point when the Devil is cast out of the heavenlies to the earth itself, at some point in our future, does he finally realize there is nothing he can do to avoid his final judgment and banishment to eternal torment (Revelation 12:12).
At the second coming of Christ he will be bound for 1,000 years in some sort of prison (Revelation 20:2), but will eventually be allowed out. He will make one last stand against God that will fail, and will then be cast into Hell forevermore along with all who have never accepted Jesus Christ as savior and Lord.
Until that time, Satanís strategy is to manipulate Mankind into directions that in and of themselves must either delay or prevent his own end. Just how that works we canít really understand. We can catch glimpses of the Devilís handiwork in men like Hitler, and in the Devilís ceaseless efforts to destroy the Jewish race, which gave birth to the Messiah. This, more than anything else, has been his consuming goal because nearly all Bible prophecy revolves around Israel and the Jewish people. If Satan can subvert the prophecies in scripture regarding the nation of Israel and the Jewish race, then he can guarantee his own survival in the same way he extended it by causing Adam to sin.
Some other facts about devils and demons
Most would say that the word devil or demon is synonymous, and that these are the fallen angels who rebelled with Sammael against the rule of God. They are still around today and influence humanity through corrupting peopleís thoughts and emotions which they are able to do.
Even Christians experience the influence of demons in their lives. Often when a wrong thought comes into the mind of a Christian it comes not from the personís own independent thought, but is placed into his mind by a demon. Yielding and dwelling on a bad thought permits the demon to exercise a bit more influence by strengthening and amplifying any accompanying negative emotions. Bad acts usually follow. (Conversely, when a Christian yields to a good thought placed in his heart by the Holy Spirit, it permits the Holy Spirit to strengthen and amplify the personís motivation to do good.)
Demons can cause physical ailments (Luke 13:11-17).
Demons can possess some unsaved people, depending on the power of the demon and strength of will of the individual, and the degree to which he yields himself to demonic forces.
Demons can be cast out of possessed people by (mature) Christians.
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